Local News Articles

DeKalb County Records Three Traffic Fatalities in 2012

December 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

Three people have lost their lives in DeKalb County traffic accidents this year and the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies will be working over the next two weeks to keep that number from going any higher.

The THP will be conducting driver license roadside safety checkpoints this week on State Route 146 and sobriety roadside safety checkpoints next week on Highway 56 in DeKalb County. Two of the three fatal wrecks this year in DeKalb County occurred on Highways 146 & 56 while the other took place on Highway 70 at Snow Hill. At least one of them involved alcohol. Meanwhile, two others from DeKalb County died in traffic accidents in Rutherford and Smith Counties this year.

30 year old Chris Gammons of Smithville, involved in a two vehicle crash on Saturday, June 23 died Monday, July 9 at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Gammons was one of four people in that accident which occurred on Highway 70 near the intersection of Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) on Snow Hill. Gammons and Troy Bruno, both of Smithville were airlifted from near the scene of the crash by Life Force and Air Evac helicopter ambulances. The other two in the wreck were 32 year old Cleva Elaine Gammons of Smithville, wife of Chris Gammons, and 52 year old Johnny Hickey of Liberty. Hickey was traveling west on Highway 70 in a 2004 F350 full size flat bed truck when he crossed the turning lane and into the path of an eastbound 2002 Nissan Altima, driven by Cleva Elaine Gammons. Chris Gammons was a front seat passenger and Troy Bruno was a back seat passenger of the Altima. Chris Gammons was ejected and landed on the highway, in front of the Altima. Bruno was trapped in the backseat and had to be extricated by members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication and Rescue Team.Bruno and Chris Gammons were transported by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone on Highway 70 at the intersection of Toad Road. One of them was airlifted by a Life Force helicopter and the other was flown out by an Air Evac helicopter. Mrs. Gammons was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital, where she was treated and released. On November 26, Hickey was indicted by the grand jury on one count of vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular assault, and driving under the influence.

41 year old William Larry Dyle, II of McMinnville was found dead at the scene of a motorcycle crash on Highway 56 south on Thursday, September 27. Dyle was operating a 2007 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle southbound and failed to negotiate a curve. He ran off the right side of the roadway, struck two mailboxes and a utility pole near the home of Phillip Cantrell. Dyle, who died at the scene, was wearing a helmet but was thrown from the bike. He landed about ten yards away from the motorcycle. It is unknown when the accident occurred. A couple out walking discovered the crash and reported it to 911 at around 6:19 a.m. Dyle's body was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

A Wednesday, November 28 traffic accident claimed the life of 72 year old Martha J. Thomason of Short Mountain Highway, Woodbury. The accident occurred on Highway 146 between the Game Ridge and Whorton Springs Roads. Thomason was driving south on Highway 146 in a 2004 Honda CRV when she went off the right side of the road, struck an earthen embankment, and overturned in a field. The car came to rest upright on its wheels. Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Rescue Team were summoned to perform extrication in order to get Thomason out of the car. She was treated on site by DeKalb EMS and then loaded onto an Air Evac helicopter ambulance which landed at the scene. Thomason was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville where she later died.

18 year old Zack Ferrell of Smithville, on his way to work at Nissan, lost his life in a pickup truck crash around 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning, July 1 on Highway 96 near Lascassas in Rutherford County. Trooper Michael Cummins of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Ferrell was driving a 1986 Chevy pickup truck, heading toward Murfreesboro, when he ran off the right side of the highway and struck a guardrail. Ferrell apparently overcorrected and came back across the highway, crossing the center line and oncoming lane. The truck then went off an embankment and into a line of trees. The truck ran head on into a tree. Ferrell was partially ejected. Trooper Cummins said Ferrell died at the scene. His body was taken to Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro. Ferrell graduated from DeKalb County High School in May.

