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DeKalb Middle School Students Win at National History Day Competition

March 2, 2009

DeKalb Middle School eighth graders were winners at the National History Day regional competition held Friday at MTSU. They will now advance to the State competition April 4, 2009 at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville.

National History Day is a curriculum enhancement program that engages students in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics. Students may chose research papers, dramatic performances, imaginative exhibits, multimedia documentaries and websites based on research related to an annual theme. These projects are then evaluated at local, state and national competition. The 2009 competition theme is "The Individual in History; Actions and Legacies."

The eighth grade regional winners from DeKalb Middle School are:

Katie Haggard, Chelsea Lewis and Cecilia Maciel, 1st. place in the Drama Category
Martelia Tallent, 2nd. place in the Exhibits Category
These students were under the direction of Mrs. Vicky Terrell

Jonathan Page, Hunter Collins and Evan Curtis, 1st. place in the Website Category
Gage Brown, Lucus Phillips and Cole Parsley, 2nd. place in the Website Category
Destiny Caldwell and Abbey Caldwell, 3rd place in the Documentary Category
These students were under the direction of Mrs. Anita Puckett

Other DMS students competing at MTSU were Ethan Shaw, Jacob Parsley, Ben Pafford, Anna Fox, Ashton Waggoner, Ashlee Gunter, Tyler Vanhoose and McKayla Funk

Director of Schools and Members of School Board Attend "Day on the Hill"

March 1, 2009
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and School Board Chairman Charles Robinson-
Charles Robinson, State Senator Mae Beavers, and School Board Member Kenny Rhody

Members of the DeKalb County Board of Education joined school board members from across the state in Nashville on Tuesday, February 24th for a day of legislative networking at TSBA's annual "Day on the Hill" event. This year, featured program speakers included Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Kent Williams, Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham, and House Education Committee Chair Harry Brooks.

"Day on the Hill" is designed for school board members and superintendents to study pending education legislation and discuss priorities with local legislators. The event began with a breakfast at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel and was followed by visits to legislators' offices and committee hearings.

Kenny Rhody, Third District School Board member, said in a prepared statement that " As your Tennessee Legislative Representative, I along with Charles Robinson, Chairman of the DeKalb County School Board, and Mark Willoughby, Director of Schools, had the pleasure to represent DeKalb County Schools, at the annual Day on the Hill sponsored by the Tennessee School Board Association, where your school board members and directors are turned loose on Capitol Hill to meet with and discuss issues that affect the needs of the children of DeKalb County. We had the chance to sit down with Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Senator Mae Beavers and other dignitaries that affect our concerns. The issues this year that will affect us most are the stimulus package that is now law and will help our education system statewide."

"Day on the Hill provides a terrific opportunity for school board members throughout the state to
promote public education and seek assistance from the General Assembly with one collective voice," said David Pickler, TSBA President and Shelby County school board chairman. "We look forward to partnering with the General Assembly to continue to improve the quality of our schools in Tennessee and showcase the many successes of public education in our state."

In addition to the elected vs. appointed superintendent issue, TSBA hopes the General Assembly will have a serious discussion of Tennessee's system of funding public education at the local level.

2007's adoption of the Basic Education Program (BEP) 2.0, provided much-needed revenue to school systems and a substantial step toward more appropriate funding for education in the state; however, several local governments used the increase to reduce local effort to public education. At a minimum, TSBA believes local governments should have to provide an inflationary adjustment to schools each year to recognize natural increases in education costs. In addition, TSBA would like to see school boards have more fiscal autonomy in school budgeting. Tennessee is one of only 11 states in the country where boards of education have no ability to raise revenue for schools.

"Boards of education have embraced accountability, but accountability without the authority to address funding to meet the very performance standards that have been mandated is, in our opinion, unreasonable," said Smith.

Smith added that the association will continue to urge legislators to recognize the importance of local management of schools and resist attempts to remove local flexibility. "There is no ‘one-size-fits-all' solution in public education," said Smith. "All of our priorities are designed to give school boards the flexibility, authority and tools they need to do the best jobs for their individual students and communities, all of which have their own unique strengths and challenges."

The Tennessee School Boards Association, a statewide, nonprofit organization, is a federation of the state's local school boards. It serves as an advocate for the interests of Tennessee's public school students and school districts.

Five Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election to Date

February 28, 2009
Dwayne Page

Five people have qualified to run for alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election so far.

The latest person to get in the race is Incumbent Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr. Others who have qualified include Incumbent Alderman Willie Thomas, former Alderman W.J. (Dub) White, former Alderman Aaron Meeks and Gary Durham.

Three other persons have also picked up qualifying petitions but have not yet returned them including Incumbent Alderman Tonya Sullivan, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer

Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections, says candidates have until NOON on Thursday, March 19th to qualify. The deadline to register to vote in time for the election is May 18th.

Three Aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 16th. The positions are currently held by Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan, and Willie Thomas. Each term is for two years.

