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Sheriff Announces Formation of Crime Suppression Unit

January 17, 2011
Sheriff Patrick Ray

Sheriff Patrick Ray announces the formation of a new Crime Suppression Unit at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. This new Unit will focus on a team concept that uses a variety of resources including the members of the Department and citizens of our communities in DeKalb County.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department’s Crime Suppression Unit will work a variety of assignments with the investigative division of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. This unit is assigned by the Sheriff to work in areas where members of the community have expressed concerns about possible illegal activity or where there is a need for special tactical or unmarked patrol. Specific examples are: detection of traffic violators, conducting covert surveillance related to drug activity, completing field interviews on suspicious persons, executing search warrants, and seeking out and arresting individuals who violate state laws. This unit is designed by the Sheriff to attempt to deter criminal activity resulting in an improved quality of life for citizens throughout the county, and will have a direct positive impact on the communities’ safety and concerns.

The Sheriff has appointed Officer’s within the Department to serve on the Unit. This unit includes members of the Sheriff’s Department’s Road Deputies, K-9 Unit, and Detective Division. Each member of the Unit will be an active, responsible, trained, and experienced officer of the Sheriff’s Department.

The Crime Suppression Unit of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department will focus on 5 major target areas, as well as other criminal activity that arises in the county.

The 5 major target areas are:

1.Manufacture, Sell, and Delivery of Illegal Narcotics
2.Problem-Oriented Policing Projects
3.Property Crime Suppression
4.Gang Enforcement and Suppression
5.Alcohol Beverage Control Enforcement

Sheriff Ray says that community involvement is the key to making this initiative work. “DeKalb County is a rural county with a growing population. As the population grows, so does the occurrences of crimes. Subsequently, our citizens’ “eyes and ears” are important tools in helping us detect criminal activities,” says Sheriff Ray.

Smithville Elementary School Receives Gold CAPS Award

January 15, 2011
Dr. Bill Tanner

Students at Smithville Elementary have participated in the Fast ForWord program and received the Gold CAPS Award.

The FastForWord program develops and strengthens memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing-the cognitive skills essential for reading intervention program success. The strengthening of these skills results in a wide range of improved critical language and reading skills such as phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding, working memory, syntax, grammar, and other skills necessary to learn how to read or to become a better reader.

Dr. Bill Tanner, Principal at Smithville Elementary School, shared the good news with the Board of Education on Thursday night. "Last year our Fast ForWord program won the Gold Cap award as being one of the schools that uses the Fast ForWord program. That's a program our children go through that trains their brain on how to read. It's a fifty five minute period that they go through during the day for thirty days. I try to schedule it so every class gets to go in there sometime during the year. We try to get it done before the end of the year. Last year we included the first grade in it also. We have increased the program. So we have won that award again this year. The Fast ForWord program develops and strengthens memory and attention. I feel like it is a good program. Our teachers are working hard everyday. Our paraprofessional who is in charge of the program does a fantastic job with that. Winning this award shows that we're using this program to the nth degree. I think it was developed to begin with as a program to help brain injured people. In using that, they found out it was also an aid in helping people learn how to read."

FastForWord reading intervention supports the existing curriculum-it doesn't replace it. It is aligned with the No Child Left Behind state mandates and has been an important factor in AYP success. And, most importantly, the gains students achieve are lasting, the result of enduring positive changes in their processing skills and learning capacity.

Northside Students Participate in Scholastic Book Clubs' ClassroomsCare Program

January 15, 2011

ESOL students from Northside Elementary in Mrs. Melissa Roysdon's classroom are helping other children while they help themselves this school year by participating in Scholastic Book Clubs' ClassroomsCare program, a philanthropy-based literacy campaign designed to teach children about the joys and importance of reading and giving - and to encourage them to read everyday to lead better lives.

This fall, each student is challenged to read 10 books and, in turn, Scholastic Book Clubs, a division of Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company, will donate one million new books to disadvantaged children nationwide.

