Local News Articles

Alabama Man Wins Fiddlers Jamboree's Biggest Award

July 2, 2011
Dwayne Page
Will McMeans
Jamboree Coordinator Jack Barton Presents Award to Will McMeans

The Grand Champion Fiddler of the 40th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival is Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama.

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He won the Berry C. Williams Memorial Award Saturday night after the Grand Finale Fiddle-Off between the best Junior and Senior Fiddler.


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McMeans made it to the fiddle off by winning the Junior Fiddling competition and he won the Grand Championship by beating the winner of the Senior Fiddling contest Don Sadler of Cookeville.

Will McMeans from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Winners in the Saturday session of the Fiddler's Jamboree are as follows:

Junior Fiddlers (Ages 13-39): First Place-Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama; Second Place- Chris Gray of Lawrenceburg; and Third Place- Austin Vick of Lyles, Tennessee.

Junior Old-Time Appalachian Flatfoot Dance (Ages up to 39): First Place- Chris Stewart of Bon Aqua; Second Place- Justin Frazor of Woodbury; and Third Place Matthew Campbell of Murfreesboro.

Senior Old-Time Appalachian Flatfoot Dance (Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Tommy Scruggs of Hartsville; Second Place- Jeff Yates of Adams, Tennesse; and Third Place- Tommy Jackson of Franklin

Tennessee Toe Tappers from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Senior Buck Dancing (Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Lonnie Stewart of Fairview; Second Place- Jeff Yates of Adams, Tennessee; and Third Place- Eileen Stewart of Nashville.

Bluegrass Fiddle (Neil Dudney Award): First Place- Tori Huntley of Loretto; Second Place- Will McMeans of Lester, Alabama; and Third Place- Chris Gray of Lawrenceburg. The Neil Dudney Award was presented to Huntley by members of Mr. Dudney's family..

Rocky Top Revue of Franklin take 3rd place in Square Dancing competition from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Senior Clogging (Ages 40 & Over): First Place-Lonnie Stewart of Fairview; Second Place-Eileen Stewart of Nashville; and Third Place- Jeff Yates of Adams, Tennessee

Bluegrass Banjo: First Place-Weston Stewart of Anderson, Alabama; Second Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg; and Third Place- Buddy Robertson of Callahan, Florida.

Harpeth River of Franklin takes 2nd place in square dancing from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Bluegrass Band: First Place-Cross Connection of Dyersburg; Second Place- A Step Ahead of Greenbrier; and Third Place-Straight Line Drive of Big Rock, Tennessee.

Senior Fiddlers ( Ages 40 & Over): First Place- Don Sadler of Cookeville; Second Place- Perry B.C Cooper of Knoxville; and Third Place- Delmer Holland of Waverly

Square Dancing: First Place-Tennessee Toe Tappers of Pleasantville; Second Place- Harpeth River of Franklin; and Third Place-Rocky Top Revue of Franklin.

Greenbrier Girl Repeats as Fiddling Champion for Jamboree Beginners

July 2, 2011
Dwayne Page
Cara Digiovanni
Cara Digiovanni Receives James G "Bobo" Driver Award from members of his family
Nolan Turner presents Kyle Ramey with Best Overall  Entertainer Award

A Greenbrier girl, for the second year in a row, took home this year's top Jamboree award as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners.

Cara Digiovanni was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler Saturday and won the coveted James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award, named for the man who started the children's competition during the 1980's as part of the annual Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival. The award was presented by members of Mr. Driver's family including Bert, Milas, Sadie, Jim, Mickey, Allison, and Adam Driver.

Meanwhile Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana received the "Entertainer of the Year" Award, which is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition. Ramey took home first place in three of those categories and third place in two others.

The National Championship for Country Musician Beginners showcases the talents of children up to age twelve in seven categories of competition.

This year's winners are as follows:

Fiddle: First Place-Cara Digiovanni of Greenbrier; Second Place- Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tennessee; and Third Place- Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana..

Buck Dancing: First Place- Shelby Dunn of Fairview, Second Place- Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, and Third Place-Raygan Sellers of Goodlettesville.

Clogging: First Place- Sarah Fisher of Smyrna; Second Place-Amy Fisher of Smyrna; and Third Place- Brayden Chunn of Greenbrier.

Dobro Guitar: First Place- Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana; Second Place- Cara Digiovanni of Greenbrier and Third Place- Raygan Sellers of Goodlettsville..

