Local News Articles

County Freezes Employee Wages; No Tax Hike

July 25, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Members of County Commission

Due to budgetary concerns, the county commission Monday night voted 12-2 to adopt the new consolidated budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year with a freeze on the wages of county general employees at current levels until at least January.

The county property tax rate will not be increased this year.

Budget 2017-2018 (6-22-17).pdf (201.18 KB)

The wage freeze, which was recommended by the budget committee, will apply to employees of county officials at the courthouse and county complex along with the sheriff’s department, EMS, library, and solid waste departments and the Senior Center Director. It will not include employees of the County Highway and School System because those departments have their own budgets.

The action was taken because anticipated expenditures were to exceed revenues by more than $818,000 during the new budget year. Even with the wage freeze, the county could still go into cash reserves by as much as $624,000 during the year.

The budget committee plans to revisit the issue again in January. If the budget picture looks better by then employees due a step raise this year could be allowed to get them as of January, 2018 or retroactive to July 1, 2017.

All county general employees were given pay raises last year under a new wage scale.

Prior to asking for the wage freeze, the budget committee had voted to recommend changes in the existing pay scale for county general employees but that plan ultimately was not included as part of the new budget.

The proposed $42.9 million spending plan for the 2017-18 fiscal year is funded by local, state, and federal dollars.

The local property tax rate remains the same at $1.8335 per $100 of assessed value to be divided among the funds as follows:
County General: 0.9635 cents
Highway/Public Works: 0.0300 cents
General Capital Projects: 0.1100 cents
Debt Service: 0.1200 cents
General Purpose Schools: 0.6100 cents
One cent of the property tax rate generates $46,125 at a 6.33% delinquency rate.

Two commissioners, Julie Young in the first district and Betty Atnip from the sixth district voted against the budget.

During the public hearing prior to the meeting, Atnip said she is concerned about overspending which could result in a need for a property tax increase within a couple of years if it continues.

“I guess my main concern is we did a tax increase (two years ago) and we promised the people that is was going to last them for a long time before we had to ask for any more money. But now with the way it’s going, in two years we’re going to have to go in and say “we need more money and we’re going to have to raise your taxes to run this county because we keep increasing everything. In fairness to the people of DeKalb County and the people we’re supposed to be taking care of, I don’t feel that its been watched close enough and that we’re over spending. I think if we were doing our jobs like we were supposed to be, we’re supposed to be watching this and we’re supposed to be keeping it under budget and not all this over budget of everything. I think we’re doing the people of the county wrong,” said Atnip.

Steve Bates, the county’s financial advisor, said that problem may not really be as significant as first thought. “ We don’t think we’ll go into cash near what we thought we would. There are some outstanding issues. For example, the budget committee made a recommendation to start doing your own billing for the ambulance service. You won’t have to pay that fee (for a private company to do the billing) so we can try to come out of this downward trend that the budget committee sees going forward to avoid any tax increase or to postpone it as long as possible. Unfortunately, like most things the cost of government grows, the cost of things grows but what we want to try to do is stay ahead,” said Bates.

Budget highlights include the following:

*Over the last three years, the county has contracted the EMS patient billing duties to a private company but doesn’t plan to renew the agreement this year due to declining revenues. Those responsibilities will be returned in-house to the ambulance service this fall after notice is given to the billing company.

“We projected more than $1 million in EMS revenue this past year but will fall short in collections from patient charges,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling. EMS management attributes much of the shortfall to a decline in the run volume this past year.

*The budget committee recommended and the county has approved a new policy for the ambulance service to charge patients $125 per call upon the third response within 30 days if they request an ambulance for assistance but then sign a form refusing treatment or transport to the hospital.

*The county highway fund currently gets four cents of the local property tax rate, but since the department is budgeted to get an additional $331,351 this year from the state due to an increase in the gas tax, the county is taking one cent of the property tax rate from the highway department ($46,125) and putting it toward county general.

*The budget for the sheriff’s department includes a $25,000 increase in overtime pay, primarily to catch up from the county not having adjusted pay for overtime in recent years according to Sheriff Patrick Ray.

*Due to rising costs for inmate medical and dental services, a $25,000 increase is included in the new budget putting that line item at $100,000, but Sheriff Ray said he is hopeful that the increase can be offset during the year from other areas of the sheriff’s department budget.

