Local News Articles

DCHS Building Trades Home Still for Sale

July 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
Building Trades House
Joey Reeder

No bids have yet been received on the latest home built by students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program

The board of education Thursday night voted to extend the period for accepting sealed bids on the purchase of the house. The minimum bid is $17,100.

The home, built on campus at DCHS, is described as a 26' x 56' or 1456 square foot (dried-in) house with three bedrooms, two full bathrooms with shower units, living room, kitchen, utility room, three walk-in closets, and a 25 year three tab shingled roof. The house has no plumbing or electric. The purchaser must move the home off the school property within thirty days or be subject to a $100 a day penalty.

The house expenditures totaled $14,829.

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, in his report on personnel, announced that long time DCHS teacher and former high school baseball coach Joey Reeder has been named to replace Clay Farler as the attendance supervisor for the school system. Farler has retired.

Parents Urged to Make Appointments Now for Vaccinations

July 14, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dee Anna Reynolds
Mark Willoughby

Parents working on checklists to get their children ready for the start of school have an important health item to include: required immunizations. In Tennessee, children enrolling in school for the first time and all children going into 7th grade must provide schools with a state immunization certificate before classes start as proof they have had immunizations necessary to protect them and their classmates from serious vaccine-preventable diseases.

Kindergarten students and those who will be entering the seventh grade next month must have their immunizations up to date or their parents risk those children not being enrolled in school. "If you don't have your shots (immunization record complete), you're not going to get to come to school and If you don't come to school, our new attendance supervisor Joey Reeder will be making a visit and filing petitions on students for not being in school," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby during Thursday night's school board meeting.

Tennessee students are required to have a number of immunizations for school attendance, and parents are urged to make appointments now for needed vaccinations to avoid the last-minute rush to get them when the new school year starts.

"We got off to a great start Thursday with our pre-k registration and we have partnered with the health department to help us check those (immunization) records," said Dee Anna Reynolds, School Health Coordinator. They (health department) will be out at seventh grade registration on August 1 to check records for us. They will also be making appointments for us that afternoon and all day on Friday to get those kids into compliance and they will be doing some immunization clinics for seventh graders," she said.

"The health department has been super, great to work with this year," said Willoughby. "They are going to make an appointment with the child and their parents on when they can come to the health department and get their shots. Like state law says, they are not going to be allowed to attend school (without their immunizations being up to date). Three or four years ago we worked through that and let some people come (to school without up to date record of immunizations) and we really weren't supposed to. But the people that still don't have their shots, they have received letters and phone calls," said Willoughby

“We don’t want to see children turned away from school on the first day because they lack their completed immunization certificates, but unfortunately this can and does happen,” said Kelly Moore, MD, MPH, director of the Tennessee Immunization Program. “Tennessee parents can avoid the stress of trying to get into a health care provider’s office at the last minute by taking care of immunization needs now.”

Specific immunizations are required for children entering child care or pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and seventh grade, and for any children in other grades enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time. For a list of required immunizations, visit http://health.state.tn.us/CEDS/required.htm. School certificates may be obtained from your child’s healthcare provider or from a local health department. Questions about school policies on when or how immunization certificates must be provided should be directed to local schools.

Full-time college students in Tennessee are also required to have immunizations, including a new state law effective July 1, 2013, requiring freshmen younger than 22 years of age who attend state colleges and will live in campus housing to provide proof of immunization against meningococcal disease.

“Getting vaccinated is a safe and simple way to protect us all from potentially deadly diseases,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Vaccination also helps ensure students don’t miss important classroom time due to preventable illnesses, and that parents don’t have to miss work to care for sick children.”

Vaccines prevent disease from occurring rather than treating existing illnesses. High rates of routine vaccination in the United States protect the population from diseases that are still common in other countries, such as measles. The Tdap booster required for students entering seventh grade is especially important, given the resurgence of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the United States. TDH supports and promotes all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for childhood and adolescent vaccinations as an important primary prevention measure to protect public health.

