Local News Articles

$6.3 Million City Budget up for Passage Monday Night (Includes Water & Sewer Rate Hikes)

June 2, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mayor and Aldermen

The Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen will consider passage of a new $6.3 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year on first reading Monday night.

The proposed budget totals $6-million 358-thousand dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at 64.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. The city property tax rate is budgeted to generate $884,000.

Water and sewer rates are to increase. City water customers are to pay $7.25 per thousand gallons of usage, up from the current rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons. Rates for customers outside the city limits are to pay $10.88 per thousand, an increase from the current rate of $7.50 per thousand gallons. City sewer customers will see an increase from the current rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62 to $6.75 per thousand gallons. The rate increase is to help make up the difference in the loss of $775,000 in revenue due to the departure of the DeKalb Utility District as a water customer.

The new budget includes a 2% across the board cost of living pay raise for city hourly and salaried employees except for the police department which already has a wage scale with scheduled step increases for its employees. The cost to the city for the pay raises is $40,000. The city is implementing a new method of awarding Christmas bonuses in the new budget. Bonuses will be paid based on longevity ranging from $250 for employees with up to five years of service to a maximum of $600 for those with more than 20 years of service. Previously, the city has given bonuses at 1% of an employee’s salary paid in December at Christmas time. By making this change, the city will save $2,000.

The budget includes $925,945 in proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund but most of that, $725,945 is for the new fire pumper/rescue truck which the city has ordered and $85,000 for three used police cars and a used investigator’s car which Police Chief Mark Collins has requested.

“I need four cars. I would like to get three cars from Missouri. The Dodge Chargers, I can pick those up. They are regularly $16,900 but the gentleman out there told me if we bought three he would let us have them for $15,500 so that’s $1,400 off of each car. To get those cars equipped will be around $63,000. We also need to replace a detective’s car, an Impala. I would like to get him (detective) an SUV, possibly an Explorer, not marked up but I can’t get that in Missouri. There’s about an eight month waiting list for that there. Maybe we can find one of those (SUVs) a lot closer. We don’t need a police package for that vehicle. If all else fails we can get another Charger for him from Missouri,” said Chief Collins.

The chief also requested that another employee position be created for the police department but that may not be funded this year due to concerns of a possible budget deficit by this time next year.

“I would like to ask for a new employee. This employee would be responsible for court. He would go to court every time court is going on just to represent us in court. That would free up (city hall employee who currently goes to court) with her responsibilities downstairs. We wouldn’t be a woman short in the office at city hall. I would also like to train this person to be able to be in (the office of the police department records clerk) when she is on vacation or out sick. It doesn’t happen a lot but it does happen. I would also like to use this new employee to represent the police department at the elementary schools and possibly teach classes on bullying and things like that. He would also be used as an extra man on a shift in an emergency or to fill in on a shift,” said Chief Collins.

A total of $50,000 has been included for the city hall building, most of which is expected to be used to make repairs to the elevator at city hall after lightning from a recent thunderstorm put it out of commission. The budget includes $15,000 to add side loaders to garbage trucks as the city prepares to convert to a new street side automated side loader garbage collection system. A total of $2,000 has been added to purchase software and handheld scanners for more efficient processing of water bill collections especially at the city hall drive through window.

Aldermen Josh Miller requested that the city’s allocation to the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad be increased by $500 from $1,500 to $2,000. That request will be funded.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker asked that the city fund another full time firefighter position, a request which the city doesn’t plan to meet this year. The chief also asked that the city increase insurance coverage for firefighters. “I would like to take out a different firemen insurance policy that we have right now. It needs to be updated. I have a price from an insurance company that covers fire departments and the price they quoted would be about $900 to $1,000 more than the one we have right now. This will better take care of the firefighters in addition to worker’s compensation in case they were to get hurt and had to be out of work,” said Chief Parker. If approved the city would take bids later this year.

The city is expected to wrap up the 2016-17 general fund budget year June 30 in the red by $640,150 primarily due to the city’s purchase of a new automated side loader sanitation truck and new garbage collection containers which costs $350,000 and for the city’s matching construction costs of the new Holmes Creek Bridge which was $111,485. The total bridge project cost $723,000 but the state paid most of it at $611,515. Another factor adding to the deficit is the city’s $350,000 cost for street paving. A total of $201,000 has already been spent for paving this year with more expected. If the city does finish the year with a deficit, the difference will be drawn from the general fund surplus to balance the budget.

