Local News Articles

DeKalb Fair to Honor Veterans with Exhibit

April 30, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ria Baker

The DeKalb County Fair is honoring local veterans with a special exhibit for them on “Memory Lane” at the fairgrounds this year.

Organizers are seeking names, photos, and other military information of veterans now in preparation for this exhibit.

“The 2017 DeKalb County Fair, with help of the Liberty State Bank, will be adding a Veterans Exhibit on Memory Lane this year at the fair. We are asking everyone who knows a veteran to please send us your information,” said spokesperson Ria Baker.

“We’d love a copy of a picture with their name, branch of service and the years served. Past years to present, all men who served in wartime or keeping the peace.,” she said.

“This building will also have exhibits of any memorabilia we can get from different wars and lists of all the names we can verify through records and we have access to,” Baker added.

The Veterans Exhibit on Memory Lane will be open July 17-22 from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. nightly during this year's DeKalb County Fair.

You may contact Ria Baker at 615-529-2840 or leave your information and photo at any of the Liberty State Bank locations. Please don’t bring any pictures unless they are copies and be sure to put the name on the back.

“It’s a labor of honor and respect in progress and we hope to add to it yearly. Help us out by sharing your information and by coming by to see the building,” Baker concluded.

Parole Hearing Scheduled for Jessica May

April 28, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jessica Ashley May

21 year old Jessica Ashley May, serving an eight year sentence for attempted aggravated child neglect stemming from the 2015 death of her 23 month old son, will have her first parole hearing next month.

Although May is a state prisoner, she is incarcerated at the Carroll County Jail and the parole hearing will be held there on Tuesday, May 23.

May stood before Judge Gary McKenzie in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 and entered a plea to attempted aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony, and received an eight year sentence as a range I mitigated offender to serve at least 20% before parole eligibility. At the time May had already served 568 days since her arrest on May 19, 2015.

(VIDEO BELOW IS OF JESSICA MAY BEING ESCORTED OUT OF COURTHOUSE AFTER HER PLEA AND SENTENCING HEARING IN DECEMBER)

Less than a week before May’s plea, her fiance at the time, 25 year old Cody Key was handed a 45 year prison term for the beating death of May’s child, 23 month old Colten Alexander May after entering a plea in Putnam County Criminal Court to second degree murder. Key is to serve 100% of the sentence but he was given jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016.

Key is incarcerated at the South Central Correctional Center in Wayne County, a Tennessee Department of Correction facility.

The couple brought the child to the emergency room of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital on Sunday morning, May 17, 2015 but he was already dead. It was determined that the child had suffered internal and other physical injuries that resulted in his death. Law enforcement officers concluded that Key had severely beaten the child and that May knew the abuse was taking place.

“I will say that Jessica May was not involved in the killing of her child, Colten May. She was not an actor in that homicide. We did charge her with neglect because of a history of abuse of the child in which she either turned a blind eye to or did nothing about it. The abuser of the child was Cody Key but Jessica May did nothing to prevent the abuse that was inflicted on the child by Cody Key and she turned a blind eye to it over a period of time. In plain language that is the gist of the circumstances as to why she was charged with neglect,” District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway told WJLE after the hearing.

May, who was pregnant again at the time of her arrest in 2015, was later transferred to the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction due to her special needs. After giving birth, she was initially incarcerated in the Warren County Jail. Her child was placed in the custody of the Department of Children Services and is reportedly now with May’s family members.

Smithville Police Make Arrest for Burglary of Outbuilding

April 28, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Donnie Ray Gillman

Smithville Police have arrested a man for allegedly breaking into an outbuilding.

36 year old Donnie Ray Gillman was charged on Thursday, April 27 with theft and burglary. Gillman allegedly entered an outbuilding on Dearman Street and took several tools belonging to the victim without his knowledge or consent. As a result of the investigation, the items were returned to the victim and Gillman was taken into custody without incident. His bond is $7,500 and his court date is May 11.