*The county plans to purchase and equip five new patrol cars for the sheriff’s department. A total of $165,000 is included in the capital projects appropriations for this purchase.

*Two years ago the county commission set aside $25,000 as seed money for the eventual development of a new fire hall in the Four Seasons Community. Last year another $50,000 was added for a total of $75,000 for this project. This year the fund totals $100,000 with the addition of another $25,000.

*The county is getting matching grant funds to purchase firefighting equipment, possibly a fire truck. The total is $43,000 with the local match being $28,000.

*The Capital Projects fund also includes an appropriation of $145,000 for the purchase of a solid waste department roll back truck, $40,000 for possible repairs to the steps outside the courthouse; $10,000 for repairs and upgrades at the veterans building; and $10,000 in repairs to the Omega factory building if needed.

*A total of $9,000 has been budgeted again this year to be divided among six ball fields in the county at $1,500 each to make improvements.

*The cities of Smithville, Alexandria, and Liberty will have to share more of the costs for county property reappraisals and personal property audits.

The county commission has established fees for the cities but to keep the municipalities from having to pay the full amount this year the costs will be phased in over a three year period.

Smithville will be required to pay this year approximately $5,410. Liberty’s share this year will be about $434. Alexandria will be billed for approximately $944 this year.

*The County Highway Department budget has $150,000 in funding for the purchase of equipment including a trackhoe to be used at the rock crusher instead of a rental; $20,000 for the purchase of a used truck for road patching projects; $15,000 for maintenance and repairs to the building where the department is located; and pay raises are included for employees. The department is budgeted to receive an additional $331,351 in state gas tax funds and an extra $140,898 in state aid funding but the state bridge program allocation has dropped from $504,440 this past year year to $80,000 for the coming year.

*The county is taking steps to close the landfill with the solid waste transfer station now in full operation.

“ We will close the existing Class I cell as soon as possible. We are now underway with closing half the existing cell with a final cover and the other half will be closed either this year or next year but almost all the county’s garbage is now going to the transfer station instead of the landfill. The only thing going to the landfill now is construction debris from cans we rent out from my office. We also run a garbage truck on Sundays to pick up four or five boxes at some places in the county. We talked about opening a Class III landfill cell for construction debris but decided to just close the entire landfill operation and transition everything to the transfer station which is now being operated by a private company under contract with the county. Our manned convenience sites will remain open. We anticipate the county issuing debt to replace funds previously expended in the landfill operation and for final phase of closure. It is estimated that the size of the borrowing could be approximately $1.5 to $2 million for final closure,” said County Mayor Stribling.

*Although the school system is bracing for a cut in federal funding the state is sending about one million dollars more Basic Education Program (BEP) funds this year totaling $15,962,000.

In addition to pay raises and the scheduled step increases, the board of education plans to add another teacher at DeKalb West School because the average class size is over 20 students in kindergarten to third grade. A new kindergarten teaching position in the school system could also be created as needed. The state is fully funding pre-kindergarten again this year in a $486,167 grant. The board also plans to spend more money on technology to bring one to one computer devices into the 6th to 8th grade classrooms.

“The state sent us $144,000 this year for teacher raises. That comes to about $600 per teacher. We have added a $250 one time bonus for non certified staff. We put in the budget about $200,000 more for technology in grades 6-8 for one to one devices," Director of Schools PatrickCripps.

One to one computers are electronic devices that allow students to access the Internet, digital course materials and digital textbooks. By providing students their own notebook computer or tablet, schools make it possible for students to find information instantly to produce rich multimedia content.

The new budget also includes $20,000 for a school building feasibility study. “We put in $20,000 for an architect to come in and do a study. It is my hope that with an architect study we will be able to get a break down of different school sizes (options) and what it would cost to build those schools,” he said.

The school budget also includes $130,000 for a new 96 passenger bus.

The general purpose school budget for 2017-18 totals just over $22 million dollars. Anticipated revenues are budgeted at $ 21.5 million. Almost $900,000 of the school's reserves may be needed to balance the budget on paper but that is less than last year’s projection. “We are trying to go less and less into our reserves and we have done that this year,” said Director Cripps.

Thirty Five Indicted by Grand Jury

July 25, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

Thirty five people were indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury Monday including three named in sealed indictments.

