Local News Articles

Postal Service Holds Community Meeting in Dowelltown

July 15, 2014
Dwayne Page
Postal Service Holds Community Meeting in Dowelltown

Daily operating hours of the Dowelltown Post Office may soon be reduced in a cost saving measure by the U.S. Postal Service.

Tracy Mofield, Post Office Operations Manager for the Tennessee District, held a community meeting at the Dowelltown Post Office Tuesday to explain the changes. The proposal is to reduce the window hours from eight hours to six hours a day Monday through Friday. Saturday hours would remain the same. Similar plans have already been enacted at both the Alexandria and Liberty Post Offices.

The Postal Service recently sent out surveys to Dowelltown customers with five options from which to choose. Mofield said 86% of the respondents favored the option to realign the hours of operation.

"In Dowelltown, a total of 783 surveys were sent out and 149 of them were returned. Of those 149 surveys, 86% or 128 chose realignment of hours of the options given as their first option. Three chose the delivery option which means they (customers) could do all their business from delivery of the route by the rural carrier. No one chose the village post office option. Four said they could do their business at a nearby post office. Fourteen made no selection," said Mofield.

"These were the five options given and overwhelmingly the option chosen was the realignment of hours. Of course if there was an option in there of leaving my post office the same, that would certainly be the most overwhelming response. We realize that but we've got to do what's fiscally responsible in trying to keep the organization viable for future generations and keeping a presence in these rural communities," said Mofield.

After reviewing the surveys that were returned and taking into account Postal Service operational needs, Mofield said retail hours for the Dowelltown Post Office will likely be: Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. with lunch from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Saturday hours will be from 8:00 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. Total Saturday window service hours will not be reduced and access to delivery receptacles will not change as a result of the POST Plan realignment of weekday window service hours. Access to delivery receptacles will not be reduced from current hours.

The final decision is expected to be made no sooner than thirty days after Tuesday's meeting. A notice will then be placed in the lobby of the Dowelltown Post Office letting all the customers know the date the new hours will go into effect.

The Dowelltown Post Office serves one route and an auxiliary and is staffed by Post Master Cathy Marler and Dana Clark, Post Master Relief. Rusty Caplinger is a Rural Carrier. Liz Antoniak and Sandy Brown are Rural Carrier Associates.

(Pictured above: Tracy Mofield, Rusty Caplinger Cathy Marler, Sandy Brown, Dana Clark, and Liz Antoniak)

Absentee Voting to be Required for Property Rights Voters in City Liquor Referendums

July 15, 2014
Dwayne Page

Not only will Smithville property rights voters be casting paper ballots in the August 7th Municipal Election for mayor and two aldermen, but it appears they will do the same in the November 4th city liquor referendums.

During the July monthly meeting held Monday, the Aldermen adopted on first reading an ordinance establishing a procedure permitting those non-resident property owners to vote by absentee ballot. Under the ordinance, city property rights voters may only vote by absentee or paper ballot in the city liquor referendums. They would still be free to vote in person at their own precinct or during early voting for other offices on the November 4th Tennessee General Election Ballot.

Without such an ordinance, the city's property rights voters would likely have to go to two places to vote on election day. This process only applies to property rights voters, those who live outside the city in DeKalb County but who have property inside the city and are qualified to vote in a city election.

Earlier this year, the aldermen adopted a separate ordinance establishing the same procedure for city property rights voters in the August 7th Smithville Municipal Election

The ordinance passed on first reading Monday for the November 4th referendums states, "Whereas, T.C.A. 2-6-205, establishes a procedure permitting those non-resident property owners to vote by absentee ballot if an ordinance is passed within the requirements set out in said statute:

Now, Therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, that

Section 1. By passing this ordinance it does hereby require that those non-resident property owners voting for the referendums which are on the ballot for the November 4, 2014 ballot shall be required to vote absentee for said referendum.

Section 2. This ordinance shall be effective only for the November 4, 2014 ballot for the City of Smithville.

Section 3. The DeKalb County Election Commission shall notify the non-resident property owners as set out in T.C.A. 2-6-205 of the requirements of this ordinance.

