Local News Articles

Gilles Charged with Aggravated Assault by Strangulation

August 31, 2017
Dwayne Page
Matthew A. Gilles
Tavia Gayle Cantrell
Lou Ann Sanders
Jason Allen Bates

Smithville Police have charged a man with aggravated assault for allegedly trying to strangle his victim

31 year old Matthew A. Gilles was arrested on Tuesday, August 29 after police, responding to a call, found that Gilles allegedly assaulted the victim, leaving red marks on the neck and other physical evidence of assault. Police determined that Gilles had committed the offense of aggravated assault by strangulation to the victim's neck. Gilles also had scratch marks on his neck from a physical altercation with the victim but he was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was taken into custody without incident. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is September 14.

19 year old Tavia Gayle Cantrell was arrested on Wednesday, August 30 for disorderly conduct. At approximately 5:15 a.m, officers outside the Police Department heard Cantrell, who was standing outside of the Sheriff's Department, cussing and yelling at county officers. She then ran about the public square yelling and screaming. Police asked Cantrell to calm down and talk to them in a peaceful manner but she refused to comply and was taken into custody. According to police her actions caused a danger to herself and a disruption to the public. Her bond is $3,500 and her court date is September 28.

48 year old Lou Ann Sanders was arrested two days in a row for violating an order of protection. The first incident occurred on Saturday, August 19 as police were called to check on two persons who were walking in the middle of the road on Anthony Avenue. By the time an officer arrived, the two people, Sanders and 41 year old Jason Allen Bates were in the Wal-Mart parking lot. While speaking with the couple, the officer noticed that Bates’ speech was slurred and that he was unsteady on his feet and had to be steadied to keep him from falling. Bates was placed into custody for public intoxication due to the likelihood he would endanger himself or another. During the investigation police learned through a computer check that Bates has an active order of protection against Sanders, so she was taken into custody for violating that order. She was also cited for simple possession after the officer found in her pocket during a search incident to arrest, a prescription bottle filled with Alprazolam belonging to Bates. Bond for Bates is $1,500 and $2,500 for Sanders in this case. Both will appear in General Sessions Court September 14.

The following day, Sunday August 20 Sanders was arrested again for violating the order of protection, the third time she has been charged with this offense. During a response to a call of a possible overdose, police arrived at the residence and found Sanders in a chair beside Bates, who was sitting on the floor. The VOP order states that there is to be no contact between the two persons. Sanders was placed in custody without incident. Her bond on this charge is $5,000 and her court date is September 14.

Alert Citizen Helps Smithville Police Catch Suspect in Burglary

August 31, 2017
Dwayne Page
Karri M. Jewell
Carolyn Mary Helminski

An alert citizen helped Smithville Police catch a suspect in a recent burglary and theft.

29 year old Karri M. Jewell was arrested on Tuesday, August 22 for aggravated burglary, vandalism and two counts of theft.

According to Smithville Police, a citizen called to report a home burglary and theft and that he (caller) was following the suspect and would continue to do so until police arrived.

Officers caught up with the suspect, Jewell on White Street. Found in her possession were items taken from the burglarized residence and a key to the home.

The victim discovered that the burglar had also damaged the home's bathroom door.

During the investigation, police recovered items from Jewell that had been reported stolen in a previous theft on Friday, August 18.

Police said that the victim in the August 18 case had been trying to help Jewell as she (Jewell) was having some difficulties but that Jewell had taken advantage of her generosity by stealing items from the victim's home after she (victim) left for work. Some of the items in the thefts were recovered and returned to the victims. Bond for Jewell is $13,000.

24 year old Brien Keith Todd Jr. was cited on Wednesday, August 23 for fraudulent use of a credit card. The victim filed a report on Tuesday, August 15 that someone had used his debit card without his permission. Upon investigation it was discovered that Todd had used the debit card at various businesses without the owner's consent.

50 year old Carolyn Mary Helminski was arrested on Monday, August 28 for theft of property over $1000. The victim filed the theft report on Friday, August 25 informing police that Helminski lives with her and had taken some of her jewelry and pawned it at Insta Cash. Upon investigation, some of the jewelry was recovered from Insta Cash and Helminski was charged with the theft. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is September 14.