Arraignment for these people will be Monday, August 7 in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Those indicted and their charges are as follows:

MaKayla Brooke Barrett- theft under $1,000

Kimberly Errin Beard-DUI (2nd offense) and driving on a revoked license (4th offense)

Randall Blackwell- DUI (2nd offense), possession of drug paraphernalia, and failure to exercise due care

Brandon Ross Bogle- driving on a revoked license (5th offense) (3 counts)

Andy Joe Certain-possession of a schedule II drug (meth) over 0.5 grams with intent to sell or deliver (2 counts), possession of a schedule II drug (morphine) with intent to sell or deliver, possession of a schedule IV drug (alprazolam) with intent to sell or deliver (2 counts), possession of a weapon by a felon, evading arrest in a motor vehicle, possession of drug paraphernalia (2 counts), and driving on a revoked license

Flesha Ann Collins-driving on a revoked license

Barnie Gene Creek-resisting arrest and public intoxication

Jason Bradley Cripps-driving on a revoked license (3rd offense)

Johnny Lynn Devault-driving on a revoked license

Robin Clark Green-DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving on a revoked license, failing to report an accident, and violation of the implied consent law

Michael Alan Hendrix-aggravated assault

William Irvine-DUI

Kenneth Lee Johnson- DUI (2nd offense) and driving on a revoked license

Dori Leigh Keith-DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of a schedule VI drug

Jason Lynn Knowles-driving on a suspended license (2 counts)

Roxanna Landis-forgery (6 counts), theft under $1,000 (2 counts), tampering with evidence, and public intoxication

Steve Franklin Mabe, Jr.- possession of a schedule II drug (cocaine) over 0.5 grams with intent to sell or deliver and possession of a weapon by a felon

William Travis Malone- possession of a schedule II drug (meth) over 0.5 grams with intent to sell or deliver, possession of a schedule IV drug (alprazolam) with intent to sell or deliver, introduction of contraband into a penal facility, tampering with evidence, DUI, simple possession of the schedule II drugs methamphetamine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and hydromorphone, simple possession of a schedule IV drug (alprazolam), possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of the implied consent law

Garry Lee Martin, Jr.- DUI (3rd offense)

Justin Lynn Murphy-domestic assault

Tyrone Dwayne Owens- DUI (2 counts), violation of implied consent (2 counts), possession of a schedule II drug (cocaine) over 0.5 grams with intent to sell or deliver, simple possession of a schedule II drug (oxycodone)

Stephen Anthony Patterson-possession of a schedule II drug (meth) under 0.5 grams with intent to sell or deliver, possession of a schedule IV drug (alprazolam) with intent to sell or deliver, introduction of contraband into a penal facility, and DUI (2nd offense)

Gregory Michael Patton-simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine), simple possession of a schedule III drug (buprenorphine), and simple possession of a schedule IV drug (alprazolam)

Homer Anthony Petty- possession of a weapon by a felon, failing a false report, possession of a schedule II drug (hydromorphone) with intent to sell or deliver, DUI (3rd offense), simple possession of a schedule IV drug (alprazolam) with intent to sell or deliver (2 counts), driving on a revoked license (2 counts), aggravated burglary, theft over $1,000, and simple possession of a schedule VI drug

Melissa Poss Petty-vehicular assault (2 counts) and DUI

Christopher Jacob Roach-possession of a weapon by a felon

Brandon Lee Starnes- possession of a schedule II drug (meth) over 0.5 grams with intent to sell or deliver, possession of a weapon by a felon, simple possession of a schedule II drug (morphine), and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Jason Douglas Stembridge-auto burglary (3 counts), theft over $10,000, theft over $60,000, and operation of a chop shop

Dustin Allen Sullivan-simple possession of a schedule II drug (meth) and resisting arrest

Stephanie Sue Summers-identity theft (2 counts), fraudulent use of a credit card (6 counts), and theft over $1,000 (2 counts)

Nathan Joe Trapp-aggravated assault (4 counts), unlawful possession of a weapon, and filing a false report

Bobby Jewel Wilson-possession of a weapon by a felon and resisting arrest

Titans Quarterback and the NFL Foundation give $10,000 to DCHS Football

July 25, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota Presents Tiger Football Coach Steve Trapp a signed jersey
Tiger Football Coach Steve Trapp Presents Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota a DCHS Tiger Pride Shirt
A check for $1,500 was presented to DCHS Principal Randy Jennings from Andy Wachtel, CEO of Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury to be used for the school.
Football players and fans turn out to greet Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota

The DeKalb County High School Football Program has an extra $10,000 thanks to Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota and the NFL.

