Local News Articles

Tennessee Highway Patrol Encourages Back to School Safety

August 3, 2013

Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott is reminding motorists to exercise an abundance of caution in neighborhoods and around school zones during the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. State Troopers will target speeders, distracted drivers and those who disregard stopped school buses that are loading and unloading children.

State Troopers issued 5,247 citations in school zones during the 2012-2013 school year. That’s up from 3,856 citations issued in 2011-12. Last year’s citations included 759 speeding violations and two citations for passing a stopped school bus.

“Our priority is to educate motorists on the importance of safe driving practices around school zones and buses and in high pedestrian traffic areas,” Colonel Trott said. “We are also urging motorists who are transporting children to and from school to ensure they are safely restrained in seat belts, booster seats and child restraint devices. This effort stretches far beyond school zones,” he added.

Between 2008 and 2012, there has been a 7.0 percent decrease in the number of crashes occurring in school zones between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and the hours of 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. There was also a 73.5 percent decline in the total number of school bus-related crashes between those same hours.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that 123 school-age pedestrians (younger than 19) have been killed in school-transportation-related crashes since 2001. Over two-thirds (69%) were struck by school buses and 26 percent by other vehicles involved in the crashes. There were 49 (40 %) school age pedestrians killed in school transportation-related crashes between the ages of five and seven, according to NHTSA.

“We have seen a 31.4 percent increase in the number of overall pedestrian fatalities across the state, compared to this same time period in 2012,” Trott said. “It’s imperative for drivers to share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists, and to comply with pedestrian yield laws. We all have a responsibility to make sure pedestrians are safe.”

In Tennessee, there have been 46 pedestrians killed on state roadways in 2013. That’s 11 more than at this time in 2012. Nationwide, there were a total of 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011 (the latest figure available), the 14-and-younger age group accounted for 230 (5%) of those fatalities.

The Pupil Transportation section of the Tennessee Highway Patrol also oversees all school bus inspections in the state and determines whether public school bus systems are in compliance with the safety requirements by state law. During fiscal year 2012-13, 11,401 school buses were inspected with 1,367 being placed out of service.

Each day, 26 million children in the United States ride school buses, including 600,000 in Tennessee, according to NHTSA.

The speed limit in school zones is 15 miles per hour and the fine for speeding in a school zone is up to $500. It is also against the law to pass a school bus when it is stopped and loading or unloading passengers. The driver can be fined no less than $250 and up to $1,000.



• All school bus drivers in Tennessee must attend an annual training course in order to receive and maintain the school bus endorsement on their Driver Licenses.

• School buses are nearly nine times safer than passenger vehicles. But children must take care when boarding or leaving buses.

• Young children are most likely to be injured around school buses because they:
o Hurry to get on or off the bus
o Act before they think
o Have little experience with traffic
o Assume motorists will see them and will wait for them to cross
o Don’t always stay within the bus driver’s line of sight
o Drop something as they are getting off the bus and run into the path of the bus to pick it up.


o Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver;
o Get to the bus stop in plenty of time;
o Take 10 giant steps back from the curb while waiting for the bus and 10 steps when exiting the bus;
o Never try to get anything left on the bus after exiting;
o Never reach underneath the bus;
o Always follow the driver’s directions for how to cross the street;
o Be alert to traffic and look both ways;
o Always cross in front of the bus, but only when the bus driver signals it is safe to do so.
o Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from traffic and the street.
o Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
o Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
o When exiting, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road). Move away from the bus.
o Before crossing the street, take 10 "giant steps" out from the front of the bus, or until the driver's face can be seen. Wait for the driver to signal that it's safe to cross.
o Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.
o Be aware of the street traffic around you. Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses. However, not all do. Protect yourself and watch out!

o Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road and avoid rough play.
o Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus. If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus. Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together.
o Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps that could get caught in the handrail or bus door.
o Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading.
o If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.

o Yellow flashing lights on the bus indicate that it is preparing to stop and load or unload children. This means cars need to slow down and prepare to stop.
o It is illegal to pass a school bus with its red flashing lights and stop signal arm activated. Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off or when the bus driver motions them through.
o Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop.
o Vehicles moving in the opposite direction as the bus are also required to stop unless they are on a divided highway.
o Never pass on the right side of the bus where children are entering and exiting. This is illegal and can have tragic results!

o You might have heard before that most traffic crashes occur close to home...they do.
o Safety belts are the best form of protection passengers have in the event of a crash. They can lower the risk of injury by 45%.
o You are four times more likely to be seriously injured or killed if ejected from the vehicle in a crash.
o Everyone needs to be buckled up properly. That means older kids in seat belts, younger kids in booster seats and little kids in child safety seats.

o Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard -- never cross the street against a light, even if you don't see any traffic coming.
o Walk your bike through intersections.
o Walk with a buddy.
o Wear reflective material...it makes you more visible to street traffic.

