Local News Articles

Powerful Thunderstorm Hits DeKalb County Hard

August 20, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tree falls on top of Don Turner's home on Earl Avenue in Smithville causing extensive damage to the roof
Metal roof blown off Smithville Business Doc's Detail Shop on Bryant Street (Photo by Ken Underhill)
Metal Roof Blown Off Doc's Detail Shop on Bryant Street (Photo by Ken Underhill)
Don Turner covers his car after a tree fell on it breaking the rear window

Powerful winds from a severe thunderstorm caused widespread damage across DeKalb County Wednesday afternoon with downed trees and power lines in various locations.

Central dispatch received more than one hundred calls in the aftermath of the storm. No injuries were reported.

Due to the storm, students were kept at school for about an hour longer than normal for their safety.

Most of the damage was due to trees which had been uprooted or fallen in yards and across roads and utility lines. Some structure damage was also reported at several places.

In Smithville a tree fell onto the home of Don Turner on Earl Avenue causing extensive damage to the roof. Turner's car parked near the house was damaged and the rear window broken out from the fallen tree.

The metal roof on the building that houses Doc's Detail Shop on East Bryant Street in Smithville was blown off.

Roof damage was reported at Triple A Coatings in Smithville

High winds caused damage to the home of Victor and Debbie McMillen on Lower Helton Road near Alexandria.

Firefighters, utility crews, state and county highway department workers, and others were dispatched to the affected areas, many of them using chainsaws to remove trees which had blocked roads.

(VIDEO BELOW SHOWS COUNTY FIREFIGHTERS USING CHAINSAWS TO REMOVE TREE ACROSS DEARMAN STREET OFF BRIGHT HILL ROAD)

Arrest Expected in Convenience Market Burglary

August 20, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police have theft and burglary charges pending against a suspect in a burglary last month at the On The Way Convenience Market on South Congress Boulevard.

Chief Randy Caplinger said the suspect broke the glass out of the front door of the business overnight on July 16 and stole some $3,100 in lottery tickets and cigarettes. An officer later drove by and noticed the front door glass had been knocked out.

The suspect is incarcerated on separate charges in Warren County. He has not yet been served with the warrants in this case.

29 year old Melinda Murphy is charged with two counts of forgery. Her bond is $10,000. Chief Caplinger said that Murphy allegedly passed forged checks in the amounts of $230 and $200 on the same victim at Region's Bank on July 16.

52 year old John Griswold of Nashville is charged with driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while under the influence. His bond is $3,000. Chief Caplinger said police were called to 825 North Congress Boulevard on July 24 on a report of a person passed out at the wheel of a parked vehicle. The responding officer found the driver passed out in the automobile with keys in the ignition. The officer awoke the driver, Griswold and spoke with him. Griswold said he was going from Collierville to Nashville and didn't know where he was. Griswold submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and he was disoriented and unsteady on his feet. Griswold told the officer that he had taken a narcotic pill earlier. He was arrested and taken to the hospital where he submitted to blood alcohol test. During the arrest, a handgun was found in his possession.

29 year old Michael Snyders is charged with theft over $1,000. His bond is $10,000. Chief Caplinger said that Snyders allegedly stole a 1999 Dodge Dakota Sport Truck from a Fall Creek Drive residence July 24 and wrecked it on Dry Creek Road.

34 year old Germain Aldino is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger said that Aldino allegedly assaulted his girl friend on August 2 at a residence on Short Mountain Street by throwing a 2 x 4 at her. He then got in her vehicle and drove away. Aldino was later found at another residence.

60 year old Larry Wayne Linder is cited for vandalism. Chief Caplinger said that on July 17 an officer was called to Federal Mogul where the owner of a vehicle reported that someone had scratched his automobile. Linder was identified as a suspect after officials viewed video from a surveillance camera. Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $700

28 year old Michael London is charged with theft. Chief Caplinger said that on July 16 an officer was called to Walmart on a shoplifting complaint. An employee said London was caught stealing property. When confronted, London allegedly admitted to stealing the items.

20 year old David Tyler Hutchings is cited for shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia. Chief Caplinger said that on July 16, Hutchings was observed at Walmart putting merchandise in his pants and walking out. Walmart Associates stopped Hutchings and he allegedly admitted taking the item. Police also found a used syringe in his pocket.