DeKalb Hosts UCCEA Meeting

August 31, 2017
DeKalb Hosts UCCEA Meeting

DeKalb County recently served as host for the Upper Cumberland Chamber Executives Association (UCCEA) meeting held at the Appalachian Center for Craft. After a welcome from Craft Center Director Debra Ruzinsky and County Mayor Tim Stribling, the day's speakers included Melanie Beauchamp, Director of Outreach and Engagement for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; Cara Ince, Partnership Director for the Tennessee State Parks; Dennis Tennant, Director of Extended Programs and Regional Development at Tennessee Tech University; and Sam Stout, Smithville Jamboree President and Granville's Sutton Old Time Music Hour Host. After a delicious lunch at the Blue Water Grill on the Hill (located inside the Craft Center), Debra Ruzinsky gave a guided tour of the Appalachian Center for Craft.

The UCCEA is an organization composed of the leadership of the Chambers of Commerce that serve the 14-county Upper Cumberland area. The organization's mission is to support the Upper Cumberland's economic development as well as provide the opportunity to speak as a regional entity with the potential to benefit each county. It also serves as a forum for chamber directors to discuss best practices, challenges, and ideas. Chamber Director Suzanne Williams currently serves as UCCEA chairperson.

Justin Potter Library to Celebrate 50 Years of Service to Community

August 30, 2017
Dwayne Page
Justin Potter Library is celebrating 50 years: Staff Burgandy Evans, Amanda Bain, Director Kathy Hendrixson, and Wendy Crotty invite you to a special observance Sept 24 from 2-4 p.m. at the Library
Justin Potter Library in 1967 (Library newspaper clipping from Smithville Review in 1967 prior to Open House dedication)
Portrait of Justin Potter (1898-1961) displayed inside Justin Potter Library
David K. Wilson (center), Chairman of the Justin and Valere Potter Foundation spoke at dedication ceremony for Justin Potter Library in 1967. Others shown are  County Judge Billy J. Lafever, Smithville Mayor Othel Smith, Grady and Mrs. Carter, and W.R. Lassiter (Library newspaper clipping from Smithville Review in 1967)
Justin Potter Library Ribbon Cutting in 1967. Emma Brandon Burton, Mrs. David K. Wilson, daughter of Justin and Valere Potter,  and Ann Evins, wife of Congressman Joe L. Evins (Library newspaper clipping from Smithville Review in 1967)
June Vaughn (right) became the first director of Justin Potter Library in 1967 followed a year later by Idell Spann (not shown here), until her retirement in 1991. Vaughn returned as director and served for 13 years. Kathy Winchester Vardy (left) succeeded Vaughn in 2004 and Kathy Hendrixson (center) took over from her in 2007
Former WJLE Manager Ralph Vaughn on the air with former director of Justin Potter Library Idell Spann during the 1980s (Library photo clipping from the Smithville Review)
Former County Mayor Mike Foster and Former Justin Potter Library Director June Vaughn with architect and contractor at ground breaking for library expansion in 2003

Justin Potter Library has turned 50

In celebration of its half-century of service to this community, a special observance is planned for Sunday, September 24 from 2-4 p.m. and the public is invited to come and help commemorate the library’s golden anniversary.

“It’ll be kind of like an open house where people can come and reminisce. We’ll have photos and displays in the library. We want everyone to come and help us celebrate and share some of their memories about the library especially when they were children,” said Director Kathy Hendrixson.

Justin Potter Library opened in June 1967 followed by an official dedication and open house on September 17, 1967. It was named for the late Justin Potter, a DeKalb County native and successful Nashville businessman, whose family provided funds to help build the library through the Justin and Valere Potter Foundation.

For eleven years prior, the library was located in a room on the main floor of the Veterans Memorial building downtown.

While many shared in the dream of the community having a new library by 1967, Emma Brandon Burton, played an especially important role in helping make it happen. Mrs. Burton, who was instrumental in starting the first library in the county during the 1940s and was a founding member of the Smithville Study Club, procured a donation from the Potter Foundation to match funds from a federal building grant to build Justin Potter Library at its present location. Mrs. Burton also served on the DeKalb County Library Board from 1964 until 1990 and on the Upper Cumberland Regional Library Board from its founding in 1956 until 1981. She passed away in 1997.

A portrait of Mrs. Burton is displayed at the library in her memory. It was commissioned by the Smithville Study Club, and painted by a local artist at the time, Katherine Cudney.