Weight Loss Challenge Champions Revealed

August 2, 2013
Shan Burklow
Weight Loss Challenge Champions Revealed

DeKalb and Cannon County participated in The Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge recently where teams and individuals lost all the weight they could over a three month deadline. Winners were revealed on Friday, July 26th at the DeKalb County Fair where DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster and Cannon County Mayor Mike Gannon showed up to hopefully claim the title of County Champion Overall. The 90 day challenge was sponsored by DeKalb Community Hospital and Stones River Hospital to encourage both counties to eat wise and exercise their way to better health.

“We are very proud of all of the participants of the challenge. A combined total of 943.2 pounds were lost. To celebrate this success, DeKalb Community Hospital and Stones River Hospital are donating 943 pounds of food to our local food banks,” said Sue Conley, CEO of DeKalb Community Hospital and Stones River Hospital, “We appreciate both county mayors supporting the event as well as allowing us to use the DeKalb County Complex. Additional thanks to Manager Pat Ford of Smithville Subway for sponsoring the challenge and providing coupons and gift cards throughout the event.”

Top winners revealed during the Friday evening finale’ included:

•DeKalb County Champion Daniel Seber lost a total of 17.04% total body weight making him the Ultimate Weight Loss Champion receiving a trophy and $500 cash prize as well as awarding DeKalb County the title of County Ultimate Weight Loss Champion Overall for 2013.

•Cannon County Champion Billy Moulder lost a total of 11.07% body weight receiving a trophy and $500 grand cash prize.

• Additional DeKalb County top scores for cash and prizes included second place winner Linda Fowler, Amy Seber, Jimmy Crawford, Kevin Manning, County Mayor Mike Foster, Beth Chandler and The Happy Booker Team from Justin Potter Library / Kathy Hendrixson and Rochelle Turner Captains.

• Additional Cannon County top scores for cash and prizes included second place winner Teresa Bouldin, Mary Duncan, James Bogle, Pam Hoskins and the Junk in the Trunks Team / Faith Bogle Captain

When asked about DeKalb’s victory, County Mayor Mike Foster replied, “I am proud to accept this trophy on behalf of DeKalb County. We are proud of Daniel Seber for a job well done and hope everyone continues to make healthy choices throughout the year.”

Concerning Cannon County’s defeat, County Mayor Mike Gannon smiles, “This was all in good fun and we are proud of both counties for their efforts. Mike Foster and I had a good time during the challenge. I am proud of Cannon County’s hard work and congratulate Billy Moulder for representing us well.”

“I was personally excited over the first year success of the challenge,” said Director Shan Burklow of DeKalb Community Hospital and Stones River Hospital , “People are already coming up to me and asking if we will start another challenge for this fall. Although there are no immediate plans to start a fall challenge, we are scheduled for April 2014 and plan to make it even more interactive with more classes, workout groups, online recipes and continued support. Now that we know that both counties support the event and have given great feedback, we know what to plan for to make it even better than ever.”

For information on how you can participate in the next Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge, join the Challenge facebook page: WeightLossChallenge.

PICTURED: The two Ultimate Weight Loss County Champions receive their awards presented by both county mayors along with DeKalb Community Hospital and Stones River Hospital. (from left to right) Cannon County Mayor Mike Gannon, DeKalb / Stones River Hospital CNO Kim Frazier and CEO Sue Conley, DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster, Champion Overall Daniel Seber, Champion Billy Moulder, and Director Shan Burklow of DeKalb / Stones River Hospital.

Dwight Mathis Elected Mayor of Liberty

August 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dwight Mathis

Dwight Mathis was elected Mayor of Liberty Thursday.

