Local News Articles

Qualifying Deadline for Alexandria Election Next Thursday

June 11, 2015
Dwayne Page

Anyone wishing to qualify for the Alexandria Municipal Election has until noon next Thursday, June 18 to get in the race.

In this year's election on September 3, three aldermen are to be elected, each to serve a four year term. Meanwhile, a mayor and two other aldermen are to be elected to fill vacancies or the remaining two years of unexpired terms.

According to the election commission Bennett Armstrong and Tony Tarpley have picked up petitions to run for mayor. Armstrong has already returned his petition to become a candidate. Armstrong is currently an alderman appointee. Tarpley was appointed mayor in 2013 after Jim York was elected mayor and resigned three days after taking office. Tarpley has served the first two years of York's unexpired term as mayor. Both Tarpley and Armstrong plan to seek the last two years of the term.

Kelly Pyburn, David Cripps, and John F. Suggs have each been issued petitions to seek a four year alderman term. Both Suggs and Cripps have returned them to become candidates. Cripps and Suggs are incumbent aldermen, appointees serving out unexpired or vacant terms.

Matthew Boss and Danny Parkerson each have obtained petitions to run for a two year alderman term.

The sitting members are Mayor Tony Tarpley and Aldermen Pat Jackson, David Cripps, John Suggs, and Bennett Armstrong. All are serving as appointees except for Jackson, who was elected in 2013 and still has two years remaining in his term.

Sierra Hull Honored with Blue Blaze Award for 2015

June 11, 2015
Shan Burklow
Sierra Hull Honored with Blue Blaze Award for 2015

There aren’t many twenty-three year old musicians that can say they’ve had a career that’s already spanned more than a decade, and there aren’t many at any age that can compare resumes with Sierra Hull.

Hull has been named the 2015 Blue Blaze Award recipient by the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival. She will be presented this award on the same stage that her love of competitive bluegrass music began. Her journey began on the stage of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree at the young age of 9 years old. By age 11, Alison Krauss had called with an invitation to the Opry stage; by 12, Rounder Records was expressing interest (she signed a record deal with Rounder at 13, with her first album released at 16.) She’s also played the White House, Carnegie Hall (twice), the Kennedy Center, traveled around the world sharing her music, and released three albums. Then there’s the fact that Berklee gave her the school’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship, a first for a bluegrass musician; her choice to accept it, to delay her dream of hitting the road full-time after high school in favor of expanding her musical worldview, was hardly a light one.

“When the Jamboree board and committees were talking about potential recipients for this year’s Blue Blaze Award, we were looking for a candidate whose roots of success grew from their participation at the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree. Sierra Hull, with all of her great success and accolades, was the uncontested fit for this honor,” said Shan Burklow – Jamboree Marketing Committee, “We are honored that Sierra’s humble beginnings started right here on the Jamboree stage and have enjoyed watching her career explode at such a young age. She is a remarkable talent and extraordinary person. The core mission of the award is to acknowledge a musician that has kept the embers of bluegrass music glowing for future generations to come. We believe that Sierra embodies the heart of this mission.”

“At 9 years old, I stepped on to the stage at the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree for the first time to play “Jerusalem Ridge”, said Hull, “It was my first contest, and I had only been playing about a year at the time. I didn’t place in the contest, but felt really inspired by all the other kids and musicians I met that day. I immediately looked forward to going back the next year. My dad certainly reminded me that I’d have to work hard if I wanted to place next time. The next year, I went back and won 1st on guitar, which was really exciting, but only 2nd on mandolin. I’ve always thought of myself as a mandolin player first, so I really wanted to win the mandolin contest at least once. It was such a good thing for me as a young kid to enter a contest and lose! It really gave me a boost to work hard for another year. I went back the next year and won both mandolin and guitar! I was so excited. It was also great local exposure with the contest being broadcasted on WCTE. After winning - later that year, Gibson gave me my first mandolin endorsement - mostly because Danny Roberts had seen me play at the Jamboree. I couldn’t believe it! I am so honored to be chosen for the Blue Blaze Award this year. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Smithville as a place where some of my fondest memories as a young musician were made.”