Section 4. This ordinance shall take effect from and after its final passage and be effective only for the November 4, 2014 election.

In the referendums on November 4, city voters will be asked to vote either "yes" or "no" on whether to "Authorize consumption of Alcohol on the premises in the City of Smithville" and to "Authorize retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the City of Smithville".

Second and final reading passage of the ordinance is expected at the next city council meeting in August.

Meanwhile, in other business, Mayor Jimmy Poss reappointed Tony Hagan to the Smithville Electric System Board. His new term expires July 1, 2018.

Mayor Poss also reappointed Hilton Conger to the Smithville Electric System Board. His term expires July 1, 2016.

Alderman Jason Murphy was appointed as the city's representative on the 911 Board.

The aldermen approved the mayor's appointments.

Dowelltown Man Charged with Raping Woman at Knifepoint

July 15, 2014
Dwayne Page
Joseph Stephen Audas

A Dowelltown man is charged with the aggravated assault and rape of a woman last week.

29 year old Joseph Stephen Audas of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is under a $35,000 bond and he will be in court July 24 on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated rape.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, July 10 Audas allegedly tied the woman's wrist and hands with a belt and held her down at knifepoint while hitting her in the face. During the assault, Audas allegedly struck the woman's left ear and cut her under the chin and throat with the knife. He then allegedly raped the woman by digital penetration while armed with the knife and threatened to kill her if she refused to cooperate.

56 year old Gregory Scott Redmon of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court August 21. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, July 8 a deputy responded to a motor vehicle accident on Midway Road and upon arrival spoke with Redmon, who was involved in the mishap. The officer detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from Redmon and saw that he was unsteady on his feet. When asked how many beers he had consumed, Redmon said he had a few a couple of hours ago. Due to medical reasons, Redmon was unable to perform field sobriety tasks. During a search of the vehicle, the deputy found a beer can, the contents of which had spilled onto the floor along with a mug of ice and beer. A computer check revealed that Redmon had a prior DUI in February, 2013. Redmon was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

36 year old Steven Anthony Nelson of Tracy City, Tennessee is charged with violation of bond conditions and coercion of a witness. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court July 24. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, July 8, a deputy was dispatched to the hospital where he spoke with a woman who reported that her husband, Nelson had come into her home while she slept. When she awoke, the woman found Nelson standing over her. Nelson allegedly got the woman out of bed and threatened her, saying that if she did not drop domestic assault warrants against him, his father would come to her home and shoot her in the face. Nelson continued making threats against the woman until she left the residence.

Nelson was previously arrested on Thursday, July 3rd for the domestic assault of his wife. In that case, Sheriff Ray said a deputy responded to a South College Street apartment in reference to a domestic assault which occurred at a residence on Allen Street. The officer spoke with a woman who said that she and her husband, Nelson had gotten into a verbal argument and that he began threatening her. The woman said she picked up a pan from the kitchen sink to keep her husband away from her but Nelson pushed his wife to the ground and began hitting her, causing a cut to the nose, a swollen eye, and scrapes to her elbows. Nelson's friends, who were present, pulled him away from the woman. She then left the residence. Nelson was determined to have been the primary aggressor and he was arrested.

21 year old Ann Kathryn Pursell of Circle Drive, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court July 24. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 10 a deputy was dispatched to Pursell's home in reference to a physical domestic in progress. Upon his arrival, the officer spoke with Pursell and a man. According to the man, Pursell punched him in the face, scratched the right side of his face, and the back of his neck. Pursell admitted to punching and scratching him and she was placed under arrest.

63 year old Joseph Lawrence Battle of Backbone Road, Sparta is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued a citation for driving on roads laned for traffic. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court August 21. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, July 11 while a deputy was patrolling on Highway 70, he spotted a white Nissan Maxima cross over into the opposite lane of travel several times. The officer conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle. The driver, Battle stumbled out of the car. The deputy had him to get back in the automobile. He then asked the man for his license and inquired about what he had been drinking. Battle replied that he had consumed a few glasses of wine. The officer got Battle out of the vehicle and detected an odor of alcohol on his person. Battle submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also took a blood test and was charged.