30 year old Justin Nathaniel Sparkman was taken into custody for evading arrest on Friday, April 21. According to police, Sparkman fled Wal-Mart Loss Prevention while being questioned about a possible theft from the store. Sparkman reportedly ran from the store and was observed by law enforcement officers on the front porch of a nearby residence. When Sparkman saw the officers he ran into the woods. He was spotted again about three hours later in Hardees parking lot where he was taken into custody without incident. Sparkman’s bond is $1,500 and his court date is May 11.

50 year old Sandra Kay Thomason was arrested for public intoxication on Friday, April 21. According to police, Thomason was outside of her home in the front yard, yelling and cursing at people. Thomason was unsteady on her feet and her speech was unrecognizably slurred. Her bond is $1,500 and her court date is May 11.

36 year old Cindy Renea James was arrested on Monday, April 24 for a 5th offense of driving on a revoked licensed and cited for speeding. Police observed a vehicle traveling 62 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour speed zone, confirmed by radar. An officer made a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, James. She informed the officer that she didn't have a valid driver license. A computer check through Central Dispatch revealed that Sparkman has four prior driving on suspended/revoked convictions. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is May 18.

28 year old Jessica L. Bain was arrested for public intoxication on Tuesday, April 25. Police responded to a domestic on College Street and upon arrival observed a woman (Bain) chasing a man carrying an infant child up the sidewalk. The officer separated the parties and spoke with Bain. She was unsteady on her feet and had an odor of alcohol coming from her breath. Bain was determined to be a danger to herself and the safety of others due to her intoxication and was taken into custody without incident. Bain’s bond is $1,500 and her court date is May 18.

31 year old Justin Ray Lohorn was issued two citations for simple possession on Wednesday, April 26. According to police, on or about Monday, April 24 Lohorn is believed to have been in possession of approximately 1/2 gram of a crystal like substance thought to be methamphetamine while on the job at Star Manufacturing. After the citations were issued, Lohorn was located two days later, on Wednesday, April 26 at Hardees and had in his possession a white pill believed to suboxone for which he had no prescription. His court date is May 11.

26 year old Heather Leigh Stanridge was cited for theft of property on Thursday, April 27 for allegedly putting several products belonging to Mapco in her purse in an attempt to deprive the business of its merchandise. Her court date is May 18.

55 year old Deborah Ann Pierce was cited for theft of property on Friday, April 28. On Monday, April 24 police took a report from a man who had left his wallet on the register at Wal-Mart and when he went back to retrieve it, the wallet was gone. During an investigation police checked the store video surveillance and saw Pierce take the wallet. Her court date is May 11.

National Day of Prayer to be Observed Locally

April 28, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
National Day of Prayer to be Observed Locally

A local observance for the National Day of Prayer will be Thursday, May 4 at noon on the east side of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Isaac Gray, minister at the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, said everyone is invited to attend the event which is non-denominational.

“I want to invite you to come and join us on Thursday, May 4 for the observance of the National Day of Prayer. On that day, our community will gather and pray for our nation, our state, our city, our communities, and our churches. It is a great privilege for God’s people to come together with the purpose of seeking His will and His ways. This event is not sponsored by any church organization. It is simply a gathering of God’s people with the purpose of seeking His face and His glory. We will have local pastors from Smithville and surrounding areas lead us in this time of prayer. We will gather at 12 noon on Thursday, May 4 on the east side of the DeKalb County Courthouse, facing Smithville City Hall. Our rain location is the basement of the courthouse at the same time on the same day. We hope to see you there as we seek God together,” said Gray.

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on the understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.

State Lawmakers to Honor DCHS Valedictorian and Salutatorian

April 27, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Class of 2017 Valedictorian Rachel Fuson
DCHS Class of 2017 Salutatorian Hunter Robinson

Resolutions honoring DeKalb County High School Class of 2017 Valedictorian Rachel Fuson and Salutatorian Hunter Robinson were introduced Thursday, April 27 in the Tennessee General Assembly by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The resolutions are expected to be adopted by both the State House and Senate and signed by the Governor. They have been placed on the House consent calendar for Monday, May 1.

