Fatal Family Shooting, Resurgence of Local Industry, Bids Awarded for Long Awaited Highway 56 Construction, and a Return Trip to the State Basketball Tournament for the DCHS Lady Tigers after 54 years Rank Among the Top Local News and Sports Stories of 20 (2024)

December 28, 2019
By: Dwayne Page

A man fatally shot on Halloween by his step-father. The resurgence of a local military garment factory that was about to go down the tubes. Bids awarded for the long awaited new Highway 56 south project. The Board of Education’s expanded plan for new schools. A hefty increase in the county and City of Smithville property tax rates. And in sports, a return to the state basketball tournament after 54 years for the DCHS Lady Tigers as well as an historic state playoff run for the DCHS Tiger football team and a seventh place finish in the state large high golf tournament for DCHS Senior Anna Chew. These rank among the top local news and sports stories of 2019 in DeKalb County.

*37 year old Tyler Durden, a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, lost his life after being shot in the chest at a home in Liberty on Halloween night. The man responsible for the shooting is his step father, 50 year old Albert Wayne Fisher, Jr. of Eckles Heights Street, Liberty. Fisher was arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder. The case was investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the 13th District Attorney General’s Office and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. During the course of the probe, agents developed information that Durden approached the residence of his mother and stepfather and Fisher came to the door. During that encounter, Fisher fired a weapon, striking Durden. The victim was ultimately transported to a Nashville hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. Investigators have not disclosed a motive for the shooting or the circ*mstances surrounding it.

*Omega Apparel Incorporated was once a thriving garment factory in Smithville and the new company that has succeeded it hopes to make the industry flourish again. 620 Pelham, Inc. began operations this fall in both buildings near downtown where Omega Apparel operated until deciding to go out of business after experiencing hard times. The factory still produces Broadfall trousers for the US Navy although that contract is ending after the first of the year and it supplies three Goretex garments including pants and parkas under a sub-contract for the east Tennessee based Valley Apparel, LLC. In a November meeting, plant manager Amanda Callis and consultant Dick Chase, a former owner of Omega during its glory days, brought employees up to date on plans for the new industry. Chase also spoke with the local media afterwards. With employment currently at just over 100, Chase said the factory plans to expand its commercial work and land more government contracts from the defense department for the US military and to eventually employ up to perhaps another 150 people. Hiring has already begun and anyone interested in a job can apply in person at the factory office on South Mountain Street. The California based company which owns 620 Pelham recently signed a two year lease including renewal options with the county industrial development board and the City of Smithville which owns the buildings where the factory operates. The company has 30 plus years of experience with operations in Mexico and Taiwan as well as the United States producing first quality sports apparel and other garments.

*Jones Brothers Contractors, LLC in September began clearing trees and structures on Highway 56 south to be followed by utility relocations in preparation for new road construction which has been in the making for several years. TDOT opened bids in June and Jones Brothers Contractors, LLC was the low bidder on the construction project at $43,691,948 which will be done in two phases from south of state highway 288 near Magness Road to East Bryant Street in Smithville and from south of the Warren-DeKalb County line to near Magness Road in DeKalb County. A proposed third segment from near State Route 287 in Warren County to near the DeKalb County line is not yet ready for bid letting. 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. The estimated completion date for the two phases is May 31, 2022.

*Fourteen months ago the Board of Education was sold on building a new pre-kindergarten to 2nd grade school to replace Smithville Elementary School and voted in October, 2018 to seek funding from the county commission for this building model once a suitable site was found. In March the school board got its first look at the schematic design, site plan, and floor plan for the proposed new Smithville Elementary School. Architects of Upland Design Group met with the board to review four site plan options for a new 109,000 square foot school with a student capacity of 800 for pre-kindergarten to second grade. All four options were laid out for new school construction on the same campus as Northside Elementary School. Six months later in September the school board considered four other locations for the possible future home of the new elementary school after advertising for property owners to answer a “Request for Proposal” if they were willing to sell from 25 to 100 acres. Four proposals were submitted for consideration. But by December, the school board had a change of heart. During a special meeting the Board voted 6-1 to scrap the plan for a Pre-K to 2nd grade school and recommend to the county commission funding two new Pre-K through 8th grade schools in the Smithville area and a renovation of Northside Elementary School to make it a Pre-K to 8th grade facility. That would give the district a total of four Pre-K to 8th grade schools including DeKalb West while eliminating both the existing Smithville Elementary and DeKalb Middle Schools. Without any hard numbers, the board is relying on its architects’ latest estimates for construction which puts the new 2 school project at a minimum of $48,685,000 (not counting the total renovation which would be needed at Northside Elementary) and it does not include the purchase of land. The proposal now moves to the county commission for discussion.

*In order to keep the county government from going deeper in the red and to fund past obligations for pay raises and to create new positions, the DeKalb County Commission in July voted to increase county property tax rates which went into effect October 1. By the slimmest of margins, the commission voted 8 to 6 to raise the county property tax rate by 29 cents per $100 of assessed value as recommended by the budget committee. The new rate, with passage of the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, went to $2.12, up from $1.83 per $100 of assessed value. Highlights of new spending in the 2019-20 consolidated budget are as follows: Board of Education: The school board funded a local pay raise for the district’s 225 teachers by $1,200 each and that coupled with a state raise of $800 per teacher put their overall increase at $2,000 for the ensuing year. The 200 non-certified staff members each got a $600 local pay raise. Circuit Court Clerk: New deputy clerk position funded. Sheriff’s Department and Jail: Two new officer positions funded solely from a new litigation tax through the General Sessions Court budget. One other new deputy position created and funded by the county through the sheriff’s department budget. And while no new positions were added to the jail budget, the sheriff plans to promote two existing correctional officers to the rank of corporal as jail supervisors. Each one will get a $2,000 increase in pay under the existing wage scale for sheriff’s department employees for a total of $4,000. The move keeps the sheriff’s department compliant with standards for around the clock jail supervision under standards of the Tennessee Corrections Institute. DeKalb Fire Department: Two shared firefighter positions funded at 20 hours each per week at $10 per hour for a total of $20,800. No two specific individuals will get the jobs. Available firefighters, who are trained and certified, will rotate in and out of the positions as needed. The two fire fighters will be assigned to work out of the main station on King Ridge Road, which serves as the hub of the county fire department. DeKalb Emergency Management Agency: Funding to pay the EMA Director Charlie Parker a salary of $5,200 for the new year. Clerk & Master: Funding of $10,400 for a part time employee. Alexandria Senior Citizens: Funding to pay the salary of a full time director of the center at $21,291 as a first year employee plus benefits for a total budget impact to the county of $28,051.DeKalb EMS: Funding for director pay raise of $3,000. Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad: The Rescue Squad asked the county to up its contribution from $22, 821 to $34, 821 with the proposed $12,000 increase to be allocated for fuel reimbursem*nt to its member volunteers to recoup some of their personal expense. The budget funded only an increase of $3,279.

*For the first time in decades, Smithville property tax payers saw a significant tax increase. By a vote of 3-2, the aldermen voted twice in June on separate ordinance readings to increase the city property tax rate by 25 cents per $100 of assessed value and to adopt the new $6.8 million budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Aldermen Danny Washer, Shawn Jacobs, and Gayla Hendrix voted in favor. Aldermen Brandon Cox and Donnie Crook voted against it. The 25 cent tax rate increase from the former rate of 64.9 cents to the new rate of 89.9 cents per $100 of assessed value is expected to generate $350,000 in new money for the general fund. The largest project on the table in the general fund is a new police department building. The proposed 7,805 square foot structure is to be built on property donated to the city on the north side of the city hall/fire department complex at Don Cantrell Street. The cost of the new facility could be as much as two million dollars to be funded either on a long term note or bond issue. From the start date of construction, projections are the building could be completed possibly within one year. The mayor and aldermen earlier met with Wayne Oakley of Studio Oakley Architects, LLC who submitted a bid to design the new police department building for the city at $105,000 and that cost was included in the new budget as engineering fees. A 2% pay raise was also figured into the budget for city employees who have topped out on the wage scale and funds for employee disability insurance coverage to help protect city employees from loss of income in the event they are unable to work for a period of time due to illness, injury, or accident while off the job. Capital outlay expenditures totaled $622,100 much of which includes grants for airport easem*nts and clearing and a grant match for sidewalk improvements. Plans are to purchase two used police cars and a 16 foot flat bed trailer for the fire department. Capital outlay expenses for the water and sewer department include the purchase of a Kubota trackhoe, trailer, diesel truck, 9 foot dump body, camera system for leak detection, and engineering fees and sewer rehab project construction costs. The city has applied for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund the sewer rehab project.

*Not since 1965 had DCHS sent a girls team to the state’s big dance, but that long dry spell ended in March when the Lady Tigers of Coach Danny Fish punched their ticket to the state tournament at MTSU after knocking off McMinn Central in the sub-state. The success of the Lady Tigers generated a lot of excitement in the community and throngs of fans followed them to Murfreesboro for the quarterfinals showdown with Marshall County on March 6. Although the game was close, the Lady Tigers came up short, losing to 34 to 31. Their historic season ended that day with an overall record of 23-12.

*After getting off to an 0-2 start, the DCHS Tiger football team recovered and concluded the 2019 season at 8-5 overall, a 2nd place finish in the region, and a 2-1 record in the state playoffs, the first time a DCHS football team had ever advanced that far in the post-season. This season DeKalb County defeated Stone Memorial, Grundy County, Cannon County, Smith County, Macon County, Cumberland County and in the state playoffs Tullahoma, and Marshall County. The Tigers lost to Warren County, Upperman, Watertown, Livingston Academy, and to Nolensville in the state playoffs.

*After winning both the District and Region high school tournaments in October and being named District Player of the year, DCHS golfer Anna Chew set her sights on a state title and finished in 7th place in the TSSAA Large School Golf Tournament at Willowbrook in Manchester. In November, the senior signed with Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville where she will play golf after graduating from DCHS next spring. The following are Anna’s awards as a DCHS golfer: District 6 Large Class Champion (2019-2020); Region 3 Large Class Champion (2019-2020); TSSAA State Tournament Large Class 7th place (2019-2020); District 6 Large Class 2nd place (2018-19); Region 3 Large Class 3rd place (2018-19),and TSSAA State Tournament Large Class 18th place (2018-19). Chew is now in the running for the Tennessee High School Girl Golfer of the Year honor. Anna is a member of the 2019 Tennessean All-Midstate Girls Golf Team and by earning that distinction she automatically becomes a nominee for the girls golfer of the year award. The winner will be announced on May 29 during the fifth annual Tennessean Sports Awards presented by Farm Bureau Health Plans.

The following is a month by month summary of the top local news and sports stories of the year 2019:

January
*After 48 years in banking Brenda Cantrell decided to call it a career. The Senior Financial Center Manager at the Smithville Branch of First Bank announced her retirement in January. Cantrell’s last day was Friday, January 11 and fellow employees hosted a retirement celebration for her from 2-4 p.m. that day. The public was invited to stop by. Cantrell’s career in banking began after she graduated high school in 1970. She went to work at 1st National Bank in Smithville, where Regions Bank is now located. A year and a half later she joined the staff at Citizens Bank (now First Bank) and has remained there in the same building for more than 46 years.

*The Smithville Golf Course was without a full time manager in January after Ken Lacy resigned the position. Until the mayor and aldermen could decide on Lacy’s replacement, they chose to pay two part time workers, Ray Underwood and Dawn Brooks, to oversee the operation. Both had worked and volunteered at the golf course under Lacy.

*Former Smithville Mayor Waniford Allen Cantrell, age 87 passed away in January at NHC of Smithville. He served as Mayor of Smithville from 1982 to 1986 and was a former member and Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Education.

*Three members of the award winning DeKalb County High School Fighting Tiger Band, Axel Rico, Javontae Martin, and Victor Luna earned All Mid State Band honors. Mid-State is a weekend event held each Spring that provides an opportunity for the best musicians of Middle Tennessee to perform with one another in large ensembles. To make the Mid-State Band or Orchestra, students must go through the audition process in the Fall, which includes three parts: scales, prepared music, and sight reading. The highest scored musicians in each section are selected to be a member of the Mid-State Band or Orchestra, with the top few high school musicians from each section qualifying for All-State.

*Smithville Volunteer Firefighter and Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale received the “Robert Eller Highest Attendance Award” during an appreciation dinner for city firefighters at the New Life Connection Center. The award was presented to Hale by Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker. This was the fifth straight year Hale had earned this award which was named this year in honor of the late Robert Eller, who served the Smithville Fire Department as a member and assistant chief for 64 years until his death in 2009. Hale, a 34 year veteran of the department, attended 158 out of 214 calls during the year 2018. This includes calls, trainings, and workings.

*53 year old Michael Anthony Alexander of Woodbury, a member of the DTC Communications Board of Directors and owner of a popular catering business lost his life in an accident on U.S. Highway 70 south at the intersection with Cummins Hollow Road in Cannon County. Alexander and his wife Christie owned and operated Christie Q BBQ and Catering. Their food truck regularly served customers in this area.

*It wasn’t an actual storm alert but students at DeKalb West School filed into the tornado safe room on a Friday morning in January. The tornado drill was staged for News2 StormTracker meteorologist Davis Nolan and a camera crew who videoed the event for a weather special which aired in February and March. Nolan, who visited DeKalb West for a career day in 2018, happened to notice the tornado safe room at that time and wanted to return for a feature story.

*Grayson Redmon, a senior wide receiver and cornerback, was named Most Valuable Player of the 2018 DCHS Tiger Football Team during the annual Awards Banquet held at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center building. The MVP trophy was presented to Redmon by Coach Steve Trapp. In addition to his MVP trophy, Redmon was named to the All Region 3 Class 4A 1st team. The Tiger football team finished the season in November, 2018 with an overall record of 3-8 and another appearance in the state playoffs, the 14th in school history. The Tigers lost 56-7 in the first round of the playoffs to the Maplewood High School Panthers in Nashville on November 2, 2018. Meanwhile, Haley Chapman, a senior, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader at the football banquet. The presentation was made by Cheer Coach Amanda Fuller.

*The 2018 Saint Thomas DeKalb/Ascension County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year was Steve Repasy, Station Commander of the Midway Station. Repasy received the award during the Department’s Annual Awards Banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Dusty Johnson was named the 2018 Liberty State Bank Officer of the Year and Blake Cantrell, Communications Officer and firefighter with the Cookeville Highway Station, was selected by the awards panel to receive the Tenneco 2018 “Git R Done” Award. Cantrell was a co-recipient of this award in 2017. The DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (DTC) Rookie of the Year Award went to Firefighter Travis Checci of the Liberty Station.

*DeKalb West School paid honor to a longtime Bulldog supporter January 14 during the last home basketball game of the season. DeKalb West School dedicated the basketball score table in memory of the late Jimmy Reasonover, who worked for over 30 years as the school’s official clock keeper. His widow, Jean, and sons, Larry and Robbie, also were given a plaque to thank them “for sharing him with this school and county’s youth.”

*A McMinnville man, 35 year old Freddie Ethridge lost his life in a head-on crash Wednesday afternoon, January 2 on Highway 146 near the DeKalb County line in Cannon County. The crash occurred at 3:20 p.m. about a mile from the DeKalb County Line. According to Trooper Richard Teachout of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Eldridge was traveling south in a 2013 Honda Civic when he crossed into the northbound lane while trying to negotiate a curve and struck an oncoming 2012 Jeep Cherokee driven by 51 year old Melissa Stringer of Smithville. Eldridge died at the scene. Stringer was taken by Cannon County EMS to Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury and then to Vanderbilt Hospital.

*A 60 year old man with severe burns was found unconscious during a fire Thursday night, January 31 at his home and three officers of the Smithville Police Department were credited for helping save his life. James David Linder was transported from the scene by DeKalb EMS to the hospital where he was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. According to Police Chief Mark Collins, Linder suffered possible third degree burns to his chest, neck, and face. The fire apparently started from a living room couch and Linder, who had been on the couch, made it to a hallway before he collapsed. Central dispatch received a call at 5:58 p.m. of a fire at Linder’s residence at 635 Crestlawn Avenue, a duplex in the housing project. Members of the police and fire departments were dispatched. Upon arrival, Police Sergeant Lance Dillard and Officers Tyler Patterson and Andy Snow learned from neighbors, who had tried unsuccessfully to make entry, that Linder was still inside the residence. Chief Collins said Officer Patterson tried to break through a window but couldn’t gain entry because the burning couch was blocking his way into the living room. Officer Snow kicked in the front door and Sergeant Dillard and Officer Patterson then made their way through the home. After Linder was found lying unconscious in the hallway, the officers brought him outside. Members of the fire department, who arrived moments after the police officers, quickly brought the blaze under control. Deputy Fire Chief Hoyte Hale said that although the heat from the fire was intense the blaze was contained to a small portion of the couch and to the wall behind the couch The State Fire Marshal’s Bomb and Arson unit conducted an investigation but found no signs of foul play. Chief Collins said he is very proud of the heroic actions of Sergeant Dillard and Officers Patterson and Snow for putting their lives at risk to save another.

