Local News Articles

DMS Junior Beta Club Preparing to Share "Be the Change" on a National Stage

March 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
DMS Junior Beta Club

Members of the DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club are making plans for a trip to the National Convention at Disney World in Orlando, Florida after winning first place at the State Convention in November for their anti-bullying drama presentation called “Be the Change”.

The National Convention will be held June 24-28 but in order to make the trip, the club must raise more than $17,000. Several fundraisers have already been held and more are planned according to Lori Hendrix, DeKalb Middle School teacher and Junior Beta sponsor. “We need to raise approximately $17,000 and so far we have done a fashion show where we raised nearly $5,000. Next week at the parent teacher conference at Northside and Smithville Elementary we are going to be doing a soup supper where parents can stop and buy a quart of soup and the crackers for $5.00. They can take it home and heat it up. We are also doing a pancake breakfast which is this Saturday, March 11 at Applebees in McMinnville. We’re always taking donations. Lots of businesses have already turned in lots of donations. If you would like to make a donation you may send it attention to Lori Hendrix at DeKalb Middle School or donations may also be dropped off at First Bank to Brenda Cantrell. We are taking a charter bus down there which will cost us about $7,000. Hotel rooms are also about $10,000 for the group but that cost does not include any meals or anything else for the children. That’s just for their room, board, and transportation. We have lots of parents who are going but we have about ten children going who will not have their parents with them,” said Hendrix.

Josh Isaac, who wrote and choreographed the skit, said “Be the Change” sends a powerful message.

“I wanted to do something that was different but also something that put a message out there. What big of a message than bullying? That is something I think almost everyone can relate to at some time in their life. Social media bullying is something that is very much affecting all of our kids nowadays. We put this skit together. The kids came together. They really only had four to five practices which is an amazing feat in itself but we came together. I have never choreographed 48 kids together in my life. That was a little challenging but they worked hard and it paid off,” said Isaac.

“It’s called “Be the Change” and its basically about a group of kids bullying a girl. One of the kids steps out and says he doesn’t want to do that anymore and the choreography shows that. By one person changing it causes an affect on everyone. I feel like that is what we need in our schools and in our world because it just takes one to cause that affect for all,” he continued.

Isaac said the group is already preparing for the national competition. “We have already started working. We’re about to start going into high gear. We have new choreography. It’s a lot harder choreography with better props and other things we plan to do to make it appeal more on a national level. These kids are working so hard not only to raise the money for the trip but also in the choreography and getting themselves ready.The most exciting thing is about just sharing the message of this video “Be the Change”. Its going to be on a national level with a national stage. On the state level there were 8,000 people out there watching. This will be an even bigger place for us to show that everyone can make a difference”.

The community is urged to get behind the Junior Beta Club students and support them. “Our community has all come together to just be part of this, That’s a great thing about living in DeKalb County. Everyone rallies together. We truly have some of the best staff at DeKalb Middle School. Lori Hendrix and Tonya Sullivan work so hard. They don’t have to do this. They are doing this on their own. Its stressful but they are making a difference in these kids lives,” Isaac concluded.

Liberty Mayor and Aldermen Seek to Change Election Cycle

March 8, 2017
Dwayne Page

The Liberty Mayor and Aldermen have begun the process of changing the city charter regarding future municipal elections to put them on a two year cycle to run in conjunction with county general elections. The terms of the mayor and aldermen would still be four years as they are now.

During Monday night’s monthly meeting, the mayor and aldermen adopted a resolution asking State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver to introduce legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly to amend the city’s charter to make the changes.

Under the existing charter, Liberty elects its city officials in a four year cycle but in back to back years. For example, three aldermen were elected in 2016 and this year (2017) a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected. Without a change the cycle would be repeated in the years 2020 and 2021.

In order to get future city elections on a two year cycle, the Liberty mayor and aldermen want to reschedule this year’s city election to August, 2018 to coincide with the county general election and to extend by one year the terms of the current board members whose terms end in 2017.

If approved by the legislature and then adopted again by at least a two thirds majority vote of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the elections would be every two years beginning in August 2018.

Haidyn Hale is the new "Classroom Champion"

March 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Haidyn Hale is the new "Classroom Champion"
Attorney Jim Judkins, DMS Principal Randy Jennings, Chad Hale, Haidyn Hale, Melissa Odom, and Dwayne Page of WJLE

This week’s “Classroom Champion” award goes to Haidyn Hale, a seventh grader at DeKalb Middle School.