Smithville Garbage Truck Involved in Wreck

February 27, 2009
Dwayne Page
Smithville Garbage Truck Involved In Wreck
Smithville Garbage Truck Hits Rock Bluff-
Dodge Durango Damaged after Collision with Garbage Truck

The operator of a City of Smithville garbage truck was involved in a wreck with a Dodge Durango around 11:40 a.m. Friday morning on Highway 70 east near Sligo bridge.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 57 year old Ronnie Walker of Smithville, a city employee, was operating a 1999 freightliner garbage truck going west on Highway 70. Another city employee, 39 year old Jerry Rackley of Smithville, was a passenger in the truck. The two were apparently returning from the landfill where they had dumped a load of garbage.

Meanwhile, 33 year old Allison Long of Sparta was going east on Highway 70 in a 2007 Dodge Durango.

According to Trooper Jennings, Long claims as she was negotiating the curve coming down the hill, she saw the garbage truck in her lane. As she applied her brakes, the Durango slid on the rain slick highway and struck the side of the truck at an angle in the westbound lane. Long's vehicle came to a final rest in the ditchline facing a rock wall. The truck continued west for a few feet and also went off the road in the ditchline and struck the rock wall.

Walker and Rackley were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. Long was to have gone to the Cookeville hospital by a private vehicle.

Neither of them were believed to have been seriously injured.

Trooper Jennings says Walker was cited for failure to exercise care.

DeKalb Middle School holds Basketball Banquet

February 27, 2009
DeKalb Middle School Basketball MVP Award Winners and Coaches

The DeKalb Middle School basketball program held its basketball banquet, Thursday night, at the Smithville First United Methodist Church Christian Fellowship Center.

Eighth grade guard, Cody Puckett, was named the Most Valuable Player for the Saints, this past season, while eighth graders, Chelsea Lewis and Lydia Foutch, shared Co-MVP honors for the Lady Saints. Emily Webb, meanwhile, was named Most Valuable Cheerleader.

In addition to the MVP award, Puckett - who averaged 15.2 points per game for the Saints, this season - was also named Best Offensive Player, and was recognized with a trophy for earning All-Tournament honors at the James C. Haile State Invitational Tournament. Puckett started all but one game in his three-year career at DMS.

Other Saints awards were as follows:

Hardest Worker - Kalab Ferrell

Most Improved - Eli Lomas

Team Player - Alex Hall

Hustle Award - Dillan Reeder

Best Sixth Man - Braxton Howell & Lucas Phillips

Best Passer/Ball-Handler - Evan Curtis & Stephen Howell

Best Rebounder - Braxton Howell

Best Defensive Player - Hunter Graham

For the Lady Saints, Lewis also earned the awards for Best Defensive Player and Most Assists, while Foutch was named Best Rebounder and took the award for Most Steals.

Other Lady Saints awards were as follows:

Best Passer - Abbey Caldwell

Best Sixth Man - Loren Cripps

Most Improved & Coaches Award - Veronica Ingram

Best Offensive Player & Free Throw Shooter - Cori Jennings

Jennings also earned a trophy for making the All-Tournament team at the James C. Haile State Invitational Tournament.

Other Cheerleading awards were as follows:

Most Improved - Mariah Jones

Most Spirit - Callie Gash

Coaches Award (the D.E.A.R. award) - Ashley Medlin

Each individual player, cheeleader and manager were also recognized with a certificate of participation during Thursday night's banquet. Awards were presented by DMS coaches, Josh Agee and Joey Agee.

(Pictured: Front Row-left to right, Lydia Foutch (Lady Saints Co-MVP), Chelsea Lewis (Lady Saints Co-MVP), Emily Webb (Most Valuable Cheerleader). Back Row- left to right, Saints Coach Joey Agee, Cody Puckett (Saints MVP), and Saints Coach Josh Agee)

Smithville Woman Charged in Manchester Armed Robbery

February 27, 2009
Dwayne Page

A Smithville woman and another person have been charged with the armed robbery of a Discount Tobacco Outlet in Manchester.

The Manchester Times reports that 25 year old Tiffany Gora of Smithville and 39 year old Donald Taylor of Manchester are charged in the case. Bond for each is $50,000 bond and they will be in Coffee County General Sessions Court March 4th.

According to the report, Gora allegedly went into the store around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday armed with a handgun and demanded money from the clerk. Gora, who was dressed in camouflage, left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash. But on her way out, she dropped the gun, before getting into a waiting Ford F-150 pickup truck, driven by Taylor, and leaving the scene.

They were spotted Thursday morning and taken into custody by Manchester Police and officers of the Coffee County Sheriff's Department

Police say Gora used a BB gun during the robbery and, according to an investigator, the two admitted to committing the crime to get money to buy drugs to further their habit.

Expanded Tax Break Available for 2009 First-Time Homebuyers

February 26, 2009

The Internal Revenue Service announced today that taxpayers who qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit and purchase a home this year before Dec. 1 have a special option available for claiming the tax credit either on their 2008 tax returns due April 15 or on their 2009 tax returns next year.