*The Smithville First Assembly of God Youth Group was asked to come to the state capital to be honored on the Senate floor on Thursday January 31st. Relentless Student Ministries has been active in drama and dance for years and in August 2018 they attended the National Fine Arts Festival in Houston Texas and won Nationals in Readers Theater.

*The 18-2 DeKalb Middle School Saints were eliminated in the first round of the James C. Haile Basketball Tournament in Murfreesboro by Prescott, 32-29. The Lady Saints season was ended by North also in the opening round of state tournament 41-21.

*The DeKalb West School Lady Bulldog’ basketball season came to an end after losing to Savannah Christian 48-31 in the James C. Haile state tournament in Murfreesboro. The Bulldogs were also swept from the tournament losing in the first round to Hermitage Springs 39-30.

February

*Tom Vickers, the owner of the Sober Living Services and Omega House of Smithville addressed the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night, February 4 to explain how his drug and alcohol recovery programs and halfway houses operate hoping to ease concerns that have been raised in recent weeks. Mayor Josh Miller asked Vickers to attend the meeting after being confronted by citizens who had questions about the facilities that the mayor could not answer. Vickers said he is a believer in the Sober Living Services because he has seen it change lives of people addicted to drugs and alcohol including his own. Since he started the programs here in 2011, Vickers said many have been served. “We have seen approximately 2,000 people. I’ve got six Sober Living homes and one of them has three apartments in it. I own probably 30 total rentals. We have about fifty to sixty people at a time (from outside DeKalb County). They come from different places including treatment centers, and hospitals. We have homeless veterans and some come from jails. We don’t take sex offenders or anybody with an aggravated (violent crime) charge. You must have an alcohol or drug problem to get in our program and just anybody can’t come,”said Vickers. All are subject to house rules and curfews and those who are on probation or parole are monitored closely. Probation and parole officers check on them several times a week and we send progress reports to each probation or parole officer, or whoever is over that person each month. They are also drug tested randomly the whole time they are here. If they fail a drug test they can be discharged but we try to get them to go to a treatment center,” Vickers continued. “For the first 90 days the participants are not allowed to go anywhere by themselves. They must have someone walking with them. If they walk to the store, wherever they go they must have somebody with them,” he said. While transportation is provided in some cases, Vickers explained that it is difficult to keep the participants from walking about town, especially if they have jobs. City attorney Vester Parsley said that Vickers is operating within state laws and regulations and there is nothing the city can do to force him out.

*DCHS Tiger basketball player Tanner Poss joined the 1,000 point club. The senior was honored between games Thursday night, February 7 for scoring 1,000 points in his high school career. Poss actually achieved that milestone s a junior at Macon County on February 8, 2018 but he was not formally recognized at that time. Poss was sidelined for part of the 2018-19 season due to an injury. He returned to the lineup in January, 2019.

*DeKalb County High School Lady Tiger Basketball Coach Danny Fish was named the District 8AA Coach of the Year. The announcement came during the All-District selections for the year which includes four Lady Tigers and three Tigers. Kadee Ferrell and Lydia Brown were named to the 2nd Team All-District. Ferrell was also named to the All-Freshmen Team. Emme Colwell made the 3rd Team All-District and Mya Ruch was named to the All-Defensive Team. For the boys Nathan Atkins was named to the 3rd Team All-District and Dallas Cook and Tanner Poss received Honorable Mention. Cook was also named to the All-Defensive Team. Coach Fish guided the Lady Tigers to an overall 19-8 record and a 10-4 mark in the district finishing in third place. The team later went on to the quarter finals of the state tournament.

*A fugitive who led local officers on a pursuit before crashing his car on Puckett’s Point Road and fleeing the scene on foot with his son was later captured. Sheriff Patrick Ray said 34 year old George Forrest Brown was found in a lake home on Happy Trails Lane off Puckett’s Point Road Sunday night, February 17. His son Chase Brown, believed to be 10 years old, was with him. According to Sheriff Ray, Brown had broken into the residence after discovering the owners were not at home. As officers were conducting a door to door search in the Ponder Road and Puckett’s Point Road area, a deputy and THP trooper spotted a window broken out in the home where Brown was hiding. Officers made entry but Brown hemmed himself in a bedroom with his son and refused to come out making verbal threats toward the officers. But he eventually gave himself up without incident and was taken into custody. He had on him a large knife. Brown was taken by deputies to the emergency room of the hospital to be checked out before being transported to the jail for booking. Brown’s son was taken to the hospital by DeKalb EMS for examination. Brown was wanted in Hillsdale, Michigan for a pursuit there in which he fired shots at Michigan officers. In September, Brown entered a plea to reckless endangerment and evading arrest and received a two year sentence in each case to run concurrently. He is to serve the term in the Tennessee Department of Correction but was given jail credit from February 17 to September 9. Two other charges against him for aggravated burglary and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon were dismissed.

*Investigators wrapped up their probe into the death of a woman whose body was found on a cold and rainy night in November, 2018 in the backyard of a residence on Parkway Drive in Smithville. According to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, 28 year old Jessica Whitworth Stephens of Woodbury was the victim of an accidental death caused by a combination of drug toxicity and hypothermia. Investigators looked into the circ*mstances of her death and what we have been waiting for as the missing piece of the investigation is the report of the medical examiner. The autopsy report. We just recently received that back and the medical examiner’s office has determined that the cause of death is the combination of the presence of drugs in her system as well as hypothermia. It was a rainy and cold night when she was found and she was found outdoors exposed to the elements so the manner of death ruled by the medical examiner is an accident so there will be no further investigation on our part. There appears to be no crime. It’s just an accidental death caused by a combination of drug toxicity and hypothermia,” said Dunaway in a statement to WJLE. Stephens’ body was found on Monday, November 12, 2018 in a backyard on Parkway Drive near Federal Mogul. Through fingerprints, investigators were able to identify her. The case was investigated by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney Generals Office.

*Over the objections of a few residents, members of the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (E-911 Board) Tuesday night, February 19 voted 6 to 1 to re-address East Main Street in Alexandria. The action came during a special called meeting of the board requested by First District County Commissioner Dennis Slager on behalf of a group of Alexandria residents opposed to the address changes. A petition was also presented to the board signed by Alexandria citizens on the street in opposition. In addition to Slager, Danny and Pat Parkerson and Thurman Seber, who reside on East Main Street addressed the board. The DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (E-911 Board) is authorized by the state to assign addresses and to make changes when necessary to conform with state standards for 911 mapping. Brad Mullinax, Director of the DeKalb Emergency Communications District, said the changes for East Main Street are part of a county wide effort to make corrections and add numbers in areas where there aren’t enough. Mullinax said East Main Street in Alexandria, like many others across the county, is not addressed properly.

*Blake Cantrell of DeKalb County was honored during the 11th Annual Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards ceremony at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin. Cantrell was awarded for his active role in improving his community and helping others. The awards celebrated the efforts of 108 volunteers statewide who have strived to improve their communities through service. Miss Tennessee 2018, Christine Williamson, presented the awards, and NewsChannel5 weekend anchor, Jennifer Kraus, served as emcee for the event. One youth and one adult volunteer were selected from participating counties to receive this prestigious award. Nominees were judged based on the community’s need of the volunteer service performed, initiative taken to perform the service, creativity used to solve a community problem and impact of the volunteer service on the community. The individual awards are sponsored by Tennessee 4-H. Cantrell was recognized for his volunteer work in DeKalb County in which he previously was named Community Leader of the Year and he received the 2017 Git-R-Done award for the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department. He was DeKalb County High School Quarterback Club Vice President for 9 years. He attended the Citizen Fire Academy in the fall of 2014, became a volunteer firefighter in 2015, and served as the DeKalb County volunteer fire department communications officer. Blake is President of DeKalb Emergency Services Association and President of 2017-18 DeKalb County High School Project Graduation. He also volunteers his services to Haven of Hope, Lighthouse Christian Camp, and various churches and civic groups.

*Members of the DeKalb County Highway Department got busy repairing roads in February damaged by rainy weather. Roads with the most damage included Smith Fork Road, Davis Hollow Road, Falling Water Road, Harbor Pointe Drive, Park Drive, and Austin Bottom Road. According to Road Supervisor Danny Hale, embankments on portions of these roads gave way resulting in sections of the roads cracking and collapsing making them impassable. “Right now we’re bringing them back up with shot rock and filling in with crusher run gravel. Right now we’re trying to get the roads to where people can travel them and we’re working as quickly as we can,” said Hale.

*Three members of Boy Scout Troop 347 were honored by the County Commission Monday night, February 25 for earning the Eagle Scout Award. The commission adopted resolutions paying tribute to Jonathan Birmingham, John William Stephens, and Friedrich J.M. Dodge. For their Eagle projects, Birmingham built and installed a children’s playground at the Smithville Church of God, Stephens built and installed benches at the DeKalb County Complex, and Dodge built and installed a new sign at the Smithville Rotary Club. County Mayor Tim Stribling presented copies of the resolutions to the Eagle Scouts.

*The Temperance Hall Fire Station is getting a newer truck thanks largely to USDA Community Facility Grant funding. During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, February 25 the county commission adopted a $33,800 budget amendment covering the purchase of the truck at $27,655 and the remainder of the grant but all except for $2,800 of it will be reimbursed to the county through the federal grant program. The truck, a 1996 International Model 4900 with 22,000 miles, is being purchased online through govdeals. It will be stationed at the Temperance Hall Fire Station. The fire hall itself is also undergoing some upgrades including the installation of a new roof, guttering, block repair, etc.

*DeKalb County High School released the names of 57 Top Rank students in the Class of 2019 in February including the Valedictorian Madison E. (Madi) Cantrell and the Salutatorian Megan F. Redmon. Cantrell is the daughter of Todd and Jenny Cantrell of Smithville. Redmon is the daughter of Tim Redmon. To be considered for top Rank, students must take at least 10 honors, dual enrollment, and AP courses and students must have a 21 or higher ACT composite score.

*A year after he was tragically killed in a crash at Dowelltown while on his way home from work, Lebanon Police Officer Joseph Bowen of DeKalb County was honored by the Tennessee General Assembly. A resolution, sponsored by State Senator Mark Pody and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Clark Boyd, was adopted by both the Senate and House in February and signed by the Governor. The resolution said in part that “Officer Bowen was a brave and dedicated law enforcement officer who worked assiduously to improve the quality of life for his fellow citizens in numerous capacities”.

March

*A 20 year old Warren County man was killed in a motorcycle crash on Monday, March 11 on Highway 70 east at a guardrail near Sligo bridge (Smithville side). Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Zane Jefferson was traveling west on Highway 70 on a 2004 Suzuki motorcycle when he failed to negotiate a curve and slid into the guardrail. Jefferson, who was wearing a helmet, died at the scene. Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and DeKalb Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene to render assistance.

*A suspected drunk driver believed responsible for a fatal head on crash in March on South Congress Boulevard was named in a sealed indictment returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in November. 39 year old James Christopher Vaughn was indicted for driving under the influence, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, simple possession of a schedule VI drug (Marijuana), and failure to maintain lane of travel. The crash occurred on Sunday, March 31. 65 year old Bessie Blevins was seriously injured and died two months later. According to Smithville Police, Vaughn was driving north on South Congress Boulevard in a Chevy Cobalt when he crossed into the southbound lane and struck a Mercedes SUV driven by Billy Blevins near the intersection of Congress and Bryant Street. Bessie Blevins was a passenger. After impact, Vaughn’s car came to rest in the center of the road and burst into flames. The SUV stopped in the grass on the west side of Congress Boulevard. Vaughn, though seriously injured in the crash, was not believed to have suffered any burns. He apparently got out of his car before it caught fire. Before going to the hospital, Vaughn submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Vaughn’s speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. He also had a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person. Vaughn agreed to a blood test. He was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital and then airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Bessie Blevins was taken by EMS to the hospital. Mr. Belvins went to the hospital by private vehicle. Bessie passed away Wednesday May 29 at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro. The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene. The crash was investigated by Smithville Police Sergeant Travis Bryant.

*The 2019 DeKalb County Teacher of the Year is Linda Parris, a Family and Consumer Science/Culinary Arts teacher at DCHS. Parris received the “John Isabell Memorial Award” Tuesday night , March 5 during the twelfth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center. The award and a check for $150 was presented to Parris by Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank, a sponsor of the banquet, along with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and Lori Isabell. Parris, who is in her 22nd year as a teacher at DCHS, was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as “Teacher of the Year” at their schools. The others were Justin Nokes, seventh grade World History teacher at DeKalb Middle School; first grade teacher Vicky Hawker at Smithville Elementary School; fifth grade teacher Cheryl Vandagriff at Northside Elementary School; and Jessica Antoniak, a sixth grade math and science teacher at DeKalb West School. Parris was later named a region-level Teacher of the Year finalist in the category for 9th to 12th grade teachers.

*The DCHS Lady Tigers, coaches, and cheerleaders returned home to a hero’s welcome late Saturday night, March 2 as happy fans gathered at the high school gym to celebrate their team’s sub-state victory over McMinn Central 44 to 42 on the road at Englewood. The team was part of the elite eight in the Class AA State Tournament and faced Marshall County (26-7) at MTSU in Murfreesboro on Wednesday, March 6. It was the first state tournament appearance by a DCHS girls team since 1965. In that state tournament quarterfinals showdown with Marshall County the Lady Tigers lost 34 to and were denied a trip to the State Tournament’s Final Four. The Lady Tigers season ended with a record of 23-12.

*Based on overall high marks given by the Board of Education in a recent performance evaluation, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps was awarded a two year contract extension, effective July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022. During Thursday night’s regular monthly meeting, March 14 the Board voted unanimously to grant the extension. Cripps will earn the same salary $90,000 per year paid in twelve equal monthly installments in accordance with the policy. All other terms of Cripps’ contract also remain unchanged. Cripps’ contract was to run through June 30, 2020, but with the two year extension, he will now serve as Director at least through June 30, 2022. Cripps has been Director since July, 2015. Results of the Board of Education’s annual performance evaluation of Director Cripps showed he met “most” expectations of the board. Cripps’ overall average score was 4.22 out of a possible 6 score.

*City officials had expected to have a tenant at the Smithville Municipal Golf Course by March but after weeks of advertising no one stepped forward with a proposal to lease it. With the golf season about to get into full swing, the mayor and aldermen chose another course of action. During a special meeting Thursday night, March 14 the aldermen voted to enter into a one year contract with Jimmy Lewis to be the caretaker of the golf course for $33,000. The board also voted to hire Jeania Cawthorn to be the manager of the Municipal Swimming Pool and Golf Pro Shop for $25,000 for the year. As a city employee, Cawthorn will be eligible for health insurance and any other benefits offered by the city. The city will receive all revenues from the facilities but will continue to bear the expense of life guards, pool upkeep, and provide the equipment and fuel for mowing at the golf course.

*The Board of Education and Director of Schools Thursday night, March 14 got their first look at the schematic design, site plan, and floor plan for a new Smithville Elementary School. Architects of Upland Design Group met with the board and director during an hour long presentation of the plans they have developed. Four site plan options were presented for the proposed 109,000 square foot school with a student capacity of 800 for pre-kindergarten to second grade. All four options would have the new school on the same campus as Northside Elementary School. The first site plan option proposed to fit the new school on the existing property with no additional land acquisition necessary. However, the architects said this option posed challenges as the new building would encroach on a natural sloping drainage area and playground space would be limited. Option #2 proposed to expand the campus with the acquisition of 12 acres. Option #3 sought to expand the campus with the addition of 21 acres. The Board of Education did not decide on which site plan option they would pursue. The proposed floor plan for the new elementary school called for the building to have 10-second grade classrooms, 10-first grade classrooms, 10 kindergarten classrooms, and 8-pre kindergarten classrooms, plus the CDC and special education classrooms. Each classroom could accommodate up to 20 students. Although the school was designed to be long, architects say the travel or walking distance for students on either end of the building to the shared space (center of the school) would only be 350 feet.

*Raiden Martin, a Junior at DeKalb County High School, was named President of the Tennessee Future Business Leaders of America. Martin, son of Tim and Michiko Martin of Smithville, was elected during the FBLA Spring Conference in Chattanooga March 10-13. He had served for the past year as the state FBLA Treasurer. As President, Martin will serve as an advocate for the FBLA and will be attending the national leadership conference.

