Local News Articles

Second Graders Learn the Names of All U.S. Presidents and States

May 10, 2012
Dwayne Page

Students in Janet Woodward's second grade class at Smithville Elementary School have learned the names of all the U.S. Presidents in the order in which they served.

The children recited the President's names for WJLE Thursday morning in their classroom.

The children also learned a song naming all the states in the country.

Members of the class pictured in these videos are:
Jacob Beaty
Conner Crabtree
Maggie Felton
Marley Jones
Shayla Kirby
Javontae Martin
Jesse Martin
Kevin Martinez-Soto
Brenda Muniz-Guzman
Ethan Pope
Harrison Pryor
Addison Puckett
Madison Ray
Justin Rico
Olivia Taylor
Kaydence Thompson
Jamison Trapp
Orlando Escobedo

In addition to the video presentation here, you can listen to the children each morning May 14-18 following the 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. morning local news on WJLE AM 1480 and FM 101.7.

Sales Tax Rate on Food to Decrease Beginning July 1st

May 10, 2012

Legislation passed by the Tennessee General Assembly on April 27, 2012, provides for a reduction in the state sales and use tax rate on sales of food and food ingredients. Effective July 1, 2012, the state sales and use tax rate on sales of food and food ingredients will be reduced from 5.5% to 5.25%.

With the change, food and food ingredients will be subject to a reduced state sales and use tax rate of 5.25% plus the applicable local sales and use tax rate. Prepared food, dietary supplements, candy, alcoholic beverages and tobacco continue to be subject to the general state sales and use tax rate of 7% plus the applicable local sales and use tax rate. Existing laws defining which items are considered food and food ingredients remain unchanged by the new legislation.

Businesses selling food items subject to the reduced rate of sales and use tax are advised to begin making the necessary changes to allow for the new rate beginning July 1, 2012. Changes to cash registers and accounting systems should be completed by the July 1, 2012 effective date. However, businesses must continue to collect and remit the existing 5.5% tax on sales of food and food ingredients made through June 30, 2012 to the Department of Revenue.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 91 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2011 fiscal year, the department collected $10.4 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, the Department of Revenue collects taxes for local, county and municipal governments. During the 2011 fiscal year, local government collections by the Department of Revenue exceeded $2.0 billion. In collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.

Angry Man with Knife Charged with Disorderly Conduct

May 10, 2012
Dwayne Page

In his latest city crime report, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 19 year old Terry Jones, III is charged with disorderly conduct. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court May 10. Chief Caplinger said that an officer was recently dispatched to a possible domestic disturbance on Woodlawn Street. Upon arrival, the officer saw a man walking through the yard, screaming profanity and holding a knife with the blade open. The officer ordered the man, Jones, to drop the knife. He initially refused, still yelling profanities at the officer. Jones was ordered again to drop the knife. The officer then drew his taser. Jones subsequently released the knife, but remained very belligerent. The officer took Jones to the ground and placed him in custody.

37 year old Leslie Yorke is charged with reckless endangerment, evading by a motor vehicle, simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and three counts of simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. Her bond is $11,000 and she will be in court on May 17. Chief Caplinger said that on Friday, April 27 an officer, while on routine patrol, saw a vehicle fail to stop at the intersection of East Bryant and South College Street. The officer turned around and activated his blue lights. He tried to stop the car but it turned onto Oak Street and sped up. The car then turned into a driveway and around to the back yard of a residence, Yorke got out of the car and tried to run away, leaving behind two small children in the vehicle. The officer caught up with Yorke and placed her under arrest. Several witnesses in the back yard said they saw Yorke throw her pocket book onto the back porch as she tried to flee. When the pocketbook was searched, the officer found Yorke's identification, a plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana, a pill bottle containing twenty seven diazepam pills, three triazolam pills, and three xanax pills. A computer check revealed her license to be revoked for failure to file security after an accident in Picket County.

45 year old Patsy Fults is charged with driving under the influence and simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. Her bond is $3,000 and she will be in court on May 17. Chief Caplinger said that on Monday, May 7 an officer was dispatched to Mapco Express to check out a possible intoxicated person in the store. When he arrived, the officer saw the suspect, Fults, getting into the driver seat of her vehicle. She was very disoriented and had slurred speech. The car was running. The officer asked Fults to get out of the vehicle. She was very unsteady on her feet. She could not submit to field sobriety tasks. Her purse contained pills, believed to be xanax. She did not have a prescription for them. Fults was taken to the emergency room of the hospital for a blood alcohol test and then transported to jail.