19 year old Johnny Ray Farless of Smithville died and two others were injured after their car ran into a tractor trailer rig on Interstate 40 in Smith County early Thursday morning, October 25. Those injured were 21 year old Amanda Price of Liberty and 19 year old Zachary Barlow of Lebanon. Farless and Barlow were passengers of a 2009 Hyundai, driven by Price. The accident occurred at around 2:06 a.m. Price was driving east on I-40 near the 252 mile marker when she apparently fell asleep and ran into the back of a 2012 tractor trailer, which was parked off the roadway near a truck rest stop area. The driver of the rig, 44 year old Alvin Walker of Olive Branch, Mississippi was asleep in the sleeper cab compartment of the truck at the time of the accident. The truck was loaded with general freight. After making impact with the rear of the trailer, Price's car spun around and came to rest halfway in the slow lane and the entrance ramp to the rest stop. Walker was not injured. Neither Farless, Price, nor Barlow were wearing a seatbelt.

Impaired driving is a serious crime that kills more than 16,000 people and injures 305,000 others every year in the United States. During the sobriety checkpoints, Troopers will evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment. Troopers will target those who operate a vehicle while impaired and take corrective actions for other violations observed while ensuring the protection of all motorists.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol recognizes that sobriety checkpoints are highly visible and effective tools in the battle against impaired driving.

Board Looks to Make School Buildings More Energy Efficient

December 15, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joe Bond of Johnson Controls

The DeKalb County Board of Education is looking to partner with Johnson Controls to bring more energy efficiency to existing school buildings.

During Thursday night's meeting, the board voted to enter into a project development agreement with the company to continue a study already begun to determine what improvements are needed that would deliver a certain amount of energy savings over a period of time. After the study is completed, officials of Johnson Controls will return to the school board with a detailed scope of the work to be done and the savings projections. At that time the board can vote to proceed with a contract with Johnson Controls or opt out. The cost for the study is $11,000.

But the costs of making any facility and infrastructure retrofits or renewal projects recommended by the study could be offset from the energy and operational savings that are achieved as a result, according to Joe Bond of Johnson Controls, who addressed the board. Project improvements may include lighting system enhancements; HVAC upgrades; and water conservation measures. "We were able to come out and do a preliminary assessment a couple of month ago," said Bond. " Our engineers came on site and spent a couple of days walking the buildings with your maintenance director and what we found was an opportunity to help upgrade the buildings with no extra tax dollars affected. This is money you are already spending today. You just happen to be writing the check out to the utility company whether its TVA or your natural gas provider or water company. This money will be redirected back into your buildings and to upgrade your facilities especially at the high school. The high school is the culprit of a lot of the energy use in the county but that's not unusual because most high schools are going to run a lot more than elementary or middle schools. What we learned here in DeKalb County is that you spent a little over $570,000 in utilities last year. You have right at 412,000 square feet. The buildings vary in age. Some of them are over thirty years old and with various updates and additions throughout them," said Bond

Once the study is completed possibly by early March, Bond said he will return to the board with a detailed scope of the proposed work to be done and the savings projections. If the board votes to proceed with a contract, the work will begin, mostly after school and possibly at night.

If Johnson Controls doesn't achieve the guaranteed savings for the school system, the company would pay the difference between what was guaranteed and what was actually achieved, according to Bond. "A performance contract generates guaranteed utility savings. Our firm does guarantee the savings and we do write you a check if we fall short of those savings," he said.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said he believes this is a great opportunity to make school buildings more energy efficient and save money. "The costs for the study is $11,000 but that money could be absorbed through cost savings if the school system later decides to proceed with work to implement the recommendations of Johnson Controls," said Willoughby. "They work with several different school systems in basically saving them a significant amount of money on energy and utilities. He (Bond) and his company have done a preliminary study and he would like to present to the board the study thus far. If we did enter into a contract with Johnson Controls we would not be using any additional money from the school system. We would not be using any additional tax dollars to do this project. If we do this, it would upgrade our climate control systems, possibly our use of water in the schools, and make everything more efficient. And the savings would go toward funding these projects where each year we're spending several thousand dollars on replacing air conditioning and heating units at schools. This is a way that we could possibly go ahead and do everything and get upgraded so we're not trying to do catch up all the time. We have some units that have been running since 1963. Our maintenance people do an excellent job patching them and keeping them going. But we could replace some of those and save a lot of money. We could enter into a contract with Johnson Controls and they would come out and do a study. The study cost $11,000 and if we do business with Johnson Controls and they come in and update our facilities then we wouldn't ever pay that ($11,000). That (fee) is absorbed through the project. If we vote tonight to let them do the study then we can decide by April whether we're going ahead or not," said Willoughby.