*Senior Tanner Poss was named the DCHS Tiger basketball Most Valuable Player Friday night, March 15 at the annual team banquet, while Senior Lydia Brown received the Lady Tiger MVP honor. Senior Zoe Maynard is the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were sponsored by Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory of Allen D. Hooper. In addition to being named MVP, Tanner Poss received an award as the team’s “Toughest” player and was recognized as having earned “Honorable Mention” in District 8AA. Poss was further honored late in the season for having scored 1,000 points in his high school career. A feat he actually achieved last year. Poss, a two time Tiger MVP winner, was sidelined for much of the year due to an injury. Had the injury not occurred, Tiger Coach John Sanders said Poss would most likely have attained even more awards especially at the district level. Poss first received MVP honors as a sophom*ore. Along with having earned the MVP honor, Lydia Brown was recognized for having been named to the 2nd Team All-District and 1st Team All-Region.

The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up an historic season losing to Marshall County in the quarterfinals of the Class AA State Tournament at Murfreesboro . They closed out the campaign with a record of 23-12. It was the first State Tournament appearance for a DCHS girls team since 1965. The season for the Tigers ended with a loss to Upperman in the District 8AA Tournament in February. The Tigers finished with an overall record of 6-23.

*A state prisoner originally from DeKalb County who escaped Wednesday, March 13 after walking away from a work detail at the landfill in Clay County is back in custody. Jackson County authorities announced that 30 year old Travis Eric Patterson is back behind bars. He is being housed in the Jackson County Jail. Patterson was due to appear in DeKalb County Criminal Court on April 8 to be arraigned after being named in grand jury indictments in November, 2018 stemming from a drug raid on his Toad Road home on June 20, 2018. He had been serving the balance of a four year prison sentence in a previous drug case after violating his probation. Patterson was under indictment for the June offenses which include possession of marijuana (6 ounces) for resale, possession of a schedule II drug (15 grams of methamphetamine), simple possession of a schedule IV drug (xanax), and possession of a firearm by a felon (6 counts- six weapons).

*A group of DCHS students came to NHC Health Care Center Thursday, March 21 bearing gifts during a luncheon to celebrate the culmination of an intergenerational (iGen classroom) partnership between the students and the assisted living residents at NHC of Smithville. The gifts, which are actually assistive prototype devices, were created by the students themselves in the DeKalb County High School Makerspace and presented to five of the residents selected for the program to help meet their daily needs. The students met with residents several times to learn their needs and then went to work on designing, creating, and perfecting devices to fit the prototypes through the STEM and Career and Technical Education programs. NHC resident Michael Young received a hand splint made by DCHS students Bailey Hibdon, Ben Felton, Jackub Osment and Channon Stone. NHC resident , 93 year old Lloyd Tisdale received a workout machine to help stay in shape made by DCHS students Hunter Fann, Logan Cornelious, Noah Gill, Zach Day, and Nathan Atkins. NHC resident Beverly Cripps received a charging station to keep near her bed for maintaining power to her phone and other electronics made by DCHS students Haley Chapman, Garrett Driver, and Noah Johnson. NHC resident Bobbie Ervin received an adjustable pickup tool made by DCHS students Julianna Juarez and Alberto Lucio. NHC resident Beth Pittman received an ipad stand with the initial “B” on it made by DCHS students Elvia Rivera, Carrie Mooneyham, Elizabeth Orellana, Justin Gohs, and Conner Rice.

*The DeKalb Telephone Cooperative, Inc. d/b/a DTC Communications Board of Directors appointed Brian Alexander to fill the unexpired term of his deceased brother, Michael Alexander, continuing the family’s service to the cooperative. Michael Alexander, 53, died from injuries he received in an automobile accident on January 11 in Cannon County.

*A fisherman had a close call on Center Hill Lake Friday morning, March 22. Local officials said a Williamson County man was on his bass boat when he got too close to Center Hill Dam while the spill gates were partially open. The current pulled his boat up against one of the spill gates causing it to turn up on its side in the water. The man, who was not wearing a life jacket, fell into the lake but he was able to grab onto the boat and managed to pull himself up and stand on the side of the vessel with it partly submerged until help arrived. A passing boater spotted him and went nearby to the marina at Edgar Evins State Park to get help. Workers from the boat dock boarded a pontoon boat and rescued the man. He was brought back to the marina uninjured. TWRA officers were able to salvage the boat and towed it to the marina. The Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad was initially summoned to the scene but Captain Dustin Johnson said the man had already been rescued and the boat towed by the time they arrived.

*The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department has its first ever female officer. During Monday night’s regular monthly county commission meeting, March 25 County Fire Chief Donny Green announced that Kristie Johnson had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. “After meeting stringent leadership testing and training requirements, Kristie Johnson was promoted to Lieutenant on March 11. During officer testing Kristie successfully passed all phases of written testing and practical skills testing. She has served with the department since 2011 and has served as a station commander and safety officer. We are proud to have Kristie as a member of our leadership team. She is the first ever female officer of the DeKalb County Fire Department since it began in 1975,” said Chief Green.

*Construction began in March on a new 18,200 square foot agriculture center building at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds behind the commercial exhibit building. When completed the center will serve as an indoor venue for farm and agriculture related events during the fair and throughout the year including a farmers market. The fairgrounds will also be using five additional acres to expand parking. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture awarded a grant directly to the DeKalb County Fair Association to help fund the project. According to Jeff McMillen, member of the Fair Board, the $400,000 center will be constructed in phases with the first phase (a new 100 x 150 square foot barn) expected to be finished by the end of May. The barn will feature a show arena for cattle shows and even small rodeos and horse shows. The agriculture center will also include a 40′ x 80’ heated and cooled space venue for exhibits and demonstrations during the fair and for meetings and activities throughout the year,” he said.

*The community rallied in support of the DCHS Class of 2019 Friday, March 29 with pledges and donations totaling $8,100 during a three hour WJLE radiothon for Project Graduation easily surpassing the goal of $5,000. The record breaking radiothon was hosted by DCHS Teacher Chris Vance and David Hedge, who organized the radiothon project in cooperation with WJLE. Previously the most successful radiothon for DCHS Project Graduation was in 2010 when more than $5,000 was raised. Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2019 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class. The event begins following the graduation ceremony on Friday, May 17.

*Boater Josh Tramel of Smithville brought five bass to the scale weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Music City Division tournament on Center Hill Lake. For his first-place finish, Tramel earned $4,384.

*The Chancery Court is being asked to intervene in a dispute between the county and a local homeowners association over the status of roads in the Hurricane Pointe Subdivision located off of Coconut Ridge Road. The county contends that the roads in question are not “county roads” but the Hurricane Pointe Homeowners Association believes they do belong to the county and has filed a petition in Chancery Court seeking a declaratory judgment. The homeowners want the court to declare that these are public roads and that the county is responsible for maintaining them. The lawsuit was filed in DeKalb County Chancery Court on March 18. According to the homeowners group, the roads have fallen into a state of disrepair and now pose a danger to anyone who travels them. The specific roads in question are Williamson Circle, Davidson Road, Patrick Court, Mica Court, Maury Lane, Wilson Circle, and Rutherford Lane.

April

*Kelly Huling, a kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School, was named a winner in the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. Anita Puckett, Interim Principal at Smithville Elementary School, made the announcement during a Board of Education meeting. “This school contest is a national program that provides up to $1,000 to Title I schools to cover transportation costs, program and stewardship project fees, and educational materials to encourage outdoor education, recreation, and stewardship. Thanks to Mrs. Kelly, all of the kindergarten classes at Smithville Elementary will be taking a field trip to Edgar Evins State Park and will also receive a free t-shirt to wear on the trip. Winners represent 68 schools across 25 states,” said Puckett.

Sixth District Congressman John Rose came home to DeKalb County in April to conduct his first regional town hall meeting since being elected in November, 2018. Congressman Rose, who has a family farm in the Temperance Hall Community of DeKalb County, met with constituents and local public officials at the courthouse to outline his vision for the country and to take questions from the audience. Congressman Rose cited three challenges facing the country that must be addressed including attacking the national debt, relieving burdensome federal regulations on businesses, and renewing respect for the rule of law.

*A DCHS Lady Tiger Basketball star will be playing collegiate ball. Lydia Brown, a senior and the 2019 team Most Valuable Player, signed a letter of intent with Vol State Community College to play for the Lady Pioneers beginning in 2019-20. Joining Lydia at the signing were her parent’s Stephen and Amanda Brown along with Vol State Women’s Basketball Coach Otis Key, DCHS Lady Tiger Coach Danny Fish, and her Lady Tiger Teammates. Her field of study there will be in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program.

*The Coordinator of the DeKalb County Recovery Court Adult and Juvenile Programs stepped down. Norene Puckett, who held the position since July 2013, relocated out of state. She submitted her resignation letter to General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II on April 15. Her last day was April 26. Thirteen years after its beginnings in DeKalb County, the Recovery Court program (formerly known as Drug Court) has grown and is making a difference in the lives of more people, juveniles and adults. Recovery Court for adults, started by Judge Cook in 2006, provides an alternative to incarceration for eligible non-violent offenders, who are deemed substance dependent. Judge Cook began the recovery court program for juveniles in 2002.

*The Clothes Closet brings renewed hope to the needy families of DeKalb County, but cramped quarters at its 107-C College Street location coupled with growing demand begged for more organized space. “We absolutely had no room where we were,” says Lynn Briggs with The Clothes Closet. “We needed to expand. We’ve really needed a place that we could spread out and help more people.” Under the sponsorship of The Salem Baptist Association, The Clothes Closest resurrected as the newly named “Hope Center” on Good Friday. Doors opened for the grand opening at 527 West Broad Street next to Walmart on Highway 70.

*DeKalb County High School will soon have a beautiful Outdoor Learning Space and Garden thanks to a grant and the creativity of students in the agriculture program’s landscape design class who came up with the layout. When finished the venue will serve as an outdoor collaborative work area for students in a variety of classes complete with picnic tables, raised beds for growing herbs and vegetable plants, a flower bed, bench, bird bath, storage sheds, and more. Development of the area, approximately 200’ x 250’ in size, was expected to begin by May 16, which is the date for the annual DCHS Beautification effort. Funding for the Outdoor Learning Space and Garden was made possible through a $5,000 grant from the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Foundation.

*Members of the community joined the Chamber of Commerce in celebrating 56 years of service to Smithville and DeKalb County during the annual banquet held at the county complex. A recap of community achievements and presentation of Chamber Milestone awards and Leadership DeKalb Alumni Association honors were among the highlights of the program. Lisa Cripps, Coordinator of the DeKalb Prevention Coalition, received the Community Leader of the Year Award and the Legacy Award went to WJLE’s Dwayne Page. The awards were presented by Leadership DeKalb representatives Jen Sherwood and Beth and Darrell Gill.

*A 23 year old Smithville man charged in December , 2018 with the aggravated rape of a child was indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in April. Ruben Alavez Mejia was arrested on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 703 Snow Street by Smithville Police. He is accused of having sex with a 12 year old girl on several occasions from the time she was 11 years old. He was also indicted in a separate offense for driving under the influence and DUI per se.

*A man accused of kidnapping and torturing his wife was indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury in April. 38 year old Erik Thomas Dunn was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and four counts of aggravated assault. Dunn is accused of tying up and assaulting his wife and then forcing her to stay in a closet at their home over a ten day period in July, 2018. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on July 10 through July 20, 2018 Dunn confined his wife unlawfully as to interfere substantially with her liberty by zip tying her hands and throat and confining her to a closet. According to the Sheriff, Dunn assaulted his wife with deadly weapons including zip ties, a knife, arrow, and wooden closet rod causing bodily injury. Dunn placed a zip tie around his wife’s throat to choke her which caused the woman to pass out. He used a knife to cut her left arm; an arrow to injure her foot; and he hit her several times with a wooden closet rod.

*The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), awarded Smithville Elementary and DeKalb County High School each $5,000 for a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education project. Locally, the grant program is also supported by the Smithville Electric System. The grant awards are a part of $580,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 161 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory. The project Smithville Elementary submitted will create a makerspace and STEM Lab for their students to use which will expose them to multiple STEM experiences and careers while also strengthening their core academic skills. “The $5,000 TVA mini-grant awarded to DCHS will be used to incorporate a designated area to our makerspace called Exploring Our Environment. This area will be devoted to Physical, Environmental and Biological Sciences,” said Dr. Bryant.

* A man who allegedly shot his wife during an argument almost two years ago appeared for sentencing in DeKalb County Criminal Court in April. 53 year old Ronald Jeffrey Patterson entered a plea to aggravated assault and received a five year sentenced suspended to TDOC supervised probation except for one year to serve in the county jail. He was given jail credit of 15 days from July 5, 2017 to July 20, 2017. All other charges against him were dismissed. He must report to jail May 6 at 6 p.m. The shooting occurred on July 5, 2017. Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time that the incident began when Patterson and his wife got into an argument while traveling in a white Isuzu Rodeo. The Patterson’s children, ages 6 and 4, were in the vehicle with them. After stopping near their home, Patterson fired shots from a .22 caliber handgun, one of which struck his wife. He then drove away with the 6 year old child. The 4 year old child was left at the home of a family member. Patterson’s wife was taken to a Murfreesboro Hospital for treatment. The shooting was reported to Murfreesboro Police, who in turn notified DeKalb County authorities.

*DeKalb County High School recognized Wilson Bank & Trust for supporting DCHS baseball with a new sponsored scoreboard. WBT Smithville Office Manager Chad Colwell joined Tiger baseball players and coaches in dedicating the new scoreboard.

*DeKalb County High School students donned in tuxedos and prom dresses posed for pictures with their dates, friends, and family as they excitedly awaited departure from the school for the prom. This year’s prom was held off campus at the Capitol Theater in Lebanon. Limousines picked up several groups for the ride from the high school to the dance.

*Smithville Police arrested a couple for burglarizing a Love- Cantrell Funeral Home van while a chapel memorial service was in progress. 41 year old Ernest R. Mashburn Jr. of 247 Circle Drive and 28 year old Heather L. Standridge of 326 Jacobs Pillar Road were arrested on April 17 for Burglary (Motor Vehicle) and Theft of Property over $1,000. Police were called to Love-Cantrell Funeral Home in reference to a theft. Upon arrival the officer noticed that someone had scattered items around inside a van belonging to the funeral home. The owner informed the officer that witnesses spotted a man (Mashburn) suspiciously walking around the backside of the funeral home where the van was parked. Video surveillance from the funeral home showed a man (Mashburn) and a woman (Standridge) entering the van and taking items out of it. Police later located the couple walking in front of Omega Apparel and placed them in custody. Police recovered items taken from the van including a Ruger 22 handgun, Oakley sunglasses, key fob, radio remote, touch screen radio, FM transmitter, cassette adapter, 2XL US shirt, headphones, phone chargers, cold weather face mask, and 2 packs of baseball cards. The total value of the stolen items was $2,280. In June Mashburn entered a plea by criminal information to auto burglary and theft over $1,000. He received a 2 year sentence in each case to run consecutively for a total of 4 years. He will be on TDOC probation. Mashburn was given jail credit from April 19 to June 18, 2019.

May

*The DCHS Tigerette fast pitch softball team lost to Livingston Academy 7-5 in the district tournament championship game and then were eliminated from the regional tournament 4-3 by Sequatchie County.

*A Dowelltown man was charged with the rape and incest of a 13 year old girl. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that 66 year old William Kenneth Phillips admitted to having had sexual contact with the child four or five times from March 1 through May 31, 2018. The case was investigated by sheriff’s department detectives.

*Three members of the 2019 Tiger baseball squad , Derek Young, Skyler Sparks and Logan Cornelius, were voted the honor of being named to the District 8AA all-district team. Tigers’ 14-14 season ended in the semi-final round of the district tournament.

*The DeKalb County Courts and Sheriff’s Department made history by launching a new video arraignment system. The first county in the seven county 13th judicial district to do so. It was first used in Criminal Court by Judge Gary McKenzie and then in General Sessions Court by Judge Bratten Cook, II. With the video arraignment system, a judge can have the formal reading of criminal charges to an incarcerated defendant without them being in the room. The inmates are beamed into the courtroom through video chat rather than physically being transported by deputies from the jail to the courthouse. The total cost of purchasing and installing the camera equipment for LIVE video chat between the jail and in the general sessions and criminal courtrooms came to $39, 391 but the county applied for a grant through the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts and was funded at $35, 407 dollars with a 10% local match of $3,984. Since defendants have a right to face their accusers, the video system cannot be used in every stage of the judicial process.

*Following morning services in May at the church’s current location in the old Dogwood Plaza Shopping Center on South Congress Boulevard, Pastor Nathan Thomason and the congregation went across the road to break ground for construction on the first phase of a new worship center to be located on an 18 acre site at the corner of Vaughn Lane and South Congress Boulevard. The first phase will consist mainly of our new worship center. It will be north of 12,000 square feet and will seat 475 people. It will have a large foyer space, seven meeting rooms and a great room and there will be plenty of space outside for the children to go out and play and do other things. The second phase will be an education building and the third phase will be a gymnasium,” said Thomason.