Boundaries---age, genre or otherwise---don’t hamper an artist like Sierra. She’s already earned considerable respect in the bluegrass world, the IBMA’s voting members having nominated her for no fewer than eight awards. We’re thinking that there’s a good chance that she’ll be the first woman to win the mandolin category. But as a player, singer, and a songwriter, she also has remarkable range. Matt Glaser, head of Berklee’s American Roots Music Program, put it this way, “She has no limitations as a musician.”

Hull has a fan base that includes country icons and legends alike. Country Music Legend Dolly Parton was quoted as saying, “I can’t say enough about Sierra Hull….Sierra is truly a beautiful and talented gift to this world, so special and unique.” Alison Krauss weighed in with her feelings on the young artist, “Sierra is a remarkably talented, beautiful human being. Success could not have come to a more worthy person. I adore her.”
…and we couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Sierra Hull, the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree Blue Blaze Award recipient for 2015. For more information on her career, accolades, and upcoming tour dates, go to www.sierrahull.com

Erin Cantrell Named to Dean's List at Cornell University

June 11, 2015
Erin M. Cantrell

Erin M. Cantrell, of Smithville, was named to the Dean's List for the Spring 2015 semester at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The Dean's List is an academic honor awarded to students for high academic achievement.

Cantrell is a sophomore majoring in Environmental Science and Sustainability with a concentration in BioGeoChemistry at Cornell University. She is an active member of Phi Mu Sorority, where she serves as historian, and Theta Tau Engineering Fraternity. She holds a research assistant position in the CALS Lab working with water salinity and soils. She is also a certified caving and rock climbing instructor with the Cornell Outdoor Education department. Erin is a 2013 graduate of DeKalb County High School. She is the daughter of Lori and Edgar Pryor of Smithville.

Cornell University is a privately endowed, Ivy League, research university and a partner of the state of New York. It is ranked in the top 10 engineering programs in the US, and the 11th best university in the world. Cornell just celebrated its Sesquicentennial, in April 2015, which celebrates 150 years since its founding charter was signed, Cornell is a community of scholars, known for intellectual rigor and engaged in deep and broad research, teaching tomorrow's thought leaders to think otherwise, care for others, and create and disseminate knowledge with a public purpose.

Former DCHS Pitcher To Join MTSU Blue Raiders

June 11, 2015
Cody Puckett

Middle Tennessee Head Baseball Coach Jim McGuire has announced the addition of five transfers who have signed letters of intent to continue their careers with the Blue Raiders including former DCHS pitching standout Cody Puckett who has played two seasons for Columbia State Community College.

Puckett is expected to fill an immediate need for the program as a left-handed pitcher. Blue Raider southpaws Johnathan Frebis and Nathan Foriest exhausted their eligibility following the 2015 campaign.

Puckett (6-0, 190), who starred as a pitcher/outfielder at nearby DeKalb County High School in Smithville posted a 9-4 record and registered more than 125 strikeouts in two seasons at Columbia State. Puckett was a member of the weekend rotation both seasons at Columbia State and helped lead the team to the JUCO World Series in 2014 when he posted a 5-0 record.

Puckett was the District 8-AA Pitcher of the Year as a junior at DeKalb County, where he led the Tigers to two Class AA state tournament appearances.

"With the left-handed pitchers we are losing we felt we needed to add another lefty to the class," McGuire said. "Cody can start or relieve for us. He will definitely help us from the left side. He has a strong body, strong arm and could be a draft pick before his career is complete at Middle Tennessee."

All five signees are transfers and are expected to help make an immediate impact in the program following the loss of nine seniors who exhausted their eligibility following a 32-win season in 2015.

In addition to Puckett, incoming players for the Blue Raiders include Riley Delgado, infielder, Columbia State CC; Will Jackson, RHP, Georgia Perimeter College; Vaughn Shapen, catcher/infielder, Bosier Parish CC; and Chaz Vesser, catcher, Chattanooga State CC.