Through this year's ClassroomsCare program, called "The United States of Reading," participating classrooms are reading for charities in their home states. They can log onto the ClassroomsCare Web site to keep track of their progress along with their state's progress. Students, teachers, and parents are invited to go onto the site to see how the reading is making a difference. More than one million books will be distributed locally through three national charity partners whose shared mission is to help put books in the hands of the hardest to reach and neediest children: Reach Out and Read®. Save the Children®, and the Paiama Proaram.

"I smile every time I hear about a school where through their generosity and hard work, students are making a difference and improving the lives of others by participating in ClassroomsCare," said Judy Newman, President of Scholastic Book Clubs. "In order to better prepare the children of the 21st Century to live complete and successful lives, we need to energize them to read more books, and read everyday. And showing children that their hard work pays off and they can make a difference in the lives of others is motivating and important as they grow up. Through the ClassroomsCare program, students aren't just reading, they're reading to give."

"Each year, students and teachers alike are thrilled to take part in Scholastic Book Clubs' ClassroomsCare program and read in order to give books to children who otherwise might have none," said Mrs. Roysdon. "This year, our class read 280 books!"

Smithville Police Issue Citation and Make Arrest for Drug Offenses

January 15, 2011
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have issued a citation and made an arrest on drug offenses since last Saturday, January 8th.

31 year old T J Jones of Nashville Highway was issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia on Saturday, January 8th. Officer James Cornelius stopped Jones for a traffic violation. Jones gave consent to search the vehicle. A pouch containing needles was found in the glove box. Jones' court date is February 3rd.

38 year old Janet Renay Mayo of Cooper Street was arrested on Sunday, January 9th for simple possession of a schedule II and VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mayo was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Officer James Cornelius on a traffic violation. Mayo was asked to step out of the vehicle and empty her pockets. She had a bag containing drug paraphernalia and what is believed to be marijuana and methamphetamine. Bond for Mayo is $3,000 and her court date is February 3rd.

Meanwhile, anyone having information on any offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Britney Campbell Performs with Mid-State Honor Bands

January 15, 2011
Britney Campbell

DCHS senior Britney Campbell recently performed with the 2010 Mid-State Honor Bands at MTSU. This is her sixth year to audition and be accepted as a performer for this group.

Mid-State is made up of the best players from all high schools in the middle Tennessee area. The students audition and are placed in a band according to how well they perform. The audition music is very difficult and students are given about 3 months to prepare the material.

Britney, a clarinet player, competed against nearly 200 other high school students to earn a position in one of the bands. The group began rehearsal on Thursday evening and by Saturday afternoon they performed over 30 minutes of music.

Jonathan Wright, Band Director for DeKalb County said, “Britney’s band performed very well! They were one of the best, if not the best, bands at Mid-State this year.” Britney will be attending Tennessee Tech University this fall where she will be pursuing a degree in education.

School Board Postpones Action on Land Purchase Until Contract Finalized

January 13, 2011
Dwayne Page
School Board to Consider Purchase of 57 Acres for New School
David Brown of KBJM Architects, Inc addresses School Board
Members of School Board
Members of School Board and Director of Schools

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night postponed action on entering into a deal to buy property on Allen's Ferry Road for the future site of a new DCHS complex until attorneys for the board and the owners finalize the contract. Once that is done, the board is expected to call a special meeting to decide on whether to move forward.

Under consideration is the purchase of a fifty seven acre site, which belongs to Mark and Karen Adams, Melvin and LeeAnn Crips, and Billy Crips. The property is located near the existing DCHS/DeKalb Middle school campuses. The purchase price has not yet been disclosed to the media.