The House Joint Resolution honoring and recognizing Fuson states as follows:

“WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should pause to pay tribute to those students who, through their natural talents and unflagging commitment to academic excellence, have distinguished themselves in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, Rachel Olivia Fuson is one such exceptional student who was recently named Valedictorian of the 2017 graduating class at DeKalb County High School; and

WHEREAS, through diligent study, steady composure during examinations, and steadfast commitment of time and talent, Rachel Fuson achieved outstanding academic success and joined the ranks of the best and brightest students in Tennessee and our country; and

WHEREAS, in her remarkable high school career, she earned an exemplary grade point average while participating in a variety of extracurricular activities, including Beta Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Science Club, Literature Club, and the Climate Crew; she is a football cheerleader and a member of Girls Scouts USA Troop 343; and

WHEREAS, her display of intellectual aptitude and ambition surely bodes well for her future success as a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and

WHEREAS, Ms. Fuson's noteworthy achievement is a tremendous source of pride for her parents, Joe and Melissa Fuson, her school, and her community; and

WHEREAS, Rachel Fuson's dedication to excellence is clearly deserving of the respect, admiration, and commendation of the members of this General Assembly; now, therefore, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED TENTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that we hereby commend and honor the 2017 DeKalb County High School Valedictorian, Rachel Olivia Fuson, on her impressive academic achievement and extend to her our best wishes for a happy, successful future.”

The resolution honoring Robinson states as follows:

“WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should pause to pay tribute to those students who, through their natural talents and unflagging commitment to academic excellence, have distinguished themselves in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, Jacob Hunter Robinson is one such exceptional student who was recently named Salutatorian of the 2017 graduating class at DeKalb County High School; and

WHEREAS, through diligent study, steady composure during examinations, and steadfast commitment of time and talent, Hunter Robinson achieved outstanding academic success and joined the ranks of the best and brightest students in Tennessee and our country; and

WHEREAS, in his remarkable high school career, he earned an exemplary grade point average while participating in a variety of extracurricular activities, including the Senior Beta Club and the soccer team; treasurer of his FFA chapter, he received the FFA state degree in March 2017; and

WHEREAS, his display of intellectual aptitude and ambition surely bodes well for his future success as a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Robinson's noteworthy achievement is a tremendous source of pride for his parents, Lynn and Regina Robinson, his school, and his community; and

WHEREAS, Hunter Robinson's dedication to excellence is clearly deserving of the respect, admiration, and commendation of the members of this General Assembly; now, therefore, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED TENTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that we hereby commend and honor the 2017 DeKalb County High School Salutatorian, Jacob Hunter Robinson, on his impressive academic achievement and extend to him our best wishes for a happy, successful future.”

Fundraisers Scheduled to Support Local Family Planning to Adopt Children From Ukraine

April 27, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Collage of Photos featuring Todd and Missy Pack and children they plan to adopt from Ukraine Misha and Mykola

A local couple has spent several months planning and raising money hoping to adopt two children from the Ukraine and you can help further that effort by supporting two upcoming fundraisers.

Rockin C Stables will have a fundraiser Saturday, April 29 at Tractor Supply Company in Smithville for Missy and Todd Pack to help finance the adoption of their two boys, 14 year old Misha and 12 year old Mykola. There will be pony rides for donations along with a silent auction. Christie Q Barbeque will be selling food. The event will take place from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. If you want to volunteer or donate to the auction or just donate money ahead of time please call Lindi Carter at 931-273-1317.

The second fundraiser will be on Thursday, May 4 at 6:00 p.m. at the county complex. “The program will start with Lularoe, a silent auction, food, and you can register to win a beautiful wooden stool made by my father,” said Missy. “ Then join us for some entertainment in the Theater starting at 7:00 p.m.. Listen to Josh Issac sing, watch The Assembly of God Relentless Youth perform and hear the bluegrass sounds of the band "Heritage". The final performance will be a men's comedy Lularoe fashion show directed by Josh Issca himself! It's gonna be a great night of family fun and laughter you’re not going to want to miss,” added Missy.

