Local News Articles

School Board Considers Replacing Cell Phones With Two Way Radios On Buses

November 9, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education is considering the possibility of replacing cell phones on school buses with two way radios.

Technology Director Brad Mullinax and Transportation Supervisor Shane Cook say two way radios would be more reliable and cost effective than cell phones. Cook says around 70% of Tennessee county school systems are already using two way radios and 20% of them are looking into it.

Mullinax presented the proposal to the Board of Education Thursday night. \" Mr. Willoughby asked me toward the beginning of the school year to start to work on this, and to try and get some information regarding installation of a VHF repeater system for the transportation department. The reason for the system is to greatly improve the communications between the schools, the Transportation Director, and the school buses. We probably have about 70% of the county that may be covered by cell phones or maybe not. We have a lot of trouble with communications, getting in touch with school buses, and that type thing

We asked Wireless Solutions of Cookeville to work us up a proposal on a system. We now have a proposal from them but there's two or three steps we need to get approved in order to press forward with this. The first being a site. We have a site on Miller Road, the Genesco water tank, but we don't have formal approval from the City of Smithville. I think they will allow us to base our repeater there at no charge. Once that is done, Wireless Solutions has agreed to prepare the forms for us to obtain an FCC license. This is the next step involved. We will have to submit an application to the Federal Communications Commission to obtain a license for that particular site. This will take from sixty to ninety days. Once the license is obtained, then you can press forward, purchase the repeater, get the repeater on the site, and then over a period of time, you can progressively buy so many radios per year to go on your school buses. This is not something you would have to do all at one time.

Over the long haul I think this is going to save the county several dollars. You're not going to have recurring telephone charges on your cell phones anymore. With a two way radio system, when you purchase it, you own it. I think it would be a fantastic move. I think it would improve your safety. What we have also agreed to do as far as 911 is concerned is have this frequency that we obtain programmed into our radios at the 911 center and in the event there is an emergency situation, we could pick up on that over the air and go ahead and dispatch units accordingly. We could also put a base station at each school so that in the event somebody needed to get in touch with somebody on another school bus, they could radio the school or radio the transportation department so that contact could be made through those means. You can also have simplex frequencies programmed into those radios and they could talk from bus to bus if they are in close proximity. On those, if you're within 10 to 15 miles of a school bus, you don't necessarily have to go through a repeater system, you can go through a talk around channel. You're not going to have perfect coverage, there will be dead areas, but I think the dead areas will greatly be minimized by going with a two way radio system rather than cell phones.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says a new two way radio system could be phased in over a period of time. \" In our Transportation budget, we're going to have some money left over with some decisions we've made in transportation that Shane has implemented, so we'll have some savings. If we don't have enough savings to do everything in one year, we can do it over a two or three year period, if we need to.\"

The board took no action on the issue.

School Board Considers Replacing Cell Phones With Two Way Radios On Buses

November 9, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education is considering the possibility of replacing cell phones on school buses with two way radios.

Technology Director Brad Mullinax and Transportation Supervisor Shane Cook say two way radios would be more reliable and cost effective than cell phones. Cook says around 70% of Tennessee county school systems are already using two way radios and 20% of them are looking into it.

Mullinax presented the proposal to the Board of Education Thursday night. \" Mr. Willoughby asked me toward the beginning of the school year to start to work on this, and to try and get some information regarding installation of a VHF repeater system for the transportation department. The reason for the system is to greatly improve the communications between the schools, the Transportation Director, and the school buses. We probably have about 70% of the county that may be covered by cell phones or maybe not. We have a lot of trouble with communications, getting in touch with school buses, and that type thing.\"

\"We asked Wireless Solutions of Cookeville to work us up a proposal on a system. We now have a proposal from them but there's two or three steps we need to get approved in order to press forward with this. The first being a site. We have a site on Miller Road, the Genesco water tank, but we don't have formal approval from the City of Smithville. I think they will allow us to base our repeater there at no charge. Once that is done, Wireless Solutions has agreed to prepare the forms for us to obtain an FCC license. This is the next step involved. We will have to submit an application to the Federal Communications Commission to obtain a license for that particular site. This will take from sixty to ninety days. Once the license is obtained, then you can press forward, purchase the repeater, get the repeater on the site, and then over a period of time, you can progressively buy so many radios per year to go on your school buses. This is not something you would have to do all at one time. \"

