Local News Articles

New Academic Requirements Proposed for Future DCHS Valedictorians and Salutatorians

May 12, 2010
Dwayne Page
David Gash

A new policy is being proposed for DeKalb County High School that would change the academic standards in determining the top ranked students as well as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of each graduating class, beginning with the Class of 2014.

Starting with incoming freshmen who will be graduating in 2014, students would have to complete the more challenging honors and advanced placement (AP) courses in order to be eligible for Valedictorian and Salutatorian and their ACT scores and attendance would also be factors.

A committee, made up of local educators, has been studying the issue and is recommending this new policy to the board of education, which apparently must give it's approval.

David Gash, assistant principal at DCHS and chairman of the committee, says one of the purposes of the proposed new policy is to increase enrollment in the honors and advanced placement courses. "Research has shown that students who are exposed to more rigorous course work in high school are better prepared for college. We feel that by raising the expectations for our students, we are better preparing them for the future."

Under the proposed new policy, DCHS would no longer average the Quality Points Average (QPA) on a four point scale or Grade Point Average (GPA) based on a numerical value. Currently, the highest QPA that a student can earn is a 4.0. Students are then ranked based on a numerical value (GPA 0-100). The Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top-ranking students are those with the highest numerical value. Under the new policy, the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking students will be determined based on a weighted 6 point scale (QPA). The student with the highest (QPA) would be the Valedictorian. The non-weighted 4 point scale would only be used, under the new policy, to determine student eligibility for lottery funded scholarships.

Under the new policy, students enrolled in "honors" and "advanced placement" (AP) courses could earn the following points:

A= 5
B= 4
C =3
D= 2


ACT SCORE: Students, under the new policy, would be required to have a 21 or higher on the ACT to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking in the class.

HONORS COURSES: Students, under the new policy, would be required to take a minimum of ten honors and/or AP courses to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking. Honors courses taken by the student must come from English, math, science, social studies, or foreign language in order to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and top ranking.

ATTENDANCE: Students, under the new policy, would be required to complete four full semesters at DCHS. Two of the semesters must occur during the senior year. Attendance would only affect Valedictorian and Salutatorian. Attendance would not play a role in student ranking.

TIE BREAKER: If at any time there is a tie between students' GPA's, the school will look at the numerical grade value to determine which student should be ranked the highest.

Once a student has met the requirements for ACT, honors courses, and attendance, the student with the highest GPA will become the Valedictorian. The student with the second highest GPA will be the Salutatorian. The other students would fall in rank based on their GPA. Students who do not meet the new requirements would be ranked AFTER all the other students are ranked who DO meet the new standards.

The committee, which was formed to research other school systems, consists of Chris Vance, Debi DePriest, Jenny Norris, Leslie Rice, Eric Sanders, Melissa Ruch, Rolando Navarro and Lori Myrick, in addition to David Gash. The committee contacted over 40 school systems in Tennessee to collect data to be evaluated.

State Establishes New Standards for High School Honors Students

May 12, 2010
Dwayne Page
David Gash

DeKalb County High School, starting with the graduating class of 2014, will no longer recognize students with ‘highest distinction" and "high distinction". The only categories will be "honors' and "distinction".

Under new guidelines imposed by the Tennessee Department of Education, high school graduates will have to meet new benchmarks to be recognized with "honors" or "distinction".

David Gash, Assistant Principal, says DCHS will recognize students graduating with "honors" and "distinction" in the following manner:

1. Students who score at or above all of the subject area readiness benchmarks on the ACT or equivalent score on the SAT will graduate with "honors".

2. Students will be recognized as graduating with "distinction" by attaining a "B" average and completing at least one of the following:

a. Earn a nationally recognized industry certification
b. Participate in at least one of the Governor's Schools
c. Participate in one of the state's All State musical organizations
d. Be selected as a National Merit Finalist or Semi-Finalist
e. Attain a score of thirty one or higher composite score on the ACT
f. Attain a score of three or higher on at least two advanced placement exams
g. Successfully complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program
h. Earn twelve or more semester hours of transcripted post secondary credit

At the present time, DCHS allows students with a "B" average to graduate with honors.
Students who obtain a 3.8 to 4.0 are recognized as honors students with "Highest Distinction" Students who obtain a 3.6 to 3.79 are recognized as honors students with "High Distinction". Students who obtain a 3.2 to 3.59 are recognized as honors students with "Distinction".

Under the new policy mandated by the state, DCHS will no longer recognize the three types of distinction. Starting with the graduating class of 2014, students will only be recognized by DCHS with "honors" or "distinction" based on the new policy.

