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End of Course Assessments Begin Next Week

April 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Jonathan Fontanez, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7-12, reminds students and parents about the upcoming state assessments.

Jonathan Fontanez Speaking of Upcoming Testing from dwayne page on Vimeo.

"It is testing time at the secondary level in Tennessee once again and we are looking at beginning our testing season on May 3rd, 4th, & 5th with secondary assessments, end of course assessments in Algebra I, English X, and Biology I. The following week we will continue our testing in the areas of English IX, U.S. History, and Algebra II. The state has also rolled out a new assessment this year in 11th grade English, English III. We'll also have final exams toward the end of the month and then graduation on May 20th," said Fontanez.

"We just want to remind everyone to make the necessary preparations for these assessments. Be sure students that you get enough rest the night prior to these assessments and eat a good breakfast and come to school ready to do well on these end of course assessments", said Fontanez.

Hardcastle Seeks Parole in 2009 Aggravated Burglary and Robbery of Elderly Alexandria Woman

April 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Debralee Hardcastle

A 31 year old woman, serving an eight year sentence for the aggravated robbery and burglary of an elderly Alexandria woman, may learn within days if she will be granted an early release.

A parole hearing was held last Monday, April 18th for Debralee Mai Hardcastle at the White County Jail in Sparta where she is currently incarcerated.

Hardcastle was charged on August 23rd, 2009 in an early Sunday morning assault on her 95 year old landlord, Lilae Belle Gilliam, at the residence they shared at 309 West Main Street in Alexandria.

Hardcastle pleaded guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court on October 15th, 2010 to one count of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary. She received an eight year sentence to serve in the robbery case and three years to serve in the burglary. The two sentences are to run concurrently as one eight year term and concurrently with a Wilson County violation of probation against her.

She was given jail credit for time served from August 23rd, 2009 to October 15th, 2010.

Last Monday, Hardcastle appeared before parole hearing officer Don Fox asking that she be granted an early release. Hardcastle expressed remorse for her crimes adding that the actions were fueled by her past drug use. Two members of Hardcastle's family also spoke in her behalf along with her drug counselor.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Strong and Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins spoke in opposition to Hardcastle's release due to the seriousness of the crime, the victim's advanced age, and due to the close relationship Hardcastle once had with the victim as landlord and tenant.

At the conclusion of the hearing last Monday, Fox announced that he would recommend to members of the state parole board that Hardcastle not be granted parole. If at least a majority of the parole board members concur, then Hardcastle will have to wait two years before her next parole eligibility. A final decision is expected within a few days.

After her arrest on August 23rd, 2009, Chief Collins reported that Hardcastle had been charged with especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated assault in the attack on Mrs. Gilliam. Hardcastle was also charged at the time with theft under $500 in a separate case.

According to Chief Collins, Gilliam, who lived alone, rented a portion of her home to Hardcastle and another woman less than a month before this incident occurred. They apparently moved here from Wilson County. Both dwellings in the Gilliam home were under the same roof but had separate entrances.

Chief Collins said Hardcastle, in order to alter her appearance, dressed disguised as a man and then left her room around 3:15 a.m. He said she went outside, went around the house, and knocked on Mrs. Gilliam's side door. When Mrs. Gilliam answered the door, Hardcastle, holding a 14 inch knife, forced her way inside and demanded the elderly woman's medication. Mrs. Gilliam, who apparently did not recognize Hardcastle, resisted and tried to defend herself. Though she fought off the attack, Gilliam suffered lacerations and bruises from blows to her head and upper body.

After the assault, Hardcastle returned to her room, taking three bottles of medication from Gilliam's residence. Mrs. Gilliam, bleeding from the attack, dropped to her hands and knees, crawled to the foyer near the door and began screaming for help.

Apparently in an attempt to avoid arousing suspicion as to her involvement, Hardcastle removed her disguise, changed her clothes, cleaned up and went back to assist Mrs. Gilliam and called 911.

