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Sheriff's Department Gets Grant for Litter Pickup on State Highways

April 18, 2016
Dwayne Page
Sheriff's Department Gets Grant for Litter Pickup on State Highways using Inmate Labor

For several years the county has received an annual litter grant from the state to compensate the sheriff's department for providing roadside pickup of litter on county roads using inmate labor. This year, the state is also providing grant funds for litter pickup on state roads in DeKalb County.

"This year we were able to get an additional grant where we can pick up litter on state roadways here in our county," said Sheriff Patrick Ray. "The grant pays for three cycles of litter pickup each year with an optional fourth cycle if needed. This grant has over 100 miles of listed state roadways .These roads are Sparta Highway, Nashville Highway, Cookeville Highway, McMinnville Highway, Keltonburg Road, Antioch Road, Belk Road, New Home Road, Short Mountain Highway, Murfreesboro Highway, Dale Ridge Road, Wolf Creek Road, Medley Amonett Road, Temperance Hall Road, and Lancaster Highway. We have 30 days to remove the litter from these state roads before the mowers arrive to cut the grass on the state rights of ways. We will be using inmate labor to pick up the trash on the state roads just like we do with our county roads litter grant program," he said.

Sheriff Ray offers some safety tips for motorists who may approach these litter pickup work zones. These simple tips could save your life or the life of a worker in one of the litter zones.

*Always think orange. When you see orange signs, cones, or barrels, expect a roadside work zone ahead.

*Stay alert. Look for narrow driving lanes and highway workers ahead.

*Pay attention. Work zone signs will tell you exactly what to expect ahead.

*Don't follow too closely. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.

*Minimize distractions. Drivers should keep their eyes on the roadway especially in a work zone.

*Do not talk on a cell phone or adjust your radio while in one of these zones.

*Slow down. You may encounter slowed or stopped traffic in an instant or encounter workers on or beside of the roadway.

You will know you are entering into a litter pickup zone when you see orange signs that say "Litter Pickup Ahead".

Sign Up for 4-H Summer Camp!

April 16, 2016
Leigh Fuson

The weather is warming up and school is winding down. Summer will be here before we know it! Keep your kids busy and active this summer by signing them up now for 4-H camp. There are several options available for 4th-8th graders.

Junior camp is for anyone in 4th-6th grade and takes place at Clyde York 4-H center in Crossville. This camp will take place June 6th-10th. It features shooting sports, arts and crafts, swimming and a water slide, canoeing and kayaking, sports and games, and much more! Cost is $290 which includes all meals, room & board, transportation, t-shirt, and activities. Registration deadline is May 18th.

Junior High camp also takes place in Crossville, May 30-June 3rd. It is available for 7th & 8th graders. The theme this year is “The Amazing Race: Tennessee 4-H Style” and will feature fun challenges and contests, zip line, ultimate Frisbee, along with the traditional camp activities of junior camp. Cost is $290 and includes everything besides transportation. Registration deadline is May 1st.

Electric camp is open to 6th and 7th graders and takes place at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. It will be held June 28-July 1st. Campers learn about electricity and energy through fun, hands-on activities. They also get to visit Dollywood! Cost is $265, and includes transportation, boarding at UT, meals, and activities. Sign up by May 1st.

Line and design camp is for 6th-8th graders and will be held July 12-14th at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. Activities include arts and crafts, sewing, shopping, and more! Cost is $125, but transportation is not included. Register by June 1st.

“Tennessee 4-H camps are an opportunity for youth to explore their relationship with the world around them while at the same time having loads of fun. Tennessee 4-H camps allow youth to “learn by doing,” through 4-H’s experiential learning method of 'Do, Reflect, and Apply.' Youth are engaged and involved from the time they arrive to the time they depart,” said Daniel Sarver, a youth development specialist with University of Tennessee Extension.

For more information and to register for camp, please stop by the UT/TSU Extension office located in County Complex or call 615-597-4945. 4-H is a proud part of UT/TSU Extension, the UT Institute of Agriculture, and the TSU Cooperative Extension Program. UT/TSU Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment through the cooperation of county, state, and federal governments.