Board Chairman Charles Robinson said this property has been under consideration since 2007 when a facility study was conducted at no cost to the board by the architectural firm of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones, and Morris of Mount Juliet. " This study was presented to the DeKalb County Commission in October, 2008. During this presentation, the commission was informed of two tracts of land in the vicinity of the present high school, suitable to build on. One tract was for sale. The other had indications that it could be available. The tract for sale in 2007 remains on the market today. This tract is centrally located and is accessible from all areas of DeKalb County and is adjacent to DeKalb Middle School and DCHS. The DeKalb County School Board can use cash reserves, up to a certain amount, from it's Basic Education Program (BEP) funding to make a purchase. BEP funding has many strings attached. This is state money the DeKalb County Board of Education receives from the state of Tennessee. It is not local funding. Mr. Bobby Palmer, who represents the state department of education and advises our board on budgetary issues, reports that the state would approve this one time expenditure. If this board votes to continue with this purchase, we must also get approval from our funding body, the DeKalb County Commission."

David Brown of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones, and Morris, who authored the 2007 facility study, took questions from the board Thursday night on the suitability of the property. Brown said the site is plenty large enough to support a new school. "We've looked at this with the engineers and I don't think we're going to run into an issue as far as the topography goes. We look at the grade. We look at transportation. We look at the road and infrastructure around it. We look at utilities. Have we got water? Is there gas available? Is there electricity? Then we look at the actual area of how much have we got to work with there. We don't have a concern on our end whether you would be able to fit as much as you wanted to on the property you've got available. Now that whole fifty seven acres is not usable, but what is usable (about 45 acres) is plenty big for what we would propose or what you would want to build out there. We've had our geo-tech engineer walk the site. We've had our civil engineer walk the site and it's a good site. (City) sewer is not on site, but it is close (within a half mile) and that's the only utility that's not right there on your roads so it would be the only utility we would have to extend and bring on site."

Director Mark Willoughby, who had hoped that the purchasing contract would be ready to present to the board of education Thursday night, said action on it would have to wait a few days. "Their owners) attorney and our (TSBA) attorney have been working on this (contract) today and we had an issue we needed to work out. Although we're not ready to present a contract (tonight) I believe we will be able to have an agreement by sometime next week."

Billy Crips, addressing discrepancies in the contract, informed the board Thursday night that "What I was concerned about was the clauses in there that had to deal with the board's due diligence and their studies on the property. And if the board deemed tonight to go through with purchasing the property, there was recourse in there for the board to be able to go to the seller and ask for costs in return for doing those studies. So I was uncomfortable with signing that. And also there was a stipulation in there with a discrepancy between a general deed and a special deed. I'm not really up on what that means, one versus the other and that's where the attorneys were kind of butting heads and saying let's do it this way, and the other one saying, let's do it this way. We just ran out of time today to get that clarified and move forward."

Willoughby said the school board could have a special meeting to consider approval of the contract, once the parties resolve those issues.

Meanwhile, Charles Atnip, local realtor, addressed the board members asking them to consider another site, located on Highway 56 north across from Northside Elementary School, belonging to Brannon and Katherine Hurst.

In a letter to the director of schools and the board, Atnip wrote that "As you consider choices for property of a new high school there are several choices you should consider, the location, the lay of the land, access to main highways, availability to other land if needed, and later and final price."

Atnip, who represents the Hurst family, stated that "they have choice property for sale just across from Northside Elementary on North Congress Boulevard. The property could also have access to Holmes Creek Road (Allens Ferry Road)."

"This land has all utilities in front of the property, with the main sewer trunk line running near the property line."

"This land is level to gently rolling with good drainage. The board would also have availability to as many acres as they desire."

"Mr. Willoughby and the board need to consider more than just one piece of property in this important decision for the future of our county and it's taxpayers", said Atnip.

"The current property the school board is looking into, the site preparation of this property would run them hundreds of thousands of dollars. This does not include the sewer lines and a pumping station the school board will have to maintain for the duration of the life of the school. Not currently knowing if the current city sewer lines will handle the extra load of 800 plus students."