*Members of the Smithville Police Department who put their training and experience to the test in saving the lives of two people recently were recognized and awarded in May. Police Chief Mark Collins paid tribute to officers Brandon Donnell, Will Judkins, Tyler Patterson, Andy Snow, and Sergeant Lance Dillard during the monthly meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen. Officers Donnell and Judkins were credited for helping save the life of a woman who had overdosed on opioids in November while officers Patterson, Snow, and Sergeant Dillard pulled a burn victim to safety during a fire at his home in January. Commendation certificates and badge medals were presented to Officers Donnell and Judkins for their heroic actions and plaques and badge medals were awarded to Officers Patterson, Snow, and Sergeant Dillard for their bravery in the face of danger.

*State lawmakers paid a call on the DCHS Class of 2019 Valedictorian Madison Cantrell and Salutatorian Megan Redmon at the high school. Both Cantrell and Redmon were formally presented copies of resolutions paying tribute to them as adopted in the State House of Representatives and State Senate and signed by the Governor. The presentations were made by State Senator Mark Pody and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Clark Boyd. Principal Randy Jennings and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps also attended the observance.

*Trey Fuston, a senior at DeKalb County High School, is now a college graduate before receiving his high school diploma. For two years Fuston, son of Tony Fuston and Angie Fuston, had been working toward an Associates of Science degree from Motlow State Community College and on Sunday, May 5th he walked the line in a Motlow commencement ceremony at MTSU in Murfreesboro, twelve days before his high school graduation on Friday night, May 17. Through Motlow College’s dual enrollment program, high school students like Fuston can earn college credits while still enrolled in high school. Students can take classes on a Motlow College campus, online, or even at a partner high school like DCHS. Students who have completed their sophom*ore year and have met all requirements for taking the desired college courses may apply. Public, private and home-schooled students are all welcome to apply. The program gives students the chance to seamlessly transition from high school to college. The core curriculum credits transfer easily to Tennessee’s public colleges and universities while allowing students who are working on a four-year degree to save money on tuition. With two years of college already under his belt, Fuston will have a head start when he enrolls at UT-Knoxville this fall with a dream of one day becoming an attorney.

*Madison Cantrell was the top scholarship award winner during the Class of 2019 Awards Night program held at DCHS. Cantrell received more than $300,000 in scholarships including $199,750 from the University of Alabama, the largest single award of the night. Three other students are to receive more than $100,000 in scholarships including Cameron Ervin, Justin Gohs, and Harley Sloan who will get $117, 832 for their enlistment in the US Army. Trey Fuston also received several scholarships and was recognized for already having completed two years of college at Motlow State Community College through the dual enrollment program. Fuston has earned an Associates of Science Degree. He walked the line in a Motlow commencement ceremony at MTSU in Murfreesboro on Sunday, May 5. Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations.

*Smithville Electric System celebrated its golden anniversary. Founded in 1969, SES has been serving the City of Smithville for 50 years. “In 1969 the City of Smithville purchased what became SES from the McMinnville Electric System. The original board members were John Robert Nixon, Clarence Braswell, John Bill Evins, Dr. W.E. Vanatta, and Bill Maffett. The original board started with a bond issue of $450,000 to begin operation. They retired these bonds and today the system is debt free,” said SES Board Chairman Walter Burton. In fact it was on this date (May 15, 1969) that the original board held its first meeting to organize. In October 2017, SES completed a new substation located on South College Street and named it in honor of Mr. Nixon, who at that time was the longest serving board member and chairman. With the new John Robert Nixon Substation, the City of Smithville now has two electrical power sources. The second substation located on West Main Street continues to be shared by SES, TVA, and Caney Fork Electric Cooperative. Today, Smithville Electric System has more than 2,500 metered customers. The current board of directors are Chairman Walter Burton and members Mayor Josh Miller, Hilton Conger, Sandra Wall, and Jason Murphy.

*Two prisoners are back in custody after escaping from the recreation yard behind the DeKalb County Jail. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, 23 year old Thomas Nix and 28 year old Anthony Williams broke out at 5:10 p.m. May 14 when the inmates in the annex were being taken outside for their recreation time. One of the correctional officers witnessed Nix scale the security fence behind the jail and make his getaway. As the officers were trying to get all the inmates back into the jail, Williams ran toward the fence and climbed over making his escape. Both inmates were wearing orange and white striped clothing. Eleven minutes later officers spotted Nix and Williams behind a house near the College Street Bridge and placed them in custody. Both had shed their stripes and were wearing white T-shirts and orange shorts. They had also suffered cuts as they climbed out from the 2 strains of razor wire that covers the pen. Their orange striped clothing was found in various places behind the jail. Both Nix and Williams were charged with escape.

*Firefighting and Rescue operations can be a strenuous undertaking, carried out in all weather conditions. The risk of stress to firefighters is critically high and can adversely affect their physical condition. To help tend to their needs at the scene, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department has formed a Fire Rehab volunteer program which is also a member of the multi-county Middle Tennessee Rehab Alliance. The team’s purpose is to help protect the health and safety of firefighters at an emergency scene or training exercise whether it be the county fire department or other responders. Upon request, the team members respond to fire and crash scenes to provide rehab support to firefighters. Rehab members assist in providing drinks and nourishment along with other supplies needed to keep firefighters hydrated. Dick Kinsey is the Rehab Team Leader and Lieutenant Kristie Johnson serves as department liaison with the Rehab Team.

*Graduating seniors are now looking toward the next chapter in their lives after saying their goodbyes to DCHS as students during the commencement on May 17. Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year’s White Rose Awards went Madison Cantrell and Andrew Fuson while the Citizenship Award was presented to Axel Rico. The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the senior class with strong academic performance and contribution to the school and community and exemplary moral character. The Citizenship Award is given to a student in the senior class who exemplifies strong academic performance and contribution to the school and community. The honors, distinction, top rank, and service students were also recognized during the program. The 184 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and DCHS Principal Randy Jennings as their names were called.

*Dustin Buttram, a boating officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, was named the Tennessee Boating Educator of the Year. The honor comes from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Buttram serves in TWRA’s District 31 and the area includes Center Hill, Cordell Hull, Great Falls and Dale Hollow reservoirs. In addition, the area also includes the busy fishing and paddling Caney Fork River. In his position, Buttram has also embraced the challenge of providing boating education opportunities to the public. In 2018, he taught more than 20 boating safety classes and certified 207 students who are required to have the boating education by law, plus numerous others not required by law to have the certification. In addition to teaching on Saturday mornings at marinas on Center Hill or Dale Hollow, Buttram taught classes in four high schools and for seven school fishing teams. He offered classes on weeknights for those who could not attend weekend classes.

*DeKalb County Democratic Party Chair Jordan Wilkins was elected as Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic County Chairs Association during the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Elevate Summit held at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro.Wilkins previously served as Chair of the 6th Congressional District Democratic County Chairs and Secretary of the Tennessee Democratic County Chairs Association. Wilkins will now hold a seat on the Tennessee Democratic Party State Executive Committee representing the Tennessee Democratic County Chairs Association.

*A new Coordinator has been named for the DeKalb County Recovery Court Adult and Juvenile Programs. Kate Arnold’s first day on the job was Monday, May 20. She succeeds Norene Puckett who had held the position since July 2013 but stepped down after announcing that she was relocating out of state. Arnold comes to the position with more than 15 years experience assisting the judicial court system. As Coordinator, Arnold will be expected to participate fully as a Recovery Court Team member and be responsible for the management/administrative aspects of the program (including preparing budgets/grants), participant relations, public relations, collaboration with other community agencies, database management, and the facilitation of all meetings. Arnold will oversee the weekly docket for Recovery Court, orient all new participants and monitor their weekly progress, and submit a weekly report on each. Following input from the team, Arnold will make policy decisions affecting the day-to-day operations of the Court.

*23 year old Jessica Ashley May was again denied parole. May was serving an eight year sentence for attempted aggravated child neglect stemming from the 2015 death of her 23 month old son. After her most recent parole hearing on May 7, members of the Tennessee Board of Parole voted and concurred that May should be declined parole for the balance of her sentence due to the seriousness of the offense. According to the Tennessee Department of Correction website, May’s sentence was scheduled to end in February, 2020. She has reportedly already been released/ May was incarcerated at the Carroll County Jail as a state prisoner.

*A rising ninth grader Jana Faith Tripp won “Best of Show” and the “People’s Choice Award” in the DeKalb Schools Art Exhibit held at the County Complex. Tripp, daughter of JR and Beth Tripp, was also the 1st place winner in the Middle School Division. She had just completed 8th grade at DeKalb West School. The annual event was sponsored by the Smithville Study Club. Walteen Parker is the President of the club. Susan Hinton is the Art Chairman. The Best of Show Painting winner was Javan Walker, a 6th grader at DeKalb Middle School. Students from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade participated in the art exhibit.

*A freshman star on the 2018-19 DCHS Lady Tiger Basketball team was awarded for setting a new record on the court. Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank presented a plaque to Kadee Ferrell for scoring 494 points and grabbing 247 rebounds breaking a single season scoring record previously held by Maggie Knowles. “Kadee had a great freshman year and broke Maggie Knowles’ record. Maggie went on to play at Austin Peay. Kadee was a big reason for our success this past year. I couldn’t be happier for her success. She is one of those kids who puts in the work and time and you like to see them be successful. She has been working hard in the off season to improve her game and we all hope she can have an even better year next year as a sophom*ore,” said Lady Tiger Coach Danny Fish.

*After 26 years of service to the DeKalb County School District as Maintenance Supervisor, Earl Jared has retired. A retirement reception luncheon was held at the DCHS cafeteria where Jared was surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers. Since the early 1990’s, the board of education and school administrators had counted on Jared’s experience and expertise in ensuring that all school owned buildings were up and running smoothly when it came to heating and cooling, lighting, refrigeration, etc.

*A plane crash in October, 2018 near the Smithville Municipal Airport has served as a reminder to city officials about the potential dangers and the concerns for public safety. As a result, the city has closed the park across from the airport on Allen’s Chapel Road which for years had been used as a playground and for recreational athletics. The playground equipment has been removed and no trespassing signs will soon be erected on the property along with others warning the public of low flying aircraft in the area. Airport Manager Joe Johnson said the city has made this decision in the interest of public safety and to adhere to Federal Aviation Administration regulations in “establishing and maintaining clear approach and departure surfaces at airports”. The city park is directly within the airport’s approach and glide path for aircraft.

*An American flag display made out of red, white, and blue automobile license plates now graces the side of a building on the public square thanks to County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss and some friends. Poss came up with the idea and had the display erected at no cost to the county on the north side of the DeKalb Title building facing East Main Street. Attorney Chris Cantrell, the owner of the building, gave permission for the project. The plates were donated by collector and craftsman Bill Neal of Lakeland, Tennessee and Willard Brock of Willard’s Construction in Smithville helped with the installation. County Clerk Poss wanted the display to be in a highly visible area and chose to erect it on Memorial Day to give it special significance.

*A special tribute was paid to the flag during a Memorial Day observance at the county complex. Active duty and retired members of the 118th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard in Nashville presented “Operation Patriotism”, a stirring program which teaches the audience about the history of our Flag and how it came to be what it is today. “Operation Patriotism” takes you on a journey through history for a look at some of the early flags that were part of America’s past followed by a moving narrative from the viewpoint of our national emblem “Old Glory”.

*The 2019 DCHS Tiger basketball Most Valuable Player was awarded for becoming a member of the 1,000 point club. Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank presented a plaque to Tanner Poss for scoring 1,159 points in his high school basketball career. Poss actually reached the 1,000 point milestone during his junior year but added to his point total during his 2018-19 senior year after returning to the line-up in mid-season following an injury.

*72 year Rick Lee was found after having been missing for several hours. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Lee was found off Tucker Ridge Road about two miles from I-40 in Putnam County where he had a wreck in his truck on May 29. Lee’s vehicle had left the road and plunged down an embankment out of view of passing motorists during daylight. However before 10 p.m. a passerby saw a glow from the truck’s lights and discovered the wreck. Lee was with the truck and though injured was alert and talking.

*DeKalb County will soon be getting a new Dollar General Store. The site, currently under development, is located on Highway 56 south near Magness Road. It is reportedly scheduled to open June 13. It will become the fifth Dollar General Store in DeKalb County. The company has applied for an “off” premises permit to sell beer at the new location. The county beer board will consider the application June 10 at 7 p.m. at the courthouse. Dollar General Corp. is a U.S. chain of variety stores headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.

June

*Edgar Evins State Park celebrated National Trails Day with a ribbon cutting at the kid friendly half mile Hillside Story Book Trail featuring the new story “Anybody Home”? by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Rebeccca Dickinson. Miss Teen Tennessee Beauty Supreme, Gracie Travis of Woodbury joined Ranger Ramble, the Tennessee State Park mascot, in cutting the ribbon on the updated trail which tells the story about Polly Possum who is looking for a home among the forest creatures where she can raise her expected babies. Full color reproductions of book pages are posted at child height level at 60 yard intervals along the trail for youngsters to read or have their parents or caregivers read to them as they stroll along the trail.

*A longtime local physician ended his practice in DeKalb County to become a medical director at Erlanger in Chattanooga. Dr. Steven Cooper, a member of the team at the Family Medical Center, took on the new position in July. His last day here was June 30. Dr. Cooper received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. “I wanted to thank the citizens of DeKalb County for the last nineteen years of entrusting me with the honor of serving as one of your physicians. I have truly enjoyed my tenure in Smithville and will miss each of my patients dearly,” said Dr. Cooper.

*The DeKalb County government and Volunteer Fire Department was recognized for being able to serve three communities with newer fire trucks through USDA Facility Grant funding. Jim Tracy, State Director of the USDA Rural Development Program was in Smithville for the observance held at the County Fire Department’s Main Station on King Ridge Road. The county secured grant funding to purchase fire trucks for the Temperance Hall, Cookeville Highway, and for the soon to open Four Seasons Fire Hall. “I appreciate your service in protecting the citizens of DeKalb County. When you go to sleep at night just know you are helping DeKalb County and that is what we are here on this earth to do is help others. If someone has a fire or other emergency you are there. Rural Development is all about helping rural communities prosper. As a rural community if you are going to retain jobs and bring people in you have to protect the community and fire services with new fire trucks that we were able to help provide with these funds is very important,” said Tracy.

*Twelve soccer teams took to the field at Northside Elementary School to help raise funds for 14 year old Cameron Miller, a soon to be high school freshman, who is fighting leukemia and searching for a donor to allow him to undergo a bone marrow transplant. The Cameron Miller Invitational Soccer Tournament, organized by Cameron’s DeKalb Middle School Soccer Coach Justin Nokes, April Coronado, and the Center Hill Soccer Club generated thousands of dollars for Cameron and heightened awareness about the need for bone marrow donors. Cameron was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on April 5 and has been in treatment at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital receiving Chemotherapy. Although he is out of the hospital now, Cameron will soon be undergoing more therapy. Joined by his parents, Billy and Kate Miller and brother Bill Miller, Cameron was on hand for the benefit soccer tournament.

*Smithville Aldermen took the first step to raise city property taxes. By a vote of 3-2, the aldermen voted in a June special session to increase the city property tax rate by 25 cents per $100 of assessed value and to adopt the new $6.8 million budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year on 1st reading. Aldermen Danny Washer, Shawn Jacobs, and Gayla Hendrix voted in favor. Aldermen Brandon Cox and Donnie Crook voted against it. Second and final reading approval was given later in the month. The 25 cent tax rate increase from the current rate of 64.9 cents to the new rate of 89.9 cents per $100 of assessed value is expected to generate $350,000 in new money for the general fund. The largest project on the table in the general fund is a new police department building. The proposed 7,805 square foot structure would be built on property donated to the city on the north side of the city hall/fire department complex at Don Cantrell Street. The cost of the new facility could be as much as two million dollars to be funded either on a long term note or bond issue. From the start date of construction, projections are the building could be completed possibly within one year. The mayor and aldermen recently met with Wayne Oakley of Studio Oakley Architects, LLC who submitted a bid to design the new police department building for the city at $105,000 and that cost has been included in the new budget as engineering fees. A 2% pay raise has been figured into the budget for city employees who have topped out on the wage scale and funds for employee disability insurance coverage to help protect city employees from loss of income in the event they are unable to work for a period of time due to illness, injury, or accident while off the job. Capital outlay expenditures total $622,100 much of which includes grants for airport easem*nts and clearing and a grant match for sidewalk improvements. Plans are to purchase two used police cars and a 16 foot flat bed trailer for the fire department. Capital outlay expenses for the water and sewer include the purchase of a Kubota trackhoe, trailer, diesel truck, 9 foot dump body, camera system for leak detection, and engineering fees and sewer rehab project construction costs. The city has applied for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund the sewer rehab project.

