Local News Articles

Merrilee Wineinger announces run for U.S. Congress

March 22, 2018
Merrilee Wineinger

Merrilee Wineinger, an ordained United Methodist Minister, announces her candidacy for Tennessee’s U.S. Congressional District 6 seat on the Democratic ticket.

Wineinger, a 24-year resident of District 6, seeks the open seat due to current Rep. Diane Black’s run for Tennessee’s governor. The 6th District includes Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, White, and Wilson counties. Very small pieces of Cheatham and Van Buren are also in the district.

“If you elect me as your next Representative, I will take to Congress years of experience as a bridge builder in my work with non-profit organizations, on issues at the local, state, and national levels, as well as with people of all faiths,” said Wineinger, who lives in Hendersonville.

“We need real solutions to the very real problems you face every day here in the 6th District,” the life-long Democrat continued. “We need non-partisan plans put into action for the good of all of the people.”

Wineinger serves her community and Middle Tennessee through the Faith that Heals Ministries, Tennessee Conference United Methodist Church. Her efforts have helped to bring Tennesseans from across the state to advocate to close the health insurance coverage gap. She helped alcoholics and addicts recover from substance abuse and raised awareness of the importance of raising the minimum wage to a living wage.

“I am an advocate, teacher and organizer for peace and justice,” Wineinger said. “I connect, encourage, and organize community members to work toward a common goal. Everyone has the potential to achieve their highest dreams. People flourish when they have food security, clean water, fresh air, loving relationships, safe neighborhoods, and a roof over their heads.”

She said her campaign will focus on justice in health care, equality in wages, and strengthening the American infrastructure “that in the past made our country the envy of the world but is now being neglected,” she said.

“Also, people feel their voices are not being heard by their elected officials,” Wineinger said. If elected, she intends to change that.

“You are not voiceless,” she said. “We have a strong and powerful voice. When we listen to one another and join together, our voices become loud enough to drown out the ones who believe that their power is stronger than ours.

“Send me to Washington D.C., as your next District 6 Representative, so I can bring your voices to the table. I am a change agent for Tennesseans ready to work on the issues that will allow you to thrive, not just survive,” she said.

Wineinger holds a bachelor’s degree in Management and Human Development from Trevecca University and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. She is a recipient of the Tennessee Justice Center’s Hometown Hero Award, the Tennessee Health Care Campaign Life-Saver Award, and the TNUMC Peace and Justice Award.

During her years in Tennessee, Wineinger held volunteer leadership roles in the public schools, charitable organizations, and civic programs. She’s a member of the League of Women Voters. She sits on the Tennessee Conference UMC Board of Church & Society, Committee on Health & Welfare, Disability Concerns. She is also a board member for Justice for Our Neighbors, a non-profit immigration legal service for survivors of persecution, violence and poverty.

Previously, she’s worked as the director of Health and Wholeness Ministries at Hendersonville First United Methodist Church, where she guided people in need toward physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health – addressing the whole person’s relationship with the world around them.

Wineinger is the mom of Samantha Mitchell and Alex Bogert and the grandmother of Quaid Mitchell. Her husband, Terry, works in the subsea industry. Her favorite pastime is playing with her grandson and crocheting.

For more information about how to get involved or donate to Wineinger’s campaign, go to www.merrileefortennessee.com.

DeKalb West Students "Kick Butts"

March 22, 2018
Bill Conger
DeKalb West Students "Kick Butts"
During lunch Wednesday DWS students stopped by a display table that showed “Mr. Gross Mouth,” a model that shows all the potential health problems that can occur in a mouth alone from the effects of tobacco

Students at DeKalb West School joined with youth across the nation for the annual Kick Butts Day. The day of activism on Wednesday (March 21) is to empower youth to stand out, speak up, and seize control against Big Tobacco at more than 1,000 events across the United States and world.

During lunch students stopped by a display table that showed “Mr. Gross Mouth,” a model that shows all the potential health problems that can occur in a mouth alone from the effects of tobacco. A model of a healthy lung versus a smoker’s lung introduced students to the reality of choosing a smoker’s life. Students received bracelets, encouraging them to remain tobacco free. Thanks to Lisa Cripps with the DeKalb Prevention Coalition, the Junior Beta Club students received free t-shirts that read, “Kick Butts Day! Get Empowered: Stand Up, Speak Out, Against Tobacco Products.”