\"Over the long haul I think this is going to save the county several dollars. You're not going to have recurring telephone charges on your cell phones anymore. With a two way radio system, when you purchase it, you own it. I think it would be a fantastic move. I think it would improve your safety. What we have also agreed to do as far as 911 is concerned is have this frequency that we obtain programmed into our radios at the 911 center and in the event there is an emergency situation, we could pick up on that over the air and go ahead and dispatch units accordingly. We could also put a base station at each school so that in the event somebody needed to get in touch with somebody on another school bus, they could radio the school or radio the transportation department so that contact could be made through those means. You can also have simplex frequencies programmed into those radios and they could talk from bus to bus if they are in close proximity. On those, if you're within 10 to 15 miles of a school bus, you don't necessarily have to go through a repeater system, you can go through a talk around channel. You're not going to have perfect coverage, there will be dead areas, but I think the dead areas will greatly be minimized by going with a two way radio system rather than cell phones.\"

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says a new two way radio system could be phased in over a period of time. \" In our Transportation budget, we're going to have some money left over with some decisions we've made in transportation that Shane has implemented, so we'll have some savings. If we don't have enough savings to do everything in one year, we can do it over a two or three year period, if we need to.\"

The board took no action on the issue.

In other business, Director Willoughby presented his monthly written report on personnel.

Those employed since last month include Molly Johnson, Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School; Penelope Miller, teacher at Northside Elementary School; Elizabeth Pafford, teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Misty Franklin, teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Faye Lohorn, substitute cafeteria worker; Jennifer Roller, substitute cafeteria worker; Nathan Cook, substitute mechanic; Ray Robinson, substitute custodian; Gloria Gardner, ESL Educational Assistant; Kelly Driver, part-time Physical Therapy Assistant; Donna Emmons, teacher at DCHS.

Tonya Perry was transferred to a Gifted teacher position.

Those granted a leave of absence as requested were Amy Young, teacher at DeKalb West School; April Hines, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, and Jeanette West, cafeteria worker.

Dewayne Carlton has resigned. Sandy Hays, teacher at DCHS has retired, and Betty Cooper, cafeteria manager at DCHS has resigned.

WJLE Regrets Failure Of Audio Streaming Service During Election Coverage

November 9, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

WJLE would like to express it's regret for the failure of our Internet streaming service during the LIVE radio broadcast of the election returns Tuesday night.

A brief power failure earlier in the day at the radio station caused a disruption in the service and we experienced further problems re-establishing our audio streaming capability over the Internet after the power was restored.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Smithville Police Make Another Drug Arrest

November 9, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have made another drug arrest.

Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano, in a press release, states that Bradley Ferrell of 708 South Mountain Street, Smithville was arrested at approximately 3:20 p.m. Wednesday for sale and delivery of illegal narcotics.

Stufano says \"In a continuing crackdown on illegal drugs in the city, officers working surveillance of a known drug area, witnessed Ferrell making a transaction and then quickly hiding the remaining contraband inside his pants.\"

Upon his arrest, a bottle of illegal pills was discovered in his waistband. Ferrell was booked into the DeKalb County Jail on a $30,000 bond.

Fort Campbell Soldier Says U.S. Presence In Iraq Making A Difference

November 13, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A large crow turned out for a special Veteran's Day recognition program at the courthouse Saturday morning.

The special guest speaker for the occasion was Colonel Thomas Lippart of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Lippart, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq, said the strength of this nation is not in it's weapons, but in it's people. \" This nation is build on it's people. It's not the technology. The United States has always been known for it's great technology but that's not what makes our military great. There's lots of other countries out there that have a lot of technology. It's the people who make us such a powerful nation to deal with.\"

Colonel Lippart says while many still question whether the United States military should be in Iraq, most still support the troops. \"I still believe firmly in my heart that the American people by and large support it's military and are in fact there for us and stand behind us. I returned from Iraq on September 2nd and I've had more people come up to me and say thank you for your service and for what you have done.\"

While most of the news coming out of Iraq seems to be bade, Colonel Lippart says there are a lot of good things happening there too. \"When we first got to Iraq, obviously we had not established a relationship with the local vendor base and were still coming back to the states for most of the supplies we were buying. But the longer we are there, the more we are growing the local economy back. We're starting to do more and more business with the local economy. In fiscal year 2006, our contracting command did about 27,000 contracts and just about half of those were with Iraqi vendors but that's increasing every day. It increased by about 25% when I first got there to nearly 50% when I left, so we're doing more and more business with the economy, with the local businessmen to try to build their economy.\"

