Local News Articles

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.

Cookeville Man Charged in Local Theft

May 7, 2012
Dwayne Page
Aaron Michael Knight
Jesse Robert Adcock
James Arvin Gooch
William Alton Rainey
Dakota James Stith

A Cookeville man has been charged with stealing jewelry from a local resident he was working for last month.

28 year old Aaron Michael Knight of Thomas Road, Cookeville is charged with theft of property over $10,000. He was arrested April 30. Knight's bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on June 7

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on or about Saturday, April 7, Knight was doing some work for a resident on Rolling Acres Road, and allegedly stole several pieces of jewelry from the home valued at over $10,000.

Meanwhile, in another case, 31 year old Jesse Robert Adcock of Obie Adcock Road is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court June 21. Sheriff Ray said that an officer was called to investigate a domestic complaint on Obie Adcock Road, Tuesday May 1. Upon arrival, the officer talked to a female who said that Adcock had hit her in the face and chest with his fists. Her left cheek was red and swollen and she had a mark on her chest. Adcock allegedly admitted to the officer that he had hit the woman.

45 year old Kenneth Daryl Cox of Murfreesboro is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court May 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, May 2, a deputy saw a man slumped over in a vehicle parked about ten feet from the roadway at Eastside Citgo on Highway 70 east. The officer stopped to do a welfare check and found that the man (Cox) had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His speech was very slurred. Cox told the officer that he had been to the club and had drank too much.. He was unsteady on his feet. Cox was unable to get a ride or have someone to pick him up so due to his intoxication level and for his safety, he was placed under arrest.

52 year old James Arvin Gooch of Nashville Highway, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court May 17. According to Sheriff Ray, while on patrol in Doweltown Friday, May 4 a deputy turned onto Turner Road and heard a female screaming "get off of me". The female kept on screaming. The officer noticed a man and a woman on the back porch of a residence on the Nashville Highway. The officer approached the home and saw that the woman was sitting in a chair on the porch and that the man was on her. The woman, who had bruising on her right forearm, told the officer that Gooch grabbed her arm trying to get rent money from her.

William Alton Rainey of Sewanee, Georgia is charged with driving under the influence, evading arrest, and vandalism. He was also cited for violation of the implied consent law, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), simple possession of marijuana, violation of the registration law, no drivers license, and reckless driving. Rainey will be in court on May 17. His bond is $8,250.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Saturday, May 5, a deputy was dispatched to a complaint of a reckless driver on the McMinnville Highway. The officer spotted a Ford Mustang matching the description of the suspect's vehicle on Highway 56 south near the Smithville city limits. After the deputy got behind the car, it turned onto Dearman Street, failed to yield to a stop sign, and then went down South College Street. The officer activated his emergency lights and sirens to make the stop but the car sped up, traveling at up to 80 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour speed zone. The deputy lost sight of the vehicle near Bryant Street but central dispatch reported that the car was spotted on Jackson Street. When the officer got to Andrews Street, he saw the car, but it was unoccupied. The area was searched and the suspect (Rainey) was observed trying to hide behind a residence. The officer ordered him to stop, but he jumped a fence and fled, breaking the top board off of the fence. Rainey was subsequently apprehended on Morgan Drive. He had in his possession 1.7 grams of marijuana. The officer also noticed that Rainey had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. Rainey submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. Rainey refused to submit to a blood alcohol test. Rainey told the officer that he had consumed 2-40 ounce Miller Lites and had smoked a marijuana joint that day. Rainey also claimed to have taken some methamphetamine and cocaine within the last four days.

36 year old Michael Andrew Judkins and 32 year old Crystal Dawn Judkins both of Old Bildad Road, Smithville are each charged with failure to stop resisting, to stop, frisk, or halt. Bond for each is $1,000 and they will be in court May 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, May 5 a sheriff's department drug detective went to a residence on Old Bildad Road to assist deputies on a welfare check of children. While the detective was to trying to speak with both Mr. and Ms. Judkins, they turned around and started to walk away. They were ordered several times to stop, but they ignored the commands and kept walking. Both Mr. and Ms. Judkins had to be physically restrained. They were then handcuffed and placed under arrest.

