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Local News Articles

DCHS Students Choose Trump and Sanders for President in Mock Election

March 4, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders

DCHS students chose Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders for President in a Mock Election held Super Tuesday at school.

According to the DCHS Tiger Media, a total of 619 students cast ballots in the mock election including 181 who voted in the Democratic Primary and 438 in the Republican Primary.

DCHS students chose Sanders over Hillary Clinton 141 to 40. Trump won with 225 votes over 115 for Marco Rubio, 56 for Ted Cruz, 36 for Ben Carson, and 6 for John Kasich.

Students were also asked to participate in Exit Polling. A total of 377 participated. Two questions were asked.

1) Who did you vote for?

Democrat (99 participated)

Bernie Sanders 81.8%
Hillary Clinton 18.2%

Republican (278 participated)

Donald Trump 55.0%
Marco Rubio 27.0%
Ted Cruz 9.0%
Ben Carson 8.3%
John Kasich 0.7%

2) What influenced your vote the most? (324 participated)

No reason/ I don't know - 50.9%
Education/ Free College - 18.5%
Terrorism/ Homeland Security - 10.8%
Religious Beliefs/ Morals - 8.0%
Economy/ Jobs - 7.1%
Other - 4.6%

"I am extremely proud of the participation of the students in our DCHS Super Tuesday mock election," said Social Sciences Teacher Nate Kennard whose students helped him facilitate the mock election. " We had an amazing 619 that voted and also had 377 that answered questions in our exit polls. It was an incredible day and it gave me an opportunity to answer many questions concerning the procedures of voting, the differences between primaries and general elections, and what candidate was in each party. The students in my classes that helped me facilitate the election did a great job and learned how instrumental exit polls are for the media when calling elections or understanding what influenced the voters the most. I was very happy with the turnout and the stories from students that went home after school Tuesday and paid attention to the actual Super Tuesday and its results," said Kennard.

Preliminary Construction Plans for Smithville Bridge Forwarded to TDOT

March 3, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Preliminary Construction Plans for Smithville Bridge Forwarded to TDOT

Preliminary construction plans have been forwarded to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for a new bridge on Holmes Creek Road over Fall Creek in Smithville.

In an email to city officials, the engineer for the project, Kyle Hazel of Professional Engineering Services of Sparta wrote that final construction plans for the bridge will be prepared and sent to TDOT for final review and approval once TDOT approves the preliminary plans. "Once all necessary approvals, permits, right-of-way, and utility coordination has been accomplished we will advertise and the project will be bid," wrote Hazel.

The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, has been closed since October 30.

The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe.

The project is being funded under the state's 1990 Bridge Grant Program. The Tennessee Department of Transportation was to pay for 98% of the costs to replace the bridge. The local matching portion was to be 2%. However, according to Hazel the matching cost to the city could be 8%

"At this time the bridge grant funds available for this project are approximately $500,000 and we anticipate that an additional $168,000.00 will be added this July 2016. This will not be enough to cover the bridge's maximum percentage of 98%, but closer to 92% according to my overall project cost based on the estimate. Therefore the City of Smithville will need to be prepared to fund approximately 8% +- of the total project cost at this time," wrote Hazel.

City officials have said it may be next fall before the new bridge is completed.

Until then residents in the area and other motorists will have to continue making a detour by way of Riley Avenue or Allen's Ferry Road.

Representative Weaver announces passage of “National Guard Force Protection Act of 2016”

March 3, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Tennessee House of Representatives Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) announced today that the Tennessee House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that allows for homeland security upgrades that the Tennessee Military Department will implement at armories and recruiting stations around the state. The “National Guard Force Protection Act of 2016” was introduced to ensure the safety of Tennessee National Guard service members in the wake of the Chattanooga attack in July of 2015. The legislation is sponsored by Representative Charles Sargent (R-Franklin).

“Each day, our service members put themselves in harm’s way to ensure we are safe and secure. The safety of our military men and women, as well as the general public, is of the utmost importance,” said Speaker Beth Harwell. “I was proud to cast my vote in support of this legislation.”