Gilliam was transported by DeKalb EMS to UMC Medical Center in Lebanon where she was treated and released.

Chief Collins said after interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence at the scene, Hardcastle was identified as a suspect.. She was picked up for questioning, but she refused to cooperate or give a statement. She was subsequently charged in the case.

The case was investigated by the Alexandria Police Department in cooperation with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Aldermen Postpone Work to Make City Pool ADA Compliant

April 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Steve White (right) speaking with Taylor Dobbs (center) and Tony Poss (left)

The Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool isn't as accessible for the physically challenged as it should be in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the city has until next spring to bring it into compliance.

In February, the aldermen voted to accept a bid from the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation of Nashville in the amount of $83,649 to replace the fiberglass coating of the pool and that work will be finished by May 10th but the renovation project didn't include making the pool more user friendly for the handicapped. City officials were apparently unaware at the time that the ADA requirements had to be met by next year.

During a special meeting on the issue Monday night, the aldermen considered proceeding with the renovations to accommodate the handicapped now. However, since no specific plans have yet been drawn up and facing the possibility that any such work would not be completed in time for the swimming season, the aldermen decided to delay the project until at least after the summer.

Alderman Steve White said while he understands the work will have to be delayed, he would have preferred to do it now. "I brought this up to the guys over there at the pool (Langley and Taylor) back whenever they first came in probably a couple of months ago. He was supposed to be getting with the owners of the company and the health department to let us know what requirements and specific things we would need like grade, jets, drain vents and all. Of course, they kind of dropped the ball and here we are two months later and we still haven't found out anything. This is one of the things that eventually we will have to do and that is to make it handicapped accessible. The zero entry is something that I've been wanting to do for quite a while. Its not going to be near as expensive if we (city) do the work. The main thing will be the labor expenses. If the city employees do it you're looking at using probably two to three guys for roughly four to five days. We'll have some electrical that will have to be moved more than likely. We really won't know until we get in there and tear the deck off. There are probably some drain lines that will have to be re-routed. You'll have some water lines that'll have to be re-routed. The drains will have to be spouted off each side of it instead of across it. The water lines could be elbowed down and put back in. The electrical could be run around. Our guys do concrete work all the time. We're not going to be looking at that much expense on the concrete. Probably five or six yards of concrete at the most. The other expense will be whatever the pool guy charges to plaster approximately three hundred more square feet of the pool area," said White

Taylor Dobbs of the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation met with the mayor and aldermen Monday night and reviewed some of the city's alternatives in making the pool renovations for the handicapped. "Its not so much that you want to just be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, you're actually wanting to create a way for anyone to access the pool regardless of physical condition. However it is important to note that since that pool is so large you'll have to have a secondary means of entry so even if you do the zero entry concept, which is going from a zero grade and gradually sloping into the pool, you're also going to have to have a secondary means of entering the pool and that can be a portable chair lift. Any pool over 300 feet has to have one so you'll be looking at incurring that expense as well. The two primary options are the zero entry and the portable chairlifts. If you decide to do the chairlift, you'll need two of them because the pool is so large. That would be your primary and secondary means of entry. If you just do the zero entry, you'll have to have a secondary entry, either the chairlift or a transfer wall which is kind of a hand hold you use to climb into the pool over a wall. I don't think that would be very easy for a handicapped person to use. Then there's the transfer system which is basically a staircase or steps that each have their own little rail that persons can use to bump themselves into the pool. That would be another option. You could possibly do just a concrete ramp," said Dobbs.