As constructed in 1967, the library was 3,764 square feet and cost $100,000 which covered the purchase of the land as well as the building, initial furnishings, and equipment.

Due to a need for expansion, the county commission authorized a 2,000 square foot addition to the library in 2003. The project was supported with county funds and donations from the community. The facility, which was built to hold 10,000 volumes 50 years ago, now contains over 25,000 items today.

June Vaughn became the first director of Justin Potter Library in 1967 followed a year later by Idell Spann, until her retirement in 1991. Vaughn returned as director and served for 13 years. Kathy Winchester Vardy succeeded Vaughn in 2004 and Kathy Hendrixson took over from her in 2007.

Members of the DeKalb County Library Board in 1967 were W.R. Lassiter, Chairman; Emma Burton, Chairman of the Building Committee; Otha Dell Conger, Building Committee member; Nell McBride, Building Committee member; Bessie May White, Rosa John Twilla, and Janelle Pugh.

Current members of the board are: Jan Thomas, Board Chairman, and Genrose Davis, Annette Greek, Jane Hobson, Brenda Hooper, Betty Pankey, Jane Ramsey, Pam Redmon, and Bobby White.

“Justin Potter Library has come a long way in 50 years to establish itself as a “Hub” of the community, “ said Director Hendrixson. “Our vision is that all DeKalb County residents have the opportunities they need to improve the quality of their lives with a mission of providing quality materials and services that fulfill educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the entire community in an atmosphere that is welcoming and respectful,” she said.

This past year almost 40,000 visits were made to the county libraries (Smithville and Alexandria combined) with 8,000 registered borrowers, 64,000 materials checked out, 112 programs hosted with attendance of more than 2,000, and 15,000 computer users including wireless.

“The library now offers books, videos and DVDs, music CDs, microfilm, audio books, magazines, and newspapers. The public has access to both computer and wireless Internet, fax, copy, scanning, and notary services. We offer Interlibrary Loans, TWRA boating exams, and tax and voter registration forms. Those who have a library card have access to over 100,000 free ebooks, audiobooks and streaming videos through the Regional Download System (READS) and there are 100’s of databases available through TEL (Tennessee Electronic Library). There are over 1,000 downloads a month using the READS program that count toward the library’s circulation. The library also offers AWE Early Literacy Computers for children ages 2-8 (English and Bilingual Spanish versions) with over 60 educational titles,” Hendrixson continued.

The library is also a good source for tracing your family history and other services.

“We have an extensive collection of county genealogy and history materials. County Historian Thomas G. Webb is at the library almost every day to assist you in searching your family history,” said Hendrixson.

“You can donate to the Memorial Fund and have a book dedicated in memory of a family member or friend”.

“The library hosts a variety of programs and events throughout the year including Older American’s Day, Summer Reading, holiday activities, community discussion groups, teen program and volunteer opportunities (Tennessee Promise), author book signings, homeschooling events, computer and art classes, and you can sign up children from birth for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. We have also been involved in Bookmobile and Outreach programs to the schools and have partnered with organizations for other events that have benefitted the community,” she said.

Hendrixson went on to say that DeKalb County residents are fortunate to have Justin Potter Library as well as the Alexandria Library, which was relocated to a renovated 3,500 square foot building on the Alexandria public square in 1996, and she gave credit to those who have helped make them successful.

“ Our accomplishments over the past 50 years would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the DeKalb County Library Board, staff, volunteers, and the support of the Smithville Study Club, DeKalb County government, City of Smithville, state and federal governments the Potter Foundation, Regional Library Board, local organizations, and the community,” added Director Hendrixson.

The libraries in Dowelltown and Liberty were closed in 2005 and 2015 respectively.

Smithville Man Chosen for Elk Hunt

August 30, 2017

The 15 persons who will participate in the 2017 Tennessee Elk Hunts were announced Wednesday during the August meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region II Ray Bell Building.

Among them is William C. Harris of Smithville

A total of 8,664 persons registered for the opportunity to participate in the 2017 hunt. Tennessee began its elk hunt in 2009 with the participants selected from a computer draw. TWRA Region IV Wildlife Management Program Coordinator John Mike announced this year’s participants at the meeting.