Colonel Lippart gave some examples of how the Iraqi people have benefitted from the overthrow of Saddam Heussein. \" In many occasions, some of these Iraqi people, because I was a point of contact, held me responsible for some of the wonderful things that have been happening to them, They were so gracious and so thankful for us being in Iraq and helping them with the good things. I heard stories of how none of the power generation plants and none of the sewage treatment plants had any kind of repairs, modifications, or updates since they were built in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The entire country was in disrepair. There's a small suburb of Baghdad where only as recent as about eight months ago, did we finally get the power generators fixed so that we could get the pumps running to pump the sewage out of the city. There was six inches of sewage running through about a one mile square city area. Imagine your children having to walk through that on their way to school. Because of our engineers, technology and our assistance to show them how to do it, they now have the power generators working again and the pumps are working and they're able to get the sewage out. That's just one small example.

Colonel Lippart says in addition to a stronger economy, educational opportunities are improving in Iraq. \"We've had an opportunity to put new roofs on the schools. The textbooks the students were using were from the 1960's. They never bought new textbooks. These people are so much better off. Young girls are now allowed into the schools again. For a number of years, there were no young girls going to school whatsoever. So while I know that it's a matter of opinion whether you believe we should be there or not, I just wanted to share with you today that we're doing a tremendous amount of good in Iraq and while it's frustrating to see all the bad stuff on TV, we must show them what right looks like. There's an entire generation there that doesn't know what it looks like. They don't know what organization looks like. There were no city councils before. There are now because we've stood them up in all the little towns. They now have organization on how to provide services for their people.\"

Colonel Lippart is a 1989 graduate of Penn State University and later received his Masters degree in Business Administration at the University of Texas. He is a Distinguished Military graduate, having been commissioned into the U.S. Army where he joined the Aviation branch. During 2001-2002, he attended the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has been the Chief of Contingency Contracting at the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. During his service in Iraq, Lippart served as Chief of Plans and Programs Contracting Headquarters for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Colonel Lippart has received numerous medals including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorius Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Medal, Meritorius Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrrorism Expeditionary Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal, among others.

Fort Campbell Soldier Says U.S. Presence In Iraq Making A Difference

November 13, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A large crowd turned out for a special Veteran's Day recognition program at the courthouse Saturday morning.

The special guest speaker for the occasion was Colonel Thomas Lippart of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Lippart, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq, said the strength of this nation is not in it's weapons, but in it's people. \" This nation is built on it's people. It's not the technology. The United States has always been known for it's great technology but that's not what makes our military great. There's lots of other countries out there that have a lot of technology. It's the people who make us such a powerful nation to deal with.\"

Colonel Lippart said while many still question whether the United States military should be in Iraq, most still support the troops. \"I still believe firmly in my heart that the American people by and large support it's military and are in fact there for us and stand behind us. I returned from Iraq on September 2nd and I've had many people come up to me and say thank you for your service and for what you have done.\"

While most of the news coming out of Iraq seems to be bad, Colonel Lippart said there are a lot of good things happening there too. \"When we first got to Iraq, obviously we had not established a relationship with the local vendor base and were still coming back to the states for most of the supplies we were buying. But the longer we are there, the more we are growing the local economy back. We're starting to do more and more business with the local economy. In fiscal year 2006, our contracting command did about 27,000 contracts and just about half of those were with Iraqi vendors but that's increasing every day. It increased by about 25% when I first got there to nearly 50% when I left, so we're doing more and more business with the economy, with the local businessmen to try to build their economy.\"

Colonel Lippart gave some examples of how the Iraqi people have benefitted from the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. \" On many occasions, some of these Iraqi people, because I was a point of contact, held me responsible for some of the wonderful things that have been happening to them. They were so gracious and so thankful for us being in Iraq and helping them with the good things. I heard stories of how none of the power generation plants and none of the sewage treatment plants had any kind of repairs, modifications, or updates since they were built in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The entire country was in disrepair. There's a small suburb of Baghdad where, only as recent as about eight months ago, did we finally get the power generators fixed so that we could get the pumps running to pump the sewage out of the city. There was six inches of sewage running through about a one mile square city area. Imagine your children having to walk through that on their way to school. Because of our engineers, technology and our assistance to show them how to do it, they now have the power generators working again and the pumps are working and they're able to get the sewage out. That's just one small example.\"

