Local News Articles

Grants Awarded to DeKalb County Libraries for Technology Upgrades

May 31, 2011
Dwayne Page
Taft Hendrixson, Terri Lynn Weaver, Kathy Hendrixson, Mae Beavers, Mike Foster

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Senator Mae Beavers presented checks to DeKalb County Library Director Kathy Hendrixson on Thursday for upgrade technology.

The presentation was made at Justin Potter Library. Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson and County Mayor Mike Foster were also on hand for the occasion.

As WJLE reported on May 9th, DeKalb County is one of more than 70 communities across Tennessee that are receiving grants to upgrade technology at rural libraries.

These grants, which total more than $1.2 million, are the product of a partnership between the Office of the Secretary of State, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development in a quest to strengthen rural communities by developing libraries.

The county will receive $16,076 to be used at the Alexandria Branch Library and another $16,076 to be used at the Justin Potter Library.

Hendrixson said "the focus of these grants are to help the community in the difficult times with developing computer skills, resume building and teaching the public how to set up online e-mail,etc. Justin Potter Library and Alexandria Library will each receive a laptop computer lab in order to provide computer classes to the public. We appreciate this grant and the opportunity it gives the libraries to bring these services to the community," said Hendrixson.

"Libraries in rural areas play an especially important role in connecting citizens with the resources and opportunities that are oftentimes isolated to urban areas," said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. "These grants will go a long way toward providing vital access to computers and the Internet, which is particularly helpful in some of the areas that were hit the hardest by the recession."

Grants may be used to cover costs for computer equipment, new training, educational opportunities, Internet access and other enhancements approved by the USDA.

"These grants will help people access information on employment opportunities, job training, small business development and education here in DeKalb County," said state Sen. Mae Beavers. "This will help level the playing field in the job market and eliminate the need for some people to drive to big cities to get Internet access."

"When people have trouble getting Internet connections or cannot afford a home computer, our public libraries fill a void," said state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver. "Our community is extremely grateful for the help of the Office of the Secretary of State, ECD and USDA Rural Development."

DeKalb Countians Pause to Reflect on Memorial Day

May 31, 2011
Dwayne Page

A group of patriotic citizens joined members of the American Legion POST 122 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars POST 7623 in remembering those who have died in our nation's service during a Memorial Day program Monday morning at the 303 building downtown Smithville.

The service featured gospel and patriotic music by George Storie and 4 the Lord, an opening prayer by American Legion Commander Edward Frazier, Doyle Smith leading the group in the Pledge of Allegiance and remarks by the guest speaker, minister Bobby Thomason of the Covenant Baptist Church

Bobby Thomason Speaks at Memorial Day Program from dwayne page on Vimeo.
At the conclusion of the observance, a wreath was placed at the site of the Veterans Memorial Monument located on the south side of the courthouse by American Legion leaders Edward Frazier, Ronnie Redman, and Carlton Miller.

In 1971, Congress expanded the Memorial Day tradition to include all those who have died in service to our nation and the last Monday in May was officially designated Memorial Day; a day of remembrance on which we honor those who fell in defense of freedom through solemn observances.

On this important day, communities all across Tennessee stopped to honor the great sacrifices made by our men and women who served and continue to serve in harms way. Even though there is sadness in remembering the fallen, Memorial Day stands as a celebration of hope that the ideals of peace, freedom and posterity will shine forever in the life of our nation. There are approximately 500,000 veterans currently residing in the State of Tennessee.

Sons of Confederate Veterans Remember 16th Tennessee Infantry

May 30, 2011
Dwayne Page

Members of the Savage-Goodner Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans held a Memorial Day "Grand Reunion of the 16th Tennessee Infantry" Monday.

The remembrance program was held at the 303 building downtown followed by a barbeque lunch.

Shawn Jacobs and Mike Corley at Memorial Day Observance from dwayne page on Vimeo.
The program featured remarks by Savage Goodner Camp SCV Historian Shawn Jacobs and Commander Mike Corley. Jacobs also read a poem for the occasion called "Memorial Day". Local Historian Tommy Webb gave an account of the trials and tribulations suffered by the men of the 16th Tennessee Infantry and Drew Fedak and his band performed some songs from the Civil War time period during lunch.

Drew Fedak and Friends from dwayne page on Vimeo.

A thousand men from the Caney Fork region, including DeKalb County, volunteered to serve their country 150 years ago as part of a body of soldiers which became a renowned Confederate regiment called the 16th Tennessee Infantry. With former Congressman John Savage selected as their colonel, These men fought on battlefields in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. By the end of the war, less than one hundred remained.

During Monday's observance, a wreath was laid at the Confederate Memorial Monument at the courthouse lawn and later in the day a gravemarker was placed at the site of a previously unmarked confederate grave in the Belk community.

Liberty Man Charged with Possession of Stolen County Road Sign

May 30, 2011
Dwayne Page
 Ricky Todd Preston
Steven Levan Gandy

A Liberty man was charged with possession of a stolen county road sign after being pulled over for a traffic violation Friday, May 27

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 25 year old Ricky Todd Preston of Preston Vickers Road, Liberty was arrested for driving on a suspended license and possession of stolen property. Preston was further issued citations for misuse of registration and failure to stop at a stop sign. His bond totals $3,000 and he will be in court June 2nd. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 27, Preston was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 when he was stopped for running a stop sign. The arresting officer also discovered that the tag on Preston's vehicle was registered to another automobile A computer check revealed that his license were suspended for failure to satisfy a citation on April 4. Meanwhile, behind the back seat was a road sign belonging to DeKalb County, valued at less than $500.

Meanwhile, 24 year old Rey Basurto Barrera of Mill Street, Manchester was issued a citation on Thursday, May 26 for driving without a license and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). He will be in court on June 15. Sheriff Ray reports that Barrera was driving south on Short Mountain Highway when he ran off the roadway and struck a mailbox. He did not have a drivers license and failed to show proof of insurance.

22 year old Stanley Farley of McFloyd Road, Sparta is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on June 30th. Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, May 28 at the Cloverleaf Restaurant on Highway 70 the sheriff's department received a call of a man trying to get into the restaurant. Upon arrival, the deputies found Stanley at the back of the building. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he would not comply with the officers' commands. The deputies then discovered that Stanley was deaf. Sheriff Ray said that Stanley grabbed onto a tree to keep the officers from handcuffing him. He would not walk on his own to the patrol car so the deputies had to carry him. Stanley refused to cooperate with the officers until he got to the jail.

30 year old Steven Levan Gandy of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $500, reckless endangerment, and evading arrest. Gandy was further issued a citation for misuse of registration. Gandy's court date is June 16 and his bond totals $12,500.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, May 28, a deputy tried to pull over Gandy's vehicle on Highway 56 to serve a warrant on him. When the officer turned on his emergency equipment signaling him to stop, Gandy fled in his vehicle from the McDonald's parking lot to Bryant Street and then almost to College Street before stopping. When Gandy turned onto Bryant Street he cut across another lane of traffic, forcing other vehicles to stop to keep from hitting his automobile in the side. After getting him stopped, the officer served the warrant on Gandy, taken by the Alexandria Police Department, for theft. According to the warrant, Gandy went to a location on Jennings Lane in Alexandria on Saturday, May 14 where he allegedly took two TV sets without the owner's consent, valued at over $500. The TV sets were later recovered at Gandy's residence. The arresting officer also discovered that the tag on Gandy's vehicle was actually for a different automobile, according to a computer check.

41 year old Heather Johnson of Wenger Lane, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license. She was also issued a citation for failure to yield to a stop sign. Johnson will appear in court June 15. Her bond totals $1,500. Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, May 28, Johnson was operating a vehicle on Highway 70 when she was pulled over for rolling through a stop sign at the Allen's Ferry Road intersection. A computer check revealed that her license were revoked for a DUI in Rutherford County on September 1, 2010.

Pedestrian Killed in Traffic Accident on Jefferson Road

May 30, 2011
Dwayne Page
Driver of this Jeep Cherokee Accidentally Hits Pedestrian (WJLE Photo)
Pedestrian Struck by Jeep Cherokee on Jefferson Road (WJLE Photo)
THP Sergeant Mark Dial Spray Paints Spot of Skid Marks (WJLE Photo)

A 49 year old man, walking near the middle of Jefferson Road, was killed Sunday night after being struck by a motorist around 8:55 p.m.

Dead is David Lynn Judkins.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 19 year old Duncan Delille of Silver Point was driving east in a 1995 Jeep Cherokee when he saw a man walking east in front of him near the center line of the two lane road. Judkins was wearing black jeans and no shirt. Delille swerved to the right but the left front of his vehicle hit Judkins. After impact, Judkins came to rest in a ditch on the northside of the roadway. He died instantly.

Delille pulled over to the right side of the road after the accident and authorities were notified.

Neither Delille nor the juvenile passenger of his vehicle were injured.

Only minutes before the fatal accident, another motorist had a close call with Judkins. According to Trooper England someone called 911 to report a pedestrian walking in the middle of Jefferson Road and that he had almost struck him. A deputy was enroute to investigate when the call came in that the pedestrian (Judkins) had been hit.

Trooper England said Judkins' last known address was McMinnville but it is believed he was staying with friends or relatives in the Jefferson community.

No charges will be filed in the case.

Trooper England was assisted in the investigation by THP Sergeant Mark Dial and Trooper Darrell Knowles. Deputies of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department were also on the scene along with DeKalb EMS and the Keltonburg station of the DeKalb County Fire Department. Jefferson Road at the crash scene was closed for about three hours during the investigation.

Springfield Youth Drowns in Center Hill Lake

May 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
Floating Mill Recreation Area (Photo Made Two Hours After Body Recovered)

A 17 year old Springfield boy drowned Sunday afternoon while swimming at the Floating Mill Recreation area on Center Hill Lake.

TWRA Officer Mike Beaty told WJLE that the young Hispanic boy was at the lake with a group of family and friends enjoying a Memorial Day weekend outing when the tragic incident occurred.

According to Officer Beaty, the victim and another boy who were inside the designated swimming area, decided to swim the approximately 75 yard distance from the bank to the buoys on the far side. As the boys were swimming across, one of the them began screaming for help. Other swimmers in the area came to his rescue and pulled him to shore. While this boy was being tended to, the other youth who had not called out for help or shown any signs of distress, suddenly disappeared in the water.

Swimmers in the area frantically tried to find the boy. Kevin Salvilla, Center Hill Lake Resource Manager, who was off duty but present at the time, dove into the lake looking for the youth.

911 received the call at 1:33 p.m. and TWRA Officers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Rangers, members of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department all soon arrived on the scene.

Officer Beaty said TWRA officers used side scan sonar to pinpoint the location and the Rescue Squad pulled up the body after making only three passes over the area with a drag bar. The youth, who was found in about seven to eight feet of water, was pronounced dead by the medical examiner. The body was recovered at 2:20 p.m., less than an hour after he drowned.

Because he is a juvenile, Officer Beaty would not release the boy's name.

Officer Beaty was joined by fellow TWRA Officers Tommy Stockling, Tommy Alexander, and Jason Miller. Corps Rangers on the scene included Chris Cantrell, Ben MacIntyre and Gary Bruce.

The boy's death marks the first drowning of the year on Center Hill Lake.

DeKalb Relay for Life Kicks Off Friday

May 29, 2011
Dwayne Page
Cancer Survivors from 2010 Relay for Life

The 14th annual Relay for Life in DeKalb County will be held starting Friday, June 3rd at Greenbrook Park going all night until early Saturday morning, June 4th.

Relay For Life, the American Cancer Society's signature event, is a fun-filled overnight experience designed to bring together those who have been touched by cancer. This year's theme is "Together We Fight....Together We Win". WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

The schedule of entertainment and events for this year's Relay program is as follows:

5:00 p.m.: Dessa Ray
5:15 p.m.: Larry Briggs
5:30 p.m.: New West Point Singers
5:45 p.m.: Kathy Goodwin

5:55 p.m.:
Presentation of the Colors by Boy Scout Troop #347
National Anthem sung by Suzanne Slager
Invocation by Michael Farr, Pastor of the Smithville Church of God


6:00 p.m. :
Opening Ceremony for Relay 2011
Welcoming remarks by Barbara Ashford
Introduction of cancer survivors
Song honoring cancer survivors by Bonnie Rigsby and Shelley Cross
Prayer for cancer survivors by B.J. Thomason, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church
Cancer survivors take the first lap around the park


6:45 p.m.: Presbyterian Praise Group
7:00 p.m.: Page Family
7:15 p.m.: Gather Round Boys
7:30 p.m.: Church of God Youth Group
7:45 p.m.: Olivia Wright
8:00 p.m.: Tina Boston
8:15 p.m.: Fluty & the Flutones
8:30 p.m.: New Life Pentecostal Praise Group
8:45 p.m.: Kevin Roberts

9:00 p.m.:
Luminaria Ceremony
Prayer: Dan Gulley, Minister of the Smithville Church of Christ

9:15 p.m.: Clata Redmon
9:30 p.m.:Barbara Green & Hannah
9:45 p.m. Elizabeth Chapel Youth Drama Team
10:00 p.m. Cumberland Presbyterian Youth Drama Team
10:15 p.m.: 61 Seconds

Announcers for the program will be Wendell Judkins and George Taylor

At Relay, people from within the community gather to celebrate survivors, remember those lost to cancer, and to fight back against this disease. Relay participants help raise money and awareness to support the American Cancer Society in its lifesaving mission to eliminate cancer as a major health issue. During Relay For Life events, teams of people gather and take turns walking or running laps. The events are held overnight to represent the fact that cancer never sleeps. Through the survivors' lap and the luminaria ceremony, the people who have faced cancer first hand are honored, and those who have been lost to this disease are remembered.

But, Relay isn't about taking laps -- it's about coming together in the fight against cancer. It's a time to remember those lost to this disease and celebrate those who have survived. It's a place where people connect with others, share the cancer experience, and find comfort and solace. And it's an opportunity to build hope for a future where cancer no longer threatens the lives of the people we love.

As volunteers and donors, your efforts support research, education, advocacy, and services that allow the American Cancer Society to offer help and hope to people across the country when they need it most. By joining together at Relay, we celebrate life, friendship, and an opportunity to work to defeat cancer for future generations.

In 2010 in DeKalb County, the American Cancer Society provided 33 people with 92 patient services. Twenty five nights of lodging were also provided at the Nashville Hope Lodge along with gas for 155 trips to treatment through the Transportation Grant Program.

On June 3rd, the community will gather together as one group to help in the battle against cancer. At Greenbrook Park in Smithville, dozens of teams, volunteers, community leaders, and citizens will enjoy the annual Relay for Life event. Plans are to have lots of entertainment and food available that evening, starting at around 6:00 pm. Planning for the Relay is a year round event and the organizers hope that you will enjoy what they have in store for you. Relay is the largest community event held in DeKalb County. Please join in for this special night and have lots of fun helping raise money.

Suspect in Smithville Statutory Rape Case Arrested in Pennsylvania

May 27, 2011
Dwayne Page
Roel Selaya Sosa

A 25 year old man accused of having sex with a fifteen year old girl during an after hours "Read Night" program at Smithville Elementary School has been located after eluding Smithville Police for more than two months.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger and Detective Matt Holmes told WJLE Friday that Roel Selaya Sosa, aka Carlos Oliver Aldino, was arrested Wednesday, May 25 by authorities in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania where he was working on a ranch and using "Martinez" as his last name.

Chief Caplinger and Detective Holmes said that Sosa is facing a court hearing in Pennsylvania where he is charged with being a fugitive from justice and for using a fake identification. He is awaiting extradition back to Smithville to face a charge of statutory rape.

Sosa, who lived in Apartment-A at 615 South Mountain Street, was employed at Zelenka Nursery as a crew leader. Workers there told police one week after the offense on Monday, March 14th that Sosa had failed to show up for work and indicated that he might have gone to Mexico.

Detective Holmes, who investigated the case, said that on the night of the incident, March 7th, the fifteen year old girl was at the school to look after her younger brother who was participating in"Read Night", a teacher supervised program where parents and students come to school after hours and read together. The mother of these two children had apparently dropped them off at the school and then returned later to pick them up.

After arriving at the school that night, the fifteen year old met up with Sosa and they separated themselves from others in the building. Police have declined to make public more details about the encounter between the two, fearing it might harm the prosecution of the case. According to Detective Holmes, a custodian later saw Sosa and the victim standing in the hallway and told them they were not supposed to be there.

The next day, Detective Holmes said the custodian informed Principal Dr. Bill Tanner of the incident and he contacted the victim's mother. She then reported it to School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead, who contacted the Department of Children Services and Detective Holmes.

Although Sosa could not be located in the days following the incident, Smithville Police seized his green Chevy Tahoe. The vehicle was found parked at Sosa's residence. Detective Holmes said police believe he drove it to the school to commit the act, which is use of a vehicle in the commission of a felony.

Police got a break in the case Wednesday after questioning an informant who was believed to have knowledge of Sosa's whereabouts. The informant told police that Sosa was working at a ranch in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Authorities there were contacted and Sosa was arrested. Chief Caplinger and Detective Holmes said Sosa has been positively identified as the suspect in the case.

Two Memorial Day Programs Scheduled

May 27, 2011
Dwayne Page

Two Memorial Day Programs will be held Monday, May 30th at the 303 Building downtown Smithville.

The first program, sponsored by the American Legion Post #122 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7623, will begin with entertainment at 9:00 a.m. by the gospel group "4 the Lord" featuring George Storie. The ceremony will get underway at 10:00 a.m.

The second program, which follows the first, will be presented by the Savage-Goodner Camp of Sons of the Confederate Veterans. It's a Grand Reunion of the 16th Tennessee Infantry. During the program, an Historian will be present to assist you with questions you may have about your ancestors; music of the period will be played; a barbeque lunch will be served (while it lasts), and Professor Tommy Webb will describe the trials and tribulations suffered by these men. Please bring memorabilia and photographs of your ancestors. Photos will be copied for archival purposes.

Mike Corley said that 150 years ago, a thousand men from the Caney Fork region volunteered to serve their country. This body of soldiers was organized as the 16th Tennessee Infantry with former Congressman John Savage selected as their colonel. They fought on battlefields in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. By the end of the war, less than one hundred remained. If you claim an ancestor among those men, please join the Savage-Goodner Camp of the Confederate Veterans at this reunion.

DeKalb 911 Board Receives State Approval to Implement Rate Increases

May 27, 2011
Dwayne Page
Brad Mullinax

DeKalb County landline telephone subscribers can expect a rate increase for 911 services within sixty days.

The DeKalb County Emergency Communications District has received approval from the state board to implement the increase and to notify telephone service providers within the ECD.

In a letter dated May 24 to Director Brad Mullinax of the local ECD, Lynn Questell, Executive Director of the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, wrote that "this letter concerns the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District's application to increase the 911 services charge on landlines in DeKalb County. On May 19, the Tennessee Emergency Communications board approved this request pursuant to (state law). Accordingly, the Board of Directors of the DeKalb County ECD may increase the emergency telephone service charge within DeKalb County to the following effective May 19, 2011:

The new rates will be $1.50 per month for residence-classification service users (up from the currrent rate of 65 cents) and $3.00 per month for business-classification users (up from the current rate of $2.00 per month).

You are hereby authorized and encouraged to immediately notify the telephone service providers delivering landline service within your ECD of the rate increase. Such service providers shall implement the new rate classification within sixty calendar days of receiving notice of the increase," wrote Questell

Mullinax told WJLE Friday that he has sent notification to the telephone service providers by certified mail.

The state (ECD) board will review the rate again with three years. According to Questell's letter " Within three years of the date of approval, DeKalb County ECD shall submit a financial report to the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board consistent with TECB policy at which time the TECB will consider the propriety of maintaining the rate".

DeKalb County landline telephone subscribers have been paying the same rates for 911 services since 1994..

Facing ever increasing costs and declining revenues due to fewer landline telephones, the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (911 board of directors) decided several months ago to seek an 85 cent per month increase for residential lines and a $1.00 increase per month for business lines. The proposed increase is expected to generate more than $88,000 per year.

Mullinax said the rate increase is needed "We have seen a decrease in the number of landlines over the years. That's not cell phones but the telephones you have in your house. It is and has been the basis of our funding since 1994 when 911 was first set up in DeKalb County. But over the last several years, people have been dropping their landlines and going exclusively with cell phones because its cheaper for them. The problem is it affects 911 services because that's where our funding comes from. For at least the past three years we've seen about a seven percent decrease in our funding from our landline 911 rates. Our revenue is going down but our costs keep going up."

Mullinax adds that while the local 911 operation does receive funds from cell phones, it has no control over those rates. " We do get money from cell phones and there's often times a misconception about that. You are paying a dollar surcharge on each cell phone you have. If you have three cell phones then you're paying a $3.00 911 surcharge. The problem is that the State of Tennessee keeps 75% of that money and we are allocated only 25% of that wireless money based on our population. Even though just about everybody has a cell phone, we don't get anywhere close to receiving the amount of money we need from cell phones to support us. From my understanding, it would take a change of state law to change the way the money is allocated or the fee that is charged on a cell phone."

In March, the DeKalb County ECD Board adopted a resolution seeking approval from the Tennessee ECB to enact the rate increases.

Members of the board are Chairman Ron Rogers, Billy Adcock , County Commissioners Wayne Cantrell, Marshall Ferrell, Elmer Ellis, Jr., and Jerry Scott, Smithville Alderman Steve White, and County Mayor Mike Foster.


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