Local News Articles

Woman Injured in Rollover Crash

January 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Officers at Scene of Car Crash on Short Mountain Highway
Woman Injured in Car Wreck

A 26 year old Smithville woman was injured in a one car crash Wednesday afternoon on Highway 146 near Short Mountain Mini-Storage.

Central dispatch received the call at 4:26 p.m.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Amanda Washer was traveling north in a 2003 Mitsubishi Galant when the car went off the right side of the road, struck a culvert, and overturned coming to rest on its wheels. Washer was ejected from the car. She was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Washer told Trooper Johnson that she took her eyes off the road when she reached to pick up a lighter. She was cited for not wearing her seatbelt and for failure to maintain her lane of travel.

Members of the Short Mountain Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with officers of the Sheriff's Department.

Undercover Drug Operation Results in Grand Jury Indictments Against Sixty Four Persons

January 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Deputy Andy Taylor, Kenneth "Kenny" Bain, Jr., and Deputy Tyler Patterson
Deputy Colt Stewart and Drug Defendant Emily Claire Anderson
Drug defendant James "Jim" Walters and Deputy Brian Williams

A three month long undercover drug investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department resulted in grand jury indictments against sixty four people on Monday, January 13.

(CLICK PDF LINK TO READ NAMES OF DRUG DEFENDANTS ARRESTED WEDNESDAY AND THEIR CHARGES)
news1-8-14defendants.pdf (51.18 KB)

Most of the defendants were arrested Wednesday and brought to the Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department on King Ridge Road where they were booked.

"My Department and I started this undercover drug operation around the middle of September and stopped it close to the middle of December," said Sheriff Patrick Ray.

"On Monday January 13th, my Drug Detectives and I met with the DeKalb County Grand Jury for the purpose of seeking indictments on 63 drug dealers here in DeKalb County. We presented a total of 112 controlled drug buys to the DeKalb County Grand Jury. There was also an additional drug indictment on another person for a methamphetamine lab. So the total number of Drug Defendants is 64," he said..

Some of the defendants charged in the drug sting are employees of local businesses. " There were three businesses on West Broad Street in Smithville where we were able to conduct controlled drug buys. We had been receiving citizen complaints of drug sales and drug abuse from one business in particular where we made arrests today. We were able to conduct 12 different controlled drug buys from 6 different employees who worked at this business," said Sheriff Ray.

(SHOWN IN VIDEO BELOW: CORRECTIONAL OFFICER ERNIE HARGIS WITH DRUG DEFENDANT LAWRENCE SCOTT YOUNG WEARING LIGHT BLUE SHIRT AND DETECTIVE ROBERT PATRICK WITH DRUG DEFENDANT CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL PRINCE WEARING DARK JACKET)

"As for the other two businesses on West Broad Street, we were able to conduct four different controlled drug buys from two employees at one business, and two different controlled drug buys from one employee at the other business. In addition, we made one controlled drug buy from an employee at a business on McMinnville Highway. And lastly, we conducted three different controlled drug buy operations from an owner of a business on Holiday Haven Drive," he continued.

Sheriff Ray would not reveal the names of the businesses since in most cases there was no evidence that the owners were aware of the drug activity taking place there.

According to the Sheriff, a variety of drugs were purchased through this three month investigation from individuals across the county. "Through these controlled drug buys, we were able to purchase many different types of drugs. We purchased Dilaudid, Morphine, Opana, Roxycodone, Percocet, Hydocodone, Suboxone Strips, Suboxone Pills, Adderall, Valium, Xanax, Subutex, Ecstasy, Crack Cocaine, and Marijuana. The majority of the drugs bought were prescription pain killers.
These controlled drug buys were spread all across the county," he said.

"Some of the controlled buys were conducted in drug free zones. A drug free zone is property such as parks, day cares, schools, libraries, or any where that is designated for children or where children can gather. The zone extends 1,000 feet from the property line of these places. When a drug dealer arranges for a drug buy to take place within these zones, we as law enforcement can charge the drug dealer with the drug free zone charge. The punishment for illegal drug transactions conducted in a drug free zone enhances the charges and penalties and could result in the defendants having to serve longer sentences and paying higher fines," said Sheriff Ray.