Selected to participate in the archery-only hunt Sept. 30-Oct. 6 are Johnny Lankford Delaney (Chattanooga), Edgar Michael Galaway (Brighton), William C. Harris (Smithville), Jimmy E. Hilliard (Maryville), Brandon T. Metcalf (Greeneville), Matthew Douglas Meyer (Knoxville), and Larry Wayne Rosenbaum (Dickson).

Gun, muzzleloader, or archery equipment is allowed in the Oct. 14-20 hunt. Selected to participate were James L. Blackwell (Chattanooga), Doug C. Gougher (Jasper), Kimberly Ann Mayfield (Etowah), Gary W. Ownby (Clinton), Floyd Eugene Roach (Knoxville), and Darvis Gary White (Greeneville).

The seventh permit was presented to a non-governmental organizational, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. The permit was auctioned with a bid of $13,000 made by Alabama resident Tim Fisk. Fund-raising proceeds from the auctioned tag are designated for the elk restoration program.

The youth tag permit winner is Reed A. Johnson (Manchester). This will be the sixth year for the tag which is designated for youth ages 13-16. The TFWC voted to allow a full week for the youth participant for the first time this year, rather than a two-day weekend hunt. It will be held Oct. 7-13.

At its hunting seasons setting meeting this past spring, the TFWC voted to increase the total number of elk hunt permits from 11 to 15 and increase the three hunt segments to seven days each. This included seven archery permits, seven for gun (which includes the auctioned permit), and one youth permit.

Similar to 2016, all hunt permits are valid on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area and can also be used on private lands (with landowner permission) within the Elk Restoration Zone in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Morgan and Scott counties.

Since the historic first managed hunt in 2009, 33 elk have been legally harvested. There were two elk successfully harvested during the 2016 Tennessee elk hunts at the North Cumberland WMA and surrounding private lands that were held in October.

Man Charged with Child Abuse or Neglect

August 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
Juan Carlos Sosa Salazar
Nathan Bradley McMinn
Christy Mae Bell
Billy Eugene Cook , Jr
 Jose Carlos Zarazua

A Dowelltown man has been arrested for child abuse or neglect after he was caught driving drunk with a three year old child in the vehicle with him.

40 year old Juan Carlos Sosa Salazar of Vandergriff Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, driving while license revoked, and child abuse or neglect. He was also issued citations for no insurance, violation of the open container law (two open beers), and driving on roadways laned for traffic. His bond is $8,000 and his court date is September 14.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday, August 27 a deputy was patrolling on east broad street when he spotted a vehicle failing to maintain its lane of travel. The officer pulled over the automobile and spoke with the driver, Salazar. A three year old child was a passenger in the vehicle. Salazar had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. His eyes were red and watery and his speech was slurred. Salazar admitted to having earlier consumed one beer. He submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to give blood for a test and a search warrant was obtained for a blood sample. A computer check revealed that his license were revoked for a 2015 DUI offense in DeKalb County. Salazar was charged with child abuse or neglect for knowingly placing the life of the child passenger at immediate risk of bodily injury by driving under the influence.

33 year old Nathan Bradley McMinn of Christine Street, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and driving while license revoked. He was also cited for no insurance, violation of the registration law, violation of the open container law, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of a schedule III drug (suboxone) His bond totals $4,500 and his court date is September 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, August 22 a deputy was patrolling on Highway 56 heading south when a green Jeep Cherokee passed him heading northbound. Knowing that the driver, McMinn had a revoked license, he pulled him over at Pine Creek Nursery. The officer detected a strong odor of alcohol on McMinn’s person and his eyes were glassy. McMinn refused to perform field sobriety tasks and submit to a blood test. A computer check confirmed that his license were revoked for failure to satisfy fines, costs, or taxes on a criminal offense in Warren County. The date of the revocation was September 5, 2014. A search of his vehicle yielded an open container of beer, a pill, and drug paraphernalia (glass pipe).

32 year old Christy Mae Bell of Dry Creek Road, Smithville is charged with resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search. Her bond is $2,500 and her court date is September 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, August 24 as a deputy was attempting to take Bell into custody on a Wilson County warrant, she locked herself in a shed and ignored verbal commands to come out. The officer had to make forcible entry into the shed to get her. Bell then tried to pull away from the deputy to avoid being placed under arrest.