For the 2017-18 year, the city is projected to end the year on June 30, 2018 with a general fund deficit of $802,840, most of which is due to the new fire pumper/rescue truck at $725,840 and for the purchase of four used police cars at $83,000. Again, should the city end the fiscal year in the red, the difference will be taken from the general fund surplus to balance the budget.

Jackson cautioned the mayor and aldermen about making too many large expenditures at once warning that city revenues over the last ten years have been largely stagnant while spending has increased and that large projects can have a negative impact on the city’s surplus reserves.

The city’s water and sewer fund is expected to end the fiscal year June 30 with a surplus of $242,179 but even after the rate increases the water and sewer fund is expected to only break even after the departure of DUD as a water customer. The city is underway with a sewer plant rehabilitation project which is costing $2,750,000 and $40,000 for tube settlers for the water plant. To help pay for the cost of the sewer plant project, the city was awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $525,000 from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Although the grant will fund part of the costs, the bulk of the funding to pay for it will be appropriated from the city's water and sewer fund surplus.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen will meet in regular monthly session Monday night, June 5 at 6:00 p.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Smithville Water and Sewer Customers Expected to Pay Higher Rates After July 1

June 1, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mayor and Aldermen (Older Photo)

City of Smithville water and sewer customers will likely be paying more for those services after July 1.

The mayor and aldermen held a budget workshop Thursday evening at city hall and discussed raising water rates 45% and sewer rates 35% with passage of the 2017-18 budget to offset the loss of revenue with the departure of the city’s largest water customer, the DeKalb Utility District. With its new water treatment plant up and running, DUD is prepared to go it alone without the city by next week.

The aldermen are poised to take first reading action on the new budget Monday night during its regular monthly meeting which will include an increase in water rates going from $5.00 per thousand gallons to $7.25 per thousand for customers inside the city and from $7.50 per thousand to $10.88 per thousand for customers outside the city. Sewer rates are to increase going from $5.00 per thousand gallons to $6.75 per thousand gallons.

The average customer using 5,000 gallons of water per month would see their bill go from $53.62 to $74.89 which includes an increase in water costs going from $25.00 to $36.25 and sewer charges jumping from $28.62 to $38.64.

The rate increases are expected to generate $682,250 in new money to help make up for $775,000 in water revenues the city received from DUD this past year but will no longer be getting. But because of the loss of DUD as a customer, the city is also anticipating that the costs of electricity at the water plant will drop from $273,000 this year to $175,000 next year; that chemicals will go from $75,000 to $45,000; and that water distribution supply expenses will decrease from $74,000 to $40,000 all of which would help get the water and sewer fund back to at least a break even point by June 30, 2018.

In January, Greg Davenport of the J.R. Wauford Engineering Company and Buddy Petty of Rate Studies Incorporated of Nashville shared with the mayor and aldermen the results of the latest water and sewer rate study which calls for the rate increases.

Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor quoted from that rate study report Thursday night during the budget workshop.

“DUD is Smithville’s largest water customer buying 64% of all water sold by the city providing about 50% of the city’s total water revenue. Now that DUD is no longer going to be a customer anymore, 64% of our water that we’ve pumped and sold is now not being sold and 50% of our revenue just stopped. That is a serious problem. Although operation costs will decrease slightly with a reduction in electrical costs and chemical usage, other fixed costs such as labor may not change”.

While the city has the option of implementing the rate increases in smaller percentages over the next four years, Jackson recommended the full rate hike be put in place all in one year. She warned that if smaller increases were enacted over time it would not be sufficient to get the city out of the red right away and should the water and sewer fund operate at a deficit for more than two years in a row, the state could set the rates for the city to put the water and sewer fund in the black.

“By law the state requires the water and sewer fund to not have a loss. If you have two consecutive years of losses, the state is going to come in and set your rates for you or they will call you in to meet with their review board to see what you are doing to fix this because you have to operate at a profit. You can’t run a business (utility) and keep it viable (with a deficit) so the state is trying to force people to make that water system operate so it can be long lived,” said Jackson.