City May Crack Down on "Peddlers"

May 12, 2010
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville may crack down on temporary roadside vendors who set up to sell their products without obtaining a permit.

The aldermen briefly discussed the issue during the city council meeting last week.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs said "I've had another business or two contact me about these peddlers setting up and selling various wares in various places in the city. These are legitimate complaints. Businesses are paying for business licenses and these people who are setting up regularly haven't gotten any kind of permit or don't have a business license and it's not fair. We need to try to make it as fair as we can for everybody. That's the best thing to do."

Jacobs asked if the city had an ordinance on the books regulating this type of activity. Alderman Steve White, in response, said the city does have such an ordinance but that it is vague.

Alderman Jacobs asked that the ordinance be reviewed at the next meeting.

Under the current ordinance, a peddler is defined as "any person, whether or not a resident of the city, traveling by foot, wagon, automotive vehicle or any other type of conveyance from place to place, house to house, or street to street, carrying, conveying, or transporting goods, wares, merchandise, fish, vegetables, fruits or other products or provisions, and offering and exposing them for sale; or who, without traveling from place to place, sells or offers for sale such products from a wagon, automotive vehicle or other conveyance is hereby defined to be a "peddler". A "peddler" shall also include any "hawker", "huckster", or "street vendor" but shall exclude any solicitor licensed under the provisions of the city code.

The ordinance states that "no person shall act as a peddler unless he has obtained a permit from the secretary-treasurer.

Each applicant for a peddler's permit shall file an application stating and/or containing the following:

Name of the applicant
Brief description of the nature of the goods to be sold
If employed, the name and address of the employer
If a vehicle is to be used, a description of it together with the license number or other means of identification.
Evidence of the good moral character of the applicant.

Each permit issued under the provisions of this chapter shall show the name and address of the peddler, the kind of goods to be sold, the date of issuance, the permit number, and the identifying description of any vehicle used by the peddler.

All peddlers shall exhibit their permits to any police officer or person solicited, upon demand.

No peddler shall engage in the business of peddling:

During the hours of darkness
On Sunday
Within 200 feet of a public market house
Within 200 feet of a curb market

Any permit issued under the provisions of this chapter may be suspended or revoked by the board of mayor and aldermen for any of the following reasons:

Fraud, misrepresentation, or false statement contained in the application for the permit.

Fraud, misrepresentation, or false statement in the course of carrying on the business of peddling

Conviction of any crime involving moral turpitude

Conducting the business of peddling in such a manner as to create a public nuisance, cause a breach of the peace, or constitute a danger to the public health, safety, or welfare.

Allowing another to use said permit

Permits issued under the provisions of this chapter shall expire on the same date that the permittee's privilege license expires and shall be renewed without cost if the permittee applies for and obtains a new privilege license within 30 days thereafter. Permits issued to permitees who are not subject to a privilege tax shall be issued for one year. An application for a renewal shall be made substantially in the same form as an original application. However, only so much of the application shall be completed as is necessary to reflect conditions which have changed since the last application was filed.

FEMA Announces Additional 15 Counties Eligible for DUA

May 12, 2010

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available to workers in Chester, Clay, DeKalb, Hardin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Macon, Robertson, Smith, Stewart, Trousdale, Wayne and Wilson counties as a direct result of severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that began April 30, 2010, and are continuing, Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development James Neeley reported today. This amends the declaration for the State of Tennessee (FEMA-1909-DR).

These additional counties eligible for DUA are added to the previously 27 declared counties of Benton, Carroll, Cheatham, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Obion, Perry, Rutherford, Shelby, Sumner, Tipton and Williamson.

"This is a direct line of assistance for those who are out of work due to this natural disaster," said Commissioner Neeley. "These counties are the starting point, and we'll open this assistance to other counties as they are declared disaster areas by FEMA."

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the program on behalf of the federal government. According to Neeley, persons unemployed as a direct result of the severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes must file their claim for DUA benefits within 30 days of this announcement.

Individuals who are not covered for regular unemployment benefits may qualify for disaster unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed workers and others not covered by the state unemployment insurance program whose source of income has been interrupted by the disaster damage.

If possible, individuals should have access to their 2009 income tax return, Social Security Number, and any papers with wage and employment information prior to the disaster.

Weekly DUA benefit amounts are determined in the same way as regular unemployment benefits. Benefits range from $114 to $275 per week and are payable up to 26 weeks after the day of declaration, which was May 4, 2010. DUA benefits will end if unemployment is no longer the direct result of the disaster.