Mark Willoughby Recognized as Upper Cumberland Superintendent of the Year

December 13, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby Recognized as Upper Cumberland Superintendent of the Year

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby was recognized Thursday night for having been named the 2013 Upper Cumberland Superintendent of the Year.

Keith Brewer of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents presented a plaque to Director Willoughby for this honor during the monthly school board meeting.

Brewer said Willoughby was also in the running for Superintendent of the Year in the state but lost out to the eventual winner by less than a point. "It's my privilege tonight to recognize your Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. He is one of the outstanding leaders for the 2012-13 school year," said Brewer. "We have a competition for Superintendent of the Year. That is based on finalists that we have from each developmental district. Mr. Willoughby represented the Upper Cumberland District. He was nominated and elected as the finalist for the Upper Cumberland. He joined seven other superintendents across the state. It was a close competition this year. Some outstanding leaders were there. The Upper Cumberland (Superintendent of the Year) won last year (State Superintendent of Year) and she is now the current deputy commissioner from Putnam County which is in the Upper Cumberland so whatever you're doing down here it's right in the Upper Cumberland District. It represents about twenty two districts," he said.

"This year, Mr. Willoughby did not win (State Superintendent of Year) but what separated him from the eventual winner as Superintendent of the Year representing Tennessee in Los Angeles this year was less than a point," said Brewer. "We have independent readers, about nine of those are judges from across the state and they are made up of retired superintendents, higher education, supervisors, and practitioners in the field and they do the judging. That's a process that takes them sometimes a week and then they send the scores to us and we certify those scores and count those," he said.

In other business, Director Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel.

Those employed since the last meeting are as follows:
Evelyn Wray and Luanna Tollett, substitute teachers
Mary Margaret Tripp, Smithville Elementary School
Ricky Edwards, substitute bus driver

Resignations/Retirement
Bonnie Rigsby, Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary School

Leave of Absence:
Ginger Wenger, Teacher at Northside Elementary School as requested
Kristy Williams, Teacher at Smithville Elementary School as requested
Christy Young, Teacher at Smithville Elementary School as requested

Jim Harrison of Civil Site Design Group updated the board on plans for the DeKalb West School building program. Harrison, the civil engineer for the project, said the targeted bid date is March 28. "We've been on site looking at utilities, grades, and that sort of thing. The architects have proceeded with the floor plan. We've made some adjustments looking very closely at parking and everything else so we are proceeding nicely with some of the more schematic design elements. We are currently shooting at a target date of bid date of March 28, trying to complete all the design work. We were out there with maintenance today just doing some on ground work just to make sure everything fit within the site to accomplish the goals we needed to for not just what's inside the building but what's outside as well," said Harrison.

Director Willoughby said he is hopeful construction can begin by late spring. "Hopefully we'll bid it out in March and come back in April and accept the bids. Hopefully the bids will come in within reason and we'll accept those bids and start on the project," he said.

The board had planned to act Thursday night on the Architectural contract with Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects, Inc for the building project at DeKalb West School but delayed a vote until a special meeting in January so that the attorney reviewing the contract for the school board can attend to answer any questions.

Meanwhile, the board has scheduled a workshop to conduct its annual evaluation of Director Willoughby for Monday, January 14 at 6:00 p.m. followed by a special meeting for a board self evaluation at 7:00 p.m.

DeKalb Middle School Student Council Lends a helping hand to Habitat for Humanity

December 13, 2012
DMS Student Council Lends a helping hand to Habitat for Humanity

The DeKalb Middle School Student Council wanted to lend a helping hand in the community. Susan Webb, club president, contacted Habitat for Humanity sponsors to inquire where DMS students could be useful. The Student Council decided to prepare a meal for the workers. Smithville Church of Christ members were working on Saturday December 8th and were delighted to enjoy a variety of soups, sandwiches, chips, cheese and crackers and homemade desserts.