Mathis received 32 votes in the municipal election. He was unopposed.

Meanwhile Incumbent Alderman Howard Reynolds, Jr. was also re-elected unopposed. He received 30 votes. The terms of office become effective with the next council meeting, Monday August 5.

Since the election was uncontested, voting was done by paper ballot. "The law states any municipality with a population of five thousand (5,000) or less may elect to use paper ballots instead of voting machines for municipal elections when there is no opposition for any of the offices involved (on the ballot)," said Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley. "Liberty did choose to use paper ballots, rather than voting machines, which will save the town approximately $1,200," he said.

The city government is now made up of Mayor Dwight Mathis and Aldermen Howard Reynolds, Jr. Paul M. Neal, and Jason H. Ray.

Mathis and Jarrett Pistole have held the other two aldermen seats. Those positions will remain vacant until the remaining aldermen appoint persons to fill them.

Seventh Annual Sales Tax Holiday Friday-Sunday

August 1, 2013
Seventh Annual Sales Tax Holiday Friday-Sunday

The Department of Revenue is reminding Tennesseans that the seventh annual Sales Tax Holiday is scheduled for Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4. During these three days Tennessee shoppers can save nearly 10 percent on tax-free clothing, school and art supplies, and computer purchases.

“I want to encourage Tennessee families to take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday because it was created with them in mind,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “The weekend provides savings for families, especially as students are starting the new school year, and the holiday can provide relief on clothing, school and art supplies and computer purchases.”

The holiday begins Friday, August 2 at 12:01 a.m. and ends Sunday, August 4 at 11:59 p.m. During the designated three-day weekend, consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less.

“As in years past, last year's tax-free weekend was very successful, providing Tennessee taxpayers over $10 million in tax savings” said Revenue Commissioner Richard H. Roberts. “We are hopeful that Tennessee shoppers will again take advantage of the tax relief provided by the 2013 Sales Tax Holiday.”

Please visit the Sales Tax Holiday Web site at www.tntaxholiday.com to learn more about the items exempt from sales tax. The Tennessee Department of Revenue also assists consumers via e-mail, Salestax.Holiday@TN.gov, and through its toll-free statewide telephone hot line, (800) 342-1003. Staff is available to answer questions Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. (Out-of-state and Nashville-area callers, please dial (615) 253-0600.)

Examples of exempt items include:
•Clothing: Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms whether athletic or non-athletic and scarves

•School Supplies: Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and scissors

•Art Supplies: Clay and glazes; acrylic, tempera and oil paints; paintbrushes for artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors

•Computers: Central processing unit (CPU), along with various other components including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and preloaded software (Note: While the CPU may be purchased separately, other items must be part of a bundled computer package in order to be eligible.) iPads and other tablet computers are eligible for tax exemption, while smart phones and video game consoles are not.

Smithville Police Make Arrests for DUI, Theft, Drugs, Assault and other Offenses

August 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Randy Caplinger

In his latest report on city crime, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 30 year old Jamie Anne South was cited for shoplifting on July 12. K-9 Officer James Cornelius responded to the Dollar General Store where it was discovered that South allegedly put items inside her clothing in an attempt to deprive them of their property. South will be in court August 29.

29 year old Megan Ann Lann was cited for shoplifting on July 15. Officer Chip Avera responded to the Dollar General Store where it was discovered that Lann had concealed an item in her purse in an attempt to deprive the store of its merchandise.

Detective Brandon Donnell cited 25 year old Karie Lynn Padgett for shoplifting at the Dollar General Store on July 16. She allegedly took items belonging to the store without paying for them.

Officer Stephen Barrett arrested 38 year old Kevin Donald Bogle on July 18 for DUI. He was also cited for violation of the implied consent law. Bogle, operating a motor vehicle, was stopped for reckless driving. Bogle had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were glazed over and he performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Bogle's bond is $2,500.

27 year old Nikita Dawn Clark was cited for theft of property on July 19. Corporal Travis Bryant was called to Wal-Mart to check out a reported theft where it was discovered that Clark was in possession of several items she had not paid for.