25 year old Joe Nathan Corbin of Huntsville, Alabama is cited for theft under $500. Chief Caplinger said that on July 24, police were called to O'Reilly Auto Parts to investigate the theft of stolen parts from the store. The responding officer received consent to search Corbin's car and found the parts. Corbin allegedly claimed that he had bought three parts at O'Reilly's and then stole three of the same kind of parts from the store. He later used his receipt to return the three parts he had purchased to get his cash back.

36 year old April Lee Hollingsworth is cited for simple possession of a schedule II drug (meth). Chief Caplinger said that on July 29, police were called to a residence on West Main Street to investigate a complaint of drug traffic at the house. The officer received consent to search from the owner and inside the bathroom closet, he found a pyrex dish with about three grams of a white powdery substance believed to be meth. The powder field tested positive as meth. According to Chief Caplinger, Hollingsworth admitted that the dish belonged to her and that the dish contained meth.

Motorists Urged to Use Caution Around School Buses

August 20, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

The most dangerous part of a school bus ride is getting on and off and if motorists don't stop for buses when they're supposed to the potential for a tragic accident increases.

Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System, said he is concerned that too many motorists are speeding, following buses too closely, and failing to stop when school bus lights and stop signs are deployed as students get off and on buses on roads, including four lane highways. Sprague said local and state law enforcement officers will occasionally be on board some of the buses to watch for violators.

"A major concern is on the four laned Highway 70. This road is considered a driveable median and when that bus activates its stop sign and red lights, all four lanes east bound and west bound do have to stop. They don't proceed on until the stop sign is pulled in and the lights are off and the bus is proceeding on. When that happens, vehicles can move along also," said Sprague.

The penalty for passing a stopped school bus is a class-A misdemeanor with fines ranging from $250 up to $1,000.

Tennessee law requires that:

Vehicles must stop before reaching a bus that has its flashing red warning lights and/or stop signal arm extended (B). Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.

Vehicles traveling in the same and opposite direction as the bus on an undivided road are always required to stop. (The four lane Highway 70 is an undivided highway and all motorists traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus stops to pick up and drop off children)

Vehicles traveling on a divided, or separated, highway do not have to stop when meeting or passing a bus on the other side of the road.

Drivers never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.

Don't tailgate a school bus. Follow at a safe distance.

Meanwhile after school programs have begun and for some students that means getting home later in the day. Sprague is asking parents of these students to be patient as bus drivers become familiar with the after school routes. "We'll get them home safely. Just bear with us because everybody is learning our routes on the After School Program. Please be patient. As we get further into it, the times will get better and be more consistent," said Sprague.

Alexandria Woman Dies in Wreck at Liberty

August 19, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sarah Clark
2009 Toyota Camry driven by 36 year old Sarah Clark
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV driven by 41 year old Jeanne McMillan of Walling

Heavy rains Tuesday morning on Highway 70 at Liberty may have contributed to a traffic accident that claimed the life of a 36 year old Alexandria woman.

Dead is Sarah Clark.

Trooper Tommy Cooper of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Clark was driving east in a 2009 Toyota Camry when, according to a witness, the car hydroplaned during heavy rains and crossed into the westbound lanes and into the path of a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, driven by 41 year old Jeanne McMillan of Walling. The SUV struck the Toyota Camry in the passenger side. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts

McMillan was taken by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was treated and released.

Clark was employed at the office of Dr. Cliff Duke, DDS in Smithville and she was apparently on her way to work when the accident occurred.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Extrication Team were summoned to the scene to help remove the victims. The Liberty Station also responded along with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Trooper Cooper was assisted by Trooper Bobby Johnson and Trooper Christopher Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol

Jim Sherwood Attends Space Camp

August 19, 2014
Jim Sherwood Reaches New Heights at Space Camp
Crew Von Tiesenhausen – Commander’s Cup winners

Jim Sherwood of Smithville recently attended SPACE CAMP at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, home of SPACE CAMP and NASA's official Visitor Information Center for Marshall Space Flight Center. The weeklong educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students and adults with hands-on activities and missions based on team work, leadership and decision-making. Jim successfully completed the requirements and earned an Engineering college credit from the University of Alabama, Huntsville.