DCHS to get New Gym Floor

April 15, 2016
Dwayne Page

It's 53 years old. It's been refinished several times. But signs of age have begun to show in the DCHS gymnasium floor and recently school officials learned it was termite infested. So the old floor will soon be replaced with a new one.

The Board of Education Thursday night authorized Director of Schools Patrick Cripps to get a company to do the project.

Cripps told the board that while there have been issues with the gym floor, the termite problem was not known until recently. "We actually thought it was a moisture issue. We had a company come in and when they cut the floor open down on one end termites started flying everywhere. The moisture from the termites is starting to cause warpage of the floor. It's now on the playing surface and getting worse. We have sanded it down as much as we could and put wood filler in but it is not in good shape. It's especially not in playing shape," said Cripps.

The estimated cost to replace the gym floor is $153,000 but Cripps said money is available in the school system's capital outlay fund to cover it.

"We had a couple of people come in and look at the floor and give us prices on what products they could give us. The floor has been there since 1963. It has never been changed (replaced). I think the last time they screened it down they said that would be the last time they could because they were just about down to the nail heads on it," said Cripps.

"For the safety of our kids and having a nice product, I believe this is needed. I don't want anyone to think we're putting athletics before education. That is not the case here. We have to look at a safety issue with our kids and the possibility that somebody could get hurt playing ball. The money will come out of our capital outlay fund. That money is used for projects such as this to enhance the building. It will not come out of any teacher line item in the budget or anything like that. It (capital outlay fund) is designated for the upkeep of our buildings," Cripps said.

Burklow Named Regional Communications Coordinator for Saint Thomas Health

April 15, 2016
Shan Burklow

Saint Thomas Health is proud to announce the addition of Shan Burklow as the new Regional Communications Coordinator for Saint Thomas ministries across the area. Burklow will coordinate marketing efforts for five hospitals including Saint Thomas DeKalb, Saint Thomas Stones River, Saint Thomas Highlands, Saint Thomas River Park, and Saint Thomas Rutherford.

Prior to this position, Burklow was formerly the Director of Marketing for Saint Thomas DeKalb in Smithville, Tennessee and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury, Tennessee.

“We were very grateful to have Shan lead our marketing as director for Saint Thomas DeKalb and Stones River Hospitals over the past several years.” said Sue Conley - CEO for Saint Thomas DeKalb and Stones River Hospitals, “Although we will miss her daily interaction at our facilities, we are proud that Saint Thomas Health has recognized her abilities, and look forward to what she will contribute to our region as a whole.”

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Burklow is actively involved in the local community and across the Upper Cumberland. She is the Vice President of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, and serves on various charitable boards. Burklow hosts a national broadcast for WCTE TV, volunteers her time for local fundraising efforts, along with hosting multiple charity events.

“I am honored to accept this new role with Saint Thomas Health,” said Burklow, “It has been my pleasure to work with some of the most caring people on earth, and I look forward to growing that base of people across our regional hospitals and the Saint Thomas Communications Team in Nashville. Our hospitals are full of brilliant and compassionate people that spend their lives taking care of others. It makes me a better person to know them.”

Burklow resides in Smithville, Tennessee. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, working in her flower gardens, crocheting, and spending time with her husband, Andy, and four children.

Saint Thomas Health is Middle Tennessee’s faith-based, not-for-profit health care system united as one healing community. Saint Thomas Health is focused on transforming the healthcare experience and helping people live healthier lives, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable. The regional health system includes nine hospitals: Saint Thomas Hospital for Spinal Surgery, Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital and Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Saint Thomas Hickman Hospital in Centerville, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas River Park Hospital in McMinnville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury. A comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities complements the hospital services and covers a 68-county area. Saint Thomas Health is a member of Ascension, a Catholic organization that is the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States. For more information, visit

Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all with special attention to persons in poverty and struggling the most. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 150,000 associates and 35,000 aligned providers serve in 1,900 sites of care – including 129 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, treasury management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.