Immunizations required for school are available from a variety of health care providers, including county health departments. Children may be eligible to receive free vaccine if they have no insurance, are enrolled in TennCare, have private insurance that does not cover vaccines, or are American Indian or Alaska Native. There is a separate charge for administration of the vaccine which may be discounted for children with no insurance, who are American Indian or Alaska Native, and children with private insurance that does not cover vaccines.

Parents with insurance for their children that covers vaccines should contact their child’s primary care provider to get immunizations. If the private provider does not have vaccines available for older children or adolescents, parents may call their local health department for an appointment. There may be charges associated with this service.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.

Mila Makes a Difference At Home and Abroad

July 13, 2013
Mila Vazquez

In a world full of scandals and breaking news, it is easy to forget that we live in a place full of good-hearted people who go the extra mile with nothing to gain in return. Mila Vazquez is such a person.

Mila was born of humble beginnings from a small island in the Philippines. When asked about her childhood, Mila drifts in thought, “Growing up, we didn’t have much, but we always shared what we DID have. My father was always inviting people to eat or stay with us. He has always been a very giving person.” Following in her father’s footsteps, Mila wanted to pursue a career path that would help people. That decision led her to the healthcare field as a physical therapist.

Mila Vazquez has a passion to help with reasons that become more and more obvious as she talks, “Growing up, there was a big ship that came to our island. It was full of mission workers who came especially to help our village and the villages around us. As a child, it was at that moment that I said to myself, ‘I want to be one of those people when I grow up.’ Now, it is like I am living that dream by making a difference for my people of the Philippines as well as my patients here in the United States. It makes me very happy. When I get a thank you card or a friendly call from a patient or their family, it just makes my day.”

As a physical therapist at DeKalb Community Hospital and Stones River Hospital, Mila often goes the extra mile by going with her patients to their doctor’s appointments, calling to check on them and being their friend. We asked one of Mila’s patients what they had to say about her, and they replied, “My family was so very happy the first time that I told them that my physical therapist came to my doctors visit with me,” they continued, “My doctor took extra time to talk with Mila and she made sure that I really understood my treatment plan. I never imagined having anyone so concerned about me. She cares and it shows.”

Going the extra mile with her patients is not the only thing that makes Mila extraordinary. Mila speaks with gratitude about her opportunities in the U.S. , but has never forgotten where she came from. With this in mind, Mila has started ‘The Philippine Project’ - partnering with The Filipino American Association of TN to help raise money to give back to the people and place that raised her. She has hosted charity luncheons featuring homemade cuisine from her childhood home along with asking her friends and co-workers to donate money at designated times, like casual Jean Fridays, where employees bring in a donation in return for the perk of wearing jeans. With the donated funds, Mila purchases shoes and basic necessities and travels to the Philippines every year to share her blessings with children and adults alike.

So, the next time you purchase a pair of shoes, go to the doctor or see someone in need—-think of Mila and count your blessings --- then share them!

Pictured: Mila Vazquez helps a patient’s recovery through physical therapy.

Board Accepts Base Bid on DeKalb West Project, Opts to Re-Bid Roof and Make Deducts to Save Money

July 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb West School

The DeKalb County Board of Education voted 4-0 Thursday night to award the base bid on the DeKalb West School addition to J. Cumby Construction of Cookeville, the lowest bidder on the project.

The base bid amount is $2,179,000.

But since the overall project costs of more than $4.8 million dollars is over available funding by approximately 25%, the board is exercising its option to make deducts and to re-bid a new roof on the existing West School building to bring down the costs. "We have checked and we can make deducts from the contract of the lowest bidder," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. " We are doing a pre-bid inspection next Tuesday, July 16 on the re-roof project because everything came in above what we had expected our estimates to be. We will bid that again the following Tuesday, July 23. Everybody is in agreement that we can make those deductions. If two Tuesdays from now we get a lower bid than what was in the contract, we will take that lowest bid. If we have a lower bid on the bid date then we will go with that bid. If the lowest bid is in the contract, we'll go with that bid," he said.