If your unemployment claim is a direct result of the disaster, do not file your unemployment claim by Internet to avoid delays.

Persons who are unemployed as a result of the severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, and tornadoes that began April 30, 2010, who need to file an unemployment claim may call (615)253-0800, extension 7599 locally or 1-877-813-0950, extension 7599, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or report in person to one of the following TDLWD Career Centers. Designated Career Centers take claims on Mondays at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; and Fridays at 8:30 a.m.

DeKalb Schools to Close for the Summer According to Schedule

May 10, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County School System will not have to make up the three days missed last week due to flooding and the "boil water advisory" in Smithville.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says officials of the state department of education notified him Monday that a waiver has been granted so schools will close according to schedule next Saturday, May 22nd.

Students will attend school the rest of this week and Monday through Thursday next week. Students will not attend on Friday, May 21. That will be an administrative day, but all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Saturday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Graduation at DeKalb County High School will be Friday, May 21st at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field.

Willoughby says Tentative School Budget Includes Small Pay Raises for Personnel

May 10, 2010
Dwayne Page

Teachers and other certified personnel and support staff are budgeted a small pay raise under the proposed 2010-11 tentative general purpose spending plan for schools, which is expected to be acted on by the board of education Thursday night.

The proposed $18 million budget, if approved by the school board, will be forwarded to the county's budget committee for it's blessing and then onto the county commission for final approval later this summer.

The tentative budget includes a $400 increase per certified position and a 25 cent per hour increase for all support staff positions along with the step increases per salary scales and adjustments for degree advancement per salary scales.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says the total amount of the increase for raises comes to about $150,000 including local matching for social security, retirement, etc, but it's an increase the school system needs to fund, since personnel haven't had a local increase in pay in quite sometime.

The proposed tentative budget also includes one new special education resource teacher for DeKalb County High School to help meet the new diploma requirements. One of the current school nurse positions and two special education assistants, under this budget, would be funded from general purpose schools, rather than federal as they have been in the past. One part-time special education vision teacher position would become full time under this budget.

Perhaps, the category making the single largest impact on the budget is in the state mandated increase in the school system's contribution to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement, going from 6.42% to 9.05% for teachers and from 5.18% to 6.28% for support staff. That totals well over $239,000.

The bottom line on total school expenditures for next year comes to $18,029,136, exceeding total revenues by $770,476. In order to balance the budget, the school board is expected to propose appropriating $712,000 of the local school system's share of state Basic Education Program (BEP) reserves as one-time expenditures and $58,476 of Technology Reserves. The school board does not plan to seek an increase in the local property tax rate for schools, but is expected to ask the county for an increase in local revenue of $33,744 over last year's budget to round out this proposed spending plan.

Willoughby says this is another "bare bones" budget. "We have figured a budget that is very close. Not any excess in there. We have figured a pay raise for all our employees. When we look at where their pay was two years ago compared to where it is now, our teachers are actually making less now than what they did two years ago. The state had given them a bonus. That bonus has gone away. This year we have a $400 pay increase for our teachers and we have a 25 cent per hour increase in there for support staff, which on an eight hour day out of ten months would equal $400, the same as for the teachers. This is again a bare bones budget. We're asking for approximately $33,000(increase) from the county and we actually think that would be growth money so we hope this budget will be accepted by the county commission. Keep in mind that while there is very little money in there for pay raises, approximately $150,000 in pay raises for our system, everything (cost of living) has gone up for our employees also, whether it be gas, food, etc. Our employees have needs so we have included that raise in there, which there hasn't been one for our employees for a while."

Sheriff's Department Finds Three Separate Meth Labs- Eight Arrested as a Result

May 10, 2010
Dwayne Page
Tawanna Ann Petty
Kevin Donald Bogle
Angela Jean Atnip
Shawn Bradley Patton
David Wayne Gaines
Misty Dawn Barnes
Jeffery Lynn Smith
Christopher White
Daniel John Pendergraph
Robert Paul Brawley
Timothy Tyler Patrick

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made several recent arrests after discovering three separate methamphetamine labs.