Chairpersons Isaac Smith and Malone Fletcher headed this service project. 6th grade student council members did a great job getting involved in such a great community service. Dosson Medlin, Luke Bryant, Derek Young, Braya Murphy, Madison Whitehead, Joni Robinson, Dulce Maciel and Anna Rachel Blair were very helpful and directly involved in making this project a huge success.

Group Pict-1st row sitting- Isaac Smith, Anna Rachel Blair, Madison Whitehead, Malone Fletcher,
2nd Row-standing- Dosson Medlin, Braya Murphy, Derek Young, Luke Bryant, Joni Robinson and Dulce Maciel

Postal Customers Reminded of Holiday Mailing Deadlines

December 12, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

The United States Postal Service is advising customers to keep track of shipping deadlines to ensure presents arrive in time for the holidays.

David Walton, Postal Service spokesman, told WJLE Wednesday that packages should be mailed earlier rather than later to get them to their destination by Christmas. "This year we urge our customers to mail early because we're expecting record breaking volumes this year, especially with our package services. We're expecting about a 20% increase over last year due to more people doing on-line shopping. So our deadlines for mailing First Class Mail, we'd like you to have that in the mail by December 20. For Priority Mail, its December 21 and for Express Mail its December 22," said Walton. "Our busiest day that we're expecting most people to come to the Post Office is next Monday, December 17. Our busiest delivery date for letters is going to be December 19 and for packages its December 20," he said

As a convenience to postal customers, on-line services are available, according to Walton. "For a lot of people who don't want to stand in line at the post office, it's unbelievable what you can do these days on-line. If you go to www.usps.com you can pretty much print out a mailing label postage and put it on your package and you can schedule your carrier to pick up that package. That saves you the time and gas in going to the post office. You can also order stamps on-line," he said.

Walton also offers some tips for customers planning to ship packages during the holidays. "Just a couple of tips for sending packages, always be sure that you include the same name and address that's on the outside of the package on the inside as well. Put that on the inside because there have been instances where a label has fallen off or maybe weather has gotten to it and caused the label to come off. That way we can make sure that the package is returned either to the sender or the addressee," said Walton. "Of course, if you're sending anything electronic always take the batteries out. Also be sure to use a (shipping) box that's strong and use packing tape. A lot of people forget about that. If you don't know the zip code where the package is going to, don't guess the zip code. The best thing to do is go to www.usps.com and you can easily find a zip code there," said Walton.

Meanwhile, the Smithville Post Office will close Christmas Eve at 10:00 a.m.. and be closed all day on New Year's Eve. That's only for their window lobby service. Mail delivery will continue as usual on those days.

DeKalb 911 Center Completes Upgrades to Meet NENA Standards

December 12, 2012
Brad Mullinax

The DeKalb County 911 center recently underwent some major changes and upgrades in order to meet National Emergency Number Association NG-911 standards, according to Director Brad Mullinax

"In October of this year, I applied for grant money in the amount of $75,646.00 to upgrade our current 911 system to the NENA (National Emergency Number Association) NG-911 standards," said Mullinax. "The State of Tennessee began planning for a statewide NG-911 system in 2005. The planning is finally becoming a reality. DeKalb County 911 is (1 of 2) 911 centers within the 14 county Upper Cumberland region to become completely NG-911 compliant," he said.

NG-911 brings many new features and redundancy to our 911 center, according to Mullinax. "First, NG-911 enables all 911 centers in Tennessee to be interconnected over an advanced IP based network. Once all 911 centers have completed their upgrades, local 911 operators will have the capability to transfer misrouted 911 callers from cell phones to their correct county without sacrificing important caller data," said Mullinax. "In addition, this connectivity will allow for added security, reliability, and redundancy with other 911 centers in case of local natural or man-made disaster. For example, if DeKalb County 911 goes off-line for any reason, your local 911 call will be routed to another 911 center capable of handling the call. Finally, the NG-911 network will eventually provide our callers with the ability to send SMS text and video messages to the 911 operators which will make our 911 center one of the first in the country to offer this service," said Mullinax

"We are excited about these new upgrades, but most importantly we are pleased that these upgrades did not cost the taxpayers of DeKalb County any local money," he said. " The upgrades were 100% funded with TECB grant money with no local match. Additionally, the upgrades have actually decreased our monthly recurring costs associated with 911 making the NG-911 project easier to sustain than traditional 911," added Mullinax.