In addition to the arrests, Sheriff Ray said efforts will be made to seize vehicles used in the delivery of the drugs. "Out of this operation, we expect to seize at least 10 vehicles that drug dealers used in the transport and sale of illegal drugs," he said.

Sheriff Ray expressed his appreciation to all those who were involved in the investigation. "I want to thank my Detectives and Deputies for the hard work that they have done in planning and implementing this operation. An extensive amount of time was dedicated to every phase of this significant operation," he said.

"As a result of these efforts, DeKalb County’s citizens are safer and these defendants now have the opportunity to face the consequences of their wrong and, hopefully, make a commitment to not making these mistakes again. And probably the most positive impact of this operation is the undisputed fact that, as of today, the availability of illegal drugs in DeKalb County has been drastically slashed," added Sheriff Ray.

"I also want to thank District Attorney General Randy York, Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong, and their Secretary Melissa Lewis, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, DeKalb County 911 Dispatch, Officers from the State of Tennessee Probation and Parole, and the DeKalb County Fire Department for allowing us to use their facility as part of this operation," Sheriff Ray concluded .

Legislation Filed to Stop ObamaCare in Tennessee

January 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Representative Mark Pody
State Senator Mae Beavers

State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Mark Pody announced Wednesday that they will sponsor a bill to resist implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Tennessee. Based on similar legislation already introduced in Georgia, the Tennessee Health Care Freedom and ACA Noncompliance Act would prohibit any cooperation by the state or its agencies in implementing or administering the federal health care program commonly referred to as ObamaCare.

The lawmakers say the bill rests on the legal foundation known as the anti-commandeering doctrine in which Printz v. US serves as the cornerstone.

“The federal government does not have constitutional authority to commandeer state and local governments to enforce or implement these federal healthcare mandates,” said Senator Beavers. “It’s time that Tennessee says no to assisting them in the implementation of this disastrous program. This legislation takes a very strong stand to resist this federal overreach of power.”

“This action, especially in conjunction with similar steps being taken in other states, has the effect of nullifying ObamaCare,” added Rep. Pody. “If the feds cannot even build an appropriate website or keep their promises to consumers, they will be extremely hard-pressed to implement the other provisions for this program within our boundaries.”
Beavers’ and Pody’s legislation:

•directs that no powers, assets, employees, agents or contractors of the state or its local government subdivisions, including higher education institutions, can be used to implement or administer the federal health care program;

•bans Obamacare healthcare exchanges in the state;

•prohibits local governments in Tennessee from participating in or purchasing insurance from an ObamaCare health insurance exchange;

•provides that any health insurance contracts purchased in violation shall be void in a court of law in Tennessee; and

•empowers the General Assembly to enact sanctions, fines and penalties for violation of the proposed law and gives the state’s Attorney General the right to file a lawsuit against violators;

"The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-bycase weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty," said Mike Maharrey, National Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, which assisted in drafting the bill.

“There is no question that this bill sits on sound legal footing,” Maharrey said. “So, let’s focus the debate on whether or not the people of Tennessee want Obamacare. After witnessing the website debacle, watching people who wanted to keep their insurance lose it and knowing that’s only the beginning of the government-created chaos to come, I’m guessing they don’t.”

“We are a sovereign state,” Beavers and Pody continued. “We have the constitutional authority to refuse to use our state dollars and personnel to implement this disastrous federal law. We look forward to presenting this bill as soon as possible and believe it has an excellent chance for passage.”

Most DUD Water Customers to See Rates Rise by 42%

January 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Most DUD Water Customers to See Rates Rise by 42%

Most DeKalb Utility District customers can expect a 42% increase in their water rates thanks to the City of Smithville's hefty rate increase to the utility, according to DUD officials.

In a letter to subscribers Tuesday, January 14, Board of Directors and Management of the DeKalb Utility District have announced that rates to customers who receive water purchased by the DUD from the city will be increased by 42% or $4.30 per thousand gallons effective with the January billing.

DUD officials say the increase is necessary to help offset the 144% rate increase the City imposed on the DUD effective January 1. The DUD must now pay the city $5.00 per thousand gallons, an increase from the rate of $2.05 per thousand gallons the DUD had been paying for the last year until its water purchase agreement with the city expired.