41 year old Tisha Elaine Burns is cited for simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court on May 17. Chief Caplinger reports that on Sunday, April 22 a vehicle was stopped by police for a traffic violation. During the investigation, the officer received consent to search and found half of a smoked hand rolled cigarette containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. He also found paraphernalia used to smoke it.

24 year old Reva Campbell is cited for simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. According to Chief Caplinger, on Wednesday, April 25 an officer observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. He also saw the driver throw something out of the car window. The officer stopped the vehicle and asked the driver what she had thrown out. She said it was a hydro. The officer escorted Campbell back to that location and found a hydro pill in the center lane of the highway.

29 year old Roxanne White is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. She will be in court on May 17. Chief Caplinger said that on Thursday, April 26 Smithville Police assisted county deputies in serving an arrest warrant at a residence on Robinson Road. When they arrived, White approached the officers, cursing out loud and causing a disturbance. Officers told her several times to calm down, but she refused. When the officers placed her under arrest, White resisted. White pulled away from the officers as they tried to place handcuffs on her and she got into a vehicle. She was subsequently handcuffed and transported to the police department

22 year old Nathan Kyle Basham is cited for shoplifting. He will be in court May 10. Chief Caplinger said that on Sunday, April 29 an officer was dispatched to Walmart in reference to a shoplifter. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with a store employee who said he saw Basham stealing an item. Basham was stopped and allegedly admitted to taking the item.

40 year old Willard Darrell Brown is charged with criminal trespassing. Chief Caplinger said that on Sunday, May 6, Brown was spotted in Walmart by a store employee. He had been served with notification on February 7 that he was to no longer enter the store. When confronted, Brown admitted that he was not to be on the property.

Micheal Burt to Deliver Commencement Address at DCHS Graduation

May 9, 2012
Dwayne Page
Micheal Burt

Motivational speaker Micheal Burt will give the commencement address during the DCHS graduation program next Friday night, May 18.

Combining over a decade of winning championships as a women's basketball coach and his new work as an entrepreneur who unleashes human capital at companies like FirstBank, Reeves-Sain, Ole South Properties, The Les Walden Real Estate Team and many more, Micheal Burt is considered a Coachepreneur—a mix between a coach and an entrepreneur.

Micheal's unique background and education positions him as the go-to guy within companies that want to play at a different level. With a methodology scripted in the whole person theory, Micheal has driven major results by engaging every person in the company in a set of systematic and ongoing behaviors that allows them to do something tomorrow that they simply cannot do today.

Burt is the author of six books including the wildly popular This Ain't No Practice Life. Micheal is also the host of The Coach Micheal Burt Radio Show every Sunday on WLAC in Nashville which is one hour of transformational radio positioned as Change Your Life Radio.

As a former championship basketball coach at Riverdale High School from 1999-2008 Micheal's teams produced seven consecutive 20+ win seasons, four conference titles, three sub-state appearances, two Miss Basketball finalist, and 100 percent of his players furthered their education at the collegiate level. In 2007 Micheal's strategies were validated when he led his team to a 2007 Class AAA state championship and a 38-3 record for the first time in over 83 years in the city of Murfreesboro and the first time in the schools 36 year history.

Coach Burt speaks, coaches, trains, and leads individuals and organizations who want to play at a different level in life. His powerful keynotes on any of his six books inspire and motivate people to dig deep into their potential with a coach that knows how to get it out of them.

The DCHS commencement begins at 7:00 p.m. Friday, May 18 on the high school football field.

Nineteen DCHS Students Earn HSTW Educational Achievement Award

May 9, 2012
Dwayne Page

Nineteen members of the class of 2012 have received the High Schools That Work Award of Educational Achievement.

HSTW is sponsored by the (SREB) Southern Regional Education Board.

HSTW is the nation’s largest and fastest growing effort to combine challenging academic courses and modern vocational studies.

Students qualify for the award by completing a college-preparatory course of study in at least two of the three subject areas (English/language arts, mathematics, or science); completing a concentration in a career/technical area, mathematics/science or the humanities; and meeting readiness goals in all three subject areas on the HSTW Assessment.