Colonel Lippart says in addition to a stronger economy, educational opportunities are improving in Iraq. \"We've had an opportunity to put new roofs on the schools. The textbooks the students were using were from the 1960's. They never bought new textbooks. These people are so much better off. Young girls are now allowed into the schools again. For a number of years, there were no young girls going to school whatsoever. So while I know that it's a matter of opinion whether you believe we should be there or not, I just wanted to share with you today that we're doing a tremendous amount of good in Iraq and while it's frustrating to see all the bad stuff on TV, we must show them what right looks like. There's an entire generation there that doesn't know what it looks like. They don't know what organization looks like. There were no city councils before, now there are because we've stood them up in all the little towns. They now have organization on how to provide services for their people.\"

Colonel Lippart is a 1989 graduate of Penn State University and later received his Masters degree in Business Administration at the University of Texas. He is a Distinguished Military graduate, having been commissioned into the U.S. Army where he joined the Aviation branch. During 2001-2002, he attended the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has been the Chief of Contingency Contracting at the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. During his service in Iraq, Lippart served as Chief of Plans and Programs Contracting Headquarters for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Colonel Lippart has received numerous medals including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorius Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Medal, Meritorius Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Freedom Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrrorism Expeditionary Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal, among others.

DHS Announces Grant Award For Dowelltown Fire Truck

November 13, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Fire Administration have announced that Dowelltown has been awarded a $164,650.00 grant from the 2006 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

The award will be used to purchase a Class A Pumper and all the necessary equipment. The grant is funded 95% federally or $156,418 with a 5% local match or $8,232.

The new fire truck, when delivered, will be stationed on King Ridge Road at Dowelltown.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program is designed as an opportunity for the United States Congress to work with DHS to enhance basic fire service delivery across the United States. $485 million will be awarded for fiscal year 2006 to nearly 5,000 fire-related organizations nationwide.

DeKalb Report Card Shows K-8 Students Overall Meeting State Goals

November 13, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The 2006 Report Card on the DeKalb County School System, issued by the Tennessee Department of Education, reveals that overall students in grades K through 8 are meeting or exceeding state goals while students in grades 9-12 are still working toward their goals.

Carol Hendrix, Supervisor of Instruction for the DeKalb County School System says the school system's annual report looks really good this year. \"It's reported in two areas, Academic and Non-Academic. In the Non-Academic areas in both grades K-8 and 9-12 we exceeded all state goals in attendance and promotion. Our 9-12 grade indicator graduation rate is currently under revision and we'll find out about that a little later on.\"

Hendrix says in grades K-8, Academic Achievement is reported in two areas, Student Achievement and TVAS Value Added Scores. \"In Student Achievement, grades K-8, which demonstrates what our students have learned from Kindergarten to the present, we have an \"A\" in Math and a \"B\" in Reading/ Language, Social Studies, and Science, which are all above state levels. They are also all above our 2005 scores.\"

\"In TVAS Value Added, which calculates how much a student has learned in one year, in grades K-8, we have three \"A's\" and one \"B\". We have an \"A\" in Reading/Language, Science, and Social Studies, and a \"B\" in Math.\"

\"In our Writing scores, two grades are reported and both have an \"A\".

\"In grades 9-12, we have Proficiency levels and Value Added scores. In grades 9-12, our students met Proficiency levels in Algebra I, Biology I, English II in Gateway and English I, U.S. History, and Math Foundations as End of Course.\"

Concerning the 9-12 grade Value Added Scores, Hendrix says \" Our students met Proficiency in Algebra I, Math Foundations and English I but we were below levels in Biology I and English II.\"

\"Our Writing Assessment at the high school is at a \"B\" this year.\"

A.C.T. scores were below levels in English, Math, and Science Reasoning but students met the predicted score in Reading.

Hendrix says \"The goal of the federal government, the state department of education, and our school system is to ensure that all students are proficient academically. The DeKalb County School System is not only moving toward that goal, we consistently exceed expectations in grades K-8 and are working diligently toward meeting the mandates in grades 9-12.\"

She says \"This year's report card demonstrates the dedication of our students, teachers, parents, and the hard work of the principals and other administrators in ensuring that our students are being taught the necessary skills and objectives to meet not only the mandated proficiency but to ensure that our students leave the DeKalb County School System with the skills to go to higher education or to enter the work force.\"

Smithville Police Arrest Two In Identity Theft Case

November 17, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Officers and Detectives of the Smithville Police Department have arrested two individuals involved in a complex scheme using identity theft, burglary, drugs, stolen checks, and multiple ID's to defraud merchants out of thousands of dollars in merchandise and stolen property throughout Middle Tennessee.