40 year old Chrissy Michelle Evans of West Main Street, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault and violation of bond conditions. Her bond is $10,000 and she will be in court July 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, July 12 Evans allegedly assaulted her husband apparently at his residence on Sims Street in Dowelltown. During the altercation, she ripped the shirt off of him and left marks on his chest and left arm. After an investigation it was determined that Evans was the primary aggressor. She was placed under arrest. Evans had violated her bond conditions in a previous case by coming around her husband. Those bond conditions expire on December 23, 2014.

22 year old Amanda Marie Hatfield of Adcock Cemetery Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court July 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, July 13 a deputy responded to Hatfield's residence in answer to a domestic call. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Hatfield and a man. Both said there had been an altercation and that Hatfield had started it by punching the man. Hatfield also allegedly bit the man on the arm, leaving a contusion. Hatfield suffered a busted lip after the man punched her in the mouth. In another incident that day, Sheriff Ray said Hatfield started an argument with the man and began spitting on him while he was holding children. By her own admission, Hatfield was the primary aggressor in both situations. She was placed under arrest.

Greg Tubbs Inducted into Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

July 14, 2014
Greg Tubbs (MiLB.com Photo)

DeKalb County native and former professional baseball player Greg Tubbs was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame Friday, July 11 in New York.

Tubbs, who is now an assistant baseball coach at Cookeville High School, played in the outfield for the Pittsburgh Pirates-affiliated Buffalo Bisons in 1991, 1992 and 1994. He joins former Bisons manager Eric Wedge and long-time Buffalo-area scout Bob Miske in being selected for the Hall of Fame.

During his three years with the Class AAA Bisons, the outfielder hit .283 (370-1,307) with 60 doubles, 19 triples, 12 home runs, 121 RBI and 67 stolen bases in 364 games. He’s third in the modern era in total hits (370) and is one of only two Bisons players since 1985 to have 100+ hits in three separate seasons.


Tubbs first joined the Bisons in 1991 and led the Herd in runs scored (71), triples (11) and stolen bases (34) while hitting .273. The 11 triples in that campaign tied for the American Association lead and are still the fourth most in a single season by a Bisons hitter. In 1992, Tubbs led the Bisons with a .282 average while hitting 32 extra-base hits and stealing 20 more bases. After spending the 1993 season in the Cincinnati Reds organization, Tubbs returned to Buffalo in 1994 to hit .282 with 22 doubles, 45 RBI and 13 stolen bases in his final professional season.

Originally drafted by the Braves in the 22nd round of the 1984 June Amateur Draft, Tubbs played 11 combined seasons in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh’s and Cincinnati’s farm systems. In 1,243 minor league games, the outfielder hit .285 with 1,267 hits and 262 stolen bases. Tubbs made his Major League debut with the Reds in 1993 and hit .186 (11-59) with a home run and two RBI in 35 career games.

A 1980 graduate of DeKalb County High School, Tubbs was a talented football player as well as a baseball standout. He played college baseball at Austin Peay.

Tubbs played for former DCHS Football Coach Wayne Cantrell. During his senior year, Tubbs helped lead the Tigers to a 9-1 season. Their only loss was to York Institute 6-0 in the season finale. As a rushing quarterback, Tubbs ran for almost 1,000 yards that year.

Three Involved in Head-On Crash

July 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
 2000 Lincoln Towncar driven by Sunshine Sutton of Crossville
2010 Toyota Yaris driven by Breanna Bilbrey of Smithville

Two adults and a child were involved in a head-on crash Sunday night on Highway 56 north near the intersection of Ponder Road.

Trooper Brandon Jackson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 40 year old Sunshine Sutton of Crossville was traveling south on Highway 56 in a 2000 Lincoln Towncar when she crossed the center line into the path of a northbound 2010 Toyota Yaris, driven by 22 year old Breanna Bilbrey of Smithville.