Mandolin: First Place-Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana; Second Place-Anna Clara Stockhoff of Brentwood; and Third Place- Ben Hester of Chapmansboro

Five String Banjo: First Place- Josiah Newman of Scottsville, Kentucky; Second Place- Grayson Phillips of Chapmansboro and Third Place- Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana.

Flat Top Guitar: First Place- Kyle Ramey of North Vernon, Indiana, Second Place- Cara Digiovanni of Greenbrier; and Third Place- Carson Wood of Pleasantville, Tennessee.

BACK ROW FROM LEFT: Bert Driver, Mickey Driver, Jimmy Driver, Adam Driver
FRONT ROW: Milas Driver, Sadie Driver, Allison Driver, and Cara Digiovanni

Fanning Big Winner at Fiddler 5K

July 2, 2011
Dwayne Page

40 year old Scott Fanning of Lebanon was the overall winner of the 13th annual Fiddler 5K held Saturday morning in Smithville.

Fanning completed the course in 17:29.

Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run (7-2-11) from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Meanwhile, 16 year old Morgan Voyles of Sparta was the overall winner in the women's race. She completed the course in 21:41

In the male master's category, 53 year old Jimmy Dawson of Cookeville was the overall winner. His time was 19:52.

In the female masters, 43 year old Lora Simpson of Sparta was the overall winner. Her time was 25:19

The overall winner of the One Mile Fun Run was nine year old Caden Close of Smithville. His time was 7:13

Twelve year old Tyra Graham of Smithville completed the One Mile Fun Run course in 8:20, the best among females.

The Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run is a fundraiser to benefit Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.

Race director Tecia Pryor said "we had a record turnout this year for the 5K - we had 322 entries for 5K and 78 for fun run for 400 total participants. This is a record and exceeds our previous record from 2009 of 387 total participants".

Three Injured in Car Crash at Snow Hill

July 2, 2011
Dwayne Page
Another Car Strikes this Ford Taurus Injuring Two People
Woman driving this Chevy Malibu Injured after hitting another car

Three people were injured in a two car crash Friday night on Highway 70 at Snow Hill.

Central Dispatch received the call at 11:00 p.m.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 35 year old Andrea Jones of Watertown was east on Highway 70 in a 2000 Chevy Malibu when she drove off the right shoulder of the road, overcorrected to the left and came across the highway into the westbound lane where she struck an oncoming 2003 Ford Taurus, driven by 22 year old Bradley Reddick of Flowery Branch, Georgia. Both Jones, Reddick, and a passenger of Reddick's car, 22 year old Jessica Ford of Knoxville were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Trooper Tisdale, who was assisted in the investigation by THP Lieutenant Randy Maynard and Trooper Mark Jones, said charges are pending. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Flags Presented to Women from Japan and California during Fiddlers Jamboree

July 1, 2011
Dwayne Page
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver Presents Tenn Flag to California Woman
State Senator Mae Beavers Presents US Flag to woman from Japan
State Proclamation Presented to Jamboree Coordinator Jack Barton

A woman from Japan received a United States flag while Linda Lohr of Ontario, California was presented a Tennessee State flag during the Fiddler's Jamboree on Friday evening

The flags, which have flown over the state capitol, go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here.

The flags were presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver. They also read a proclamation, which was adopted by both the state house and state senate and signed by the Governor, paying tribute to the Fiddler's Jamboree on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the festival.

Youth Square Dancing Winners: Main Stage Explosion from dwayne page on Vimeo.


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The first day of the 40th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival ran non-stop from about 9:00 a.m. Friday morning until close just after midnight Saturday morning.

Kelsey, Buddy, & Charli Robertson of Florida win Group Gospel Singing Competition from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Preliminaries were held in sixteen categories of music and dance competition followed by the finals featuring the top three acts in each event.

The following are the winners in each category:

Old Time Appalachian Folk Singing (Solo/Duet):
First Place- Graham Sherrill of Nashville
Second Place- Emily Dean of Greenbrier
Third Place- Tammy Melton of Monterey

Flat Top Guitar:
First Place- Jack Elmore of Cookeville
Second Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg
Third Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna

Hogslop String Band from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Junior Clogging (Ages 13-39):
First Place- Justin Frazor of Woodbury
Second Place- Kelly Eicher of Allensville, Kentucky
Third Place- Kelsey Jones of Lyles

Junior Buck Dancing (Ages 13-39):
First Place- Chris Stewart of Bon Aqua
Second Place- Justin Frazor of Woodbury
Third Place- Kelsey Jones of Lyles

