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Alexandria Park Refurbished and Rededicated

May 1, 2016
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Park Refurbished and Rededicated
Ribbon Cutting Held Saturday for Refurbished Alexandria City Park
Ricky Harris
One of the new picnic tables at the city park
New flagpole at the city park

An Alexandria man’s dream of refurbishing a small city park there for families to enjoy has come true.

Ricky Harris, a resident of the town, received permission from the Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen late last summer to begin work in clearing the property of overgrowth and to call on volunteers to help revitalize the five acre park. Although some work remains to be done, a rededication and ribbon cutting were held Saturday for the Alexandria City Park, located just off the public square between the Old Osborne Grocery store building and the fairgrounds.

“It’s been a long time coming. Alexandria needed this park,” said Harris. “This is a place where families can come together now and enjoy. Hopefully we can start having community projects or get-togethers here,” he said.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver was among those on hand for the rededication and she brought Tennessee and United States flags which can be flown at the park. She also presented a Tennessee Senate proclamation honoring the park in its rededication and commending the volunteers for their hard work and commitment to revitalizing the park. The proclamation is signed by State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representatives Mark Pody and Terri Lynn Weaver, and by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, speaker of the State Senate.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams was part of the ribbon cutting and presented a “Chamber Community Improvement Award”.

Members of the Boy Scout Troop #347 joined in the commemoration.

“Its just amazing what motivated volunteers can do. They single handedly came out here. The park was a jungle and way overgrown and neglected. But with friends he (Harris) brought in, hundreds of hours of community time has been spent here. They all brought their own tractors. It was a lot of work but it has really turned out nice,” said Alexandria Mayor Bennett Armstrong.

Harris said plans are to add basketball goals and a walking trail to the park. “We have the park completely clear now. We’ve got nine picnic tables that have already been put in. Ten more will be going in within the next few weeks. The walking trail will be the next project. Basketball goals will also be going up soon,” said Harris.

The park, established in the 1970s under the federal Model Cities Program, originally sported a volleyball court, tennis court, softball field, and six horseshoe pits, but over the years due to neglect and vandalism the park deteriorated and overgrowth overtook it.

Harris gave a special thanks to all the volunteers including Mayor Armstrong and Lee Plummer and to local businesses Wilson Bank & Trust, Liberty State Bank, Alexandria Auto Parts, Dr. Wesley Suddarth, and others and to DTC Communications for their work and for donating the picnic tables.

The proclamation states:

“Whereas, it is fitting that the members of this legislative body should recognize our parks on the national, state, and local level and their natural, cultural, and historic heritage, providing opportunities for discovery; and

Whereas, one such park is Alexandria City Park, which will be rededicated in a special ceremony on April 30, 2016; and

Whereas, Alexandria City Park was founded in the 1970s when DeKalb County entered the Model Cities program; the park originally contained a volleyball court, tennis court, softball field, six horseshoe pits, and two picnic shelters; and

Whereas, the Town of Alexandria maintained the park until funds were no longer available and the park succumbed to vandalization; and

Whereas, Ricky Harris presented the idea of rejuvenating Alexandria City Park to the mayor and aldermen in August, 2015 and Mr. Harris was named the project coordinator; and

Whereas, Mr. Harris and his family led eleven volunteers of all ages and walks of life to begin the renovation project; local citizens donated a total of $1,600 to aid in the renovation and several volunteers brought their own tools to aid them in accomplishing their tasks, which included the installation of a flagpole and ten tables that had been purchased by six companies and two individuals; and

Whereas, four tractor owners moved dirt and piled up cut trees, completing more than 100 hours in service to their community; employees of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative contributed a chipper and shredder and eight hours of labor; and a crew from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation repaired two nonworking lights; and

Whereas, due to the hard work and determination of the good people of Alexandria, Alexandria City Park will once more serve as a gathering place for the community, and their efforts should be recognized; and now, therefore,

I, Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the Senate of the One Hundred Ninth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, at the request of and in conjunction with Senator Mae Beavers, Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Representative Mark Pody, do hereby proclaim that we honor Alexandria City Park on its rededication, commend the volunteers for their hard work and commitment to their community, and offer our best wishes for many years of continued success.

Proclaimed in Nashville, Tennessee, on this the 26th day of April 2016.”