The award was presented by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins and Dwayne Page of WJLE .

Haidyn is the 12 year old daughter of Melissa Odom and Chad Hale of Smithville. She has a sister, Hailey Ball. Hale is an active member of the Junior BETA Club at DeKalb Middle School, an athlete on the DMS soccer team, and a member of the basketball cheerleading squad. Haidyn was a cast member in the play “Christmas in Neverland” at DMS and is a member of the First Assembly of God. Her favorite subject in school is math.

“Haidyn is a young lady who strives to excel in both the classroom and her extracurricular activities. She exemplifies characteristics of a model student,” said her 7th grade teacher Suzette Barnes.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week for the next several months.

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, and citizenship and character,” said Judkins.

DeKalb West Names March Students of the Month

March 8, 2017
Bill Conger
DeKalb West Names March Students of the Month

DeKalb West School has named its March Students of the Month. Congratulations to Bane Averitte, Kindergarten, Molly Carpenter, 1st Grade, Ben Barton, 2nd Grade, Caitlin Shoemake, 3rd Grade, Kenson Moss, 4th Grade, Blair Gipe, 5th Grade, Brett Walker, 6th Grade, Brayden Antoniak, 7th Grade, and Nick Cothern, 8th Grade. The school recognizes students based on their grades, character, and other traits that make them an outstanding student.

Pictured Front Row Left to Right: Molly Carpenter, Bane Averitte, Ben Barton, and Caitlin Shoemake

Back Row Left to Right are Assistant Principal Joey Agee, Blair Gipe, Brayden Antoniak, NIck Cothern, Brett Walker, and Kenson Moss.

Community Urged to Show Appreciation to School Bus Drivers

March 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Community Urged to Show Appreciation to School Bus Drivers
Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague

Have you hugged a school bus driver today?

The DeKalb County School System is recognizing the outstanding job performance of the 30 plus bus drivers who transport students to and from school and school-related events throughout the year.

The official observance is on Saturday, March 18 but bus drivers will be recognized locally on Friday, March 17.

“We’re going to celebrate it on Friday, March 17 at the schools. We want to bring recognition to our drivers and show them our appreciation. DeKalb County is blessed with good drivers,” said School Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague.

Bus drivers are the first contact children have with the school system each day and while their job is challenging it is also rewarding.

“We run right at 1,200 miles per day. We carry anywhere from 2,000 to 2,200 students per day. My drivers’ main objective is to get the children to and from school safely and we do that every day. We run 32 buses on routes. I have 32 drivers plus I have four substitute drivers including myself. I have seven handicapped aids who ride my special needs buses. I have two aid substitutes. These drivers are out in adverse weather conditions in the cold, rain, and snow. They are up before daylight doing pre-trips on buses. You can’t just get anybody to drive a school bus. They are special people. You don’t realize the difference they make in a child’s life just by being a school bus driver. They go above and beyond. They listen to the kids. They have a good relationship with them,” said Sprague.

To be a school bus driver, Sprague said one must have a commercial driver license and be recertified each year. “All drivers are required to have a CDL with a P&S endorsement. That’s not easy to get. The state comes out once a year and they do a recertification every year when we have our annual bus inspection. All my drivers are up to date. We’ve got good drivers,” he said.

Sprague urges the community to show its support for DeKalb County’s school bus drivers especially during this observance.

“If your child rides a bus say thank you to the bus drivers. They do a good job and they take care of the babies. That’s the main thing. To take care of these kids,” he concluded.

Employees of the school system's transportation department are Michael Agee, Danny Bond, Dwayne Cantrell, Shannon Cantrell, Shara Cowan, Debbie Eaton, Ricky Edwards, Marshall Ferrell, Julie Fitts, Tina Fletcher, Linda Fowler, Bill Fowler, Lynn Griffith, Orlando Guzman, Terry Hall, Darnette Hibdon, Melissa Hicks, Kathy Jacobs, Danny Jenkins, Dwight Knowles, Frances Lawson, Daniel Lawson, Donnie Lewis, Roy Merriman, Ronald Merriman, Linda Gail Pack,Jimmy Poss, Ashley Redmon, Myron Rhody, Jimmy Sprague, Carol Swope, Ken Taylor, Bobby Taylor, B.J. Thomason, Cindy Washer, Danny Washer, and Angela Wilkerson.