In the first case on Monday, May 3rd, Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department received information about a possible meth lab at a residence on New Home Road. After arrival, deputies, spoke to 30 year old Tawanna Ann Petty, the person who was renting the residence, and she gave them consent to search

Others at the residence were 35 year old Kevin Donald Bogle of Barnes Mill Road Smithville, 32 year old Angela Jean Atnip of Green Hill Road Smithville and 31 year old Shawn Bradley Patton of Oak Drive Smithville along with Petty's three children ages five, eleven, and thirteen years old

During a search of the bedroom and bathroom area of the home a methamphetamine lab was discovered in two bags. Items included pseudoephedrine packs, glass cook ware, coffee filters, lithium batteries, lye, layered liquids, tubing, muratic acid, p h strips and other components that are used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Petty, Bogle, Atnip, and Patton were all charged with manufacture of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and reckless endangerment for the production of methamphetamine in a residence where children are present. Bond for all four was set at $50,000 each and they will appear in court on May 20th.

A hazardous waste removal company was summoned to remove the harmful components from the home. The Petty residence has been quarantined until a hazardous waste control company tests the home for harmful or deadly toxicants.

Meanwhile on the same night, deputies received information of another methamphetamine lab at a motel on highway 70 east. Upon arrival, the officers received consent to search the motel room of 31 year old David Wayne Gaines of Sparta Highway Smithville. During the search deputies found a stained 2 litter bottle, empty pseudoephedrine packs, hot plate, coffee filters, lithium batteries, needles, Coleman fuel, tubing, muratic acid, layered liquids, and several other components that are used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Gaines was arrested for manufacture of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and his bond was set at $25,000. He will appear in court on May 20th.

A hazardous waste removal company was brought to the scene to remove harmful components. Gaines' room and the adjoining motel office and storage room have been quarantined until a hazardous waste control company tests for harmful or deadly toxicants.

In yet another meth case, three people, 29 year old Misty Dawn Barnes of Highland Avenue, Smithville, 23 year old Jeffery Lynn Smith of Blues Hill Road, McMinnville, and 27 year old Christopher White of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville were arrested on Monday, May 10th after a rolling meth lab was found in their vehicle on Smith Road. They have each been charged with manufacture of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine). Bond for all three was set at $25,000 each and they will appear in court on May 20th

While on patrol, a deputy stopped a vehicle on Smith Road in Smithville for a traffic violation and asked for consent to search. During the search, the officer found a black back pack that contained coffee filters, glass ware, needles, lithium batteries, Coleman fuel, a butane tank, a propane tank, a butane torch, muratic acid, p h strips, layered liquids and other components that are used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. A hazardous waste removal company was called to remove the harmful components from the vehicle.

Sheriff Ray says it appears the production of methamphetamine is on the rise again in Tennessee.

"This new method to our area is called "shake and bake" where the offenders can easily make methamphetamine in a shorter amount of time with fewer products needed for the cook."

"I have asked Chief Mark Collins of the Alexandria Police Department and Chief Randy Caplinger of the Smithville Police Department to join us in hosting a methamphetamine class for anyone who wants to know more about the manufacture of methamphetamine and the hazards of where methamphetamine has been manufactured. This class is open to everyone, especially people who rent homes or motel rooms here in DeKalb County. We are all very concerned about the growing methamphetamine problem in the State of Tennessee and here in DeKalb County. The place where the event is to be held and time will be announced later to our local news media."

" I would also like to encourage anyone who has information of any drug activity to please feel free to call or come by and see me. You can also report this or any crimes to our Sheriff's Department Crime Tip line at 464-6400."

Meanwhile in other cases, 28 year old Juan Carlos Cassillas of Williamsport Pike Columbia was arrested on Tuesday, May 4th for driving without a valid license. Bond for Cassillas was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on May 26th. Sheriff Ray says a deputy was patrolling the school zone at DeKalb West when he noticed a car going through at a high rate of speed. After stopping the vehicle, the officer asked Cassillas for his driver's license, but he could not produce one.

19 year old Elisha James Jenkins of Marshall Creek Road, Auburntown was arrested on Wednesday, May 5th for disorderly conduct. He was also issued citations for a seatbelt violation, under age consumption, and possession of an alcoholic beverage under 21 years of age. Jenkins' bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on May 20th. According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy, while on patrol on Short Mountain Highway, stopped Jenkins for a traffic violation. Jenkins became very belligerent and he had a smell of alcohol on his person. Jenkins, who is under 21 years old, was also in possession of a jug of Vodka.

26 year old Daniel John Pendergraph of Shellsford Road was arrested Thursday, May 6th and charged with two counts of theft at the Pates Ford Marina. The theft occurred on March 8th. Detectives charged Pendergraph after he was found to be in possession of a stolen boat. He also allegedly had 60 stolen CD's and DVD's, a set of walkie talkies, and a Direct TV box from another boat at the marina. Bond for Pendergraph was set at $18,500.

