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Grand Jury Indicts 39 People

April 6, 2009
Dwayne Page

The April term of the DeKalb County Grand Jury convened Monday and indicted 39 people on various charges including three people who were named in sealed indictments.

All those indicted will appear for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, April 13th at 9:00 a.m.

Those indicted and their charges are as follows:

Alfaro Linares-Alejandro- no drivers license, violation of the seatbelt law, and violation of the financial responsibility law

Joshua L. Batey- possession of a schedule VI controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia

William A. Cantrell- possession of drug paraphernalia

Clinton L. Cope- driving under the influence, DUI per se over .08%, failure to maintain lane, and underage consumption

Donna Sue Estes- possession of drug paraphernalia

Robert Ewing Ferguson- driving under the influence, DUI per se over .20%, DUI with a child passenger, reckless endangerment, and violation of the open container law

Mark Anthony Graham- initiation of a process to manufacture meth, manufacture of a schedule II controlled substance-meth, possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery, possession of a schedule III controlled substance for sale and delivery, simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia

Jason Thomas Harris- driving under the influence, violation of the implied consent law, violation of the open container law, violation of the light law, and violation of the registration law

Shannon Ray Herman- criminal littering

Craig A. Hill- burglary and theft over $1,000

Johnny Michael Howard- driving under the influence (2nd offense), violation of the implied consent law, and failure to exercise due care

Eric Zachary Jarvis- forgery, criminal impersonation, obtaining drugs by fraud, and theft of services over $1,000

Brad Elliott Johnson- possession of a schedule II controlled substance

Clessie Jones- 4 counts of harassment

Edward L. Judkins, Jr.- burglary, theft over $10,000, and theft over $500

James LeDuc- 2 counts of worthless checks

Jeremy D. Loader- aggravated assault, theft over $1,000, and evading arrest with a motor vehicle

Robert Howard Mattox-aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000

Mitchell Merriman- 3 counts of worthless checks

Steve R. Merriman- driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law

Billy Paul Mooneyham- shoplifting

Johnny D. Murphy- assault and theft under $500

Willie R. Murphy- 2 counts of assault

James Edward Pack II- domestic assault (2 counts), assault (2 counts), especially aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault

Phillip G. Parker- driving under the influence (2nd offense), DUI per se over .08%, DUI with a child passenger, underage consumption, violation of the no passing zone, and violation of the stop sign law

Kimberly A. Patterson- forgery and theft under $500

Timothy W. Patrick- possession of a schedule II controlled substance

David L. Pirtle- possession of a schedule VI controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver

Nichole M. Reynolds- possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia

Amanda M. Riley- initiation of a process to manufacture meth, manufacture of a schedule II controlled substance-meth, possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale and delivery (2 counts), possession of a schedule III controlled substance for sale and delivery, and possession of drug paraphernalia

Scott Lynn Sykes- aggravated burglary, theft over $1,000, and possession of burglary tools

Eddie LeRoy Taylor- burglary, theft under $500, and robbery

Jack D. Taylor, Jr.- aggravated sexual battery

Billy Ray Thomas- attempted aggravated burglary and unlawful carrying of a weapon

Richard B. Turner- public intoxication

Jonathon R. Young- forgery (2 counts) and theft under $500 (2 counts)

Sandy Deone Wheeler- public intoxication

Three Republicans, Two Democrats Appointed to DeKalb Election Commission

April 6, 2009
Dwayne Page

A change in the makeup of the DeKalb County Election Commission, and all other election commissions in the state, was announced Monday by the Tennessee Election Commission

Takeover of the state legislature by Republicans last year made it possible under state law for county election commissions to have a GOP majority this year.

According to the Tennessee Secretary of State's website, the DeKalb County Election Commission will be made up of three Republicans, Walteen C. Parker, James F. (Jim) Dean, and Barbara J. Vanatta, and two Democrats, Nolan R.Turner and Kenneth R. Moore.

Parker, Turner, and Moore have been members of the election commission for several years but Dean and Vanatta are new members. Longtime members, Vester Parsley, Jr., a Republican, was not re-appointed and Ruth White, a Democrat, will not be returning.

The newly appointed election commission will meet soon to re-organize.