Bulldog Boosters Get Okay to Build Baseball Facility

April 15, 2016
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb West School Bulldog Baseball Boosters Club plans to build a 40 x 100 foot facility on campus which is to include hitting cages, restrooms, concession stand, storage, office, and locker room.

The Board of Education gave approval for the project during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting held at Smithville Elementary School.

"The baseball boosters approached me about wanting to build a hitting building to the side of the baseball field. Funding would be through them (boosters). They started this process several years ago by saving money through their fundraisers. They're getting to the point now where they can start. But we haven't done anything until we get board approval to break ground if that is something you allow us to do," said DeKalb West School Principal Sabrina Farler.

"It is to be multipurpose. We want to have a concession stand rather than the portable building we now have there. It will also have two public restrooms in addition to the locker room, hitting cages, batting cages, and things like that," said Tony Cross, Booster Club President.

"I think we can do this for less than $40,000. What we would like to do this summer after school is out is to do the shell of the building and a concrete slab with all the plumbing. I think we can do that for just under $20,000. We have a 5K fundraiser that is doing really well and it runs Saturday morning. Initially we would like to put up the slab and the exterior of the building. Eighty percent of the building is batting cages and lanes. That could be used next baseball season. Just to be able to get in and out of the rain. I've talked with Earl (Jared), School System Maintenance Supervisor. I want to work hand in hand with him on what he wants as far as the bathrooms and things like that because if they are helping us service it we're going to do it like he needs it done. We initially want to get some things done this summer and we'll continue on with fundraisers to raise the remainder of the money. We'd like to have it (project) done next year," said Cross.

TN Ready test scores will not impact student's final grades

April 15, 2016
Dwayne Page

TN Ready test scores will not impact student's final grades this year in DeKalb County

The Board of Education took that action Thursday night during the regular monthly meeting held at Smithville Elementary School.

"The state department of education sent out a memo basically stating they were leaving it up to each county as to whether they wanted to count test scores on final grades. Teachers also have the option whether to count that toward their observation score. I would recommend that we do not count their test scores as part of their grade," said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

TNReady was originally an online test.

But when students across the state logged on in February to take the exam, the system crashed. It was later deemed that students would take a pencil and paper version of TNReady, which had to be shipped to school districts all over Tennessee.

Several school districts had asked the state to exclude the test stores from affecting teacher evaluations.

Many believe the changes to the test would result in poor test scores.

Teachers across the state have now been given the option to decide whether to link the test scores to their evaluations and it’s up to each school district to decide whether the test scores will impact students’ final grades.

Meanwhile in other action, the Board voted to change the pay date for Central Office staff along with maintenance employees, the Transportation Supervisor, and mechanics starting with the 2016-17 school year.

The action taken will adjust the pay cycle for these employees who are affected by pre-payment of salary in advance of work being performed.

Director of Schools Cripps said the change would affect about 23 employees. "There have been concerns about paying those employees in advance. I have talked with our fiscal consultant and he said there is nothing illegal with paying them in July. What I would recommend is to pay those employees the 15th of each month instead of the 5th of each month. This would not apply to teachers," he said.

These employees will receive one check per month on the 15th of the month from July 15 to June 15 each year.

In his monthly report on personnel, Director Cripps announced that Libby McCormick, Librarian at Northside Elementary School, has been granted a leave as requested and that Christopher Moore, Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School has resigned.

Sheriff Donates Used Cell Phones to Genesis House

April 15, 2016
Sheriff Patrick Ray, Genesis House Advocate Rachel Pugh, and DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green

Sheriff Patrick Ray, on behalf of the citizens of DeKalb County, has presented Advocate Rachel Pugh from the Cookeville Genesis House, over 170 donated used cell phones collected by the sheriff's department.

"I want to thank the Citizens of DeKalb County for their cell phone donations," said Pugh. "We are a non-profit organization serving DeKalb County that helps victims of domestic and sexual violence. We take the donated phones, refurbish them, and give them to our clients as a way to contact law enforcement in case they find themselves in immediate danger or have an emergency. Some of the cell phones only will call 911. Others will be enabled to assist victims in finding housing and employment.”