During a visit to DCHS Tuesday morning, Mariota announced that he was making a donation of $5,000 to the Tiger football program and that the NFL Foundation would match the award with a $5,000 donation of its own.

Mariota was in town as part of a four town high school tour in partnership with Saint Thomas Health, which has hospitals in the four towns of Smithville, Sparta, McMinnville, and Woodbury.

In addition to Mariota’s announcement, a check for $1,500 was presented to DCHS Principal Randy Jennings from Andy Wachtel, CEO of Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury to be used for the school.

Speaking to an audience of fans, Tiger football players, members of the high school band and others, Mariota talked about the upcoming season for the Titans, the mission of the Motive8 foundation which he established in 2015 to promote a healthy mind and body among youth in Hawaii, Oregon and Tennessee, and he had words of encouragement for the Tiger football team

Mariota encouraged the seniors on the team to be a role model for the younger players. “They are counting on you to be the best player that you can be both on and off the field. Take that role model responsibility and run with it and enjoy your last year.”

Through the Motive8 Foundation, Mariota said the goal is to help underprivileged youth.”My family and I created what is called Motive8. Our foundation wants to reach out and help underprivileged youth. We want to make an impact. When I was growing up, there were so many guys from the state of Hawaii, who were probably better athletes than me, but they didn’t have the resources to achieve their dreams of playing collegiately or professionally. Our aim is to help provide those resources for youth to give them an opportunity to make their dreams come true and when its their turn they can give back,” he said.

As for the upcoming season, Mariota said he can’t wait to get started. “I’m excited. It’s really hard to put into words. I think we have a great core group of guys that really want to win. Its fun to be a part of it. We appreciate all of your support. We’re excited to get things rolling. We start Friday and hope we’re not done until February. Our goal is to win a Super Bowl and when things get tough and on days like today when its hot and you have to go out and practice you have to remind yourself of that goal. For me, my focus is I don’t want to let the guy next to me down. If every decision I make is about the guy next to me on my right and left, I think eventually the team will be in a good spot and hopefully we’ll be able to achieve that goal. I can’t wait for the season to get going,” said Mariota.

After making his remarks, Mariota presented DCHS football Coach Steve Trapp with a signed jersey. The Titans quarterback received from Coach Trapp a DCHS Tiger Pride shirt.

Alexandria Gets New Dentists

July 24, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. Laura and Dr. John Adams of Adams Dental in Alexandria

The dental office of Dr. Wesley Suddarth in Alexandria is under new ownership.

Dr John Adams and his wife Dr. Laura Adams of Watertown acquired the practice upon the retirement of Dr. Suddarth, who had been in business since 1978. They officially took over on July 5th.

The new name of the clinic is Adams Dental.

The couple recently relocated to Watertown from Missouri where Dr. John served at Fort Leonard Wood during a tour of duty in the U.S. Army.

A native of Mountainburg Arkansas, Dr. John met his future wife at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis where they were studying to become dentists. She is from Jackson, Tennessee.

“I went to dental school in Memphis and that’s where I met Laura. She was a year behind me in school. After I graduated from dental school, I moved to Missouri at Fort Leonard Wood where I was an Army dentist for four years,” Dr. Adams told WJLE.

“After I graduated we got married. John was already in Missouri for one year fulfilling his active duty of service. We stayed at Fort Leonard Wood for the last three years and came here straight from Missouri,” said Dr. Laura Adams.

The couple had hoped to find a small community to start their dental practice and were thrilled when this opportunity arose.

“We knew we wanted to have a practice in a smaller town. At the time we were looking, we stumbled across this one and really liked it,” Dr. John continued.

“We live in Watertown so we’re glad to be close by and part of the community and we’re looking forward to getting to know everybody,” added Dr. Laura.

The Adams’ plan to continue offering the same quality dental services patients of Dr. Suddarth have come to expect but they would like to expand on those services over time.