48 year old Billy Eugene Cook , Jr. of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with a second offense of driving on a suspended license and evading arrest. His bond is $8,000 and his court date is August 31. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 26 a deputy observed Cook enter a vehicle and drive on Highway 70 from the Dollar General Store at Snow Hill. Knowing that Cook had no valid driver license, the officer activated his blue lights to make a traffic stop but Cook initially refused to pull over. Cook continued driving on Highway 70 before turning onto Toad Road and coming to a stop at a trailer park. A computer check confirmed that Cook’s license were suspended on December 27, 2012 for failure to answer to an original violation. He also has a driving while suspended offense against him from Bedford County dating back to June 25, 2013.

28 year old Jose Carlos Zarazua of McMinnville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $4,000 and his court date is September 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 25 deputies were called to the Midnight Express on Sparta Highway where two people were reported to be fighting but they found the two, Zarazua and his wife, at another location. While speaking with them Zarazua grabbed and pulled his wife’s hair and began shaking her head, causing some of her hair to fall out.

Haidyn Hale Saints Homecoming Queen

August 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
Haidyn Hale Saints Homecoming Queen

Haidyn Hale is the Homecoming Queen at DeKalb Middle School

An eighth grader, Hale is the daughter of Melissa Odom and Chad Hale of Smithville.

This is Homecoming week for the Saints leading up to the football game Thursday night against Trousdale County at 6:30 p.m.

The DeKalb Middle School 8th grade attendants are Katherine Colwell and Ellie Webb and the 7th grade attendants are Carlee West and Hannah Trapp.

The DeKalb West School attendants are Ally Griffith, 7th grade and Malayna Nokes, 8th grade.

Two Involved in Early Morning Crash near DeKalb Market

August 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
2010 Nissan Altima driven by Courtney Webster
1994 Toyota pickup driven by John Saylors

Two people were involved in a crash early this morning (Tuesday) on Highway 70 in front of DeKalb Market.

Central dispatch received the call at 4:42 a.m.

Trooper Jason Cobble of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 34 year old Courtney Webster of Smithville was taken by DeKalb EMS to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital where she was treated and released.

According to Trooper Cobble, Webster was driving a 2010 Nissan Altima, pulling out of the parking lot of DeKalb Market to go east on Highway 70 when her car crossed the path of a 1994 Toyota pickup, driven by 54 year old John Saylors of Sparta traveling west on US 70. The truck hit the car on the driver side.

Saylors was not transported to the hospital.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department were also on the scene.

Commission Rejects Speed Limit Posting on Ragland Bottom Road

August 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
County Commission

The County Commission has rejected a request to post a 35 mile per hour speed limit on Ragland Bottom Road.

During Monday night's regular monthly commission meeting, Fifth district member Jerry Adcock presented a petition signed by twelve residents on Ragland Bottom Road asking that the county post a speed limit there. “This petition hereby acknowledges that we as citizens of DeKalb County and residents of Ragland Bottom Road ask for speed limit postings of no greater than 25 miles per hour to be placed in four places along the lake access road,” the petition states.

Although the petition asked for a posting of 25 miles per hour, Commissioner Adcock moved that the speed limit on Ragland Bottom Road be set at 35 miles per hour. Fifth District Commissioner Anita Puckett offered a second to the motion. Unauthorized speed limit signs already posted on the road have not been enforceable because they were placed there by a private citizen without the county’s approval.

Under state law, the speed limit on any county road is 55 miles per hour unless the county designates a reduced speed limit posting.

“This is not something I want to go into the business of but if it will appease the people and if it is a hazard and a danger (I will support it), “ said Commissioner Puckett.

“My worry is that it gives the residents a false sense of security because there is not enough (law enforcement) manpower to patrol it. We could probably bankrupt the county trying to put signs up (everywhere) and while they would hold weight because we voted on them, unless the sheriff saw somebody speeding nothing would ever get solved,” said Third District Commissioner Jack Barton.

“But that is true on any stretch of road,” replied Commissioner Adcock.

“There have been no reported accidents on that stretch of road (Ragland Bottom Road). It’s not an accident prone highway,” added Sixth District Commissioner Betty Atnip.

Adcock’s motion to establish the 35 mile per hour speed limit on Ragland Bottom Road failed on a voice vote by the commission.

In other business, the commission voted 9-4-1 to remove a portion of Jones Lane from the county road list upon the recommendation of the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission and Road Supervisor Butch Agee.

Jones Lane, a 1,056 foot road, is located off Dale Ridge Road and serves members of one family who own property on both sides of the road.