Bilbrey was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

A six year old child passenger of Sutton's car was taken to the hospital by private vehicle. Sutton was treated at the scene.

According to Trooper Jackson, Sutton was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and cited for crossing the center line of the highway.

Trooper Jackson was assisted in the crash investigation by Trooper Terry Seay.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Department and Sheriff's Department were also at the scene.

WJLE to Celebrate 50 Years of Broadcasting July 26th

July 14, 2014
Dwayne Page

WJLE is celebrating 50 years of broadcasting on Saturday, July 26th from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and everyone is invited to attend at the radio station.

Light refreshments will be served.

The program will air LIVE throughout the day hosted by WJLE Manager Dwayne Page and former Manager Ralph Vaughn.

"A special thanks to Ralph for helping us organize this event," Page said.

"We would especially like to have former employees of the station and family members of former owners to join us that day along with anyone who has ever had a radio broadcast with us over the five decades. If you can't be here in person, give us a call for a brief interview by phone," said Page.

"Local ministers, sports figures, coaches, newsmakers, advertisers, public officials, and loyal listeners are urged to stop by to share special memories and to help us celebrate," he added.

Remember, that's Saturday, July 26th from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at WJLE.

On behalf of station owner Leon Stribling and the current staff, Dwayne Page (Manager), Dale Carroll and Brian Lehan (Announcers), Dora Estes (Accountant), Julie Underhill (Traffic Director), and Jeff Nokes (Engineer), we hope to see you here!

School Board Looks to Contract Custodial Services

July 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
School Board (Older Photo)
Board of Education (Older Photo)

In an effort to save money and relieve each school of the in-house burden, the DeKalb County Board of Education is considering contracting with a company to provide custodial services at all schools in the county.

Representatives of GCA Services Group addressed the School Board Thursday night and made a proposal to contract with the system for $400,000 for the first year with annual renewal options for at least up to five years. All current custodial staff working for the school system, recommended by the principals would be hired by GCA. All chemicals, equipment, and consumables would also be provided by GCA for maintaining the buildings year round.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said he has contacted several school systems where GCA works and all have given him a good report. "I have not found anybody that had anything negative to say. The quality of work they do that I have heard about and looked at is extremely good," he said.

The school board took no action Thursday night. A special meeting is set for Tuesday, July 15 at 7:00 p.m. to make a final decision.

According to its website, GCA Services Group, Inc. is a leading national provider of quality facility services, including janitorial/custodial services, contamination control for cleanroom manufacturing, facilities operations and maintenance, grounds management, in-sourced production staffing and labor management, diversified staffing, and more.

With over 34,000 employees in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, GCA serves a variety of sectors, including K-12 schools, higher education, manufacturing, corporate office buildings, and others. GCA’s management team is recognized as one of the strongest and most experienced in the industry.

Craig Colquitt, Senior Sales Director said GCA would partner with the school system, improve the cleanliness and look of the schools, train the current staff of custodians, provide them health insurance and benefits, and give them an opportunity for promotions. "We are in 35 school districts in the state (Tennessee) and in 250 school districts across the country. We consider ourselves allies, partners. We know your current concerns are for your principals, teachers, and your employees. They are for us too," Colquitt said.

"One thing we do when we come into a district is that we talk to the principals first and foremost. Any of these employees who are doing a good job, we want on our team," said Josh Helton, Senior Regional Manager. "We need your employees. We want to train them. We know how important it is to hire locally and to give these people a chance to move forward," he said.

"We provide upward mobility and promotions. We're in a lot of districts so if there are people here who are capable of doing more, we want to give them that opportunity if they want it to move up into a managerial position and even further," said Adam Miles, Sales Director.

Employees who do a good job on a daily basis would also be rewarded through a regular recognition program. "We have an employee of the month and a building of the month at every location and every school system. We usually present a gift card or offer some form of recognition and a plaque. We also do a building of the month to recognize the entire crew at that school. That usually involves a dinner, lunch or whatever they (employees) like to do. Maybe a sporting event," said Helton.