Jim was part of the Advanced Space Academy Program, which is specifically designed for high school trainees who have a particular interest in aerospace. He spent the week training with a team that flew a simulated Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Once aboard the ISS, the crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or space walk.

Jim and crew returned to earth in time to hear retired Space Shuttle astronaut Col. Bob Springer speak at their graduation! Throughout the week, points were awarded for individual and team challenges in scientific knowledge, athletics, leadership and teamwork. Jim's team was elated when the announcement came at graduation that they had won the Commander's Cup, the award presented to the team with the highest score for the week.

SPACE CAMP crew trainers who lead each 16-member team must have at least a year of college, and the majority of staff are college graduates.

SPACE CAMP operates year-round in Huntsville, Alabama, and uses astronaut training techniques to engage trainees in real-world applications of STEM subjects. Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA. More than 600,000 trainees have graduated from SPACE CAMP since its opening in Huntsville in 1982, including STS-131 astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.
Last year, children and teacher from all 50 states and 58 international locations attended SPACE CAMP. Jim attended during International Week. He met high school students from all over the United States and had team members from England, Belgium and Mexico.

Interested in training like an astronaut? Visit www.spacecamp.com or call 1-800-63 SPACE.

Man Charged in Multiple Thefts of Rebar from Nursery

August 18, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Dallas McMillen, Jr.
Orry Joseph Savage
Paul Cox Herron, Jr.
David Royden Drennan
James Grady Warner, Jr.

A Smithville man has been charged with stealing rebar from Pirtles Nursery on five occasions and selling it at a local recycling business.

66 year James Dallas McMillen, Jr. of Bright Hill Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property under $500, theft over $500, and three counts of theft over $1,000. His bond totals $19,500 and he will be in court August 28.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, McMillen is accused of stealing rebar from Pirtles Nursery in the following amounts and on these dates: 360 pounds (in one incident) and 1,140 pounds (in a second incident) on Wednesday, August 13; 880 pounds (in one incident) and 1,380 pounds (in a second incident) on Thursday, August 14; and 1,100 pounds on Friday, August 15.

Orry Joseph Savage of Jefferson Road, Smithville is charged with being a fugitive from justice. His bond is $50,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, August 11 Savage was arrested on charges from Russell County, Kentucky for theft by deception-include cold checks $10,000 and persistent felony offender.

67 year old Paul Cox Herron, Jr. is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. He was further issued a citation for driving on roadways laned for traffic. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on September 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, August 12 a deputy spotted a gray Honda Accord leave its lane of travel, crossing the white line onto the shoulder of the roadway. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Herron and found him to have a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person. His speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. Herron allegedly admitted to drinking four beers. He submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest.

49 year old David Royden Drennan of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with violation of the sex offender law for not registering as required and for not reporting that he had changed jobs. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court August 21. Sheriff Ray said Drennan was supposed to have registered as a sex offender no later than July 6 but that as of August 12, he still had not done so. The TBI called the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and requested a warrant be taken out against Drennan for failure to report as required by the sexual offender registry.

50 year old James Grady Warner, Jr. of Lonnie Cantrell Road, Smithville is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $15,000 and he will be in court August 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 15 Warner allegedly assaulted his wife by grabbing her by the throat and he threw her on the ground, resulting in a knot on the back of her head. He also allegedly hit her in the face which resulted in a knot on her forehead. Physical markings could be seen on the woman's throat area where Warner had tried to strangle her. A minor child was in the home at the time and witnessed the assault. When placed under arrest, Warner became very angry and told his wife "I will be back and you will pay for this".

48 year old Douglas Ray Ferrell of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court August 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 15 a deputy was dispatched to Dale Ridge Road for a possible domestic. Upon arrival, the officer found Ferrell in the road yelling. Other deputies had responded to the same address three times that day to deal with Ferrell. He had gone to his neighbor's house where he harassed and annoyed them asking for rides to go get more beer. Ferrell had a strong odor of alcohol on him and he was unsteady on his feet. For his safety and that of the public, Ferrell was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Enrollment Up in School System from Last August

August 18, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

Enrollment in the DeKalb County School System is up by fifty four students over last year at this time.