The enhancements at armories and recruiting stations throughout the state will include mobile ballistic shields, shatter resistant film for windows and doors, barriers in front of the buildings, cameras, and more.

“The Chattanooga attack was tragic and senseless. I am proud that we are making the implementation of these safety features a priority in the House of Representatives this year,” said Representative Weaver. “I thank all our Tennessee National Guardsmen and women for their service.”

Having passed unanimously in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the legislation is headed to Governor Haslam’s desk for his signature. More information about the bill can be found here: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HB2149.

DeKalb County Health Department Honored with TNCPE Interest Award

March 3, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Left to right: Katie Rawls, TNCPE President and CEO; Michael Railling, MPH, DeKalb County Health Department Director; and Rebecca Hunter, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources

DeKalb County Health Department Honored with TNCPE Interest Award

The DeKalb County Health Department was honored at the 23rd Annual Excellence in Tennessee Awards Banquet, held on Wednesday, February 24, 2016. The TNCPE Interest Award is the beginning level for organizations interested in adopting and applying performance improvement principles.

The Interest Award was presented by Rebecca Hunter, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources, State of Tennessee, and TNCPE President and CEO, Katie Rawls. More than 450 business and community leaders from across Tennessee packed the ballroom of the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs to salute the winners. 44 organizations representing high-performing businesses, government agencies, nonprofit and education organizations were recognized for their commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.

For more information, visit www.TNCPE.org.

Photo Credit: George Walker
Left to right: Katie Rawls, TNCPE President and CEO; Michael Railling, MPH, DeKalb County Health Department Director; and Rebecca Hunter, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources

DeKalb West School Throws a Big Reading Party

March 3, 2016
by: 
Bill Conger
Speech Teacher Katie Stutts is decked out as book character, "Pete the Cat" for Family Literacy Night at DWS.
Students camp out for a reading adventure at Camp Read S'More during the first-ever Family Literacy Night for the county held at DWS. Librarian Amanda Mullinax coordinated the event.
Bailey Redmon (left) and Elizabeth Redmon (right)
Christy Sullivan and Natasha Vaughn

Mary Poppins, The Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and even Moses turned out to DeKalb West School for a big reading party for the community. The first-ever Family Literacy Night on Tuesday brought in parents, students, and other people across the county to celebrate reading.

"I was elated by the way families turned out, the community support that we had, and the way the children were behaving, enjoying, learning, and loving everything that they saw," said DWS Librarian Amanda Mullinax, who spearheaded the event.

Children's author Michael Shoulders, who read and entertained the children, encouraged parents to make reading fun and turn it into a family affair.

"I don't think they should look at their kid and say, 'You're supposed to read 20 minutes," Shoulders said. "Get in your room right now and read 20 minutes, and if I come in there, you better be reading. That's the wrong approach. It should not be a chore. It should be fun. Let me read it with you. It's about celebrating books and having fun with them. That's why I throw in a magic trip or a throw in a rap. I want them to think I had a good time with books."

During the two-hour event, families put stakes down at Camp Read S'More, hung out with Pete the Cat, went on a different version of a cake walk with literacy as the theme, explored hidden gems in a treasure chest, checked out their children's Literacy Fair projects, and of course, read together.

"I would say it's important to come out to something like this to show the children that reading, writing, and anything literacy related is just as important as anything else that we can go and do for fun, like go to the movies or go shopping or go to a sporting event," added Mullinax.

"I think the most important thing that you could take away from tonight is what we have been promoting all year long," Mullinax adds. "We've been calling it the "20 for 20" program. He didn't call it a program. He just said it needs to be part of our daily life and twenty minutes a day doing something where your child is interacting with reading and you are too as a family. I just think that's very important."

Sheriff's Department Gets New Grant Funded Fingerprint Machine

March 3, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff's Department Gets New Grant Funded Fingerprint Machine

Thanks to a grant the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office recently purchased a new fingerprint machine.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the grant covered the $15,000 cost of the machine with no local funds required for the purchase. The new machine replaces an older one the department had been using.

