Local News Articles

New DCHS Building Trades Home Under Construction On-Campus

August 31, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Building Trades Home Under Constructiion
Students erecting wall
Students laying plywood
Instructor Melvin Young Overseeing Construction
Students at work
Students Securing Wall

Students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program are making great progress on the latest home now under construction.

Up until this year, all homes built through this program were constructed on lots which had been purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed.

But now, for the first time, a home is being built on campus at DeKalb County High School and when it is completed, the house will be sold and the owner will have it moved to his or her own lot.

Class instructor Melvin Young told WJLE Wednesday that students began work on the home, a 1,456 square foot structure, in August and expect to have it finished by Thanksgiving.

The school board gave its blessing to build the house on-campus in February at the request of Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education director. "The on-site building will bring the building back to the campus at the high school. The students would not have to have transportation. Tools would not have to be transported. Everything would be done right there close to the building trades classroom. The students would just be within walking distance. Its actually in between the band tower and the bus garage. We would come in and build a permanent footer and foundation for the house and then the house would be constructed. After that, whoever wanted to buy the house, they would be responsible for paying for the house at the price that the construction teacher would set. Then they (buyer) would be responsible for all costs of moving the house and taking the house to wherever they would be putting it on a lot.. The other thing I like about this too is that we can do some integration projects with our math courses. Those students can come over and observe or maybe do some calculations on the house. We can also integrate family consumer science for designing purposes. There's a number of different things we can use this for on-site. The students will still be getting the concept of building. It's not taking anything away from that. They will still master the competencies that they need for the construction technology program," said Leach.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE Wednesday that he supports this new concept. "Last spring, they built a foundation in order so that someone can come in, purchase the house and then move it to their own location. With the project that we're doing right now, the students will be involved and learn the majority of the skills that they would be involved in if it were an on-site building project. Of course, there'll be some things, such as laying brick, that they will no longer be doing because it is on campus. The safety of transporting students, tools, and things like that will no longer be an issue. Plus, the students will have more time to actually work on the house without having to spend time on the road going back and forth from school to the building site. So there will be more class time and work time, driving nails, putting in windows, installing doors, and things like that," said Willoughby

Obviously since the home will have to be moved, some finishing work will be required by the owner once its relocated, according to Willoughby. "The house will probably be more affordable because the owner can hire someone to move this house, take it to their own lot, and do some finishing details themselves. The house won't be completely finished when its sold but the majority of the work will already be taken care of, " added Willoughby.

Career Coach Returns to Smithville

August 31, 2011
Career Coach participants learningf Basic Computer Skills
Kathy Hendrixson of Justin Potter Library and Career Counselor Jason Daniel

The Career Coach mobile unit rolled into Smithville Wednesday morning and set up across from City Hall near Justin Potter Library.

A service of the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Career Coach adds a valuable dimension to its services to reach people across the state who do not have a Career Center in proximity to their homes or places of employment.

"We want to make Career Center services accessible to job seekers and employers in their home communities," said Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis. "The mobile units will offer the same services available to our customers as when they walk into one of our Career Centers located across the state."

The mobile units are set up as computer lab classrooms, each having 10 workstations that are equipped with a laptop with high-speed Internet connection. At one end of the coach is the instructor's workstation that is connected to a 42" flat-screen TV with SmartBoard® overlay and a DVD/CD player. The coaches are equipped with a wheelchair lift, and the workstations are ADA compliant.

"The mobile units serve multiple purposes," said Lynn Gibbs, coordinator for the middle Tennessee coach. "Job applicants can register for work and search available openings online. They can also take part in the three workshops we offer – résumé preparation, job search skills, and interviewing skills."

In addition, Gibbs said the department is inviting employers to use the coaches for recruiting, pre-employment screening, taking job applications onsite, and interviewing applicants. "New businesses can use the coaches as a working space when facilities are still under construction, yet the company needs to start hiring. Employers can also
conduct company training classes, since the buses have learning-support technology."

Labor's Adult Education division plans to use the mobile units for enrollment pre- and post-testing, orientation, administering the Official GED Practice Test, and offering GED Fast Track classes.

Because 31 of the state's 95 counties have limited Career Center services, the coaches extend job recruitment and training activities to those areas. These 31 counties have little or no Labor staff present, although Work Investment Area staff may be available. "It's hard enough to be unemployed, but having to drive 30 to 50 miles to a Career Center
creates an extra hardship, with gas costing more than $3 a gallon," said Gibbs. "We hope when people see the mobile units they will be a positive sign that jobs are not far behind."

Counties served by the middle Tennessee coach are the following (underlined counties have limited Career Center service): Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Davidson, DeKalb, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Moore, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren, Wayne, White, Williamson, and Wilson.