Although Todd and Missy have already raised $8,500, they still need $25,000. “We are at the final stages of preparing our paperwork to be submitted to Ukraine. When that is submitted a judge will review and give us a date for our first of three trips. We are still needing $25,000 to complete these final stages. $17,000 of that alone is the cost of the adoption for both boys. So far we have raised $8500 with the help and support of our friends, family and community. We are beyond grateful for everyone that is supporting us through our adoption of starting our family,”said Missy.

After a bout with ovarian cancer several years ago, Missy learned she would be unable to have biological children. But after an encounter with a group of children from the Ukraine at their church last August Todd and Missy began thinking about parenthood through adoption.

Through “Bridges of Faith”, an Alabama faith-based program, orphans from the Ukraine are brought to America for a period of cultural enrichment, and it was during that August visit to their church, the Smithville First Assembly of God, where the Pack’s met ten kids from the Ukraine, including two in particular who stole their hearts, Misha and Mykola.

“We knew right then they were for us” said Todd.

“These orphaned children came here for a visit and to be brought before the body of Christ to help get them adopted and while we knew the kids would be here we had no clue at that time that we would be planning to adopt any of them. But when we saw them at the church and got to hug them I just knew instantly that God had called me to be two of these children’s momma. I am unable to have kids so for me to experience that fulfillment of becoming a momma, I knew that was God working and when He tells you to do it, you do it no matter where the children are from. You adopt these children and you give them a family,” said Missy.

After the children’s visit, Todd and Missy chose to adopt Misha and Mykola but the process is lengthy and expensive. “It takes time and money,” said Todd.

“We had to talk to a facilitator in Ukraine. We had to obtain passports and sign power of attorney over to him so that he could start the adoption process there. We also have to do a lot of paper work here, go through background checks with the government, send our paper work over to the Ukraine, and then it goes through the court system there. We will eventually have to go before a judge there to complete the adoption,” added Todd.

The Pack's are looking forward to bringing Mykola and Misha home and they too are anxious to come live with their new family. “They love America. We get to see them sometimes on facebook chat with our friend in the orphanage with them. That last Saturday (during their visit), Mykola even called me momma although momma means different for them. It means someone they trust and confide in,” Missy said.

Founded by the Reverend Tom Benz, Bridges of Faith International reaches out to orphans in Ukraine. Three to four times each year, Bridges of Faith brings Ukrainian orphans to BridgeStone, a 140 acre retreat center in Central Alabama, to taste Alabama culture, faith, and life. All volunteer driven, hundreds of people from across America and Ukraine work together to demonstrate love for these kids. Though not an adoption agency,families meet the children and often invite these kids into their forever families.

To follow the Pack's fundraising page visit

https://fundrazr.com/toddandmissypack

Fifty Pounds of Unused Drugs Collected during Prescription Take Back Day

April 27, 2017
by: 
Norene Puckett
Elise Driver, Cindy Childers, and Lisa Cripps: Board of Education-Coordinated School Health
A child abuse awareness walk was held led by Bee Tubbs
“Pinwheels for Prevention” were placed at Smithville City Hall with the message, “Every child deserves a chance.”

Approximately fifty pounds of unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs were collected on Saturday, April 22 during the Prescription Drug Take Back Day sponsored locally by the DeKalb Prevention Coalition.

The DeKalb Prevention Coalition (DPC) wants to thank the community for coming out in the rain and helping to make DeKalb County safer for its citizens. The day was also to raise awareness for child abuse and prevention. A child abuse awareness walk was held at 10:30am led by Bee Tubbs. Other agencies participating in the day were the DeKalb County Health Department, Board of Education-Coordinated School Health, Haven of Hope, St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital, Therapeutic Intervention Inc., Dept. of Children Services, Stonecom Radio, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, and Camelot. “Pinwheels for Prevention” were placed at Smithville City Hall with the message, “Every child deserves a chance.”

Statistics from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that 55% of prescriptions are obtained free from a friend or relative. Kristina Clark, the Executive Director of Count It! Lock It! Drop It! states “Parents and family friends become accidental drug dealers by leaving medications out on counters, unlocked and/or unmonitored. Three simple steps can make a big difference in prescription drug abuse.” The DPC’s comprehensive community plan for prescription drug abuse prevention, “Count It! Lock It! Drop It!” encourages residents to frequently count their pills, properly lock them, and drop any unused, expired or unwanted pills in the drop box. The drop box is located in Smithville’s City Hall which is open Monday-Friday from 8:00am-4:30pm.