Crime Stopper Reward Available for Tips Leading to Arrest in Jewel's Market Break-In

December 12, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jewel's Market Break-In

Smithville Police are asking for your help in solving a break-in shortly after midnight last Friday, December 7 at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard across from Dogwood Plaza.

All tips are anonymous and an arrest in the case could mean a reward of up to $1,000 through the Smithville Police Department's Crime Stoppers Program.

As WJLE first reported last Friday, the driver of a stolen Chevy Tahoe backed the SUV into the building, crashing it through the front doors to make entry. The front of the store received significant damage. The driver and passenger then got out of the vehicle and tried to steal the in-store ATM.

Officers arrived on the scene with the burglary still in progress and nearly caught the would be thieves red handed but the two fled on foot into the woods behind the store.

The ATM machine was left outside by the vehicle.

A store clerk said nothing else appeared to have been taken from the store.

No arrests have yet been made in the break-in but Smithville Police now know that the Chevy Tahoe used by the two burglars to crash into the store building was stolen. It was apparently taken from the car lot of Glynn's Auto Sales on West Broad Street.

Meanwhile, 26 year old Jo Carol Summers was cited for shoplifting at Dollar General Store on Tuesday, November 27. Ms. Summers was observed by an employee concealing items from the store in her purse. She will be in court on January 3

33 year old Bradley Harold Pugh and 31 year old Rhonda Michelle King were cited for simple possession on Friday, December 7 While assisting the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, a Smithville Police Officer stopped a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle involved in an earlier assault. The officer made contact with the driver, Pugh who gave verbal consent to search his vehicle. The officer found a tin box containing several pills. King was a passenger in the vehicle and a pill, in her possession, was recovered. They will be in court on January 31.

Anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that would help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Woman Charged with Fraudulent Use of Credit Card

December 11, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
April Lynn Anderson
Allen Russell Douglas

In his latest report on crime, Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 29 year old April Lynn Anderson of Quail Point Drive, Smithville is charged with fraudulent use of a credit card. Her bond is $7,500 and she will be in court December 13.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, November 12 Anderson allegedly stole a debit card and used it several times over a six day period totaling $2,022. The card was taken from the victim's vehicle on Quail Point Drive.

57 year old Allen Russell Douglas of Springfield is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued citations for failure to show proof of registration and for running a red light. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on January 31.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, December 4 Douglas was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and stopped by an officer for running a red light. Douglas' speech was slurred and he had problems staying awake. Douglas told the officer that he had taken prescription medication. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test. Douglas was arrested and taken to the jail for booking.

County 4-H Public Speaking Winners

December 10, 2012
by: 
April Martin
4th grade 4-H speech contestants  (Photo by April Martin)
5th grade 4-H speech contestants (Photo by April Martin)
6 – 12th grade 4-H speech contestants (Photo by April Martin)

The County 4-H Public Speaking Contest was held recently. This contest gives young people an "upper edge" by providing them with important skills to use throughout their life such as poise, presentation skills, the ability to think on their feet, and confidence in themselves. Congratulations to the following 4-H members:

4th grade: 1st place, Skylar Fuson; 2nd place, Lily Martin, and 3rd place, Will Purcell. Other participants included: Amy Johnson, Monica Carlton, Malichi Hall, and Briana Agee.

5th grade: 1st place, Anna Chew, 2nd place, Braxton Hutchings, and 3rd place, Mya Ruch. Also participating were: Sophia Mahan, Ben Snipes, Stephanie Atnip, Kaitlyn George, Christian Trail, Justin Washer, Julia Curtis, Raiden Martin, Deborah Griffith, Sarette Aranda, Caitlin Milligan, Aubry Downey, Mary Maple, and Clayton Kirby.

6th grade: 1st place, Tom Tippin

8th grade: 1st place, Luke Green and 2nd place Wyatt Martin

9th grade: 1st place, Will Cain and 2nd place Ted Tippin

10th grade: 1st place, Lydia Trail and 2nd place Brooke Reffue

Several of these 4-H members will be advancing to the Sub-regional contest next month.