More Arrests Made by Sheriff's Department in Burglary and Theft Investigations

April 6, 2009
Dwayne Page
Robert Paul Brawley
Lindsay Lee Stribling
Robert Justin Luna
Christopher Justin Garrett

Two people were arrested last week in a burglary and theft investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 29 year old Robert Paul Brawley and 26 year old Lindsay Lee Stribling both of Felts Road, Sparta have been charged with one count of burglary, theft of utility services, theft of property over $500, theft of property over $1,000, manufacture of a schedule II drug
(methamphetamine), and possession of methamphetamine for resale.

According to Sheriff Ray, detectives of the sheriff's department executed a search warrant last Monday, March 30th at 176 Felts Road in DeKalb County, after items such as fishing gear, camping equipment, x box games, and tools totaling $1,554 in value were found in a Sparta pawn shop. These items were reported stolen from a residence on Creek Road in DeKalb County in March.

The detectives, who had probable cause to believe that more stolen items were in the Felts Road residence, served the search warrant and found an antique china set, antique mason jars, and other items valued at $650 which were stolen during a burglary of a residence in February on Big Rock Road which is off of the Keltonburg Road. While inside the residence, detectives also discovered a methamphetamine lab that was hidden in a secret compartment in the sub floor of the home, two small baggies of methamphetamine, hypodermic needles, cut straws, six bottles of iodine, stained coffee filters, a turkey baster, pseudoephedrine, funnels, muratic acid, two bottles of fuel line antifreeze, acetone, peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and other items used to manufacture meth. Officials further discovered that the electrical meter to the residence had been tampered with and that the occupants of the residence were stealing electricity.

Sheriff Ray says most of the stolen items have been recovered.

Meanwhile, in other cases, deputies arrested 26 year old Courtney Ann Paris of Allen Street
Smithville last Wednesday, April 1st, for driving on a suspended license after she was stopped for
speeding. Paris was paced at 40 mph in a 20 mph zone on College Street in Smithville by the deputy. When the officer ran a computer check of Paris' license, it came back suspended for a traffic violation in Davidson County. Paris' bond was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on April 16th.

Also last Wednesday after receiving a call of an auto accident on Page Lane, Smithville, deputies arrested 38 year old Donald Earl Foster of Page Drive for a third offense of driving under the influence and a first offense of driving on a revoked driver's license. After arriving on the scene of the accident, officers saw the wrecked vehicle and witnessed Foster walking up the
road. Foster admitted to wrecking the vehicle and to drinking at least seven beers. Foster submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. His license also came up revoked
for a second offense of DUI on March 10th, 2005 in DeKalb County. Foster's bond was set at
$6,000 and he will appear in court on April 23rd.

On Thursday, April 2nd, detectives arrested 23 year old Robert Justin Luna of Joe Turner
Road, Smithville for theft of property over $1,000. Sheriff Ray says Luna stole items such as jewelry and coins from a residence on Joe Turner Road on March 30th and then pawned some of the items at pawn shops in Warren County. Luna's bond was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on April 16th. Most of the stolen items have been recovered.

Detectives arrested 18 year old Christopher Justin Garrett of Clear Creek Road, Liberty on Friday, April 3rd for theft of property over $1,000 after he stole a bumper trailer valued at $2,500 from a residence on Upper Helton Road in Alexandria in February. After the theft of the trailer, detectives were notified by the owner about a trailer that matched the description of the stolen trailer that was for sale and setting beside of the road on Highway 70 east. After an investigation, detectives traced the trailer back to Garrett, but he could not be located right away because he had moved to Mississippi. But Garrett later returned to DeKalb County and on Friday, April 3rd, he was picked up by Alexandria Police Officers and Sheriff Department Detectives at a residence on Shady Drive in Alexandria. Sheriff Ray says Garrett has admitted his involvement in the crime. Garrett's bond was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on April 16th. More arrests are pending in this case.

On Saturday, April 4th, deputies responded to an automobile accident on Highway 70 East and arrested 23 year old Juen Manuel Cervantes of Page Drive, Smithville after he was found to be driving without a license. Cervantes' bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on April 8th. Cervantes was also issued a citation for not providing any insurance information on
the vehicle.