46 year old William Ray Cantrell was cited for two counts of simple possession on July 21. Officer Joey Myers responded to a motor vehicle crash on Smith Road where the vehicle had turned over. Officer Myers found outside the vehicle a zip lock bag containing pills believed to be Xanax and a small plastic bag with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

25 year old Brandon Wayne Hutchings and 24 year old Jessica Anne Jenkins were arrested July 21 for promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine. Hutchings was also cited for simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Sergeant Bradley Tatrow stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation. Sergeant Tatrow noticed that the driver, Hutchings, had slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. When Hutchings was asked to empty his pockets, a pill believed to be morphine was discovered. Police asked Jenkins for permission to search her vehicle but she refused. K-9 Officer Cornelius was then called for assistance. Jenkins' vehicle was searched after K-9 LEO was deployed and alerted on the automobile. Several items were found during the search known to be used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. Bond for Hutchings and Jenkins is $25,000 each and they will be in court September 12.

19 year old Amber C. Barrett was arrested for assault on July 22. Captain Steven Leffew was dispatched to a residence to check out a domestic call. Upon arrival Captain Leffew spoke with the victim who stated that she and a family member (Barrett) got into an argument that turned physical. Barrett's bond is $1,000.

53 year old Debra Ella Hayes was arrested on July 22 for leaving the scene of an accident and driving on a revoked license due to a DUI. Officer Stephen Barrett was dispatched to South Congress Boulevard to investigate a hit and run accident with injuries. It was discovered that Hayes was operating the car involved in the crash. She was found at Jewels Market. A computer check revealed her license were revoked in Oklahoma and Missouri for DUI. Hayes' bond is $7,500 and she will be in court August 8.

35 year old Jeremy Austin Scruggs was arrested July 23 for public intoxication. Officer Stephen Barrett was dispatched to Highland Avenue to a fight call. Upon arrival, Officer Barrett made contact with Scruggs whose arm was bleeding. Scruggs had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was unsteady on his feet and he wouldn't comply with officer's commands. It was discovered that Scruggs, who had been drinking, hurt his arm in a fall due to his intoxication. Bond for Scruggs is $1,500 and he will be in court August 8.

59 year old Dale A Golden was arrested for DUI and cited for simple possession on July 24. Corporal Travis Bryant received a call of a possible drunk driver on West Broad Street. Corporal Bryant spotted the vehicle in question and stopped it for a light violation. Golden, who had slurred speech, was unsteady on his feet and he performed poorly on sobriety tasks. A search incident to arrest revealed a small blue pill believed to be Diazapam on his person. Bond for Golden is $1,500 and he will be in court August 15.

18 year old Zachary Vincent and a juvenile were cited for simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia on July 26. Vincent was a passenger and owner of a vehicle that Sergeant Bradley Tatrow had stopped for speeding. Upon a search of the vehicle, a small bag of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana was found along with paraphernalia. Vincent's court date is September 26.

37 year old Jody Lee Wright and 40 year old Amanda C. Oaf were arrested on July 30. Wright was charged with DUI and cited for failure to maintain his lane of travel and violation of the implied consent law. Oaf was charged with public intoxication. Officer Chip Avera stopped Wright's vehicle for failure to maintain lane of travel. He noticed that Wright had slurred speech. Wright was unsteady on his feet, uncoordinated and performed poorly on sobriety tasks. Oaf, a passenger in the vehicle, had slurred speech. She was unsteady on her feet and she performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. A search incident to arrest revealed two pills believed to be oxycodone in Oaf's possession. Bond for Wright and Oak is $1,500 each and they will be in court August 15.

DeKalb Schools Open Today, 2013-14 School Calendar Released

August 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Older Photo

DeKalb County Schools Open Today.

Registration for all students will be Thursday, August 1. That will be an abbreviated school day from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Friday, August 2 will be an administrative day for teachers only

The first full day of school for all students will be Monday, August 5

The 2013-14 school calendar is as follows:

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 2.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 14-25

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 27, 28, & 29 and for the winter break December 23 through January 3. Wednesday, December 20 will be the last day students attend before winter break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Students will return after the holidays on Monday, January 6.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20 and for President's Day, Monday, February 17.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 24-28

No school for students on Good Friday, April 18 and Memorial Day, Monday May 26.