Dobro Guitar:
First Place- Jason Sanders of Lancaster
Second Place- Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Third Place- Frannie Digiovanni of Greenbrier

Mountain Dulcimer:
First Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg
Second Place- Roger Amundsen of Longwood, Florida
Third Place- Preston Warden of Mount Juliet

Hammer Dulcimer:
First Place- Howard Friedman of Knoxville
Second Place- Beth James of Newport
Third Place- Chris Brown of Beech Grove

Novelty Event:
First Place-The Nash-Vegas Ramblers of Nashville
Second Place- Caney Forkers of Cookeville
Third Place- Keri Wright of McEwen

Youth Square Dancing:
First Place-Main Stage Explosion of Springfield
Second Place- Main Stage Fusion of Springfield
Third Place- Main Stage Extras of Springfield

Old Time Fiddle Band:
First Place-Hogslop String Band of Nashville
Second Place- The Tennessee Wildflowers of Smithville
Third Place- Sowbelly Stringband of Longwood, Florida

First Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg
Second Place- Jace Aaron of Nashville
Third Place- Bettye Cash of Cookeville

Gospel Singing (Solo):
First Place-Graham Sherrill of Nashville
Second Place- Emily Dean of Greenbrier
Third Place- Larry Chunn of Greenbrier

Country Harmonica:
First Place-Isaac Vick of Lyles
Second Place- Tyler Martelli of Chattanooga
Third Place- Daniel Amick of Pleasantville

Old Time Banjo:
First Place- Graham Sherrill of Nashville
Second Place- Daniel Rothwell of Smyrna
Third Place- Erick Vick of Lyles

Gospel Singing (Duet, Trio, & Quartet):
First Place- Kelsey, Buddy & Charli Robertson of Callahan, Florida
Second Place- Missionary Ridge of Beech Grove
Third Place- The Nash-Vegas Ramblers of Nashville.

First Place-Chris Brown of Beech Grove
Second Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg
Third Place- Daniel Amick of Pleasantville

The Fiddler's Jamboree resumes at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 2nd with preliminaries in the following categories:

Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; Bluegrass Band; Bluegrass Fiddle, Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing. The winner of the Bluegrass Fiddle will receive the Neil Dudney Award, named for the former longtime President and Coordinator of the Fiddlers Jamboree.

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

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

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

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

One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE and on-line at www.wjle.com.

In addition to music and dancing competitions onstage, the Fiddlers Jamboree also features hundreds of crafts displayed along many of the downtown streets, plenty of delicious foods for sale at local food booths, and lots of shade tree picking around the town square.

Chamber Awards "Project Welcome Mat" Winners

July 1, 2011
Dwayne Page
Liberty State Bank Receives "People's Choice" Award
Cash Express Receives Award for "Most Original" sign
DeKalb Community Bank Receives Award for "Best Worded" sign
People's Choice Award Winner Liberty State Bank
"Most Original" Sign Award Goes to Cash Express

The Smithville- DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce honored the winners Thursday in "Project Welcome Mat".

"Project Welcome Mat" awards three categories, "Most Original", "Best Worded", and "People's Choice"

Cash Express received the " Most Original" award for their signs " Howdy Ya'll" and "Singing, Dancing & Fiddles Galore, Smithville Jamboree has all this and more"

Liberty State Bank won the "People's Choice" award for their two-sided sign which read on one side "Times are Hard, Money is Tight, Free Jamboree Entertainment Friday and Saturday night" and on the other side "Picking and Grinning, Tapping Your Toes, the Jamboree is the Big 4-0"

The "Best Worded" award went to DeKalb Community Bank for their sign " Welcome to Jamboree Music, Food & Family. Slap a Knee, Lick the Lips, & Even Swing the Hips"

DTC Wireless, DTC Communications in Alexandria, and the First Free Will Baptist Church received honorable mention

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber, said "We want to thank all the businesses and churches that used their message signs to welcome Jamboree visitors. It's vitally important to make sure that our guests know how appreciated and important they are. We also are grateful for the five Chamber members who allowed us to set up Jamboree information and Welcome Centers. They include Potters Home Center, Premiere Realty of Center Hill Lake, DeKalb Ace Hardware, The Real Estate Team, and Center Hill Realty's Silver Point location.