Also on Saturday, 58 year old Sidney A. Weaver of Blackburn Fork Road, Cookeville was
arrested for driving under the influence after he was involved in an auto accident on Medley-Amonette Road in the Wolf Creek area of DeKalb County. Upon speaking with Weaver, deputies noticed an odor of alcohol on Weaver's person and Weaver was unsteady on his feet. Weaver did admit to the officers that he had been drinking liquor earlier. Weaver was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law after he refused a blood alcohol test. Weaver's bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on April 16th.

Sheriff Ray urges anyone who may have any information concerning any crimes such
as burglaries and drugs, to call the Sheriff's Department's crime line at 464-6400. All calls are confidential.

DeKalb County Children's Service Council and Youth Council Attend State Summit Meeting

April 6, 2009

The DeKalb County Children's Service Council and their Youth Council were invited to attend the 2009 Moving Forward Graduation Summit, held in Nashville on March 18th at the Nashville Convention Center.

Those attending from the Children's Service Council were: Vonda Brown, Wanda Redmon, Grady Prichard, Clata Redmon, and the Youth Council were: Halea Brown, Dustin Brown, Jessica Goldstein, and Katie Stutts. The only other representative from DeKalb County was high school Principal Kathy Hendrix.

The representatives from DeKalb County were the only group given the opportunity to meet Gov. Phil Bredesen and have their picture made with him.

There were ten school districts invited to this summit from across the state which included DeKalb County. The goal of this statewide summit was to serve as a starting point for the process of planning local summits and implementing dropout prevention strategies that will increase graduation rates in each district. After informational sessions in the morning and a lunch keynote address from Governor Phil Bredesen, each of the ten invited school districts met separately in breakout sessions to begin discussions on the next steps and talk about how to take the information back home to implement local dropout prevention plans.

There are several grants available for DeKalb County to try to find a solution for dropout prevention. There is a $1000.00 grant to each of the ten counties represented to help with a local summit. They were encouraging that the local summit include members from the local community, such as: local organizations, businesses, industries, school system, and parents.

The youth that attended the summit agreed that it was an enlightening experience to see how problems are solved from the state down to the local level. They were very appreciative for the opportunity to be invited and attend this summit as representatives for DeKalb County.

The Children's Service Council hopes that our local school system will work with organizations, businesses, industries, parents, and any interested individuals to form a team to come up with some prevention strategies to help with the high school dropout problem here in DeKalb County.

Smithville Police Make Several Arrests

April 6, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have made several arrests within the past few days.

31 year old Amy J. Lawson of Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $500. Her bond is $35,000 and she will be in court April 30th.

Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. reports that "on or about December 12th, 2008, Lawson did enter the residence of Will Cantrell at 1315 South College Street with intent to commit a theft. Entry was gained without consent. She allegedly took an antique lamp valued at about $650.

Lawson was arrested on Thursday, April 2nd.

27 year old Andrea Nicole Bass of Smithville is charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court April 9th

Officer Bradley Tatrow reports that "on March 27th, he stopped a vehicle on Jennings Lane for window tint. Upon making contact with the driver, Christopher Walls and the passenger Andrea Nicole Bass, Officer Tatrow received consent to search the vehicle. While searching the vehicle he saw Ms. Bass digging in her purse at the rear of the vehicle. Fearing what Ms. Bass was retrieving, the officer went to the rear of the vehicle and saw Ms Bass' open purse in her hands with a hypodermic needle laying inside a makeup pouch. Upon a further search of Ms. Bass' purse, Officer Tatrow recovered two cigarette lighters, a blue straw with a white residue, four alcohol swabs, and a white pill container. Ms. Bass was placed under arrest and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. The driver of the vehicle was released with a verbal warning for window tint.

Meanwhile 22 year old Rebecca Marie Biggs of Smithville is charged with child neglect. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on April 9th

Officer Randy King reports that "on March 23rd, he responded to Royal Oak Apartments in Smithville to a small child that was lost from his parents. Upon arrival, he was advised that the child had been out for about fifteen minutes and could not show anyone where he lived. After another twenty minutes someone could be heard calling for the child. Upon further investigation, Officer King learned that the mother and child had laid down to take a nap and the child woke up and got out while the mother was still asleep. The wind was gusty and the temperature was 54 outside at the time.