"I ask humbly for your consideration on this piece of property that I represent. Whether it be this property or not, I think we should think long and hard about the current property being sought."

Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III said he became aware several months ago that the Hurst's, heirs of Alonzo Allen, had a desire to sell some land. "We were, at that time, still looking for real estate. Mr. Hurst contacted me a few weeks later and we talked for quite a while but the bottom line was he asked $25,000 an acre. At that time, I told him that you could call Mr. Willoughby and talk to him but I, as a board member, felt like that was not the kind of real estate we were looking for. It was way out of line with what our budget was."

Willoughby said the heirs of Mr. Allen also contacted him after speaking with Evins. "We rode over the land, walked over the land, and the $25,000 per acre is what was presented to me and in all honesty I told them that I did not even feel comfortable presenting that price to the board."

In response, Atnip said "I think that price is negotiable today."

Seventh district member Johnny Lattimore asked Atnip "Do you have any idea what the cost of the land would be today?"

Atnip responded, "not without you telling me what part of that land you want. Then we could arrive at a price."

Evins said he felt like it might not be proper or legal for the board to consider other property now since it is in contract negotiations on the Adams-Cripps property.

Board Adopts 2011-12 School Calendar

January 13, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education formally adopted the school calendar for the 2011-2012 year Thursday night.

Sixth district member Bruce Parsley voted against passage of the calendar saying he preferred a one week rather than a two week fall break next year. "I just think a two week fall break is a little long for our younger students. It puts a lot of parents in a bind. I've talked to a lot of elementary school teachers and they're not real fond of it because, especially your real little kids, if they cry when you drop them off to go to school. You're not in school very long. Then you've got two weeks and then you start back and it's the same, you've got to start all over again. Then you don't have very many weeks. You've got Christmas break with two weeks off again and then you've got to start all over again. I just think it would be better if we had one week of fall break and scoot our start time back a week."

In response, Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K to 6th grade and chairman of the school calendar committee, said that "We did do a survey that we sent out to all of our teachers and asked them about the fall break and how they wanted to set up the calendar. We based our calendar upon the survey results."

When asked by fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III why there is a two week fall break and only a one week spring break, Burklow explained that "At the high school, during that first semester, we have that first week (of fall break) set aside for high school students to come in and recover credit or improve their grades so that they have a passing grade. So we want to give them that additional boost fall semester so they do not feel like they are behind in the spring semester."

DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix added that "we do have a good number of students who come during that first week of fall break and parents want us to have it (grade recovery) both weeks because they (students) get a lot of work completed during that time. We let them do grade recovery, credit recovery, Tiger Academy, anything they're behind in we allow them to do it during that period of time. Several students who didn't have passing grades at the end of the first nine weeks, the teachers submitted material for them to do during that period of time and at the end of that week, their grades had come up."

Director Mark Willoughby said that "it's been a big plus in the fact that students at the end of that first nine weeks, if they've gotten behind they can catch back up and they can start the second nine weeks without having a failing grade. That's where we catch a lot of kids up. They fall behind that first nine weeks, coming into a new school and everything. It's been very beneficial to us in the past."

Parsley then asked, "Is there a reason we can't do that (grade recovery) in just one week?"

Principal Hendrix replied, "we could but those students wouldn't have a fall break at all."

Director Willoughby added, "we're also concerned about getting teachers to agree to work that time, if they don't have any time off (for fall break)."

Parsley answered," but to me if you (students) had done your work like you were supposed to then you would have gotten a fall break. It's like you're rewarding and still giving them a fall break when they messed up to start with."

Under the 2011-12 school calendar, registration for all students will be Monday, August 1st. That will be an abbreviated school day from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, August 2nd will be an administrative day

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 3rd.

A system wide professional development day will be Monday, July 25th at DCHS and all teachers from all schools must attend from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

All teachers will report to DCHS for a system wide professional development on Tuesday, July 26th . All teachers will report to their individual schools on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday July 27th, 28th, & 29th from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. each day.