In the letter to subscribers, DUD officials say they are considering options in challenging the city's new rate.

The letter to customers reads as follows:

"The City Council of Smithville has unanimously voted to increase the rate for water sold to DUD from the current rate of $2.05 per thousand gallons to the rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons which equals a 144% increase effective January 1, 2014".

"This increase was imposed even though no additional expense was incurred by the City in producing water and delivering it to DUD. Further, the City indicated that this rate is subject to being increased again in July".

"DUD is now forced, due to the actions of the Smithville City Council, to increase our rates. We therefore provide notice that beginning with the January billing that an increase of $4.30 per thousand gallons (42% increase) will be assessed to our customers who receive water purchased from Smithville. DUD is mindful of the impact an increase has on its customers and is making every effort to keep the increase as minimal as possible. While this increase does not totally cover the increased cost imposed by the City, it should be sufficient while DUD is considering its options to challenge the rate".

"We appreciate your patience and understanding as we make every effort to provide you quality water at a reasonable price. The actions of Smithville provide a prime example why DeKalb Utility customers need their own water treatment plant so that others will not possess such random pricing power. Indeed, DUD continues with plans to construct a water treatment plant in order to permanently avoid this situation in the future".

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen met in special session Thursday night, December 12 at city hall to set the new rate for the DUD once the old contract expired December 31. The new rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons established for DUD is the same rate that city customers pay for water.

For the last decade, the DUD had been under contract with the city to purchase water at a rate which had increased by five cents per thousand gallons each year starting at $1.60 per thousand gallons in 2004 and ending up at $2.05 per thousand gallons in 2013.

Proposals for a new deal were presented by both sides in the months prior to the expiration of the contract but the parties could not reach an agreement.

In the last proposal, DUD commissioners offered to enter into a new ten year contract with the city and pay $2.67 per thousand gallons for the first five years and $2.80 per thousand gallons for the remaining five years. But they were unwilling to adhere to the city's request to give up plans to build a DUD water treatment plant and agree to minimum purchase amounts from the city for the next ten years. While not taking a vote on the DUD proposal, the aldermen clearly were opposed to it.

Several months ago the city hired Warren and Associates to do a water cost study. Their findings were that it cost the city $2.67 per thousand gallons to produce water. That's the same rate as the DUD proposed to pay in the first five years of a new contract with the city.

However during the December 12 meeting, the city's financial consultant, Janice Plemmons-Jackson advised the aldermen against locking in the rate for five years with costs likely to rise. "Every year your cost is going to continue to go up. To lock in one rate for five years, unless you're getting a high rate on the front end doesn't make sense," she said.

Jackson added that the results of Warren's cost study, done months ago, may already be out of date. "Those were probably 2012 numbers and we're already at the end of 2013 going into 2014. You have had some cost increases so the rate that was good at the time of the cost study is probably not the rate you're now spending to produce the water. That's an old number," she said.

At the December 12th meeting with no new agreement between the city and DUD, all five aldermen voted in favor of a motion to set the new DUD rate at $5.00 per thousand gallons.

The rate took effect January 1 and is be re-evaluated by the mayor and aldermen next summer during budget preparations for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which begins July 1. "The rate will be established in the budget by ordinance and it can be re-evaluated with the new budget July 1. Instead of doing a contract, the rate may now be voted on each year by the board in the budget ordinance," said City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson.

Wheeler Arrested After Pursuit and Scuffle with Police Officers

January 14, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lonnie Wheeler

After a pursuit and a scuffle with officers, a Smithville man was taken into custody Monday evening and charged with evading arrest, DUI, unlawful possession of a weapon, resisting arrest, assault, and vandalism.