Pictured from left: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Liberty State Bank Vice President Ronnie Goodwin, Amanda Green, Lisa Garrison, Gail Bailiff, Denise Barrett and Erica Melton

Pictured from left: Jamie Dawson, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, and Tracey Ludwig

Pictured from left: Teresa Johnson, Jennifer Dunn, June Keith, Chad Colwell and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams

Pictured from left: Erica Melton, Denise Barrett, Gail Bailiff, Amanda Green, Lisa Garrison, Liberty State Bank V.P Ronnie Goodwin, and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams

Pictured from left: Jamie Dawson, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, and Tracey Ludwig

Three Aldermen Take Oath of Office

June 30, 2011
Dwayne Page

The three recently elected Smithville aldermen were sworn into office during a special council meeting Thursday evening at city hall

City attorney Vester Parsley administered the oath of office to the two newcomers to the council, Gayla Hendrix and Danny Washer along with Shawn Jacobs, who was re-elected to a second term as alderman. The city election was held on Tuesday, June 21.

After the swearing in ceremony, Mayor Taft Hendrixson appointed each of the alderman as commissioner of a city department.

Smithville Aldermen Sworn into Office from dwayne page on Vimeo.
The appointments are as follows:
Steve White-Vice Mayor and Commissioner of Water and Sewer
Shawn Jacobs- Commissioner of the Police and Fire Departments
Gayla Hendrix- Commissioner of Finance and Taxation
Cecil Burger- Commissioner of Streets and Safety
Danny Washer- Commissioner of the Sanitation Department

The board of mayor and aldermen is now made up of Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Danny Washer, Shawn Jacobs, Gayla Hendrix, Cecil Burger, and Steve White.

During the special meeting, Mayor Hendrixson also appointed citizen representatives and aldermen to serve on various city boards.

Citizen member Hoyte Barrett and Alderman Shawn Jacobs were re-appointed to new terms on the city planning commission.

Walter Burton was re-appointed to the Smithville Electric System Board as a citizen member

Lloyd Black and Steve Hays were re-appointed as citizen members on the city beer board

Sandra Wall and Janie Knowles were re-appointed as citizen members and alderman Danny Washer was also named to the city board of zoning appeals.

The mayor and aldermen meet on the first and third Monday nights of each month at 7:00 p.m. at city hall. However, the board will not meet Monday night, due to it being the fourth of July. The next regular meeting will be Monday, July 18 at 7:00 p.m.

Vehicular Homicide Case Reduced to Attempted Aggravated Assault

June 30, 2011
Dwayne Page
Donald Ray Henson

A 52 year old man indicted for vehicular homicide pleaded guilty Thursday in DeKalb County Criminal Court to attempted aggravated assault.

Under a negotiated settlement, Donald Ray Henson received a two year sentence, suspended to time served. Henson, who was given jail credit for 267 days, will be on supervised probation

Henson was indicted for vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in the death of 44 year old Priscilla Judkins, The wreck occurred on September 15th, 2010.

As part of the plea deal, the vehicular homicide charge was reduced to attempted aggravated assault and the other two charges were dropped. Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong informed Judge David Patterson that while Judkins had suffered head and internal injuries, the state could not advance the vehicular homicide charge against Henson, based on the findings of the medical examiner in the case. Strong did not elaborate further.

According to Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer, Henson was traveling east on Broad Street in a Dodge Caravan when he rear-ended an eastbound 1994 Toyota pickup truck, driven by Randy Paris, who was stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Broad and South Mountain Street.

Officer Farmer said after crashing into Paris' truck, Henson left the scene, still heading east on Broad Street. Paris received minor injuries in the collision but refused EMS transport to the hospital. His truck received considerable damage.

Sheriff Patrick Ray then had a close encounter with Henson. According to the sheriff, he was driving west on Broad Street near Bumper's Drive-In and had pulled into the turning lane to make a turn when he saw the eastbound Dodge Caravan, also in the turning lane, fast approaching him. Sheriff Ray said he quickly maneuvered into the westbound lane and the van went on by him, still heading east.

Sheriff Ray said he turned around to catch up with the van and saw it turn into the parking lot of Curve's on East Broad Street. When he pulled in behind the van at Curves', Sheriff Ray said the man behind the wheel was trying to drive the van up an embankment. The van rolled back and came to a stop in the parking lot.

Sheriff Ray said when the driver got out of the van, he also noticed a woman passenger who appeared to be seriously injured. He called for an ambulance.

Henson was placed in custody by Smithville Police at the scene and Judkins was taken by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. She was later airlifted by a helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville where she died.

Henson, who was believed to have been intoxicated at the time of the crash, told police that his brakes "went out" and that his accelerator "hung". He also had in the van several cans of beer, three empty liquor bottles, and at least one bottle of Tequila which was half full.