The following are designated as Early Release dates: Friday, October 4; Friday, February 14; Friday, March 7, and Friday, March 21

Students will not attend on Tuesday, May 27. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Wednesday, May 28. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 8 and Tuesday, March 11 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 10 and Thursday, March 13 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 7 and at all other schools on Tuesday, October 8. Report cards to be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, January 7. DCHS report cards to be sent home Monday, March 10 and at all other schools Tuesday, March 11.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 4

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3-7.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 28 through May 9

First Day of School Education Celebration Thursday

July 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
Teacher Karen Jacobs handing out school supplies at last year's celebration

The Eighth Annual First Day of School Education Celebration for DeKalb County will be held on Thursday, August 1 from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. downtown around the courthouse square.

The celebration is held on school registration day.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-Kindergarten to 6th Grade, said the event is free and all parents and students are urged to attend to help kick off the new school year. "Our goal is to provide an evening of activities, education, and enjoyment for the residents of DeKalb County. We will be having information booths, passing out school supplies, refreshments, and various activities for the students to participate in while promoting education."

"This will also provide a time for our teachers and parents to come together to build a foundation for new and positive relationships, right from day one," said Burklow

"Our First Day of School Celebration is an opportunity for our schools to take a leadership role in re-enforcing and improving relationships among parents, teachers, students, and the community. This is the one day each year when it is both easiest and most important to enlist families as partners in our children's education. This is a great time for us to engage our families and make them feel welcome into our schools."

"So come out and join us. Everything is free that evening. We'll have free school supplies, free food, snacks and lots of community people coming together to make this event possible", said Burklow.

"There are many volunteers, churches, and organizations that come together to make this event possible for our children so they are able to start school with new supplies and a great positive attitude."

If you would like to help with this event please call Michelle Burklow at 597-4084. Volunteers are needed.

This celebration is totally free of charge to those who attend so make plans now to join the fun downtown Smithville on Thursday, August 1.

School Officials Pleased with Overall DeKalb TCAP Results

July 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

DeKalb County student performance on the 2013 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program shows growth in nearly all subjects.

The data, released by the Tennessee Department of Education, show district-by-district results for each subject of the 3-8 Achievement Tests and High School End of Course exams.

"These numbers reflect that the DeKalb County staff and students have done an outstanding job this past year," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby in an interview with WJLE last Friday, July 26. "We've seen growth in almost every area and we're really excited about that. The achievement scores are wonderful," he said.

"Our Annual Measurable Objective (AMO's) are broken into two areas," said Lisa Bell, data analysis. " One area is achievement which is the percentage of students that are able to meet the bar set by the state. The other side is our growth side. That is how much growth a student has made from the last year of testing to this year of testing," she said.

Growth over last year represents the difference between 2011-12 and 2012-13 in terms of the number of students who scored proficient or advanced. The following shows combined grades 3-8 student performance in the subject areas of Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies:

DeKalb County:

(43% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(1% growth over last year)

(50% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(0.6% growth over last year)

(64.9% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(1.8% growth over last year)

Social Studies:
(84.8% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(0.9% growth compared to last year)

DeKalb County exceeded last year's percentage of proficient students locally in 3-8 Reading which means more students met the expectations set by the state than last year. DeKalb's growth rate in 3-8 Reading was also among the best in the state, according to Bell. "We have some very positive things to say about growth. The state releases a ranking of all of the systems compared to one another and they compare us in many ways. One of the ways they compare us is how much our students change their percentile ranking from third grade to eighth grade. They take the third grade's percentile ranking and they test those students in third grade and then they test those exact same students in eighth grade and then they compare where they fall in the percentile in the state. They rank 135 systems across Tennessee. I am really proud to say that in Reading we (DeKalb County) are twelfth out of 135 systems when you look at how much a student changes from third to eighth grade in that percentile ranking," said Bell.

DeKalb's 3-8 Reading Growth Standard also ranks high, according to Bell. The growth standard reflects how much our average eighth grade student had grown (academically) each year since third grade. "As for our Reading growth standard, we are 27th out of 135 systems. When you look at the growth standard that we have for our third grade students, as you look at them progressing from third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh grade, and eighth grade, our growth standard makes us 27th out of 135 systems in Reading. That is extremely positive," she said.