The 4-H program is a youth component of the University of Tennessee Extension.

Caption for 4th grade picture:

4th grade 4-H speech contestants (left to right): 1st place winner Skylar Fuson, 2nd place winner Lily Martin, and 3rd place winner Will Purcell. Not pictured are: Amy Johnson, Monica Carlton, Malichi Hall, and Briana Agee (photo by April Martin).

Caption for 5th grade picture:

5th grade 4-H speech contestants (first row, left to right): Mya Ruch (3rd place winner), Anna Chew (1st place winner), Braxton Hutchings, Sophia Mahan, Destinee Ritchie

And Kaitlyn George. Second row: Mary Maple, Aubry Downey, Raiden Martin, Justin Washer, and Clayton Kirby. Third row: Christian Trail, Caitlin Milligen, and Julia Curtis. Not pictured are: Stephanie Atnip, Deborah Griffith, Sarette Aranda, and Ben Snipes (Photo by April Martin).

Caption for 6 - 12th grade picture:

6 – 12th grade 4-H speech contestants (first row, left to right): 1st place winner in 6th grade, Tom Tippin; and 1st place in 10th grade, Lydia Trail. Second row: Brook Reffue 8th 2nd place winner in 10th grade; 2nd place winner in 9th grade, Ted Tippin; 1st place winner in 9th grade, Will Cain; 1st place winner in 8th grade, Luke Green, and 2nd place in 8th grade, Wyatt Martin (photo by April Martin).

Illness Affecting Attendance But Not Enough to Close Schools

December 10, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Clay Farler
Mark Willoughby

While some middle Tennessee counties have closed schools in recent days due to illness, DeKalb County School officials continue to monitor attendance rates here, but have not seen absenteeism significant enough to warrant closing local schools.

"It (absenteeism) has been running a little higher than normal," said Clay Farler, Attendance Supervisor. "It started picking up, especially at the elementary school last Friday. Today (Monday) its gotten a little worse at Smithville Elementary and at Northside Elementary. Our Pre-K through 5th grade in this part of the county are having the worst absenteeism. Today (Monday) at Northside the latest number I received including the ones that were sent home after arriving at school this morning, they have approximately sixty one students absent. They have 599 students enrolled there so that's slightly greater than ten percent of the students who are absent. At Smithville Elementary, they're at approximately seventy students absent including the ones they've had to send home so that puts them also at a little more than ten percent absenteeism. Their's is probably closer to twelve percent of students absent. Another problem at Northside and Smithville Elementary is we're having several staff members absent too so that is a factor," said Farler.

"At the high school, the attendance is still running well there and its not down very much at the middle school or at DeKalb West School," said Farler. "I'm hearing that there's flu and there's also pneumonia and I'm sure there's strep throat and other things too but we're trying to find out from doctor's offices what the main thing is and whether this is mainly flu or not. As of right now, that's all we know. I don't think Mr.Willoughby would consider closing school at this point but we're trying to keep a close watch on it," he said.

"Most of the time overall county wide we average around ninety three to ninety four percent (of students) present which would mean six to seven percent absentee," said Farler. "It's a higher number (of absenteeism) mainly at these two schools (SES and NES) but its not a great deal higher than what it normally runs. Individual days are up and down. Some days are higher than others but overall we average about ninety three or ninety four percent of students present," he said.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said he and other school officials will continue to monitor the situation. "This flu season it looks like it may hit us as it has in the past where it starts out in the elementary school and works its way up," said Willoughby. "It would be nice if we could get through this two week Christmas break to let all this (sickness) die down and not be as contagious and hopefully come back the first of the year and not have to worry about it as much. But right now we know it could explode. We have a lot of people who are sick. Right now our attendance rate is probably close to 92% system-wide so overall system-wide we're looking pretty good in the elementary grades. We wish there wasn't as much sickness in those grades but hopefully it will not continue to spread. We'll just have to wait and see how the flu does. We can't control it. But its not serious enough where we would look at closing schools. We are keeping up with it day by day though and monitoring the situation. We seek medical advice and ask for details or get information from the medical field and ask them if they think it would be wise to close or not close schools," said Willoughby.

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