Long Awaited Bridge Almost Completed

March 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Long Awaited Bridge Almost Completed

After more than sixteen months since the Holmes Creek Road bridge was ordered closed by the state due to deficiencies, frustrated residents and motorists longing for the re-opening of the road over Fall Creek will soon get their wish.

The new bridge will be completed within a few days after the railing and paving projects have been completed.

The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, has been closed since October 30, 2015.

The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe.

As WJLE has reported in previous weeks, the contractor, Twin K. Construction of Helenwood, Tennessee began work in early October and the completion date under the contract is March 18th.

In September, the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen accepted Twin K’s bid of $687,791. It was the lowest of the five bids submitted and was recommended for approval by the city’s engineer for the project. In addition to the construction bid, other added costs including engineering, design, and inspection fees, geotechnical exploration, right of way, temporary construction easement, asbestos study, and permits, put the total project at $778,655.

The project is being funded under the state's Bridge Grant Program. The matching cost to the city is going to be $196,625

Habitat Accepting Applications for Next House

March 7, 2017
1st Habitat Partner Family Home on Adams Street
2nd Habitat Partner Family Home on Adams Street
3rd Habitat Partner Family Home located on Hayes Street
4th Habitat Partner Family Home located on Hayes Street
5th Habitat Partner Family Home located on Hayes Street

DeKalb County Habitat for Humanity is now accepting applications for the next house to be constructed this year.

An Informational Meeting and Application Fair will be Tuesday, April 18 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Smithville First United Methodist Church Christian Fellowship Center next door to Love-Cantrell Funeral Home near downtown. During that meeting, families will receive help in completing the application and will be given information about the Habitat Program.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may call the Habitat phone number at 615-215-8181 and leave your name, address, and phone number and a Habitat volunteer will contact you to provide additional information and perhaps mail an application to you.

To be considered, completed and signed applications must be postmarked by Wednesday, May 3.

The purpose of Habitat is to build homes with families and sell the houses at no profit and no interest to families who could not otherwise afford a house. This Christian ministry is financed through private donations and utilizes volunteer labor and donated materials, if possible.

Habitat guidelines are basically 3 major qualifications: need for housing, ability to pay and a willingness to partner. In addition, partner families must have been a resident of DeKalb County for a least 1 year prior to April 15, 2017 and they must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent resident alien status.

A Family Selection Committee will consider applications based on those major qualifications as well as some other general guidelines as follows:

*Must have a housing need: For example, poor heating, leaks in the roof, overcrowding (3 to a bedroom), unsafe or unsanitary conditions or lack of adequate water or plumbing.

*For a family of 4, the maximum allowable annual income is $25,520 which is 55% of the median income for families in our community. If a household member is age 60 or older, or if there is a special needs household member, the maximum allowable annual income level for a family of 4 is $27,840. The income levels vary according to family size. You may get detailed information specific to your family at the informational meeting on April 18. With your permission, they will verify employment and other income, verify checking and savings account balances, get a statement from your current landlord, have a credit check completed and a criminal background check.

*Willingness to partner: If approved for a Habitat house, they will ask that you be willing to join in programs to learn and practice budgeting, home repair and home maintenance. Family members will be given "sweat equity" credit for attending these sessions. Other opportunities will be provided to help families learn and earn the hours they need.

*If approved for a Habitat house, they require that all adult household members (18 years and older) be willing to work a combined total of 500 hours of "sweat equity" with 100 of those hours completed before construction. Children who are members of the household may help with "sweat equity" by improving their grades in school and having good attendance at school. Friends and family may also help earn part of the "sweat equity"

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is very anxious to help another family have their dream of home ownership become a reality.

Smithville Elementary Announces Students of the Month

March 7, 2017
Smithville Elementary Announces Students of the Month

Smithville Elementary has named the Students of the Month for March. These students were selected for their outstanding character, academics, and other traits that make them an all-around excellent student. Selected as Students of the Month for March are:

Pre-K: Ofelia Mata-Guzman
Kindergarten: Garrett Muskopf

1st grade: Lillie Close
2nd grade: Andrew Johnson

(Students of the Month are pictured with Principal Julie Vincent and Assistant Principal Anita Puckett. From left to right: Ofelia Mata-Guzman, Garrett Muskopf, Lillie Close, Andrew Johnson )

Chamber To Celebrate 54 Years At Upcoming Annual Banquet

March 7, 2017
Suzanne Williams

Everyone is invited to attend the 2017 Chamber Annual Banquet. The banquet will be Thursday, April 27, 2017 at the DeKalb County Complex, 712 South Congress Blvd., Smithville. “We are excited to again host this event and invite the all the public to share in this fun-filled night,” says Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams. “A common misconception is that this is an event for Chamber members only,” says Williams. “All are welcome to come. This is a wonderful networking opportunity and a great way to see some of the positive things that are happening in our county.”