The cost of the three coaches in the fleet is about $188,000 apiece. Funding for the mobile units came out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) $4.6 million for Re-Employment Services that Tennessee received. The additional total cost per program year to operate all three units, including maintenance and staff, is $513,000.

Besides being used for Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development activities, first priority use of the coaches will be for national, state, and local emergencies. For example, in the event of another disaster such as the Nashville flood in May 2010, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency need to use the coach would
take precedence over any scheduled departmental booking. The bus is equipped with high-speed satellite Internet and modern radio communications.

If you're an employer who would like to use the Career Coach to interview employees for a new or expanding business or use the bus as a training classroom, go to the Web site at www.getonthecoach.tn.gov/ or call (615) 741-0634. You will be able to check availability and request reservation for an event.

If you would like to ask questions of the Department of Labor and to see photos of the Career Coach, visit the Facebook site at www.facebook.com/GetOnTheCoach.

County Employees Due to Receive Pay Raises

August 30, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

County employees due to get a pay raise with the recent passage of the new budget by the county commission, can expect those raises to be included in their next paychecks.

After recently discovering that the 2011-12 fiscal year covers a leap year, County Mayor Mike Foster said some re-figuring had to be done to accommodate 27 bi-weekly pay periods instead of the traditional 26. "We had figured the pay raises like any normal year. Every normal year has 26 pay periods in it because its every two weeks. But this year, due to leap year and because the last pay date for the last year ending June 30 fell on July 1, which counted in the 2011-12 year, that made us have 27 pay periods. All the salaries were already figured (in the new budget) at 26 pay periods but when we found out that there were 27 pay periods, it through everything out of kilter. We talked to CTAS and several other people in the state and county audit division and found out we would have to do 27 pay periods. That's what they told us to do. So everything had to be re-figured. The pay raises will be on the next pay check and retroactive back to July 1st," said Foster.

Typically, salaried employees receive a certain amount of pay a year, and each bi-weekly paycheck represents a portion of that total. In order to accommodate the extra pay period, paychecks of salaried employees will most likely have to be adjusted (reduced) but they will get the full salary for the year to which they are entitled.

Foster said this will only affect salaried employees ."If they are hourly, their pay is based on the time sheet that their department head sends in so it won't affect them at all. The ones who are salaried people will get 27 checks instead of 26," said Foster.

This situation is not unique to DeKalb County. Foster said other county governments who pay their salaried employees on a bi-weekly cycle are facing the same circumstances.

Former Shiroki Employee Accused of Making Verbal Threats against Industry Supervisors

August 30, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
William H. Bogle Jr.

A disgruntled former employee of Shiroki has been charged with harassment of two industry supervisors.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said 47 year old William H. Bogle, Jr. of Smithville is under a $7,500 bond. He will soon make a court appearance.

According to Chief Caplinger, Bogle, who was fired in January, has allegedly telephoned the local industry on four occasions since then and made verbal death threats against two of the supervisors there. The last incident apparently occurred on Tuesday, August 23.

In other city crime news, a 19 year old Liberty man, Terry Lee Jones, III has been charged with underage consumption of alcohol, DUI, and evading arrest.

Chief Caplinger reports that on Friday night, August 19 an off duty officer spotted someone riding a four wheeler east on Highway 70 between DeKalb Market and Kilgore's Restaurant. The off duty officer reported the incident to central dispatch and continued to follow the ATV until it turned from Broad Street onto Anthony Avenue. An on-duty Smithville Police Officer got behind the ATV but it wouldn't stop, going from Anthony Avenue, to Miller Road, and then onto Georgia Lane. The four wheeler then crashed into a ditch on Georgia Lane, throwing the operator off and into the street. Jones, the operator of the ATV, was not seriously injured but was charged in the case.

Meanwhile, 31 year old Amanda Lynn McElrath of Carthage was arrested on Wednesday, August 24 and charged with a third offense of driving on a suspended license. She was pulled over on Highway 70 in a traffic stop. McElrath's court date is in October.

24 year old Jonathan Adam Rice was arrested on Tuesday, August 23 for evading arrest. Police were called to a residence on South Mountain Street on suspicion of drug activity. No drugs were found but Rice, who had a capias against him and a violation of probation warrant, was found hiding under a bed in the home. His bond on the evading charge is $1,500.

24 year old Alberto Rojas Gonzales was pulled over in a traffic stop on South Congress Boulevard on Saturday, August 20 and charged with DUI and no drivers license. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on September 1.

35 year old Lonnie Wheeler was arrested for DUI on Saturday, August 20 in a traffic stop on Hayes Street. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on October 13

75 year old John Judkins was arrested for driving on a revoked license on Wednesday, August 24 after a traffic stop on South Congress Boulevard. His bond is $1,500.

