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Northside Students Take Virtual Tours of the World through the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program

April 19, 2016
Dwayne Page
Northside Elementary Students look through their goggles to take a virtual tour of Mt. Everest
Students in Northside Teacher Amy Raymond's Class by the Google Car

Imagine visiting Mount Everest, the Great Wall of China, or the surface of the moon. Thanks to the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program, teachers at Northside Elementary School were able to take their students this month on virtual journeys from their classrooms to bring lessons to life.

Expeditions is a virtual reality platform built for the classroom that leads students on guided tours of places school buses can't go. They are comprised of virtual reality panoramas and are led by a guide or teacher. Using a tablet, teachers can guide students wearing virtual reality viewers. Teachers can guide their class and point out highlights while referring to notes.

(Click link below to see promotional video of the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program)

Google worked with teachers and content partners from around the world to create 160 engaging journeys - ranging from museums to outer space --making it easy to immerse students in entirely new experiences.

“It’s basically virtual reality, “ Danii Roundtree, Google Expedition Team Member told WJLE. The teachers are leading the expedition in taking them to different parts of the world”.

“It’s a pair of Google goggles the students look through and then you have a phone because it’s an app that goes inside of the Google goggles and that’s how they are able to see the 3D technology,” said Roundtree.

“The teacher directs from a tablet what the students see through the goggles. Through the virtual expedition students have been able to see the world including places like Egypt, the Great Wall of China, under the seas, etc. Some of the teachers like to correlate what the students are seeing with a lesson plan or what they are presently learning in the classroom so it’s really cool,” Roundtree said.

“Last week Google came to Northside and they visited 20 classrooms. The kids loved it. They (Google) wanted to come back so that no one at Northside would miss out on it so today (Tuesday) they have finished up with the rest of the classes,” said Tammy Sims, computer lab teacher at Northside.

Sims said she learned about the Google Expedition Program last summer during tech training and later signed up Northside for a visit when Google came to Tennessee.

(Visit the Northside Elementary School Website by clicking the link below)

More information on the program is available at

Fire Destroys Single Wide Mobile Home

April 19, 2016
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Single Wide Mobile Home

A fire destroyed a single wide mobile home Monday evening at 3323 Four Seasons Road near the Young Bend Cemetery.

Assistant DeKalb County Fire Chief David Agee told WJLE that the fire was reported at the residence of James Hargrave and that the structure was fully involved in flames by the time firefighters arrived minutes later.

According to Agee, Hargrave rented the mobile home from the owner, Charles Parsley. The residence and all belongings were lost in the blaze.

Hargrave, who was on the scene, was placed in custody by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and charged with disorderly conduct.

Members of the Midway, Johnsons Chapel, and Short Mountain Highway Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the tanker and equipment truck. DeKalb EMS was also on the scene though no one was injured.

1986 DCHS Tigerettes to Commemorate 30 Year History of the Program

April 19, 2016
Dwayne Page
1986 DCHS Tigerettes to Commemorate 30 Year History of the Program

Thirty years ago DeKalb County High School launched the Tigerette Fast Pitch softball program under Coach Danny Bond.

Three decades later, Coach Bond is still at the helm with 664 victories and seven state tournament appearances to his credit.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the program's existence, members of the 1986 inaugural team will return to DCHS for the game between the Tigerettes and Warren County Friday, April 22 at 4:30 p.m. at the Danny Bond field on the high school campus. All DCHS Tigerette Alumni are urged to attend.

The 1986 team won the regular season district championship and the district tournament title in District 8AA and was runner-up in Region 4AA.

"It started my senior year back in 1986, Dionndra Foster, a member of the team told WJLE. " We worked hard and a large group of girls wanted to form this softball team. We didn’t think we would be that great because we were just learning the game as far as fast pitch. We had to find pitchers and we had to learn how to hit. Coach Bond agreed to coach us and the school agreed for us to have a team and it was quite an amazing event that very first year. We won the district. We won the regional and we went on to sub-state the very first year. That was quite a feat for a group of girls who had never played fast pitch. This Friday we’re going to celebrate the fact that we have a 30 year record with the same coach still leading the way. We'll be making photographs and we invite any girl who has ever played for the Tigerettes to join us," said Foster.