19 year old Dakota James Stith of Page Drive, Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 6 a deputy responded to an unwanted guest call and a possible break-in at a residence on New Home Road. After the officer arrived, the complainant said that the person involved in the incident had left. After obtaining a description of the person and his vehicle, the deputy spotted it and made contact with the suspect. The man (Stith) was asked to produce his identification but he replied that he did not have an ID. He told the officer that his name was D.J. Mason and that his birth date was August 26, 1991. After investigating further, the officer learned that his name is actually Dakota Stith and that his birth date is August 26, 1992. Stith, who has two outstanding warrants against him for failure to appear in court, was placed under arrest. His total bond is $10,500 and he will be in court on May 10th.

30 year old Tiffany Rena Greer of Tami Kay Road, Dowelltown is cited for driving on a suspended license and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance). She will be in court on June 6. Sheriff Ray reports that on Friday, May 4, a sheriff's department drug detective pulled over Greer's vehicle, knowing that her driver's license were suspended. A check of her drivers license confirmed it was suspended with only an identification. She was also unable to provide proof of insurance.

Trapping Underway for Tree Pest

May 7, 2012
Trapping Underway for Tree Pest (This Photo Taken on Braswell Lane)

Purple three-sided insect traps that resemble a box kite can be seen in ash trees in DeKalb County and from Mountain City to Memphis in the next few months as part of an expanded surveillance program by state and federal agencies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA, APHIS) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) are partnering to survey for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a non-native, wood-boring beetle that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the eastern United States and Canada.

“Trapping is a very important tool for us to know how extensive the infestation is and whether additional control measures are needed to slow it from spreading to new areas,” TDA Plant Certification administrator Gray Haun said. “This year, we are extending our trapping efforts across the state as a part of a national survey program.”

The goal of the expanded trapping program is to provide a more complete national assessment and to locate new infestations for possible treatment and quarantine. Nearly 3,500 traps will be placed in trees across Tennessee by state and federal officials and private contractors.

The purple traps are coated with an adhesive that captures insects when they land. The color is attractive to EAB, and is relatively easy for people to spot among the foliage.

“The triangular purple traps pose no risk to humans, pets, or wildlife; however, the non-toxic glue can be extremely sticky,” said USDA State Plant Health Director, Yvonne Demarino. “It’s important people understand that the traps don’t attract or pull beetles into an area, but rather they are a detection tool to help find EAB if it is present in the area.”

EAB was first discovered in Tennessee in 2010 at a truck stop along I-40 in Knox County. In addition to Knox, five other counties in East Tennessee including Blount, Claiborne, Grainger, Loudon and Sevier are under state and federal quarantines. This means that no hardwood firewood, ash logs, ash seedlings, ash bark and other restricted materials can be moved outside these counties without approval.

State plant health officials suspect that EAB entered the state on firewood or ash wood materials brought in from another state where infestations have occurred. Other pests can also be artificially transported by individuals moving firewood. Citizens and visitors are urged to buy their firewood near where they camp and not transport it from one area to another.

At times, traps can be blown out of the trees. To report a trap that is down, contact the national EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512 or visit www.purpleEABsurvey.info. For more information about EAB in Tennessee, contact TDA at 1-800-628-2631 or visit http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/regulatory/eab.html. An EAB fact sheet can also be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/2012/EAB_survey_faq.pdf.

DeKalb County To Participate In The Great American Cleanup

May 7, 2012
Suzanne Williams,(left) and Ronda Butler of County Mayor's Office

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Mayor's office would like to invite residents across the county to participate in the DeKalb County Clean Up campaign on Saturday, May 12th. This event will be held in conjunction with the Keep American Beautiful initiative going on across the country. This organization’s mission revolves around a core belief that beauty is a silent but powerful force that makes communities safer, healthier and more livable.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, would like to remind everyone that DeKalb County’s peak tourism season is about to begin, so now is a great time to start getting things spruced up for our coming visitors. According to Williams, “I think we are all aware of the value and importance of beautification in our communities to attract newcomers and tourists to our area and to maintain a stable and growing economy.”

