Local News Articles

Election Commission to Hold Town Hall Meeting Tonight on New Photo ID Law

November 1, 2011

A new law that will require voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls won't go into effect until next year, but in preparation for this new requirement, the DeKalb County Election Commission will hold a town hall meeting to inform the public of the change in the law.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse. The purpose of the meeting is to present information regarding the new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2012. The town hall meeting will include a presentation, followed by a question and answer period.

The major points of the law include:

•A voter is required to produce a federal or state government-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote. Some examples of a valid photo ID, even if expired, are a Tennessee driver license, U.S. passport, Department of Safety photo ID card, state or federal employee photo identification card, or a U.S. military photo ID. Student college IDs will not be accepted for voting purposes.

Free photo IDs may be obtained from any Department of Safety driver license testing station. Registered voters must sign an affidavit stating that the photo ID is for voting purposes, that they are a registered voter, and that they do not have any other valid government-issued photo ID. The Department of Safety will not issue a free photo ID if the person already has a valid government-issued photo ID

•Voters who are unable to produce a valid photo ID will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot, at the polls. Voters casting a provisional ballot will have until two (2) business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo ID.

•Voters with a religious objection to being photographed, or voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee - for example, the voter cannot pay for a birth certificate for proof of citizenship - may sign an oath affirming to the information and will be allowed to vote on the machines.

•Voters who vote absentee by mail, voters who are hospitalized, and voters who live in licensed nursing homes or assisted living centers and vote at the facilities are not required to show photo IDs. Registered voters over the age of 65 may request an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

“The goal of the town hall meeting is to educate the public and prepare voters for the upcoming 2012 elections,” Dennis Stanley, administrator of elections said. “We want voters to have plenty of time to obtain a valid photo ID if they do not already possess one. We encourage everyone to attend the November 1 meeting.”

Starting November 5 Driver License Stations in 15 counties, including Putnam and Rutherford will be open on the first Saturday in each month to make photo driver licenses or Ids for voting purposes only. No other business will be conducted in the centers on Saturdays. The hours of operation will be 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. in Cookeville at 4600 South Jefferson Avenue (phone 931-528-5669) or in Murfreesboro at 1035 Samsonite Boulevard (phone 615-898-8036)

The following centers will be open for weekday visits:

McMinnville at 594 Vervilla Road (phone 931-668-9304
Lebanon at 725 Elkins Drive ( phone 615-443-2757

There are a number of safeguards in the law to ensure eligible voters are not disenfranchised. The photo ID requirement does not apply to:

.People who vote absentee by mail
.People who vote in licensed nursing homes or assisted living facilities
.People who are hospitalized
.People who have religious objections to being photographed
.People who are indigent and cannot obtain photo IDs without paying fees

Voters who forget to bring photo identification to the polls may cast provisional ballots and return to their local election offices with proof of their identities within two business days after elections.

For more information about the new voting requirements, contact Mark Goins, coordinator of elections, or Andrew Dodd, elections specialist, in the state Division of Elections at 1-877-850-4959 or your local county election commission at 597-4146, Room 104 of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Smithville.

Bounds Denied Parole, Case to be Reviewed Again in October 2013

October 31, 2011
Dwayne Page
Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds

It's official.

64 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville will remain in prison at least two more years.

Three members of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles have voted to concur with the vote of board member Yusuf Hakeem that Bounds be denied parole due to the seriousness of the offense in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of DeKalb County.

Following Bounds' latest parole hearing on October 20, Hakeem voted that Bounds be "put off" for two years before his next parole hearing and that, in the meantime, he become involved in cognitive behavior programs including "Thinking for a Change', "Criminal Thinking", and "Victim Impact". These programs, which will be made available to him in prison, are designed to emphasize the role of altering thinking patterns in bringing about change in an offender's life.