In a prepared news release, Smithville Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano, says \"After receiving a tip from an off-duty police officer, Smithville officers responded to Advanced Auto Parts on South Congress Boulevard and after a short investigation arrested Merel Aaron Degroat of 9740 Old Kentucky Road in Sparta and Anissa Renee Adams of 622 C. Poplar Street in Monterey and booked them into the DeKalb County Jail on drug charges and passing a bad check.\"

Stufano says \" With intensive followup by investigators the next day, it was discovered that the checks were reported stolen during the commission of a burglary in Hamilton County. After comparing investigative notes on area identity theft cases, Smithville Police Detectives formed a Task Force which included Alexandria Police, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Putnam County Sheriff's Department, McMinnville Police, Monterey Police, and Baxter Police and through cooperative efforts were able to track the extensive trail of stolen checks and illegal identities used throughout Middle Tennessee. The use of these fraudulent identities helped purchase thousands of dollars of product including jewelry, clothes, beauty products, auto parts, and large quantities of food.\"

According to Chief Stufano, \"The couple would routinely strike up conversations with the store checkout clerks in an attempt to sway them away from validating the ID. On many occasions, the clerks were advised that the items purchased were being donated to various charities. The investigation showed that the couple was using the stolen products to trade for drugs throughout the area.\"

\"In a combined search of the defendant's home and vehicle, Detectives recovered thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, most with the tags still on them, along with a cache of drugs. Due to the diligent effort of the Smithville Investigators, all of the merchandise purchased from Smithville merchants was recovered and will be returned to them.\"

Degroat is also charged with facilitation of a felony and violation of parole. He remains in jail under a $100,000 bond.

Adams is also charged with four counts of forgery, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of drugs. Her bond is $55,000. The vehicle used in the illegal operation was seized by the Smithville Police Department under the State's Forfeiture Act.

Chief Stufano says \"The city's new Crime Watch Program, which began earlier this month, touts the increase of Identity Theft and how citizens and merchants can protect themselves from these types of cases.\"

\"Identity theft is becoming more sophisticated and the number of new victims is growing. In general, consumers are protected against liability for unauthorized accounts or transactions under federal and state law and by financial industry practices. However, innocent victims of identity theft sometimes do suffer losses. And if the crime is not detected early, people may face months or years cleaning up the damage to their reputation and credit rating, and sometimes they lose out on loans, jobs and other opportunities in the meantime.\"

Chief Stufano says \"The Smithville Police Department is committed to aggressively investigating these types of crimes and asks our citizens to please contact the Police Department if you feel you have been a victim or have information about these crimes.\"

Woman Wanted For Passing Forged Checks Arrested In Gallatin

November 18, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A White County woman , wanted by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department for allegedly passing forged checks in the names of a Temperance Hall couple, is now in custody.

40 year old Lisa Kylene Frasier and her husband, 41 year old Larry Frasier of Luna Road, Sparta were arrested Friday at a motel in Gallatin.

Gallatin Police made the arrests.

Ms. Frasier has been charged by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department with aggravated burglary, and theft of property and will be charged with forgery. Her bond is currently set at $15,000.

No local charges have been filed so far against Larry Frasier.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says someone recently burglarized the residence of Kenneth and Nadene Carter at Temperance Hall and stole two boxes personal checks from Regions Bank and the Bank of Putnam County in the names of the Carters.

Sheriff Ray says Frasier is also a suspect in a similar case in Wilson County.

These checks have been passed in DeKalb, Sumner, Wilson, White, Jackson, Putnam, Smith, Coffee and Warren Counties.

Sheriff Ray says Frasier used a fake drivers license to pass the checks, that has her own picture, and the actual license number of Nadene Carter.

During the course of the investigation, Sheriff Ray says the local department suspected that the Frasiers might be in the Gallatin area since some of the stolen checks were being passed there.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Office made contact with Gallatin Police and the joint investigation between the two departments led to the arrests of the Frasiers.

Gallatin Police spotted the Frasier's Pontiac parked at a motel in the area on Friday. Police converged and made the arrests without incident.

The Frasier's, currently in custody in Gallatin, will soon be returned to DeKalb County.

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