To get a head start on clean up, dumpsters will be set up at highly visible and convenient locations a few days prior to the main event. Dumpster locations will be at the Dowelltown Community Center, Liberty Community Center, Alexandria City Parking Lot (behind square), and the Shopping Center parking lot (close to DeKalb Ace Hardware), 702 South Congress Blvd., Smithville.

County Mayor Mike Foster says, “We would like for people to come out and help clean our communities and roadways. Folks are welcome to pick their own locations to clean, or we will be glad to assign a safe place for each person to participate.”

DeKalb Clean Up volunteers are asked to come to the new County Complex located at 732 So. Congress Blvd., Smithville on May 12th between 9 AM and 10 AM to sign-in and pick up the provided trash bags & rubber gloves. For early sign-up, you can stop by the Chamber office located at the Courthouse Room 201 during regular office hours before May 12th to pick up supplies. Or if stopping by is not convenient, call the Chamber office at 597-4163 to be counted as a DeKalb Clean Up volunteer -- just give your name and the general area where you will be working. Whether you’re beautifying your street, a highway, a park, ball field, a stream, or your own home, what a difference we can make through working together!

Fourth Annual Relay for Life 5K and One-Mile Fun Run Set for May 19

May 5, 2012
Dwayne Page
Relay for Life 5K and One-Mile Fun Run Set for May 19

The fourth annual Relay for Life 5K and One-Mile Fun Run is set for Saturday, May 19 and the deadline for pre-registration is next Friday, May 11. Race entries will also be accepted on the morning of the race at the check-in location at Green Brook Park in Smithville.

The event is sponsored by and raises money for the American Cancer Society.

The entry fee is a donation of at least $20 for pre-registration and $25 for those registering after May 11. The race begins promptly at 7:30 a.m. RAIN OR SHINE at Green Brook Park on Saturday, May 19. All pre-registered participants must check in by 7:00 a.m. All others must register by 7:00 a.m.

Age divisions for the 5K Run are as follows:

60+ (women)
60-69 (men)
70+ (men)

Tee shirts will be given to all participants on the day of the race. Awards will be given to the male and female individuals with the overall best times in the 5K Run and the best times in each 5K age divisions.

The Relay 5K Registration Form includes a place for your name, phone number, address, city, state, zip code, your email address, your T-shirt size, your age, and your sex. Check on the form whether you are participating in the 5K Run or the One-Mile Fun Run Walk.

Mail your registration to: Relay for Life 5K Run, 403 South 3rd Street, Smithville, TN 37166. For more information email: bashford55@gmail.com or call Barbara Ashford at 615-417-6563 or Judy Redmon at 615-597-6240. Make checks payable to Relay for Life.

Registration forms are available at the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and Smithville area banks.

USDA Rural Development Approves Loan/Grant Funding for Proposed DUD Water Plant

May 3, 2012
Dwayne Page
DUD Board Chairman Roger Turney of Auburntown
DUD Board members Roger Turney, Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Hugh Washer
City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson Addresses DUD Board

USDA Rural Development has approved loan and grant funding for DeKalb Utility District's proposed water treatment plant.

During a DUD board meeting Thursday, Chairman Roger Turney announced that Congressman Diane Black has confirmed that the water utility will receive a $5,000,000 loan and a grant of $1,250,000. 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.

Buddy Koonce, Jr. of Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood, the DUD's utility engineer said that plans are being drawn up and will be sent to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Once funding is all in place and the state approves the plans, bids can be let on the project. That could come as early as this summer.

But as the DUD board moves forward with its plans, officials of the City of Smithville and others want more answers as to why another plant is needed for the county.

