TDOT Provides WJLE Display Maps of Highway 56 Project (VIEW HERE)

May 30, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has provided to WJLE display maps for the proposed Highway 56 improvement project from State Route 288 to East Bryant Street in Smithville.

The displays of the project are in pdf format and shown in four sections. You may view each section by clicking the links below.


10026300 SR56 Display 1.pdf (9.04 MB)


10026300 SR56 Display 2.pdf (3.46 MB)


10026300 SR56 Display 3.pdf (7.61 MB)


10026300 SR56 Display 4.pdf (11.12 MB)

Several property owners along Highway 56 south turned out for a Design Public Meeting Thursday evening hosted by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to learn more about the state’s improvement plans for the road.

Robert Rodgers of the TDOT Region 2 Project Development Office gave a power point presentation of the plans and then took questions from the audience. Detailed maps of the project were also displayed for landowners and others to view.

The Highway 56 improvement will be conducted in three phases. The state plans to build largely two lanes of a proposed four lane project and maintain traffic on the existing Highway 56 (alignment) while construction is being done on the new portion.

TDOT proposes to let bids for two of the phases in December from south of the Warren County line to near Magness Road and from south of State Route 288 near Magness Road to East Bryant Street in Smithville. Construction is expected to begin by next spring. The third segment from near State Route 287 in Warren County to near the DeKalb County Line is not yet ready for bid letting.

“The current bid schedule is the winter of 2018. Currently it is in the December letting which means construction should start in earnest when spring begins in 2019. The second and the third phases currently are scheduled to be let together. Which end is started on, that will be for discussions between our construction office and the contractor. He may decide to start on the north end or the south end of the project,” said Rodgers.

Following the meeting, Rodgers gave a general description of the project for WJLE.

“On the southern part from the DeKalb County line up to Vaughn Lane, its going to be a two lane roadway. There will be left turn lanes at the side roads. As we get closer to Smithville where some of the intersecting roads are offset there will be some extended sections of three lanes. Once we get to Vaughn Lane we will be expanding to the three lane typical all the way up to just past Morgan Branch. When we get past Morgan Branch we will be building a five lane section with curb and gutters and sidewalks,” said Rodgers.

According to Rodgers, the state will deviate from the existing road in the Shiney Rock area in order to bypass the cemeteries.The highway will then tie back in to the existing alignment near Vaughn Lane in Smithville.

“Where the church and the cemetery are now, we are going off alignment because there was not room to fit the proposed finished road in between the two. Traffic on that section will stay on the existing road until the new road is complete,” said Rodgers.

The proposed cross sections for the project are as follows:

*From south of State Route 287 to north of Bessie Gribble Road-two 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, four-foot shoulders and ditches.

* From north of Bessie Gribble Road to Vaughn Lane-two 12-foot travel lanes with 12-foot shoulders and ditches. There will be left turn lanes at intersecting roadways.

*From Vaughn Lane to north of Morgan Branch-two 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, 12-foot shoulders and ditches.

*From north of Morgan Branch to East Bryant Street- four 12-foot travel lanes with a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, four foot shoulders, two-foot curb and gutter, a sidewalk within a 10 foot utility strip on either side.

DeKalb Fire Department Presents Citizen Hero Award (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

May 30, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

A hometown hero credited for helping save the life of a woman involved in a March traffic accident was honored during Tuesday night’s county commission meeting.

Bobby Hull received the DeKalb County Fire Department’s Citizen Hero Award. The presentation was made to Hull by 18 year old Courtney Nichols, the woman involved in the crash.

The mishap occurred at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. Nichols was injured after her 2002 Jeep Cherokee went off Highway 56 north (Cookeville Highway) and overturned down a steep hillside embankment before coming to rest upside down in a hollow several feet below the road.

According to Trooper Sean Tramel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Nichols was driving south when the Jeep hydroplaned and then went out of control as Nichols overcorrected. The Jeep narrowly missed the end of a guardrail as it left the highway and plunged down the hillside north of Hurricane Bridge in the Blackberry Hill area.

Since there were no witnesses to the accident and the wreckage was out of view from motorists, Nichols went unnoticed for a long period of time. Entrapped in the Jeep, Nichols sounded the horn trying to attract attention.

Hull, a resident close by, heard the sound of the horn from his home and went to investigate. After spotting the wreckage, he sought help.

During Tuesday night’s county commission meeting, DeKalb Fire Chief Donny Green described in more detail the incidents surrounding the crash and how Hull’s heroic actions led to this special honor for him.