*The New Bildad Primitive Baptist Church turned 210 years old and special worship services were held in June to commemorate it.

*The Industrial Development Board of Smithville has been awarded a Site Development Grant by the State of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development. The grant award of $235,080 will fund ongoing efforts to improve the Moog Boulevard property for industrial use. “We are so pleased that the state recognizes the potential in this site and we’re looking forward to moving ahead with the next phase of development,” said DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling. The grant funds will be used to extend the road into the property, providing a much improved vantage point for prospective companies considering locating in Smithville.

*In an effort to save money and relieve each school of the in-house burden, the DeKalb County Board of Education decided to outsource custodial services at all school owned buildings. During a regular monthly meeting, the Board voted to enter into a contract with Southern Management Services, LLC (SMS) effective July 1, 2019. The DeKalb County School District will pay SMS $494,184 for the year at a rate of $41, 182 per month. The initial term of the contract runs through June 30, 2020 but the agreement will renew on an annual basis for four- one year renewal periods unless either party provides written notice at least 90 days prior to the expiration date of the term. Under the agreement, SMS will provide complete janitorial/custodial services at DeKalb County High School, DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and at the Ernest Ray Education Center. SMS will provide all equipment and supplies. Much of the work will be done after school hours. The company will also provide clean-up following school athletic events. The School District will no longer employ custodians but those who have worked for the school system may apply with SMS and if re-hired could find their pay to be better than what the school system was able to offer. Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said the school system will save about $35,000- $40,000 a year by outsourcing the custodial services and it will relieve the district from having to recruit and retain employees itself.

*DRiV Inc (formerly known as Federal Mogul Motorparts) was recognized by the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce with a 40th Milestone Award during the Chamber Annual Banquet. Plant Manager Vic Corbit and Quality Manager Rafiah Muhammad attended the event along with Jen Sherwood, Training Supervisor and Chamber of Commerce Board Member, to receive the award. Corbit says, “In 40 years of operation, our facility has gone through several names. Through every change of owner and business demand, we have always been proud of the quality brake pads we ship and the positive impact we make to our local economy.” Mr. Corbit also expressed appreciation to all their employees past and present for taking pride in their work and for treating each other as family. He further stated, “Our Smithville facility is truly a special place.”

*Recent DCHS graduate Madi Cantrell is a National Merit Scholar. Cantrell, daughter of Todd and Jenny Cantrell of Smithville, is among more than 3,500 winners of the National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities. The formal public announcement was made on June 4th. “I have been selected as a National Merit Scholar and a recipient of a College Sponsored Scholarship from the University of Alabama. With my previous National Merit Finalist scholarship offer, I will be receiving $200,000 from the university with a large portion of this directly correlated to my participation in this program,” said Cantrell. Her field of study will be Chemical Engineering.

*DeKalb County High School was in search of a new baseball coach in June. Jon Adam Kefauver resigned as coach and Wellness and Physical Education teacher to become assistant principal at Cookeville High School. Kefauver came to DCHS in 2016 after serving three years as head baseball coach and as a Wellness and Physical Education teacher at Stone Memorial High School in Crossville. In his three seasons at DCHS, Kefauver compiled an overall record of 50-37 and 23-11 in the District with one regular season District Championship.

*An Indiana man charged with having unlawful sex with a minor was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court. 35 year old James Skyler Miller of South 25th Street New Castle Indiana entered a plea to two counts of aggravated statutory rape and violation of the sex offender registry. He received a 4 year sentence in each case to run consecutively for a total of 8 years on TDOC probation and concurrently with a Jackson County case against him. Miller was given jail credit from August 12, 2018 to June 18, 2019 and he must have no contact with the victim. Miller was indicted in October 2018 for allegedly having sex with a 16 year old in May and July 2017. Miller was 33 years old at that time. He is a registered sex offender in Indiana.

*Abigail Hope Taylor was crowned Miss Jamboree in the age 17-20 category in June at the county complex auditorium. Taylor, the 18 year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville, was also awarded for Prettiest Attire. The annual pageant was sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women’s Club. Children were crowned in several other age categories.

*The DeKalb West School Junior Beta Club competed in the Robotics competition at the National Junior Beta Club Convention in Oklahoma. The 8-person team of Isaac Brown, Bralin Moss, Alex Antoniak, Brayden Carter, Xavier Parker, John Ellis, Aniston Farler, and Matt Nokes won second place at the Tennessee Junior Beta Convention in November. Beta member Aly Griffith helped with preparations at the state competition but wasn’t a member of the team. So, she was an obvious choice to step in for John Ellis who couldn’t be a part of the team at nationals. “Their robot did exactly what they wanted it to do,” says DWS Jr. Beta Club Lead Sponsor Jessica Antoniak. “There were around 40 teams competing. They didn’t place, but I think theirs was as good most. They had fun, and it was a neat experience.”

*The county budget committee had to get back to work on the proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year after the county commission in June rejected a recommendation to increase the property tax rate by 29 cents per $100 of assessed value. Eight votes were needed for passage. Five commissioners voted in favor but six cast a no vote. Three members, Beth Pafford, Jenny Trapp, and Anita Puckett were absent. Commissioners voting for the tax hike were Sabrina Farler, Dr. Scott Little, Janice Fish-Stewart, Jerry Adco*ck, and Jeff Barnes. Those voting against were Dennis Slager, Julie Young, Myron Rhody, Bobby Johnson, Matt Adco*ck, and Bruce Malone. Although they didn’t state their reasons during the meeting, half of the commissioners voting no told WJLE after the meeting they felt the proposed tax hike was too much while the other three said it didn’t go far enough in meeting existing and future needs. Even a couple of commissioners voting yes said they felt the county should do more. Steve Bates, the county’s financial advisor, has warned that the county cannot go another year without more revenue. According to Bates, the county general fund is expected to be in the red by $1,681,933 as of June 30, 2020 if spending goes according to the proposed budget. To balance the budget, the county would have to pull the $1.6 million from the fund balance (cash reserves). Even with a 29 cent tax hike, Bates said the county general fund is still projected to run in the red by $473,132 as of June 30, 2020 if all budgeted funding is spent. However, he added the county could manage and possibly grow out of the deficit as long as spending is kept in check.

*The Alexandria property tax rate will remain the same for another year but most water and sewer customers there will see an increase in rates. During the regular monthly meeting in June the Alexandria Aldermen adopted on second and final reading the city’s budget ordinance for the 2019-20 fiscal year beginning July 1. Alexandria property owners will continue to pay .7944 cents per $100 of assessed value. The only major pending capital project listed for the year in the general fund is $35,000 for the purchase of a police vehicle. The city was forced to take action on rates affecting its 970 water and 405 sewer customers. Under the new budget, current water and sewer rates will not change for customers inside the city using the minimum up to 2,000 gallons per month. Their water bill will remain at $26.00 plus tax and their sewer at $20.00 per month. But for usage above the minimum, water and sewer customers will pay $10.40 per thousand, up from the current rate of $7.77 per thousand. For example, an inside the city water customer who uses 5,000 gallons per month will see their monthly bill go from $49.31 to $57.20 per month plus tax while bills for sewer customers using 5,000 gallons a month will jump from a current bill of $43.31 to $51.20 per month. Water customers outside the city will pay $34.52 per month (no sewer), up from $28.52 for the minimum plus tax and $12.48 per thousand above the minimum, up from the current rate of $7.77 per thousand. For at least three years Alexandria’s water and sewer fund has lost money operating in the “red” which is in violation of state law. The city was ordered months ago by the state’s water and wastewater financing board to come up with a plan to correct the issue or be subject to the state setting the rates for the utility. In response to the order Alexandria asked the municipal technical advisory service (MTAS) to conduct a rate analysis to essentially give the city guidance on how much rates should be adjusted to bring the utility into compliance. Also in order to comply with the state’s order, Alexandria had to offer a five year plan of action for making capital improvements to the water and sewer system. The MTAS study also covered that including a plan on how the city would pay for it. The city is hoping to obtain funding through a Rural Development Loan, a State Revolving Fund Loan, and a Community Development Block Grant for the needed projects. Pending capital projects planned for the city’s water and sewer fund in the coming year include $12,000 for a sewer plant equipment upgrade and $6,000 for new water meters, the first of a four year (water meter) project. “The water meters are regular read so we are just updating in Zones to help identify areas with water loss and are included at $6,000 per year in our future projects,” said Elizabeth Tetlow, Municipal Financial Officer/City Recorder. Future plans are to upgrade the city’s sewer plant and collection system, a $1,350,000 project and a $30,000 water pump motor upgrade.

*Repairs began to the Fiddlers Jamboree stage after a storm blew through knocking down the canopy and the beams that supported it. The front of the stage also sustained some structural damage. The storm hit a week before the annual two day festival. Although the stage was ready in time for the festival the canopy was not be erected back this year.

*Andy Patterson is the new pastor of the Smithville First Free Will Baptist Church and he preached his first sermon there on Sunday, June 30. He succeeded long time minister there Bernard Houk. Patterson and his family moved here from Erwin, Tennessee where he has been minister for 8 years.
July

*A man lost his life on Center Hill Lake Wednesday afternoon, July 17. 73 year old Joe Elkins of White County was believed to have drowned. In a media release, Sheriff Patrick Ray explained what happened. “On July 17th at 4:47 pm, DeKalb Central Dispatch received a call of a possible drowning at the Johnson’s Chapel Boat Ramp. When Deputies arrived on the scene, they found the victim receiving CPR. The victim was been identified as 73 year old Joe Elkins of White County Tennessee. It appeared Elkins and another person were swimming at the Johnson’s Chapel Boat Ramp area when Elkins was found to be struggling in the water. The person who was swimming with Elkins tried to retrieve Elkins from the water and also shouted to other people who were in the area for help. Elkins was pulled out of the water and CPR was administered to Elkins at that time,” said Sheriff Ray. Elkins was transported to St Thomas DeKalb by DeKalb EMS where he was pronounced deceased. Elkins’ body was then transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Nashville for an autopsy.

*Principal Randy Jennings didn’t have to look far to find a new coach for the DeKalb County High School Baseball Program. Less than two weeks after announcing the resignation of Jon Adam Kefauver, Jennings named Tad Webb as the new Tiger Coach. Webb was transferred to the high school from DeKalb Middle School where he had served the last two years as Assistant Principal. He will be teaching Algebra I at DCHS. Coach Webb has been in the school system for 16 years. During that time he has served as teacher at Northside Elementary School and later at DeKalb Middle School. He had stints as assistant DCHS football and baseball coach and later as head coach of the Saints Football and Bulldogs Baseball programs.

*Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District (MTNG) announced the hiring of Mr. Mike Davidson as Assistant CEO effective July 1, 2019. Davidson comes to MTNG after an extended career with the City of Cookeville, Tennessee. Mr. Davidson served as Cookeville City Manager from March 2015 through June 2019, and prior to that, he held the positions of Cookeville Finance Director and Director of Cookeville Gas Department.

*A Greenbrier girl won the top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners. Hailey Bryant won the coveted James G. “Bobo” Driver Memorial Award, named for the man who started the children’s competition during the 1980’s as part of the annual Fiddler’s Jamboree and Crafts Festival. Meanwhile Sarah Brooke Richardson of Arrington was named winner of the Nolan Turner Memorial Entertainer of the Year award. The honor is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among children winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition.

*A 40 year old man won the 21st annual Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run. Jason Long ran the course in 18:03 seconds, He was among 414 participants in the race, the second largest number of runners in the history of the Fiddler 5K. Meanwhile 41 year old Kristen Van Vranken won the race among females. She ran the course in 19:46 seconds and finished 9th overall. One-Mile Fun Run (age 12 and younger) winners were 12 year old Brady Adco*ck at 7:32 seconds and 10 year old Claire Evans at 7:50 seconds. Funds raised support Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.

*Ivy Phillips claimed her third Grand Champion Fiddling Title at the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival. The Chapmansboro resident, who also won the Junior Fiddling contest beat out the Senior Fiddling Champion Thomas Chapman of Falkville, Alabama in the showdown for the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award. Phillips won back to back championships in 2016 and 2017. It was the 9th year in a row that a Junior Fiddler had beaten the Senior Fiddler for the Grand Championship of the Festival.

*Bluegrass icon Ronnie Reno performed at the 48th annual Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival and accepted the Blue Blaze Award designed to honor a group or individual that ‘keeps the embers of bluegrass music glowing for future generations. Past recipients of the Blue Blaze awards are Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent, Sierra Hull, Danny Roberts of the Grascals, Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, and Michael Cleveland. Following the award presentation, Reno played a mini-concert with his band, Reno Tradition, and a special guest, his youngest son, Justin “Doc” Reno.

*A local family in the business of selling CBD oils and hemp products became upset with leaders of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival. David, Daniel, and Christy Lunsford of Smithville Hemp Dispensary believed they were the victims of discrimination. According to the Lunsford’s, the Jamboree Committee agreed to allow them to rent space as a vendor downtown during the Jamboree to display their CBD products but hours later the Lunsford’s rental was cancelled and their money refunded after Jamboree leaders objected to some of the products the Lunsfords had on display. Jamboree officials said their concern was not about the CBD oils but the paraphernalia on display at the Lunsford’s booth.

*Cookeville attorney Wesley Bray was appointed by Governor Bill Lee to succeed David Patterson as criminal court judge in the 13th Judicial District. Patterson retired from the bench June 30th. Bray had been a solo practitioner for 14 years with experience in criminal and civil proceedings. Additionally, he was a Rule 31 family mediator with a focus on divorce and family law issues. Bray is a graduate of Nashville School of Law and Tennessee Tech University. He resides in Cookeville with his wife of 17 years, Ashley, and their three children. Bray was one of four people who initially applied with the Trial Court Vacancy Commission to be recommended for the appointment along with Rebecca Brady and J. Michael Shipman of Cookeville, and Jeffrey A. Vires of Crossville. The commission recently interviewed the candidates and submitted to the Governor the names of Brady, Bray, and Shipman for consideration. Bray will serve until a special election in 2020. The winner of that election will serve the remaining years of Patterson’s unexpired term which ends on August 31, 2022.

*The Alexandria location of F.Z. Webb & Sons Pharmacy closed on Wednesday, July 24. “This is a sad day for us,” said Lora Webb. “Although there is still a need for service in the Alexandria community we just couldn’t afford to keep the pharmacy open due to declining insurance reimbursem*nts. We also tried to sell the pharmacy but were unable to find a buyer for the same reasons,” said Webb. The Alexandria Pharmacy was purchased by Alan and Lora Webb and Danny and Paula Roller in 1993 and served the community as F.Z.Webb & Sons Pharmacy for 26 years.

*DeKalb Middle School is under the leadership of a new principal. Lacey Foutch began her new assignment on July 1st moving from DeKalb County High School where she served for the last three years as an Algebra I teacher and instructional coach. Lacey is a 2008 graduate of DeKalb County High School and in 2012 she earned a degree from Tennessee Tech University before getting married and launching her teaching career. Principal Foutch was joined at DeKalb Middle School by Assistant Principal Anita Puckett.

*Teachers and members of the support staff at Smithville Elementary School met their new principal during an informal “meet” and “greet”. Summer Cantrell was named by Director of Schools Patrick Cripps to take on the position of principal at SES while Amanda Dakas is serving as assistant principal. Cantrell comes to SES from Parkview Elementary School in Putnam County where she was assistant principal for four years working with Principal Bobby Winningham.

*20 year old Destiny Danielle Franklin was the 2019 DeKalb County Fairest of the Fair. She was also named Most Photogenic. Franklin, daughter of Jennifer and Charlie Ware of Smithville, won the crown during the annual pageant held on opening night of the DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria. The Junior Fair Princess was Addison Jean Puckett, 15 year old daughter of Jimmy and Anita Puckett of Smithville. Jayson Knowles and Brinley Hale were crowned Little Mister and Miss. Knowles is the 4 year old son of Mark and Donna Pedigo of Smithville and Hale is the 5 year old daughter of Leslie and Austin Maxwell of Alexandria. The 2019 Miss Princess was Khloe Grandstaff, the 9 year old daughter of Tyler and Shawna Grandstaff of Smithville. and Keara McKinsey Milligan of Smithville won the Miss Sweetheart pageant. She is the 12 year old daughter of Josh and Cyndi Milligan. The DeKalb County Fair’s first ever Mrs. Fair Queen is 43 year old Suzanne Harrison of Smithville. Harrison, wife and mother of two, was crowned queen of the inaugural pageant at the fair. She was also named Most Photogenic. Meanwhile 55 year old Denise Page of Alexandria was crowned queen of the inaugural Miss Senior Fair pageant. She was also named Most Photogenic. Page has a son and daughter-in law and two grandchildren.