Members of the 1986 team were Tina Waggoner, Patty Redmon, Tammy Billings, Tonia Foster, Dionndra Foster, Beth Hale, Tammy Hayes, Tracie Webb, Christie Poss, Michelle Gard, Christie Frazier, Lori Pugh, Vickie Hayes, and Gena Hayes.

Over the years the program has achieved tremendous success. The Tigerettes' first trip to the state tournament was in 1992 and they returned in 1994, 1996, 2001, 2008, 2014, & 2015. Last year was only the third DCHS softball team in program history to have won championships for the regular season district, district tournament, region tournament, and sub-state before advancing to the state tournament (1992, 1994, & 2015)

Coach Bond's overall record is now 664-254.

One Injured in Three Vehicle Wreck at Liberty

April 19, 2016
Dwayne Page

One person was injured in a three vehicle wreck today (Tuesday) on Highway 70 at Liberty.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 25 year old Jacob Lawrence of Smithville was traveling east in a 2001 Pontiac Sunfire when he crossed the center line of the highway and struck two other westbound vehicles.

49 year old Lori Anderson of Liberty was traveling west in a 2001 Chevy Impala and behind her was a westbound 2011 Chevy Silverado driven by 34 year old Shane Steele of Sparta. Two juveniles were passengers with Anderson.

According to Trooper Johnson, both Anderson and Steele tried to merge into the eastbound lane but were unable to avoid a collision as Lawrence’s car struck Anderson’s vehicle on the rear passenger side and then sideswiped Steele’s truck on the passenger side.

Lawrence was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. He has also been cited for failure to exercise due care.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb Sheriff's deputies were also on the scene to provide assistance

Four Vehicles Involved in Chain Reaction Wreck

April 18, 2016
Dwayne Page
Scott Phipps was injured after his Toyota Corolla was caught between two vehicles in a chain reaction wreck Monday on Broad Street

Four vehicles were involved in a chain reaction wreck Monday afternoon on Broad Street near the intersection of Mountain Street.

According to Sergeant Brad Tatrow of the Smithville Police Department, 53 year old Charles Merriman of Smithville, driving a 1998 Chevy S-10 was west on Broad Street when he stopped due to a vehicle in front of him that had stopped to make a turn. But after stopping, the driver of the vehicle in front of Merriman apparently decided not to turn and drove on.

As Merriman stopped, so did two other vehicles behind him, a 2000 Chevy Suburban, driven by 46 year old Gena Cripps of Smithville, and a 2003 Toyota Corrolla behind Cripps, driven by 43 year old Scott Phipps of Smithville.

As those vehicles were stopped, a 2005 GMC Yukon, driven by 37 year old Courtney Nunnally of Nashville came up behind Phipps and failed to stop, rear ending his car and forcing it into Cripps' vehicle, which forced it into Merriman's truck.

The only injury reported was Phipps who was taken by DeKalb EMS to St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital. No charges or citations were filed.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene to render assistance.

Will Grocery Stores in Smithville be Allowed to Sell Wine?

April 18, 2016

Will grocery stores in Smithville soon be allowed to sell wine?

That’s a question voters may be asked in November.

DeKalb County Administrator of Elections, Dennis Stanley, said someone has already inquired about a petition drive to place the question on the November 8 election ballot.

“I was recently contacted by a spokesman of an organization that wants to begin a petition drive in Smithville in the very near future,” Stanley said. “That petition would ask the election commission to hold a local option election to authorize the sale of wine at retail food stores.”

"A wine at retail food stores referendum may only be called by petition of registered voters in jurisdictions which have held and passed either a referendum to authorize retail package stores or a referendum to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.

“Two years ago Smithville voters approved retail package stores, thus making the city eligible for wine at retail food stores,” Stanley said. “To call a wine at retail food stores referendum, a petition must be signed by 10% or more of the registered voters casting a ballot for governor in the last city election.”

In addition, the petition must be filed with the election commission no later than 75 days before the upcoming November election.