Students Names:
1.Angaran, Joseph
2.England, Whitney
3.Foster, John
4.Hughes, Heather
5.James, Adam
6.James, Jesse
7.Knowles, Danielle
8.Merriman, Mason
9.Mitchell, Kalli
10.Owens, Tevin
11.Phillips, Sebastian
12.Roller, Johnna
13.Snyder, Lindsay
14.Spare, Corey
15.Tatrow, Victoria
16.Thompson, Erik
17.White, Krystal
18.Williams, Breanna
19.Young, Alyssa

City to get Automated Water Meter Reading System

May 9, 2012
Dwayne Page

More than two years after making application, the City of Smithville has been approved for a USDA Rural Development Grant/Loan to help the city convert to a new automated water meter reading system

Mayor Taft Hendrixson made the announcement during Monday night's city council meeting. "Probably close to two years ago, we applied to Rural Development through TAUD for a grant for the automated water meter readers. We're probably the only utility in the county that doesn't have the automated readers. We still have two men, five to seven days every month to read the water meters. But we've been approved and we got a $95,000 grant and a $315,000 Rural Development Utilities Loan through Rural Development for the automated water meters. In the budget this year we've got $360,000 for this. I guess we'll decide a little later if we want to do the loan for twenty years or if we just want to pay off the loan. We have the money in the budget. But either way, we get a $95,000 grant. We'll have to put out bids to various companies for those automated meters and the electronic things that set on top of them. It will save $25,000 to $30,000 a year, maybe more from the cost of reading meters. That's a big cost," said Mayor Hendrixson.

During a city council meeting in February 2010, Will Taylor of the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, addressed the mayor and aldermen on this issue. He was to assist the city in making the application.

Taylor said through Rural Development, the city could be eligible for up to a 45% grant for the total project, with the remainder to be funded through a low interest rate loan, which the city could carry for several years.

According to Taylor, benefits to the city by having an automated meter reading system are that it would reduce water loss by an estimated seven to fifteen percent and cut costs associated with the current manner of reading meters. For example, with an automated system, an employee could read all water meters in the city in just a day or two each month. This would also save fuel costs and wear and tear on city vehicles.

Many utilities are using AMR as a way of improving customer service while reducing the cost of reading meters. Some AMR systems use miniature radio transmitters attached to each water meter. These utilities are then able to collect the readings from handheld radio receivers and from moving vehicles. With this process, one driver in a vehicle is able to read more meters in one day. At the end of the day, the meter reader unloads the information to the city's billing system.

DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix To Retire

May 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
Kathy Hendrix

After thirty years as an educator including seven years as Principal of DeKalb County High School, Kathy Hendrix is retiring.

She will be stepping down as principal when the school year ends. Director Mark Willoughby has not yet officially named her replacement.

Looking back over her career, Hendrix, in an interview with WJLE Monday, said being an administrator was never something she had set out to do. " I never thought I would want to be an administrator. When I got my Masters degree I went into curriculum instruction. But later on when I got my Ed.s, it just seemed like I didn't have anything else to get that in so I got that in administration. It just worked out. The opportunity came up and I have enjoyed it. I've enjoyed all of it. I enjoyed teaching too. Teaching is very rewarding," she said.

It's not surprising that Hendrix chose education as a career since her parents, Louise and the late Woodrow Frazier, were educators and two of her sisters became teachers. "Both my parents were educators. My mother was a teacher. In fact, she was my (elementary school) teacher at Pea Ridge and my dad was the principal there. My mother later started the library at Smithville Elementary and my dad later became the first principal at DeKalb West School. I have a sister, Peggy Thomas, that lives in Las Vegas. She is an educator out there. My sister Lisa Cripps, currently works in the central office here. Other family members didn't go into education but they have well respected jobs and have done good for themselves too," she said.

A 1974 graduate of DeKalb County High School, Hendrix furthered her education at MTSU in Murfreesboro. "I have three degrees from MTSU. I got my BS, a Masters in curriculum and instruction, and an Ed.s as an administrator," she said. " I always knew I wanted to go to college. Education just seemed to be the (career) path that I needed. I loved math. I took all the math courses I could take while I was in college. I had some good math teachers growing up that gave me a good foundation. I guess I had an aptitude for that," said Hendrix.

Among the teachers she admired most as a young elementary and high school student were Carolyn Adcock and Jean Harney. "I had Ms. Carolyn in grade school. She gave me a good foundation. I had Ms. Harney in math and she was an excellent teacher. They sort of built that foundation for me in math," said Hendrix.

As a teacher and assistant principal, Hendrix said she fostered a great respect for three people in particular. "As a teacher, I had a lot of respect for Mr. Ernest Ray as a principal. He was also my teacher. I worked under him and learned a lot from him as well as Mr. Steve Hayes. While I was an assistant for two years, I learned quite a bit from Mr. Weldon Parkinson. He taught me a lot," said Hendrix.