"We fingerprint every inmate who is booked including those arrested by the Sheriff's Department, Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments, Tennessee Highway Patrol, or any other agency or officer who makes state arrests.

"As soon as the correctional officer books them in and does the fingerprints, it (machine) automatically sends them to TBI and FBI to see if they match fingerprints on file taken in other crimes or from outstanding warrants entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)," said Sheriff Ray.

"We are proud and very fortunate to have been able to get that grant to purchase this fingerprint machine," he added.

Trump, Clinton Score Wins in DeKalb County (VIEW PRECINCT RESULTS HERE)

March 1, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton
DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins (right) congratulates Assessor of Property Nominee Scott Cantrell
DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins with 6th District Constable Carl Lee Webb (left) and 5th District Constable Mark Milam (right)

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton were the favorites Tuesday in the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primary including in DeKalb County where each candidate carried every precinct.

Trump carried DeKalb County in the Republican Primary with 1,240 votes. Ted Cruz was a distance second place finisher locally with 600 votes followed by Marco Rubio with 344 , Ben Carson 175, and John Kasich with 88.

Clinton defeated challenger Bernie Sanders in DeKalb County 641 to 286.

(CLICK LINKS BELOW TO VIEW PRECINCT RESULTS FOR PRESIDENT, ASSESSOR OF PROPERTY AND CONSTABLE)
results2.pdf (247.26 KB)

CONSTABLE PRIMARY.pdf (121.59 KB)

Meanwhile in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary Incumbent Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell received 805 complimentary votes to claim the Democratic nomination. Cantrell was unopposed Tuesday but he will face Republican nominee Shannon A. Cantrell in the August 4 DeKalb County General Election.

Democratic nominees for Constable and their vote totals Tuesday are as follows:

FIRST DISTRICT: Jason C. Taylor 82

THIRD DISTRICT: Travis Bryant 90

FOURTH DISTRICT: Paul Cantrell 133

FIFTH DISTRICT: Mark Milam 121

SIXTH DISTRICT: Carl Lee Webb 105

SEVENTH DISTRICT: Johnny King 85

Taylor will face Republican nominee Lee Plummer for First District Constable in the August 4 General Election.

Republican nominee Tom Theriaque will be unopposed for Second District Constable in August.

A total of 3,500 DeKalb County voters cast ballots in the Primaries Tuesday including 2,524 on election day and 976 either during early voting or by absentee. Republican Presidential Primary Voters outnumbered Democrats 2,495 to 971.

Committee Discusses Need for School Technology and New Schools (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

March 1, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page

Improving student reading comprehension, beefing up technology in the classrooms, and addressing overcrowding with a building plan are goals Director of Schools Patrick Cripps would like to see accomplished as part of a five year plan for education in DeKalb County.

Director Cripps shared his vision with members of the Board of Education and County Commission's Education Committee last Tuesday night, February 23.

The issues were raised during Cripps' annual performance evaluation by the school board. "They (School Board) asked about what in a five year plan I would like to see," said Director Cripps. " While giving priority to reading initiatives and improved technology, Cripps said a building program must also be considered. "I'd probably do the reading (initiative) as number one (in a five year plan), technology, and then we really do need to start looking at the feasibility of building a school or schools," he said.

The purpose of Tuesday night's meeting was simply to share ideas among school board members and county commissioners on meeting existing and future school needs without any specific commitments. "This is just a planning process. We want to see what you guys think about schools and building projects and what you've heard from constituents in your community. I think it's important we get their feedback as well," Director Cripps said.

"We want to open some channels and doors with the county commission and start working together. We welcome any suggestions or anything to move forward," added School Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

While the consensus of the committee was for a feasibility study to be done at some point in developing a building plan, members expressed their opinions on what they believe is needed in meeting needs.