Total enrollment, as of Monday, August 18, was 3,034 compared to 2,980 last year on the third Monday of the school year, according to Joey Reeder, Attendance Supervisor.

"We're up by fifty four students county wide from where we were a year ago. Of course, this is an ever changing number and it will be changing daily from now until probably after Labor Day. Usually it's the Monday after Labor Day before you get numbers firmed up about who has moved in and moved out," Reeder said in an interview with WJLE.

DeKalb County High School (grades 9-12) has 844 students, an increase of twenty two students over one year ago.
DCHS Enrollment breaks down as follows:
Ninth graders:237
Tenth graders: 228
Eleventh graders: 179
Twelfth graders: 198

Enrollment at DeKalb Middle School ( grades 6-8) is 549, down by twenty four students from last August.
DMS Enrollment breaks down as follows:
Sixth graders: 170
Seventh graders: 182
Eighth graders: 197

Northside Elementary School's enrollment (grades 2-5) is 632, up by forty two students from last year at this time.
NE Enrollment breaks down as follows:
Second graders: 78
Third graders: 192
Fourth graders:182
Fifth graders: 181

Smithville Elementary School (Pre-K through 2nd grade) has 610 students, a decrease of four students from a year ago.
SES Enrollment breaks down as follows:
Pre-Kindergarten (4 year olds): 77
Pre-Kindergarten (3 year olds) 5
Kindergarten: 174
First graders: 216
Second graders: 138

Enrollment at DeKalb West School (Pre-K through 8th grade) is exactly the same as a year ago at 397 students.
DWS Enrollment breaks down as follows:
Pre-Kindergarten (4 year olds): 20
Kindergarten: 40
First graders: 27
Second graders: 49
Third graders:48
Fourth graders:42
Fifth graders:45
Sixth graders:43
Seventh graders:43
Eighth graders:40

Reeder explained that the big jump at Northside Elementary School is because a new second grade class has been added there.

Although there is no overcrowding at the elementary level, Reeder said the second grade is coming pretty close. Currently there are eleven second grade classes at Smithville Elementary and Northside Elementary combined with a total of 220 students or twenty per class. Reeder said there could be a drop off of second grade students if families move away due to the closing of Berry Nursery. "We are right at our peak with the second grade (Northside and Smithville Elementary). We're waiting to see if anybody leaves. One thing that has us concerned is with the closing of Berry Nursery, we really don't have any idea what that is going to do to our numbers. We don't know if a lot of those families are going to relocate or stay here. That's several families and quite a few kids so we really don't know yet how that will affect our numbers. We're almost to the point where we need an additional second grade teacher but if you hire a teacher and you have ten second graders move away than you're way under," Reeder told WJLE.

Meanwhile a portable classroom facility has been moved from DeKalb West School to DCHS to create space there for a math and special education class where teachers previously didn't have a room to themselves. The portable houses two classrooms. "The big problem at the high school is that we don't have enough classrooms for all the teachers we have. There are a lot of teachers that have to use other people's classrooms on their planning period. That's not ideal but they work through it," said Reeder.

Reeder encourages students to be in school on time every day when classes are in session. "According to Tennessee state law, once you miss five unexcused days in a school year you are considered truant. Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II has been a big friend to education. He realizes the importance of education and he wants all our students in school. He has been a big help," said Reeder.

"We have a website www.dekalbschools.net with an attendance page that answers your questions about truancy and getting your driver's license or if you lose those license because of absences or lack of academic progress, what you have to do in order to get those driver's licenses back. Our website is really informative. You can find out a lot there about all of our programs. I encourage people to use that. A lot of times people want to pick up the phone and call the school to ask questions. Now you can go straight to that website and more than likely get your questions answered," said Reeder.

Meanwhile, local businesses are urged to help promote the school system's "READ 20 INITIATIVE" by displaying signs at their establishments. "Anybody with a business interested in putting a sign in front of their business may call 597-4084 and we'll get you a sign," said Reeder.