37 year old Lonnie Wheeler is under a $12,000 bond and will appear in court on February 13.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE that the incident began around 5:30 p.m. Monday as Officer Chip Avera and Corporal Travis Bryant were dispatched to break up a fight in progress on Kendra Drive. While police were enroute, the suspect got in his automobile and left the scene. After spotting the vehicle on Mountain Street near the Covenant Baptist Church, the officers activated their blue lights. But instead of pulling over, the suspect accelerated and led police on a pursuit down Mountain Street to Bryant Street. As the vehicle tried to turn onto Fisher Avenue, it ran into a ditch. Wheeler, the driver, then got out and tried to flee on foot leaving behind a passenger in the automobile. As Officer Avera and Detective Brandon Donnell stayed with the other person in the vehicle, Corporal Bryant chased after Wheeler and called for him to stop but he was uncooperative. After being tasered, Wheeler went to the ground and was handcuffed and placed in custody by Corporal Bryant along with Detective Matt Holmes and K-9 Officer James Cornelius who were also on the scene. As the officers were escorting Wheeler to the patrol car, he began fighting with them and head butted Corporal Bryant which later resulted in an assault charge against him. Wheeler was then taken to the ground again and restrained. After being placed in the patrol car, Wheeler continued to resist and kicked the glass out of the left rear door resulting in the vandalism charge against him.

Wheeler was also charged with DUI after police determined that he was intoxicated. According to Chief Caplinger, Wheeler was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Police found in Wheeler's vehicle an open beer and some whiskey along with a long blade knife and a baseball bat which led to a charge against Wheeler of unlawful possession of a weapon.

After his arrest, Wheeler was taken to the hospital for treatment of a gash on his head. He was then transported to jail. No one else was seriously injured in the incident.

DTC Seeks Amendment to Current Law Affecting Local Cooperative

January 14, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Keith Blair

DTC Communications has asked for a bill to be introduced at the Tennessee General Assembly to amend a current law that only affects DTC Communications.

Under legislation requested by DTC and being offered by State Representative Mark Pody, a provision of state law relative only to DTC Communications would be amended by deleting the requirement that all contested elections of DTC Board of Directors be conducted by a State Election commission and held on voting machines. The current requirement has been in effect since 1986 and affects no other cooperative in the State of Tennessee.

When asked by WJLE, Keith Blair, attorney for DTC Communications, stated that the increased difficulty in contracting with an election commission to conduct the election, the increased cost to the cooperative, and that only DTC is affected by this law were all factors that went into the decision to seek an amendment. Blair also stated that all future elections would still be held on voting machines and that paper ballots would not be used in the election process.

DTC Communications holds its director elections during the annual membership meeting in September. Terms of the ten member board are staggered with the election of three directors in one year, three others the next year, and four members the following year.

Third District to Have New Voting Location

January 14, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Church of God Fellowship Hall

Voters in the third district will have a new voting location this year.

The DeKalb County Election Commission voted Monday night to move the voting precinct from the Middle School to the Smithville Church of God Fellowship Hall on West Broad Street in Smithville.

The move means no school will be used for voting, freeing up the facilities for school days or teacher training. Voting was moved from Smithville Elementary School two years ago when the DeKalb County Complex opened on South Congress Boulevard.

“We have been looking to move this precinct for some time due to conflicts with the school system and due to safety issues," said Walteen Parker, Election Commission Chairman. “We want to thank Pastor Jeff Armstrong and the Church for agreeing to allow the facility to be used for voting.”

“We also want to thank the local school system for allowing us to use the various schools throughout the past years," Parker added. “School system personnel worked with us in securing the site and for that we are appreciative.”

The move becomes effective with the upcoming May primary elections.

In the coming weeks the election commission will mail letters to active voters in the district notifying them of the change.

Discovery of One Dead and Two Malnourished Dogs Results in Arrest of Local Man

January 13, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Roy Wilkey, Jr.
Michael Odell Bly
Kelli Rae Bullard
Shawn Michael Giddens
Killian Blake Ellis
Martha Shelyane Silcox

A Smithville man has been charged with animal abuse after two malnourished dogs and a dead canine were found on his property.

47 year old Roy Wilkey, Jr. of South College Street, Smithville is under a $1,500 bond and he will be in court January 16. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Christmas Day, a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Poplar Street to do a welfare check on dogs. Upon arrival, the officer found three dogs, two living and one that was dead. One of the canines was chained to a push mower and could not get to his water dish nor his dog house. No dog food could be found on the premises and the animals appeared to be very malnourished. The homeowner said the dogs had been in this condition for about a month.

Meanwhile, 37 year old Michael Odell Bly of Bell Street, Smithville is charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, January 11 a deputy went to Bell Street Apartments in an attempt to serve an arrest warrant on Bly for violation of parole. The homeowner gave consent to a search and in a back bedroom the officer found a black bag containing a one pot cook bottle, tubing, coffee filters, and lighter fluid. In the bathroom, the deputy found a Mason jar that contained Coleman fuel. The search also turned up a two liter bottle with muriatic acid in the wood line behind the residence. According to Sheriff Ray, Bly was found to be in possession of the black bag which contained the meth lab components. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. His bond is $50,000 on the meth charge. He is being held without bond for the parole violation. Bly will be in court on February 19.

44 year old Kelli Rae Bullard of Holmes Creek Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant. She was also issued a citation for failure to maintain a lane of travel. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court February 19. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, January 12, a deputy received a call of a possible drunk driver on Highway 56 north. The car was a dark colored sedan. The officer spotted the car and observed it crossing the yellow center line and the white line of the highway. He initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle and found the driver to be Bullard. She submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Bullard also submitted to a blood test. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

27 year old Shawn Michael Giddens of Spencer is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on January 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, January 11 as an officer was working a wreck on the Sparta Highway, Giddens came up demanding a ride to Spencer. He was very unsteady on his feet and he had a strong smell of alcohol on his person. He refused to sit in the car or call someone else to pick him up. Due to his level of intoxication, Giddens was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

20 year old Killian Blake Ellis of New Hope Road, Alexandria is charged with domestic assault, vandalism over $500, and theft of property under $500. He was further issued a citation for driving on a suspended license. Ellis' bond totals $9,000 and he will be in court on January 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, January 12 a deputy responded to Prichard's Foods in Alexandria after a woman called central dispatch, saying she needed a police officer. Before any further information could be obtained, the phone disconnected. The deputy and an Alexandria Police Officer pulled over two vehicles on Highway 53, one driven by the woman who placed the call and another behind her, driven by Ellis. After speaking to both persons, officers determined that a domestic incident had occurred between Ellis and the woman. According to Sheriff Ray, Ellis took the woman's phone from her and jumped on the hood of her car as she was trying to get away from him. A similar incident occurred on December 19 in which the woman phoned 911 to report that Ellis was preventing her from leaving on that occasion.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray said that Ellis's vandalism and theft charges are the result of an incident with a vending machine at Prichard's Foods in Alexandria on December 15th. According to Sheriff Ray, Ellis vandalized a Cola Cola machine by using a pry bar, causing $1,000 worth of damage. After breaking into the drink machine, Ellis allegedly took $50 worth of coins.

Another person is also charged with Ellis in the incident with the drink machine. 36 year old Martha Shelyane Silcox of Carthage is charged with vandalism over $500 and theft of property under $500. Her bond is $6,500 and she will be in court January 16. Sheriff Ray said Silcox was the driver of the vehicle who dropped off Ellis and then picked him up after he broke into the drink machine.

Flu Bug Biting Hard

January 13, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Michiko Martin

Health officials in DeKalb County are urging more people to get vaccinations for the flu after at least 12 people in Middle Tennessee have died from complications of the virus so far this season.

Nine people from Nashville and its surrounding counties have died while three deaths have been reported in the Upper Cumberland region.

Free vaccines are currently available at the DeKalb County Health Department. Anyone interested should call in advance at 597-7590. Flu vaccines are also available for a fee at local pharmacies. The Family Medical Center currently has a few of the FluMist still available.

More than three hundred fifty people have been tested for the flu at the Family Medical Center and almost one hundred cases have been confirmed, according to Office Manager Michiko Martin in a statement released to WJLE Monday. "Since October 1st, we have performed 352 flu tests. Eighty five have been positive for Type A and 13 have been positive for Type B. But, there have been others who have tested negative, yet had all of the symptoms of the flu, and they were treated accordingly," said Martin.

If you think you have the flu, Martin urges you to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. "Most insurances require a positive flu test before they will pay for Tamiflu and it (Tamiflu) is only effective if given within 48 hours of onset of symptoms," she said.

Martin offers some tips to help you guard against the flu virus. "The best thing you can do to prevent the flu is to: (1) Get a flu vaccine when available (it takes up to 2 weeks to get into your system); (2) have good hand washing practices; (3) cover coughs and sneezes (use tissues or masks, if available); and (4) avoid crowded situations".

