Local News Articles

Man Dies After Car Accident

November 24, 2017
Dwayne Page
Man Dies After Car Accident on Walker Creek Road near Alexandria
Marvin Oppenheim lost his life in Thanksgiving night accident
A 69 year old Smithville man lost his life in a car accident Thanksgiving night on New Hope Road (Walker Creek Road) near Alexandria

A 69 year old Smithville man lost his life in a car accident Thanksgiving night on New Hope Road (Walker Creek Road) near Alexandria.

Dead is Marvin Oppenheim.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Oppenheim was traveling east in a 1990 Lincoln Towncar when the vehicle went off the right side of the narrow road over a steep embankment beside Walker Creek where it came to rest after hitting several small trees. Oppenheim was trapped inside the car

Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department Rescue and Extrication were summoned to stabilize the car.

Oppenheim died at the scene. His body was removed from the car and taken by DeKalb EMS to the hospital.

Because the car was not badly damaged in the accident, Trooper Johnson said Oppenheim may have suffered a medical condition causing him to wreck. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department was also on the scene.

Sheriff Patrick Ray Announces Re-Election Bid

November 24, 2017
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray Announces Re-Election Bid

Sheriff Patrick Ray has announced that he will be seeking the nomination to be a candidate for re-election in the 2018 DeKalb County General Election.

In a prepared statement, Sheriff Ray said he is humbled and honored for the support that he has received while serving as Sheriff of DeKalb County.

“During my time as your Sheriff, I have fulfilled my campaign promises, which was to run a professional and accountable Sheriff’s Department, to spend our tax dollars wisely, to work hard on the trafficking of illegal drugs, and to provide responsive and respectful law enforcement services to the citizens and visitors of DeKalb County,” he said.

“I’ve worked closely with civic organizations throughout the county and I have tried to make myself available to you at all times. I would like the opportunity to continue to lead our Sheriff’s Department in a forward direction. I have enjoyed serving as your Sheriff and I am very humbled and honored for the support I have received while serving as Sheriff of DeKalb County. While a lot of things have changed over the years in our communities, my commitment for professionalism and accountability has not changed. It is my desire to continue to work for the citizens of DeKalb County,” said Sheriff Ray.

The DeKalb County Republican Party selects its nominees for the general election by caucus. Sheriff Ray will seek the GOP nomination for Sheriff.

Angel Tree Project Seeks Gifts for 368 Children

November 24, 2017
Dwayne Page
Angel Tree Project Seeks Gifts for 368 Children

The 22nd Annual DeKalb County Angel Tree Project is currently underway. The Angel Tree provides Christmas gifts for underserved and needy children in DeKalb County. You can pick up your Angel at any local bank in Smithville or Alexandria. There are 368 children representing 175 local families. The adoption tags have suggested wish items but it is not necessary to purchase everything listed. Donations can also be made at any bank branch if you would prefer to have someone do the shopping for you. It is always our goal to have each child adopted but for those who are not, we will do the shopping for them. The deadline to return your gifts is Friday, December 8th, The continued support of the community is what makes this such a successful program.

DESA Delivers Over 270 Thanksgiving Meals to Needy Families

November 23, 2017
Dwayne Page
DESA members and others preparing food trays for delivery to needy families for Thanksgiving
County Mayor Tim Stribling delivers Thanksgiving meal to Shirley Pascal
Mitchell League Receives Thanksgiving Meal from  James Tramel (left), Smithville Firefighter C.J. Tramel, and DeKalb County Firefighter Calvin Tramel
Carmine Bain Receives Thanksgiving meal from Dustin Johnson, Captain of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and Lieutenant of DeKalb Fire Department, and Kristie Johnson, DeKalb Fire Department Station Commander and Safety Officer, Secretary of Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad,  Secretary and Treasurer of the DeKalb Emergency Services Association, and Critical Care Paramedic at DeKalb EMS and Training Officer.
Larry Lepley Receives Thanksgiving meal from Lora and Anderson Webb (shown) along with Thomas Webb and Viviane Bezerra.  (not shown). Lora was a recent graduate of the DeKalb Fire Department’s Citizens Fire Academy

Local emergency service providers and other volunteers found another way to serve their community Thursday morning by making sure a few of the most needy and underserved among us had a hot delicious meal for Thanksgiving.