According to the rate study, the City of Smithville, even with the increases, will continue to be competitive or cheaper than other area utilities including the DeKalb Utility District.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen will meet Monday night at 6:00 p.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Lee Visits DeKalb County

June 1, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Lee Visits DeKalb County

GOP Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee stopped in Smithville today (Thursday) as part of his 95 county tour during the first 95 days of the campaign.

Lee, 57, of Williamson County, enters a wide-open GOP primary with no government experience and a campaign platform of jobs, education and public safety.”Everywhere we go we find there are three things that Tennesseans want regardless of whether they live in an urban center or rural communities. They want a good job. They want a good school for their kids and they want a safe neighborhood. That is really what is most important to the people we have met and its part of my vision for this state,” Lee told WJLE.

Though he figures to attract pro-business Republicans, Lee, a self-described social conservative and former chairman of the Tennessee Prayer Breakfast, said faith would influence his decisions as governor, but insisted he is not running for office to focus on social issues.

Lee is chairman and former CEO of his family business, the Franklin-based Lee Co., a full-service home services, facilities and construction company founded by his grandfather in 1944, which Lee later purchased from his father and became president in 1992.

Today, the company — which has offices in Huntsville, Ala.; Cookeville, Tenn.; and Bowling Green, Ky., in addition to its main office in Franklin — employs 1,150 people, mostly plumbers, pipe-fitters and welders, and generates about $225 million in annual revenue.

Lee earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering at Auburn University. He and his wife Maria have four children and two grandchildren. He and his family attend Grace Chapel Church in Leiper's Fork .

Lee's entrance into the race comes as other Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Diane Black, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, Sen. Mae Beavers and former state lawmaker Joe Carr, are considering entering. Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, who announced his candidacy earlier this year, halted his campaign after President Donald Trump nominated him to be the secretary of the Army. But Green has since withdrawn his name from consideration for Army secretary

On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean also has entered the race, and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh has said he's leaning on entering as well.

Budget Committee Recommends Changes in Pay Scale for Clerks

May 31, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Budget Committee members Jimmy Midgett, Larry Summers, Jack Barton, Jerry Adcock (hidden), and Wayne Cantrell

Almost a year after developing a new pay scale for employees of certain county public officials, the county budget committee is proposing to replace it with a new one. But for those county officials who opposed the first plan, they don’t seem to like the new one any better.

In a scale adopted last July by the county commission, employees of the offices of Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master get step raises at a percentage of what their employer earns. But since the County Mayor gets $10,000 more than the other aforementioned officials, his two employees earn more money than other clerks. Those opposed to it say the plan is not fair or respectful of their office or employees. All the aforementioned county officials currently earn $65,221 per year except the County Mayor whose salary is $75,329 per year.

The current wage scale includes five step increases for these employees and they are eligible to earn up to 44% of their employer’s salary at level five after eight years of service. In addition, since the scale is based on a percentage of what their boss earns, clerks also get an automatic pay hike funded by the county every time the state grants a pay raise for the county’s public officials.

The current plan was not well received by the elected officials. In an effort to address concerns, this year the budget committee is proposing significant changes, subject to funding.

Under the new proposed pay plan, all employees in the offices of the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master would earn a percentage of the salary of county officials earning $65,221 per year going forward.

No clerk’s pay would be cut, meaning raises given last year under the existing plan would not be taken away, but the two employees of the County Mayor’s office would not be due another pay raise for several years to allow other clerks to catch up since they (county mayor employees) are already earning more than the other clerks based on the current wage scale.

Instead of the current five step scale, the new plan calls for thirteen steps. A first year clerk would earn $25,436 per year or 39% of the officials’ salary. Clerks who serve as long as 20 years would reach the top of the scale at step thirteen and would earn $33,263 per year or 51% of the officials' salary. Also, the automatic pay hike for clerks every time the state grants a pay raise for the county’s public officials is being dropped in the new plan.

During a recent budget committee meeting, the Trustee, Circuit Court Clerk, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Register of Deeds, and Clerk and Master presented their own pay plan for consideration. Their proposal offered three options. Neither option as presented by the officials was accepted by the budget committee.

Budget Committee member Jack Barton said though changes were made, the committee actually "straight up took the officials' option 2 but changed the base and made the flat options in the last two steps be percentages. That was a compromise over the first proposal" the budget committee had considered.