In another case, 39 year old Miguel Sagahon of Smithville is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. He will be in court April 9th

Officer Randy King reports the he observed a vehicle on West Broad Street traveling from one side of the roadway to the other. The vehicle stopped for the red light and while the light was still red, the vehicle then proceeded to turn left on South Mountain Street. Officer King activated his blue lights and the vehicle traveled onto White Street. Upon speaking to the driver, Officer King noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. He was asked to perform several field sobriety tasks in which he performed poorly. He also refused a blood alcohol test.

29 year old Nina Jean Mayfield of Woodbury is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and her court date is April 9th.

Officer Nathan Estes reports that on Wednesday, April 1st he responded to DeKalb Community Hospital to an intoxicated person. Upon arrival and speaking to someone at the nurses station, Officer Estes was taken to a hospital room where he found Mayfield. While speaking to her, the officer saw that she had very slurred speech and was very unsteady on her feet. She also had a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. She was placed under arrest for her own safety and the welfare of the public at large.

21 year old Tiffany A. Satterfield of Smithville is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Her bond is $2.500 and she will be in court April 9th.

Officer Matt Farmer reports that Satterfield turned herself in at the police department Wednesday, April 1st where she was charged on a warrant issued previously for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The minor was a runaway that went with Ms. Satterfield to Florida without the consent of the child's parents. According to Officer Farmer, Satterfield did have knowledge of the child's intent to runaway and assisted her in the plan.

31 year old Pamela Jo Kelley of Livingston is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and violation of the open container law. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on April 16th.

Officer Matt Holmes reports that on March 25th, he responded to a possible intoxicated driver on West Broad Street in front of the high school. The vehicle was parked on the sidewalk and hanging out in the roadway. Upon arrival, he found Kelley sitting behind the wheel. The car keys were in the ignition but the engine was not running. Upon speaking with her Officer Holmes noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. She performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. She did not submit to a blood alcohol test. A six pack of beer was found in the back seat of the car with one open container of beer between the passenger side seat and the console.

30 year old Samuel M. Muniz of Smithville is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 9th.

Officer Bradley Tatrow reports that on March 29th he observed a vehicle on South Congress Boulevard failing to maintain the proper lane of travel. He attempted to stop the vehicle but it continued 1.5 miles before stopping at Jewel's Market. Upon speaking to the driver, Officer Tatrow noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. Due to the language barrier, no field sobriety tasks were given. He did submit to a breathalyzer and the result was .228.

18 year old Jaymie K. Zimmerman of Red Boiling Springs is charged with vandalism. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court April 9th.

Officer Steven Leffew reports that on March 24th he responded to Short Mountain Trailer #2 in Smithville to a vandalism. Upon arrival, he spoke to Jaymie Zimmerman who stated she was mad and threw a block through a windshield of a vehicle at this residence.

26 year old Valentino Antonio Suarez of Smithville is charged with a third offense of driving under the influence, a second offense of driving on a revoked license, and criminal impersonation. He was arrested on March 29th and he will be in court April 9th. His bond totals $10,000.

Officer Randy King reports that on March 29th, he was advised of a reckless driver coming into the Smithville city limits on Highway 56 and that the vehicle was traveling from one side of the road to the other. Officer King followed the vehicle for about one fourth of a mile and saw that it was swerving very erratically from one side to the other causing a hazard to approaching traffic. According to Officer King's report, "I stopped the vehicle at the intersection of Highway 56 & 70. I approached the vehicle and immediately noticed a strong odor of a fermented beverage coming from the car. I asked the driver for identification and proof of insurance. Antonio Galeva could not provide any of these. There were three open containers in the floor of the vehicle and the floor of the vehicle was soaked. Antonio admitted that he been drinking. An interpreter aided in administering field sobriety tests and the man performed poorly. He was placed under arrest for DUI and violation of the implied consent law. At the time of the arrest, he stated on numerous occasions that his name was Antonio Galeva. Upon being taken to the Sheriff's Department, he was identified as Valentin Antonio Suarez. A computer check also found that his license was revoked for DUI on August 1st, 2008 in DeKalb County."

48 year old Gregory Dewayne Martin of Smithville was charged with disorderly conduct on March 24th. His court date is April 9th. He is under a $1,000 bond. The arresting officer was Matt Farmer.