Fire Claims Home at Silver Point, Two Injured

May 1, 2016
Dwayne Page

A fire destroyed a home at 8625 Aunt Helen Road in the Silver Point area of DeKalb County early Friday morning. Two people were also injured.

Captain Anthony Boyd of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department told WJLE that Elaine Parker and Dustin Thaxton, who were at the residence at the time of the fire, were taken by DeKalb EMS to Cookeville Regional Hospital. They suffered injuries in getting out of the home.

According to Captain Boyd the fire was reported Friday morning at 4:34 a.m. The blaze was well underway by that time and firefighters were unable to save the structure. The home and all contents were destroyed in the fire.

Captain Boyd said Parker was renting the home from Robert and Teresa Wolfe.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Liberty, and Cookeville Highway stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the tanker truck.

Highland Trail Boat Ramp Open Again

April 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Highland Trail Boat Ramp Open Again
Expanded Parking Area Near Boat Ramp
Road Entrance to Highland Trail (Dubland) Boat Ramp and parking area
Billings Road paved from Highway 70 to Highland Trail (Dubland) Boat Ramp

After almost three years since it was closed to the public due to the Sligo Bridge construction project, the Highland Trail (Dubland) Boat Ramp in the Riverwatch Community is open again.

The ramp was re-opened after noon on Friday following completion of pavement striping in the parking area at the boat ramp

Prior to and during construction of the new Sligo bridge, the contractor Massman Construction of Kansas City, Missouri gained access to the lake via Billings Road and the boat ramp. A staging area was set up at the boat ramp to get barges down to the bridge for the construction.

As a consideration to the Riverwatch community for its cooperation, TDOT funded the paving of Billings Road from Highway 70 to the lake. The parking area at the boat ramp was also enlarged and paved. Rogers Group did all the paving and striping except for the striping of the parking area. Quality Asphalt Sealing was contracted to do that work with county funds.

The expanded boat ramp parking area now has nine parking places for automobiles and for 20 boats and trailers.

TDOT also funded the paving of the Moore Taylor Road in the Midway Community which leads to the site of a former county landfill. Some of the pyrite, removed from the Sligo bridge construction site, was placed at that landfill location.

Two Airlifted After Friday Morning Crash

April 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Two Airlifted After Friday Morning Crash

Two people were seriously injured in a one car crash Friday morning on South Mountain near Spring Street in Smithville.

Both driver, 29 year old Joe R. Tittle of Smithville and passenger 32 year old Brandy Beckham were airlifted due to their injuries in the accident.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department said Tittle was driving a gray 2003 Chevrolet Malibu north on South Mountain Street when he failed to navigate a curve near Spring Street, left the roadway and struck a large tree head on in the yard of 806 South Mountain Street. According to witnesses and physical evidence, Captain Leffew said it was determined that Tittle's vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed.

In addition to Smithville Police, DeKalb EMS and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene.

The accident currently remains under investigation.

Vandy Life Flight to Establish Base in Cookeville

April 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Vandy Life Flight to Establish Base in Cookeville

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Vanderbilt LifeFlight, in partnership with Cookeville Regional Medical Center have announced that an emergency helicopter base will be established in Cookeville to serve the Upper Cumberland region.

According to a report in the Herald Citizen, the helicopter will have a 120-mile response area from Cookeville, and it will transport patients who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region back to CRMC.

The primary purpose of the Cookeville LifeFlight base will be to bring patients from the Upper Cumberland who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region to CRMC and will be available to meet other calls for aeromedical services which may arise, according to Sullivan Smith, M.D. and Emergency Department Medical Director for CRMC.

A site for the new base is expected to open this summer.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Trauma Systems (CAMTS), has flown more than 38,000 patients since 1984. LifeFlight transports to any medically appropriate hospital and has immediate access to the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, Burn Center and Children’s Hospital, all at VUMC.

LifeFlight also provides hospital-based emergency air medical transport services throughout Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, with remote helicopter bases in Lebanon, Tullahoma, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Mt. Pleasant and Henry County. LifeFlight also operates an airplane base at Nashville International Airport and has five ground ambulances as well as an event medicine division.

The AirMedCare Network including Air Evac and Life Force also serves portions of the Upper Cumberland area.