Alderman Aaron Meeks said whichever option the city should choose, plans will have to be drawn up and submitted to the state health department for approval and that will take time, delaying the start of the swimming season at the pool. "The first thing you've got to do is have plans drawn up by someone who is authorized or qualified to draw up the plans of what you want to do. You have to submit that to the state for approval. That could take thirty days and if it (plans) has to be changed it could take another thirty days. That could go on for who knows how long? It could be the beginning to mid June before they could have it ready for the pool to open. The swimming season is then missing. As I understand it, we don't have to do this (project) this year. We have until next year to have all this done. I would prefer to see some costs in writing and plans in writing drawn up about what we've talked about doing and whatever alternatives we might have along that line. That's what I would like to see," said Meeks

Mayor Taft Hendrixson suggested that the project be delayed for now. "The way it looks to me if we're going to do this, time wise the pool might not even be open this year if we go ahead and start this now. It might make sense to go ahead and open it (pool) this year and make plans to do that next year before the pool opens," said Mayor Hendrixson.

The aldermen voted to postpone the project until at least after the summer and ask the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation to further study the options and suggest the best alternative for making the city swimming pool ADA compliant.

Putnam Election Commission Case Could Affect DeKalb County

April 25, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Chancery Court ruling in Putnam County over whether the state or county should bear the costs of attorney's fees in a federal lawsuit against the Republican majority of the election commission is expected to affect DeKalb County as well.

The Tennessee Supreme Court's specially appointed Chancellor in the case, Judge Donald Harris, has found that the county, not the state, is responsible for the Putnam County election commission's legal expense in defending the lawsuit filed against it by the former administrator of elections. The Chancellor also ruled that Putnam County must pay the election commission's legal fees for action taken against the county due to non-payment of attorneys fees.

Judge Harris recently held a hearing on the matter in Putnam County Chancery Court.

In the ruling, Judge Harris wrote that "the entity responsible for providing legal representation to the Putnam County Election Commission would likewise be responsible for providing legal representation for any member of the election commission sued in their official capacity," wrote Harris.

According to the Herald-Citizen, the chancery court case stems from a federal lawsuit filed in 2009 by former Putnam election administrator Nancy Boman, who claims she was removed from her post because of her perceived political affiliation and that three new Republican commissioners at the time -- Terry Herrin, Jean Cody and Joan Ross -- violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The election commission hired its own attorney and filed its own suit weeks after Boman's was filed, when Putnam County attorney Jeff Jones said the county was not responsible for paying its legal fees.

Jones argued that the Tennessee attorney general is responsible for providing for the commission's defense in federal court because county election commissioners are state actors. That was the opinion, in fact, of Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Wiseman Jr. in a December order filed in that federal lawsuit, he said.

"The court agrees with the characterization that both the members of the Putnam County Election Commission and the Putnam County Administrator of Elections as being state employees. However that status does not result in the State Attorney General having the duty to represent the members of the county election commission when they are sued in their official capacity or in the State of Tennessee having the responsibility to fund the expense of their legal representation. Tennessee Code Annotated 2-12-109(a) provides: Except as otherwise provided by law, it is the responsibility of the county to fund the operations of its election commission. This language makes the expenses incurred by the election commission in the conduct of its operations the responsibility of Putnam County unless there is a specific provision elsewhere in Code that makes them the responsibility of another entity," wrote Harris.

"It is the opinion of the court that Putnam County, as a matter of law, is responsible for the reasonable cost of that representation and for any liability imposed as a result of the pending federal action. It has refused to assume that responsibility. Tennessee Code Annotated section 2-12-101 (c) (4) provides that "if, in order to properly discharge its duties, the county election commission has to bring legal action against a county or municipality, the compensation for the commission's legal representation shall be borne by the county or municipality as the case may be." Thus, Putnam County is also responsible for the legal expenses of the Putnam County Election Commission in bringing the action," wrote Harris.

Deputy Janet Kleinfelter with the Tennessee attorney general's office had asked during the hearing that the action against Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr. -- who, along with Putnam County Executive Kim Blaylock, was named as a defendant in the chancery case -- be dismissed. She said the county was the party responsible for legal defense based on a series of Tennessee statutes.

Attorney John Harris, III of Nashville, representing the Putnam County Election Commission and the three individual commissioners named in the federal lawsuit, told the judge that he also believed the cost of the federal case -- as well as the chancery court action -- should be borne by the county.