The special evening begins at 5:30 PM with a “Silent Auction.” The dinner and program start at 6:00 PM. The delicious meal will be served by Leadership DeKalb Alum and Jr. Beta Club members.

NEW THIS YEAR! To spice things up, we are also going to have a “Live Auction.” Be ready to bid when Auctioneer Anthony Scott takes the stage. Lots of great items to bid on including signed guitars from country music stars. Anyone can donate to the Silent Auction. For the Live Auction, at least two items must be donated and delivered to the Chamber.

We would like to invite local industries and businesses to be a Corporate Sponsor. Being a Corporate Sponsor is not only a great way to support the Chamber and its many programs, but a wonderful marketing opportunity. The cost of corporate sponsorship is $250. Some of the advantages include:

•Corporate Sponsor Names will be included in the Annual Banquet Tabloid sent to thousands of homes as an insert in the Smithville Review & used as the Banquet Program

•Corporate Sponsor employees will be recognized at the banquet

•Corporate Sponsors will be announced on the April and May Chamber Chat Radio/DTC TV Programs

•Corporate Sponsors can also place a business item on banquet tables for attendees

If you would like to place an ad in the Chamber Banquet Tabloid, it will be inserted in the April 19th edition of the Smithville Review plus used as the night’s program. Deadline to place your ad in the tabloid is March 27th.

To donate silent or live auction items, place an ad in the tabloid, be the entertainment sponsor for $200 (supporting the DMS Jr. Beta trip), or be a Corporate Sponsor, contact the Chamber office at 615.597.4163 or email: swilliams@dekalbcountychamber.org.

DeKalb Performing Arts will provide the night’s entertainment along with a special viewing of the DeKalb Middle School Jr. Beta Club video of their State Championship performance, “Be the Change.”

Banquet tickets prices are $25 per person or you can RESERVE a table for $175 (for 7 people). Tickets can be purchased by calling the Chamber at 615.597.4163 or from the Chamber Board of Directors. Or, you can stop by the Chamber office located in the DeKalb County Courthouse, Room 201. Remember, you don’t have to be a Chamber member to attend. Everyone is welcome!

Special thanks to our Annual Banquet Committee Members: Shan Burklow, Isaac Gray, Sherry Harris, Connie Tjarks, Jen Sherwood, and Lora Webb for all the work they are doing to ensure a successful night. We are also grateful to the Appalachian Center for Craft for providing table arrangements and to DTC Communications for providing eco-bags.

We are going to have a great time and hope you can be a part of the Chamber’s 54th Anniversary.

Council May Lift Ban on Fireworks Sales In City

March 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

Should the sale of fireworks be permitted within the City limits of Smithville?

Since 1982, the city has prohibited the sale of fireworks.

The mayor and aldermen may consider an ordinance lifting the ban at the next meeting in April.

City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson raised the issue Monday night. “Over the last several years I’ve had several people come to us to ask if we were going to allow the sale of fireworks inside the city limits. I’m just bringing this up to see if you want me to bring an ordinance to the next meeting. Obviously we can shoot them (fireworks) inside the city. The county allows the sale of fireworks. The state also regulates it. You have to be approved by the state first to sell fireworks. The most we would capture off that is about $1,000 per permit in the July time period and about $500 around December to New Year’s Eve. I think at the most the city stands to make maybe $5,000 to $7,000 and the sales tax as well. I just think it would be good for the city to capture permit revenues,” said Hendrixson.

“I agree Mr. Hendrixson and I don’t see a down side to it since they are so readily available already. It is legal to fire them in the city just not in the central business district,” said Alderman Shawn Jacobs.

The last time the aldermen considered lifting the ban was in December 2007 after a local businessman asked that city businesses and others have the same opportunity to sell fireworks inside the city as those outside the city limits.

The aldermen initially voted on first reading to lift the ban at a meeting in December 2007 but then two weeks later reversed the decision and voted the leave the ban in place citing complaints from concerned citizens.


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