In addition to the daily chores, GCA would be responsible for cleanup for after school activities. "All school related activities, ball games, PTO events, and board meetings, we'll be there to clean up before and after and take care of things," said Miles.

"In addition to the cleaning inside of the buildings, we will patrol the perimeter within twenty five feet of the school and clean up trash and debris", Miles said.

Although not part of the contracted clean up responsibilities, GCA provides beautification projects as a value added service. " Maybe the outside grounds need a little work too. We're not just about inside strip and wax. We can come in and plant, mulch and do things like that to beautify those areas," said Helton.

While principals would no longer be directly over the custodians, they would still have input with GCA. "If principals are concerned that they will lose control of their building if they are not calling the shots, that's the furthest thing from the truth. They are what makes this thing work. Every day, we'll check in with them, especially the first quarter or so and make sure they have what they need and are happy. We would have a designated account manager, a direct contact for all principals and the day porters and night crews at each school will have a supervisor over them," said Miles. GCA would further maintain an on-call list of employees who could be summoned to work in the event of an absence by a regular custodian due to illness or other reason.

Sixth District Board member Doug Stephens asked how GCA could save the school system money. "What you presented is very impressive but how can we either be so bad or you so good that you can save us $50,000 a year," he asked?

"Purchasing power. All equipment, training and consumables are provided by us and we're getting our equipment and consumables at a much lower rate than you can. All those costs to you, we'll absorb including insurance, benefits, and workman's comp," said Helton. We keep our workman's comp costs down with proper training, equipment, education, and supplies they (custodians) need. If we are stripping and waxing a floor, they're (employees) are going to be in glasses and stripper shoes. We want them to go home the same way they arrived. Anything less than that on our part is unacceptable," added Miles.

Part of the savings on equipment is coming from the fact that we're buying the equipment full price but we're negotiating that. We're getting a better price than you do. You'll buy it at full cash price. We'll depreciate that over five years. If we don't maintain the contract for five years we're out. So it behooves us to keep it for five years because we've bought new equipment and depreciated it over that period of time. That's part of the savings. With 36,000 employees, we can negotiate on any kind of supply with our buying power," said Colquitt.

We can offer you a significant savings from what you're spending in house while inheriting all of your recommended employees. We have the leadership that is ready to go. We've got the turn key service, if you want us in here we can take care of you from start to finish, from unlocking the building to locking the building and everything in between. We're here. If you need us, you call us, even if it's an emergency in the middle of the night. We want to be a partner. We want to take care of the buildings. We want to be proud of it and we want the students and the staff to show up and say this building looks great. It's simple and easy, which is what the principals like the most," said Miles.

With the consumables, such as trash bags and toilet paper provided by GCA, schools would no longer have to bear that expense, which usually runs from two to four thousand dollars a year, and paid for through fundraisers.

First District member John David Foutch asked about GCA's health insurance plan for employees. "I am interested in the employees insurance compared to what ours are paying now. Whether it's comparable. If it's way out of line, it's not being fair to the people who have been loyal to us. I think they have done a good job. A lot of them work for insurance," said Foutch.

"All the insurance they currently have, we offer," said Miles. "Insurance costs will vary based upon packages offered but we have multiple packages including major medical and dental and they (employees) can retrofit it however they see fit. We work with United Healthcare and Humana. United offers a Bronze, Silver, and Gold plan," he said.

Board Chairman Johnny Lattimore asked GCA to provide some numbers in terms of costs for individual , spouse and family health insurance plans during the special meeting Tuesday night.

GCA pledges to be actively involved in the community."We do a lot of things in the community we're really proud of. As far as sponsorships go, as far as sports, we know how hard it is to get funding for coaches. We'd love to chip in on that and sponsor events. Anything local in the community we can put our name on and help you guys with that, we'd like to do that as well," Helton said.