30 year old Robert Paul Brawley of Felts Road Sparta was arrested Friday, May 7th and charged with two counts of violation of probation in DeKalb County. Sheriff Ray says Brawley was found to have in his possession a bag that contained 4 pills believed to be dilaudid, 19 pills believed to be Xanax, a baggie that contained a white powder believed to be methamphetamine, a used hypodermic needle, and a pill crusher. Brawley was charged with two counts of simple possession of a schedule II drug, possession of a schedule IV drug for resale, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond on the new charges was set at $37,500 and he will appear in court on May 20th.

21 year old Timothy "Tyler" Patrick was charged Friday, May 7th with theft of property over $500 after an investigation into a theft of an H P Vista laptop computer valued at $900 from a residence on The Loop Road Smithville. The theft occurred on March 26th. Sheriff Ray says after the theft, Patrick went to a pawn shop in Warren County and pawned the computer. Bond for Patrick was set at $5,000 on the charge and his court date is set for May 13th.

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

May 10, 2010
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 morning in their classroom.

Members of the class are Payton Bowman, Payton Cantrell, Anna Chew, Emme Colwell, Jeremiah Davis, Victor Escobar, Andrew Fontanez, Sergio Garcia, Lizzy Guinn, Braxton Hutchings, Mary King, Karley Knowles, Nate Lasser, Haylie Lockard, Bill Miller, Isaac Robinson, Mya Ruch, Malia Stanley, and Rilee Winfree. (Kenzie France was absent)

In addition to the video presentation here, you can listen to the children each morning this week following the 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. morning local news on WJLE AM1480/FM 101.7.

DCHS Awards Day set for Friday

May 10, 2010
Dwayne Page

Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be awarded to members of the Class of 2010 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards Day program, set for Friday, May 14th at 8:30 a.m.

Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the military service, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations will be making the presentations.

WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Awards are expected to be presented by the following groups:

U.S. Marines
U.S. Army
U.S. Air Force
U.S. Navy
University of Florida
Tennessee Tech University
Middle Tennessee State University
Cumberland University
Freed-Hardeman University
Centre College
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
St. Mary's College
Carson-Newman College
DeKalb Soil Conservation District
Class of 1966
DeKalb Community Hospital
DeKalb Fire Fighters
Class of 1969
Smithville Business & Professional Women's Club
Liberty State Bank
Jeff Garrett Memorial
Love-Cantrell Funeral Home
Alan Hooper Memorial
DeKalb Republican Women
Jolly Angels
CIC Foundation
DeKalb Scottish Rite
AmVets POST #101
AmVets Auxiliary POST #101
Agee Oil
DeKalb PTO
Hunter Davis Memorial
First Bank
Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride
Smithville Rotary Club
Smithville Women's Club
Leadership DeKalb
Lucille Stewart Memorial
Elzie & Nell McBride Memorial
Eddie Crips Memorial
DeKalb Retired Teachers
Comcast Leaders & Achievers
DeKalb Farmer's Coop
Kyle & Kenny Robinson Memorial
DCHS Student Council

High School Seniors Honored for Outstanding Educational Achievement

May 10, 2010
Dwayne Page

Eighteen members of the class of 2010 from Dekalb County High School have received the High Schools That Work (HSTW) Award of Educational Achievement. High school seniors who complete a challenging and focused program of study and demonstrate readiness for employment and for college studies receive the award. Award recipients receiving personalized certificates and congratulatory letters from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) are Reeves Beller, Payne Denman, Dakota Dexter, Kendra Foutch, Nick Goff, Brandon Haas, Kyle Hogue, Grant James, Sasha Knowles, Layne Mathis, Tejaswi Munagala, Katie Nixon, Amanda Ours, Hunter Poteete, Haley Snyder, Caleb Spencer, Cynthia Woodward, and Tiffany Young.

“These students are to be commended for their efforts,” said Kathy Hendrix. “By taking challenging courses in high school and performing well high on rigorous exams, they have increased the likelihood of success in the workplace and further education.”

Students qualify for the award by completing a college-preparatory course of study in at least two of 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.

HSTW, a Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) initiative, is the largest high school improvement effort in the United States, with more than 1,100 school sites in 31 states, the District of Columbia, and Calgary, Canada. HSTW is supported by member states and grants from organizations, such as the Wallace Foundation, Goldman Sachs Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Whitehead Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. SREB was founded in 1948 as America’s first multi-state compact for education.

For more information, contact Allison Timberlake, coordinator of assessment for School Improvement, or Emily Kagey, chief editor for School Improvement, at the Southern Regional Education Board, 592 10th St., N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318.


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