Based upon the Chancellor's ruling, it appears that DeKalb County would also be required for payment of the legal expense of the local election commission.

In March, the DeKalb County Election Commission voted 3-2 to hire the same attorney Putnam County has employed, John Harris, III to represent them in a federal lawsuit brought in 2009 by the former administrator of elections, Lisa Peterson.

That decision came after the county's insurance carrier recently withdrew its legal representation based on the December federal court ruling that the local election commissioners were "state actors" and after the state attorney general, Robert E. Cooper, Jr., in a letter to Election Commission Chairman Walteen Parker, wrote that the commission could not rely on the state to provide a defense and would have to hire its own legal counsel in the case.

Since the court has ruled that the election commissioners cannot be held liable for monetary damages, John Harris said the only significant remaining issue to be decided is the "injunctive relief" claim in the lawsuit.

DeKalb is among about a dozen counties in Tennessee where lawsuits have been filed by former administrators of elections asserting that they were not re-appointed to those positions because of their political party affiliation.

Domestic Kitchen - Tennessee Food Safety Course to be Offered

April 25, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Farmers Market

Vendors at the farmers market and others who use a domestic kitchen to prepare, manufacture and sell food to the public can ensure their facilities meet Tennessee Department of Agriculture regulations through an upcoming course in Nashville next month.

The one-day course, Domestic Kitchen - Tennessee Food Safety Certification, will be held 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., May 12th, at the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville. The course will cover regulations for establishments using domestic kitchen facilities for bakery and other non-potentially hazardous foods intended for sale. The cost for certification is $100.00.

County Mayor Mike Foster said participants in the course must submit an application along with the fee prior to May 12th. Applications are available at the county mayor's office in the courthouse.

The purpose of the domestic kitchen rules is to allow individuals to commercially prepare, manufacture and sell ‘non-potentially hazardous' foods that are prepared in the home while ensuring that the public's health is protected.

These foods would include: sale of home-prepared jam, jellies, baked-goods and some candies, etc.

For a more thorough description of when domestic kitchen certification is required and what foods can be produced in your home kitchen, check out this Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture webpage or the complete Domestic Kitchen Regulations.

Photos Needed for DeKalb County Pictorial History Book

April 24, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ria Baker and Judy Fuson

If you have any old pictures of yesteryear life in DeKalb County, you're urged to make them available for the compilation of a pictorial history book through Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series.

Images of America: A History of American Life in Images and Texts is a unique new resource cultivated from Arcadia Publishing's award-winning series of local history books. At completion, it will include historical images and texts, celebrating the places and faces that give DeKalb County its spirit and life. All of the images and texts will enable users to explore the depth of the history of the county, as well as its cultures, architectural features, and more.

Ria Baker and Judy Fuson are compiling photos for the book.

Baker said that's where you can be of help. "We are working on a book about DeKalb History with the Arcadia Publishing Company. We are looking for pictures and information to put in the book. If anybody has any good history pictures we can scan we ask for your help. We'll come to your home and scan the pictures or we can pick them up, scan them, and bring them back to you or we can meet you at the library in Alexandria or Smithville and scan them there. We need pictures with information to go along with them and everybody will be asked to sign a release stating that they don't mind their pictures being put in the book.. The publishing company wants us to have it to them by September. Hopefully, they'll have the book out by January, 2012.. The sooner we can get the pictures from you, that would be great. We don't want somebody who has a great picture to miss having it in the book so if you have a photo you want to contribute we certainly want it and even if we can't use it in the book we still want to put it on a cd and place it in the libraries for people to access it if they want to," said Baker