According to Director Willoughby, deducts can also be made on equipment for the kitchen/cafeteria renovation to save money. " We have deducted on the cafeteria approximately $83,000. We are taking our old equipment and putting in the new kitchen. That is also equipment put in there such as milk coolers. We don't have to purchase those. The company we purchase the milk from will supply the milk coolers. That's a savings. We have also met with other kitchen suppliers this week. We have requested if we buy things from certain vendors, we think we can save at least $20,000 more," said Willoughby.

The school board's action on accepting bids is subject to approval of the county commission.

The board of education learned last month that the DeKalb West School building project is more expensive than the architect originally anticipated.

Jason Morris of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects, Inc. of Mount Juliet, informed the school board that the total costs come to more than $4.8 million dollars. The county commission, last summer approved a $3.4 million note to cover this project and other school roofing work.

J. Cumby Construction of Cookeville had the overall lowest bid of the three bids submitted at $3,534,000.

The base bid was $2,179,000 to construct the new addition and $75,341 to purchase the roofing materials; $509,000 (alternate 1) to re-roof the existing building and $192,872 to purchase the roofing materials; and $846,000 (alternate 2) for the kitchen/cafeteria renovation and $12,866 to buy the roofing materials. The project also included a cost of $986,924 for energy efficient renovations by Johnson Controls.

The DeKalb County School System last year received approval from TEMA and FEMA for grant funds of more than $1.5 million to build eight tornado safe rooms at DeKalb West School. The spending plan calls for local funding to meet a 12.5% FEMA grant match for building the rooms. The proposed addition will be constructed in the front of the school, including the eight classrooms, restrooms, a new secure entrance, an office, clinic, conference room, and guidance and teacher work area. The county is paying for additions not covered by the grant.

The county commission, last summer approved funding for the DeKalb West School project in the form of the note to cover the local grant match for the safe rooms along with an $850,000 cafeteria and kitchen renovation at DeKalb West School as well as roofing projects at DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, and Smithville Elementary School.

Board of Education Budgets Funds for Two New SROs

July 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
School Board and Director of Schools

The Board of Education has taken up the budget committee on its offer to partner with the county in making sure School Resource Officers are in every DeKalb County School.

During Thursday night's meeting, the Board voted 4-0 to include in its proposed budget for 2013-14, a total of $73,839 to fund salaries and benefits of two new SROs. Board members Johnny Lattimore, Charles Robinson, Billy Miller, and Doug Stephens all voted for it. Board members Kenny Rhody, John David Foutch and W.J. (Dub) Evins, III were unable to attend the meeting.

Members of the county commission's budget committee voted 4 to 1 Tuesday night to include funding for two new SROs in the proposed county general budget, but only if the school board would vote to fund two (salaries and benefits) in its budget.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby had expressed to the budget committee Tuesday night that he didn't think the school board would go along with funding SROs given the fact that schools were being asked to cut another $147,000 from the proposed school budget to meet last year's funding levels. But during Thursday night's school board meeting, Willoughby said partnering with the county appears to be the only way schools were going to get more SROs. "The county commission (budget committee) stated that if we would fund two then they would fund two. Basically it was my interpretation that if we didn't fund two then there would not be two (any new SROs) funded," said Willoughby. We feel that it is very important to help provide safety for all people involved in our school system. Its either us fund two or not have any Resource Officers except for the one the Sheriff already provides out of his current budget," said Willoughby.

During Tuesday night's county budget meeting, committee member Larry Summers made a motion that the county general fund two new SRO's (salaries and benefits) if the school board does the same with the county general to pick up all the expense of training and equipping the new officers with patrol cars, guns, etc. The vote was 4-1. Committee members Wayne Cantrell, Marshall Ferrell, and Jerry Scott joined Summers in voting for the motion. Jack Barton voted against it, since he wanted the county general budget to fund all four new SROs.

County Mayor Mike Foster then polled the twelve county commissioners present at the budget committee meeting to see how they felt about funding two SROs if the school board were to fund two SROs. All but three commissioners said they favored it. However when polled about the county general funding all four SROs, a majority of the commissioners said no.