Earlier this year a member of the family presented a letter to Road Supervisor Agee requesting that 636 feet of the road be removed from the county road list. Agee then approached the planning commission with the request and his recommendation for approval. The planning commission voted to schedule a public hearing after a notice was published. The hearing was held in July without any public opposition expressed. The planning commission then voted to recommend to the county commission that the request be approved. But at the July meeting, members of the county commission asked that the issue be revisited by the planning commission to consider the possibility of recommending total closure of the road. However the planning commission did not change its recommendation.

During Monday night’s county commission meeting, Third District member Barton moved to follow the recommendation of the planning commission and Road Supervisor. Fourth District member Jonathan Norris offered a second to the motion.

Concerns were raised by some that Jones Lane has no adequate turnaround and that one should be built by the property owners as a condition for closing a portion of the road

“The turnaround is the issue not the closing of the road. Some of us thought we had a verbal agreement between us that (we were going to require) a cul de sac turnaround for all roads closed and now we’re doing (allowing) a hammerhead (turnaround). We need to be in uniformity in what we’re going to be accepting when we close a road,” said Sixth District member Atnip.

“I think the road closure process that we approved two months ago said that it has to be at the discretion of the road superintendent. I don’t remember a specific turnaround (requirement),” Commissioner Barton replied.

“There will be some areas where a cul de sac cannot be built,” added County Mayor Tim Stribling.

Commissioners Mason Carter, Julie Young, Bradley Hendrix, Jack Barton, Wayne Cantrell, Jonathan Norris, Anita Puckett, Jeff Barnes, and Kevin Robinson voted in favor of closing 636 feet of Jones Lane.

Commissioners Joe Johnson, Larry Summers, Jimmy Midgett, and Betty Atnip voted against it and Commissioner Jerry Adcock passed.

The county commission has voted to purchase property on Cookeville Highway from the Tennessee Department of Transportation where the Cherry Hill Community Center is located for $7,200, the fair market value established by TDOT.

Although the state deeded the 0.24 acre site to DeKalb County in August, 1981, a restriction required the county to use the property only for "public purposes". After taking control of the site in the 1980’s the county constructed the Cherry Hill Community Center there. In recent years community interest in the center has waned and the building is now in need of repairs. Members of the county commission have expressed an interest in either disposing of the property or leasing it.

"When we buy the property we will have total control of it and that restriction for “ public use” will be removed from the deed,” said County Mayor Stribling.

When asked by Sixth District Commissioner Atnip where the county would get the funds to purchase the property since it wasn’t budgeted, County Mayor Stribling said it could come from the county’s fund balance or capital projects fund.

Pam Redmon was appointed to a three year term on the DeKalb County Library Board of Trustees.

DeKalb Health Department Leads Flu Fight in Schools

August 28, 2017
Dwayne Page

It's August and as students, parents and teachers prepare for another productive school year, staff members at the DeKalb County Health Department are preparing flyers, forms and flu vaccine to keep influenza out of DeKalb County Schools.

"This is our 4th year of providing flu vaccinations at schools and we couldn't be happier with the welcome we get from DeKalb County school staff members, the appreciation of parents and especially the increasing number of students who get vaccinated each year," said DeKalb County Health Department Director Michael Railling. "The students know they're protecting themselves. What they may not know is how much they're protecting people around them, such as grandparents and even total strangers, from this potentially deadly infection.”

"It's impossible to know how many lives are spared severe sickness or even death as a result of this effort," said State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD. "But the evidence suggests providing flu vaccine in schools reduces the spread of flu in communities and keeps young learners healthy and in the classroom.”

Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH said the school-based flu immunization effort also serves another important purpose: It allows public health departments across the state to practice for emergencies where schools may be used for mass distribution of vaccine or other medicine in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

"School-based flu vaccine programs give us regular opportunities to practice our plans to provide critical, life-saving medications during emergencies,” Dreyzehner said. "In many communities, schools would be important distribution points for a variety of vaccines and medications. So when we provide flu vaccine at schools, we’re also refining logistics of emergency medicine and keeping relationships with schools current. I couldn't be prouder of the DeKalb County Health Department team for their work in preventing flu now and in preparing for any possible health threat that may arise in the future."

For more information about flu vaccine contact your health care provider or the DeKalb County Health Department at 615-597-7599.


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