When asked for a response by WJLE, county officials (Trustee, Circuit Court Clerk, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Register of Deeds, and Clerk and Master), wrote in a joint prepared statement that “Now, two years consecutive the budget committee has acknowledged the County Mayor’s office and employees are enduring a heavier workload and greater job responsibilities warranting a higher income for his employees. We have merely asked for our employees to be respected and treated equal in their position of employment. Also we feel these government offices perform basically the same daily duties while offering a variety of services.”

The first option proposed by these county officials called for the pay of six clerks with more than eight years of service to be raised to the same level as one of the employees in the county mayor’s office at $33,145 and that those clerks with less than eight years of service be paid a percentage of the county mayor’s salary according to their years of service on the existing five tier scale. The proposed pay for those seven clerks would have ranged from $29,378 to $30,885. The total additional cost to the county under this option would have been $54,688 this year.

The second option called for a thirteen step scale with the clerk’s pay to be a percentage of the officials salary which will increase to $68,682 for the year 2017-18; that all clerks with more than eight years of service be raised to $33,145 and then be given further raises based on years of service according to this thirteen step scale; that one of the employees in the county mayor’s office earning $31,638 not be given a raise until she has passed level nine on the scale after 10 & 11 years of service and that the other employee in that office earning $33,145 not receive a pay increase until after the eleventh step and more than sixteen years of service. This option also proposed a flat increase of $1,200 on levels twelve and thirteen for employees with 17 to 19 years and 20 or more years of service. Salaries on this scale would have ranged from $26,786 at the first step to $36,054 at step thirteen.

The third option by the county officials again proposed that clerks be paid a percentage of the (county officials') salary for 2017-18 at $68,682 and that flat rate increases be given in amounts of $500 to $1,200 according to the clerk’s years of service on a twelve step pay scale. This option called for one of the employees in the county mayor’s office earning $31,638 to not get a raise until she has passed level nine on the scale after 13 & 14 years of service and that the other employee in that office earning $33,145 not receive a pay increase until after the eleventh step and more than 17 & 18 years of service. Salaries on this scale would have ranged from $26,786 at the first step to $35,436 at step twelve.

In their response to the budget committee’s actions, the officials wrote “During last week’s budget committee meeting, the five member board stated and all agreed they neither understand nor have full knowledge of daily operations of any elected officials’ office. However, later in the same meeting a member stated ‘the state of Tennessee says there is a salary and responsibility difference for the Mayor’s office, this is how we made our decision.” Further adding, “we used this method to get it off our back and put it in on the state”.

The officials continued “After researching and speaking with leaders in state government there is no reference to the Mayor’s employees enduring, or providing more services or duties than any other elected office employees. The law is clear. The state only sets the salaries for elected officials. The state lacks an opinion to which office performs more and does not recommend one be paid more than the others."

"No county office is more important than the other. We all provide a service to the public. Due to the fact that other offices have employees with more seniority, merit, and equal or possibly more quantity of work but still are paid less concerns us. Every elected office is a vital asset to our county government. Each office has similar duties and obligations to fill. The decision of this committee not to match our employees pay as established for the Mayor’s employees while ignoring the views of all but one official is inadequate and complete disrespect to the officials, their employees and function of each office,” said the officials.

Meanwhile, the county budget committee is also proposing to change the wage scale adopted last year for full time library employees and the Senior Citizens Director. These employees would continue to be paid on a percentage of $65,221 but based on a new thirteen step scale instead of the current five step plan. They would get 31% of $65,221 at step one for one year of service up to 43% of $65,221 at step thirteen.

These new wage scale proposals are being recommended by the budget committee to the county commission for passage in the 2017-18 fiscal year budget in July, subject to available funding.

It’s Almost Jamboree Project Welcome Mat Time!

May 31, 2017
Suzanne Williams

The 46th annual Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival is coming Friday and Saturday, June 30 & July 1 and the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce invites all county businesses to again use their changeable signs or marquees to post welcome greetings for our Jamboree visitors.