Hunter Hendrixson, Secretary-Treasurer for the City of Smithville, addressed the DUD board Thursday asking why they felt a water plant was needed when the city can sell them all the water they need at cost. "From the city's standpoint, our plant is a four million gallon a day plant, and with DUD as a customer we're at fifty percent capacity and have been for many years," said Hendrixson. "Our contract with you (DUD) doesn't expire until December 31, 2013. The city would have been open to renegotiating the contract. I just wish the DUD and the city could have had a little better communications.I think the city sells water to you very cheap. I'd say its basically a break even. We're not making a fortune off of it. I'd just like to ask the question, why build a plant?"

Turney said the county would be better served by having another water plant. "One of the reasons is to be able to control our own destiny. To determine where we can go and where we can't go," said Turney. "Over the last several years, several things have happened worldwide that has made it imperative that whenever possible, it makes good sense for areas to have backup water supply systems. If you say, well nothing has happened in years, look what happened in Nashville just a few years ago. They were flooded by a one hundred year flood. They came so close. If there had not been interconnections between other utility districts around them, Tennessee would have had a disaster unmanageable. We think its beneficial for the whole county, Smithville, our customers, and everyone to have a second treatment plant in a day and world we live in today because who knows what could happen. Something might happen to both of us. Its entirely possible," he said.

According to Turney, other cities would like to have access to Center Hill Lake for their water supply and if the DUD doesn't take advantage of this opportunity, some other utility may. "Center Hill Lake, I think, is the best water supply in the State of Tennessee. The Corps of Engineers, over the years, is getting more and more restrictive because a lot of people are drawing out of that lake. Cookeville and other areas want more and more water all the time. We looked that over and decided if we don't get in line and get our piece of the pie in reserve, it may be gone. If we don't do this now, ten years from now we may say we want to build a plant, and the Corps of Engineers could say I'm sorry there's no water allocated for you and you can't do it. That could well happen," said Turney.

"This is an historical period in our history," said Turney. "Interest rates are at the lowest people have ever remembered. We've got loans committed to us. Just today we received from Congressman Diane Black's office confirmation of our $5 million loan and a $1.25 million grant to help fund this project. We are honestly not doing this to try to punish Smithville and we're not dumb. We realize its going to cost a little bit and our customers will have to pay a little bit more because of this initially. But we've had at least three different organizations look at our finances and look at the projections for what's going to happen over the next few years with the assumption that the (water) rates of Smithville continue to increase (to the DUD) about five cents (per thousand gallons) every year. Everything that's come back to us has said that financially in terms of our customers, in the long run they will benefit financially. Their (DUD customer) rates will be lower, because we will have more control," he said..

"We know that most industries like to have backups because if something happens to the water treatment plant that supplies them water, if they shut down, they lose. They love to have a backup. That would be a benefit," said Turney.

"We've been dealing with this for years now and we just think it's the time to go. Everything is in place at the right time. I honestly believe that DeKalb County, the City of Smithville, and everybody involved will be glad that this project was undertaken. We hope with the economic conditions we have now that we'll get some excellent bids because people are wanting jobs right now. That's kind of our rationale. That's not everything but that's some of the high points we looked at in determining whether or not to go on. We're trying to decide what's best for our customers and the whole county. And not just DeKalb County, but all the counties that we serve," said Turney.

Hendrixson asked Turney if the DUD had plans of expanding its reach into other areas.

Turney didn't rule it out. "With another water supply, if we had the water supply available, I know Rutherford County would give anything in this world if they could tie into Center Hill Lake," he said. "We're less than a half a mile from their water lines. The City of Woodbury, their water supply source is dwindling, going away. We're positioning, that if we had a water supply for them, they could tie on. Alexandria, we've wanted to serve Alexandria for years. We could tie them on. It may be a long time down the road, but I could see Dowelltown and Liberty. Eventually, they may want to tie on. I think there is potential for growth," said Turney.

Local resident Billy Hale expressed concerns about rate increases.