“The person I spoke to recently was well aware of the rules and regulations regarding petitions for referendums and was just informing me someone would be in town soon to begin the petition drive and have it to our office before the deadline,” Stanley said.

If the effort is successful, that will be the second liquor referendum on the ballot in November. A petition to call for an election to authorize alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises has already been turned in and Stanley said there were enough names to put the issue on the ballot.

Both referendums apply only to the City of Smithville. He also noted that no liquor referendum may be placed on the same ballot or conducted on the same day of a primary election.

“The city will conduct its normal election on August 4, but that election falls on the same day as the Tennessee State Primary,” Stanley said. “As a result, the liquor referendums must be held in November.

“Retail food store” is defined in the law as a business that derives at least 20 percent of its sales from the retail sale of food and food ingredients and has floor space of at least 1,200 square feet. The law requires that food sales be those types of sales taxed at the lower, 5 percent state rate, rather than the higher sales tax rate applied to sales of prepared food. It appears that this definition will prevent most convenience stores and gas stations from obtaining licenses to sell wine.

If voters approve the sale of wine in grocery stores, the Alcoholic Beverage Commission will be the body to issue “retail food store wine licenses”
Applicants must submit a certificate from the city, signed by the mayor, stating that the applicant has not been convicted of a felony in the past ten years and that the applicant has a location for their business inside city limits. If a city fails to issue a certificate to an applicant within 60 days after receiving a written application, the commission will waive the certificate requirement.

Store ownership is not required in order to receive a license, as store owners may enter into franchise or management agreements with licensees. Cities may not limit the number of retail food store wine licenses to be issued in their jurisdiction nor require that applicants reside in the city.

Grocery stores located within 500 feet of package stores may not obtain licenses to sell wine until July 1, 2017, unless the package store owner provides written permission to the commission. Any package store owner who refuses such permission cannot sell those additional items permitted by the law until such time as the grocery store obtains permission to sell wine.

Man Charged with Domestic Assault and Child Abuse or Neglect

April 18, 2016
Dwayne Page
Francisco David Velasquez
Samer Walid Abdalla
David Dewayne Anderson
Charles Dakota Lee Derrick
John Thomas Mason
Autumn Danielle White
Ricardo Carabeo

A man has been charged with domestic assault and child abuse or neglect for an attack on his wife and 15 year old step son.

31 year old Francisco David Velasquez of R. Arnold Road is under a $7,000 bond and he will be in court May 26.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, April 16 a deputy responded to a residence on R. Arnold Road due to a possible physical domestic in progress. Upon arrival the officer learned that Velasquez had grabbed and pulled his wife's hair in a violent manner and asked her if she wanted to fight. He was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was placed under arrest.

During the investigation the officer also spoke to Valasquez's 15 year old step son who said that Velasquez got upset with him and called him outside where Valasquez grabbed him by his hair and jerked him up. Valasquez then grabbed the boy by the collar of his shirt, ripping it and asked if he wanted to fight.

34 year old Andrea Nicole Bass of Midway Road, Smithville is cited for no seatbelt and simple possession of a schedule IV drug. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 16 a deputy stopped a red Chevrolet Blazer driven by a woman who was not wearing a seatbelt. After stopping the automobile, the officer spoke with the driver, Bass. He asked for and received consent to search the vehicle. The deputy found 54 blue football shaped pills identified as xanax for which Bass had no prescription. She will make a court appearance on May 26.

35 year old Samer Walid Abdalla of Morgan Drive, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on May 26. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, April 14 Abdalla showed up for General Sessions Court intoxicated. A deputy , who was in the courtroom at the time, saw that Abdalla was very unsteady on his feet and his eyes were bloodshot . His behavior was very erratic. Abdalla submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was placed under arrest.

46 year old David Dewayne Anderson of Gard Lane, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving on a revoked license. He was also issued citations for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine), violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of a schedule IV drug (xanax). His bond is $3,000 and he will make a court appearance on April 21. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, April 13 a detective spotted Anderson operating a motor vehicle on Short Mountain Highway. Knowing that Anderson's driver license were revoked, he made a traffic stop of the automobile. A computer check confirmed the offense. Anderson's prior DRL was in Rutherford County in 2011. The detective searched Anderson and found in his pants pocket a purple container with a white powdery substance that weighed 0.2 grams and field tested positive for methamphetamine. The container also held half of a green pill that Anderson said was xanax. Four needles and straws were recovered from his vehicle.