“We do fillings, crowns, same day crowns, and all aspects of general dentistry and we see children as well as adults. As we grow and as time goes on, we’re going to keep everything up to date with new technology. We will be adding a few services including dental implants and we’ll broaden dental extractions and even do some braces in the future. We really want to get settled in and get to know the people. That’s our primary focus, to be the dentists in the community and meet the needs of the patients,” said Dr. John.

(UPDATED) Fire Destroys Condos in Highland Cove Complex Near Center Hill Lake

July 24, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Condos in Highland Cove Complex
Fire Damage to "H" Building at Highland Cove Complex

An early morning fire destroyed at least two condominiums in the Highland Cove Complex near Center Hill Lake early Monday morning.

The three story, six condo complex is located on Dale Ridge Road (Highway 96) in the area of Cove Hollow.

According to DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green, the fire started on the top floor of the “H” building and swept through both condos there. The two condos on each of the first and second floors were spared any fire damage because of the concrete floors in between each level of the building but there was some smoke and water damage there.

“We got the call at 5:22 a.m. A caller phoned 911 and reported that flames were already coming out of the roof and when we got there that is what we found. One condo unit on the third floor was fully involved with flames already coming out and the fire had moved into the adjoining condo unit. We also had exposure risk on the “G” building some 40 to 50 feet from the “H” building. Heat from the fire had melted the siding on the end of the “G” building so we deployed a large master stream of water to knock the flame and heat back off that building,” said Chief Green.

Although hydrants were available, Chief Green said water pressure issues forced firefighters to shuttle water from the lake to help get the blaze under control.

“We had a little issue with water supply. We had hydrants but there was not a lot of flow or pressure out there. We wound up having to set up a tanker shuttle operation, going down to Cove Hollow Marina and drafting water out of the lake and hauling it back up to the fire,” Chief Green continued.

DeKalb County firefighters received mutual aid back up from crews with the Smithville and Cookeville Fire Departments who brought in their ladder trucks and from the Putnam County Fire Department. “Smithville city got here with their ladder truck. We set it up, got water supply to it, and was able to get a pretty good knock down on the fire. We (county fire department) have a deck gun to get water up there but its more effective if you can spray down on it from a ladder truck. We didn’t have enough water to supply both the Cookeville and Smithville ladder trucks so we wound up using the City of Smithville’s ladder truck.

Although all the condos in the “H” building are occupied no one was home at the time of the fire except one occupant on the first floor and he got out safely.

"Sheriff’s Department officers went unit to unit and forced entry to make sure no one was in them. Because of the time of day it was, we were afraid somebody might still be in bed,” said Chief Green.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined although an occupant in the “G” building said he thought lightning from a passing thunderstorm might have struck the building overnight triggering the blaze.

“The State Fire Marshal has been here and its under investigation because of the high dollar value commercial loss. It’s a possibility (lightning) but we don’t know that,” Chief Green concluded.

Members of the Liberty, Temperance Hall, Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded along with the tanker truck, DeKalb EMS, and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department.

Bradford Charged in Rash of Home Burglaries and Thefts

July 24, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Cory Alan Bradford

A Smithville man has been arrested in a rash of recent home burglaries, vandalism, and thefts.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW MUG SHOTS OF PERSONS RECENTLY BOOKED AT THE DEKALB COUNTY JAIL- Intakes & Releases From: 7/17/2017 Thru: 7/24/2017)

Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_31.pdf (4.18 MB)

28 year old Cory Alan Bradford of Love Lane, Smithville is charged by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department with nine counts of aggravated burglary, eight counts of theft, six counts of vandalism, and possession of burglary tools. The Smithville Police Department has charged Bradford with one count of aggravated burglary.

His bond on the charges against him by the sheriff’s department totals $137,500. He is also under a $10,000 bond on the Smithville Police Department charge against him. Bradford will make a court appearance on August 3.

Bradford is accused of breaking into homes on Lakeside Drive, Oak Drive, Lakeview Drive (3 homes), Lakeside Place, Puckett’s Point Road (2 homes), Blackberry Hill Road, and Riley Avenue between June 2 and July 20. TVs and other items were taken from several of the homes.