*Three years after the offense was committed, 55 year old Gary Wayne Ponder stood trial in DeKalb County Criminal Court for setting fire in a courthouse vestibule recycling bin causing more than $100,000 in damage to the building. After hearing several hours of testimony, it took the jury, made up of six men and six women, less than half an hour to deliver it’s verdict. Guilty as charged for aggravated arson. The range of punishment for this Class-A felony offense is from 15-25 years. Ponder remains incarcerated awaiting sentencing.

*DeKalb County property owners will see an increase in their tax bills. By the slimmest of margins, the county commission voted 8 to 6 to raise the county property tax rate by 29 cents per $100 of assessed value as recommended by the budget committee. The new rate, with passage of the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, now goes to $2.12, up from $1.83 per $100 of assessed value. Highlights of new spending in the 2019-20 consolidated budget are as follows: Board of Education: The school board will fund a local pay raise for the district’s 225 teachers by $1,200 each and that coupled with a state raise of $800 per teacher will put their overall increase at $2,000 for the coming year. The 200 non-certified staff members will each get a $600 local pay raise. Circuit Court Clerk: New deputy clerk position to be funded. Sheriff’s Department and Jail: Two new officer positions to be funded solely from a proposed new litigation tax through the General Sessions Court budget. One other new deputy position will be created and funded by the county through the sheriff’s department budget. And while no new positions will be added to the jail budget, the sheriff plans to promote two existing correctional officers to the rank of corporal as jail supervisors. Each one will get a $2,000 increase in pay under the existing wage scale for sheriff’s department employees for a total of $4,000. The move keeps the sheriff’s department compliant with standards for around the clock jail supervision under standards of the Tennessee Corrections Institute. DeKalb Fire Department: Two shared firefighter positions to be funded at 20 hours each per week at $10 per hour for a total of $20,800. No two specific individuals will get the jobs. Available firefighters, who are trained and certified, will rotate in and out of the positions as needed. The two fire fighters will be assigned to work out of the main station on King Ridge Road, which serves as the hub of the county fire department. DeKalb Emergency Management Agency: Funding to pay the EMA Director Charlie Parker a salary of $5,200 for the new year. Clerk & Master: Funding of $10,400 for part time employee. Alexandria Senior Citizens: Funding to pay the salary of a full time director of the center at $21,291 as a first year employee plus benefits for a total budget impact to the county of $28,051.DeKalb EMS: Funding for director pay raise of $3,000. Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad: The Rescue Squad asked the county to up its contribution from $22, 821 to $34, 821 with the proposed $12,000 increase to be allocated for fuel reimbursem*nt to its member volunteers to recoup some of their personal expense. The budget funds only an increase of $3,279.

*Smithville has been awarded a $25,000 grant for the development of a dog park thanks to the Boyd Foundation and the efforts of Alderman Gayla Hendrix in making application for the funding. Plans are for the dog park to be located on property owned by the City of Smithville near the animal shelter behind Tenneco Automotive. The park will give local dog owners and others a place to bring their canines to run and play.

*A man who allegedly tried to solicit sex with a minor in 2017 was indicted Monday. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, 40 year old Jason Dwayne Johnson “ from April, 2017 to November 27, 2017 by electronic communication did intentionally request, persuade, invite, or attempt to induce a person (female) whom he knows or should know is less than 18 years of age to engage in conduct that if completed would constitute a violation by the soliciting adult of the offense of statutory rape”.

*A man accused of downloading child p*rnography onto his laptop computer two years ago was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court. 39 year old Winston Puckett entered a plea to one count of sexual exploitation of a minor (over 50 images) and one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor (less than 25 images). He received a 6 year sentence in one case and 4 years in the other to run consecutively for a total of 10 years and he must serve at least 30% of the term before he is eligible for parole. However, Puckett has already been in jail for 739 days and was given credit for that time. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, July 13, 2017 a search warrant was executed by a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department Detective on a Dell laptop computer belonging to Puckett. The computer was in Puckett’s possession on June 27, 2017 when it was turned over to law enforcement. The search warrant revealed over 400 images of child p*rnography that had been downloaded to the computer.

*Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher made a stop in Smithville as part of his visits to four counties. State Tourism Commissioner Mark Ezell was originally scheduled to join Hatcher on the tour but he was unable to attend. The meeting, hosted by State Senator Mark Pody and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver at the county complex, offered local residents a chance to meet the commissioner and learn more about the state of agriculture in Tennessee. Members of the DeKalb County Fair Association presented Commissioner Hatcher with a gift basket filled with home grown and produced products like bread and jars of jelly, honey, and even a DeKalb County Fair tee shirt in appreciation to the Tennessee of Agriculture for providing a grant which made possible a new 18,200 square foot Agriculture Center building at the DeKalb County Fair, part of which has been completed and was used for the first time this year during the annual fair.

*A Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant from DeKalb County was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the THP Nashville District Special Programs Unit. Charlie Caplinger of Smithville was recognized for a promotion by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security in a special ceremony at the Tennessee Highway Patrol Training Center in Nashville. Lieutenant Caplinger had served as a Trooper in the Nashville District since he was commissioned in 2002 starting his THP career in Robertson County as a Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer.

*After being stranded for three days following a one car crash, a 54 year old Silver Point woman was discovered by the side of the road on highway 141 in the Wolf Creek community. Sharon Law, who had plunged down a steep embankment into a creek bed in her 2017 Toyota Corolla went unnoticed. The car could not be seen by passing motorists from the road. In order to get help, Law pulled herself up to the top of the hill to the side of the road and was spotted by a passing motorist. She was taken by EMS to Cookeville Regional Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

*A suspect in a domestic assault in Cannon County was apprehended in DeKalb County. He was reportedly in a stolen pickup truck out of Rutherford County. Michael Holden Thomas was found with the help from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said Keith Lowery, Rutherford County Chief Deputy. According to local reports, Thomas was in a pickup truck approaching DeKalb County on Short Mountain Highway in Cannon County when THP troopers lost sight of him during a pursuit. Later, Rutherford County officers were able to ping Thomas’ cell phone to a location near the Four Star Loop off Poss Road in DeKalb County. Local deputies responded to the area and saw the truck Thomas was driving on Four Seasons Road and followed it onto Hendrixson Road and then to Evins Mill Road. Meanwhile a THP helicopter conducting an aerial search spotted the truck as it approached Highway 70 and while officers on the ground put down spike strips to disable it, Thomas drove the truck across the highway from Evins Mill to Midway Road before coming to a stop in a bean field. THP officers then converged on the truck and took Thomas into custody. Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and Smithville Police Department were also on the scene to offer assistance.

August

*The Indian Creek Memorial Baptist Church turned 175 years old in August and the congregation celebrated the milestone during a special worship service.

*The City of Smithville has a new manager at the airport. During a regular monthly meeting in August, the aldermen voted to hire Mike Carpenter to succeed Joe Johnson who announced his resignation in July. Carpenter’s hiring came upon a favorable recommendation from the Smithville Airport Advisory Board.

*The legacy of the Smithville Church of God was celebrated Sunday, August 11 as the congregation commemorated 70 years of the church’s ministry in this community. The special service included a video presentation on the history of the church along with recognition of members who have been with the church for 60 plus years and the only surviving charter member from 1949, Louise Bryant Knowles. Bishop Wayne Daugherty, State Overseer of the Church of God was the featured speaker.

*Enrollment in the DeKalb County School System is up by five students compared to last year at this time. Comparing the numbers for the first full week of school, total enrollment from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade district wide was 2,998 as of Thursday (August 8), up from 2,993 last year.

*A 53 year old man who led Smithville Police on a 12 mile pursuit from the city limits to Silver Point was taken into custody but not before he rammed a patrol car and had to be forced off the road by Chief Mark Collins and Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes who rammed his car. Marty Tallent was charged with reckless driving, failure to obey a traffic control device, speeding, violation of the financial responsibility law, aggravated assault, and evading arrest. Chief Mark Collins told WJLE that the incident began when Lieutenant Detective Holmes spotted Tallent in front of him driving recklessly in his Volkswagen Jetta on South Congress Boulevard near the New Life Pentecostal Church. Holmes gave chase as Tallent headed north on Congress Boulevard running through traffic lights speeding out of town. Chief Collins, Captain Steven Leffew, and Officer Will Judkins joined the pursuit which continued often at high speeds on Highway 56 north (Cookeville Highway) out of the city. Chief Collins eventually took over as the lead officer in the pursuit and tried to ram Tallent’s car as the chase neared Interstate 40 at Silver Point in Putnam County. “Tallent got onto the shoulder of the oncoming lane and tried to pass me but I rammed him and the impact sent his car into a yaw before it shot across the road toward the driveway of a residence. Lieutenant Detective Holmes then rammed Tallent’s car and it spun around before coming to a stop,” said Chief Collins. The officers jumped from the patrol cars and drew their weapons as they approached Tallent but they placed him under arrest without incident.

*It took 25 minutes for a jury panel of 7 men and 5 women to find 31 year old Andrew Billings guilty as charged of attempted first degree murder in a 2017 knife attack on his wife Adriana. Along with the guilty verdict, the jury assessed a $50,000 fine. Billings will remain behind bars in the Robertson County Jail, where he has been held, without bond pending a sentencing hearing in DeKalb County Criminal Court before Judge Gary McKenzie. As an A felony the range of punishment for this offense is from 15-25 years. Billings was accused of slitting his wife’s throat with a long kitchen knife before leaving her by the side of Allen Ferry Road in the Ragland Bottom area on April 4, 2017.

*Security was beefed up at the high school after a threatening note was found in a restroom at DCHS. Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said the note, found by a student in the boys bathroom near the end of the school day was a threat toward the school. The student turned the note over to Assistant Principal David Gash who in turn alerted the School Resource Officer. The school district sent out an all-call to students, parents, faculty, and staff making them aware of the threat.

*An 11-month-old at the center of an endangered child alert in DeKalb County was located safe at a residence in Warren County. Sheriff Patrick Ray said Legend Creed Soales was found at a home on Tobitt Road in Warren County after the child’s father, Shawn Soales told officers where the baby had been taken. The child was placed in the custody of the Department of Children Services.

*The Smithville First Baptist Church celebrated 175 years Sunday, August 18. The congregation met in the sanctuary for a time of reflection followed by the worship service featuring guest speaker Dr. Jimmy Draper, former President of Lifeway and the Southern Baptist Convention.

*DeKalb County was treated to a blast from the past as more than 100 vintage vehicles motored through as part of the Model T Ford Club of America USA National Tour. Two hundred seventy people from across the country registered to be part of the tour which featured up to 140 Model T Fords. The scheduled tour through DeKalb County took the participants along the backroads to Center Hill Dam and Edgar Evins State Park before stopping for lunch at Blue Water Grill on the Hill and a visit to the Appalachian Center for Crafts and then to the Smithville public square.

*DeKalb County Wildlife Officer Tony Cross, was named Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, District 31 Officer of the Year. This prestigious title is awarded to officers who excel in teamwork, public outreach, innovation, attitude, leadership and achievements. Cross started with the agency in 1988 as a fisheries technician. In 1992 he became a TWRA boating officer on Dale Hollow and later that fall, Van Buren County Wildlife Officer. Cross moved to DeKalb County in 1997. Officer Cross is well known and respected in his county and beyond. Cross partners with many civic and sportsman’s groups on and off duty. He also actively partners with the DeKalb County Sherriff’s Office and offers assistance whenever possible.

*The 2019 DeKalb Saints Homecoming Queen was Allyson Roxanne Fuller, daughter of Anthony and Amanda Fuller. DeKalb Middle School 8th grade attendants were Ansley Cantrell, daughter of Tony and Amee Cantrel and Elaina Turner, daughter of Shane and Regina Turner. DeKalb West School 8th grade attendant – Zoi Hale, daughter of Justin Hale and Becky Harris. DeKalb Middle School 7th grade attendants were Macy Anderson, daughter of Bobby and Tabitha Anderson
Annabella Dakas, daughter of John and Mandy Dakas. DeKalb West School 7th grade attendant – Caroline Crook, daughter of Jacob and Kim Crook

*Seniors Isaac Cross and Emme Colwell were named Mr. and Miss DeKalb County High School for 2019-20. Cross is the son of Tony and Shelly Cross and Colwell is the daughter of Derrick and Shea Colwell.

*The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce headquarters moved from the second floor of the courthouse to an office at the County Complex. The county commission voted to relocate the Chamber as part of a move to rearrange some offices in the courthouse to create more space for office holders. The Chamber move was the first step in the courthouse office reassignment process. Under the plan, the Circuit Court Clerk’s office, which had been on the third floor of the courthouse, relocated to the second floor where the Chamber of Commerce Office had been. Meanwhile the Recovery Court Office, which has been on the second floor, is to relocate to the Circuit Court Clerk’s office on the third floor.

September

A 20th anniversary celebration of the Center Hill Brethren In Christ Church was held Sunday, September 8. The church is located at Miller Road and Forrest Avenue and the Pastor is Larry Steffee.

*Approximately 130 workers at a military garment industry in Smithville lost their jobs in September. Two of the employees independently confirmed that the local Omega Apparel factory was shutting it’s doors, with the cutting department closing immediately and the sewing department employees offered the opportunity to stay a few days longer. You have a lot of upset people,” one long-time employee told WJLE. “People were just hurt.” After one employee asked why, a company spokesman reportedly said the plant was closing due to a large previous debt too big to overcome.

*A Smithville man charged with aggravated statutory rape for having sex with a minor was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, September 9. 36 year old Greg Alan Fox of Big Hurricane Road entered a plea to the charge and received a four year sentence suspended to supervised probation and time served. He must register with the state as a sex offender. He was given jail credit of 49 days. According to the offense, on May 5, 2018 Fox did unlawfully have sex with a 15 year old female and that he is more than 10 years older than the female victim. The case was investigated by the Sheriff’s Department.

*The DeKalb County Board of Education has a new chairman. First District member Danny Parkerson was elected in September to serve as chairman for the next twelve months. He succeeds Fifth District member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III who had served as chairman for several years. Evins remains a member of the board. Meanwhile, Seventh District member Shaun Tubbs was elected Vice-Chairman, succeeding Parkerson, who had held the position. Third district member Jim Beshearse succeeds Tubbs as a Tennessee Legislative Network (TLN) representative. The board re-organizes each September electing officers to serve for the year.

*Smithville Police Detective James Cornelius is among thirteen law enforcement officers from across the state along with two criminal justice students who became graduates of the TBI State Academy in September. The Academy was created as a professional and specialized training ground for Tennessee law enforcement officers who want to expand their education and training in the criminal justice field. Through the six-week course, attendees learned advanced investigative techniques, science, and strategy; skills they can take back with them and put into practice at their home agencies.

*After spending ten months on deployment in Iraq, it was finally time for U.S. Army Guard Sergeant Jake Merriman to return home and he decided to make it extra special by surprising his children at school. The homecoming surprise was actually arranged by Sergeant Merriman’s wife Joyce who knew in advance that he would be arriving today but had not told their kids. Still dressed in uniform, Sergeant Merriman made his first visit to his 12 year old daughter Hailee, a sixth grader at DeKalb Middle School. He arrived in a pickup truck escorted in parade fashion from DeKalb Market by the Smithville Police and Fire Departments. Hailee stood outside with other students as the motorcade pulled up in front of the school, unaware of the surprise awaiting her. After spotting her father, Hailee ran toward the truck to greet him. About an hour later, Sergeant Merriman went to Northside Elementary School dressed as the school’s Eagle mascot to surprise his 10 year old son Austin, a fifth grader as he and other students were eating lunch in the cafeteria. After sitting down at the table beside Austin, Sergeant Merriman removed the Eagle mascot head and then father and son embraced with Austin’s mother and sister looking on. An eleven year veteran of the service, Merriman began his military career in the US Marine Corps and later the U.S. Army. During this deployment in Taji, Iraq, Sergeant Merriman was a Transportation NCO for the Area of Operations. His duties included overseeing the movement of equipment in and out of Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria.

*In August DeKalb EMS joined first responders, the hospital, and other emergency services in putting their skills into practice during a mock disaster exercise. Less than a week later, a real life tragedy tested them again when ten people, including seven juveniles were injured in a two car crash in Smithville. In recognition of their actions and professionalism in handling the crisis, Ascension Saint Thomas Health presented the local ambulance service with an “Excellence in EMS Award”. Brad Mullinax, Chief Administrative Officer of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital presented the award to DeKalb EMS Director Hoyte Hale. Members of the DeKalb EMS staff and other hospital officials and first responders joined them for the occasion. “Saint Thomas started this award in January and has presented 4 awards to agencies that go above and beyond. Nominations are looked at carefully and multiple criteria must be met. Most importantly each award recipient has shown extraordinary care provided to our patients and community. DeKalb EMS embodies excellence in EMS,” said a hospital official.