Sheriff Proposes New Pay Plan for His Employees

June 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

Four years ago the county established a four tier wage scale for employees of the Sheriff's Department to give them more pay and make their wages more competitive with law enforcement officers in other counties of similar size.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time that his deputies and detectives were some of the lowest paid of any county our size in the state.

While the pay plan implemented in 2011 has been good for his department, Sheriff Ray believes its time the scale was brought up to date. During Tuesday night's meeting, the county budget committee approved the sheriff's budget request for 2015-16 which includes a new modified scale that adds two more tiers to the plan.

"We've had some loyal employees that has been with the county for a long time here at the sheriff's department and we want to see them make a little more money for being loyal to the county and staying with us. They are good employees and we want to give them an incentive to stay on and also to give our younger people on the first tier something to look forward to. A goal to reach," Sheriff Ray told WJLE Wednesday.

Although the budget committee gave its blessing for the plan, cuts were made in the Sheriff's proposed budget to help pay for it. " Some of the increase was anticipated because of the existing wage scale but I cut $48,480 out of my budget to help offset this (extra costs). Since taking office in 2006 we've always been under budget. We've never been over budget and we're going to try our best this next budget year to do the same. We've always turned in quite a bit of money back to the county (at year's end). I appreciate the budget committee working with me on this and the employees here will also appreciate that," said Sheriff Ray.

Under the new wage scale, Sheriff's Department employees start out on the first tier either as a Detective, Sergeant, Deputy, Correctional Officer, or Cook.

"After they work one calendar year from July 1, employees are eligible to advance to the second tier the following July 1. Employees may then advance to the third and fourth tier. When employees work at this department for a total of six consecutive years in the same job position, they may advance to the fifth tier. After they work two more years (eight years) in the same job position, employees will move to the sixth tier," Sheriff Ray said.

The Chief Deputy's pay will be based on performance rather than the six tier plan. "He is at $40,144 now and will go to $43,365. His tiers are set on performance which means the Chief Deputy will be evaluated on his performance within the Department and will then be raised to the next step accordingly. It is not a year by year tier like the other positions," Sheriff Ray told WJLE.

The following tier plan for each position is as follows:

Chief Deputy: (Performance Tiers)
$40,144 (Yearly Pay)

1st Tier: $35,597 per year
2nd Tier:$36, 603
3rd Tier: $37,676
4th Tier: $38,615
5th Tier: $39,621
6th Tier: $40,628

1st Tier: $35,597
2nd Tier: $36,156
3rd Tier: $36,715
4th Tier: $37,274
5th Tier: $37,833
6thTier: $38,392

1st Tier: $30,141
2nd Tier: $31,505
3rd Tier: $32,869
4th Tier: $34,233
5th Tier: $35,597
6thTier: $36,961

Correctional Officer:
1st Tier: $26,429
2nd Tier: $27,145
3rd Tier: $27,860
4th Tier: $28,598
5th Tier: $29,269
6thTier: $30,007

1st Tier: $20,966
2nd Tier: $21,299
3rd Tier: $21,632
4th Tier: $22,006
5th Tier: $22,297
6thTier: $22,630

The budget committee's favorable recommendation on the sheriff's department and jail budget including this new pay plan now goes to the county commission this summer for final approval

School Spending Plan Meets with Approval of County Budget Committee

June 10, 2015
Dwayne Page

The proposed budget for schools is on its way to final passage by the county commission later this summer.

The spending plan met the approval of the county budget committee Tuesday night and will be recommended to the commission for adoption.

Members of the budget committee commended Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins for her work on the school budget, which has been adopted by the Board of Education, and for her cooperation.

The committee, made up of Chairman Wayne Cantrell and members Larry Summers, Jack Barton, Jimmy Midgett, and Jerry Adcock, amended the school budget, making minor changes or corrections to certain line items to accurately reflect that funding for extended contracts would not be included as intended by the school board.