Fuson adds "We're just compiling pictures that will illustrate the history of our county. We're looking for things of the past. Businesses from old times and the old country stores around the county as well as the towns of Liberty, Alexandria, Dowelltown, and Smithville. Not just businesses, but the early settlers, the religious life, schools, special events, entertainment, life from early times. We'd like to devote one chapter of this book to the people who lived where the lake is now. We hope to do another book later on that. Each image will have a caption telling who, what, where, and when. Everybody who contributes a picture will be acknowledged. On every picture it will tell who it came from. We have to scan these pictures a particular way. The publisher gave us guidelines to follow on how to scan the pictures. We would like to have original copies of the pictures to scan. We won't keep the pictures and we won't send them away. We can come to your home and scan them or you can bring them to us and have us scan them. We'll also accept old post cards. Sometimes people have old post cards with pictures of local areas. We can do those too," said Fuson

If you have pictures you'd like to contribute or have scanned for the book, call Ria Baker at 529-2840, Judy Fuson at 597-6397, or WJLE at 597-4265.

Easter Egg Hunt Attracts Lots of Children to Greenbrook Park

April 23, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Easter Egg Hunt Prize Winners
Easter Egg Hunt at Greenbrook Park

Dozens of children and parents enjoyed an Easter egg hunt on Saturday at Greenbrook Park. The fourth annual egg hunt was sponsored by AmVets and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.

Prizes were awarded in three age groups.

Alandria Bates won the category for kids up to three years of age.

Claytin Fish took home the top prize in the four to seven year old division

Courtney Ambrose was the winner among eight to twelve year old children.

Kids also took part in games, egg coloring, a bunny toss, and more.

A Look at the Tennessee Legislature

April 23, 2011
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver:

General Assembly Fights Tennessee’s Meth Problem

In a strong bipartisan move, the House approved HB 457—legislation that cracks down on derivatives of the deadly drug meth otherwise known as "bath salts" or "plant foods."

A wave of illicit drug production and illegal use has swept through parts of Tennessee where countless residents have been rushed to the hospital from the adverse effects of the drug. Various news outlets have even reported on many deaths directly linked to the rise in drug use associated with these ingredients.

The Speaker of the House congratulated the bill sponsor and remarked, “Concerned constituents brought this issue to our attention, and it has been a top priority for our Majority.”

After passage of the legislation, the author of the legislation said, “I’m proud to have the unanimous support of my colleagues on this important issue.” He concluded, “Families in my district and across the State are being torn apart because of drug abuse. We cannot let this continue. I believe passage of this legislation moves us in the right direction for combating meth production in Tennessee. But we must do more. I will continue working with Members of the General Assembly to end the emotional toll and physical destruction meth is having on the lives of Tennesseans.”

Governor Announces Jobs4TN Plan

This week, the Governor and Economic and Community Development Commissioner (ECD) announced the Jobs4TN plan, which lays out the Administration’s economic development strategy resulting from a top-to-bottom review of the department. The plan is consistent with the principles laid out by the Leadership of the General Assembly and implores unique initiatives to pave the way for job creation in Tennessee. The plan focuses on: Prioritizing the strategic recruitment of target industries; assisting existing Tennessee businesses in expansions and remaining competitive; supporting regional and rural economic development strategies; As well as investing in innovation and reducing business regulation.

“My top priority is for Tennessee to be the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs,” said the Governor. “Our Jobs4TN plan is a blueprint for doing just that. By leveraging our existing assets in each region, we will be able to attract new businesses to the State while helping our existing businesses expand and remain competitive. We will also be making significant investments in innovation to position Tennessee as a national leader well into the future.”

The plan was developed over a 45-day period and involved interviews with more than 300 stakeholders, community leaders, and national experts as well as through seven roundtables across Tennessee that were hosted by Legislators.

House Leadership applauded the plan and noted, “Our Majority laid out a clear vision for reducing regulations and passing common sense reforms to encourage job growth throughout Tennessee. This plan is an innovative blueprint that respects the unique aspects each region brings to the table and seeks out companies that will partner with those areas. The Governor and this Majority, once more, prove we are committed to economic development in this State.”