DWS Student Places 5th in Upper Cumberland Math Contest

April 29, 2016
Bill Conger
DeKalb West School Students Compete in Math Contest

DeKalb West School 8th grader Trenten Shores placed 5th out of 102 students at the Upper Cumberland Middle Grades Math Contest. The event was held April 7 at the STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University. Shores also came in second place his 7th grade year and first place his sixth grade year. Other students who participated included 8thgraders Clayton Crook, Haley Dies, and Holly Evans; 7th graders Garrett Hayes, Jaden Johnson and Ashlin Maynard; 6th graders Brayden Antoniak, Ariel Patterson, Victoria Rodano, and Hagen Waggoner.

Pictured first row (left to right): Jaden Johnson, Cody Antoniak, Ashlin Maynard and Clayton Crook.
Back Row (left to right) are Ariel Patterson, Garrett Hayes, Victoria Rodano, Trenten Shores, Haley Dies, and Holly Evans.

DeKalb County to Participate in Great American Clean Up

April 28, 2016
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Ellie Adkins, Public Works Director Kevin Robinson, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Mayor’s office would like to invite residents across the county to participate in the DeKalb County Clean Up and Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on Saturday, May 14th. The DeKalb Clean Up event will be held in conjunction with the Keep America Beautiful initiative going on across the country. The Household Hazardous Waste Collection event is sponsored by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and will be collecting items leftover household chemicals, automotive materials, old lawn and garden products, etc.

County Mayor Tim Stribling says, “We invite people to come out and help clean up around our communities and highways. Folks are welcome to pick up litter at places of their choice, or we will be glad to assign a safe place for you.” “We are glad to be partnering with the TN Department of Environment and Conservation to help people properly dispose of toxic products such as drain openers, disinfectants, fuel additives, aerosols, mercury thermometers, paint thinner, and fluorescent light bulbs.”

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, would like to remind everyone that DeKalb County’s peak tourism season is about to begin, so now is a great time to start getting things spruced up for our coming visitors. According to Williams, “I think we are all aware of the value and importance of beautification in our communities to attract newcomers and tourists to our area and to maintain a stable and growing economy.”

To get a head start on clean up, dumpsters will be set up at highly visible and convenient locations a few days prior to the main event. Dumpster locations will be at the Dowelltown Community Center, Liberty Community Center, Alexandria City Parking Lot (behind square), and the County Complex parking lot.

DeKalb Clean Up volunteers are asked to stop by the lot between the Smithville Church of God and DeKalb Co. Farmers Co-op, 725 W. Broad St., Smithville on May 14th between 9 AM and 10 AM to sign-in and pick up the provided trash bags, rubber gloves, and bottles of water. We will be taking a group picture at 9:30 AM for the media if you like to participate in that.

TDEC will be collecting household hazardous waste from 9 AM to 1 PM at the same 725 W. Broad St., Smithville location. No paint cans accepted. Paint cans and old appliances are accepted daily at the DeKalb County Convenience Centers.

For early sign-up, you can stop by the Chamber, located in the Courthouse, Room 201, anytime during regular office hours by May 13th to pick up supplies. Or if stopping by is not convenient, call the Chamber office at 615-597-4163 to be counted as a DeKalb Clean Up volunteer -- just give your name and the general area where you will be working. Whether you’re beautifying your street, a highway, a park, ball field, a stream, or your own home, what a difference we can make through working together to make our communities safer, healthier and more livable!

State Suspends Grade 3-8 Testing Due to Vendor’s Inability to Deliver Materials

April 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today the department will terminate its statewide testing contract with Measurement Inc., effective immediately. While high school testing will continue as planned, the state will suspend grade 3-8 testing during the 2015-16 school year due to Measurement Inc.’s inability to deliver all testing materials.

After revising their shipping schedule for a third time this month, the state’s testing vendor, Measurement Inc., failed to meet its most recent deadline. As of this morning, all districts were still waiting on some grade 3-8 materials to arrive with a total of two million documents yet to be shipped. In February, the department was forced to move from the originally planned online assessment delivery to a paper-based format due to the failure of the vendor’s online platform.