After identifying Bradford as a suspect in the cases, the three detectives of the sheriff’s department sought out Bradford for questioning. “ Two of the detectives were off duty at a business in town early in the morning on July 20 when they saw Bradford pass by. They had been looking for Bradford to trail him to see if they could find him with any of these TVS. When they saw Bradford pass by they got in their own cars and followed him to Highway 56 south to a business where he got out to meet someone. Bradford then pulled a TV out of the back of his vehicle. The detectives jumped out of their cars and took Bradford in for questioning. Bradford admitted to breaking into these places,” said Sheriff Patrick Ray.

The cases against Bradford are as follows:

*On June 2, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Lakeside Drive and took a 60 inch Vizio TV, a Roku box, and a Dewalt Angle Grinder (valued at $820). He also allegedly vandalized a door and window ($2,000 in damage)

*On June 10, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Oak Drive and took a 50 inch Emerson TV, 60 inch TV, 43 inch Vizio soundbar, and Ryobi Miter Saw (valued at $4,300). He also allegedly vandalized a door and window ($4,500 in damage)

*On June 11, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Lakeview Drive and took a 42 inch Vizio TV (valued at $700) and vandalized a wall ($700 in damage)

* On June 11, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Lakeview Drive and took a 50 inch Samsung TV, wall mount and assorted tools (valued at $760). He was also charged with possession of burglary tools after admitting to using a pry bar to gain entry to this residence and several other homes.

*On June 14, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Lakeview Drive and took a 24 inch HD TV flat screen, a TV with a DVR player, several CDs, and an air compressor (valued at $500). He also allegedly vandalized a window ($200 in damage).

* On June 24, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Lakeside Place and took a Sears Miter Saw, RCA DVD player, Polaroid DVD player, Play Station and socket set (valued at $440) and allegedly vandalized a door and frame ($800 in damage)

* On July 1, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Puckett’s Point Road and took a 30 inch Phillips TV and a piggy bank (valued at $305)

*On July 16, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Puckett’s Point Road and caused $200 damage.

*On July 19, Bradford allegedly entered a residence on Blackberry Hill Road and took a 50 inch Samsung TV

Bradford was arrested on Friday, July 21 in the case brought by the Smithville Police Department. He is charged with aggravated burglary due to his making a forced entry into the home of his victim on Thursday, July 20 on Riley Avenue. Upon investigation police discovered that Bradford entered the home with the intent to commit a felony theft but the victim was at home, heard the alarm going off, and called 911. Bradford had left the scene without taking anything before police arrived.

Sheriff Ray said the investigation continues and more charges are pending.

Students Who Miss 18 School Days will be Deemed "Chronically Absent" under New State Regulation

July 24, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

DeKalb County School students who miss 18 school days per year-regardless of the cause-will be considered chronically absent under a new regulation from the State Department of Education. The number of chronically absent students will also reflect on the overall performance score given to the school system.

Joey Reeder, the school system’s Attendance Supervisor, reports that beginning with the 2017-18 school year the state will be using a new accountability measure called the Chronically Out-of-School Indicator. “Students that miss more than 10 percent of the school year, for any reason, are considered chronically out of school. This would typically be students that miss 18 or more school days out of our 180-day school year calendar,” reported Reeder.

DeKalb County Supervisors of Instruction Mrs. Michelle Burklow, Pre-K-5 and Dr. Kathy Bryant, 6-12 also report that there is strong evidence that absenteeism has a profound influence on student academic outcomes. Absenteeism reduces academic achievement, increases the risk for future attendance problems, and diminishes the probability of receiving a high school diploma. Bryant and Burklow added, “The Chronically Out-of-School Indicator is one out of six of our district accountability indicators and one out of eight at the school level. This will be a factor in determining the overall rating of both the district and school.”

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said, “During the 2017-18 school year we will increase our efforts at the district, school and classroom levels to improve the attendance of all students. However, this will not be an overnight process. We have to keep in mind that while we can help many students with chronic absenteeism issues, there are other matters beyond the control of the students or their families.” Cripps added, “We are fortunate the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Board of Education realize the importance of having a nurse in each school to assist primary care physicians to properly care for our students with chronic conditions."

Reeder agrees, “The key to improving school attendance and avoiding truancy issues begins with clear communication between parents and schools.” He said, “We understand that family emergencies arise and things happen that are beyond the control of our students or their families. When situations such as this occur, we ask that parents communicate with the school. Through this communication, the school can often help manage the family’s situation without adding the stress of missing school and falling behind in school work.” If you have any questions concerning school attendance, please call 615-215-2102.