State Fire Marshal McPeak offers fireworks safety tips for July Fourth

June 30, 2011
Dwayne Page

State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak wants to remind Tennesseans that, while fireworks are a traditional part of Fourth of July celebrations, many people are seriously injured each year by their careless use.

“We would encourage you to enjoy the holiday at a public display presented by trained professionals,” says McPeak, “where compliance with state-of-the-art fire codes offers a safer way to celebrate our nation’s independence.” July is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, and the State Fire Marshal’s office is partnering with the Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology to raise fire safety awareness across the state.

If consumer fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

•Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
•Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
•Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
•Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
•Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
•Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
•Like matches and lighters, sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200° F, and stay hot long after they’ve burned out. You wouldn’t hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to wave around or play with – so, don’t give a child a sparkler.

Fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. A 2007 law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks; and those who are age 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase them. Also worth noting: A law passed this year that goes into effect July 1 reclassifies sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by commercial operators, and bans both their sale to and use by private consumers.

For more information on firework safety, visit http://tn.gov/commerce/sfm/. The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/

Pre-K Registration set for July 18

June 30, 2011
Dwayne Page
Michelle Burklow

Registration for the voluntary pre-kindergarten program in the DeKalb County School system will be conducted July 18 at Smithville Elementary School and DeKalb West School.

You may register your child for pre-kindergarten from 7:45 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at Smithville Elementary School and from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. at DeKalb West School. Parents should bring the following items for their children:

Original certificate of birth

Verification of physical examination within the last six months

Certification of Immunization

Proof of Income for All Household Members

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through 6th grade, said state funding provides for a total of four pre-k classes at Smithville Elementary School and one class at DeKalb West School.

Eligible children must be four years of age by September 30th and their parents must meet the federal income guidelines.

Burklow said the registration this year will be earlier than normal. "In the past, we have had pre-K registration on the same day as our kindergarten through 12th grade registration. This summer we're going to try to do that a little differently. We know how rushed parents are trying to get from one school to the next. There's more intense paperwork that comes with the pre-K program because it is the first year of the child's entry into school. So we want to be able to slow down that process, make the parents feel a little more comfortable with the process, and be able to talk with the children and let them become familiar with a few things going on in the school," said Burklow.

"As a reminder, on that day please bring the child's birth certificate. We need the birth certificate that has on it the raised seal of Tennessee and not the one that says "Live Birth". That's not the original birth certificate. We also need children to have a physical examination. In addition to that documentation, we will also need immunization records that are up to date. That's one of the things that is looked at very closely at the beginning of the year. Our nurses go through the school records to make sure those immunizations are up to date," continued Burklow.

"Once we have the children registered, we have certain guidelines we must meet because we apply for a grant and the grant dictates what we can and cannot do as far as students who are eligible. So when parents come in and register their children, we will keep them in numerical order. We have our folders numbered and when you're given a folder you'll go through the process of the stations with us and we'll put you on a list in the order that you come in. After we get the folders together, we have to go through and look at the guidelines. One of the first things we have to make sure of is that our children are age four on or before September 30th. That's the first guideline we have to follow is that age for our pre-K children. We do have a few classrooms that take three year old children. We try to serve our four year old children first because we want to front load those babies going into kindergarten. We want to give them the benefit of being in the school, acclamating to the school so they will feel more comfortable when they go into kindergarten," said Burklow.

"I do have some parents who call and say, My child is supposed to go to kindergarten but they're not ready for kindergarten. We cannot take five year old children into the program unless there is some type of circumstance that we can go to the state department about. For the most part, five year old children are required to register for kindergarten," said Burklow.

"The second thing we look at is our children who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. That's why we want Ms. Stephanie Walker there because she will have the new guidelines. The guidelines change every year. She can look at the income the parents turn in and see if they qualify right there," added Burklow.

"If we do not get our program filled up, we do look at children with disabilities, those that may have an English as a second language, children in state custody, or those at-risk for failure due to circumstances of abuse or neglect."

"At Smithville Elementary we have eighty slots for pre-K students and twenty slots at DeKalb West. We do have a curriculum that we go by. It's not one of those you'll see in the first, second, or third grade. It's totally different. It's play. These children learn through play. We have stations set up all day long where the children are learning. They're playing together but they're learning their alphabet, learning math, social studies, and science skills. This is really a hands-on program, getting them ready to go to kindergarten," concluded Burklow.


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