*The 2019 Homecoming Queen at DeKalb County High School was Malia Nichole Stanley. A senior, Stanley is the 17 year old daughter of Larry and Phyllis Stanley. The Homecoming Attendants were: Senior Attendant –Katherine Anne Malone, the 17 year old daughter of Kevin and the late Dana Malone. Senior Attendant- Megan Riley Walker, the 17 year old daughter of Jason and Renee Walker. *Junior Attendant- Ellisyn Kelsey Cripps, 16 year old daughter of Troy and Jamie Cripps. *Sophom*ore Attendant- Sadie Rian West, the 15 year old daughter of Dana and Greg West. *Freshman Attendant- Sheridan Marie O’Conner, the 14 year old daughter of Ally Atnip and Chris O’Conner.

*County Mayor Tim Stribling was re-elected Chairman of the County Commission in September. Sixth district member Jeff Barnes, the longest serving member of the commission at 17 years, was named chairman pro temp. The County Commission reorganizes each September naming a chairman and chairman pro temp to serve for the ensuing 12 months.

*Law enforcement officers converged on DeKalb County High School using K-9’s for a walk through of the buildings and grounds after a threatening note targeting DCHS turned up at a school in Putnam County. The search involved school administrators, the Sheriff’s Department, and Smithville Police, along with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Putnam County Sheriff’s Department using their K-9 dogs, and DeKalb Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Charlie Parker. The search produced nothing threatening or suspicious. In August security was beefed up at the high school after a threatening note was found in a restroom. The school district sent out an all-call to students, parents, faculty, and staff Monday night making them aware of the latest threat.

*A fire destroyed a single story home at 2045 Coconut Ridge Road in September. No one at the residence was hurt but two firefighters were treated at the scene and transported to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital for exhaustion. The home was fully involved in flames by the time firefighters could arrive and they were unable to save it. According to the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, the home belonged to Thomas Starkey of Nashville but his brother William Starkey lived there. Father-in-law Marvin Gesford was there at the time of the fire and he saw through the kitchen window flames on the back deck. Gesford tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire with a pitcher of water as the flames grew larger. Gesford made it safely out of the house and went next door to call for help but the neighbor was not at home. A passerby saw the blaze and called 911.

*The DeKalb County Board of Education in September considered four locations for the possible future home of a new elementary school. The board had advertised asking property owners to answer a “Request for Proposal” if they were willing to sell from 25 to 100 acres. Four proposals were submitted for consideration. During a meeting, County Mayor Tim Stribling reviewed the proposals with members of the county commission’s purchasing committee and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps. The proposals submitted and the locations of the properties were as follows: *25 plus or minus acres for $650,000 at 1008 South College Street east of Congress Boulevard in Smithville. Proposal submitted by Delma Vanhoosier Murphy and Doreta Vanhoosier Blaser of Roswell, Georgia. According to the proposal, the land is level with excellent vehicular access and sewer, water, and natural gas are readily available. *24.53 acres for $20,000 per acre at 302 North Congress Boulevard in Smithville near Family Medical Center. Proposal submitted by Dr’s Cripps, Rhody & Hooper, General Partnership. *60 acres (approximately) of unused property at 1111 West Broad Street in Smithville owned by Shiroki North America for $1,200,000. Proposal submitted by Bob Young. According to the proposal this property located near the industry meets the required specifications. *Up to 200 acres at Highway 56 (North Congress Boulevard) and Holmes Creek/Allen Ferry Road in Smithville. Proposal submitted by Branen and Katherine Hurst of Signal Mountain. The land is priced according to the number of acres to be purchased as follows: First 25 acres at $20,000 per acre; 26-50 acres at $17,000 per acre; 51-75 acres at $14,000 per acre; 76-100 acres at $11,000 per acre; and 101-200 acres at $8,000 per acre. According to the proposal, the property has one mile of road frontage on Highway 56. The main entrance to the property is directly across from Northside Elementary School with access to the property off of Congress Boulevard (Highway 56) and Allen’s Ferry Road/Holmes Creek Road. Centrally located in Smithville, ¼ mile from the town square. Utilities (water, sewer, gas) in place on Highway 56 in front of the property to support a school facility. Up to 200 acres available for purchase or any portion that fits the county’s needs. “The Board of Education and I will get with our architects and engineers and designate the property that best meets our needs,” said Director of Schools Cripps.

*Jones Brothers Contractors, LLC in September began clearing trees and structures on Highway 56 south to be followed by utility relocations in preparation for road construction. TDOT opened bids in June and Jones Brothers Contractors, LLC was the low bidder on the construction project at $43,691,948 which will be done in two phases from south of state highway 288 near Magness Road to East Bryant Street in Smithville and from south of the Warren-DeKalb County line to near Magness Road in DeKalb County. A proposed third segment from near State Route 287 in Warren County to near the DeKalb County Line is not yet ready for bid letting. 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. The estimated completion date for the two phases is May 31, 2022.

October

The New Hope Baptist Church near Alexandria celebrated 200 years of the church’s service to the Lord and the community on October 6. Local author Ria Baker also compiled a book on the History of the New Hope Baptist Church which is available for purchase. The beginnings of the church actually date back to 1817 when Elder William Dale of Salem Church at Liberty began preaching at the home of Thomas Findley which was in the community. In 1818, an arm from Salem Church was established. A building was completed and the first service was held at New Hope in October 1818 with 11 members present.

*Motocross enthusiasts now have a local track to practice, and in the near future, to watch races. D.J. Stewart and his partner Nate Card opened the Indian Mound MX outdoor motocross track at 575 Pinhook Road, about 3 ½ miles off Indian Mound Road in eastern DeKalb County. The American Motocross Association sanctioned track, about a mile long, is a pro style track that will be open for amateurs to practice with the hope of having races in a few months.

*Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital is upgrading and expanding services thanks to investments by Ascension, the parent organization of Saint Thomas Health. According to Brad Mullinax, Chief Administrative Officer of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital the improvements include a new CT scanner, pharmacy renovations, and cardiac rehab services among others.

*A park ranger at Center Hill Lake received the Natural Resources Management Employee of the Year Award for 2018 from the commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle Jr., presented the command accolade Oct. 2, 2019 at Center Hill Dam in Lancaster, Tenn., to Park Ranger John Malone for excellent leadership and outstanding service within the Natural Resources Management Community of Practice.

*Over 100 racers converged on DeKalb West School Saturday (October 5) for the 5th Annual 3.21Run4DS. Madeline Martin was the overall female winner with a final time of 23:37 while Aaron Gottlied, the overall male winner, had the best time of the race at 18:27. The Face of the Race this year for Down syndrome awareness was Beckett West.

*DeKalb County has another homeowner. Jamie Nokes Greco and her family celebrated the completion of their home, built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County. The home is located at 202 Hayes Street in Smithville. Iain Swisher, Pastor from First Assembly of God, led a prayer during the dedication ceremony and Gary Johnson, Construction Coordinator, led a responsive reading. Jamie expressed her deep appreciation for all the individuals, churches, businesses and organizations who worked on the house.

*Smithville Church of the Nazarene won the Church League Softball Championship beating New Life.

*A 10 year old Smithville boy with a desire to be a dirt bike racing champion has made his wish come true. Jacob Stewart won the 2019 Kentucky State Motocross Championship in the 65 cc class beating out over 80 of the fastest bikers in the country on his 2019 Husqvarna 65 as part of the two day Kentuckiana MX Championship series held at Echo Valley MX Park in Sebree, Kentucky. Stewart qualified for the race’s main event by placing 2nd in the preliminaries and he won the race to take the overall championship in his class.

*The 16th Annual Habitat for Humanity Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, held Friday, October 18, 2019, under sunny skies on the lawn of the DeKalb County Courthouse. There was a record crowd, with 500 bowls of chili being served and approximately $4,500 being raised for Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, which will be used towards the building of the next Habitat house (the 7th house). “Pick It or Ticket” from the Smithville Police Department took Top Chili Honors

*Dr. Hunter Foutch of Liberty, TN is the 2019 recipient of the Young Optometrist of the Year award. On October 11, 2019 the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians met in Gatlinburg, TN for their 118th Annual Congress and presented the award to Dr. Foutch. He is a 2017 graduate of Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN and completed a residency program in Ocular Disease Treatment and Management in 2018 at Southeast Eye Specialist in Chattanooga, TN. Dr. Foutch currently practices in Smithville, TN with his father, Dr. David Foutch at Foutch Eyecare.

*An EMT Critical Care Paramedic employed by the DeKalb County Ambulance Service (EMS) has earned a prestigious honor. Jamie Vernon is the Upper Cumberland EMS Directors Association’s Region IV “Paramedic of the Year”. The award was presented to Vernon during the association’s annual fall symposium October 11 in Cookeville. She was nominated by DeKalb EMS Director Hoyte Hale. Meanwhile an EMT-Critical Care Paramedic who worked for the White County Ambulance Service and served in a part time role for DeKalb and Warren County EMS until his recent death was honored posthumously with a Life Time Achievement Award. The Region IV award was presented to the family of Jeff Cole during the Upper Cumberland EMS Directors Association’s annual fall symposium October 11 in Cookeville.

*In a true underdog story, DeKalb County 4-H poultry judging team members earned a trip to the National Poultry and Egg Conference November 20-21st in Louisville, Kentucky. After placing 7th at the regional level, the team was named Tennessee State Champions on October 19th at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This is only the second time in history that DeKalb County has achieved the title. Clayton Crook, Lily Martin, Megan Price, and Jacob Williams are the winning team members. Lily was awarded 4th high individual.

*The County Commission has taken the first step toward keeping the DeKalb County Jail and Annex from being decertified by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. During its regular monthly meeting in October, the commission voted to authorize County Mayor Tim Stribling and Sheriff Patrick Ray to sign a letter requesting a partnership between the county, TCI, and the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) to develop a plan of action for addressing deficiencies found during a recent state inspection of the jail and annex. In a previous meeting with the County Mayor and County Commission, Sheriff Ray said TCI officials have given assurances that the jail and annex will continue to maintain certification, provided the county seeks a remedy through a “plan of action” in cooperation with TCI and CTAS. However, County Mayor Stribling explained that entering into a partnership with TCI and CTAS to come up with plan of action does not commit the county to building a new jail. Several findings were identified during a state inspection of the jail on August 22 and while a follow-up inspection on October 4 revealed some of the issues had been addressed, others remain which will require a longer term fix. Although many of these same deficiencies have existed for years, both the jail and annex have consistently passed annual state inspections until this year.

*The DeKalb Middle School cross country teams competed at the Tennessee State XC Middle School Championships in Knoxville, where over a field of 300 athletes in both the male and female divisions ran the 2.1 mile course. This marks the second year in a row that both the DMS boys and girls teams qualified for the State Championship Meet. Coming off of a 14th place team finish in 2018, the Lady Saints finished in fifth place this season which earned them All-State Honors. Only the top five teams are awarded the honor. The Saints boys’ team placed 20th out of a field of 32 teams this season. Earlier in the month, the DMS girls won first place at the regional competition. The title marked their first region championship in the program’s history. Meanwhile, the boys’ team took fourth at the regionals.

*DeKalb County is one of 59 counties that has been awarded a ThreeStar grant. The grant is for $50,000 to used for city park improvements in DeKalb County. Governor Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe made the announcement on October 3. In total, TNECD is awarding $2.4 million in funding to Tennessee communities through this round of the ThreeStar grant program.

*The DeKalb Middle School Lady Saints Soccer Team completed a historic season. They entered the playoffs with a 7-2 record after finishing third in the district and began their championship run by beating Algood, 1-0 in the first round. The game was not only the first playoff win in team history but it was also the first playoff game played at the new DeKalb High School soccer field. The Lady Saints then defeated Macon County but lost to Overton County in the championship game. The finished the season with an overall conference record of 9-3.

*The DeKalb County High School band wrapped up its marching competition season with a second place finish at the 25th Annual Foothills Classic in Seymour. At the contest Saturday (Oct. 26) in East Tennessee, the band performed its “Shades of Latin” show in its band class against McMinn Central and Pigeon Forge. Besides placing second in band, the percussion and color guard took home first place trophies. The Fighting Tiger band also placed first for its visual show and second place in music. “The band has been very competitive this season scoring consistently 1st or 2nd at each contest and has received superior ratings,” said Band Director Tracy Luna.

*A man lost his life after being shot in the chest at a home in Liberty on Halloween night. 37 year old Tyler Durden died and the man responsible for the shooting is his step father, 50 year old Albert Wayne Fisher, Jr. of Eckles Heights Street, Liberty. Fisher was arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder. The case was investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the 13th District Attorney General’s Office and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that Durden approached the residence of his mother and stepfather. Fisher came to the door, and during that encounter, fired a weapon, striking Mr. Durden. The victim was ultimately transported to a Nashville hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. Investigators have not disclosed a motive for the shooting or the circ*mstances surrounding it.

November

*A 67 year old Smithville woman, Linda Lawrence, who was airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital after a one car rollover crash Friday night, November 15 on West Main Street later died. Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Lawrence was driving east in a 1995 Geo Prizm when the car went off the right side of the road and struck a curb, utility pole, and guide wire before overturning and coming to rest on its top. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were called for extrication to enable Lawrence to be removed from the car. She was wearing her seatbelt. Lawrence was taken by DeKalb EMS to Ascension St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital and then airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital where she passed away.

*Acting on a tip that large amounts of methamphetamine were being shipped to this area, agents of the TBI and members of the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force including the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department made a huge drug bust at the marina of Edgar Evins State Park. More than 17 pounds of methamphetamine were seized and four people arrested including 30 year old Jacob Matthew Douglas of Gainesboro, 38 year old Gary Hoyt JR Copley of Cookeville, 30 year old Taylor Ross Mayberry of Baxter, and 37 year old Tiffany Dawn Baker of Cookeville. Neither of these defendants were connected in any way with the marina. The owners and management of the marina were not involved and unaware of the illegal activity there.

*A pedestrian is fortunate to still be alive after she was hit by separate motorists while crossing Highway 70 at Snow Hill near the Dollar General Store. 31 year old Samantha Sams was transported by DeKalb EMS to Ascension Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the incident occurred at around 6:45 p.m. as Sams, who was trying to cross the five lane highway to get to the store, stepped from the turning lane into the westbound fast lane and into the path of a 2005 Dodge Ram, driven by a 38 year old Sparta woman. Sams was knocked into the eastbound lane where she was also struck by the undercarriage of an oncoming 2011 Chevy Tahoe driven by a 29 year old Smithville woman. The drivers of both vehicles, unable to avoid the accident, immediately stopped and rendered assistance. Neither driver or their passengers were injured. Although seriously injured, Trooper Johnson said Sams was alert and talking while in treatment at the hospital.

*The 2019 Fall Fest Queen is Kenlee Renae Taylor. She is the 14 year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville. Kenlee succeeds her sister, 19 year old Abigail Hope Taylor, the retiring queen from last year. Taylor was also awarded for having the prettiest hair and dress in the pageant held at the County Complex Auditorium sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women’s Club. Meanwhile 13 year old Madison Brooke Dawson won the Autumn Sweetheart pageant. Dawson is the daughter of Jamie Lyn and Jarred Dawson of Smithville. She also received honors for prettiest hair and dress. The 2019 Autumn Princess is Baylei Anne Benson, the 8 year old daughter of Karey and John Washer and Christopher Benson of Smithville. She was also awarded for prettiest eyes and dress. The 2019 Tiny Autumn Miss Queen is Shaniya Bates, the 5 year old daughter of Tom and Chyna Bates of Liberty.

*Ryan Vaden was recently named the new Administrator at NHC HealthCare Smithville. Vaden takes over for Clint Hall, who was promoted to Director of Government Relations for NHC. Vaden previously served as the Administrator of NHC HealthCare Oakwood in Lewisburg, TN.

*DCHS is among 74 Tennessee high schools leading the way in the state to become the first to receive a pathways certification from the Tennessee Department of Education. Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn made the announcement.This certification recognizes strong alignment between high school programs of study offered, postsecondary partners, and high-quality employment opportunities in their region. DCHS was recognized for excelling it its Health Science Pathway.

*The DeKalb Saints Most Valuable Football Player for 2019 is Will Farris. Farris was also awarded for Best Lineman during the annual team banquet. Meanwhile, Elaina Turner is the 2019 Most Valuable Cheerleader.

*An outstanding DCHS softball outfielder signed a letter of intent with Trevecca Nazarene University to play collegiate ball after she graduates here. Megan Walker, a senior, put pen to paper at the DCHS auditorium. Members of Walker’s family, coaches, and fellow players joined her for the occasion.