*****(Foot Note)*******
Craig Colquitt of GCA Services Group, Inc. is a retired American football punter who spent eight seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1978–1981, 1983–1984) and Indianapolis Colts (1987). He was a member of two Super Bowl Champions with the Steelers in 1978 and 1979. He is the father of two current NFL punters, Dustin and Britton Colquitt. His brother, Jimmy Colquitt, was a punter for the Seattle Seahawks in 1985. All four played college football at the University of Tennessee.[1] Craig was inducted into the Greater Knoxville Hall of Fame July 16, 2009

Amateur Radio Special Event Station Successful

July 14, 2014
William Freddy Curtis
Amateur Radio Special Event Station Successful

The DeKalb/Cannon County Amateur Radio Club conducted a Special Event Station at the 42nd Annual Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Craft Festival on Saturday, July 5th, 2014. This year marked the fifteenth year that a special event station had been set up at the Jamboree.

The station was setup at the front entrance of the Justin Potter Library during the early morning hours on Saturday. Antennas were assembled, radios were properly checked, and transmissions were begun at 7:30 AM local time. Operations took place in the 20 meter, 40 meter, and 15 meter Amateur Radio bands, and the station was publicized in Amateur Radio magazines QST, CQ, and the club website. This year operations took place on a beautiful sunny day.

The station contacted 213 total Amateur Radio Stations in 37 States, and Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec Canada, as well as stations in Ireland, Finland, and Saudi Arabia. One interesting contact included the Ham Station on-board a World War II vintage B-17G Bomber which is being restored at an airport in Savannah, Georgia, and the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse, New York.

Amateur Radio Operator Guests included the following: K3CWC – Wilson Cowan, Lebanon, TN; ARRL Tennessee Section Manager – N9DGK – Keith Miller, Rockvale, TN; WB4HDM – Lynne Hamrick, McMinnville, TN; KD4TVO – Joe Poole, Wartburg, TN. Very special guests were: KF5QYU - Brandon Turrentine, Winnie, TX; KD5EFM – Debbie Driver, Houston, TX; AK5Q – Mickey A. Driver, Houston, TX, who are members of the KC5WXA Jake McClain Driver Memorial Amateur Radio Club, Houston, TX.

Participants of the station included DeKalb/Cannon County Amateur Radio Club Members:
NN9J – Steve Kujawski, Sparta, TN; NF9G - Kathy Kujawski, Sparta, TN; KC4GUG – Freddy Curtis, Smithville, TN. This year the station also had CW or Morse code included in the operation. This was done by N4LZY – Jerry Elkins of Woodbury, Tennessee and added greatly to the station operation. Mr. Elkins also called a Navy-Marine Corps MARS (Military Auxillary Radio System) Tennessee Area State-wide Net from the Special Event Station for the first time ever.

The club would like to offer thanks to Jamboree Coordinator - Mr. Jack Burton, Justin Potter Librarian - Mrs. Kathy Hendrixson, DeKalb County EMA Director – Charlie Parker, and Mr. Darryl Counts - Postmaster, Smithville Post Office for their support of this activity.

The DeKalb/Cannon County Amateur Radio Club is an organization of Amateur Radio operators from DeKalb, Cannon, and Surrounding Counties and is an affiliated club of the American Radio Relay League. The next club meeting will be on Thursday, July 31st, 2014 - 6:30 PM at the DeKalb County Complex, 722 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville, TN. Any person interested in Amateur Radio is invited to attend. More information about the club can be found at the club’s website – http://www.dccarc.org.

Picture Caption:

Picture 1 = Amateur Radio Operators at the Special Event Station operate under the tent in the rain during the 42nd Annual Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival included:
Left to Right - KC4GUG - Freddy Curtis; NN9J - Steve Kujawski; WB4HDM – Lynne Hamrick and N4LZY – Jerry Elkins. Photo Courtesy of NF9G – Kathy Kujawski.

First Day of School Education Celebration July 31

July 12, 2014
Dwayne Page
Michelle Burklow

The Annual First Day of School Education Celebration for DeKalb County will be held on Thursday, July 31 starting at 6:30 p.m. downtown around the courthouse square.