"We highly advocate getting the flu vaccine," said Martin. "People die from the flu not the vaccine. You cannot get sick from the vaccine; it is a dead virus. If someone gets sick after having the vaccine, then they had already been exposed to the flu (it takes 2 weeks to get into your system). The FluMist is a live-attenuated virus (which means that you can have some mild flu-like symptoms), but it is only given to healthy individuals 2 – 49 years of age. There are vaccines designed for the very young (6 months) and the elderly (65+). There are traditional vaccines which cover 3 strains of the flu virus and the newer quadrivalent vaccine which covers 4 strains. There is the FluMist for healthy individuals that do not like shots. There is also an intradermal version that is given much like a TB skin test (right under the skin). We currently have a few doses of FluMist available. We have given over 4200 flu vaccines this year. We started giving them as soon as they came in, but were not able to give them to Medicare patients until October 1 because Medicare would not pay for the vaccine until then. Most insurances will cover the vaccine, but people may have to check their individual coverages to know for sure," said Martin.

The predominant flu virus in circulation this year is H1N1, which first emerged in 2009. In Tennessee, 15 deaths among people younger than 18 occurred during the 2009-10 season, which compares with two or three deaths during a typical flu season, state health officials have said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months or older, with rare exceptions, should get vaccinated for the flu.

Influenza Symptoms
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

•Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
•Cough
•Sore throat
•Runny or stuffy nose
•Muscle or body aches
•Headaches
•Fatigue (tiredness)
•Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu Complications
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

People at Higher Risk from Flu
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Flu Severity
Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:
•what flu viruses are spreading,
•how much flu vaccine is available,
•when vaccine is available,
•how many people get vaccinated, and
•how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.
•Person to Person
•People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

•To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.

•The Flu Is Contagious
•Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.

STEM mobile Learning Laboratory Comes to DeKalb West School

January 13, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
STEMmobile Learning Laboratory Comes to DeKalb West School
DWS Teacher Tammy Payne and 6th grader Dallas Cook
Assistant DWS Principal Sabrina Farler with Sebastian Tarango
Teacher Tammy Payne and students follow steps shown on screen
Sixth graders Haley Dies and Dallas Cook at STEM mobile

Getting children excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM subjects) can be a challenge for any teacher but DeKalb West School has a new tool this week to ignite students' interest: the STEM mobile.

The STEM mobile is at DeKalb West School Monday through Friday, January 13-18. It will be open to the public on Saturday, January 18 from noon until 1:30 p.m. at DeKalb West. Everyone is invited to attend.

The STEM mobile is a mobile learning laboratory that provides a unique, on-site educational experience for grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade; however, this year the focus is on grades 2-8. This mobile classroom brings much-needed technology to the doorsteps of DeKalb West, and the students have access to state-of-the-art equipment to help them to promote STEM learning in creative and hands-on ways.

In a demonstration for WJLE Monday, sixth grade teacher Tammy Payne and assistant DWS principal Sabrina Farler showed sixth graders Dallas Cook, Haley Dies, and Sebastian Tarango how to create a simple circuit using the hands-on technology available through the STEM mobile.

The STEM mobile is the product of the Oakley STEM Center and Tennessee Tech University as part of the Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative, a grant project funded by Tennessee's First to the Top program. UCRSI is part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, whose mission is to enhance student participation and interest in STEM subjects.

Housed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer with self-contained power, the STEM mobile has its own heating and cooling system, a satellite uplink for Internet connectivity and workstations to accommodate about 24 students at a time. This classroom on wheels is stocked with equipment from the Oakley STEM Center, TTU, and includes equipment and supplies for activities for each grade level. Materials are on board and ready to go for grade levels.

The STEM mobile is designed to help students learn more about three core STEM themes particularly relevant to rural students: *water, with a focus on its importance, usage and conservation;* energy, which highlights how power is generated, ways to lower consumption, green energy and long-term energy needs; and *my food, my body, my health, which help students learn more about agriculture, health, nutrition and physical fitness. You may visit www.ucrsi.org. for more information about the STEM mobile.

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