“Measurement Inc.’s performance is deeply disappointing. We’ve exhausted every option in problem solving with this vendor to assist them in getting these tests delivered,” Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “Districts have exceeded their responsibility and obligation to wait for grade 3-8 materials, and we will not ask districts to continue waiting on a vendor that has repeatedly failed us.”

If districts have received materials for a complete grade or subject in grades 3-8 (i.e. fifth-grade math), they will have the option to administer that specific grade or subject level; however, the department will only be able to deliver limited student performance information for these particular grades and subjects. High school tests will be fully scored, and these results will be delivered later this fall.

“Challenges with this test vendor have not diverted us from our goals as a state. Tennessee has made historic and tremendous growth over the past several years. Higher standards and increased accountability have been a key part of this progress,” Commissioner McQueen said. “Our work toward an aligned assessment plays a critical role in ensuring that all students are continuing to meet our high expectations and are making progress on their path to postsecondary and the workforce.”

Flexibility that has already been provided for teacher evaluation through recent legislation will remain. If a teacher has TNReady data, in this case high school teachers, TNReady data will only be used if it helps the teacher. If a teacher does not have TNReady data, their evaluation will rely on data from prior years.

The department is currently working with the state’s Central Procurement Office to expedite the selection of a vendor for both the scoring of this year’s high school assessment and the development of next year’s test. The department has also been in close contact with the United States Department of Education to ensure that Tennessee is in compliance with federal requirements and will continue to work with them on this issue.

TNReady, the state’s new assessment in math and English language arts in grades 3-11, was designed to be administered in two parts. Part I was given in late February and early March, and Part II was scheduled to begin on April 25.

Alexandria Charter Amendment Awaits Governor's Signature

April 27, 2016
Dwayne Page

Alexandria is a step closer to being able to move the date of future city elections to coincide with the August general county elections.

The Tennessee General Assembly last week sent to Governor Bill Haslam legislation to amend the city's charter which was requested by the Alexandria Aldermen and approved by both the State House and Senate, sponsored by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Senator Mae Beavers.


Currently city leaders in Alexandria are elected in odd years during the month of September. Changing the date of Alexandria City elections to August in even years and having them run in conjunction with the county general elections will save the city money But the change will extend the terms of the present board of mayor and aldermen by at least one year to adjust their election cycles.

The terms of Aldermen Kelly Pyburn, David Cripps, and John F. Suggs currently run through 2019 while the terms of Mayor Bennett Armstrong and Aldermen Randy Payne, Danny Parkerson and Matt Boss are to expire in 2017.

Under the amendment to the charter, a mayor and three aldermen are to be elected on the first Thursday in August, 2018 and serve a four year term through Thursday, August 2022 or until their successors are elected and qualified. Those positions are currently held by Mayor Armstrong and Aldermen Payne, Parkerson, and Boss.

The charter amendment further provides that at the municipal election on the first Thursday in August 2020, three aldermen are to be elected to serve a four year term ending on the first Thursday of August 2024 or until their successors are elected and qualified. Those positions are currently held by Aldermen Pyburn, Cripps, and Suggs.

Once the Governor signs the legislation, the Alexandria Aldermen will have to adopt the charter amendment again by at least a two thirds majority before it takes effect.

Alexandria Accepts Smithville Fire Department's Oldest Set of Extrication Tools

April 27, 2016
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department's oldest set of extrication tools now belongs to the Alexandria Fire Department to start its own extrication team.

During Tuesday night's meeting, the Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-1 to accept the 32 year old equipment but only on the condition that the tools be used for extrication inside the city limits of Alexandria.

In February at the request of Fire Chief Charlie Parker, the Smithville Aldermen voted to loan the tools to the Alexandria Fire Department for training and use but later questions arose from Alexandria aldermen about potential liability to the town by using Smithville's equipment. During a workshop in March, Alexandria's insurance provider said the town would be covered.

Earlier this month, Fire Chief Parker came back to the Smithville aldermen asking that the extrication tools be given to Alexandria permanently provided the Alexandria Aldermen accept it, instead of making it a loan. The Smithville Aldermen approved the request.

These tools are the original set of jaws of life purchased by the City of Smithville for the fire department in 1984 including a spreader, cutter, power ram, power unit and other accessories. The original purchase price was $25,000. The Smithville Fire Department retired the tools after replacing them with new extrication equipment.


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