Math is another subject in which DeKalb County, on average, exceeded last year's percentage of proficient students locally in grades 3-8. "When you look at our three year average, the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) gives you colors and green is always great. Green means you are significantly above the growth standard for the state. When you look at our growth standard for our three year average in math, we are still solid. I think that says a lot about our teachers and about the effort they have put forth when it comes to the changes that the state has been doing for the last three years," said Bell.

As for the End of Course Achievement test 9-12 student performance, Annual Measureable Objectives (AMO’s) were met in all areas, Algebra I and II, and English II and III. "Our students and teachers are working very hard and I am very proud of them all” said Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7-12th. “We missed our Graduation Rate Target Goal of 94.6 by 1.1%.” Tennessee’s overall graduation rate continues to improve reaching 87.2 in 2012. “Our high school graduation rate, while falling short of our target continues to be significantly higher than the state average” said Cripps.

End of Course Achievement and Growth results for grades 9-12 are as follows:

Algebra I:
(1% growth over last year)

Algebra II:
(28.8% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(8.2% growth compared to last year)

Biology I
(72.1% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(15.5% growth compared to last year)

English I
(68.1% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(0.7% growth compared to last year)

English II
(56.9% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(-2.3% growth compared to last year)

English III
(32% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(0.7% growth compared to last year)

U.S. History
(92% of students performed at the proficient or advanced level)
(-2.1% growth compared to last year)

While the overall results are positive, officials said the local school system still has some work to do in closing achievement gaps among certain subgroups of students.

"I would like to commend our teachers and our students on such a great job that they did last year when we know that the rigor of the test changed tremendously from one year to the next," said Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through 6th grade. "This speaks volumes for the hard work that our parents, teachers and our students did in partnership. I think we're proving that everyone working together can make changes for our students in DeKalb County," she said.

"Our goal starting in kindergarten and going to twelfth grade is for them to be college and career ready. We're spiraling up to that and I think we're getting where we need to be," said Cripps.

It's Official! All DeKalb County Schools to Have An SRO Officer

July 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
County Commissioners
County Commissioners Larry Summers and Wayne Cantrell (Older Photo)
County Commissioner Jeff Barnes (Older Photo)

All five DeKalb County Schools will soon have a School Resource Officer.

The county commission, by a vote of 9-4, adopted the 2013-14 consolidated budget during Tuesday night's meeting at the courthouse. The new budget includes funding for four new SROs. Commissioners Jeff Barnes, Mason Carter, Elmer Ellis, Jr., and Jerry Adcock voted no on the budget.


DeKalb-2014 Consolidated Budget 7-13-13.pdf (206.35 KB)

The county has been funding one School Resource Officer at the high school for several years. The other four schools in the county have never had an SRO.

Under the spending plan, two of the new School Resource Officers will be funded (salaries and benefits) in the county general budget while the other two new SRO's (salaries and benefits) will be paid for out of the school budget. Money to equip and train all four new SRO officers will be included in the county general budget and the four extra used patrol cars for the officers will be paid for out of the county general's capital projects fund. The officers are to be hired by the sheriff and will work out of his department.

The new SROs will be assigned to Smithville Elementary, Northside Elementary, DeKalb Middle, and DeKalb West School once they have completed training.

In addition to passage of the budget, the county commission voted to keep the property tax rate status quo for the 2013-14 fiscal year at $1.62 per $100 of assessed value. The vote was 12-1. Commissioner Jerry Adcock voted no.

According to County Mayor Mike Foster, plans are in the making this budget year for the development of a Solid Waste transfer station. "It will be in this budget year," said Foster. " We already have funding in place for it. We have saved money through the years to build it but we don't have it in there (budget) yet because we don't have an engineer report on it. We will do a budget amendment to the enterprise fund (when needed). If we don't do a transfer station then we will have to develop a new landfill within the next year because the one we're in will be full by this time next year," said Foster.

Funds to offer health insurance to full time county general employees under the Affordable Health Care Act remains in the county general budget, even though the penalty provision of the federal law will not be enforced this year. The so-called employer mandate, which penalizes employers with more than 50 employees if they fail to provide a minimum standard of affordable health insurance, was set to kick in during 2014, but now will take effect in 2015.