The county budget committee will meet tonight (Friday) at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse to act on the school board's proposed budget.

School Board Makes More Budget Cuts, Three Proposed New Supplement Positions Eliminated

July 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education revisited its proposed budget for the 2013-14 year Thursday night, making more than the $147,000 in cuts requested by the county budget committee.

Removed from the proposed spending plan are two new assistant soccer coaches, one for the girls and one for the boys program at DCHS and a proposed new cross country coaching supplement. Total savings from those cuts combined comes to $8,355. A proposed new teaching position in the gifted program will be cut to part time. A previously federally funded special education teaching position, to be funded from the general purpose (local school budget) will be cut to part time.

Altogether, cuts were made in varying amounts from a total of thirty six line items in the proposed budget for a total of $148,355, more than meeting the request of the county budget committee. "We took $500 here and $1,000 there in different places, in several different categories, just a little here and a little there to come up with the amount of cuts that was requested," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

While school officials had anticipated having to use up to $1.2 million of school reserves to balance the 2012-13 budget, the school system actually ended up in the black for the year. "We were fortunate this year to end without using any of our reserves. This budget does not request a tax increase to the county. This budget is again tight and we hope we can come out ahead again next year without using any reserves," said Willoughby.

The proposed school budget does not include a property tax increase. The rate for schools would remain at 55 cents per $100 of assessed value. However, the budget proposes to use $1,237,960 of school BEP reserves and fund balance if needed to balance the budget by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Total school revenues come to $19,314,324 including $14,004,000 in State Basic Education Program funds and $2,362,429 in current property tax funds. Total school expenditures are $20,478,445.

In order to meet requirements of the federal Affordable Health Care Act, the budget includes funds to offer single coverage health insurance to all full time classified employees (support staff) who want it, beginning January 1, 2014. Employees who take the school system up on its offer will have to pay ninety dollars per month. The school system will cover the rest. No additional insurance benefit will be offered to certified personnel.

The proposed budget calls for certified employees to receive a one time bonus instead of a 1.5% pay raise. Director Willoughby said in a previous meeting that approximately $40,000 in state funds will pay for the bonuses which comes to about $160 per employee.

The budget includes funding for two new teacher positions at DeKalb Middle School

One new P.E. teacher at Northside Elementary School

One new extra teacher position (instead of two) which may or may not be needed depending upon enrollment at the elementary school level: (position not to be filled if not needed)

One full time and one part time federal teacher positions moving to general purpose schools (local budget)

Under the Gifted Education Program: One new gifted part time position:

Under Special Education Program: A half time psychologist

Other new positions included in the budget:

Assistant band director (working primarily at DeKalb West School) (supplement)

Two new Middle School Soccer Coaches (supplement)

One baseball coach at DeKalb West School (supplement)

The budget also includes a $4,150 pay raise for the Transportation Supervisor

The county budget committee will meet tonight (Friday) at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse to act on the proposed school budget.

School Lunch Prices to Increase Again

July 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Stephanie Dyer (Older Photo)

If you pay for your children's school lunches, you'll have to ante up a little more this coming school year.

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night voted to increase the price of school lunches five cents, going from $1.45 to $1.50 for pre-kindergarten students to fifth graders and from $1.70 to $1.75 for sixth through twelfth graders. Breakfast prices will remain the same at $1.00 for all students. Prices for adults at schools will remain at $2.50

This is the third year in a row the school board has voted to hike school lunch prices.

Stephanie Dyer, School Nutrition Supervisor, has said in previous meetings that prices have to increase until they get to $2.51 under USDA regulations, or the school system risks losing its increase in food reimbursement rates. "Each year we have gone up ten cents. However this year with our funds we're able to just go up five cents and still be in good shape, said Dyer during Thursday night's meeting. "Hopefully we'll stay like this for a couple of years. That's what we're hoping for. They are becoming a little bit more lenient on that," she said.