20 year old Charles Dakota Lee Derrick of Snow Hill Road, Smithville is charged with possession of a schedule VI drug for resale. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on May 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 15 a detective executed a search warrant at Derrick's home at 500 Old Snow Hill Road. Found in Derrick's bedroom and inside a trash can were 4.3 ounces of marijuana. The detective also found a set of scales and a box of sandwich baggies in the room. Under the kitchen sink inside a trash can was a jar containing 0.2 ounces of marijuana. Derrick admitted that the marijuana belonged to him. According to Sheriff Ray, detectives obtained the search warrant after investigating Derrick on suspicion of illegal sales of drugs.

21 year old John Thomas Mason of Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with assault. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance on May 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 16 while being incarcerated in the DeKalb County Jail, Mason struck another inmate with his fist causing an eye injury.

41 year old Autumn Danielle White of Davis Street, Smithville is charged with violation of probation and driving under the influence. She was also issued citations for driving on a revoked license, failure to exercise due care, possession of drug paraphernalia, violation of the implied consent law, and violation of the open container law. Her bond on the DUI is $1,500 and she will be in court on May 26. She is being held without bond for the violation of probation. White will make a court appearance on the VOP on May 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 16 a deputy was on routine patrol when he came upon a wreck on McMinnville Highway. The officer stopped and found that White had been driving the vehicle involved in the accident. Her eyes were bloodshot. Her speech was slurred and she was unsteady on her feet. White performed poorly on field sobriety tasks but she refused to submit to a blood test. During a search of the vehicle, the deputy found an open container of alcohol and a pouch which held several syringes and a spoon.

34 year old Ricardo Carabeo of Vaughn Lane, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued citations for violation of the implied consent law, driving on roadways laned for travel, violation of financial responsibility (no insurance), violation of the open container law, and driving on an expired license. He is under a $1,500 bond and his court date is May 26. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 17 a deputy observed a green car leave its lane of travel several times on Sparta Highway. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke to the driver, Carabeo. He had a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person. His speech was slurred. He was unsteady on his feet and his eyes were glossy. Carabeo said he had consumed two beers. He submitted to one field sobriety task and performed poorly. He refused to perform any further tasks. Carabeo was placed under arrest.

Sheriff's Department Gets Grant for Litter Pickup on State Highways

April 18, 2016
Dwayne Page
Sheriff's Department Gets Grant for Litter Pickup on State Highways using Inmate Labor

For several years the county has received an annual litter grant from the state to compensate the sheriff's department for providing roadside pickup of litter on county roads using inmate labor. This year, the state is also providing grant funds for litter pickup on state roads in DeKalb County.

"This year we were able to get an additional grant where we can pick up litter on state roadways here in our county," said Sheriff Patrick Ray. "The grant pays for three cycles of litter pickup each year with an optional fourth cycle if needed. This grant has over 100 miles of listed state roadways .These roads are Sparta Highway, Nashville Highway, Cookeville Highway, McMinnville Highway, Keltonburg Road, Antioch Road, Belk Road, New Home Road, Short Mountain Highway, Murfreesboro Highway, Dale Ridge Road, Wolf Creek Road, Medley Amonett Road, Temperance Hall Road, and Lancaster Highway. We have 30 days to remove the litter from these state roads before the mowers arrive to cut the grass on the state rights of ways. We will be using inmate labor to pick up the trash on the state roads just like we do with our county roads litter grant program," he said.

Sheriff Ray offers some safety tips for motorists who may approach these litter pickup work zones. These simple tips could save your life or the life of a worker in one of the litter zones.

*Always think orange. When you see orange signs, cones, or barrels, expect a roadside work zone ahead.

*Stay alert. Look for narrow driving lanes and highway workers ahead.