House Judiciary Committee Advances Common Sense Tort Reform Measure
Declaring he wants to “make Tennessee the most business-friendly state," the Member responsible for guiding tort reforms through the House won approval of the critical pro-business measure this week in the Judiciary Committee.
Essentially, the legislation caps "non-economic" damage awards at $750,000 and at $1 million in cases where victims suffer certain catastrophic injuries like the loss of two or more limbs. The bill also caps punitive damages meant to punish accidental negligence by businesses or individuals. Awards for injuries that can be quantified, such as medical care, rehabilitation, or loss of income, are not capped.

The bill is a central focus of the General Assembly’s legislative agenda. Proponents of the legislation believe these reforms will bring stability to the legal environment companies have to account for when considering relocation to Tennessee or doing business here.

On numerous occasions, the Majority Leader has talked about the fact this reform will drastically improve the business prospects for Tennessee. “Leveling the playing field so Tennessee is more competitive with other States in the region is the smart thing to do for our citizens,” he said recently.

House Bill 1085

On Tuesday I regretfully took House Bill 1085 off notice. Why? Because I did not have the votes to pass it out of the committee. However, I was able to address the committee and here is a copy of the text.

“I am taking HB1085 off notice and I am not happy about it! Nor will the legal citizens of this state that pay taxes and vote be happy about it either. Unfortunately lobbyists, members of this committee and school superintendents do not see the value in knowing how much it cost the people who foot the bill- the taxpayers of this state.

This legislation was simple- all we were asking for was a number of how many illegal students there are in our school system and how much did it cost to educate them. I ask you this, how can we as legislators make informed decisions without adequate information?

People of Tennessee want illegal immigration dealt with. It’s breaking the people’s piggy banks and sending our schools into the red.

THE FACTS AS I KNOW THEM ARE THIS:

•In just Davidson County alone there are 12,000 illegal students in the public school system. Add to that the cost of the dual language programs that they provide, and the cost of supplemental food programs that they provide.

•The total k-12 expenditure for illegal immigrants cost the U.S. 12 billion dollars annually. Add to that the number of children born here to illegal immigrants and the cost more than doubles to a staggering 28.6 billion.

This data is just one more example of us turning a blind eye to the problem of illegal immigration in this country.

When are we going to wake up and realize that we must restore integrity to our nation’s immigration laws?

Mr. Chairman it is with a heavy heart that I am regretfully taking house bill 1085 off notice.

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of this committee for your time.”

To view this bill in committee go to www.legislature.state.tn.us and click on schedules and calendars then click on House then click on Tues. 4/19 then click on the State and Local Government Video link.

House Bill 210

HB210 “The Tax That Won’t Die” which is nothing short of theft was placed behind the budget in committee this week. As prime sponsor of this bill it is important that we fight to protect family farms and small family businesses. Tennesseans work hard to achieve and to save so one can leave a good inheritance to their children. Being one of ten remaining states that have an estate tax, HB210 would exempt from taxation the first $1,000,000 and bump the dollar amount to $2,000,000. By seeking the greatest good and eliminating the death tax allowing heirs to keep what is rightfully theirs, think of all the new businesses, job growth and family farms that would continue on instead of the government putting an end to it? This bill has been placed behind the budget. I will keep you posted as this bill as to the outcome.

In closing, one of the highlights of the week was Pastor Tim Frank, of First Baptist Church of Carthage, joined me on the House Floor as my guest and as the Pastor of the Day. It is such a blessing our great state begins each session with prayer. Pastor Tim, thank you for your remarks and heartfelt prayer for the members of the 107th General Assembly. Of course yours truly also added a reminder in song, “Because He Lives.”

Have a great weekend and a Happy Easter!

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 9.4% in March

April 22, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate dropped to 9.4% in March, down from 10.2% in February according to new numbers released Thursday by the state. The local jobless rate for March a year ago was at 10.7%.

