Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 7.5% in April

May 29, 2012

DeKalb County's April unemployment rate dropped to 7.5%, down from 8% in March, and well below the 9.1% rate in April, 2011.

The local labor force for April was at 9,810. A total of 9,070 were employed and 740 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for April tied for third lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region with Cannon and Macon. Here's how they rank highest to lowest

Picket County- 12.1%
White- 10.6%
Van Buren-10.5%
Clay- 9.1%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for April show the rate decreased in 84 counties, increased in five counties, and remained the same in six counties.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for April fell to 7.8 percent, down from the March revised rate of 7.9 percent. The national unemployment rate for April 2012 was 8.1 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the March rate.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.8 percent, up from 5.6 percent in March. Davidson County was 6.5 percent, down from 6.6 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.0 percent, down from 7.3 percent, and Shelby County was 8.3 percent, down from the March unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.

Fallen Heroes Remembered

May 28, 2012
Dwayne Page
Carlton Miller, Joe Goodwin, and Edward Frazier Lay Wreath
Carlton Miller, Joe Goodwin, Edward Frazier, Ronnie Redmon
Major Jerry Parker and Edward Frazier

Members of our community paused to recognize fallen heroes during a Memorial Day program held Monday morning at the new auditorium in the county complex on South Congress Boulevard.

Following a program of patriotic music and songs by Josh Gulley and Susan Hinton, guest speaker Major Jerry Parker paid tribute to those who served our nation and particularly those from DeKalb County.

"Today is Memorial Day. One of two national holidays when we honor those who serve in the Armed Forces. On November 11 each year we honor our living veterans. Six months later, we honor and remember those who are no longer with us, especially those veterans who gave their lives on the field of battle," said Major Parker.

"America is only 236 years old. But since July 4, 1776, there have been 1-million, 317-thousand 812 Americans killed in action in our armed forces. That figure does not include the many thousands listed as missing in action," he said.

"Memorial Day has gradually changed from a day of remembrance to a day best known now as a day for the beginning of the summer season and for the Indianapolis car race and the Coca Cola 600 stock car race. However, there are still communities such as DeKalb County, which take time from the Memorial Day weekend activities to remember those who have served in our armed forces and who now lie silently in the grave waiting for the resurrection," said Major Parker.

"While we are gathered here today, let us take time to remember the men from DeKalb County who gave their lives in battle in foreign lands and on far away oceans. Most of them were in their late teens or early twenties. We see their names on a plaque at the courthouse and we see their pictures on the wall at schools and in churches. Or in a living room, where a grieving mother after all these years, still mourns for her boy who never came home," he said.

"These men from DeKalb County who died in service to our country did not want to die. But when they were called to duty, they did not flinch and they did not back down when they laid their lives on the line. They were and are our heroes today. We look at their faces in the pictures and notice how young they were. They never grew old. They are forever young. In some ways they are our greatest generation because they gave two lives for their country. They gave the life they had and they gave the life they never had so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have in America and here in DeKalb County," said Major Parker.

"I believe our fallen veterans from DeKalb County would not want us to be sad faced on this Memorial Day. They would want us to enjoy the benefits of freedom they fought for and died for. I think they would also want us to remember them and what they did for us," he said.

"As we leave here today to join family and friends at picnics, cookouts, and other Memorial Day activities, let each of us with real gratitude in our hearts promise that our fallen veterans will always be remembered and never forgotten," said Major Parker.

Major Parker, who was born and raised in Chattanooga, graduated from UT Chattanooga and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, assigned to the 4th Infantry Division. He served a year in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious service in combat. He later entered the active Army Reserve for six years and served as a Company Commander and as a Brigade staff officer with the rank of Major. He is also a retired Vice President of American General Life and Accident Insurance Company.

The program also included an invocation by Chuck Olson, Pledge of Allegiance by Doyle Smith, a remembrance of local servicemen by Judy Redmon, and the laying of a wreath at the Veterans Memorial Monument in front of the courthouse. Emma Rigsby played taps on her trumpet at the conclusion of the program.