Six Persons Involved in Saturday Accident

April 5, 2009
Dwayne Page

Several people were involved in a two vehicle accident Saturday night at the intersection of Blue Springs Road and the Old Blue Springs Road.

Trooper Darrell Knowles of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 16 year old Michael Barnes of McMinnville was driving a 1990 Ford Bronco south on the Old Blue Springs Road when he crossed the path of a 2003 Honda driven by 24 year old Jennifer Caldwell of Smithville, who was westbound on Blue Springs Road.

According to Trooper Knowles, Barnes claims he initially didn't see the stop sign at the intersection and when he tried to apply his brakes when he saw the approaching car, he accidentally accelerated instead. and went through the intersection which caused the Caldwell car to crash into the driver's side of Barnes' Bronco.

Passengers in the car with Jennifer Caldwell were her husband, 26 year old Chris Caldwell, and their 4 year old daughter Gracie. Jennifer Caldwell was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Mr. Caldwell was apparently not injured but the child was transported by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Passengers in the Bronco with Barnes were 16 year old Hector LaBrada and Zack Wanamaker both of McMinnville. Barnes was taken by private vehicle to Riverpark Hospital in McMinnville. LaBrada and Wanamaker were apparently not transported to the hospital

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

April 3, 2009
State Senator Mae Beavers

Law and order legislation topped a busy week on Capitol Hill as the State Senate approved several bills to protect Tennesseans from violent crime. The anti-crime bills included four measures to strengthen Tennessee’s laws against child abuse and a series of bills to crack down on crooks with guns. In addition, voter integrity and highway fund legislation rounded out the list of important legislation that moved through the Senate this week.

Bill Passes to Prevent Robbing Highway Fund

A bill passed Senate Transportation this week to prevent the governor from removing money from the highway fund set up to pay for roads and bridges. Over the past few years, approximately 290 million dollars have been robbed from the highway fund to pay for other portions of the governor’s agenda. This money is largely generated from gasoline taxes and is supposed to be appropriated to fund road improvements and construction.

“Even when we had over 1.3 billion dollars in surplus a few years ago, Governor Bredesen was still stripping our highway funds and not replenishing them,” said Senate Transportation member Mae Beavers. “Now we are expected to pay for bonds to fund these transportation projects? I think we need to start putting legislation in place to prevent this mess from happening again.”

Legislation cracking down on violent crime advances in State Senate

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two bills this week to crack down on violent crime in Tennessee. Tennessee ranks second in the nation in the number of violent crimes. Sixty-seven percent of those convicted of violent crimes are re-arrested within three years of being released from prison.

One bill, SB 672, adds attempted first degree murder to the “Crooks with Guns” law.
The bill would also add multiple years to the sentence of a violator who possesses a firearm when attempting first-degree murder. The second bill, SB 2115, aims to keep repeat violent criminals convicted of aggravated burglary behind bars longer by counting each felony committed within a 24-hour period as a separate offense.

Voter Integrity bill approved in Senate State and Local Government Committee

Legislation protecting the integrity of elections in Tennessee was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee after the bill was sent back to committee members for further review. That bill requires voters to provide photo identification to guard against fraud and assure only U.S. citizens vote.

The bill, SB 150, provides for various forms of photo identification to be used including a driver’s license, military identification, a valid passport, government employee identification cards, and any federal and state-issued identification cards that contain a photograph of the voter. The bill takes into account and provides for those who cannot pay for an i.d. and those who are in nursing homes, and provisional ballots would be available as well.

Seven states require a photograph be shown to prove identification, including neighboring states Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana. The voter integrity legislation has been approved for the past several years in Tennessee’s State Senate but has failed in the House of Representatives along party lines with Democrats opposing the bill.

Issues in Brief

Privacy of information / permit holder database – Legislation which aims to protect the confidential information of handgun permit holders advanced after approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposal, SB 1126, would protect the confidential information by removing the handgun permit holders’ database from provisions of the state’s open records law. Many citizens have been offended by the publication of the database by newspapers and media websites. Permit holders fear criminals will use the information to target their homes to steal weapons, while those who do not own guns are worried about the risk of being identified as a home without a firearm.

Honoring fallen soldiers – Legislation that would honor soldiers who die in the line of duty advanced in the Senate State and Local Government Committee this week. The legislation requires that, if members of the armed forces dies in the line of duty, the Governor shall proclaim a day or mourning in their honor and the names of the deceased members of the armed forces shall be recorded in the journal of the Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation, SB 1647, also requires that the flag be flown at half-mast to honor these soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice for their state and country.

Smithville Housing Authority Awarded $355k Grant

April 3, 2009

With the unemployment rate at 11.5% in DeKalb County, creating jobs immediately is imperative. Congressman Bart Gordon announced that the Smithville Housing Authority has been awarded a $355,594 grant for the express purpose of modernizing public housing units and in turn creating construction jobs.

“When we passed the Economic Recovery package in February, we designed it to create jobs in the short term,” said Congressman Gordon. “This grant will do that – the Smithville Housing Authority is required to give priority to projects that are ‘ready to begin construction rapidly’.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the grant to the Smithville Housing Authority through the Public Housing Capital Fund – a HUD program that provides annual funding to public housing authorities to develop, finance, and modernize public housing facilities. The Public Housing Capital Fund received additional grant money when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into law on February 17, 2009, which enabled it to provide the Smithville Housing Authority with the $355,594 grant.

“This grant will not only create jobs in Smithville area,” added Gordon, “it will also help keep the energy bills of public housing residents as low as possible.”

In allocating the HUD grant, the Smithville Housing Authority is required to prioritize ready-to-go projects and give special consideration to projects that will increase energy efficiency and lower the long term operating costs of public housing facilities.

For more information on the HUD grant, contact the Smithville Housing Authority at (931) 684-1341

TN Department of Education Announces Dropout Prevention Grant for DeKalb County

April 2, 2009
Dwayne Page

Tennessee Education Commissioner Dr. Timothy Webb today announced $6,000 in dropout prevention funding for DeKalb County Schools to improve public awareness and combat student dropouts through the Model Dropout Prevention grant.

Nine school districts, including DeKalb County, will receive $6,000 for improvement or expansion of dropout prevention services, outreach or program evaluation. Each district submitted a detailed grant proposal and plan for use of these funds.

“If children are not in school, it’s impossible for them to learn the skills they will need to be successful college students and members of the workforce,” Commissioner Webb said. “These grants allow districts to customize a program that works for their community, in turn supporting students who need a boost to stay in school.”

The Tennessee Model Dropout Prevention program was created by state statute to encourage and support locally-based, interdisciplinary initiatives to combat the many complex problems that lead Tennessee children and youth to drop out of school. Examples of initiatives encouraged under the Model Dropout Prevention program are after-school tutoring programs and school/community partnerships focused on student academic success.

Willoughby Urges Motorists to be Extra Cautious Around School Buses

April 2, 2009
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, concerned about two recent traffic accidents involving school buses, is urging motorists to be extra cautious.

Willoughby says about two weeks ago, a motorist ran into the rear of a school bus near the intersection of Broad Street and Congress Boulevard and in the other accident, on Wednesday of this week, another vehicle pulled from a side street and struck a bus near the intersection of Broad Street and LeFever Street in Smithville.

Children were apparently on board the buses at the time of the accidents but no one was injured.

The THP and other local law enforcement officers often monitor school zones and watch for violators of speeding laws, as well as aggressive drivers and anyone who passes a stopped school bus.

Officials say it's important that children learn school bus safety tips. They include:

Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early.
Stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.
Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says it's okay before stepping onto the bus.
Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps or dangling objects do not get caught in the handrail or door when exiting the bus.
Check both ways before stepping off the bus. Walk in front of the bus-never behind it.
Be alert to traffic. When you get on or off the bus, look left, right, then left again before exiting the bus or crossing the street.
The bus driver and others cannot see you if you are standing closer than 10 feet to the bus. Stay out of the danger zone

There are also important safety tips for drivers to remember, including:

Always stop for a stopped school bus.
Never pass a school bus.
Never speed in school zones, or in residential areas where children may be present.
The "Danger Zone" is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of not being seen by drivers.
Pedestrian fatalities (while loading and unloading school buses) account for approximately three times as many school bus-related fatalities when compared to school bus occupant fatalities.
The most dangerous part of the school bus ride is getting on and off the bus.


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