"We're growing. Our active school population right now is at 2,958 students. We know Smithville Elementary School is overcrowded. It is probably the oldest school in the system. We're looking to improve facilities. What I would like to see within the next few years is for us to be able to start the building process. Getting a school added to our district. I am not saying what we want right now because I think it's got to be a joint process involving the community because we can't do it alone. When you look at the number of K-5 students, you're looking at Northside with 620 students and Smithville Elementary has 595. Northside actually takes some of the second graders from Smithville Elementary," Cripps said.

Anita Puckett, Assistant Principal at Smithville Elementary School and a Fifth District County Commissioner said she prefers building a new Pre-K through 5 school and also converting SES and Northside into Pre-K through 5 schools . According to Puckett, DeKalb County needs to be prepared for an influx of new students if the state funds mandatory pre-kindergarten in the years ahead. "I feel more confident in the K-5 schools and from what I'm hearing from State Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen be prepared for more Pre-K because (when it comes) it's going to be mandatory county wide and statewide. There are more spaces that will need to be filled. I'd much rather see another Pre-K through 5 being built and changing Smithville Elementary and Northside Elementary to pre-K through 5th grade. All three schools would then be Pre-K through 5," said Puckett.

Seventh District County Commissioner Larry Summers said he would like to see a new Pre-K through 8th grade school built and for Northside to be expanded to Pre-K through 8th. This would give the county three Pre-K through 8th grade schools including DeKalb West School and Smithville Elementary School could be closed. " I think one of our shining stars is the West School and the continuity of students going in at the first grade and staying with their friends all the way through 8th grade. There is no changing schools every few years. Why don't these kids and parents up here (Smithville) deserve the same thing we have down there?. I'm willing to vote to build a new K-8 school. I think that's the way to go. To have three of them and get the hometown school system," said Summers.

"The ideal model would be the West School because its 400 students and it's K-8. But if you do one K-8 school up here you're looking at 1,700 kids in one school. You can't do that. But if we do two K-8 schools it would be an average of 870 students without growth," said Director Cripps.

Infrastructure needs at the high school will also eventually have to be addressed according to Director Cripps. "We're going to have to look at that (high school) on down the road. It was built for 400 people. If you come in the hallways (between classes) now you had better be going the same direction the kids are going or you're going to get trampled."

"Response To Intervention (RTI) is also being mandated now. They're making us put teachers in schools but we have no where to put them. We have seven teachers now at the high school that don't have a classroom. They go from classroom to classroom," said Cripps.

Fourth District County Commissioner Jonathan Norris said he favors a feasibility study to determine the overall infrastructure needs of the school system including the elementary, middle, and high school level. "I think the first step is going to have to be a feasibility study. Larry may be right. Anita may be correct. We are all going to have a different opinion. But we have to plan for more than one thing in a 10-15 year span. If we're already at 50% beyond our capacity at the high school and our middle school is already at max capacity, if we build all the Pre-K through 5 schools, they (students) still have to go somewhere (in later years) or we're going to be right back in this situation," said Norris.

" It begins with an honest non-agenda plan for what our needs are. I think we need an expert (to conduct feasibility study) but I guess I've always had a little bit of a problem with an expert being the same one that wants to do the contract to build the building. I really want somebody who can come in and analyze our needs, traffic flows, etc. and doesn't have a chip in the game as far as building a school," said Third District County Commissioner Jack Barton.

In addition to the building program, Director Cripps wants to get computers into the hands of more students within the next five years.

"We have a lot of technology in the school system but we're nowhere near where we want to be," said Cripps. "One of my goals would be for us to provide a one to one device (for students). Counties are using those now which helps with textbook costs. I've looked at the costs of books versus ipads and I've called other districts to see how they implemented their one to one devices. I know we can't do it all at one time but I would like to see us slowly begin to implement computers (one to one devices) for students to take their thinking above what it is now. What I have been told by other districts is that assignments can be created that can be done without the need of Internet at home. One of the coolest things I've seen from some of the districts is if you're a teacher you can actually video record your lesson and provide that to your students and if they are out they can do the lesson at home. That's another advantage of having the one to one device. We did a rough number for the high school on what it would cost to get every student a one to one device plus the charging carts and programs and it was about $280,000. That's where we would like to start is at the high school and then add the other schools as we go along because everything is computer based now. We keep a textbook for six or seven years but within two years it's out of date. This is one reason why schools are going away from textbooks and to computers," said Director Cripps.