Before her years at the high school, Hendrix was a classroom teacher at the middle school. " I started out in the middle school teaching sixth grade overload. I taught every subject. They later moved me to the high school where I taught science and math. Until I became administrator that's where I stayed in the classroom teaching math. I've been teaching for thirty years. This is my ninth year as an administrator. I served as two years as an assistant principal and this is my seventh year as principal," said Hendrix.

Asked about her views on today's education standards, Hendrix said she is concerned that some goals have become near impossible to meet. " There are some good things. It has forced us to demand more from students. Our expectations have been raised so high. The curriculum has changed and there's lots of other changes coming down the line, even in the lower grades, probably down in the third and fourth grade, maybe even lower. Things have really changed. What they're having to do now in high school is a lot more demanding on them. There's a lot more rigorous things now because of the testing and the goals the federal and state governments have set. Its almost impossible to meet what they're asking us to do. But we're expected to get these students to achieve all of these things. We try our best. We've got good teachers and they work hard but its putting a lot of stress on everybody, trying to meet the goals that's being demanded of us," she said

As for her future, Hendrix said she plans to spend more time with family and relax. "I'm hoping to be able to travel some and spend more time with my grandchildren and just relax and enjoy life. My mother will be ninety five years old in July and I need to help more with her," she said.

She looks back on her career fondly and said she will miss it "I know I'm going to miss it. I've had a lot of fun. We used to decorate for the prom. I was once a prom sponsor and we had a lot of fun doing that. You have to laugh. I will say to anybody that's in education, you need to laugh when you can," said Hendrix.

Asked if she had any advice for her successor, Hendrix said don't try to go it alone. "Whoever becomes principal, just remember that they need support from everybody because you can't do this job alone. The teachers also need support. You can't do this kind of work and not have support from the parents, the community and everybody. That's something I do feel like I've had and I appreciate that. I appreciate the opportunity that I was given to do this job. I want to say thanks for all the support and help that everyone has given me. I wish everybody the best," said Hendrix.

Smithville Municipal Pool May Open Next Week

May 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
City Pool on Memorial Day 2011
Tony Poss
Alderman Gayla Hendrix

The Smithville Municipal Pool may open as early as next week.

The aldermen Monday night, at the request of golf course tenant Tony Poss, voted to amend his lease giving him the discretion to open the pool sooner than the contract calls for in the spring and to close it later in the summer, depending upon the weather. The original lease specifies that the pool is to open Memorial Day and to remain open until the beginning of school. Poss said he would like to open the pool by late next week. "We've had an unusually warm spring and we've had calls after calls wanting to use the pool and we're losing people who are going out of town because we can't let them in the pool. The pool is ready, the permits are paid and the lifeguards are certified. We're looking at opening around the 18th or 19th of May. We're waiting for school to get out," said Poss.

Alderman Gayla Hendrix said she thought opening the pool sooner is a good idea, given the warmer weather this spring. " I think we should amend that lease to just state at the lessee's discretion to open the pool and close the pool upon weather permitting. This has been an unusual spring. Usually its not warm enough to open the pool until Memorial Day, but it is warm enough now and kids are getting out of school soon. Even if you opened it temporarily on weekends only til Memorial Day all its going to do is generate revenue. To me it only makes sense, if you've got everything ready to go," she said.

The aldermen also approved Poss's request to amend the lease to allow him to book pool parties after hours, at no extra expense to the city. The city is responsible for paying wages of lifeguards during all hours of pool operation, but the city legally can't bear that cost for private pool parties. Poss said he would assume the cost of hiring lifeguards for pool parties after hours and that would solve the problem. "I've checked with insurance and it pretty much covers anything we do over there. It wouldn't cost the city anything. We'll pay them (lifeguards) for those private parties. Its something we're missing out on. We've had I'll bet ten calls this weekend and if we don't accommodate these people, they're just going out of town. We could keep people here in town. We'll be open til 6:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. and have parties after that, maybe until 8:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m." said Poss.

The aldermen further voted, at Poss's request, to have some work done at the clubhouse bathroom facilities to make them more handicapped accessible. "We need to know when the city is going to get the bathrooms and pool facilities up to ADA standards. We have a deadline this month of May 21 but as of today (Monday) we're still not compliant with those laws," said Poss.