In the United States, tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people each year – that’s more Americans than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

Here are some other key facts:

·The vast majority of smokers start as children. In the U.S., 90 percent of all smokers start while in their teens or earlier.

· Every day, another 350 kids become regular smokers. One-third of them will die prematurely from a smoking-caused disease.

·Tobacco use costs us $170 billion each year in medical bills.

· It’s not just cigarettes that are bad for your health. Other forms of tobacco, including cigars and spit or smokeless tobacco, are also harmful and addictive.

·Secondhand smoke is also hazardous – it kills over 41,000 people each year. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 69 that cause cancer. According to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and respiratory problems, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, ear infections and more severe asthma attacks in infants and children.

There is good news: The United States has made a lot of progress in reducing smoking by both youth and adults. We’ve cut adult smoking by more than half since the 1960s, and youth smoking in half since 1997. But 8.0% of high school students and 15.1% of adults still smoke, so we still have a lot of work to do.

Orlando Again Denied Parole in DeKalb Murder

March 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
Christopher Nicholas Orlando Again Denied Parole
Melvin Turnbill Again Granted Parole
Josh Murphy

45 year old Christopher Nicholas Orlando has heard from members of the Tennessee Board of Parole and the news for him isn't good. He will have to spend at least two more years in prison.

Orlando is serving a 35 year prison sentence for facilitation of first degree murder in the death of 20 year old Joshua Murphy. He is incarcerated at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tennessee. A previous conviction against Orlando for possession of cocaine ran consecutively with the murder case and expired in 2009. Orlando's sentence in the murder case is due to expire in 2039. He has served almost 16 years.

Members of the parole board held a hearing for Orlando on Monday, March 5. He was denied parole due to the seriousness of the offense but the case will be reconsidered in March, 2020.

Murphy was shot and killed in a secluded area in the Laurel Hill Community at the end of Old Eagle Creek Road on Sunday, September 15, 2002. His body was discovered three days later. Officials said Orlando and a co-defendant, 46 year old Melvin Turnbill suspected Murphy of stealing methamphetamine. Orlando was tried and convicted of the crime by a DeKalb County Criminal Court Jury in April, 2004.

Turnbill entered a guilty plea to facilitation to first-degree murder in September, 2003 and was given a 25-year sentence. Turnbill was granted parole in March 2015 after serving more than twelve years but he ran afoul of the law again in Putnam County and was sent back to prison in 2016. Turnbill was again granted parole after a hearing last month. He has been incarcerated at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex at Pikeville.

At his last parole hearing two years ago, Orlando said he was sorry for the death of Murphy and for the first time took responsibility for being the triggerman in the shooting. In the previous parole hearing five years ago Orlando blamed Turnbill for actually committing the murder.

During a parole hearing almost four years ago, Turnbill said he handed the murder weapon, a shotgun to Orlando at the crime scene, and that Orlando did the shooting.

DeKalb Jobless Rate for January at 4.7%

March 21, 2018
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County’s unemployment rate for January was 4.7%, up from 3.9% in December but well below the 6.2% rate recorded in January, 2017.

The local labor force for January was 7,720. A total of 7,350 were employed and 370 were without work.

Jobless rates for January among the fourteen counties in the Upper Cumberland region were as follows from highest to lowest:
Clay: 5.6%
Cumberland: 5.4%
Jackson: 5.1%
DeKalb: 4.7%
Van Buren: 4.7%
Fentress: 4.5%
Overton: 4.5%
Warren: 4.1%
White: 3.9%
Putnam: 3.7%
Smith: 3.5%
Cannon: 3.4%
Macon: 3.3%

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) released county unemployment statistics for January 2018 last week which showed that a vast majority of the state’s 95 counties continue to record unemployment rates under 5 percent and every county’s rate was lower than it was in January 2017.

Williamson County continued to have Tennessee’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.5 percent, which is a 0.3 percent increase from December.

