Local News Articles

Three Seriously Injured in Saturday Crash

March 14, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
1997 Ford F150 driven by 22 year old Michael Quinton McKinley
1977 Ford pickup driven by 43 year old Timmy Hendrixson
Scene of Two Truck Crash on Highway 56 South

Three people were seriously injured in a two vehicle crash Saturday on Highway 56 south near Evins Mill Nursery.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 22 year old Michael Quinton McKinley of McMinnville was traveling north in a 1997 Ford F150 when the truck went off the right side of the highway. McKinley overcorrected and his truck then crossed the center line and made an angle impact with a southbound 1977 Ford pickup , driven by 43 year old Timmy Hendrixson of Smithville.

Hendrixson was ejected from his truck. McKinley was trapped in his pickup. Both were seriously hurt along with a 17 year old McMinnville boy who was a passenger with McKinley.

Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department's Extrication Team were summoned to help free McKinley from the wreckage.

According to Trooper Johnson, McKinley was transported by DeKalb EMS to Vanderbilt Hospital. The 17 year old boy was taken by EMS to the Smithville Municipal Airport where he was airlifted by a helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. DeKalb EMS took Hendrixson to Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Sergeants Eric McCormick and Jimmy Jones assisted Trooper Johnson with the crash investigation. Charges are pending.

Tyra Graham is First Ever Miss Spring Blossom

March 14, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tyra Grace Graham is the first ever Miss Spring Blossom.
1st Runner-up Destiny Danielle Franklin, Miss Spring Blossom Tyra Grace Graham, 2nd Runner-up Victoria Vincent

Tyra Grace Graham is the first ever Miss Spring Blossom.

Graham, the 16 year old daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville, won the inaugural pageant held Saturday at DCHS sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club. She was also named Miss Photogenic.

First runner-up went to Destiny Danielle Franklin, the 15 year old daughter of Jennifer Ware of Smithville.

Victoria Vincent was second runner-up. She is the 18 year old daughter of Darrin and Julie Vincent of Smithville. Vincent was also selected Miss Personality.

The pageant featured three contestants ages 15-18.

Kirksey Crowned Little Miss

March 14, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Little Miss Ella Grace Kirksey
3rd Runner-up Kaydence Shontae Johnson, 1st Runner-up Leah Elisabeth Trapp, Little Miss Ella Grace Kirksey, 2nd Runner-up Zayleigh Grace Washer, and 4th Runner-up Lakelyn Brooke Nelson
Little Miss and Photogenic Ella Grace Kirksey and Little Miss Personality Savannah Faith Stibil

The winner of the Little Miss Pageant Saturday was Ella Grace Kirksey, the four year old daughter of Graden and Sabrina Kirksey of Smithville.

Kirksey, who also won the title of Little Miss Photogenic, succeeds the retiring Little Miss, Averie Nicole McMinn, the seven year old daughter of Nathan and Amanda McMinn of Dowelltown.

Fourteen girls, ages four to six, were in the pageant held at DCHS sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

Runners-up in the pageant are as follows:

First runner-up: Leah Elisabeth Trapp, the six year old daughter of Jeremy and Jenny Trapp of Smithville.

Second runner-up: Zayleigh Grace Washer, the six year old daughter of Larry and Rachel Bain of Smithville.

Third runner-up: Kaydence Shontae Johnson, the five year old daughter of Jeremy Ashburn and Trista Johnson of Smithville.

Fourth runner-up: Lakelyn Brooke Nelson, the four year old daughter of Dustin and Kristian Nelson of Smithville.

Little Miss Personality: Savannah Faith Stibil, the four year old daughter of John and Glenda Stibil of Smithville

Rounding out the top ten were McKenna Reece Miller, the six year old daughter of Charles and Christen Cox and David Miller of Smithville; Lillie Grace Young, the five year old daughter of Michael and Crystal Young of Smithville; Karah Ford, the four year old daughter of Amanda Jo Ford of Dowelltown; Kaylyn Isabelle Prichard, the five year old daughter of Andy and Chrissy Prichard of Liberty; and Ava Layne Steff, the five year old daughter of Mark and Renee Steff of Smithville.

Other participants were McKenzie Nicole Hunt, the five year old daughter of Randall and Christy Hunt of Smithville; Kaylee Garrett, the four year old daughter of Monya and Justin Garrett of Smithville; and Graciella Marie Johnson, the four year old daughter of David and Patricia Johnson of Dowelltown.

Speaks Takes Little Mister Title

March 14, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
1st Runner-up Abram James Koegler, Little Mister Jaxsen Theryn Speaks, 2nd Runner-up Eli Lackey

Five year old Jaxsen Theryn Speaks is the 2015 Little Mister.

Speaks, the son of Justin and Donna Speaks of Smithville, succeeds last year's Little Mister,
Skyler Chase Sullivan, the seven year old son of Charity Sullivan of Smithville and the late Jamie Sullivan.

The contest, featuring three boys, was held Saturday at DCHS sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

In addition to being named Little Mister, Speaks also received the Mister Photogenic honor.

Abram James Koegler was first runner-up in the pageant. He is the five year old son of Brian and Leticia Koegler of Smithville.

Second runner-up was Eli Lackey, the six year old son of Retta Lackey and Jason Lackey of Smithville. He was also named Mister Personality.

Smithville Police Chief Suspended Pending Termination

March 13, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

Almost five years after being named to lead the department, Randy Caplinger's days as Smithville Police Chief may be over.

Saying he felt the department needs new leadership, Mayor Jimmy Poss placed Chief Caplinger on suspension pending termination during a meeting Friday morning at city hall. Police Commissioner Jason Murphy, who supports the move, was also at the meeting along with City Attorney Vester Parsley.

"I told Randy I didn't believe the police department was headed in the right direction, that the morale was low among the officers, and that we needed to make a change and that change was to remove him," Mayor Poss told WJLE.

According to city officials, Chief Caplinger is being given the opportunity to voluntarily resign or retire from the department and a meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen is planned for Tuesday to discuss whether to offer Caplinger a severance package if he should choose to step aside without a challenge.

"Currently it's a suspension until Tuesday and then it'll either be a resignation or firing," said City Attorney Parsley.

Should Caplinger opt not to resign, city officials say he has seven business days to request a hearing before the entire board of aldermen who has the power to sustain or overturn a termination . According to the city's new policies and procedures, which were adopted last year, a request for a hearing must be made to the mayor. The mayor then has five business days to respond. If the process were to get that far, both Mayor Poss and City Attorney Parsley say Caplinger would be granted a hearing. "My advice was to give him a hearing because in the past we have given others a hearing. That's a policy we had in place for a long time," he said.

In the meantime, Captain Steven Leffew has been named Officer in Charge of the police department.

Caplinger was named police chief in May 2010. Prior to that he was Transportation/Safety Director for Kitchen Craft of Smithville. Caplinger is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel/Major of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

WJLE spoke with Caplinger by phone for a response Friday afternoon but he preferred not to make a statement at this time.

McMillen Sentenced for Theft of Rebar from Pirtle's Nursery

March 13, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Dallas McMillen, Jr
Kenny Waymon Dyal, Jr.

A Smithville man charged with stealing rebar from Pirtles Nursery on five occasions last summer and selling it at a local recycling business was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday.

66 year James Dallas McMillen, Jr. pled guilty to two counts of theft over $1,000 and received a two year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other. McMillen is to make restitution in amounts of $1,140, $1,380, and $880 to Pirtle Nursery. He was given ten days jail credit.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, McMillen is accused of stealing rebar from Pirtles Nursery in the following amounts and on these dates: 360 pounds (in one incident) and 1,140 pounds (in a second incident) on Wednesday, August 13, 2014; 880 pounds (in one incident) and 1,380 pounds (in a second incident) on Thursday, August 14; and 1,100 pounds on Friday, August 15.

Meanwhile, another Smithville man arrested in burglaries at two local businesses last summer was sentenced Wednesday.

28 year old Kenny Waymon Dyal, Jr. pled guilty to two counts of burglary and received a three year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other but consecutively to a parole violation against him. He must serve at least 30% of the term before his release eligibility date.

The case was investigated by Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department.

According to the charges, Dyal allegedly entered Cash Express located at 126 East Bryant Street on Saturday, July 5, 2014 at approximately 1:00 a.m. by taking out a window air conditioner unit and entering through the window. Dyal allegedly took a digital camera and a safe. A search warrant was served on July 5 at Dyal's residence where he was found hiding in the closet. He was in possession of stolen property belonging to the victim.

Dyal was also charged in a break-in at another business the previous week.

In that case, Dyal allegedly entered a gas station located at 627 West Broad Street at approximately 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, 2014 and took the following items: Approximately $850 in cash and at least four duffle bags full of cigarette cartons. The act was caught on video camera. A search warrant was served on July 5 at Dyal's residence where he was found hiding in the closet and in possession of stolen property belonging to the victim.

42 year old Patsy McCoy pled guilty to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days. McCoy has already served her time. She must also make restitution to DeKalb Community Hospital in the amount of $68.65

Board Asked to Change Policy on DCHS Prom

March 13, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Should DeKalb County High School students be allowed to bring dates to the prom who are not students at DCHS?

The issue was raised during Thursday night's monthly school board meeting. Nathan Nabors was scheduled to have addressed the board but could not attend. Instead, Erin Casselberry, a senior at DCHS was permitted to speak on his behalf to make the request. "He asks that the board consider the possibility of juniors and seniors bringing a student from a neighboring county to the prom as their date. He feels that it will give the upper classmen an opportunity to experience their prom fully," she said.

Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III said it was too late to change the policy in time for this year's prom, even if the board wished to do so because two separate readings are required for passage and that takes two months. But if the board should decide to change the policy to allow others from outside the county to attend the DCHS Prom, Evins said the board may also choose to require that the prom be held only in DeKalb County, which means either on campus or some other location locally. "When you have the prom out of town, it puts a great liability on the principal and everybody involved and responsible for this. We need to talk about bringing the prom back to DeKalb County where we would have better controls. Maybe we can look at it next year. The time restraints now are not going to allow us to do that," said Evins.

The DeKalb County Board of Education policy states that "attendance (to the prom) is limited only to students of the sponsoring school (DCHS)". According to the policy "events which enhance social development may be conducted by schools but must not interfere with the scholastic program in any school."

"Student organizations may sponsor social events, which are planned under the guidance of club sponsors or school administrators, scheduled well in advance, and serve to complement the curricular program. Minimal admission fees may be charged to defray costs."

"Social events scheduled for out-of-school hours shall be approved and administered by the principal. Activities scheduled outside of the system must be approved by the director of schools and/or the Board."

Social events, all dances including annual school proms have board approval provided that adequate supervision is secured, and attendance is limited only to students of the sponsoring school".

The board Thursday night gave consent for this year's DCHS prom to be held off campus at the Capitol Theater in Lebanon on April 17 beginning at 8:00 p.m.

School Calendar Adopted for 2015-16

March 12, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education formally adopted the school calendar for the 2015-2016 year Thursday night during the regular monthly meeting.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW SCHOOL CALENDAR FOR 2015-16)

1149_001.pdf (66.01 KB)

Under the new calendar, registration for all students will be Monday, August 3.

Tuesday, August 4 will be an administrative day for teachers only

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 5

A system wide in-service day will be Tuesday, July 28

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Wednesday and Thursday July 29 and July 30

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 7.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 12-23

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 25, 26, & 27 and for the Christmas break December 21 through January 1. Friday, December 18 will be the last day students attend before Christmas break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Monday, January 4 will be a stockpile day for teachers. Students will return after the holidays on Tuesday, January 5.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 18; for President's Day, Monday, February 15; and Good Friday, March 25.

Spring break will be March 28 through April 1

Stockpile Days will be Friday, September 4 and Monday, January 4;

Students will not attend on Monday, May 23. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Tuesday, May 24 and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 6 and Thursday, March 17 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 8 and Tuesday, March 22 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 5 and Tuesday, March 15 and at all other schools on Tuesday, October 6 and Thursday, March 17. All schools will send home report cards on Thursday, January 7 and on Tuesday, May 24.

In other business, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly update on personnel moves. Tabitha Farmer, a teacher at Northside Elementary School and Tonya Sullivan, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, have been granted a leave of absence as requested.

Alexandria Man Gets Eight Year Sentence for Arson

March 12, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shawn Patrick Byrd

An Alexandria man charged with aggravated arson for allegedly setting fire to the residence where he lived on Lower Helton Road last summer was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday

24 year old Shawn Patrick Byrd entered a plea to the charge of arson under a negotiated settlement and received an eight year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. He will be under Tennessee Department of Correction Supervision by Community Corrections. Byrd will also undergo mental health counseling as part of the plea agreement. He was given jail credit from June 19, 2014 to August 22, 2014

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at Byrd's residence on Lower Helton Road in Alexandria. When firefighters found the source of the blaze they thought it to be suspicious and summoned a sheriff's department detective to the scene. The detective conducted an investigation and discovered what appeared to be an intentionally set fire. Through the investigation, Byrd was identified as a suspect. During the interview with the detective, Byrd allegedly admitted to starting the fire.