DeKalb County's Labor Force in March was at 10,120. A total of 9,170 were employed and 950 were unemployed

Among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland, DeKalb County recorded the fourth lowest jobless rate for the month of March. Here's how the counties rank from highest to lowest in the Upper Cumberland:

Pickett County- 16.4%
Van Buren- 12.4%
Macon-12.1%
Fentress- 11.9%
Clay-11.7%
White-11.6%
Cumberland-11.5%
Overton-11.3%
Warren-11.2%
Jackson-11.1%
DeKalb- 9.4%
Smith-9.3%
Cannon- 8.8%
Putnam- 8.6%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for March 2011, show that the rate decreased in 93 counties and increased in two counties.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for March was 9.5 percent, unchanged from the revised February rate. The national unemployment rate for March 2011 was 8.8 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from the February rate of 8.9 percent.
Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.1 percent, down from the February rate of 6.6 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 21.9 percent, down from 22.6 percent in the previous month, followed by Pickett County at 16.4 percent, down from the February rate of 18.1 percent.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.0 percent, down from 7.6 percent in February. Hamilton County was 8.1 percent, down from 8.7 percent the previous month. Davidson County was 8.4 percent, down from 8.7 percent in February, and Shelby County was 10.1 percent, down from 10.4 percent in February.

Jenny Norris Named DeKalb County Teacher of the Year

April 21, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jenny Norris of DCHS named DeKalb Teacher of Year
Local Teachers of Year Honored at Banquet sponsored by Liberty State Bank
Herb Leftwich, Principal of Upperman High School speaks at banquet

An educator from DeKalb County High School was named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" Thursday night during the fourth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at DCHS.

Jenny Norris received the honor and a check for $150 from Liberty State Bank, the sponsor of the banquet. The presentation was made by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank.

Norris was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Christina Ontiveros from Smithville Elementary School, Michelle Jones from DeKalb Middle School, Shelia McMillen from DeKalb West School, and Lisa Mabe from Northside Elementary School.

Three of the educators, earlier this year, were selected "Teachers of the Year" locally and competed for regional honors in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through sixth grade, explained how the Teachers of the Year are selected. "Every year DeKalb County participates in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program. Each school picks a Teacher of the Year from their school. That teacher is sent to the county level and we also participate in the regional by picking a teacher in Pre-K through 4th grade, a teacher in the 5th through 8th grade, and a 9th through 12th grade teacher. This year we sent nominations over (for regional competition) and we also sent the names of all five teachers of the year where a committee made up of several supervisors from the Upper Cumberland scored our county applicants based on the Rubric scoring guide," said Burklow. The overall Teacher of the Year from DeKalb County was chosen by this committee.

Norris teaches Biology at DCHS. Ontiveros is a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary. McMillen is a second grade teacher at DeKalb West. Jones teaches sixth grade language arts at DeKalb Middle School and Mabe is a second grade teacher at Northside Elementary School.

DeKalb County Teacher of the Year Jenny Norris of DCHS from dwayne page on Vimeo.
The guest speaker for the banquet was Herb Leftwich, Principal of Upperman High School. Others making remarks were Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, DeKalb County Board of Education Chairman Charles Robinson, first district school board member John David Foutch, and Roy N. Pugh of Liberty State Bank.

The principals of each school introduced their teachers of the year. Mrs. Jones, the teacher of the year at DeKalb Middle School, was unable to attend the banquet.

(Top Photo left to right: Roy N. Pugh of Liberty State Bank, Jenny Norris of DCHS, and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby)

(Middle Photo left to right: Roy N. Pugh of Liberty State Bank, Jenny Norris of DCHS, Shelia McMillen of DeKalb West School, Christina Ontiveros of Smithville Elementary School, Lisa Mabe of Northside Elementary School, and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby) Not pictured- DeKalb Middle School Teacher of Year Michelle Jones)

(Bottom Photo- Herb Leftwich, Principal of Upperman High School, guest speaker at banquet)

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