Lady Tigers Sweep on Pre-Season Play Day

August 18, 2014
by: 
Coach K
Lady Tigers Champs!
DCHS Lady Tiger Soccer Team

The Lady Tigers opened their season on Saturday with a bang. 21 seconds into the Annual DeKalb County Preseason Play day, “Bang”, Hailey Bass drives a shot into the back post of the goal off of a well-played assist from Jerica Braswell. Just like that, the season begins, and the Lady
Tigers are up 1-0 on the Cannon County Lionettes. Like clockwork, the execution of the Lady Tiger midfield composed of Taylor Spare, Brooke Roller, Haley Summers, Kamien Sparks, and Jerica Braswell would find forward Hailey Bass in front of the goal again in the 6th and 7th minutes. With three goals in the first 7 minutes, Hailey Bass completed the “hat trick”, and the Lady Tigers went on to win 5-0 over Cannon County on goals by Jerica Braswell and Angeles Soto.

The DeKalb County Preseason Play day consisted of four teams; Cannon County, Watertown, White County, and the home squad DeKalb County. Each team played four 40 min. matches in a round robin format. Then a second match was played between the bottom two teams and then the top two teams.

In their second match, the Lady Tigers faced White County. The Lady Warriors jumped out to an early lead off of a well hit shot by White County’s Autumn Ferree. However this goal would be the only one the Lady Tigers would give up on the day. With hard work, the home team won their second match 3-1 on goals scored by Alexis Nokes (14th minute), Haley Summers (29th minute), and Angeles Soto (36th minute).

The third match would be against the new upstart team of Watertown, and would prove to be a good opportunity for the Lady Tigers to work on formation and get good experience for some young players. The DeKalb squad would win 8-0 on goals by Jerica Braswell, Lydia Trail, Jessica Billings, Angeles Soto (2), and three by freshman Jhoany Gaspar.

The final match of the day would have DeKalb County facing White County again. The Lady Tigers continued to flex their goal scoring muscles finishing with a 4-0 victory, and wrapping up a very successful preseason undefeated. Goals were scored by Jerica Braswell (8th minute), Hailey Bass (9th minute), Angeles Soto (28th minute), and Jerica Braswell (38th minute).

Overall, the DeKalb Soccer Program showed strength in several areas. With the strong defense of Jackie Overbey, Morgan Odom, Hannah James, and captain Savannah Driver, the Lady Tigers only conceded 1 goal on the day. Both goalkeepers, Katie Hall and Jessica Billings, showed strong performances throughout the play day. The midfield pressed hard on their opponents putting pressure on defenses, setting up scoring chances, and even scoring a few goals of their own. Finally, with a score line of 20 goals scored in the equivalent of two full matches, the forwards played excellently.

The Lady Tigers are looking forward to their upcoming match Tuesday 6:30 at home against Mt. Juliet Christian.

School System Reports Twenty Three Incidents of Bullying Last Year

August 17, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

Twenty three incidents of bullying were reported in the DeKalb County School System during the 2013-14 year. Eleven of those cases were confirmed according to Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder.

In compliance with state law and board policy, Reeder updated the DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night on bullying statistics in the school system. " From last year's data we had twenty three reports from people who said they had been bullied. After an investigation only eleven of those were considered to be bullying. We had four bullying cases that involved sex or gender based discrimination. We had one bullying case that involved the use of electronic technology," he said.

Reeder gave credit to school administrators and staff for identifying and reporting cases of bullying. "We have a bullying/harassment policy in compliance with state law. Teachers and school counselors have had information on prevention and strategies to address bullying and harassment when it happens. Our administrators have done a real good job of training on bullying. They did a real good job last year of deciphering what is and is not bullying," said Reeder.

Under the school board's policy, Bullying/Intimidation/Harassment is defined as "An act that substantially interferes with a student's educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, and the act has the effect of:

*Physically harming a student or damaging a student's property;
*Knowingly placing a student or students in reasonable fear of physical harm to the student or damage to the student's property:
*Causing emotional distress to a student or students; or
*Creating a hostile educational environment.

Bullying, intimidation, or harassment may also be unwelcome conduct based on a protected class (race, nationality, origin, color, gender, age, disability, religion) that is severe, pervasive, or persistent and creates a hostile environment.

Cyber-bullying is defined as a form of bullying undertaken through the use of electronic devices. Electronic devices include, but are not limited to, telephones. cellular phones or other wireless telecommunication devices, text messaging, emails, social networking sites, instant messaging, videos, web sites, or fake profiles.