Over 270 food trays were prepared and delivered by more than 50 volunteers. The meals included smoked turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, green beans, and rolls along with a homemade dessert.

The project was organized by members of the DeKalb Emergency Services Association in partnership with local businesses and volunteers.

“Over the last couple of days we’ve cooked turkeys and gathered up all the food. Today we’ve been preparing and packing up the food at the county complex. We’re serving 272 meals to people all over DeKalb County. We feel this is just another way for our local emergency service providers to serve our community,” said Blake Cantrell, DESA President.

Cantrell said the DESA learned of these families through referrals and from others who called wanting to be added to the list. “We had different people who were referred to us and then through WJLE we put out the word and many people called in and then we had others who called in for loved ones who would not have had a Thanksgiving dinner otherwise,” said Cantrell.

Along with the volunteers who helped prepare and deliver the food, the DESA received great support for the effort by others in the community through donations of money or food and a special thanks goes to them.

DMS Junior Beta Club Bound for National Convention Again

November 23, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club

Members of the DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club will be making a return trip to the National Junior Beta Convention next summer.

The group’s performance of their human video presentation called “United We Stand” earned them a 2nd place finish in the state competition this week after landing a spot among the top 5 following the preliminaries. The state Junior Beta Club Convention was held November 19-21 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

The DMS Junior Beta Club will now prepare for competition at the National Junior Beta Club Convention which will be held in Savannah, Georgia in June, 2018

Last November, the DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club won 1st place at the state convention for their anti-bullying Human Video presentation called “Be The Change” and finished 3rd at the national convention this past June in Orlando, Florida.

Three Women Arrested for Aiding Jail Escapees

November 23, 2017
Dwayne Page
Margaret Ann Taylor
Miranda Nicole Johnson
Jessica Anne Jenkins

Three women have been arrested in separate incidents of aiding jail escapees Bryon Gibbs and Daniel Hamilton who broke out of the DeKalb County Jail Annex Tuesday night and remain at large.

40 year old Margaret Ann Taylor of Store Road, Rock Island; 40 year old Miranda Nicole Johnson of Joe Blanton Road, Woodbury; and 29 year old Jessica Anne Jenkins of Bright Hill Road, Smithville are each charged in separate cases of “permitting or facilitating an escape”.

Although accused of the same offense, Sheriff Patrick Ray said these three women, Taylor, Johnson, and Jenkins, are charged individually for separate contacts with both escapees.

Sheriff Ray said “Taylor picked up Gibbs and Hamilton, who were known to Taylor to be escapees from the DeKalb County Jail, and took them to several different places in DeKalb County. She eventually left them at a residence in DeKalb County”.

The warrant states that “Margaret Taylor did pick up and transport Bryon Gibbs and Daniel Hamilton in Smithville knowing they had escaped from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department (Jail)”.

According to Johnson’s warrant, “Miranda Nicole Johnson did willingly pick up and transport Bryon Gibbs and Daniel Hamilton from a location in DeKalb County knowing they had escaped from the DeKalb County Jail.”

The charge against Jenkins states that “Jessica Anne Jenkins did unlawfully, intentionally, and knowingly permit and facilitate the escape of Bryon Gibbs and Daniel Hamilton from the DeKalb County Jail”.

“Jenkins had conversations Tuesday with inmates in the DeKalb County Jail Annex by phone. Inmates, Gibbs and Hamilton, after their escape from jail, went directly to Jenkins’ home on Bright Hill Road in Smithville. While there, the escapees used Jenkins’ phone, with her permission, for the purpose of contacting someone for transportation to further their escape,” said Sheriff Ray.

All three women were taken into custody Wednesday by detectives of the sheriff’s department. Bond for both Johnson and Jenkins is $10,000 each. Taylor’s bond is $5,000. All three will make a court appearance on December 7.

Sheriff Ray said investigations are continuing and more arrests are forthcoming.

DWS Student Places in Visual Arts at State Jr. Beta Convention

November 22, 2017
Bill Conger
Summer Crook (Photo by Bill Conger)
DeKalb West School students attended the Tennessee Junior Beta Convention Nov. 19-21 at Gaylord Opryland Hotel. (Photo by Bill Conger)

A DeKalb West School student placed at the Junior Beta State convention. Judges awarded Beta President Summer Crook with a 4th place ribbon for her black and white photography entry titled “Teamwork” in Visual Arts. There were more than 111 students who entered the competition.

“This picture is two horses that work together on our farm,” says Crooks. “I chose this subject because these animals work on our farm to help us out with certain tasks like pulling wagons, plowing the garden and more. They can be a big help when you need a lot of horsepower. I wanted to show how our ancestors used to farm, even though some people still use his today.”

Twenty-nine students from DWS attended the convention November 19-21 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Competing in the academic contests were Rebecca Lawrence, Science, and Dawson Bandy, Social Studies. Teaming together for the Tower of Power contest were Madison Martin, Aniston Farler, Aly Griffith, Alex Antoniak, and Ella Hendrixson. Within 15 minutes, they were tasked with using straws to put together a freestanding tower that could hold up a tennis ball at its pinnacle. Participating in Living Literature were Bralin Moss, Dawson Bandy, Riley Fuson, Nathaniel Crook, Ellie Vaughn, Alyssa Crook, and Caleb Dies. They recreated a scene from the non-fiction book, “Who Was Abraham Lincoln?” Brayden Antoniak, Presley Finocchairo, Allen Curtis, and Madison Tarpley worked together for the team contest, “Book Battle.” For Quiz Bowl, Jonathan Littleton, Karson Smallwood, Bonnie Hale, and Ally Tarpley answered trivia questions against other schools. 6th graders Tess Barton, Brynn Harvey, and Blair Gipe participated in Advertising Design. Competing in Visual Arts were Jathan Willoughby, Color Photography, Ethan Curtis and Kayleigh Overstreet, Wreath, Brooklyn Sutherland, Handmade Jewelry, Lydia Willoughby, Woodworking, and Jon Littleton, Pen, Pencil, or Ink.

The theme for the convention was “Beta on Our Minds,” a play of the song, “Georgia on my Mind.” The national convention will be held next summer in Savannah, Georgia.

One of Three Jail Escapees Captured

November 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jack Mullican, Jr.

One of the three escapees from the DeKalb County Jail over night has been captured.

38 year old Jack Mullican, Jr. is back behind bars and has now been charged with escape. He is under a $150,000 bond for this offense and will make a court appearance December 7. Mullican was found in an underground water drain. He became trapped there after making his escape.

The other two escapees, 32 year old Bryon Ray Gibbs and 26 year old Daniel Trey Hamilton remain at large.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that "at 9:31 a.m. this morning (Wednesday) someone called DeKalb Central Dispatch and reported having car trouble when they heard someone yelling for help in an underground water drain. It was a man and he advised the complainant he was one of the escapees from the jail. After officers arrived on the scene, a backhoe operator was summoned to remove a drain grid and at 9:47 am, Mullican. was taken into custody without incident. Mullican advised law enforcement officers that he split off from the other two escapees in the drain and decided he was ready to give up. Mullican has been charged with escape. His warrant reads, “Jack Mullican did escape from the DeKalb County Jail while he was incarcerated on felony charges. This did occur in DeKalb County," said Sheriff Ray

Sheriff Ray asks anyone with information on the whereabouts of Gibbs and Hamilton to call DeKalb Central Dispatch at 615-215-3000, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department at 615-597-4935, or the DeKalb Crime Tip Line at 615-464-6400.

Assessor Asks County Budget Committee for More Help

November 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
Shannon Cantrell

Assessor of Property Shannon Cantrell is in search of an employee to fill a vacancy in his office and he is asking the county budget committee to add a new position.

During a meeting with the budget committee at the courthouse Monday night, Cantrell said one of his employees has resigned and he needs more help.