Robert E. Ferguson was arrested for driving on a revoked license on Friday, August 19 in a traffic stop on West Main Street. He will be in court next month.

50 year old Sammy Gene Taylor was arrested on Saturday, August 20 for driving under the influence after being pulled over in a traffic stop on West Broad Street. He is under a $1,500 bond and will be in court on September 1.

Woman Charged with Breaking into Home on Banks Pisgah Road

August 29, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tiffany Rena Greer
Keith Gordon Saliski
Lori Janette Todd

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged a 28 year old Dowelltown woman with aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000.

Tiffany Rena Greer of Tami Kay Road was arrested Monday, August 29. Greer is under a $22,500 bond and she will be in court on October 13

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that Greer is charged with breaking into a home on Banks Pisgah Road, making entry through a locked back door on Friday, August 19. Items stolen included two saddles and bags, several women clothes, men tennis shoes, camouflaged boots, a Coleman cook set, a bottle of rum, and several articles of camouflaged hunting clothes with a total value of $3,110. He said most of the stolen property has been recovered.

Meanwhile, another man has been arrested as a co-defendant in a recent theft investigation. Two weeks ago, Shane Nerod Miller of Alexandria was picked up by the sheriff's department for allegedly stealing batteries from the same residence on three different occasions and selling them at a local recycling center. This week, Sheriff Ray reports that 36 year old Keith Gordon Saliski, a homeless man who has been staying in Alexandria, has also been arrested in the cases.

Both Saliski and Miller are each charged with three counts of theft of property under $500. Bond for each man totals $3,000 and they will be in court on October 13. Miller was arrested first after an investigation by a Sheriff's Department detective assigned to the case. Saliski was picked up last Wednesday, August 24.

According to Sheriff Ray, Miller and Saliski went to the same residence on Hales Lane on three different occasions, August 2, 4, and 8 and allegedly stole several batteries valued at less than $500 on each trip. The two men then allegedly took the batteries to a local recycling center where they sold them. The total weight of the batteries taken to the recycling center were 816 pounds on the first trip, 503 pounds on the second visit, and 405 pounds on the last occasion.

In another case, a 48 year old Nashville woman, trying to find a place to recharge her cell phone, found herself in trouble with the law for vandalism and criminal trespassing on Sunday, August 28

Lori Janette Todd is under a $4,000 bond and she will be in court on the charges September 1.

Sheriff Ray reports that a deputy was called to check out a suspicious person on the Cookeville Highway, who was going from house to house, knocking on doors. On at least two occasions, when no one came to the door, the woman, later identified as Todd, would make an attempt to enter vehicles parked in the driveway. In one case, a man spotted the woman trying to get into his automobile. He called for her to get away from his car and to leave the premises. The woman left and went to another house, where again she tried to enter an automobile. But as she opened the car door, it struck a small trailer next to the vehicle, putting a dent in the door. Later, when confronted by the officer, Todd, said she was trying to find a place to plug in her cell phone to re-charge it.

DeKalb Suicide Rate Among Highest in Upper Cumberland for 2008

August 29, 2011

In Tennessee, an estimated 800 men, women, and children die by suicide each year. More people die by suicide each year than from homicide, AIDS, or drunk driving. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 15-24 in Tennessee and throughout the entire nation.

In order to bring attention to the urgency of the problem, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has set aside September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Tennessee.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were nine recorded suicides in DeKalb County during 2008, at a rate of 48.1 per 100,000 people. That's the highest rate among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland and third highest in the state. Only Grundy and Benton County had a higher rate per 100,000 persons. The actual number of suicides in DeKalb County, at nine, is the third most in the Upper Cumberland behind Putnam and Cumberland, each with 10. Of the 95 counties in the state, 27 had a higher number of suicides than DeKalb. Three other counties had the same number as DeKalb at nine, but the rate per 100,000 persons in those three counties, Coffee, Dickson, and Hamblen was much lower.

Statewide, the Tennessee Department of Health reports 965 recorded suicide deaths for 2008, at a rate of 15.7 per 100,000 people. Both this number and the rate are the highest ever recorded for Tennessee. The last national rankings, published in 2007 by the American Association of Suicidology, placed Tennessee at 20th in the nation for suicides.

Suicide can happen to anyone, according to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. Most victims suffer from depression, which afflicts more than 17 million Americans yearly. When the spiral of isolation and misery is left unchecked, suicide may appear to be the only answer, and the solitary and self-defeating nature of this illness can impede a person's ability or desire to get help. But with the proper diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide and the terrible toll it takes is preventable.