Sheriff Ray said the investigation revealed that the fire was set in the upstairs portion of the residence next to the HVAC unit in the closet using a table cloth and a piece of wood. Three other adults were in the home at the time including two downstairs and one upstairs.

DeKalb West Recommended for Reaccreditation

March 11, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joey Agee, Assistant Principal at DWS; Mark Willoughby, Director of Schools; Dr. Suzanne Harris, Dean of School of Education at Travecca Nazarene University; Berthena Nabaa-McKinney, Nashville International Academy, a private school in Nashville Pre-K through 8; Dr. Alice Patterson, faculty at Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville; Mae Fowler, Putnam County School System; Sabrina Farler, Principal DWS

DeKalb West School will be recommended for AdvancED reaccreditation by members of an external review team who visited the school this week.

"The External Review Team recommends to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that DeKalb West School earn the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five year term that expires June 30, 2019," said Dr. Alice Patterson, AdvancED Lead Evaluator who addressed members of the administration, faculty, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, School Board member Jerry Wayne Johnson, and WJLE at DeKalb West School in an exit report meeting Wednesday afternoon.

"DeKalb West School is doing a magnanimous job. You come to school every day doing what you need to do to educate the children in your community," said Dr. Patterson.

But along with the recommendation for reaccreditation, the team cited an improvement priority that must be addressed with a plan of action within two years. "Every school must have one (improvement priority). That's an AdvancED mandate," said Dr. Patterson. The improvement priority for DeKalb West is to "plan, develop, and implement explicit, differentiated instruction to engage students in rigorous learning opportunities and authentic assessments to meet the individualized needs of all learners".

"You know you have an achievement gap and you know your achievement gap is with your students with disabilities and your general education population. You have good instruction in your classrooms but we look at how you differentiate your instruction at all levels. Your RTI (Reading to Intervention) addresses your struggling learners but your students who are proficient moving to advanced, what do you do to differentiate that instruction? What do you do to challenge those students? How do you level learning within your classroom? We need to work with all of our students with the individual needs of those students at the level those students are going to be successful. We're suggesting that you increase your professional development opportunities for classroom teachers to utilize data, with fidelity, to improve and differentiate instruction, " said Dr. Patterson.

The AdvancED external review team, made up of four Middle Tennessee educators, met with eighty seven stakeholders in conducting its evaluation of DeKalb West including two members of the administrative team, twenty four members of the instructional team, eleven support staff, seven parents or members of the community, two school board members, and forty one students. The school was evaluated in three domains "Teaching and Learning Impact on Student Performance", "Capacity of Leadership to guide and ensure effectiveness in carrying out the strategic direction of the institution", and "Utilization of Resources".

According to Dr. Patterson, the Index of Education Quality results for DeKalb West School exceeded the expected criteria as well as with other institutions in the AdvancED Network nationally. " We take the three domains and use all of our data and standards indicators to make the connection between what we found locally to a national ranking," she said.

*DeKalb West School's overall IEQ score was 294.87 compared to the AdvancED Network Average of 282.79 (All schools in the network nationally evaluated over the last 12 months)

*Teaching and Learning Impact on student performance: DeKalb West School IEQ Score:291.67. AE Network Average 274.14

*Capacity of Leadership to guide and ensure effectiveness in carrying out the strategic direction of the institution. DeKalb West School IEQ Score: 297.73. AE Network 296.08.

*Resource Utilization: DeKalb West School Score: 300.00. AE Network Average 286.32.

A written external report will be prepared and sent to the AdvancED Tennessee Commission for approval and then to the regional office in Atlanta for final action on reaccreditation in June.

Members of the AdvancED External Review Team who visited DeKalb West School, in addition to Lead Evaluator Dr. Alice Patterson were Dr. Suzanne Harris, Dean of School of Education at Travecca Nazarene University; Berthena Nabaa-McKinney of the Nashville International Academy, a private Pre-K through 8th grade school; and Mae Fowler of the Putnam County School System. Dr. Patterson is a member of the faculty at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.

The AdvancED Network was created as a result of a merger of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. "Several years ago SACS merged with North Central and created AdvancED which was the K-12 component for accreditation purposes. AdvancED is now a global leader in providing continuous improvement and accreditation services to over 32,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide. Our office is in Atlanta, Georgia serving this region. Our state office is in Nashville," said Dr. Patterson.

DeKalb Middle and Smithville Elementary are also to be evaluated for reaccreditation this year. Northside Elementary was recommended for reaccreditation in late January. DCHS was reaccredited last year.

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