In announcing his vote on October 20, Hakeem said. 'You (Bounds) are incarcerated for first degree murder and the manner in which it has been described, I would consider it calculated in the manner in which it happened. The programs that you have been involved in, I think are good. The jobs that you've held are very good. But some of the things I would want to see as far as programs are concerned are programs like criminal thinking, thinking for a change. Programs that deal with the mind. Something that gives me great pause and great concern is your account of what took place, particularly when I compare that to the account that's in the appeals record. To me they're very different. Based on everything I can see and understand at this time Mr Bounds I can't vote today to parole you sir. Some of the things I think you need to do is (get in) the type of programs that deal with the mind. Though you have been here for a number of years, the Wright family has no contact, so to speak, with their loved one. When I asked about the impact on the families, I listened as you made comments but I did not hear any remorse on your part for what took place. But my vote today is to decline you for two years for seriousness of the offense with programming as I suggested dealing with the mind. This will tell me that you are ready to move back into society and not be a threat to society," said Hakeem.

Bounds, convicted of first degree murder, is serving a life prison sentence at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville. He will be up for parole again in October, 2013.

Smithville Police Charge Two with Initiation of Process to Manufacture Meth

October 31, 2011
Dwayne Page
Lynn J. Jones
Latasha Cantrell
 Elsie Mae Judkins

Smithville Police have charged two people with initiation of a process to manufacture meth and possession of drug paraphernalia after finding meth lab components on Snow Street.

37 year old Lynn J. Jones and 20 year old Latasha Cantrell will be in court on the charges November 3. Bond for Jones is $130,000 and $80,000 for Cantrell.

Chief Randy Caplinger reports that on Wednesda, October 26 officer Steven Barrett responded to a complaint of suspicious activity on Snow Street. Upon arrival, he saw two flashing lights in a field at the end of the street. He made contact with Jones and Cantrell and found them in possession of shovels and a pick. Some eight to ten feet away were some items identified as components commonly used in a meth lab. Sergeant Andy Snow and Officer James Cornelius arrived on the scene to assist and Detective Matt Holmes was called to investigate.

Police found a two liter bottle and a 20 ounce bottle both containing sodium hydroxide and lithium, a 20 ounce bottle half filled with muriatic acid, used hypodermic needles, a glass pill vial, and several empty packs of pseudoephedrine.

The meth lab task force was called to clean up the scene.

Meanwhile, 42 year old Elsie Mae Judkins is charged with theft of property and aggravated burglary.

Chief Caplinger reports that on Friday, September 30 Judkins allegedly broke into a home on Braswell Lane. During the investigation in October, Detective Matt Holmes discovered that a number of compact discs stolen from the home had been sold to Hastings in McMinnville. Police went there and recovered some of the cds. Judkins was identified through store video surveillance as the person who allegedly made the sale of the stolen cds to the store. She was later arrested at a residence on Anthony Avenue.

49 year old David Haug, a homeless man, is charged with criminal trespassing. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on December 8.

Chief Caplinger said Haug showed up at a place of business and wouldn't leave. He was asked to stay off the property. He left but later returned. Haug, originally from Idaho, was arrested on Friday, October 28

25 year old Tamara Renee Lloyd is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Police were called to a disturbance at a residence on Gentry Avenue on Thursday, October 27. While there, the officer found drug paraphernalia containing marijuana residue. She will be in court on November 17.

22 year old Cougar Pursley of Granville is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. Police were called Thursday, October 27 to investigate a traffic accident on West Broad Street. Pursley, who was involved in the wreck, was found to be unsteady on his feet and he had an odor of alcohol on his person. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Pursley is under a $1,500 bond and he will be in court on November 17.

32 year old Megan Ashley Cook is charged with theft under $500 in a shoplifting incident at the Dollar General Store on Wednesday, October 26. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on November 17

44 year old Carol Ann Ballinger of Lebanon is cited for theft of property in a shoplifting incident at the Dollar General Store on Tuesday, October 11. She will be in court on November 11.