This was the second attempt by the Board of Education to satisfy the county budget committee on a school budget.

After the budget committee Tuesday night, June 2 rejected the original spending plan offered May 28, the school board made some cuts last Thursday night, June 4.

In the revised version, the school board cut the request for two RTI positions down to one, hoping federal money can be used to fund the other. No local money is included to cover extended contracts which are no longer funded by the state. The board has decided to save $4,100 by no longer having a billboard on the side of the road near the high school, which has been there for the last several years showing a picture of high school graduates with the theme "Education Counts in DeKalb County". And the board is freezing funding for five positions in the school system, which have been left vacant with the recent retirement or resignation of former employees. While the funding for those five jobs will remain in the budget, the money will not be spent unless the school system's average daily (student) membership numbers increase, requiring them to be filled. The board is also considering dropping its association with AdvancED for accreditation of the schools which would save the school system money. In the school transportation category, the board had budgeted $250,000 for the purchase of two buses but the cost is not expected to be that much. The board has cut $20,000 from that line item of the budget.

The school budget does include a new computer teacher postion at Smithville Elementary School, a new part time janitor position at DeKalb West School, a new school nurse, technology and equipment upgrades, additional supplies for classrooms and intervention programs, a deaf education contract, a new scrubber, and a few other proposed new expenditures.

The school budget for 2015-16 totals just over $21 million dollars. Anticipated revenues are budgeted at $19.3 million. More than $1.6 million of the school's BEP and Technology reserves will be needed to balance the budget on paper but the actual number by the end of the fiscal year in 2016 is expected to be in the neighborhood of $250,000 to $300,000.

The school board will be asked to adopt the budget as amended by the county budget committee.

Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award to Alexandria Fire Department

June 10, 2015
Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award to Alexandria Fire Department

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce recently presented a Community Improvement Award to the Alexandria Fire Department.

The fire department has undergone a complete interior renovation including walls, floors, ceiling, signage, new furnishings and a new TV for weather emergency information and for training purposes. Recently, the ISO Rating for Alexandria dropped from a 7 to a 4 which may translate into lower residential and commercial insurance premiums.

The Alexandria Fire Department also has a 2nd engine now.

(PICTURED): Alexandria Alderman David Cripps, FF Rebecca Partridge, FF Lorrie Merriman, Asst. Chief John Partridge, FF Chris Cavin, FF Justin Avera, Capt. Brent Davis, Alexandria Mayor Tony Tarpley, Chief Brian Partridge, FF Chris Henderson, Alexandria Alderman Bennett Armstrong, Alexandria Alderman John Suggs and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams

Joe Foutch Term Soon to Expire on DUD Board

June 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joe Foutch

Joe Foutch's term as a member of the DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners is expiring August 31.

During its regular monthly meeting Thursday, July 2 the DUD board is expected to certify a list of nominees to the county mayor to fill the position which may also include the name of Foutch for reapppointment. A DUD customer may submit a name to the District General Manager for consideration on the nominee list at least one week prior to the July 2 meeting

As WJLE first reported last year when DUD board members Jimmy Womack and Roger Turney were up for reappointment, by law the DUD board must submit the names of three nominees to fill each position, listed in order of preference.

Under the law, a customer may also submit names for consideration by the DUD board for the list of nominees.

The general provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated (State Law) TCA § 7-82-307 provide that the utility board members must submit three nominees, listed in order of preference, to the county mayor (where the vacancy exists). The county mayor has the authority to appoint one of the nominees to the vacant position on the board or reject all of the nominees. If the county mayor rejects all three nominees, then the board of (utility) commissioners has to submit three additional nominees to the county mayor for consideration. If the county mayor rejects these nominees, then the process would continue until the position is filled. There are, however, exceptions to these general provisions in the statute. Any order either appointing or rejecting a list of nominees shall be entered of record on the minutes of the county legislative body and a certified copy of the order shall be furnished to the board of (utility) commissioners and to the appointee; provided, that upon the rejection of any entire list of nominees by the county mayor, the board of (utility) commissioners shall continue to submit new nonidentical lists of three (3) nominees to the county mayor within sixty (60) days after each such rejection until such procedure shall result in the vacancy being filled for the remainder of the term or for the new term, as provided in this section.