Deadline Approaching to Enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC)

July 23, 2017
by: 
Donny Green

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director Donny Green reminds farmers and ranchers that they have until August 1 to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2017 crop year. These programs trigger financial protections for participating agricultural producers when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices or revenues.

Producers who have ARC/PLC contracts must annually enroll for the current crop year by signing a contract before the Aug. 1 deadline. Please contact or visit your FSA office to schedule if you have not yet enrolled.

Covered commodities under the programs include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.

For more program information, contact your local FSA office or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Dr. Ming Wang to Visit DeKalb County Senior Center

July 23, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. Ming Wang

Nashville based eye surgeon, Dr. Ming Wang, will visit Smithville to present an interesting informative and educational “Vision Care” talk for members and guests of the DeKalb County Senior Center. This important medical talk is scheduled for Thursday, July 27 at 11:15 a.m.

The doctor will offer suggestions on how to take care of your vision. He will also discuss individual vision care concerns from the audience. Further, he will explain the most updated state-of-the art LASIK technology available should vision corrective procedures become necessary. Additionally, attendees will receive a special gift certificate good for discounts toward the enhancement procedures that he performs.

The Nashville Kiwanis Club recently named Dr. Wang “Nashvillian of the Year” in recognition of his special work with children from all over the world. Likewise, the Middle Tennessee FiftyForward organization has selected him to receive their 2017 “Crowning Achievement Award” for his work with the senior citizen population.

The doctor’s remarkable real life story inspired a character in the nationally acclaimed book, “God’s Not Dead”. In 2014 the book became a blockbuster movie and Dr. Wang’s character was also included in the film version. An autobiography about his interesting life has also just been released and he will have a supply of the books on hand to autograph for attendees of this seminar.

The community is invited to come out, meet Dr. Wang and take a tour of the center. To obtain additional information or to RSVP please contact the DeKalb County Senior Center, 718 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville 37166 or call 615-597-7575.

DeKalb Fair Toddler Show Winners

July 22, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Boys (13 to 18 months) Winner: Knox Bowen (left), Runner-up: Dyllan Bates
Girls (13 to 18 months) Winner: Tillie Kate Stanley (left) Runner-up: Peyton Elizabeth Knowles
Boys (19 to 24 months) Winner: Cooper Knox Jennings (left) Runner-up: Zayden Lee
Girls (19 to 24 months) Winner: Neely Brooke France (left), Runner-up: Addlee Jane Evans
Girls (25 to 30 months) Winner: Makenlee Faith Collier (left), Runner-up: Paisley Marie Hale
Boys (31-36 months) Winner: Jackson Denton Duke (left), Runner-up: Haven Mykhal Waggoner
Girls (31 to 36 months) Winner: Clara Ruth Cox (left), Runner-up: Jacqlin Ila Rose Prichard
Girls (37 to 47 months) Winner: Brinley Hale (left), Runner-up: Shaniya Bates

Winners of the annual Toddler Show were announced Friday evening at the DeKalb County Fair.

First place winners received a blue ribbon. Red ribbons went to those receiving second place.

This year's recipients are as follows:
Boys (13 to 18 months)
Winner: Knox Bowen, the 14 month old son of Jacob and Kayla Bowen of Dowelltown
Runner-up: Dyllan Bates, the 15 month old son of Ada and Tom Bates of Liberty
Other participants: Xavier Billings, the 16 month old son of Adriana Billings of Smithville; Anthony Estes Patterson, the 19 month old son of Stephen Patterson and Billie Grace Estes of Smithville; Colton Graham Duke, the 18 month old son of John and Whitney Duke of Smithville; and Carson Blayne Turbeville, the 18 month old son of Andy and Emily Turbeville of Alexandria.