At 2.7 percent, Davidson and Cheatham Counties tied for the second lowest unemployment rates in the state. Rutherford, Wilson, Sumner, Moore, Knox, Robertson, and Lincoln Counties rounded out the list of the top ten lowest unemployment rates in Tennessee. Robertson and Lincoln Counties were not part of December’s top ten list.

“Because of seasonal employment trends, Tennessee typically sees a slight uptick in county unemployment at the start of the year,” explained TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips. “But the year-to-year comparison of statistics shows just how well the state is doing when it comes to job creation.”

Many counties saw a decrease of 2 percent or more in year-to-year comparisons. Two counties once again stand out when comparing unemployment statistics from January 2018 to January 2017.

In east Tennessee, Scott County’s unemployment situation has improved significantly in comparison to same time last year. In January of 2017 the county’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent. This year, the rate in Scott County was 4.8 percent, a drop of 3.3 percentage points.

Lake County in west Tennessee has also experienced significant job growth over the last year. Last January the county had an unemployment rate of 10.1 percent. During January 2018 the county recorded a rate of 6.4 percent, a difference of 3.7 percentage points.

“This is a great example of how Tennessee’s economy is not only strong in its metropolitan areas, but it is also doing well in many of the state’s more rural counties,” Commissioner Phillips said.

Tennessee had a statewide unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in January, which was the sixth lowest in the nation. The national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent last month.

The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while county rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools and other recurring seasonal events from an economic time series.

Benefit Singing for Family of Joseph Bowen

March 20, 2018
Dwayne Page
Joseph Bowen

A Benefit singing in honor of Officer Joseph Bowen will be Saturday, March 24 at 6 p.m. at the County Complex on South Congress Boulevard. The singing will feature Blood Bought and Wendell Judkins and the Singing Believers. All proceeds will go to Officer Bowen's wife and family.

DCHS Men’s Soccer Team Competes in Smoky Mountain Cup Tournament

March 20, 2018
DCHS Men’s Soccer Team Competes in Smoky Mountain Cup Tournament

The DCHS Men’s Soccer Team played in the Smoky Mountain Cup soccer tournament in Gatlinburg last weekend. The varsity team opened up with a strong victory against Rockwood High School beating the Rockwood Tigers 3-0. Cristobal Flores started the scoring with a goal in the 5th minute assisted by right defensive back, Bill Miller. The Tigers continued to pepper the Rockwood goalie, Thomas Lilly, with shots, but didn’t break through until the 20th minute with a goal from Ealy Gassaway coming in from his left wing. Ealy’s goal was assisted by center forward Cristobal Flores on a perfectly timed through ball. The first half ended 2-0 in favor of the DeKalb Tigers. Early in the second half, Cristobal Flores tallied his second for the game with an unassisted goal in the 43rd minute. That wrapped up the scoring for the night, but the DeKalb Tigers continued to dominate possession and racked up 30 shots on the night. Goalkeeper Wesley Carpenter barely touched the ball for DeKalb with only 4 saves in the match.

The dominance continued the Tigers’ second match with an 8-0 victory over the Heritage High School Mountaineers. Alan Munoz started the scoring off in the match by making an overlapping run from his central midfield position assisted by Cristobal Flores. Alan went on to score again later in the match with an unassisted goal. Cristobal would go on a record tying run with five goals. Four of the goals were unassisted and the fifth was assisted by central midfielder Jasper Kleparek. The scoring was wrapped up with a goal by central midfielder Roberto Sanchez, also assisted by Cristobal Flores. Wesley Carpenter was tested a little more in this match with 13 saves, some of which were spectacular.

The third varsity match was quite a bit more challenging as the Tigers faced the King’s Academy Lion’s in a 3-1 loss. The Tigers opened the scoring with a goal by right wing Luke Bryant in the 9th minute. Struggling to maintain possession against a strong Lions team the Tigers only managed 9 shots on the day, while goalkeeper Wesley Carpenter had to make 12 saves. In the end, the Tigers came up short with the Lions scoring two goals on penalty kicks and one in the run of play.