*Pay attention. Work zone signs will tell you exactly what to expect ahead.

*Don't follow too closely. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.

*Minimize distractions. Drivers should keep their eyes on the roadway especially in a work zone.

*Do not talk on a cell phone or adjust your radio while in one of these zones.

*Slow down. You may encounter slowed or stopped traffic in an instant or encounter workers on or beside of the roadway.

You will know you are entering into a litter pickup zone when you see orange signs that say "Litter Pickup Ahead".

Sign Up for 4-H Summer Camp!

April 16, 2016
Leigh Fuson

The weather is warming up and school is winding down. Summer will be here before we know it! Keep your kids busy and active this summer by signing them up now for 4-H camp. There are several options available for 4th-8th graders.

Junior camp is for anyone in 4th-6th grade and takes place at Clyde York 4-H center in Crossville. This camp will take place June 6th-10th. It features shooting sports, arts and crafts, swimming and a water slide, canoeing and kayaking, sports and games, and much more! Cost is $290 which includes all meals, room & board, transportation, t-shirt, and activities. Registration deadline is May 18th.

Junior High camp also takes place in Crossville, May 30-June 3rd. It is available for 7th & 8th graders. The theme this year is “The Amazing Race: Tennessee 4-H Style” and will feature fun challenges and contests, zip line, ultimate Frisbee, along with the traditional camp activities of junior camp. Cost is $290 and includes everything besides transportation. Registration deadline is May 1st.

Electric camp is open to 6th and 7th graders and takes place at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. It will be held June 28-July 1st. Campers learn about electricity and energy through fun, hands-on activities. They also get to visit Dollywood! Cost is $265, and includes transportation, boarding at UT, meals, and activities. Sign up by May 1st.

Line and design camp is for 6th-8th graders and will be held July 12-14th at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. Activities include arts and crafts, sewing, shopping, and more! Cost is $125, but transportation is not included. Register by June 1st.

“Tennessee 4-H camps are an opportunity for youth to explore their relationship with the world around them while at the same time having loads of fun. Tennessee 4-H camps allow youth to “learn by doing,” through 4-H’s experiential learning method of 'Do, Reflect, and Apply.' Youth are engaged and involved from the time they arrive to the time they depart,” said Daniel Sarver, a youth development specialist with University of Tennessee Extension.

For more information and to register for camp, please stop by the UT/TSU Extension office located in County Complex or call 615-597-4945. 4-H is a proud part of UT/TSU Extension, the UT Institute of Agriculture, and the TSU Cooperative Extension Program. UT/TSU Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment through the cooperation of county, state, and federal governments.

DCHS to get New Gym Floor

April 15, 2016
Dwayne Page

It's 53 years old. It's been refinished several times. But signs of age have begun to show in the DCHS gymnasium floor and recently school officials learned it was termite infested. So the old floor will soon be replaced with a new one.

The Board of Education Thursday night authorized Director of Schools Patrick Cripps to get a company to do the project.

Cripps told the board that while there have been issues with the gym floor, the termite problem was not known until recently. "We actually thought it was a moisture issue. We had a company come in and when they cut the floor open down on one end termites started flying everywhere. The moisture from the termites is starting to cause warpage of the floor. It's now on the playing surface and getting worse. We have sanded it down as much as we could and put wood filler in but it is not in good shape. It's especially not in playing shape," said Cripps.

The estimated cost to replace the gym floor is $153,000 but Cripps said money is available in the school system's capital outlay fund to cover it.

"We had a couple of people come in and look at the floor and give us prices on what products they could give us. The floor has been there since 1963. It has never been changed (replaced). I think the last time they screened it down they said that would be the last time they could because they were just about down to the nail heads on it," said Cripps.

"For the safety of our kids and having a nice product, I believe this is needed. I don't want anyone to think we're putting athletics before education. That is not the case here. We have to look at a safety issue with our kids and the possibility that somebody could get hurt playing ball. The money will come out of our capital outlay fund. That money is used for projects such as this to enhance the building. It will not come out of any teacher line item in the budget or anything like that. It (capital outlay fund) is designated for the upkeep of our buildings," Cripps said.


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