In addition to Director Cripps and School Board Chairman Evins, others attending the committee meeting last Tuesday were School Board members Jerry Wayne Johnson, Jim Beshearse, Kate Miller, Doug Stephens and Shaun Tubbs, County Mayor Tim Stribling, and County Commissioners Puckett, Summers, Norris, Barton, and Jimmy Midgett.

Three Charged with Filing False Report

March 1, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Carlos Lynn Godsey
Lois Nicole Godsey
 Rickey Allen Sweeney
Richard Alvie Herman
James Allen Hesson
Sabra Maurine Bussell
Ryan Adam Kutrich

Three people have been charged with filing a false report concerning a break-in which never occurred.

36 year old Carlos Lynn Godsey, 29 year old Lois Nicole Godsey, and their neighbor 40 year old Rickey Allen Sweeney all of Big Hurricane Road are each under a $5,000 bond and they will be in court March 10.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Wednesday, February 24 the Godsey's and Sweeney prepared a written statement claiming that someone had broken into the Godsey's home. The deputy investigating later learned that the person falsely accused actually lives there and that the statements given by the Godsey's and Sweeney were false.

49 year old Richard Alvie Herman of Nashville Highway, Liberty is charged with Domestic Assault. His bond is $5,000 and he will make a court appearance on March 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, February 22 Herman allegedly intentionally pushed his father and said that he would cut his throat causing his father to fear for his life.

38 year old James Allen Hesson of Big Hurricane Road is charged with violation of the sex offender registry. His bond is $5,000 and he will make a court appearance March 3.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, February 25 two deputies responded to a residence on Big Hurricane Road to do a welfare check on two children who were staying at this home. Upon arrival the officers observed a 13 year old boy coming out of a room where Hesson was sleeping. A two year old and a 14 year old were also staying at this residence. Hesson, a convicted sex offender is not to have minor children living with him. That's a violation of the sex offender registry.

54 year old Sabra Maurine Bussell of Halls Hollow Road, Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property under $500. Her bond is $6,500 and she will make a court appearance March 17.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, February 4 Bussell allegedly entered a home on Halls Hollow Road by breaking a window in a side door and stole property valued at $46.75 including a pair of blue jeans, a bag of rice, a bag of beans, laundry detergent, and a pair of Crocs. The case was investigated by a Sheriff's Department Detective.

24 year old Ryan Adam Kutrich of Lovell Road, Cookeville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court March 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, February 28 a deputy responded to Heritage Trail on a complaint of an intoxicated person passed out in the yard. Upon arrival the officer made contact with the man, Kutrich who had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. His eyes were bloodshot. Kutrich said he did not know how he got onto the property, which does not belong to him. He was placed under arrest.

DCHS Student Charged with Sexual Battery of Classmate at School

February 29, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Benjamin Franklin Brooks, III

A DeKalb County High School student who allegedly placed a female classmate in a choke hold and grabbed her breasts at school Monday, February 22 has been charged with sexual battery and aggravated assault.

18 year old Benjamin Franklin Brooks, III of Dale Ridge Road, Smithville is under a $40,000 bond and he will make a court appearance on March 17.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, February 22 the female student, a juvenile, had just returned to her seat in the lunchroom after disposing of some trash when Brooks kicked her bag. When she asked him who he thought he was, Brooks placed her in a choke hold and grabbed her breasts. The girl repeatedly called for Brooks to get his hands off her but he continued the assault. He grabbed her by the neck with his left hand and started to choke her while continuing to grab her breasts with his right hand.

The School Resource Officer placed the charges against Brooks after reviewing the school's surveillance video to verify the girl's story.

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