Qualifying taxpayers who buy a home this year before Dec. 1 can get up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married filing separately.

“For first-time homebuyers this year, this special feature can put money in their pockets right now rather than waiting another year to claim the tax credit, “ said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “This important change gives qualifying homebuyers cash they do not have to pay back.”

The IRS has posted a revised version of Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit on The revised form incorporates provisions from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The instructions to the revised Form 5405 provide additional information on who can and cannot claim the credit, income limitations, and repayment of the credit.

This year, qualifying taxpayers who buy a home before Dec. 1, 2009, can claim the credit on either their 2008 or 2009 tax returns. They do not have to repay the credit, provided the home remains their main home for 36 months after the purchase date. They can claim 10 percent of the purchase price up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately.

The amount of the credit begins to phase out for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is more than $75,000, $150,000 for joint filers.

For purposes of the credit, you are considered to be a first-time homebuyer if you and your spouse did not own any other main home during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase.

The IRS also alerted taxpayers that the new law does not affect people who purchased a home after April 8, 2008, and on or before December 31, 2008. For these taxpayers who are claiming the credit on their 2008 tax returns, the maximum credit remains 10 percent of the purchase price, up to $7,500, or $3,750 for married individuals filing separately. In addition, the credit for these 2008 purchases must be repaid in 15 equal installments over 15 years, beginning with the 2010 tax year.

WJLE Adds New Service to Website

February 25, 2009
Dwayne Page

WJLE has added a new service to our website.

The WJLE Audio Archives features recent recordings of some programs previously aired "LIVE" on WJLE and other recordings not aired LIVE

The Archives will include recent audio recordings of Smithville City Council, Alexandria City Council, DeKalb County Commission, and DeKalb County Board of Education meetings, among other programs of interest.

When you log on to the WJLE homepage, look for the "WJLE Audio Archives" link located down the column on the left side of the screen. Click the link and then select the program to which you wish to listen.

Alexandria Aldermen Adopt New City Charter

February 25, 2009
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday night voted to adopt a new city charter, replacing the original which dates back to 1937.

The proposed new charter will be sent to the Tennessee General Assembly for passage. Once it has been approved there, the new charter will return to the Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen for passage again.

Mayor Ria Baker says many provisions of the old city charter are out of date and need to be changed to conform to state law.

One of the proposed changes, which had been under consideration but not mandatory, was to conduct the Alexandria city election in conjunction with the August General Election every two years, rather than in September.

City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. says the city could have saved a lot of money by making this change. However, after having some reservations, city leaders decided against the move and will leave the city elections as they are now. Having the city elections on even years rather than odd years, would have meant that the terms of the mayor and aldermen would have been altered at least once, in order to get them back on a four year cycle. "We talked about doing (city) elections to correspond with the county elections in August, but those (county) elections don't run in odd years. (City elections are in odd years). I called the mayor and talked to her about that situation. We also talked to MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) about it and I felt like their solution wasn't too acceptable because it meant either extending some people's terms by a year or more or reducing them by a year or more".

The Alexandria City Election is held every two years in September. The terms of the mayor and six aldermen stagger. A mayor and three aldermen are elected in one year and the other three aldermen are elected in the following election. Each term is for four years.

Parsley says passage of this new charter has been more than a year in the making. "We have worked on this charter for about a year now. You folks have to pass this charter and then it has to go to the legislature and they have to have three readings to pass it. Then it has to come back to you and ya'll have to pass it by a two thirds vote and then we send it to the Secretary of State and then it becomes the charter of the City of Alexandria."

"The City of Alexandria has had some amendments to their charter (over the years) but a lot of our original charter is still antiquated. The old charter had a provision for a marshal for the town and some other things that are no longer applicable. This (new charter) sets out better (provisions) for how the town should work and function. This (new charter) was recommended by MTAS. It's not something that just came about by one person's decision. MTAS has been talking to the city about this for a little more than a year. Provisions of the new charter clear up some things that we didn't have in the original charter and it deletes some things, such as we won't have language in the charter for a city marshal anymore. It does provide for bonds and things that werent in the original charter. Several are provisions that never have been there and it does repeal certain parts that are no longer necessary."

(Click here to listen to Tuesday night's Alexandria City Council Meeting in it's entirety at

Tuesday Night Fire Destroys Barn

February 25, 2009
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Barn (Photo by Callie Mathews)

Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded to a barn fire Tuesday night.

Lieutenant Bradley Mullinax says "at approximately 8:20 p.m. DeKalb 911 dispatchers received a call of a reported structure fire in the area of 329 Petty Road. Upon arrival, firefighters discovered that the structure fire was actually a barn belonging to Bill Tisdale. The fire was well underway by the time fire crews arrived on the scene and the barn was unable to be saved. The fire was contained to the immediate area and no one was injured. Several rolls of hay and some farm equipment inside the barn were damaged."

Members of the Midway, Short Mountain Highway, Cookeville Highway, Main Station, and Johnson Chapel stations responded to render aid. The cause of the fire is unknown.


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