“On Saturday, March 24, 2018 at approximately 6:00 p.m., 18-year old Courtney Nichols, a Smithville resident, was driving home from work on Cookeville Hwy. As she was navigating a curve on a wet road, her Jeep Cherokee hydroplaned and went out of control and overturned at least once before it came to rest upside down at the bottom of a steep ravine.

There were no witnesses to the accident, her vehicle could not be seen from the highway, and she could not find her cell phone. Although not seriously injured, Courtney was trapped upside down hanging from her seatbelt and she knew her only hope was to sound her car horn hoping that someone might possibly hear it and find her.

That “someone” turned out to be Bobby Hull who lives across the highway on Blackberry Hill Road. Bobby and his wife, Judy, were in the kitchen cooking dinner and, even though it was a cool evening, they had briefly opened the kitchen window. As Bobby stood at the sink, he heard a faint sound of what sounded like a car horn. He mentioned it to his wife and they paused to listen, but didn’t hear it. As Bobby continued to help prepare dinner, he heard the horn again. At that point, he and Judy went to their front porch to investigate. They both stood on the porch for a few moments and did not hear the horn. Just as they began to go back inside, they heard the horn begin to intermittently sound again. It could have been a car alarm or someone playing, but Bobby felt uneasy and decided to pursue his sense of something being wrong. Bobby got in his pickup and drove down to the highway to the point where he thought the sounding horn was coming from. He got out of his truck and then saw skid marks in the grass that ran just behind the end of a guardrail. He walked to the guardrail, heard the horn again, and looked down the steep grade and saw the Jeep upside down at the bottom of the ravine. He immediately called 911 and reported the accident to DeKalb County 911 Center who dispatched emergency responders.

Despite Courtney’s misfortune of this accident, a lot of fortunate and miraculous things happened on the evening of March 24 for Courtney Nichols. Who would have ever thought a kitchen window could play such a pivotal role in life or death? Had the Hull’s not been cooking and decided to open the window on this cool evening, there is simply no way anyone could have heard Courtney’s car horn. How many civilians would have simply blown off the sound of a car horn as nothing very serious? After all, we’ve all heard that familiar sound of a neighbor’s car alarm going off. How many people would have been this aware of their surroundings and acted on a “gut feeling” that something just wasn’t right? I mean seriously, dinner is ready and it’s cold outside.

Although emergency responders did a great job when they got to the scene and removed and treated Courtney, Bobby Hull is the true hero because God allowed him to make a decision to act on something that did not seem normal. Without his action, it is most likely no one would have heard or saw Courtney’s car until it was too late.

DeKalb County Fire Department, DeKalb County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners encourage community involvement on all levels and are honored to recognize Bobby Hull as a Citizen Hero for making a life-saving difference in the outcome of this incident”.

Smithville Police Charge Knoxville Man with Auto Theft

June 29, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

A Knoxville man has been arrested by Smithville Police for an auto theft which occurred in March.

38 year old Bobby Joe Cooper is under a $6,500 bond on a charge of auto theft.

Police were called to Walmart on March 16 where a man reported his vehicle had been stolen from the parking lot by a man he knew, Cooper, from the Sober Living House.

The victim said he had a chance encounter with Cooper at Walmart and that he (Cooper) had asked him for a ride. The victim said he told Cooper to wait until he got his shopping done. But after the victim finished his shopping and left the store he discovered his car was gone. The man told the officer that he left his keys in the ignition and suspected that Cooper had taken the vehicle. The victim said Cooper, who has a drug problem, had left Sober Living where he was residing. During the investigation, Police viewed surveillance video from Walmart and observed Cooper get into the car and drive away leaving the parking lot. A warrant was taken for Cooper’s arrest and he was picked up on May 16.

30 year old Karri Margaret Jewells was cited for theft on Friday, May 18. According to police, the victim filed a report on March 15 informing an officer that a woman believed to be Jewells had taken some gardening tools and clothing items from the porch of her home as well as her vehicle without her knowledge or consent. The victim was later informed by another woman that Jewells had tried to sell those items to her. After a further investigation, Jewells was cited for theft. Her court date is June 7.