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 5th.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 10th-21st

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 23rd, 24th, & 25th and for the winter break December 19th through December 31st. Friday, December 16th 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 Tuesday, January 3rd.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 16th and for President's Day, Monday, February 20th.

Schools will be closed for spring break April 2nd-6th.

Students will not attend on Tuesday, May 22nd. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Wednesday, May 23rd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 4th and Tuesday, March 13th 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 6th and Thursday, March 15th at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 3rd, Thursday, January 5th, and Monday, March 12th.

AYP-EOC/Gateway Testing at DCHS will be Tuesday through Thursday, December 6th-8th and May 1st-3rd at DCHS and a make-up AYP-EOC/Gateway Test will be Friday, December 9th and May 4th.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 20th

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be Tuesday, February 7th. Writing Assessment make-up will be Wednesday, February 8th.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 26th through May 4th

(Stockpile Days) Professional Development/Instructional Days will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 7th and Monday, January 2nd. Students will not attend on those days.

In other business, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby gave his monthly report on personnel.

Those employed since the last meeting are:
Paula Pinegar, educational assistant at Northside Elementary School
Sally Exum, educational assistant at Northside Elementary School (new position)
Lindsey Barrett, January Agee, and Anna Hitchcock, substitute teachers.

Amanda Trapp, transferred from substitute to educational assistant at Smithville Elementary
Thomas Maney, transferred from substitute custodian to full time at DCHS
Ray Robinson, transferred from DCHS custodian to DeKalb Middle custodian
Gary Good, DeKalb West educational assistant transferred to DCHS position
Angie Moore, Northside Elementary educational assistant transferred to DeKalb Middle School
Jennifer Lewis, transferred from substitute position to ESL educational assistant at Northside

Crystal Gordon, Northside Elementary educational assistant, resigned
Nancy Young, DeKalb Middle School educational assistant, resigned
Ginda Kilgore, DCHS educational assistant, resigned

Leave of Absence:
Trena Curtis, teacher at Smithville Elementary, leave as requested

The board adopted a resolution recognizing food service staff.

The resolutions states that "Whereas, school food service staff members plan, prepare and serve students healthy meals that keep them growing and learning each day; and

Whereas, food service staff members rise early each day in order to prepare breakfast and lunch for students and staff; and

Whereas, food service staff members consistently strive to be cheerful and encouraging to students that they encounter each day; and

Whereas, food service staff members act as public relations agents in their communities spreading stories of success from the schools in which they work, and

Whereas, food service staff members support the programs of the school and happily contribute in whatever ways they are asked to help make their schools the best places for children to learn; and

Whereas, the Board of Education and the Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, view the work of the school food service staff as critically important to the success of the school; and

Now therefore, be it resolved that this board acknowledges and expresses its appreciation to each school food service staff member in our school district; and

Be it further resolved that next Thursday, January 20th is hereby established as Food Service Staff Appreciation Day in all DeKalb County schools.

Director Willoughby, in a memo to the board concerning Food Service Staff Appreciation Day, stated that "a member of the food service staff has many important responsibilities within the school. They are required to arrive early to prepare for the day. They cook nutritious and delicious meals for our students and staff each day. Even though it is demanding and hard work, most of them have smiles on their faces while they are doing it."

"The food service staff is of great value to each school. We want everyone in the DeKalb County School System to thank school employees on Food Service Staff Appreciation Day, which is Thursday, January 20th."

In other business, the board approved an overnight trip for members of the Senior Beta Club to attend the State Beta Club convention at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville February 14th-16th.

The board also approved a contract with Emily Thomas as Speech/Language Pathologist for the special education program in the school system, subject to funding and need at the rate of $40 per hour plus mileage to and from her home at 38 cents per mile. The term of the agreement is January 3rd through June 30th

School System Running Out of "Snow Days"

January 13, 2011
Dwayne Page

It's only January but the DeKalb County School System is about to run out of "snow days".

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said as of Friday, January 14th only two "snow days" remain to be used and any further days missed would have to be made up somewhere either during or at the end of the school year. Students have already missed a total of eight days of school due to inclement weather counting Friday, January 14th.

Ten days are built into the school calendar each year for "snow days" or inclement weather and three days were included this year for so called "stockpile" or professional development days. On the stock pile days, teachers have in-service but students do not attend. Two of the stockpile days have already been used and the other is scheduled for Friday, March 18th. Willoughby said the school board could elect to have school on the remaining stockpile day, if necessary.

If more than two days are missed between now and May 26th, the school board would have to decide how to make them up. Director Willoughby said the board has some options."This would be a board decision, but we could start looking at spring break or tacking on a day at the end of school. Right now the last day of school is scheduled for May 26th. That's on a Thursday. We could easily move that to a Friday or Saturday to come up another day or two. Hopefully this type weather is not going to continue but it looks like we're in sort of a pattern right now."

State law requires students to be in school a certain number of days each year.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 17th and for President's Day, Monday, February 21st.

Schools are scheduled to be closed for spring break March 21st-25th and for Good Friday, April 22nd.

Students will not attend on Wednesday, May 25th. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Thursday, May 26. That will be an abbreviated school day.

Board to Consider Land Purchase for Future School

January 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
School Board to Consider Purchase of 57 Acres for New School
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night is expected to discuss the possibility of entering into a contract to purchase fifty seven acres of property on Allen's Ferry Road which may become the future site for a new DCHS complex.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, in an interview with WJLE Wednesday, said he believes this is the right location and the right time to buy. "We're in need of building an additional school. But to build an additional school, we have to purchase some land. (The property) is in really close proximity to DeKalb County High School right now. It's on Allen's Ferry Road right across from the property that we already own. It's fifty seven acres. We need to be pro-active, looking toward the future."

Should the school board vote to buy this property, Willoughby said no time line has been established for building a new school. "To say when a building (new school) would be built, I can't say right now. That's for the (school) board to work on and for the county commission to work on. There is no time line on it whatsoever, we just think this is being pro-active going ahead and buying the land. I want to work hand in hand with the county commission. I think we have a real good county commission. They want what's best for children. We have to look at what we can afford and what we need. I think I know what we need so we'd like to purchase this land while prices are low."

According to Director Willoughby, the school system already has the funds to make the purchase through state BEP (Basic Education Program) reserve monies, so no tax increase or local tax dollars would be required. However, a budget amendment would have to be approved by the county commission. "To enter into a contract to buy land, we would have to have an amendment to our budget in order to do this. It would have to be agreed upon by the board of education and by the county commission. The purchase of this land would not require any additional tax revenue dollars. We wouldn't be asking for a tax increase or anything. This purchase of land would be paid for out of BEP reserves. We can use BEP reserves for one time purchases, one time expenses. BEP reserves are for purchases like this."

Willoughby said four of the five schools in the county are already overcrowded and the problem is likely to only worsen in the years ahead, if it is not addressed. "We have five schools in our system and basically four of the five are overcrowded, no space. We have one school (DCHS) where the teachers are actually going from room to room. When a teacher is out of his or her room for planning time, another teacher goes in that classroom to teach a class. That's not an ideal teaching situation. That's not an ideal learning situation. We would love to offer more courses and more things for our students. Our county is growing. Last year at this time we had 2,905 students. Today, we have approximately 3,030 students. Right now we have 830 students in high school. Looking at projections, next year at this time there will be 879 students at the high school. In the year 2012-13, there will be 886 students and by the year 2018-19, we should have 945 high school students."