“An employee who had been there for about three and a half years has resigned. Her last day was Friday so now I’m in the process of trying to replace her. Looking at it optimistically it will be six months to a year before I can train someone to the point where they can actually become productive in the office. There is a learning curve there,” he said.

In addition to the Assessor, the office is budgeted for three employees. Earlier this year Cantrell asked for an additional employee beginning with the current budget year but the request was denied by the budget committee at that time.

With the loss of an experienced worker and an increase in the workload, Cantrell said that a fourth employee is needed now more than ever.

Cantrell said he believes based on the number of parcels in the county at more than 18,000 he is entitled to a fourth employee under state law. Others say the law provides for an employee per 4500 parcels, after the first 4500 parcels.

The budget committee voted to table Cantrell’s request until January when it meets again to take another look at salaries of county employees.

According to Tennessee Code Annotated 67-1-506 in regard to deputy assessors and secretaries:

(a) (1) In order to assure that each county assessor of property shall have a minimum staff to assist the county assessor in carrying out the duties and responsibilities required by law, the assessor is authorized to appoint at least one (1) deputy assessor for each four thousand five hundred (4,500) parcels of property, as determined by the division of property assessments, over and above the first four thousand five hundred (4,500) parcels of property within the assessor’s taxing jurisdiction.

Each deputy assessor shall have the same power, duties and liability of the assessor of property with respect to the appraisal, classification, and assessment of property.

(b) (1) In any county where the assessor does not qualify for a deputy assessor under the provisions of this section, the assessor is authorized, with the approval of the county legislative body, to employ or appoint a secretary to assist the assessor in the operation of the assessor’s office. The compensation of such secretary shall be fixed by the county legislative body and paid out of county funds.

(2) The assessor shall employ such additional staff as the assessor deems necessary and establish rates of compensation for all employees within the appropriation established for the assessor’s office by the county legislative body.

(c) The assessor of property shall be liable for any malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance of the assessor’s deputy.

Three Inmates Escape from DeKalb County Jail

November 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jack Mullican, Jr.
Bryon Ray Gibbs
 Daniel Trey Hamilton
Bryon Ray Gibbs Tattoos
Jack Mullican, Jr. Tattoos
Daniel Trey Hamilton Tattoos

Three inmates at the DeKalb County Jail escaped overnight.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, 38 year old Jack Mullican, Jr. of Adcock Cemetery Road; 32 year old Bryon Ray Gibbs of Gin Alley, Alexandria; and 26 year old Daniel Trey Hamilton of Jacobs Pillar Road broke out of the jail annex.

“We are still investigating but it appears they escaped from the back of the jail annex through a door we believe they jimmied open,” said Sheriff Ray.

Mullican was incarcerated for a violation of probation and charges of aggravated burglary, theft of property, vandalism and a child support attachment.

Gibbs was in jail on charges of aggravated burglary, evading arrest, failure to appear, vandalism, and theft of property. According to Sheriff Ray, Gibbs was charged with these offenses on September 9 and posted bond. Gibbs was then arrested again on October 27 for aggravated assault and vandalism and made bond on those charges. When he went to court on November 9, the judge revoked his bond for getting into trouble while out on bond.

Hamilton was serving a 60 day sentence after which he is to begin serving a sentence of 11 months and 29 days for failure to appear and violation of probation. Polk County also has a hold on Hamilton for charges against him there.

Sheriff Ray said Mullican is caucasian and 5 feet, 9 inches tall. He weighs 174 pounds. Mullican is bald and has blue eyes. He also has multiple tattoos including a “joker” tattoo on his right arm.

Gibbs is caucasian with short brown hair. He stands 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 149 pounds. He has multiple tattoos all the way up to his neck and a sleeve tattoo on both arms

Hamilton is caucasian with short brown hair (almost shaved head) and hazel eyes. He is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 137 pounds. Hamilton also has multiple tattoos including a “money sign” tattoo on his right arm.

If you have information that could lead to the arrests of these escapees call the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department at 615-597-4935, Central Dispatch at 615-215-3000, or the crime tip line at 615-464-6400 if you wish to remain anonymous or you may Facebook the sheriff.


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