Newby Charged in Rash of Burglaries and Thefts

October 31, 2011
Dwayne Page
Shannon Lynn Newby
Steven Michael White

A 45 year old Smithville man is charged in a rash of recent burglaries and thefts.

Shannon Lynn Newby of Anthony Avenue is charged with three counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of burglary, three counts of theft of property over $1,000, one count of theft of property over $500, and one count of theft of property under $500.

His bond totals $235,000 and he will be in court on November 3.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Monday, September 5, Newby allegedly entered an outbuilding on McMinnville Highway and took two chainsaws, two hedge trimmers, and other items all valued at over $1,000.

On Sunday October 9, Newby allegedly entered a residence through the front door on Cordell Love Road . He allegedly took a Browning 300 Magnum, a Mossberg shotgun, a Marlin 30-30, and several other items all valued at over $1,000

Six days later on Saturday, October 15, Newby allegedly entered a residence through a back window on Coconut Ridge Road and took a nine millimeter Ruger pistol, a Savage rifle, two laptop computers, and several other items all valued at over $1,000.

Newby then allegedly entered an outbuilding on New Home Road Monday, October 17 and took two tool boxes with miscellaneous tools valued less than $500.

In the last incident, Sheriff Ray reports that Newby entered a residence on Robinson Road Thursday, October 20 by prying open the back door. He allegedly took a storm door, cedar chest, and coins all valued at over $500.

Meanwhile, in another case 62 year old Steven Michael White of Pea Ridge Road, Liberty is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on November 17.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Monday, October 24 White was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and was stopped for crossing the center line several times. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage and marijuana on his person. White was unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and he submitted to a blood test. White admitted to drinking beer and smoking marijuana while driving down the road.. His other DUI offense was on February 5, 2009 in DeKalb County.

Applications now being accepting for the 16th Annual Angel Tree Project

October 31, 2011

Applications are now being accepting for the 16th Annual Angel Tree Project through Friday, November 4th .

Spokesperson Laura Stone said changes have been made to the application process again this year." Applications can be picked up October 31st through November 4th. You will still pick up your applications at the Department of Human Services, but one of the changes will be that the application must be returned in person the following week to the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center."

"Completed applications will have to be returned to the First Baptist Church LEC Building in downtown Smithville (on the corner across from First Baptist) on one of the following days; Monday, November 7th from noon until 8 or Tuesday, November 8th from noon until 8. Applications not returned to the Church LEC Building on one of these three dates WILL NOT be accepted. There are no exceptions to the requirements of the application process", said Stone.

"Applications can only be picked up at the Department of Human Services on October 31st through November 4th and can only be returned to the Church LEC Building on the dates listed. In addition to bringing the completed application, applicants must provide photo identification of the person applying and social security cards and birth certificates for ALL children listed on the application. We will only be keeping the application; all other documents will be returned to the applicant. If an applicant cannot appear in person, their application can be submitted by a family member as long as all of the required information is presented."

"Eligible children must live in DeKalb County and be no older than age 12 by December 25, 2011. The Department of Human Services will only be passing out the applications. Nothing will be returned to them and any questions should be directed to Laura Stone at 615.597.5060"

Stone adds that "the Angel Tree has been such a tremendous success in the past and with economic times extremely tough for many in our area, we want this years Angel Tree to be no exception. The Angel Tree helps so many families who are struggling to make ends meet. It is sad to think about, but many of these children would not otherwise have a single present for Christmas. With the economy still struggling, we are expecting demand to be high."