The celebration is held on school registration day.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-Kindergarten to 6th Grade, said the event is free and all parents and students are urged to attend to help kick off the new school year. "Our goal is to provide an evening of activities, education, and enjoyment for the residents of DeKalb County. We will be having information booths, passing out school supplies, refreshments, and various activities for the students to participate in while promoting education."

"This will also provide a time for our teachers and parents to come together to build a foundation for new and positive relationships, right from day one," said Burklow

"Our First Day of School Celebration is an opportunity for our schools to take a leadership role in re-enforcing and improving relationships among parents, teachers, students, and the community. This is the one day each year when it is both easiest and most important to enlist families as partners in our children's education. This is a great time for us to engage our families and make them feel welcome into our schools."

"So come out and join us. Everything is free that evening. We'll have free school supplies, free food, snacks and lots of community people coming together to make this event possible", said Burklow.

"There are many volunteers, churches, and organizations that come together to make this event possible for our children so they are able to start school with new supplies and a great positive attitude."

If you would like to help with this event please call Michelle Burklow at 597-4084. Volunteers are needed.

This celebration is totally free of charge to those who attend so make plans now to join the fun downtown Smithville on Thursday, July 31

DeKalb West School Addition to Open with Start of School

July 11, 2014
Dwayne Page
DeKalb West Addition to Open with Start of School

Except for the kitchen, the DeKalb West School addition is expected to be completed by the time school starts later this month.

David Brown of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects and Levi Bouton of J. Cumby Construction updated the Director of Schools and Board of Education on the project Thursday night.

According to Bouton, the kitchen should be finished by August 22nd. Until then, students will be served sack lunches just as they were on the last few days of school before summer break.

"This is the definition of the home stretch. The next couple of weeks are going to be exciting, "said Brown. "We are scheduled to do our punch list of the classroom addition and the cafeteria on the same date as the State Fire Marshal is going to be there to do an inspection. After that, we will have arrived at the stage called substantial completion. That means that you can use the building for the purpose that it was designed for. You can move in. You can start using it as classrooms. In new construction, that's the date when utilities are turned over to your name from the contractor's name. That's the date the one year warranty starts and your clock starts on most of your warranty work. We will do the punch list. Each item on the list will be addressed and then we'll start getting the closeout documents. All of the focus will then shift over to getting the kitchen wrapped up," said Brown.

"We are just a couple of weeks away from the substantial completion," said Bouton. "Immediate hurdles that we have are that the kitchen is not going to be complete at substantial completion. But the new addition and the cafeteria will be able to be turned over at that point. The exterior of the building which includes all the grade work, the site work, and the additional underground drainage that was added to the project, we're anticipating that being done by the second week in August," he said.

Bouton assured Director of Schools Mark Willoughby that the addition would be ready to open with the start of school July 31, except for the kitchen.

"Do you feel really confident that we will be in that building at the beginning of school?," asked Willoughby.

"Yes sir," responded Bouton.

"The cooler and the freezer have been installed but the remainder of all the (kitchen) equipment is in storage. We've just got to say go. I don't want it there just yet. It (kitchen) is not presentable for that yet," said Bouton.

School Nutrition Supervisor Stephanie Dyer said she is glad that the cafeteria will be ready by the start of school and that sack lunches could be served until the kitchen is completed. "As far as feeding the children, we will continue what we were doing prior to school being out with our sack lunches. The kids really did enjoy that. We were able to give them a different variety of sandwiches and that worked fine so for two or three weeks, it should not be a problem. My main concern was making sure the cafeteria was completed so they (students) have a place to eat and for us to serve." said Dyer.

Most of the new construction is at the front of the existing building. The project includes eight new classrooms, seven of which are tornado safe shelters, along storm shelter restrooms. The addition also features a new secure entrance to the school, an office, clinic, conference room, and a teacher work area. A new larger kitchen has been constructed as an extension to the existing building and the cafeteria is enlarged. A re-roofing of the existing school was part of the overall project and most of that has been finished. The school also has a new intercom and fire alarm system. The section featuring the tornado safe rooms was largely funded through a FEMA grant program. The required grant match as well as DWS projects not covered by FEMA were funded locally.


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