In almost all cases, suicide can be traced to unrecognized, untreated, or poorly treated mental illness, according to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. It can happen to people of either gender, any race or ethnicity, and any economic status. The average suicide death leaves behind six survivors—family and friends of the deceased—all of who are at increased risk for a suicide attempt themselves. As if the emotional and psychological toll were not enough, suicide and suicide attempts cost the state of Tennessee $1 billion a year in medical treatment, lost wages, and lost productivity.

The best solutions to the problem of suicide are pro-active, not reactive. Individuals struggling with suicidal impulses need to know that people care about their situation, and they need access to community mental health resources. Most suicides are preventable, and through public discourse, education, and awareness, each person can play a part in reducing the frequency of suicide in our communities. With compassion and courage, each person can give a loved one hope in time of despair.

TSPN, along with other state and civic agencies, are joining forces to recognize the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

More information about local and statewide Suicide Prevention Awareness Month events are available on the TSPN website (www.tspn.org). Additional information on these events and TSPN is available from the TSPN central office at (615) 297-1077.

TWRA Hunter Safety Course Begins Soon

August 29, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tony Cross

A Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Hunter Safety Course will be held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, September 12th, 13th, 15th, & 16th from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. each night at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The church is located on Highway 83 at Golf Club Drive, Smithville.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross says participants must be at least nine years old by the first night of the class and must attend each night. There is no charge for the course. Just bring a pencil and your social security card.

For more information, call Tony Cross at 597-9625.

Jennings Loses Appeal

August 28, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Richard Jennings

Former Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, who had sued the City of Smithville claiming he was wrongfully terminated in 2009, has lost an appeal of his case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Jennings filed the lawsuit in DeKalb County Chancery Court in February, 2010 claiming that his termination by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was fraudulent, arbitrary, and capricious. Jennings asked the court to have a hearing and order the city to restore him to his position with the Smithville Police Department.

Chancellor Ronald Thurman held a hearing in September, 2010 and in a final order in November affirmed the decision of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen "in all respects".

Jennings filed an appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals and in a majority opinion, handed down on August 11, 2011, the appellate court, affirmed the judgment of the Chancery Court.

The Smithville board of aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, on December 7th, 2009 upheld the city discipline board's decision in November, 2009 to terminate Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence.

Jennings initially filed a federal court lawsuit, which was dismissed in February, 2010.

Jennings alleged that the city never established a cause for his termination, that the city violated his constitutional due process rights, and that he was the victim of age discrimination in the dismissal.

Jennings has been represented by Murfreesboro attorney Kerry Knox. No word yet on whether Jennings will exercise his further right of appeal.

TCAP Scores Count Toward Student Grades

August 28, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students now have even more reason to perform well on TCAP exams.

Beginning last spring TCAP Achievement test scores in the third through eighth grade began comprising 20% of a student's final grades in the subjects of Math, Reading/Laguage Arts, Science, and Social Studies. The percentage increased to 25% beginning with this school year, 2011-12.

Meanwhile, the End of Course test grades for high school students now count for 25% of their final grades. The percentage last year was 20%.

The DeKalb County Board of Education last December adopted this new policy based on a recommendation by Jonathan Fontanez, who was the Supervisor of Instruction for Grades 7-12 at that time.

Fontanez explained that beginning with the 2011 spring semester, the state began requiring that each local board of education develop a policy by which scores on the TCAP achievement tests administered to third through eighth grade students comprise a percentage of the students final grade for the spring semester in the subjects of Mathematics, Reading/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies. According to Fontanez, the percentage shall be determined by the local board of education within a range of 15%-25%. The policy had to be developed and implemented by the spring semester of 2011.

According to state policy, High School End of Course test grades formerly counted for 20% of the final course grades in End of Course assessed subjects. Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year and the subsequent years following, the End of Course test grades for those assessed courses will count 25% toward a student's final grade.

Fontanez recommended that the board make the percentage for grades 3-8 coincide with the high school requirement already in place so as to help establish a measure of continuity across grades within the district.

Under the new policy, the percentage is 25% of a students final grade in class for grades 3-8 which is the same percentage used for the high school End of Course grade calculations .

Bounds Up For Another Parole Hearing in October

August 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds

64 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville will be up for another parole hearing in October.

Bounds, convicted of first degree murder, is serving a life prison sentence at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville.

Last fall, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to concur with a recommendation by two of it's members Yusuf Hakeem and Charles Taylor that Bounds be denied parole due to the seriousness of the offense in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of DeKalb County.

Following Bounds' last parole hearing in October, 2010, Hakeem and Taylor recommended that Bounds be "put off" for two years before his next parole hearing, but the state board decided instead to review Bound's case again in October, 2011.

The board requested that Bounds undergo a psychological evaluation prior to his next hearing, as was recommended by parole board members Hakeem and Taylor.

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