Final Weekend for the DCHS Band was Grand

October 31, 2011
Band Boosters
Band Wins More Awards in Final Competition

The DCHS Band had a fun and rewarding final weekend for their regular marching season. On Friday, members were encouraged to be creative in coming up with their best costume. Band Director Jonathan Wright said, “It has become a tradition for the band to get dressed up on the Friday that falls around Halloween.” One fan of the Fighting Tiger Marching Band told staff members, “My daughter looks forward to the band’s Halloween performance every year.” They marched their regular show; however, the “uniform” was a little different. Mr. Wright says, “They get really creative when it comes to finding a costume.” On the field were the likes of Thing #1 and Thing #2, Larry the Cable Guy, Lady Gaga, Cleopatra, gangsters, tooth fairies, and a whole host of different characters.

Saturday, October 29th was the final competition performance for the DCHS Fighting Tiger Band in Alcoa, Tennessee. They met at the high school and loaded the buses at 7AM. The road trip to Alcoa was around two hours. Performance time was 1:45 eastern time.

The DCHS Fighting Tiger Band represented DeKalb County very well. After a very successful run of the program, Mr. Wright and Assistant Director Joey Wilburn told the students that they should be proud of themselves. They went on to point out the seniors of the band, Renny Mason, Megan Cantrell, Brianna Vidal, and Heather Vidal, had just marched their last competition show. Mr. Wilburn said, “We are very proud of our seniors.”

Mr. Wright said, “It has been another very successful year for the Marching Band. There was some concern that since we had nine seniors graduate last year that the quality of our performance would take a hit. Though we have a young group this year (only four seniors and eight 7th and 8th graders), this has been the hardest working group of students I have had the pleasure to work with. Because of their dedication, we won awards at all of the contests we attended and placed first in our class at two of them.”

During the awards ceremony, it was announced that DCHS Field Commander Hannah Cantrell would be bringing home the 2nd place trophy for class “A.” The Percussion section not only scored higher than any other percussion section in their class, guaranteeing the 1st place trophy, but also scored higher than any other percussion section in the Small Division (Class A and Class AA combined), which made them the “Grand Champion” of the Small Division. “Another highlight this year is our strong percussion section. They won 1st place percussion in their class at every contest we attended and placed first in their division at Alcoa, beating out groups twice their size.” Mr. Wright continued, “This would not be possible without help. I would like to thank my Assistant Band Director Joey Wilburn, staff members Jonathan Turner and Matthew Bimstein, and all of the Band Boosters who support and take care of the students.”

Mr. Wilburn says, “We’re extremely glad to show the community the program is continuing to grow and improve every year and it would not be possible without supportive parents and school board members. The MANY awards received this year is a testimony to how hard the students work.”
The full list of awards this year include:

· Hendersonville Golden Invitational: 1st Place Band, 1st Place Color Guard, 1st Place Hornline, and 1st Place Percussion.

·Blue Devil Invitational: 1st Place Color Guard, 1st Place Percussion, and Superior Percussion.

·Middle Tennessee Small Band Championship: 1st Place Band, 1st Place Percussion, and 2nd Place Field Commander.

·Alcoa Marching Invitational: 1st Place Percussion in division, 1st Place Percussion in class, 2nd Place Field Commander, Superior Color Guard, Field Commander, and Percussion.

The Band and Boosters would like to congratulate the DCHS Tiger Football Team for their success this season. Although the band has completed their marching season for this year, they will continue practicing for the performance at the football team’s playoff games during halftime. Students will also begin preparations for performances at the annual Christmas concert and parades.

To learn more about the DCHS Fighting Tiger Band and their upcoming performance schedule, log onto www.DekalbBand.com or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DekalbBand .

Infinity Athletics All Stars Open Competition Season

October 31, 2011
Infinity Athletics All Stars

The Infinity Athletics All Stars opened their 3rd competition season at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, October 29th in the Cheersport Grand Championship. They came home with 4th place in their division. Their next competition will be at Tennessee Tech University Sunday, November 6th.