The Tigers’ JV also got to play three matches with a 4-1 loss to Cookeville, a 3-1 win over Heritage High School, and a 2-1 loss to Fairview High School.

“Overall the tournament was a success with our JV really improving throughout the weekend, getting a lot of quality time. Our varsity team showed there relentless nature and pushed themselves to play at a level that we can be proud to call DeKalb County Soccer.” Coach K
“Cristobal Flores’s five goal performance against Heritage ties a previously shared record between Ricardo Gutierrez and Zach Wilbur.”

(Team photo ABOVE)

Back roll left to right:

Cesar Coronilla, Andrew Fuson, Luke Bryant, Will Stephens, Ethan Jenkins, Parker Gassaway, Luke Jenkins, Wesley Carpenter, Juan Oliva.

Middle roll left to right:

Bill Miller, Rodrigo Sosa, Dylan Easterwood, Tristan McDerman, Ealy Gassaway, Jack Famulski.

Front roll left to right:

Brian Balderas, Alex Colwell-Avina, Daniel Munoz, Brandon Matias, Carlos Garcia, Alan Munoz, Pablo Juarez, Roberto Sanchez, Jasper Kleparek, Eil Judkins

County Extension Office to Host Meet & Greet

March 20, 2018
Johnny Barnes, Extension Agent & DeKalb County Director
Johnny Barnes

March is Extension Month in Tennessee. Extension is a national educational program supported by USDA through the nation’s land-grant universities and administered with funding from state and local governments in Tennessee through offices in each of the state’s 95 counties.

County Extension offices across the state are planning various celebrations and commemorations for the state’s 107-year-old Extension program. Here in DeKalb County, the UT-TSU Extension office will be hosting a Meet & Greet for the public on the sidewalk, directly in front of the Extension Office on Monday, March 26 from 11AM-1PM. The office is located at 722 South Congress Blvd, Smithville in the County Complex. There will be various displays and information about what the Extension program offers as well as free hot dogs, popcorn, and drinks.

An integral part of the land-grant mission, Extension programs are delivered in all 95 counties of the state by subject-matter specialists, county agents and volunteers associated with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and the Tennessee State University (TSU) College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.

“Extension Month celebrates the educational outreach, service and economic impact achieved by Extension across the state. I am always encouraged and proud to hear how our county offices use this month to reach new clientele and increase the visibility of Extension,” wrote Robert Burns, dean of UT Extension, in a letter to faculty and staff. Latif Lighari oversees TSU Extension faculty as associate dean for Extension at TSU.

In addition to the traditional agricultural production recommendations available through county Extension offices, services for all citizens include the state’s award-winning 4-H Youth Development Program including its summer youth camps; family and consumer educational programs; and healthy living courses.

UT Extension also performs services for the state’s citizens, including managing the statewide Soil, Plant and Pest Center through which clients can have the quality of their soil and forage analyzed and any insect pest or plant diseases identified. Extension also trains clients in the proper use of pesticides and even operates commercially-certified kitchens where small scale vendors can prepare food items for sale while meeting state guidelines for food safety.

Extension’s programs can be seen in Tennessee as an excellent investment of public resources. The statewide educational programs in 4-H youth development, agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences and community economic development are estimated to have impacted the state’s economy by more than $575 million from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. This amounts to a return of investment of $8.65 for every $1 in public funds invested in Extension in Tennessee.

Many of UT Extension’s educational resources are also available online. From the UT Extension website choose the link to “publications” and enter the topic for which you need information to search the database of available resources. Most are available free of charge. A publications page is also available on the TSU website, which includes a list of available publications by program area. Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.

Please stop by on March 26 from 11AM-1PM and meet the staff during this time to find out more about what your local Extension Office has to offer.

Two Prisoners Charged After Ingesting Subutex While in Jail

March 19, 2018
Dwayne Page
Michael Brandon Colwell
Cecil McKinley Ketchum
Vincent  Rodolpus Helser
Boyd Paskell Collins, III
Scotty Wayne Knowles
Sean Anthony Skaroupka
Colby Ray Watford
Daniel Prescott Hart

Two men who allegedly ingested subutex while incarcerated at the DeKalb County Jail are charged with bringing contraband into a penal institution.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_62.pdf (2.38 MB)

34 year old Michael Brandon Colwell of Tisdale Lane, Smithville and 43 year old Cecil McKinley Ketchum of Walker Creek Road, Alexandria are each under a $5,000 bond and their court date is March 29.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, March 15 Colwell and Ketchum allegedly ingested a substance believed to be a schedule II narcotic (Subutex) while incarcerated at the jail.