DeKalb County’s Curtis honored by TTU College of Business

July 11, 2013
Casey Curtis

Casey Curtis, of Smithville, received the Gary Pickett memorial scholarship from Tennessee Tech University’s College of Business.

Curtis is a senior studying business management and a graduate of DeKalb County High School. He was one of more than 100 students to receive a scholarship from the College of Business this spring. The college distributed nearly $143,000 this spring to its top students.

“We are proud of this outstanding group of students,” said James Jordan-Wagner, dean of TTU’s College of Business. “We are also extremely pleased with the support we receive from businesses and alumni in supplying the private funds for scholarships. In these trying times, they have responded by increasing the amount that we could award this year.”

“These awards recognize our students’ achievements and help us to attract quality students to TTU.”

Tiger Pride Camp Teaching Youngsters Basics of Football

July 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Tiger Pride Camp Teaching Youngsters Basics of Football

Some one hundred youngsters ages five to twelve have been learning more about football during the first ever Tiger Pride Football Camp this week at DeKalb County High School

USA certified football coaches and other volunteers have spent the week teaching kids the basics of the game. "We've been wanting to put one of these together for quite a few years and with John (Kilgore's) help this year and the organization we've got one going and we've had a hundred kids out here each and every day and it's just a great thing to be able to instill that Tiger pride and a little football knowledge in these young guys," said DCHS Football Coach Steve Trapp.

"We've got a lot of our high school guys, a lot of guys who graduated last year and in years past who have come out to help us. They are actually running the drills for us. The Junior Pro coaches are here. Its helping all levels of football here in DeKalb County," said Coach Trapp.

"Football has got popular in the last four or five years," said John Kilgore, who helped organize the camp. "Coach Steve (Trapp) has turned the program around at DCHS and its got more kids interested," he said.

On Thursday, the last day of camp, a scrimmage game will be played for each age group.

Local Church Hosts Work Camp to Make Minor Home Repairs for Those in Need

July 10, 2013
Dwayne Page
Work Camp Volunteers Sealing Driveway of Home on Holmes Creek Road
Smithville Church of Christ Work Camp Volunteers
Rob Willingham and Mike Lewis among those Repairing Deck of home on Kendra Drive
More Work Camp Volunteers
Gena Cripps painting underhang of carport at home on Holmes Creek Road

Members of the Smithville Church of Christ are lending a hand to neighbors in need this week.

Through the church sponsored work camp, volunteers are going out into the community to make minor repairs and upgrades to homes and properties of several low income families. "We've built some handicapped ramps. We've cleaned up a lot of brush and done yard work and things that have just gotten out of hand for people who could not get to it or who didn't have the time, ability or the tools and equipment to do it. We're trying to make a difference in the community," said Tim Woodward, Involvement Minister of the Smithville Church of Christ.

Woodward said this is the church's first project of this kind locally. "It's the first time we've ever done it. The idea was born out of some mission work we had done. We had been to Mexico for eleven years doing some construction work on church buildings and then we went to South Carolina for seven years. We went to Tuba City, Arizona to a Navajo Indian Reservation out there and did some work. We always talked on those trips about doing something here locally so we got together the first of the year and came up a plan and sent out some applications. We got some back and word spread that we were doing some projects for people in the city and county that either couldn't afford to do the projects or couldn't do it themselves," he said.

Families served through the work camp are not required to pay for the services. "We had a special contribution at church a couple of months ago. Our goal was to pay for all the necessary supplies and things that we need. There have been some (families) who have said I can afford to pay but I just can't do the work. They have graciously done that and it has allowed our resources to go a little bit further," said Woodward.

The church volunteers hope to complete about twenty five projects this week during the work camp. Woodward said he is hopeful the program will become an annual event. "We've averaged about 45 people out working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We've had a good turnout. We've got some ladies that cook our lunch and supper for us. We eat and go back at it. We're kind of feeling our way through it but we hope it becomes an annual event. We would like to eventually invite other youth groups to be part of it. Hopefully it will only get bigger and better," said Woodward.


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