Turney responded that while rate increases would be necessary, they would not be as high as some have speculated. "There's been a tremendous amount of misinformation given out here recently," he said. "No where along the line have we talked about going up fifty percent on our rates. We had to justify and show to the state the potential income to pay for these loans and grants. They don't just give you the money on your word. You have to verify it with documents. At our last board meeting, we projected a seven percent increase this year, next year, and the next year. Three years running. That seven percent will be enough to pay for the water treatment plant. Our minimum bill now is $17.50. It will go up to $19.00. It will then go up to $20.30 and then to $21.75 over the next three years. We also figured our average customer's bill is now about $44.00. That will go up to $47.75. The following year, it will go up to $51.08 and then the following year to $54.55. On the minimum bill, that's $4.25 over four years. That's not even one cell phone call. That's insignificant in the times that we're living in. We're not talking about major income hardships on anyone," said Turney.

Tracy Foutch, owner of Foutch Industries, asked if the DUD and the City of Smithville could share their water supply to keep rates down. "Is it possible to share the water, since you both have a limited number of customers, where both the city and county could still supply the same customers and dilute the water rates for both and feed the same water towers from both ends?"

" I don't know of anywhere in the world, where that is done. That doesn't seem like something that would work," said Turney.

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

Members of the DUD board are Roger Turney, Chairman, from Auburntown; Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, and Hugh Washer all from DeKalb County, and Danny Bass from Smith County.

Meanwhile, the Calvert Street Group, a public relations firm hired by the City of Smithville, has launched a campaign trying to convince DUD customers through telephone calls, on-line petitions, and other means that a new water plant is a bad idea and that it will result in large increases in water rates. The group seeks to rally vocal public opposition to DUD's plans.

Donna Emmons Named DeKalb County Teacher of the Year

May 3, 2012
Dwayne Page
Donna Emmons Named DeKalb County Teacher of the Year
Teachers of the Year from each school

An educator from DeKalb County High School was named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" Thursday night during the fifth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

Donna Emmons received the honor and a check for $150 from Liberty State Bank, the sponsor of the banquet. The presentation was made by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank.

Emmons was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Beth Cantrell from Smithville Elementary School, Karen Pelham from DeKalb Middle School, Jane Watson from DeKalb West School, and Bethany Rigsby from Northside Elementary School.

Three of the educators, earlier this year, were selected "Teachers of the Year" locally and competed for regional honors in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through sixth grade, explained how the Teachers of the Year are selected. "Every year DeKalb County participates in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year program. Each school picks a Teacher of the Year from their school. That teacher is sent to the county level and we also participate in the regional by picking a teacher in Pre-K through 4th grade, a teacher in the 5th through 8th grade, and a 9th through 12th grade teacher. This year we sent nominations over (for regional competition) and we also sent the names of all five teachers of the year where a committee made up of several supervisors from the Upper Cumberland scored our county applicants based on the Rubric scoring guide," said Burklow. The overall Teacher of the Year from DeKalb County was chosen by this committee.

Emmons teaches English I, Journalism, and advises the student media program, Tiger Media. She has been a teacher in the freshman academy since its inception (now in its 6th year). Cantrell is a kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Rigsby, a third grade teacher at Northside Elementary School; Pelham, an eighth grade teacher at DeKalb Middle School; and Watson is a fifth grade teacher at DeKalb West School.

Each principal introduced the Teacher of the Year at his or her school and remarked on how they deserved the honor.

The guest speaker for the banquet was Dr. John Carpenter, Pastor of the Smithville First United Methodist and Bright Hill United Methodist Churches.

(Top Photo: Roy N. Pugh of Liberty State Bank and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby with DeKalb County Teacher of the Year Donna Emmons of DCHS)

(Bottom Photo: Roy N. Pugh of Liberty State Bank (left) and Director of Schools Mark Willloughby (right) with Teachers of the Year: Karen Pelham, Beth Cantrell, Jane Watson, Donna Emmons, and Bethany Rigsby)

Beer Permit Returned to VFW Club

May 3, 2012
Dwayne Page
Beer License Returned to VFW Club
DeKalb County Beer Board Members

The VFW Club will soon be serving beer again.