According to Willoughby, what makes this site attractive is that the school system should be able to buy it at a good price, it is close to the existing high school, and it is centrally located in the county. "It's good for a lot of different reasons. If we go through with this and at some time in the future build this school, if we don't have the money to build everything at once (such as all the athletic fields), we would have everything in close proximity (to the existing school). That would be really good. Another thing about that particular area from what I understand is that DCHS was built right in the center of the county. Having this area right in the center of the county I think is going to be a good thing also because people going to the (new) high school won't have to be bused any farther than they are right now."

Nine Graduate from DeKalb County Drug Court

January 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Judge Bratten Cook II and Drug Court Coordinator Corey Pedigo

Nine people working to beat their addiction to substance abuse were honored Friday night for graduating from the DeKalb County Drug Court program.

The ceremony and dinner were held downtown Smithville at the Heartland Café. The names of the graduates cannot be disclosed without their permission according to drug court guidelines.

Corey Pedigo, Drug Court Coordinator, said he is very proud of all the graduates. "I'm in their homes with them. I see their families. I see their kids. I've seen them get their kids back. I've worked with them in DCS and in their halfway houses. I've pushed them through treatment. I've argued with them. I've joked with them. I've laughed with them. I love them. I have a genuine affection for all of my clients. I myself am a recovering meth addict, being five years clean. It's so important to me. I have an attachment beyond belief to my clients. I do truly want them all to be well."

Judge Bratten Cook, II said that the drug court program is helping to change lives. "We have a juvenile and an adult drug court program and they're basically the same. We have six juvenile drug court participants and in our adult drug court we have twenty two. We just graduated nine, which is the largest graduating class we've ever had."

"Drug court is a program that is designed for non-violent offenders who are addicted to either alcohol or drugs and who have a desire to turn their lives around, not just a desire to avoid going to jail. In fact, in the process of admitting people into drug court, we let them know straight up that serving their sentence is a whole lot easier on them than all of the things they have to do in order to graduate from drug court. The various classes they have to do. The different workbooks. They have to come to court once a week. The minimum length of time is one year, although it's extremely rare for someone to graduate in one year. Usually it's closer to fifteen to eighteen months. We do not accept anyone who has a charge of violence against someone, whether it's assault, aggravated assault, kidnaping, rape, or anything like that or if they have a previous conviction for a violent offense, they're not eligible.", said Judge Cook.

"Over the years we've all seen people who go to jail and it's the "revolving door". In and out. In and out. As soon as they get out of jail the first thing they do is try to figure out where they can go to get their next fix . What drug court is all about is educating these people about how to stay drug and alcohol free. After all, for those educated and intelligent people, we all know that drug addiction is a disease. It's not a bad habit that someone just picked up. That's the thinking that some people have, but not many anymore because most people have become educated over the years and science has proven that addiction is a disease and it has to be treated as such.", according to Judge Cook

"Drug courts sprang up as a response to the "revolving door" philosophy of the criminal justice system that obviously wasn't working. So we take people into drug court. Most of them come straight from jail. Several of the requirements are that they must have a job. They must attend at least one meeting per day, whether that's A.A., N.A. or in-group sessions and they have to do that for the entire time they're in drug court,", said Judge Cook

"Many of the participants end up, as a result of their addiction and the trouble that they might get into, losing their children. Of the nine graduates we just had, four of them had lost their children to DCS custody and their children were placed in foster care or relative placement. As a result of their participation in drug court and getting themselves straightened out, they regained custody of their children. We all know that drugs don't just affect the person using them, but it affects their children, their spouses, their moms and dads, siblings, their employers and just everyone around them."

"As far as the economics of it, drug court is an absolute no-brainer. Sheriff Patrick Ray and I have had conversations many times and he has shared with me the podium at several different talks about drug court and has said that it cost somewhere around $16,000 per year, per prisoner to house people at the DeKalb County Jail. Well drug court costs less than $5,000. So it's a no- brainer. Do you want to spend $16,000 a year to house a prisoner and then turn them right back out without educating them or without giving them an opportunity to correct their behavior, or do you want to spend $5,000 a year and make them responsible, respectable citizens? It's a no brainer."


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