The fire department plans to apply for grants to purchase a tanker truck and other equipment. The budget includes a total of $17,500 in local matching funds under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. If awarded, a $12,500 local match (5%) will be required for the purchase of a tanker truck and a $5,000 local match (5%) will be needed for equipment. The fire department budget also includes $6,000 to purchase new pagers to replace some old pagers; $8,000 for reimbursement of in-service training costs for the last half of the fiscal year (after grant funds are exhausted); $23,000 for annual replacement of nine sets of turnout gear and eight breathing cylinders) to avoid a major one-time purchase in the future; and a Capital Project funding request for a one-time expenditure of approximately $20,000 to place a new roof and doors on an existing building at the Main Station.

Two years ago, a step wage scale was adopted for full time employees of the sheriff's department. Last year, a step plan was put in place for full time county general employees. According to County Mayor Foster, a wage scale will be developed later this year for full time employees of the ambulance service. Apparently no other pay raises are budgeted.

Total budget appropriations for the fiscal year 2013-14 come to $42,208,422.

One cent of the tax rate generates $42,953 in local money with a 7.7% delinquency rate figured into the equation.

The proposed tax rate is broken down as follows:
County General: 82 cents
Highway/Public Works: 3 cents
General Capital Projects: 10 cents
Debt Service: 12 cents
General Purpose Schools: 55 cents.

The solid waste fund, under this budget, will not receive any property tax money but will continue to be supported by revenues derived from payment-in-lieu of taxes, local option sale taxes, hotel-motel tax, bank excise tax and wholesale beer tax, etc.

Capital projects fund expenses for the year include:

*Motor vehicles (Patrol Cars for Sheriff's Department)- $131, 000 ($50,000 of this amount for 4 used patrol cars for new SRO officers)
*Other equipment (Fire Department Turnout Gear)- $23,000
* Building Improvements (Rescue Squad)- $1,700 (to purchase a roll up door)
*Building Construction (Veterans Building) $30,000 (repairs)
*Building Construction (Omega Building) $68,000 (repairs)
*Building Construction (Courthouse) $50,000 (repairs)
*Building Improvements (Fire Department) $20,000 (place a new roof and doors on an existing building at the Main Station)
*Building Improvements (Rescue Squad) $8,700 (adding shed to cover a boat)

The county commission also adopted a resolution making appropriations of $145,734 to the following non-profit organizations:

DeKalb Sparks Softball- $150
Upper Cumberland Development District- $3,411
Tennessee Division of Forestry-$1,500
DeKalb County Rescue Squad- $16,821
Plateau Mental Health-$7,180
Families First-$750
Senior Citizens Program-$26,934
DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$34,062
DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce-$15,000
Imagination Library- $7,200
Genesis House- $1,500
Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center- $1,780
DeKalb County Fair- $1,500
WCTE-TV- $5,000
Prospect Incorporated-$12,500
Upper Cumberland Human Resources-$1,200
UCHRA Assessment-Homemaker Aide, etc-$9,245

In other business, the county commission adopted a resolution authorizing the implementation of a five year plan for capital project improvements for DeKalb County.

County Mayor Foster said long term planning for construction projects is in the best interest of the county. The plan may be approved each year with passage of the annual budget. "I need to get two or three things in here for the first year. This is not all. The first year would be to approve the energy efficiency school project (by Johnson Controls) and the school roof (DeKalb West School) not to exceed three million dollars in school bonds; a roof for Omega Apparel (county owned building) not to exceed $80,000; windows for the Veterans Building not to exceed $25,000; Security camera system for the county complex not to exceed $10,000 for the office part. There are other things that should be in there (such as plans for a solid waste transfer station). But these are things we would want to proceed with fairly soon. Some of these (projects) have some grants built into them. We will start working on this each month and upgrading it. This thing requires that each budget have a working plan with what is going to be done within that year," said Foster.

The commission also adopted a resolution to approve the DeKalb County Board of Education Facility Improvement Project Funding Plan. Under the plan, the board will utilize all the energy savings generated by the schools energy efficiency renovation project for payment incurred by DeKalb County for the energy efficiency portion of the debt issued. Additional funds from the Local Purpose Fund (local option sales tax/sinking fund) will be used to repair the roof at DeKalb West School. " What this simply says is the Board of Education will fund the debt service on the energy efficiency part because they will be reaping the benefits of it and the county, through the Local Purpose Fund, will pay for the new roof that is going to be put on DeKalb West School," said County Mayor Foster.