“This marks the 17th year for the Chamber’s “Project Welcome Mat”, said Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber. “With thousands of visitors coming into town, every effort should be made by the local merchants to show our guests that we appreciate them and welcome their business.
The program has been successful over the past years with many businesses participating. Let's keep on showing folks how friendly the DeKalb County / Smithville area can be!," she continued

All businesses may participate in "Project Welcome Mat." The wording may be only a simple “Welcome to the Jamboree” or as elaborate as you choose. There will be recognition awards in 3 categories: "Best Worded," "Most Original" and the "People's Choice Award." Plaques will be presented to winners along with media recognition.

If your business would like to participate in the contest, email the Chamber at swilliams@dkekalbcountychamber.org or call 615-597-4163. Wording should be in place no later than Friday, June 16, 2017.

Pierce Moreno Earns "Classroom Champion" Award

May 30, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb West School Principal Sabrina Farler, Yolanda and Pierce Moreno, and Attorney Jim Judkins

This week’s “Classroom Champion” award goes to DeKalb West School student Pierce Moreno.

The award was presented recently by Smithville Attorney Jim Judkins.

Moreno is the son of John and Yolanda Moreno.

A second grader in Shelia McMillen’s class this last year, Pierce said his favorite subject is math and when Moreno grows up he would like to be a firefighter.

When he’s away from school, Pierce plays football, baseball with his dad, and collects baseball cards. He is a Bear in the Cub Scouts.

In an effort to recognize achievements of students in the DeKalb County School System, WJLE has partnered with attorney Judkins in featuring a “Classroom Champion” each week .

The name of the student selected each week will be announced on WJLE and will be featured on the WJLE website. Each student winning will receive a plaque and a gift certificate.

“This is our way of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the future citizens and leaders of the community. It can benefit their learning and overall school atmosphere and climate. The students' selection is based on academic performance, responsibility and work ethic, leadership abilities, and citizenship and character,” said Judkins.

Tennessee Department of Education Awards Voluntary Pre-K Funding to DeKalb County

May 30, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Patrick Cripps

The DeKalb County School System is being awarded $486,167 from the Tennessee Department of Education to fund five voluntary Pre-K classes to serve up to 100 students for another year.

“We are excited to receive this news”, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE. "With the funding, the school system will continue to offer four Pre-K classes at Smithville Elementary and one class at DeKalb West School. Parents interested in enrolling their children for voluntary Pre-K may pick up an application form at the Ernest Ray Education Center downtown", he said.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Tuesday that 18,340 students in 917 classrooms across the state will benefit from the Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) program in the 2017-18 school year. Nearly 95 percent of districts in Tennessee will receive VPK funding designed to serve 4-year-olds who are at-risk. A list of preliminary funding amounts by district and the number of classrooms that funding supports is located on the department’s website.

The application process was strengthened this year to ensure the program provides children with a high-quality opportunity to develop school readiness skills and a strong foundation for learning. Pursuant to the requirements outlined in the Pre-K Quality Act of 2016, this year VPK funding was awarded on a competitive basis in order provide consistently high-quality VPK programs that prioritize serving students from low-income families.

“High-quality early learning opportunities are one of the best investments we can make in our kids,” Commissioner McQueen said. “We want to ensure we are supporting strong early learning opportunities for our students with the greatest need, and that is reflected in the updated application process and in these grantees.”

To ensure VPK funds are used to maximize and increase student outcomes, the funding for districts for 2017-18 VPK programs changed from a formula-based allocation to a competitive grant process based on program quality standards, including:

•full enrollment in programs serving the highest-need students;
•use of a quality curriculum aligned to the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards for 4-year-olds;
•daily schedule that maximizes instructional time, minimizes transitions, and contributes to children’s healthy growth and development;
•use of student outcome data to improve instruction;
•frequent classroom observations with job-embedded support for pre-K teachers; and
•family outreach to maximize enrollment and support at-home learning.

Moving to a competitive application process is the first of many targeted updates the department is undertaking to ensure VPK funding is utilized to support high-quality pre-K programs across the state. As the department continues to make pre-K program quality improvements, we will continue to partner with districts across the state to measure program quality and to provide strategic professional development and support.

Former DCHS Tiger Plays in NCCAA World Series

May 30, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sam McMillen

A former DCHS Tiger baseball standout got some playing time in the National Christian College Athletic Association World Series held last week in Mason, Ohio.

Sam McMillen is a pitcher for the Hiwassee, College Tigers.