The girls are:
Top (L-R): Emme Colwell, Madison Colwell, Katherine Clendenen, Callie Mulloy, Kenzie France
Bottom (L-R): Shaunta Koegler, Chloe Sykes, Alley Sykes, Shelby Sprague
Coached by Jennifer Sykes and Sonja House

DCHS to Host its First Ever State High School Football Play-Off Game

October 29, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigers will host their first ever state high school football play-off game Friday night, November 4th at 7:00 p.m. in Smithville.

The fourth seeded Tigers (8-2) will host Giles County (7-3), a fifth seed. The winner of that game will meet either East Hamilton (6-4) or Brainerd (5-5) in the second round on November 11.

WJLE will have LIVE coverage.

Tiger Coach Steve Trapp told WJLE Saturday that he is pleased that his team has accomplished one of its goals. "At the beginning of the season, we set goals each and every year. First and foremost we want to become a district champion. We fell short of that goal this year but our second goal is to get a playoff game at home and we've accomplished that so I'm really proud of the guys and the regular season that they gave to us even though we did not perform at our best in our final game. We've got to regroup and rebound and those guys will do that. The same guys that didn't execute very well Friday night against Livingston Academy are the same guys that gave us an 8-2 record so we're proud of them. We're going to get back to work this week. We're going to represent DeKalb County well for our first ever home play off game," said Coach Trapp

Murder Suspect Dies

October 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
Brandon Michael Gray Died Friday

The man believed to have been responsible for the deaths of his ex girlfriend and her step mother on Thursday has died.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE that 22 year old Brandon Michael Gray of Foster Road, Smithville died Friday evening at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville where he was being treated for a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Authorities believe that Gray shot and stabbed his ex-girlfriend, 21 year old Heather Nichole Eley and her step mother, 42 year old Lori Ann Eley at their residence on Allens Chapel Road on Thursday afternoon and later called 911 to have officers do a welfare check on his two young children who were also in the home.

Officers later spotted Gray leaving the Mapco Express in a Mazda car. They initiated a pursuit on Cookeville Highway. Gray pulled over near Rolling Acres Road and shot himself. He was first taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital and then to Vanderbilt Hospital.

The bodies of the victims were taken to Nashville for an autopsy.

The Sheriff's Department and TBI Special Agent Billy Miller have been investigating but have not released any information as to a possible motive for the murders.

DeKalb Board of Education Wins "Best Chili" Award at Habitat for Humanity Cook-off

October 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
"Wild West Gang" from the DeKalb County Board of Education
Phil Tollett and Bobby Ponder of Allens Chapel and Buckners Chapel

Another great crowd turned out on Friday to enjoy chili and delicious baked goods at Habitat for Humanity's Eighth Annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, which was held at the 303 Building on the square. The DeKalb County Board of Education won the "Best Chili" award, and "Blessed and Highly Flavored" from Allen's Chapel and Buckner's Chapel Methodist Churches followed in second place. "Wild West Gang" from the DeKalb County Board of Education also won first place honors in the decorating contest.

According to Sharon Evans and the Habitat Chili Cook-off Committee, the event raised $3,000.00, which will be used toward the building of the fourth Habitat house in DeKalb County next year. "Hot chili on such a cold day - what could be better?" said Evans. "It has turned into a great community event that people look forward to. We appreciate all the chili teams for their hard work and dedication to this event and to everyone who brought the delicious baked goods and beautiful plants." Evans added.

Ten teams participated in the event, including "Blessed and Highly Flavored" from Allen's Chapel and Buckner's Chapel Methodist Churches; "Wild West Gang" from the DeKalb County Board of Education; "Hot Checks Chili" from DeKalb Community Bank; "The Courthouse Gang" from the DeKalb County Officials; "Unconditional Chili" from Harbinger Media Partners; "Hale's Bowls of Fire" from James C. Hale; "Comfort Builders" from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; "Avant-garde Chili" from Art Revolution; "Bumpers Web-Slingers" from Bumpers Drive In; "Building Chili - One Bean at a Time" from Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with volunteers and families in need, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged. To contact Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, please call 215-8181.


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