Girls (13 to 18 months)
Winner: Tillie Kate Stanley, 13 month old daughter of Matt and Jessica Stanley of Alexandria
Runner-up: Peyton Elizabeth Knowles, 18 month old daughter of Justin and Mary Knowles of Smithville
Other participants: Reagan MaKay Smith, 13 month old daughter of Justin and Nioka Smith of Smithville; Clara Ann Tramel, daughter of Charlie and Brenda Tramel of Liberty; Kinley Brielle Melton, 15 month old daughter of Dillon and Rachel Melton of Liberty; Jaedyn Claire Dunaway, 13 month old daughter of Justin and Jessica Dunaway of Smithville; Jazlin Elizah Cantrell, 18 month old daughter of Joey and Victoria Cantrell of Smithville; and Cecilynn J. Cooprider, 13 month old daughter of Rebecca and Heath Cooprider of Liberty

Boys (19 to 24 months)
Winner: Cooper Knox Jennings, 21 month old son of Dewaine and Tonya Jennings of Smithville
Runner-up: Zayden Lee, 20 month old son of Sierra Lee and Noah Jones of Smithville
Other participant: Naziah Martinez, 19 month old son of Michelle Martinez and Charles Clark of Smithville.

Girls (19 to 24 months)
Winner: Neely Brooke France, 19 month old daughter of Justin and Haley France of Smithville
Runner-up: Addlee Jane Evans, 19 month old daughter of Ashley and Johnny Evans of Smithville
Other participants: Kallen Avarie Curtis, 22 month old daughter of Heather Page and John Curtis of Smithville; Aubree Mae Orcutt, 22 month old daughter of Melissa and Matthew Orcutt of Smithville; Nevaeh Anderson, 24 month old daughter of David Anderson and Tori Tate of Liberty; and Cecilia Lynn Lopez, 19 month old daughter of Joan and Alissya Lopez of Smithville.

Boys (25 to 30 months)
No entries

Girls (25 to 30 months)
Winner: Makenlee Faith Collier, 25 month old daughter of Matthew and Brooke Collier of Smithville
Runner-up: Paisley Marie Hale, 30 month old daughter of Andrea Cantrell of Smithville
Other participant: Sage Nycole Adkins, 29 month old daughter of Destiny Adkins of Smithville

Boys (31-36 months)
Winner: Jackson Denton Duke, 36 month old son of John and Whitney Duke of Smithville
Runner-up: Haven Mykhal Waggoner, 34 month old son of Phillip and Natasha Waggoner of Liberty

Girls (31 to 36 months)
Winner: Clara Ruth Cox, 36 month old daughter of Brandon and Whitney Cox of Smithville
Runner-up: Jacqlin Ila Rose Prichard, 33 month old daughter of Mark and Amanda Prichard of Smithville
Other participants: Lakelynn Taylor Rushing, 36 month old daughter of Allison Taylor of Smithville; and Ariana Rayne Herrin, 32 month old daughter of Mitchell and Amanda Herrin of Smithville.

Boys (37 to 47 months)
No entries

Girls (37 to 47 months)
Winner: Brinley Hale, 38 month old daughter of Leslie Hale and Austin Maxwell of Alexandria
Runner-up: Shaniya Bates, 44 month old daughter of Ada and Tom Bates of Liberty
Other participants: Sydney Daveia Turner, 45 month old daughter of Melissa Andrews and stepdad Stephen Miller of Smithville; Abigail Hale, 39 month old granddaughter of Candy Hale of Smithville; Alexis Brooke Shepherd, 34 month old daughter of Misty Myers and Donald Shepherd of Dowelltown; Katy Jo Bowen, 44 month old daughter of Joseph and Kimberly Bowen of Smithville; and Aydalyn Elizabeth Cook, 43 month old daughter of Cora Beth Rhody and Dustin Cook of Smithville.

The DeKalb County Fair will feature the following events tonight (Saturday):

*Horseshoe Tournament Barn 12 noon

•Gospel Singing Lions Pavilion 6:00 p.m.

•Super Truck/Tractor Pull TC McMillen Arena 7:00 p.m.

•(2) $500 Cash Drawing Lions Pavilion 9:30 p.m.

Memory Lane Stage sponsored by Wilson Bank and Trust:

*6:30 - 7:30 pm - Mid State Cloggers
•7:45-8:45 pm - Evermean Evergreen Cloggers

Rides on the Midway by the Family Attractions Amusement Company. Unlimited rides will be available for $18.00 Saturday.

Admission to the fair is $4.00 per person. Children age four and younger will be admitted free! Gates open at 4:00 p.m.. The exhibit building is open from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Parking is Free!

For more information, call 615-529-FAIR or visit on-line at www.dekalbcountyfairtn.com.

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