The Southwestern Christian University Eagles opened pool play of the World Series with a 10-0 victory over Hiwassee last Wednesday. Down 6 to 0 after four innings, McMillen was called to the mound for Hiwassee and pitched five innings. He gave up four runs, two earned, on six hits. He struck out one and walked two. That was McMillen’s only appearance in the World Series.

Hiwassee lost to Emmanuel, Georgia 11 to 4 before beating Oakland City, Indiana 8 to 1 on Thursday. Hiwassee was eliminated by Bethesda, California 4 to 0 on Friday.

The Oklahoma Baptist University Bison went on to repeat as NCCAA Baseball National Champions with a 7 to 6 win over Campbellsville University, Kentucky on Saturday.

Birmingham Big Winner at DeKalb Art Exhibit

May 29, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Division 5- 9th-12th grades: 1st Place Jonathan Birmingham Art Work
*Division 4- 6th - 8th grades: 1st Place Madison Peregoy Art Work
Division 3- 4th & 5th grades: 1st Place Bryce Stembridge Art Work
Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades: 1st Place Larissa Mooneyham Art Work
Division 1- Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade: 1st Place Camille Barton Art Work

Jonathan Birmingham won first place, “Best of Show”, and took the “People’s Choice Award” in the 9th through 12th grade division of the DeKalb Art Exhibit held Saturday at the County Complex. The annual event was sponsored by the Smithville Study Club. Susan Hinton is the President of the club.

This years art exhibit featured 211 entries from winners named at each school.

*Division 1- Pre-Kindergarten to 1st Grade:
1st Place-Camille Barton
2nd Place- Sophie Desimone
3rd Place-Elliot Barnes
4th Place-Maggie Hendrixson
Honorable Mention: Lance Duke and Kloe Parsley

*Division 2- 2nd & 3rd grades
1st Place-Larissa Mooneyham
2nd Place-Izzy Hendrixson
3rd Place-Sklar Chausse
4th Place-Ben Barton
Honorable Mentions- Cadence Reynolds and Pierce Moreno

*Division 3- 4th & 5th grades
1st Place-Bryce Stembridge
2nd Place-Laina Winfree
3rd Place-Tess Barton
4th Place-Madelyn Johnson
Honorable Mentions-Chloe Lawson, Landon Purdue, and Sarah White

*Division 4- 6th - 8th grades
1st Place-Madison Peregoy
2nd Place-Shanti Liu
3rd Place-Presley Agee
4th Place-Katherine Gassaway
Honorable Mentions: Gabby Wheatley, Reyna Edmonds, and Jacob Johnson

*Division 5- 9th-12th grades
1st Place- Jonathan Birmingham
2nd Place-Savannah Anderson Howell
3rd Place-Dulce Maciel
4th Place-Danny Guzman Viel
Honorable Mentions-Brooke Gannon, Ashley Phillips, Braya Murphy, and Damion Estes

Tommy Webb Shares Story of DeKalb WWII POW in Memorial Day Observance

May 29, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Veterans and others place wreath at courthouse monument in observance of Memorial Day

Members of a grateful community gathered Memorial Day at the county complex to honor and thank all who have served our nation and given their all for the freedoms we enjoy.

DeKalb County Historian Tommy Webb, the guest speaker, told the story of the late Burnace Hill of Dowelltown, a World War II POW who was taken prisoner in Japan. He was liberated in 1945 and returned home after the war, four years after he had joined the military. (VIEW VIDEO OF SPEECH BELOW)

The annual ceremony was sponsored by the American Legion Post #122 and moderated by Commander William Edmonds.

M2U02452 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Members of the Boy Scout Troop #347 presented the flags and led the audience in the pledge to the flag. Local minister Larry Green offered a prayer and Erica Birmingham performed the National Anthem. Susan Hinton performed a song “Til They Come Home” as a special Memorial Day tribute.

Judy Redmon of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary recognized Gold Star Mothers and called for a moment of silence in memory of all service men and women who have paid the ultimate price for their country.

After Mr. Webb’s speech, Ronnie Redmon, Post Adjutant of the American Legion Post #122, adjourned the program at the complex after which attendees were asked to gather at the veteran’s memorial monument at the courthouse for the laying of a wreath and taps by DCHS band student Josh Moon.

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