We've been up here several times (to the city council meetings) about the 2012 ADA standards. I think the board voted a couple of months ago to research this and see what the best option is to update the bathrooms and showers to make them handicapped accessible. As of today, nothing has been done. I just don't want this to be a liability on the city's part or our part. I called the ADA Thursday and from what I've been told, they say anything that is accessible to the public has to meet ADA standards. It doesn't matter when it's built," said Poss.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said while some work has already been done at the clubhouse bathrooms to make them more accessible, a complete renovation is not necessary. The city has also ordered a portable lift chair for handicapped users to get in and out of the swimming pool. "We have researched that. The (handicapped) lift (for the pool) is on back order and I'm not sure when it will be here but it shouldn't be long. As far as the restrooms, bringing them up to ADA standards, we don't have to do anything. Existing buildings before 1990, you don't have to redo them unless you are reconstructing or remodeling, tearing out and redoing, then you have to bring them to ADA standards. We have taken out partial walls so the (women's) bathroom is accessible with a wheel chair. The men's bathroom was already (accessible). But as far as the latrine being a certain height, we don't have to do that," said Mayor Hendrixson.

Alderman Hendrix suggested that the city go ahead and make whatever changes are needed. "When this was brought to us a month or so ago, things like making the sink a certain height and the urinals a certain height, it didn't seem like it was going to be a big ordeal and it sounded like city employees had the capability of doing these things. If its not a big ordeal or big expense and it will make it more accessible to people, what's the draw back in doing it? Actually I thought we already agreed to do it," said Alderman Hendrix.

Alderman Danny Washer agreed. "Lets fix what needs to be fixed. It won't cost the city a lot of money," he said.

Mayor Hendrixson said the work would begin possibly this week. City building codes inspector Eugene O'Neal will be consulted to get his input on whatever further renovations should be made.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker announced that a bid opening on the purchase of a ladder truck is set for Friday, May 11 at 2:00 p.m. at city hall. He said bids will be reviewed on Friday and brought to the next city council meeting on May 21.

Chief Parker said he is also working with City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson and the Municipal Technical Advisory Services (MTAS) to get advice on the best way to go about replacing the fire department's turnout gear, by coming up with the best means of bidding those items for purchase.

Meanwhile, in his monthly fire report, Chief Parker said during the last month the department responded to one grass fire, one dumpster fire, a landing zone, one structure fire, and one training.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger said he recently applied for and the city has been approved for a BURNS grant. It is a non-matching grant at no cost to the city. "We have been approved for a $12,061 grant, subject to board approval. Its free money for the department to buy equipment. We've looked at new shotguns for the patrol cars and some other equipment that we need for the department. With board approval, we'll go forward," said Chief Caplinger.

The aldermen voted to accept the grant.

Chief Caplinger also announced that the police department has received two humvees at no cost to the city. "One of them has 22,000 miles on it and the other has 27,000 miles. They haven't been used that much. We received those through the military. I actually applied for four, hoping to get one but we were lucky and got two. There were 450 of them and they were gone in less than twelve hours. I'm glad we got them. The only cost to the city was going down and driving them back from Montgomery, Alabama. We are looking at painting them black and using them in emergency situations, whether it be drug operations, inclement weather such as street flooding or snows, helping stranded motorists. They can go into areas where we might not be able to get to in a four wheel drive truck or a patrol car. They can be used for tactical operations, transporting officers to the scene of a crime. We can do whatever we decide we want to do with them," said Chief Caplinger

Water Plant operator Todd Bowman reported that the water treatment plant, during the month of March " treated 48-million 900-thousand gallons of water. We used 200,000 gallons for backwash and 125,000 gallons to re-wash. To drain the basin was 710,000 gallons. We used 276,000 gallons at the plant and we also did a system wide flush during the month of March. We used 625,000 gallons there. So we left the plant with 46.9 million gallons. We sold 35.6 million gallons which left a total unaccounted for of 11.3 million gallons which is a 24% water loss," said Bowman.

School Board Seeks Funding for Construction and Roofing Projects in New Budget

May 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education is expected to adopt a tentative budget for the 2012-13 school year Thursday night to be presented to the county commission's budget committee.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, in an interview with WJLE Friday, said the proposed spending plan calls for $600,000 in local funding to meet a 12.5% FEMA grant match for building eight tornado "safe rooms" at DeKalb West School.