30 year old Brandon Herndon of Forrest Avenue was arrested on Sunday, May 20 for public intoxication and cited for shoplifting. Police were called to Wal-Mart to check on a possible shoplifter who appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Upon arrival, officers spoke with the man, Herndon and observed his speech to be slow and slurred. Herndon was unsteady on his feet and he could barely stay awake while speaking with officers. Herndon was placed under arrest for his safety and that of the public. During a search incident to arrest, police found concealed on Herndon’s person several items that he hadn’t paid for which belonged to Wal-Mart. Bond for Herndon is $1,500 and his court date is June 7.

20 year old Cody W. Chastain of Village Place was cited on Sunday, May 20 for theft of property. Chastain was found to have $99.00 worth of merchandise belonging to Dollar General Store in his backpack which he had not purchased. His court date is June 7.

66 year old Betty Sue George of West Main Street was arrested on Monday, May 21 for domestic assault. Police were called to George’s residence in reference to a domestic assault. Upon arrival the officer was informed that George confronted the victim accusing her of making false statements about her. George then attempted to grab or push the victim leaving her with visible scratch marks on her neck and chest. After a brief struggle, the victim was able to push George away. Bond for George is $3,500 and her court date is June 7.

26 year old Joshua Beckham of White Street was arrested on Monday, May 21 for two counts of aggravated assault, public intoxication, and resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest or search. Police were called to a residence at 319 Jackson Street due to a fight. According to the victims, Beckham came to their residence while they were outside and he approached them in an aggressive and threatening manner holding a cooking pot over his head. A fight then ensued between Beckham and one of the victim’s. Upon arrival, the officers observed that Beckham was being restrained by members of a large crowd which had gathered at the scene and that he was bleeding profusely from the area of his head and face. Beckham broke free and started toward the officers in an aggressive manner before turning again toward the crowd. After Beckham refused to comply with their commands to get on the ground, officers fired a taser at him. EMS then transported Beckham to the hospital and police obtained warrants for his arrest. Upon Beckham’s release from the hospital he was taken into custody. Bond for Beckham is $14,500 and his court date is June 14.

23 year old Crystal Smith of McMinnville was arrested for public intoxication, simple possession (meth) and she was cited for simple possession (pills). Police were called to the Dairy Queen Sunday, May 20 to check on a woman who was suspected of being under the influence of drugs. Upon arrival officers spoke with the woman, Smith, who was acting and talking very erratically. She appeared to be under the influence of some substance. Smith was then placed in custody for her safety and transported to the police department. Police learned that Smith had used methamphetamine earlier that day and she handed them a small metal container which held a plastic baggie of a white substance believed to be meth weighing less than a gram. The metal container also held a 20 and 60 milligram Vyvanse capsule, a hydrocodone pill and half of another pill which was unidentifiable. Smith had no prescription for the pills. Her bond is $6,000 and her court date is June 7.

An investigation by Smithville Police into suspicious activity in the area of College Street and Bill Page Ball Park has resulted in citations or arrests against several people.

30 year old Karri Margaret Jewells and 35 year old Jimmy Joel Farris were cited for criminal trespassing on Monday, May 21 while 30 year old Christopher J. Luna of Cookeville was arrested on failure to appear warrants from Maury County and 53 year old Randy Anderson of Columbia was taken into custody on a felony warrant for violation of parole in Van Buren County.

The department began an investigation after receiving calls and complaints of several people moving in and out of a wooded area on foot periodically during the day north of Bill Page Ball Park in the area of 513 South College Street. Police have also received calls of suspicious vehicles left parked and unoccupied in the alley north of the ball parks.

According to police, the suspicions have given rise to concerns that someone may be cooking methamphetamine in the woods for resale.

After speaking with the property owners about the complaints on Tuesday, May 15, police learned that no one had permission to be on the site. The next day, officers again received complaints and went to the site where they found both Jewells and Farris, who had camping supplies and a tent set up. Both were ordered to get their belongings off the property by the following Monday, May 21 as they were trespassing. Jewells was immediately taken into custody due to a theft offense against her in a separate incident but she was later released after being issued a citation.

When police followed up with a return visit to the property on Monday, May 21, they found both Jewells and Farris still there along with their tent and camping gear. Both were cited for criminal trespassing and given one more day to evacuate. Luna and Anderson were also present on the property along with two other women. The women were not arrested but both Luna and Anderson were taken into custody on separate warrants. Luna and Anderson informed police that they had recently left the local halfway house.

Found on the ground at the campsite in plain view was a clear baggy of a crystal substance believed to be methamphetamine along with some needles including one needle loaded with a liquid substance. All parties were given a verbal warning to not be back on the property without consent of the owners. Jewells and Farris will make a court appearance on June 14.

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