In a brief meeting at the courthouse Thursday night, the DeKalb County Beer Board gave the okay for Quartermaster Thomas Skelenka to pick up the permit at the County Clerk's Office.

County Attorney Hilton Conger said since the license had never been revoked, the beer board could simply give it back.

The VFW Club had to surrender its permit in March following an undercover investigation into allegations of illegal sales of liquor. Agents of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission raided the club on the Sparta Highway March 15 seizing gambling machines, a raffle prize, and cash.

Operators of the VFW Club allegedly kept selling liquor, even after letting their liquor license expire.

During the April beer board meeting, Sheriff Patrick Ray said he was instructed by former beer board chairman Mack Harney to take the VFW's beer permit after operators of the club were issued citations for selling liquor without a license and for possession of gambling devices. Sheriff Ray said he retrieved the permit and surrendered it to the county clerk, pending a final decision by the beer board.

Last month, Skelenka told the beer board that the club could not survive financially without a beer permit. He said membership participation had dropped off and unless business picked up and new members could be recruited, the VFW, which has been in operation since 1946, could go bankrupt and have to close its doors.

Beer Board members last month voted to have county attorney Hilton Conger attend the May 3rd meeting to render a legal opinion on how to handle the situation with the VFW since the allegations had to do with liquor and gambling, something the beer board has no control over. The question beer board members wanted to know is whether the actions of the VFW constituted a violation of their beer permit and whether the beer board should impose further sanctions or civil penalties.

As a result of the investigation, bartender Brian Foye was cited for unlawful sale of alcohol and quartermaster Thomas Skelenka was issued citations for storage of alcohol for sale and possession of gambling devices. All are misdemeanor offenses.

Foye appeared in General Sessions Court on Thursday, April 12 and received a six month sentence but was placed on good behavior probation. He was fined fifty dollars and court costs.

Skelenka's case has been continued until May 17th

Meanwhile two other businesses were granted an on and off premises permit to sell beer, the Company Store on Dale Ridge Road near Cove Hollow and the Sharp Lodge on the Cookeville Highway near Silver Point. The Company Store already had an on premises permit, but with this approval, can now sell beer for consumption off the premises as well.

The board also accepted an application for an on and off premises permit from Pablo Gonzales, the new owner of the former Stop Market , LLC at 3794 Short Mountain Highway, Smithville. Final action will come at the next meeting on June 7 at 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse.

(Top Photo: Beer Board Chairman Edward Frazier (right) tells VFW Quartermaster Thomas Skelenka (left) that he can pick up the VFW Beer Permit at the County Clerk's Office)

Bottom Photo: Members of the DeKalb County Beer Board- LEFT TO RIGHT: Jim Stagi, Robert Rowe, Edward Frazier, Leonard Dickens, Johnny King, Bazel Dick Knowles, and Frank Thomas)

County Budget Committee Okays Funding for Fire Truck

May 3, 2012
Dwayne Page
County Budget Committee

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department may soon get a newer pumper for the Midway station.

The county budget committee met Tuesday night and approved a budget amendment appropriation of up to $180,000 from the capital projects fund for a fire truck. The recommendation will go to the county commission for final approval. Bids will soon be advertised for the truck.

As WJLE first reported last month, County Fire Chief Donny Green addressed the county commission during an all committees meeting April 19, renewing a request he made last summer with the county budget committee.

Chief Green, last year, asked that $180,000 be budgeted to purchase a fire pumper to replace the Midway engine which is a 1979 model. By doing this, Green said "we can take the 1975 model truck out of service at the Austin Bottom station and place the 1979 Midway truck at Austin Bottom. This station (Austin Bottom), he said has a low call volume and the 1979 truck should be adequate to "hold them over for a few more years". Green said the county is looking at major expenses if it continues to keep the 1975 truck at the Austin Bottom Station.

Green's funding request last summer was not included in the budget this year but he was told that the issue could be revisited later. Chief Green urged the county commission to follow a regular replacement schedule on fire department vehicles, or risk several of them having to be replaced at once.


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