Motorcycle Operator Involved In Crash Faces Drug Charges

May 28, 2012
Dwayne Page

A Nashville man involved in a motorcycle accident on Saturday will be headed for court once he gets out of the hospital.

49 year old John Roland is being charged with possession of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Those items were found on him after he crashed his motorcycle on Dale Ridge Road Saturday evening.

According to Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Roland was traveling north on a 2001 Suzuki motorcycle when he went off the road while trying to negotiate a curve to the left. He failed to maintain his lane of travel, left the road on the right and struck an earthen embankment. The motorcycle came to rest in a ditch.

Roland was taken by DeKalb EMS to a helicopter landing zone set up in a field at the top of Snow Hill near the convenience site. He was airlifted from there by Vandy Life Flight and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital. He is believed to have suffered a broken leg, cuts, and abrasions.

Sheriff's department deputies and the Liberty Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene

Local Librarian Completes Specialized Training

May 27, 2012
Terri Lynn Weaver, Kathy Hendrixson, Mae Beavers

Thirteen distinguished library directors in Tennessee graduated from the Public Library Management Institute recently, increasing their knowledge and understanding of the unique role libraries fulfill in their communities.

Kathy Hendrixson, director of Justin Potter Library, was one of the graduates.

“Librarians across the state should look into this program, if they haven’t already,” Senator Mae Beavers said. “This kind of training helps provide better service to the people who are paying for our public libraries.”

Representative Terri Lynn Weaver also commented on Ms. Hendrixson’s efforts.

“I’m proud of Ms. Hendrixson for going the extra mile to get this training,” Representative Weaver said. “That type of dedication is what defines a public servant.”

Secretary of State Tre Hargett applauds Ms. Hendrixson for her commitment to the success of public libraries.

“I commend Ms. Hendrixson on this accomplishment,” Secretary Hargett said. “Our public libraries are more than places to check out books. Libraries also provide valuable services such as job training and Internet access. DeKalb Countians are fortunate to have a library director willing to demonstrate the additional commitment needed for our libraries to reach even greater heights.”

The Public Library Management Institute, started in 1995, is a three-year program for library directors who do not have master’s degrees. Each year, participants gather at Fall Creek Falls State Park for a week of intense training sessions and networking with fellow library directors in similar situations. Participants are from small towns all over the state.

“Over the years of the program, library directors develop skills in public speaking, personnel management, using technology effectively and managing change, among other things,” State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill said. “All of these skills are essential for guiding public libraries through their transition into the digital era.”

“This management course gives library directors the tools they need to help transform their libraries into community hubs,” said Wendy Cornelisen, who coordinated the most recent training program for the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Including the 13 most recent graduates, the program has graduated 157 people since its founding.

Nomination Period Begins for FSA County Committee Election

May 26, 2012

Donny Green, DeKalb County FSA County Executive Director, announces that the nomination period for the 2012 Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee Election is underway. The nomination period continues through August 1, 2012.

"I encourage all producers to participate in the county committee election process by nominating candidates by the August 1 deadline," said Green. "We are counting on as much participation as possible, because county committees are an important link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We have seen a trend in recent years of increased nominations of minority, beginning farmers, and women producers and we hope that will continue."

Committees apply their judgment and knowledge to make decisions on county commodity price-support loan eligibility, establishment of allotments and yields, conservation programs, disaster programs, employment and other farm program-related issues. Nationwide, there are more than 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to five members who are elected by eligible local producers.

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate.

For the 2012 Election, nominees must reside in Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 1 which is described as the area that includes:

East of a line where Hwy. 146 crosses the Cannon County line; following Hwy. 146 North to Hodges Rd.; thence north to Tabernacle Rd.; following Tabernacle Rd. to Dry Creek Rd.; east of Dry Creek Rd. to Hwy. 70 West; south of Hwy. 70 to Hwy. 96 (Dale Ridge Rd.); thence north to Hwy. 96 to Hwy. 141 (Wolf Creek Rd.) to Center Hill Dam; from Center Hill Dam following Center Hill Lake southwest to include the area south and southwest of the lake to Sligo Bridge; thence following Hwy. 70 East in a westward direction to the intersection of Hwy. 70 and Hwy. 56; thence the area west of Hwy. 56 South to the Warren County line; north of the Warren/DeKalb County line back to Hwy. 146 at the Cannon County line.To view a delineated map of LAA # 1, you can visit the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency.

LAA # 1 generally covers the communities of Blue Springs, Short Mountain, Snows Hill, Phillipi, Puckett's Point, Midway, and the city of Smithville.

Individuals may nominate themselves, or others, as a candidate. In addition, eligible candidates can be nominated by community-based and other organizations in the county where the election is being held before the close of the nomination period, especially groups representing socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. Nominations and elections are open to all eligible candidates and voters without regard to race, color, religion, nation origin, age, sex, marital status or disability. The nomination form (FSA-669A) is available at USDA Service Centers and online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/elections.

Ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters in LAA # 1 on November 5, 2012. Completed ballots must be returned, either in person or postmarked, no later December 3, 2012. For more information about FSA county committees, visit the DeKalb County USDA Service Center or call 615-597-8225, extension 2.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. PHONE-(615) 597-8225 AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER FAX-(615) 597-8484

New Law Makes It Easier To Vote Absentee Ballot

May 26, 2012
Dennis Stanley

A new law now makes it easier to vote an absentee ballot, at least for persons of a certain age.

Governor Bill Haslam recently signed into law a measure adopted this winter by the legislature that lowers the absentee voting age from 65 to 60. The law goes into effect immediately and is set to expire in five years.
In summary, the measure “allows persons age 60 and older to vote absentee upon request, instead of age 65 and older.”

“This measure brings some consistency to the state’s Photo ID law,” said Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections.

“Voters who cast ballots by the absentee process do not have to provide a photo ID,” said Stanley, “and a driver’s license is one of the most used forms of photo identification for those who vote at the polls. Currently, Tennessee law does not require motorists age 60 and over to have a photo on their driver’s license. This bill lowers the absentee voting age to coincide with the driver’s license law.”

Meanwhile, Stanley said absentee requests for the June 19 Smithville Municipal Election are now being accepted. The last day to request an absentee ballot is June 12 and all ballots must be returned to the election office by the close of the polls on June 19.

“There is a process for voting absentee, but it is a simple process,” Stanley continued. “A voter must request an absentee ballot by filling out a particular form or mailing a letter to the election office with specific information.”
“The request must include the voter’s name, the address on the voter’s registration card, an address to mail the absentee ballot, the voter’s social security number, the election in which they wish to vote and the legal reason for voting absentee,” he said.

The legal reasons for voting absentee include: age 60 and over, the voter will be outside the county during the early voting period and election day, a doctor’s statement stating the voter is medically unable to vote in person, the voter is a member of the military or a family member to the member of the military, he/she reside in a licensed facility that provides relatively permanent domiciliary care, the voter is hospitalized, the voter is a caretaker of someone who is hospitalized, ill or physically disabled, the voter is disabled and their polling place is inaccessible, the voter is a candidate, an overseas citizen, an election official or will be on jury duty in a state or federal court, and the voter has a Commercial Driver’s License and will be out of the county during the early voting period and election day.

The form must be signed by the voter and the election office will then verify the signature and information on the form before mailing the ballot.

Easterwood Injured in Go-Cart Accident

May 25, 2012
Dwayne Page

A 48 year old man was injured in a go-cart accident Thursday night on Holmes Creek Road.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Thomas Daniel Easterwood was south on Holmes Creek Road on a large go-cart when he hit loose gravels on the right shoulder, lost control, crossed back over the roadway, and overturned. The go-cart came to final rest on its side at the edge of the road in the grass. The mishap was reported around 7:37 p.m.

Easterwood was airlifted from the scene by an Air Evac helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. He reportedly suffered non-life threatening injuries including a compound fracture of an arm, bruises, and road rash.

Members of the Sheriff's Department, Smithville Police, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.

Opponents of New Water Plant Speak Out at DUD Meeting, Board Approves Bond Resolution for the Project

May 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Opponents of DUD Water Plant Have Their Say at Board Meeting
Crowd Shows Up to Oppose DUD Water Plant
DUD Board Meeting Thursday
DUD Board Chairman Roger Turney Takes Comments and Questions from Audience

Opponents of a proposed DeKalb Utility District water plant crowded into a small meeting room and hallway Thursday afternoon for a special DUD board meeting at the utility's office building.

Many of them spoke out against the board's decision to build the plant, saying it is not needed and that it will cause rate increases for subscribers. The DUD currently purchases its water supply from the City of Smithville. Board chairman Roger Turney took comments and questions from the audience for about an hour and forty five minutes, before the board took action on a bond resolution for the project.

Four of the five board members voted in favor of the resolution, including Chairman Turney, Joe Foutch, Danny Bass, and Jimmy Womack. Board member Hugh Washer voted against the resolution.

The board also voted to amend its debt management policy.

Watch Part 2 of the Video

The legal notice for the meeting said that the bond resolution is for the authorization and issuance of not to exceed $9-million 250-thousand dollars in aggregate principal amount of waterworks revenue refunding and improvement bonds

During the meeting, Turney explained what that means. "In essence what it does is, it gives the bond council the right to go into negotiations to set up and to see just what qualifications we'll have. What our bond rating will be and what the bonds will cost. No obligation will go forward. If something happens, we can back out of that and change it, but this gives them the permission to go on and find out exactly to the penny what our bonds will cost, what the interest rate will be, what the interest rate will be for those who buy them, and what the final cost will be," said Turney.

After the board's vote, several residents, already passoniate in their opposition, left the meeting even more upset.

The following are some of the comments made during the meeting by opponents of the water plant.

John Daniels, a City of Smithville water customer, first asked why the DUD board held its meeting at 3:00 p.m., an inconvenient time for most people, and in such a small room unsuitable for a large crowd. Turney later explained that the meetings are typically held at this time and location and he blamed a media campaign authorized by the City of Smithville for spreading misinformation about the DUD's plans." This is not a new idea. We have been discussing the possibility of a water treatment plant for ten years. I'll be honest with you. Most of the group here today is because of a vast majority of misinformation that was handed out at the behest of the City of Smithville. A lot of the information has been drastically misunderstood and misrepresented. Obviously, there's been a lot of money spent sending out calls, newspaper ads, and letters to all the customers, which is fine. But a lot of the information was not correct," said Turney.

Daniels also questioned the need for a second water plant in DeKalb County. "How many times has the water ever been down in Smithville," he asked? " I've lived here for 34 years. I've never seen us without water, ever. Most other places don't have redundancy (more than one water plant) either. It seems foolish to me to have two systems with one of them only running at 45% (capacity)," said Daniels.

Turney said "Our major concern is DUD customers. We buy our water from Smithville. Every year that water rate goes up because the rate from Smithville goes up every year. Our contract (with Smithville) runs out in eighteen months. We looked to the future. We had our auditors and several different other people look at the possibility of continuing to buy water from Smithville or produce our own water. In the long run all the projections come back that our water rates will go down or not go up as much because we will have the capacity to control our own expense and not have to depend on Smithville," said Turney.

Dwayne Cantrell of New Hope Road, a DUD customer, challenged the board to fix water pressure problems in the existing system, before taking on a new project. Cantrell said he and many of his neighbors have had to install water pumps under their homes due to the lack of pressure in DUD lines which are too small. "I shouldn't have to have a $400 water pump under my house in order to take a shower," he said.

DUD Manager Jon Foutch said the utility is applying for a CDBG grant through the county commission to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, which if approved, would address water pressure problems in some areas. "If we were to get the grant, it would be for that area around Dismal to build a water tank. Being that much higher, we have customers like you in mind and also at Jenkins Hill where they have low pressure and that would take care of that problem," said Foutch.

Robert Kirkham, a resident of Anderson Ridge Road at Silver Point, said the DUD should try to get a water line run via Hurricane Bridge so customers in his community could get water cheaper. "Cookeville sells to Baxter, Baxter sells to DUD, and DUD sells to us. By that time, its pretty expensive, he said. "Why not take this opportunity to put water across the bridge as they (TDOT) are refurbishing Hurricane bridge and relieve us of triple taxation for water we get. We also have almost no fire hydrants anywhere in our area," he added.

In response, Turney said "We are concerned about the water bills of customers at Silver Point. We have looked at every possible way to handle that. The problem is it was over $500,000 to put that pipe (casing) on that bridge (Hurricane bridge). No water line, just the pipe. We have no water line to it (bridge) and no water line on the other side of it. If we had gone through the whole process of hooking that up, putting the pipe across the bridge and putting in the water line, the whole bit, probably everybody's bill, the whole district would have had to have been doubled just so that you all (at Silver Point) could have a cheaper rate. That's unfortunate that your rate is higher but we can't get grants for this because it doesn't serve new customers, its existing customers. You can't get grants for existing customers. You get grants for new customers. My hope is that eventually, if we can get to the point where we can control more of our own money, we may be able to do something like that (connect DUD lines directly to Silver Point) but right now we can't. If Baxter had not been willing to let you (Silver Point customers) have water, you probably wouldn't have any water at all today. Is it better to have a high water bill with water, or no water bill and no water," asked Turney?

Tommy Curtis of Hurricane Ridge Road, called for a referendum of DUD customers to gauge support for a new water plant. "Why can't we have a referendum to let the voters on the water system now cast a vote as to whether we want this done and let some independent group count the ballots. You're not giving us any choice and we're the ones who are going to have to pay the bill," he said.

Fifth District County Commissioner Jerry Adcock, a DUD customer, said he would like to see a change in the law to require DUD board members to be elected by those they serve. Currently, board members are appointed by their county commissions, according to Adcock. Names of likely appointees are apparently submitted by the DUD itself to the county commissions for consideration.

Charlie Rush of LaFevre Ridge Road suggested that DUD keep buying its water supply from Smithville." You have a perfectly good water plant on the other side of town, operating at 50% capacity. What in God's name do we need to be wasting money to build another one and bankrupting the first one," he said.

Randy Rhody of Cookeville Highway, said DUD customers should have been made aware of this project from the start and given the opportunity for input early on. "A lot of the problem is poor communication," he said. We've had no public forum. We've not been involved in any of the decision making on it. A lot of this is causing a lot of bad will between the city and the county. That's unfortunate. We need to all get along and work together. We've had no problem in getting water. To me, if you vote yes, then you're thrusting higher costs on all the residents of the DUD and you'll be remembered for this mismanagement. I think it's a mistake and I think most people think it's a mistake. We've not been involved in the process. Had we all been sold on this, we would be behind you. That hasn't happened. It seems the decision has been made in a closet and people haven't been informed and don't know. All the things I've heard so far sounds like this is not needed," said Rhody.

Robbie Taylor of New Home Road said the DUD should consider people on fixed incomes who can't afford higher water bills. " DeKalb County doesn't have a lot of rich people," she said. " A lot of people are on fixed incomes. We've got a lot of elderly people and our income don't go up much. I've always heard if anything is not broke, don't fix it. I don't see anything is broke. I think we should leave it like it is," she added.

Some suggested that the DUD's desire in building this water plant is to expand its service area into Rutherford County. Turney denied that notion saying that the DUD simply wants control of its own destiny. "There's been talk of selling water to Rutherford County. That's my fault. I mentioned at our last meeting of possibilities of places that could use water. I mentioned Rutherford County. We haven't talked to Rutherford County and they haven't talked to us. Again, that's being blown out of proportion to try to get people stirred up. We have no intent of selling to Rutherford County. Now, if someday they would like to tie into us, that would be a cash cow. That would give us income that would lower everybody's bill. But we're not even looking to do that. What we're trying to do is make the rates for DUD customers as reasonable as possible, to provide water and keep it down as best we can," said Turney.

Turney also argued that DUD water rates, while increasing seven percent each year over the next three years, will actually stabilize, if not decrease in time with this new plant. "We had to project to the state what our rate increases would be in order to pay for this grant, loan, and this water treatment plant. Our board passed a seven percent rate increase for this year, seven percent next year, and seven percent the third year with the stipulation that the third year that seven percent increase may not be that much. Let's talk about what that really means. Our minimum bill right now is $17.50. At the end of that three years, the minium bill will go up four dollars and twenty cents. That's the price of 1.2 gallons of gas today. That's not going to break anybody. I don't want anybody's water rate to go up but that's a small price to pay. We figure that our average customer uses about 6,000 gallons. Their water bill now is around $44.00. At the end of the three year period, their water bill will go up $10.50," he said.

Turney also believes that having two water plants in the county would be better than one, especially in the event of some catastrophic episode. "What if something happens, and it did happen sometime ago. A flood came and Smithville was short of water for a while. Thank goodness it wasn't a disaster. It could have been. What happens if that plant goes down. Where do you get your water? There's no other place. With two treatment plants, we can benefit Smithville and they can benefit us and I firmly believe that in the long run not only will DUD customers be happy that we did this, but the City of Smithville will be happy we did it. We can help each other," said Turney.

The DeKalb Utility District serves parts of a four county area, DeKalb, Cannon, Smith, and Wilson.

USDA Rural Development funds will be used to construct a new Raw Water Intake, Raw Water Transmission Line, Water Treatment Plant and distribution system improvements. The proposed plant will be constructed near Holmes Creek Road and will have a capacity of three million gallons per day. The intake will be on Center Hill Lake, the Transmission Line along Holmes Creek Road and distribution lines will be along Allen's Chapel, Game Ridge, Turner, South Tittsworth, and Big Rock Roads, and Wheeler Lane.

The DUD will receive a $5,000,000 loan and a grant of $1,250,000 to fund construction of the water plant. The terms of the loan are forty years at 2.75% interest. The remaining $4,250,000 needed to build the $10.5 million facility will be funded through a bond issue. Turney said that the DUD is also refinancing other loans to save money. "In this loan and grant we have applied for, we're refinancing some of the loans we already have at a savings of over $400,000 on the money that we have right now because of the historically low interest rates. The time is right. Everything that we've looked at says this is the time to do it," he said.

As Turney mentioned, this is not the first time the DUD has seriously considered building its own water treatment plant. In January, 1999 the DUD was awarded a $1 million Rural Development Grant and a $2,380,000 loan. In addition to the money for the water plant, another $500,000 was made available to the project from a Community Development Block Grant for an elevated water storage tank which now stands at the top of Snow Hill. The tank was built to solve the problem of water pressure in some areas.

However when it came time to build the water plant, the DUD apparently discovered that the costs were much more than the available grant/loan funds. While DUD had sufficient local reserves to make up the difference and assurances from Rural Development for extra financial help if needed, the DUD decided instead to enter into negotiations with the City of Smithville for a new water rate. Some of the loan/grant funds were later used to make other improvements to the existing infrastructure.

DeKalb Middle School Graduates 8th Grade Class

May 24, 2012
Ashley Barnes
Karen Pelham receiving her Teacher of the Year award from Randy Jennings
Max Pafford receiving his Woodman of the World award

DeKalb Middle School held their 8th Grade Graduation Ceremony on May 18th. Eighth grader, Troy Bain, conducted the opening prayer. Mr. Randy Jennings began the welcome and introduced Mr. Mark Willoughby, who delivered a speech to the students.

Mrs. Fletcher then recognized the 13 students who scored a 6 on the TCAP Writing test. Mrs. Hendrix and Mrs. Sullivan gave certificates to all of the 8th Grade Jr. Beta members, and Mr. Jones gave the FCA award to Troy Bain.

Mrs. Pelham gave the TTU Math Award to Max Pafford, and Mrs. Bryant gave the Computer Awards to Delaney Johnson and Kaitlin Rhea. Perfect Attendance Awards were given to Ryan Lafever and Haden Cripps.

Citizenship plaques were given to Rachel Butts, Emerald McClanahan, and Jorden Smoot. Yearbook Awards were given to Kaitlin Rhea and Kyra Slager. The Woodmen of the World Award was presented to Max Pafford. Sy Gohs was given the Improvement Award.

Subject Awards were given to: Caitlin Turner and Chloe White- Science, Erin Perry and Maggie Mahaffey- English, Chase Bryant, Jaidyn Huggins, and Eli Oliver- Social Studies, Seth Wright and West Vettraino- Math, Caitlin Jacobs, Chloe Young, Noah Parsley, Harley Johnson, and Ashli Chew- Reading.

Top Ten GPA plaques were given to: Caitlin Turner, Eli Oliver, Max Pafford, Ashli Chew, West Vettraino, Noah Parsley, Mackenzie Keaton, Chase Bryant, Seth Wright, and Caitlin Jacobs.

Mrs. Karen Pelham was presented with a Teacher of the Year plaque. DCHS student, Hunter Collins, gave a speech to the students, and then Mr. Jennings closed the ceremony.

Rebecca Baugh, Born to Teach

May 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Rebecca Baugh

For thirty years, Rebecca Baugh has been carrying on a family tradition as a teacher.

"Teaching is in my family," she said. "My father taught forty five years. My mother taught nineteen or twenty years. I have aunts, uncles, sisters, and nieces who are teachers. I think I was born to be a teacher," said Baugh.

For the last five years, Baugh has served an a fifth grade Special Education Inclusion Teacher st Northside Elementary School. However due to her husband's recent stroke and concern for her own health, Baugh has chosen to retire from teaching. "My husband had a stroke in October. I have had some health issues. I think I need to slow down and be more available for him and make sure my health stays good. Teaching days are long and stressful. I am hoping to de-stress a little bit," she said.

Baugh's teaching career began shortly after she graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1970. Altogether, she has taught for a total of thirty years, taking a few years off along the way. "There were some years when my children were small that I didn't teach. I haven't taught straight through," she said.

Over the years, Baugh has taught in several different school systems and grade levels. "I started in Putnam County. Then my husband and I moved to Roane County. I taught in Roane County. Then we moved back to Putnam County. I've taught in White County, Overton County, Smith County, and DeKalb County. I have taught every grade except sixth grade. I've taught pre-school. I had a day care center for eight years. I've taught all the way up through college English," she said.

Still a resident of Cookeville, Baugh has made the commute back and forth from Putnam County to Smithville each day of school for the last five years to go to work, but she didn't mind because of her love for the school and the students. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Northside. It is one of the friendliest groups of teachers that I have ever taught with. They made me feel welcome, even though I am not from DeKalb County. They know I love the students and they know I love teaching. It has been a real good experience," she said.

So what is a Special Education Inclusion Teacher?

"An Inclusion Teacher helps the classroom teacher in the academic classes, math and reading," said Baugh. " And if my schedule allows, sometimes I go to writing and English class. But mostly its reading and math. I am the extra teacher that's in there if somebody (student) is struggling with a math problem or struggling with a paragraph in reading. I am available to go around and help students while the teacher goes on with the class. It allows the classroom teacher a little more freedom to not have to stop the class for specific students. We can just go on. I help them catch up. I work with special education students but I'm allowed to help any student that needs help in the class. It has worked real well," she said.

Baugh said while she likes some changes that have come along in education, teachers today are under more pressure, making their job much more stressful " When I was in Smith County we did pull out for Special Education students and then I came up here and its inclusion in the classroom. When I was in school myself in elementary school, special ed students were not even identified. So things have changed quite a bit. I like the fact that students are identified that need extra help or maybe sometimes, just extra time to finish an assignment. If they are given extra time, a lot of times they can do grade level work and stay caught.up. I like a lot of the things that are taking place now in education. But with the evaluations and all the new things they have thrown in all at once, that's where the extra pressure comes. Everything is so fast, you have to learn new things they give you at the beginning of the year and they almost don't give you any time to absorb the new things they are putting into effect. Its really hard to stay up with the new things," she said.

As she leaves the school system and goes into retirement, Baugh said she is pleased with the opportunity to have been a teacher here and for the support she has received from the administration. "I would like to thank Mr. (Mark) Willoughby and Dr. (Gayle) Redmon for the support. If I hadn't been welcomed the way I was, I might not have taught these last five years. But it was very enjoyable. If my husband hadn't had a stroke, I might want to teach a couple more years. But it's time in my life, with my family situation to let somebody else a little younger pick up and run with it," said Baugh.


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