*Omega Apparel Incorporated was once a thriving garment factory in Smithville and the new company that has succeeded Omega hopes to make it flourish again. 620 Pelham, Inc. has begun operations in both buildings near downtown where Omega Apparel operated until recently deciding to go out of business after experiencing hard times. The factory still produces Broadfall trousers for the US Navy although that contract is ending after the first of the year and it supplies three Goretex garments including pants and parkas under a sub-contract for the east Tennessee based Valley Apparel, LLC. In a meeting, plant manager Amanda Callis and consultant Dick Chase, a former owner of Omega during its glory days, brought employees up to date on plans for the new industry. Chase also spoke with the local media afterwards. With employment currently at just over 100, Chase said the factory plans to expand its commercial work and land more government contracts from the defense department for the US military and to eventually employ up to perhaps another 150 people. Hiring has already begun and anyone interested in a job can apply in person at the factory office on South Mountain Street. The California based company which owns 620 Pelham recently signed a two year lease including renewal options with the county industrial development board and the City of Smithville which owns the buildings where the factory operates. The company has 30 plus years of experience with operations in Mexico and Taiwan as well as the United States producing first quality sports apparel and other garments.

*Thanks to the generosity of five local and area businesses, DCHS has a brand new video display board in the gym which will be used during the basketball season and other events. Tiger and Lady Tiger Basketball Coaches John Sanders and Danny Fish recognized the businesses who funded the video board Monday morning including FirstBank, Florence & White Ford, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Southern Landscape Supply, LLC., and Diamond 9 Sports Athletic Facility Solutions. The new 7 x 11 foot video board replaces a smaller one from last year and can be used in place of banners for sponsorship advertising to support the basketball programs, LIVE feeds of events, and hype videos of players and previous games.

*DCHS Senior Anna Chew, who recently finished 7th in the TSSAA Large School Golf Tournament, will be playing at the collegiate level next year. Surrounded by her family, coaches, friends, and fellow golfers in the high school auditorium, Anna signed a letter of intent with Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville where she will play golf after graduating from DCHS next spring. The following are Anna’s awards as a DCHS golfer: District 6 Large Class Champion (2019-2020); Region 3 Large Class Champion (2019-2020); TSSAA State Tournament Large Class 7th place (2019-2020); District 6 Large Class 2nd place (2018-19); Region 3 Large Class 3rd place (2018-19),and TSSAA State Tournament Large Class 18th place (2018-19). Anna Chew is now in the running for the Tennessee High School Girl Golfer of the Year honor. Chew is a member of the 2019 Tennessean All-Midstate Girls Golf Team and by earning that distinction she automatically becomes a nominee for the girls golfer of the year award. The winner will be announced on May 29 during the fifth annual Tennessean Sports Awards presented by Farm Bureau Health Plans.

*DCHS is beefing up its weight room for several athletic programs thanks to a little help from friends at Wilson Bank & Trust. Coaches from the DCHS basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer programs personally thanked Chad Colwell of Wilson Bank & Trust for the bank’s funding of the weight room renovation.

*A man who tried to pull off an armed robbery in August at the Disco Tienda Latina store on East Broad Street in Smithville was indicted by the new term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury. Joshua McAllen Beckham is under indictment for two counts of attempted aggravated robbery. According to the indictments on or about the 21st day of August, 2019, Beckham attempted to take cash from a man and a woman at the store by use of violence putting them in fear of their lives. This act was accomplished with a deadly weapon (a knife). Smithville Police say Beckham walked into the business dressed in black with a stocking over his face brandishing a knife and demanded money from two people in the store but he fled on foot without taking anything. One of his intended victims was a female store clerk and the other was a Comcast employee performing Internet service work for the business. No one was injured. Police and others conducted a search immediately after the incident but could not find the man. Because of the close proximity, both Northside and Smithville Elementary Schools were placed on a soft lock down but classes remained in session. Schools dismissed on time and students at Northside and Smithville Elementary were escorted to their buses as a precaution. Beckham was found and arrested several days later. Officers also recovered shoes, gloves, and the knife believed to have been used in the crime.

*The historic season for the DeKalb County High School Tiger football team came to an end with a 42 to 6 loss at Nolensville in the quarterfinals of the TSSAA Class 4A Playoffs. The Tigers concluded the season at 8-5 overall and 2-1 in the playoffs The season was historic for the Tigers in that it was the first time in school history that the football program had advanced to the 3rd round of the state playoffs.

*The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation held a home dedication ceremony for Caitlin Anderson and daughter Lilly Grace at 155 Evergreen Lane, Smithville The Tunnel to Towers Gold Star Family Home Program honors the legacy of those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. The Foundation provides mortgage-free homes to surviving families with young children. Army PFC Billy Anderson lost his life in Afghanistan on May 17, 2010, leaving behind his young wife Caitlin and 8 month old daughter Lilly Grace who is now 10 years old.

*Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department proudly showed off the county’s newest community fire hall. Open House was held at the Four Seasons Community Fire Station located at 3300 Four Seasons Road. The fire hall opened in July upon completion of construction. The project had been in the planning stages for four years. “The fire hall is a 40’ x 60’ structure with two bays and one unisex bathroom. It is strategically located to give 5-mile service coverage in areas that didn’t previously have a station within 5 miles,” said County Fire Chief Donny Green. The new fire station at Four Seasons is the 12th station in the county operated by the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

*James Hendrixson is the new Director of the DeKalb County Community Complex. The county commission accepted the recommendation of the parks and recreation committee to hire Hendrixson. He had been a part time employee at the Complex for almost four years.

*57 year old Bruce Wayne Medley, a former Smithville Mayor, passed away in November. Medley served as Mayor from 1988 to 1990.

*The DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Performing Arts Group placed 2nd in that category for their “SPEAK LIFE” skit during the State Convention November 23-25. The winning group consisted of 43 students , which included 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. “SPEAK LIFE” is a hard hitting drama about the pressures teens face while navigating through a world where they aren’t promised tomorrow.

*The DeKalb West School Junior Beta Club finished third in one of the competitions at the state convention in Nashville. The technology team of Kolton Slager, Bradley Pelham, and Riley Fuson earned the honor and the right to move on to the National Junior Beta Convention in Texas next summer. The team created a video that showed how Beta students can serve in small and big ways. They showed ideas of service growing from helping out at home, at school, in the community, the state, and the world.

*An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and fire investigators with the Department of Commerce and Insurance resulted in the arrest of a Smithville man on an arson charge. On July 2, 2016, fire investigators responded to a fire scene at Old Bildad Road in Smithville. During the course of the investigation and examination of the scene, investigators determined the cause of the fire to be arson, and that 24 year old Zachary Walker was the individual responsible. On November 22nd, the DeKalb County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging with one count of Arson. On Tuesday, TBI Agents arrested Walker, and he was booked into the DeKalb County Jail on a $30,000 bond.

*One year ago a 28 year old Smithville woman lost her life in a two car crash on Highway 70 at Liberty and the man believed to have been at fault was indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury. Sealed indictments were returned in November by the Grand Jury charging 31 year old Raymond Howard Rollins of Smithville with driving under the influence, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of vehicular homicide involving the same victim, Amanda L. Smith. He is accused of reckless conduct and being intoxicated while driving which resulted in the death of Smith and causing 37 year old Charlie Ray Holman to fear imminent bodily injury. The crash occurred on December 13, 2018.

*Hundreds were fed on Thanksgiving thanks to the generosity of the community and especially local emergency service providers. The 3rd annual effort by the DeKalb Emergency Services Association in partnership with local businesses and volunteers was held to make sure the most needy and underserved among us had a hot delicious meal for Thanksgiving. A total of 562 food trays were prepared and delivered to 250 stops along the route by dozens of volunteers. A similar event was held on Christmas Eve and a total of 642 meals were delivered that morning to the needy or underserved across the county.

*After winning the state competition, DeKalb County 4-H members traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the National 4-H Poultry and Egg conference to represent Tennessee in the poultry judging contest. Clayton Crook, Lily Martin, and Megan Price outshined the competition in one particular area: market eggs. Martin was 2nd high individual in the category, Price 5th, and Crook 7th, which earned them the number one spot. Overall, the team placed 15th nationally in this competitive contest.

December

*The 2nd Annual Festival of Trees opened to a packed house at the county complex for the unveiling of an impressive collection of uniquely decorated Christmas trees. The festival has quickly become a local holiday favorite and serves as a charity venue for a non-profit group. This year the Lighthouse Christian Camp’s Outreach Christmas Program which serves more than 500 children will benefit from the festival. More than 2,300 toys were collected for the Lighthouse Christian Camp Christmas Ministries and DeKalb County Foster Children during the Festival of Trees. The Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church took top honors for DeKalb County Tree of the Year with 276 votes (gifts). To be named Tree of the Year, it had to have the most gifts placed under it.

*76 year old Taft Hendrixson, Jr. of Smithville, a former Mayor of Smithville, passed away at NHC Smithville. He was a Mason, member of the Smithville First Assembly of God, former owner of True Value Hardware and Sunshine Cleaners, and he served as Mayor of Smithville from 2006 to 2012.

* 71 year old Jerry Wayne Johnson passed away in December. He served as a school board member with the DeKalb County Board of Education for a total of 10 years.. He was a member of the Liberty Station of the DeKalb County Fire Department for 44 years and had been station commander for many years. Johnson was also an Honorary Lifetime Member of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad.

*Thirteen players on the 2019 DCHS football team have earned All-Region honors. Tiger players honored are as follows: Offensive Most Valuable Player: Axel Aldino (QB); Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Isaac Cross; Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman: Dylan Denson; Most Outstanding Returner: Desmond Nokes; Most Outstanding Defensive Back: Isaac Knowles; 1st Team All Region Diego Coronado (OL); 1st Team All Region Aiden Curtis (LB); 1st Team All Region Tyzaun Ladet (WR/LB); 1st Team All Region Antwon McCoy (LB); 1st Team All Region Peyton Leaf (C); 2nd Team All Region Alan Munoz (WR); 2nd Team All Region Evan Jones (DE/TE), and 2nd Team All Region Nathaniel Crook (RB)

*Construction bids will soon be sought for a new Smithville Police Department headquarters. Earlier this year the city contracted with Wayne Oakley of Studio Oakley Architects, LLC for the design of the facility at a cost of $105,000 which was included in the 2019-20 budget as engineering fees. The proposed 7,805 square foot structure is to be built on the north side of the city hall/fire department complex at Don Cantrell Street. The cost of the new facility could be as much as two million dollars to be funded either on a long term note or bond issue. That is yet to be determined. From the start date of construction, projections are the building could be completed possibly within one year. For more than 40 years the Smithville Police Department has been headquartered in the City Hall building downtown. Police Chief Mark Collins has said the existing police department has outgrown city hall with offices scattered out on both floors of the two story building creating a lack of room and security.

*Two school districts in Tennessee, DeKalb County School District and Sevier County School System, are among 250 school districts in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 10th Annual Advanced Placement (AP) ® District Honor Roll. To be included on the 10th Annual Honor Roll, schools must have shown an increase in the number of students participating in AP courses since 2017 while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. Achieving these goals indicates that both Sevier and DeKalb are successfully identifying motivated, academically-prepared students for AP participation and credit. Additionally, this is Sevier’s second recognition since 2014.

*The DeKalb County Republican Party caucused to formally nominate candidates for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable in the August 2020 County General Election. Incumbent Assessor of Property Shannon A. Cantrell of Smithville was nominated for re-election. Cantrell was first elected Assessor of Property in 2016. Meanwhile Travis Bryant, who currently serves as a Democratic Constable in the 3rd district has switched parties and will be seeking the same office as a Republican in 2020.

*Fourteen months ago the Board of Education was sold on building a new pre-kindergarten to 2nd grade school to replace Smithville Elementary School and voted in October, 2018 to seek funding from the county commission for this building model once a suitable site was found. The school board has now had a change of heart. During a special meeting the Board voted 6-1 to scrap the plan for a Pre-K to 2nd grade school and recommend to the county commission funding two new Pre-K through 8th grade schools in the Smithville area and a renovation of Northside Elementary School to make it a Pre-K to 8th grade facility. That would give the district a total of four Pre-K to 8th grade schools including DeKalb West while eliminating both the existing Smithville Elementary and DeKalb Middle Schools. Without any hard numbers, the board is relying on its architects’ latest estimates for construction which puts the new 2 school project at a minimum of $48,685,000 (not counting the total renovation which would be needed at Northside Elementary) and it does not include the purchase of land. The proposal now moves to the county commission for discussion.

*Only one candidate, Wesley Bray of Cookeville, is in the race to fill the unexpired term of former Criminal Court Judge David Patterson in the seven county 13th Judicial District which includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Putnam, Smith and White counties. Patterson, a Republican, retired from the bench on June 30 and Cookeville attorney Bray was appointed by Governor Bill Lee in July to succeed Patterson as judge until a special election in August, 2020. The winner of that election will serve the remaining years of Patterson’s unexpired term which ends on August 31, 2022.. Bray will be unopposed for the position in the March 3, 2020 GOP primary and in the August 2020 special election.

*The DeKalb County Democratic Primary to selection nominees for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable in districts 1-7 will be uncontested on March 3, 2020. The local primaries will be held in conjunction with the Presidential Preference Primary. Tom Duggin is seeking the Democratic nomination for DeKalb County Assessor of Property and the following persons plan to run for Constable in the Democratic Primary: Waylon Kyle in the 1st District, Darrell Johnson in the 2nd District, Paul Cantrell in the 4th District, Mark Milam in the 5th District, Jason Brown in the 6th District, and Johnny King in the 7th District. Cantrell, Milam and King are incumbents seeking re-election. The winners of the Democratic Primary on March 3 will run in the August, 2020 DeKalb County General Election

*A Smithville man caught with images of children engaging in sexual activity has been arrested. 67 year old Rick Allen Meurer of West Main Street, Smithville is charged with 2 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. The warrants allege that on December 10 Meurer knowingly possessed one image of a minor female child (in one case) and a minor male child (in the other case) engaged in sexual activity. Meurer admitted to having possession of the images.

*Thirty eight fifth graders at DeKalb West School graduated from the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in a ceremony. *D.A.R.E. is a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department-led series of classroom lessons that teaches fifth graders in DeKalb County how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives. Lewis Carrick, the Sheriff’s Department’s School Resource Officer at DeKalb West School, doubles as the D.A.R.E Officer instructor for the fifth grade classes. As part of the course, students prepared essays on what they have learned from D.A.R.E. and a winner was selected from each fifth grade class. The winners at DeKalb West School were Kenadee Prichard from Mrs. Nadina Martel’s class and Hannah Brown from Mrs. Jeanna Caplinger’s class. Prichard was the overall winner and she received a $50 check from General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II.

*The DeKalb Utility District water treatment plant was shut down for a few days but DUD customers didn’t know because the water kept flowing thanks to the City of Smithville. According to DUD Manager Jon Foutch, a problem was discovered at the DUD intake facility near the lake where a joint pulled apart from a water pipe causing a disruption in service. The DUD’s engineers and water plant construction team were brought in for consultation and work on fixing the problem. Before the plant was shut down, DUD’s water connections with the City of Smithville were reactivated under a water purchase agreement between the two entities. Under the water purchase agreement adopted by the City and DUD in the fall of 2017, each of the utilities may purchase water from the other in times of need. The city maintains eight existing master meters that can service both utilities. The DeKalb Utility District serves 5,300 customers in either all or portions of DeKalb, Smith, Cannon, and Wilson counties.

*Children at the Smithville Head Start Center were treated to bags of gifts thanks to the Smithville Police Department’s “Cops4Kids” program. In what has become an annual event, Police Chief Mark Collins, Mayor Josh Miller and other members of the police department joined Santa in presenting the children with the gifts. Other guests included the Doug Collins Family who sang for the children and Randy Pedigo, a local minister who shared the Christmas story.

* Longtime DeKalb County Historian Tommy Webb has been remembered. The county commission adopted a resolution in honor of Webb, who passed away on October 29.

*One of the brightest stars on the DCHS football team this past season will soon be trading his black and gold school colors for purple and gold. Isaac Cross, a senior, signed a letter of intent to play for the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles next year. Cross will graduate from DCHS in May. Cross, a recent All Region Award winner as Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, played for the Tigers all four of his high school years with this season having been the most memorable as the team advanced to the third round of the state play-offs before losing to Nolensville last month.

Fatal Family Shooting, Resurgence of Local Industry, Bids Awarded for Long Awaited Highway 56 Construction, and a Return Trip to the State Basketball Tournament for the DCHS Lady Tigers after 54 years Rank Among the Top Local News and Sports Stories of 20 (2024)
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