Hazing is defined as an intentional or reckless act by a student or group of students that is directed against any other students that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of the students or that induces or coerces a student to endanger his/her mental or physical health or safety. Coaches and other employees of the school district shall not encourage, permit, condone or tolerate hazing activities.

Hazing does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions and is limited to those actions taken and situations created in connection with initiation into or affiliation with any organization".

Complaints and Investigations:
"Alleged victims of offenses shall report these incidents immediately to a teacher, counselor or building administrator. All school employees are required to report alleged violations of this policy to the principal/designee. All other members of the school community, including students, parents, volunteers, and visitors are encouraged to report any act that may be a violation of this policy.

While reports may be made anonymously, an individual's need for confidentiality must be balanced with obligations to cooperate with police investigations or legal proceedings, to provide due process to the accused, to conduct a thorough investigation or to take necessary actions to resolve a complaint, and the identity of parties and witnesses may be disclosed in appropriate circumstances to individuals with a need to know.

The principal/designee at each school shall be responsible for investigating and resolving complaints and is responsible for determining whether an alleged act constitutes a violation of this policy, and such act shall be held to violate this policy when it meets one of the following conditions:

*It places the student in reasonable fear of harm for the student's person or property;
*It has a substantially detrimental effect on the student's physical or mental health;
*It has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's academic performance; or
*It has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

Upon the determination of a violation, the principal/designee shall conduct a prompt, thorough, and complete investigation of each alleged incident. Within the parameters of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a written report on the investigation will be delivered to the parents of the complainant, parents of the accused students and to the Director of Schools.

Response and Prevention:
School administrators shall consider the nature and circumstances of the incident, the age of the violator, the degree of harm, previous incidences or patterns of behavior, or any other factors, as appropriate to properly respond to each situation.

A substantiated charge against an employee shall result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. A substantiated charge against a student may result in corrective or disciplinary action up to and including suspension.

An employee disciplined for violation of this policy may appeal the decision by contacting the Compliance Officer. Any student disciplined for violation of this policy may appeal the decision in accordance with disciplinary policies and procedures."

DCHS Girls Soccer Team Seeks to Keep Assistant Coach

August 17, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Brooke Roller

A member of the DCHS girls soccer team addressed the Board of Education Thursday night asking that long time unpaid assistant coach Rhonda Merriman be kept as a paid assistant.

Brooke Roller, a DCHS senior and member of the soccer team, delivered a brief prepared statement in support of Merriman. "From our understanding it has been approved for us to have a paid assistant coach. Rhonda Merriman has been our unpaid assistant coach for about the last six years. Now that we have been approved to have an assistant coach, we have chosen Ms. Rhonda. We have been informed that it cannot be allowed for her to take that position. It has been said that she is not fit to work with kids. She is a guidance counselor at DCHS and also a youth pastor at her church and has coached soccer for many years. I have had a rough few months and without her help I could have made some really bad decisions. She isn't just a coach to many of us on the team. We love having her on the field with us. We are all very close to her. We also understand that perhaps it is the configuring of how to pay her because she is paid differently than most teachers. We have personally hired a lawyer to do that math for the board. In addition to that our current head coach, Dylan Kleparek has researched and discovered that multiple other high schools in the state of Tennessee have assistant coaches who are not teachers at the school just like Ms. Rhonda. Also for us girls we have things that we can't handle with Coach K. because he is a male and we are females so it makes it a lot easier for us having Ms. Rhonda around. I just feel our team would benefit very much by having her because she is a wonderful person," said Roller.

The new school budget includes funding for additional coaching supplements including two DCHS assistant soccer coaches (one for the girls team and one for the boys team) totaling $5,570.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, who has the sole authority to hire personnel in the school system, has apparently not yet named an assistant coach but refutes any notion that Merriman is unfit to be around kids. "Ms. Rhonda is an excellent person. She is outstanding. If she were not fit, she wouldn't be at the high school. She is an excellent person. I just want to make that point. But I have not named her as an assistant coach," said Willoughby.

Merriman is a member of the support staff at DeKalb County High School.

Pages

Follow Us


facebook.jpg

News Feed
feed.png

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree