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A look at the Tennessee Legislature

May 9, 2009
Terri Lynn Weaver
Terri Lynn Weaver

Greetings Folks of the Fortieth

It has always been said the older you get the faster time flies. This week flew by! However Thursday, after a long week on the hill, brought me to the Carthage Square to celebrate The National Day of Prayer. And what a fabulous event it was under that blue sunny sky, in front of the courthouse steps, while many of us worshiped the Lord, we also prayed for others and asked God “to heal our land.”

“If we ever forget we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” Ronald Reagan.

Education Committee:

HB2146 moved out of k-12 to full committee and will be presented next week in full committee. Charter Schools are public schools that are given flexibility to operate without the restraints of some of the rules and regulations normally imposed on traditional schools. In exchange for this flexibility, they are held accountable for performance through charter, which is an agreement between the local education agency (LEA) and the charter school. It requires a strenuous approval process by the LEA and a equally tough renewal process of the charter every five years. Tennessee has 15 public charter schools, with six more opening in the fall. Of those 22 schools Nashville has five, Chattanooga will have two and Memphis City School System also is converting four schools to charter this fall.

HB431 was passed by a 61-27 vote in session. Debate over the bill raged on the House floor for over an hour, and then a motion was made that the Calendar and Rules Committee would set a time to limit debate. This bill requires that diplomas issued by homeschoolers be recognized has having the same rights and privileges of diplomas issued by the public school system.

Finance Ways and Means Committee:

SJR127 continues its historic journey through the House having never made it beyond Public Health Subcommittee until this year! Having passed out of two and Calendar and Rules Committee on Thursday it is scheduled for a floor vote in the House on Monday Evening.
Legislation to protect lawful gun owners approved by the House

HB959 will exempt the handgun carry permit list form the Open Records Act but will carry no penalty for entities that do publish the list due to concerns about First Amendment Rights.

HB962 will now allow a law abiding person with a handgun carry permit to carry in restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages as long as such a person is not consuming alcoholic beverages and the restaurant is not an age-restricted venue. It was a pleasure to be one of many co-prime sponsors and again stand for our second amendment rights. The House votes; 66 yes and 27 no.

HB 2357 legislation to save money passed the house and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk. A weekly printed book that contains the summary of every billed filed is available already on the internet. Savings of 90,000 dollars is a big chunk of money!

Also this week…
I wanted to mention to you, there has been much discussion on the mysterious budget of which we as lawmakers have not been able to look at. Perhaps in the coming week specific appropriations will be disclosed concerning this years budget. The shortfall numbers are very bleak my friend even more then at first anticipated. However do we bond these projects by placing even more debt on our state in a time when we are trying to eliminate debt? I continue to work with the State Treasurer, Comptroller and fellow lawmakers to find the best ways possible to fund the projects we desperately need in the fortieth district. I welcome your emails, phone calls and most importantly your prayers. Blessings to you and yours!

12th Annual Relay for Life Raises $67,000

May 8, 2009
Dwayne Page
Cancer Survivors Walk for a Cure-
 Cancer Survivors Celebrate Life

DeKalb Countians by the hundreds filled Greenbrook Park Friday evening to show their love and support for cancer survivors and to join the fight against the disease during the 12th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Casey Midgett, Chairman of the DeKalb Relay for Life, says $67,000 has been raised with still more pledges yet to come in.

Even though the forecast called for stormy weather, the rains held off and people, young and old alike, flocked to the park to enjoy the food, games, music, and fellowship.

Check out Photos at Relay for Life at http://www.wjle.com/relay

In this overnight family-oriented event, participants walked relay-style around the track and took part in fun activities off the track. Cancer survivors took center stage during the opening ceremony to give a personal testimony as to just how long they've been a survivor.

This year more than 30 teams joined together to raise money to aid in the battle against cancer. A male beauty contest was also held again this year, featuring several men dressed as women, using their attributes to bring in as much money as possible. Mark "Fifi" Violet of K & M Jewelry raised more than $600 and was this year's winner.

The walking track was also lined with luminaria in honor or remembrance of those who have battled cancer. This ceremony of light symbolizes the hope and courage with which we all continue to fight cancer

Chris Summers, Community Representative with the American Cancer Society says "Relay For Life is a unique opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those we've lost, and fight back against the disease. Many of the participants are cancer survivors."

Funds raised at Relay For Life will enable the American Cancer Society to support local services and resources for cancer patients and their families. Funds also support critical cancer research and community education programs designed to teach people how to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.

The American Cancer Society currently funds more than $10.7 million in cancer research in Tennessee, this year alone! Research grants are funded at East Tennessee State University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Vanderbilt University, MeHarry Medical College, the University of Tennessee, Memphis and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Gordon Confers with Officials of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative

May 8, 2009
Dwayne Page
Glen and Mary Lynn Page, Congressman Gordon, and Kristie and Bill Rogers of Caney Fork Electric

Congressman Bart Gordon recently met with representatives of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative to discuss energy reform legislation currently being drafted in the U.S. House. Caney Fork Electric Cooperative serves DeKalb, White, Warren, and Van Buren counties.

Pictured: Glen and Mary Lynn Page, Congressman Bart Gordon, and Kristie and Bill Rogers

Congressman meets with MTUD Representatives

May 8, 2009
Dwayne Page
Congressman Gordon with Mike Corley and Charlie Bowman of MTUD

Congressman Bart Gordon recently met with representatives of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District to discuss energy reform legislation that is currently being drafted in the U.S. House.

Pictured: Michael Corley, Congressman Bart Gordon, and Charlie Bowman of MTUD

Former Tigerette Named to District's Hall of Fame

May 8, 2009
Dwayne Page
Ashley Redmon and Coach Danny Bond-

A former DeKalb County Tigerette has been inducted into the District's Fast Pitch Softball Hall of Fame.

Ashley Redmon was a member of the Tigerettes from 2001 to 2004. As a pitcher, she maintained an overall ERA of 1.23 and her overall pitching record was 58-26. Over those four years, the Tigerettes earned two regular season championships, one district tournament championship, one regional championship, one sub-state championship, and one state appearance.

Redmon received three All District Awards, two All Tournament Awards, and one Best Offensive Player Award.

In 2004, she signed a letter of intent to continue playing softball at Maryville College and graduated with a business degree in May 2008.

Redmon is the third former Tigerette to be named to the District's Hall of Fame, joining Kim McCoy and Tonya George. Danny Bond is also a member of the Hall of Fame for his years and success as coach.

Tigerettes Win District Tournament Championship

May 7, 2009
Dwayne Page
Tigerettes Win District Tournament Championship
District MVP Victoria Bennett
District Coach of the Year Danny Bond

The DeKalb County Tigerette Fast Pitch Softball Team won the District 7AA Tournament Championship in Baxter Thursday night beating Cannon County 15 to 0 in three innings.

Olivia Norton was the winning pitcher.

Cannon County emerged from the loser's bracket to face the Tigerettes after beating Livingston Academy 4 to 1 and then knocking off Macon County 9 to 3 in ten innings Thursday.

The Tigerettes were the top seed in the tournament after winning the regular season district title and earlier in the week they beat Cannon County 6 to 0 and Macon County 7 to 1 to get to Thursday night's tournament championship game.

Prior to the game the All District Teams were recognized.

DeKalb County's Victoria Bennett was named the District's Most Valuable Player and Danny Bond is the District Coach of the Year.

DeKalb County's Morgan Page, Kristina Stephens, and Cynthia Woodward were named to the First Team All District; Alex Meadows and Jaylen Garrett made the Second Team All District; Olivia Norton and Brooke Hutchings received Honorable Mention; and Alex Meadows and Brooke Hutchings are members of the District's All Freshmen Team.

The Tigerettes will host a first round game of the Region Tournament Monday in Smithville. More details will be forthcoming. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Meanwhile, the Tiger baseball team lost 4 to 2 to the Macon County Tigers in the semi-finals of the District Tournament at Baxter Thursday afternoon. With the loss, the season is over for DeKalb County as the format of the tournament was changed from double elimination to single elimination.

Qualifying Deadline Approaching for Liberty Election- Early Voting Hours set for Smithville Balloting

May 7, 2009
Dwayne Page

Persons may file qualifying petitions for the Liberty Municipal Election.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected in Liberty on Thursday, August 6th.

The qualifying deadline is noon on Thursday, May 21st

The positions are currently held by Mayor J. Edward Hale, Jr. and Aldermen Jarrett Pistol and Howard Reynolds, Jr.

Meanwhile, the dates and times are set for early voting for the Smithville Municipal Election

All early voting will be in the basement of the courthouse starting Wednesday, May 27th through Thursday, June 11th from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and from noon until 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays.

The regular city election day is Tuesday, June 16th from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse. The voter registration deadline for the Smithville election is Monday, May 18th.

In Smithville, three aldermen will be elected. The candidates are Incumbents, Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan, and Willie Thomas, and challengers, Gary Durham, Shawn Jacobs, Aaron Meeks, W.J. (Dub) White, and Todd Van Dyne.

School System Records 80 Students with Perfect Attendance

May 6, 2009
Dwayne Page
Clay Farler

A total of 80 students in the DeKalb County School System have recorded perfect attendance for the entire school year, to date.

Clay Farler Attendance Supervisor, says he wants to commend those students for their commitment. "We have some students every year who make it through the entire year of school without being sick enough to miss school or have any other thing to happen in their lives that causes them to miss school. We have several students at every school who have had perfect attendance through this entire school year and when I say perfect I mean they have been there every day for every minute of the day. They have not been late and they have not left early. At DeKalb Middle School, thirteen students have been there every day of the year. At Northside Elementary, thirty three students have had perfect attendance. At DeKalb West School and Smithville Elementary School, we have had ten students who have not missed any days. At DeKalb County High School, we have had fourteen students who have been there every day of the year."

"We encourage students to be in school every day of the year. The first day of school is an important day and the last day of school is important and I want to thank all the students and their parents and guardians who have helped make sure that the students were in school to learn all they could. We normally have to go to school 180 days of the year but this year because of days missed for snow and other things, we will only be going 174 days of school this year."

Meanwhile, Farler says each of the schools have exceeded the state benchmarks for attendance. "The state of Tennessee requires that every school in the state have an attendance rate of 93% or greater. At this present time in our schools we have a total of 2,917 students county wide and at least 93% of all those students have to be present on everyday of the school year. The rate at each of our schools is running quite a bit better than that."

"At DeKalb West School, their current attendance rate is 95.4%, so that means for this entire school year, of the 161 days we have already gone to school (as of May 4th), their students have been there on average of 95.4% of the time."

"At Northside Elementary, their current attendance rate is 96.2%."

"At Smithville Elementary, their rate is 94.7%. That's a little lower than some of the other schools, but if you remember, a couple of months ago we had a lot of illness in our elementary school so that tended to bring the total yearly average down a little. But that's still a good average for the year."

"At DeKalb Middle School, their current attendance rate is 95.4% and at DeKalb County High School, their attendance rate is 94.7% which is really good. Last year they (DCHS) had a rate of 94.1% for the full year so that's running quite a bit better for the full year than it has in the past."

The last day of school will be Friday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be given to the students. DCHS graduation will also be held Friday, May 22nd at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field.

Three Apply to Succeed Judge Turnbull

May 5, 2009
Dwayne Page

Three people have applied to succeed Circuit Court Judge John A. Turnbull in the 13th Judicial District.

The applicants are Algood attorney Wesley Thomas Bray, Cookeville attorney and former Criminal Court Judge Lillie Ann Sells, and Livingston attorney Amy V. Hollars, who is currently serving as Special Circuit Judge.

The application deadline was (Tuesday)

The Judicial Selection Commission will meet on Friday, May 22nd at the Justice Center, 421 East Spring Street, Cookeville, Tennessee, to initiate the process of filling the vacancy in the 13th Judicial District Circuit Court created by the resignation of Judge Turnbull.

Turnbull, who has held the position since 1989, recently announced that he is stepping down from the bench, effective June 15th. He has been on disability leave for several months due to back ailments. Turnbull was last elected in 2006 and his term expires in 2014.

Hollars, daughter of Judge Turnbull, was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen last fall as a temporary special judge to fill in for her father after he took disability leave.

Now that Judge Turnbull has resigned, the governor will appoint a replacement to serve until the next regular election, which is in 2010. The person elected will serve out the remainder of Turnbull's term through 2014.

The 13th Judicial District is made up of DeKalb, Putnam, Overton, White, Cumberland, Clay, and Pickett counties.

City Employees Face Monthly Surcharges Unless they Kick the Habit Under Health Insurance Program

May 5, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville employees enrolled in the city's state sponsored health insurance program who use tobacco products may be assessed a monthly $50 surcharge if they don't kick the habit.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson addressed the issue during Monday night's city council meeting. "I guess all of you who are participating in our state sponsored insurance got this letter. What it says is that as of July 1st, anyone that uses tobacco in any way, smoking, dip, or chewing, will be assessed a $50 per month charge and that's for any employee that uses it (tobacco)."

"I think what most agencies are doing is they will help you quit (using tobacco) with some medicines, patches, gum, or whatever and it will be (cost) almost nothing if you want those aids to help you quit"

"I don't know all the ramifications if you say you've quit but you haven't quit by July 1st and something happens where you would need the insurance. I don't know what happens then. That remains to be seen"

"Members who do not use tobacco will not have to pay the surcharge. Also members who quit by July 1st, 2009 will not have to pay the surcharge. However, members who use tobacco on or after July 1st will have to pay the surcharge starting January, 2010. It also goes on to say that members who pay the surcharge and then kick the habit can qualify for a quitters refund."

In other business, Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson reported that the city will only grant one sewer bill adjustment for filling up customers swimming pools this year." Usually this time of year, everybody starts filling up their swimming pools. A lot of times, we'll adjust their sewer rates because its (swimming pool water) is not going through the sewer. We've been doing it more than once a year but we're going to stop that and do it only once a year. So anybody who has a swimming pool, you will only be getting one sewer rate adjustment per year."

Hendrixson also gave a brief report on engineering plans for the water treatment plant rehab project. "We met with them (Wauford Engineering Consultants). It was just a 50% meeting. It was still a rough draft but it went pretty well. We're going to get all new pumps, three at the intake and three at the treatment plant. We will be working the water fluoridation in to it as well. They had to go back to the drawing board to work that in but I don't think it's going to be much of an issue. We'll be hearing back from them (Wauford) probably within a month at a 75% meeting."

Concerning the water fluoride issue, Mayor Hendrixson added "Until we get it (fluoride) back in the water system, if the public is concerned then you probably need to consult your dentist or your physician."


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