DeKalb County Fire Department Receives Elite Award for 2012-13 Training Efforts

July 30, 2013
DeKalb County Fire Department Receives Elite Award for 2012-13 Training Efforts

Of the 732 fire departments in Tennessee, both volunteer and paid, DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 6 for 2012-13 training achievement by the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Considering the ranking among volunteer departments in the state, DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 1 (complete listing of recognized departments shown below).

This is the fifth consecutive year DeKalb County Fire Department has been recognized as one of Tennessee’s elite fire departments for outstanding training achievement. Last year, the department was awarded the Silver Level Award and was the #2 volunteer fire department in Tennessee for training hours. This year, the department logged 3,306 training hours and was recognized as a Gold Level fire department in Tennessee for its 2012-13 training efforts. Roger Hawks, Executive Director of the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy, attended the DeKalb County Commission Meeting on Tuesday evening and made the formal elite award presentation to DeKalb County. Accepting the award on behalf of the county fire department were (pictured above left to right: Assistant Chief Jeff Williams; Lieutenant David Agee; Roger Hawks, Executive Director of the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy; Captain Anthony Boyd; and Lieutenant Jay Cantrell)

DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster commended the department’s members and leaders for making DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s training program such a huge success. “It is amazing to see the level of commitment that we continue to get year after year from our volunteer firefighters who work hard and train hard to make sure our citizens have good fire protection here in DeKalb County. Getting this kind of statewide recognition for the fifth consecutive year makes it very clear that we have an excellent group of men and women who are willing to do whatever it takes to be prepared to respond to the emergency needs of our citizens,” says Mayor Foster.

Chief Donny Green says he wants to personally commend Lieutenant David Agee, the department's Training Officer for his determination in planning and coordinating the department's training activities in a manner that identifies our training program as one of top in the state; volunteer or career. In addition to the 3,306 hours at the Academy, Lieutenant Agee coordinated 2,237 hours in "in-house" training. Chief Green says that without the support of County Mayor Mike Foster, the County Commission, and the citizens of DeKalb County, the department could not have achieved such recognition. “Properly trained firefighters are the best tools available to any fire department. Without proper training, the best and most expensive equipment is useless. However, good training coupled with good equipment is priceless,” says Chief Green. Training performance and documentation are a core elements in the Insurance Services Office's (ISO) property protection that determine how much property owner's have to pay in homeowners insurance premiums. The DeKalb County Fire Department's proven success has resulted in a dramatic improvement to DeKalb County’s Public Protection Classification Rating of Class 6.

If you are interested in learning more about the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, or would like information on how to be a member of our team and become a volunteer firefighter, you can visit the Department’s website at: www.dekalbfire.com or call 615-464-7176. You can also visit the Department’s FaceBook group page.
Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy's

Elite Club 2012-13

Bradley County Fire Department 18,900 Hours
Rural/Metro Fire Department 6,864
Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue 4,450
McMinnville Fire Department 4,019

Lebanon Fire Department 3,308
DeKalb County Fire Department 3,306
Rutherford County Fire & Rescue 3,222
Morristown Fire Department 3,054
Nashville Fire Department 2,985
Johnson City Fire Department 2,937
Oak Ridge Fire Department 2,628
Montgomery County VFD E-911 2,464
Putnam County VFD 2,436
Wilson County EMA 2,234
Hendersonville Fire Department 2,223
Gallatin Fire Department 2,183
Andersonville VFD 2,095
Hardin County Fire Department 2,011

Elizabethton Fire Department 1,874
Jefferson City Fire Department 1,861
Athens Fire Department (City of) 1,859
Cookeville Fire Department 1,857
Milan Fire Department 1,709
Cumberland County FD 1,600
Germantown Fire Department 1,521
Clarksville Fire & Rescue 1,508
Shelbyville Fire Department 1,486
Selmer Fire Department 1,427
Greeneville Fire Department 1,303
Blount County Fire Department 1,281
Humboldt Fire Dept. 1,216
McMinn County Rural Fire Department 1,120
Seymour Volunteer Fire Department 1,077
Cocke County Fire Department 1,059
Rhea County Fire Department 1,028
Smyrna Fire Department 1,025


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