The DUD Board is made up of five members, three from DeKalb County (Jimmy Womack, Joe Foutch, and Hugh Washer), one from Cannon (Roger Turney), and one from Smith County (Danny Bass). The terms are staggered. All terms are for four years.

Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Coming July 3 & 4

June 9, 2015
Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Coming July 3 & 4

Come one, come all to downtown Smithville for the 44th Annual Fiddlers' Jamboree and Crafts Festival. This year's event will be held Friday, July 3rd and Saturday, July 4th. The Festival begins at 9:00 am each day, and continues until the final competition has been awarded. With over 35 music and dance categories, streets full of hand-made crafts, and over a dozen food booths, there is something for everyone at the Jamboree.

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories on Friday, July 3:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Solo); Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Old-Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event (Spoon Clacking, Jug Blowing, Washboard, Tub, Saws-Appalachian Related Only); Autoharp, Gospel Singing (Solo); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Youth Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers); Gospel Singing (Duet,Trio, and Quartet); Mandolin; and Old Time Fiddle Band.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

All first place winners get $125, except the Old Time Fiddle Band, which gets $525 for first place and Youth Square Dancing which is awarded $300.
Second place winners get $100 and third place winners receive $75. The Old Time Fiddle Band second place winner gets $425 and $325 for third place. The Youth Square Dance second place team is awarded $200 and $100 goes for third place.

A United States flag and a Tennessee State flag will be presented on Friday evening. The flags, which have flown over the state capitol, go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here. The flags will be presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody.

Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards will be presented during the weekend for "Best of Show", "Best Appalachian Craft", "Best Newcomer", and "Best Craft Display"

On Saturday, July 4, preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Flat Top Guitar; Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award; Bluegrass Band; Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back Saturday night to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prize money in most categories is $125 for first place; $100 for second place; and $75 for third place. Awards for Junior Fiddlers and Senior Fiddlers are $225 for first place; $175 for second place; and $150 for third place. Prizes for Bluegrass Band are $525 for first place; $425 for second place; and $325 for third place. Awards for Square Dancing are $400 for first place; $300 for second place; and $200 for third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival. The winner gets $300.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon, July 4 during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second place; and $50 for third place. One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer Trophy Award and $125 and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy and $175.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature many crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE Streaming at www.wjle.com.

To learn more visit http://smithvillejamboree.com/

Board Amends School Calendar

June 9, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County School Calendar for the 2015-2016 year has been amended to correct a mistake.


1321_001.pdf (54.18 KB)

"Due to an oversight when we were adding up the days for the school calendar we made a mistake. We counted the days wrong. So instead of the last day of school being May 24 we'll have to add two days which would make May 25 the administrative day and the last day of school will be May 26," said Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder.

The Board of Education voted to make the change during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting.

Under the new calendar, registration for all students will be Monday, August 3.

Tuesday, August 4 will be an administrative day for teachers only

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

A system wide in-service day will be Tuesday, July 28

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Wednesday and Thursday July 29 and July 30

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 7.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 12-23

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 25, 26, & 27 and for the Christmas break December 21 through January 1. Friday, December 18 will be the last day students attend before Christmas break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Monday, January 4 will be a stockpile day for teachers. Students will return after the holidays on Tuesday, January 5.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 18; for President's Day, Monday, February 15; and Good Friday, March 25.

Spring break will be March 28 through April 1

Stockpile Days will be Friday, September 4 and Monday, January 4.

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

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 6 and Thursday, March 17 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 8 and Tuesday, March 22 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 5 and Tuesday, March 15 and at all other schools on Tuesday, October 6 and Thursday, March 17. All schools will send home report cards on Thursday, January 7 and on Thursday, May 26.


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