According to Willoughby, the school board will also seek in the proposed new budget $850,000 in local funds for renovation and expansion of the kitchen/cafeteria area of DeKalb West School; a proposal to re-roof DeKalb Middle School (87,000 square feet), to re-roof DeKalb West School (45,000 square feet); and to re-roof a portion of Smithville Elementary School (8,000 square feet); funding for a new special education teacher at DeKalb West School; a new math teacher at DCHS; an assistant band teacher, an assistant high school soccer coach, two extra teaching positions (one for kindergarten and one for sixth grade) if needed due to enrollment; and funds to put custodians on twelve month contracts instead of the current ten month contracts. Willoughby said the state has approved a 2.5% pay raise for certified personnel. The school board will also include a 2.5% local pay hike for support staff. "The 2.5% will be fully paid for the support staff by the county," said Willoughby. "But the state will pay for all BEP (Basic Education Program) positions. We have about twenty four BEP positions above BEP (requirements) so we would have to pick up that 2.5%," said Willoughby.. The school board further seeks an increase of $300,000 in capital outlay funds and $11,000 to fully fund a JTPA (Jobs Training Partnership Act) intervention/counseling position previously funded partly through a UCHRA grant.

During the April school board meeting, Director Willoughby announced that the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency had approved grant funds of more than $1.5 million for the safe room project at DeKalb West School, pending final approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The proposed 15,000 square foot addition, to be built in the front of the existing school, calls for eight classrooms, restrooms, a new secure entrance, an office, clinic, conference room, guidance and teacher work area. The new addition is meant to not only provide more classroom space and better shelter in the event of storms, but to make the school more secure.

Although a new larger DeKalb West School cafeteria and kitchen do not qualify under the FEMA grant, the architects have included in the design an expansion of the existing dining area, which would have to be funded locally.

DeKalb West School, which opened in 1974, was built for 320 students. The current enrollment is 445 plus faculty and staff.

The school board will meet in regular monthly session Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Board of Education building.

Tennessee Titans Caravan Visits Smithville Elementary School

May 8, 2012
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Titans Caravan made a stop at Smithville Elementary School Tuesday morning.

Students and school staff met Tennessee Titans kicker Rob Bironas, the "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith of Titans Radio, and Titans Mascot T-Rac.

The Caravan consists of 24 visits to schools and 26 public stops. The school program features a high-energy, educational message from seven time Pro Bowl Titans mascot T-Rac, host Rhett Ryan and at least one Titans player. The Titans use the opportunity to speak to youngsters about the NFL's Play 60 program, which stresses the importance of getting at least 60 minutes of active play each day, and also the benefits of making good choices in all parts of their lives. T-Rac and the Titans school program are sponsored by Tennessee State Parks.

Titans Caravan began in 1998 as a small effort to spread goodwill through the region. Today, six full-time staffers travel with Titans players and T-Rac through the Mid-South on a specially-decorated motor coach provided by Grand Avenue. Since 1998, Titans Caravan has made over 700 stops, traveled approximately 50,000 miles, visited close to 300 schools and allowed the team to interact directly with an estimated audience well-in excess of 100,000 fans.

A powerful right-footed kicker in his eighth NFL season, Rob Bironas has earned the right to be named among the best players at his position. Statistically one of the top kickers in the NFL history, he made 86.3% of his field goals in the first seven years of his career and became one of the top two scorers in club history. Prior to winning a roster spot with the Titans in 2005, Bironas spent time in training camp with the Green Bay Packers in 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004. He spent two seasons in the Arena Football League and one season in Af2. Bironas enters the 2012 season as the third-ranked kicker in NFL history in field goal accuracy, connecting on 86.3% of his attempts (189 of 219). Only Al Del Greco (1,060) points has accounted for more points than Bironas in the history of the Titans/Oilers organization.

Franklin-native Mike Keith, an award winning broadcaster, begins his 14th year as the "Voice of the Titans" in 2012.

The NFL's second-youngest play-by-play announcer was actually the first ever associated with Tennessee's NFL team. In 1996, while the team was in Houston, Keith hosted a pre-game show for Tennessee stations who carried the Oilers games. The Franklin-native served as the network's scoreboard host in 1997 before moving into the booth as color analyst in 1998 and then assuming the play-by-play duties in 1999.

In addition to his play-by-play duties, Keith hosts the weekly Mike Munchak Show, Tuesday night at 6pm central on Titans Radio. He also contributes many of the interviews and features for Titans Countdown, the network's pregame show. Keith also writes a regular column for Titans Radio's web site, TitansRadio.Com.

From 1987-98, Keith was a Vol Radio Network stalwart, working with Vol football, basketball, baseball and Lady Vol basketball broadcasts and coaches' shows on radio and television.

Keith also hosts the weekly television show, Titans ALL Access on television stations across the region every weekend.


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