53 year old Vincent Rodolpus Helser of Old Snow Hill Road, Smithville is charged with violation of the sex offender law. His bond is $15,000 and his court date is April 19. Sheriff Ray said that on December 31, 2017 Helser violated the sex offender registration law by not self reporting to the sheriff’s office as required.

23 year old Boyd Paskell Collins, III of Long Island Park , South Pittsburg Tennessee is charged with simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and resisting stop, frisk, halt, search, or arrest. His bond is $8,500 and his court date is April 5.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, March 14 two deputies went to a residence on Adcock Cemetery Road to serve a warrant on a man, Collins and found him hiding in a back closet. While trying to place him in custody Collins resisted arrest. One of the officers sustained a minor injury. A check through Central Dispatch confirmed that Collins had active warrants against him in Marion County. Upon arrival at the jail Collins admitted to having methamphetamine in his pants.

38 year old Scotty Wayne Knowles of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville is charged with a 3rd offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $4,500 and his court date is March 29.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, March 15 a Sheriff’s Department Detective spotted Knowles operating a vehicle on South Congress Boulevard in Smithville. Knowing that his license were revoked, the detective conducted a traffic stop. A computer check confirmed that Knowles’ license were revoked for failure to pay child support in 2013. His previous driving on revoked charges were in Alexandria on March 8, 2018 and in DeKalb County on September 12, 2017.

42 year old Sean Anthony Skaroupka of Adcock Cemetery Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and driving while license revoked.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, March 17 a deputy spotted a black Dodge truck failing to maintain its lane of travel on Sparta Highway. The officer stopped the truck and spoke with the driver, Skaroupka who had an odor of alcohol on his person. His eyes were red and watery and his speech was slurred. He submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. His license were found to be revoked during a routine driver license check through Central Dispatch.

22 year old Colby Ray Watford of Happy Valley Drive, Dowelltown is charged with violation of an order of protection. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is April 5.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, March 17 a deputy was called to a residence on Happy Valley Drive in reference to an order of protection. Upon arrival the officer spoke with a woman and Watford who were in the home. She was listed as the petitioner on an active order of protection against Watford. He is apparently not supposed to have any contact with her.

57 year old Daniel Prescott Hart of Keltonburg Road, Smithville is charged with forgery. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is April 5. Sheriff Ray said that on July 30, 2017 Hart allegedly passed a forged check in the amount of $420.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff’s Department Detective.

Two Found with Stolen Property in Burglary and Theft Investigation

March 19, 2018
Dwayne Page
Royce Virgel Ashford, Jr.
Aubrey Lee Kilgore

A burglary and theft investigation has resulted in the arrest of two men.

47 year old Royce Virgel Ashford, Jr. of Church Street, Alexandria and 53 year old Aubrey Lee Kilgore of Wilkey Circle, Brush Creek are charged with burglary, vandalism, and theft of property. Bond for each is $45,000 and their court date is March 29

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, March 15 Ashford and Kilgore allegedly broke into a building on Highway 70 west near Alexandria and stole items worth $25,900. They were later found in possession of some of the property taken. Vandalism damage to the building was estimated at $900.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff’s Department Detective.

Gottlied a Winner in Nashville St. Paddy’s Day 5K

March 19, 2018
Dwayne Page
Gottlied a Winner in Nashville St. Paddy’s Day 5K

13 year old Aaron Gottlied placed 1st overall in his age group at the Nashville St. Paddy’s Day 5K race on March 17th. Covering the hilly course with an outstanding time of 19:54, Aaron earned a 4th place spot over all out of a field of 466 runners. He is the son of Ed and Carrie Gottlied and a member of DeKalb Middle School’s Cross Country team.


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