The Mission of DPC is to unite community leaders and citizens of DeKalb County forming strong partnerships across major community sectors with the goal of reducing substance abuse. The DPC would like to extend an invitation to all residents to become a part of the coalition. The meetings are held the last Tuesday of each month at 12:00pm. For more information about DPC or child abuse awareness, please contact Community Outreach Liaison Norene Puckett at (615) 215-8690 or the facebook page at facebook.com/DeKalbPreventionCoalition.

Balderas Receives "Classroom Champion" Award

April 27, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Nancy Balderas
Attorney Jim Judkins, Assistant Principal at Northside Elementary School Beth Pafford, Nancy Balderas, Ausencio Balderas, and Northside Elementary Principal Karen Knowles

Nancy Balderas of Northside Elementary School is the recipient of this week’s “Classroom Champion” award presented by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins and WJLE.

Daughter of Ausencio and Maria Teresa Balderas, Nancy is a third grade student and her teacher is Katie Merriman. She has a sister, Jayarh. Nancy recently received the honor and a special gift card from Judkins.

Nancy said she would like to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She likes to color, draw, and read. Her favorite foods are pizza and spaghetti but she doesn’t like onions or sharks.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week for the next few weeks.

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, citizenship, and character, “said Judkins.

Boating Safety Class from Coast Guard Auxiliary May 6th

April 27, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 11-6 is offering a one-day boating safety class on Saturday, May 6, 2016 at the Dekalb County Community Center located at 712 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville, Tennessee from 8:00 AM – 4:00PM. Class is taught free but $7.00 fee per student
covers lunch. Preregistration is required as the class size is limited. For more information and/or to register, please call John Whelan at 615-933-1874 or 615-948-8051 and leave a message.

BOAT TENNESSEE is a comprehensive boating course designed for both beginners and novice boaters. This course will be taught in a one-day session with a short lunch break. Topics include: Types and Uses of Boats/Engines; Boat Handling; Equipment for Boats, Trailering, Aids to Navigation, Rules of the Road, Inland Boating, Boating Laws/State Laws, Boating Problems/Emergencies, and more. The exam to be given will be
the State of Tennessee boating exam.

This course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Those who successfully complete the course and exam are awarded certificates of completion. Many marine insurance companies offer discounts on boat insurance to those who complete this course.

If the student taking this course and exam was born after January 1, 1989, then the student MUST also preregister with the State of Tennessee to take the boating exam and pay an additional fee of $10 per person to the State. The exam ticket is Type 600 and can be obtained from any TWRA fishing/hunting licensing agent.

Proof of identity of student may be required. Students are also strongly encouraged to obtain their textbooks in advance for reading and studying.

DeKalb County Receives Healthier Tennessee Community Grant

April 26, 2017
DeKalb County Receives Healthier Tennessee Community Grant

The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness today announced DeKalb County has been awarded a $5,000 Healthier Tennessee Community Grant to help sustain community-wide projects that encourage and enable physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence.

“We are pleased to present this grant to DeKalb County in recognition of the great work being done there and with the belief that it will boost efforts to improve the health of local citizens and the overall quality of life in the community,” Governor’s Foundation CEO Richard Johnson said.

To earn the grant, DeKalb County achieved:
* At least 50 percent of K-8 teachers using GoNoodle, an interactive, online tool that encourages exercise during the school day.
* At least 15 percent of faith communities with 100 or more members using Small Starts @ Worship wellness programs.
* At least 20 percent of workplaces with 35 or more employees using Small Starts @ Work wellness programs.

In Tennessee, one in five adults smokes, and one in five high school students uses tobacco. Approximately 34 percent of the population is classified as obese and an additional 34 percent are overweight, and type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure are at epidemic levels.

The Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative takes a local approach to improving Tennesseans’ health by engaging citizens and local leaders in cities, towns, counties and neighborhoods across the state.

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