“Every 14 seconds in our country, a woman is battered by her intimate partner," said Sheriff Ray. " Every 5 years, more women are killed by domestic violence than Americans killed in the Vietnam War. Sheriff Ray also expressed his concern about domestic violence adding that 20% of all murders are domestic violence related and 76% of rape and sexual assaults are committed by husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends, family members or acquaintances".

"This year we were able to team with the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department in getting donated cell phones," Sheriff Ray said.

“Our department has accumulated a number of free cell phones that we no longer use," added DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green. "These phones came at no cost to the county and since we have no future need for them, we decided to partner in this effort by donating the phones because we know Genesis House will put them to good use and that they can make a difference in protecting lives; a mission that we have in common".

Sheriff Ray said he wants to thank the Citizens of DeKalb County and the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department for one of their largest cell phone donations ever. The sheriff’s department will be collecting used cell phones again this year. You may drop off any cell phones at the sheriff's office. "If you have a cell phone you no longer plan to use, whether or not it is functional, just drop it by the sheriff's department. You do not need to bring any phone accessories; just the phone. The sheriff's department collects these phones during the year and makes an annual donation on behalf of DeKalb County to the Genesis House," said Sheriff Ray.

Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence may contact Sheriff Ray at 615-597-4935 for information or for a ride to a domestic shelter in Cookeville. You may also call the 24 hour Genesis House Crisis Line at 1-800-707-5197 or 931-526-5197.

Pugh Receives $500 FBLA Scholarship

April 14, 2016
Braxton Pugh

Braxton Pugh received a $500 Scholarship at the Tennessee State Leadership Conference held recently in Chattanooga.

He received the Dr. Bill Radcliffe Scholarship that is for an FBLA member who plans to pursue a career in business and attend college at either a junior college or university.

Braxton plans to attend Motlow State Community College and then on to a four year college. He will be majoring in Business.

DCHS FBLA Successful at State Conference

April 14, 2016
Award Group
Hannah James

Members of the DeKalb County High School Future Business Leaders of America Club were successful at the recent FBLA State Conference. Forty Four members, two advisers, and three chaperones attended the conference and represented DeKalb County High School.

Placing 2nd:
Hailey Walker and Keely McKay-Graphic Design
Ashli Chew and Abby Evans –Hospitality Management
Luke Green-Impromptu Speaking
Max Pafford, Haden Cripps, Kirkland Smallwood- Marketing

Placing 3rd:
Aspen Flarity-Client Service
Aspen Flarity, Sahara Lafever , Anna Malone-Community Service Project
Hannah James-Electronic Career Portfolio
Casey Vickers, Morgan Vickers, Christian Turner, Casey Vickers-Parliamentary Procedure
Callie Cripps-Hard Copy Scrapbook
Hailey Walker-Chapter Annual Business Report
Madison Mick-FBLA Principles and Procedures

Placing 4th
Rachel Fuson and Sarah Anne Colwell-Banking and Financial Systems
Trey Fuston –Business Law
Kyra Slager-Health Care Administration
Bailey Redmon-Future Business Leader

•Braxton Pugh received Dr. Bill Radcliffe Scholarship for $500
•Destiny Franklin was named as Region 5 secretary .

The DeKalb County High School Chapter of FBLA received the following awards:
*Club 100 for 175 members.
*Chapter Gold Seal of Merit
*1st place Literacy award for collecting 3,285 books that stayed right here in DeKalb County.
*Recognition for March of Dimes contribution and donation to ALL state scholarships

Picture Captions:
Award group:
Front row: left to right: Kyra Slager, Casey Vickers, Madison Mick, Bailey Redmon, Ashli Chew, Trey Fuston
2nd row: Callie Cripps, Aspen Flarity, Anna Malone, Sahara Lafever, Keely McKay, Racehl Fuson, Sarah Anne Colwell, Abby Evans
Back Row: Morgan Vickers, Caitlin Turner, Christian Turner, Luke Green, Hailey Walker, Haden Cripps, Kirkland Smallwood.Not pictured: Max Pafford

Hannah James served as the 2015-2016 Tennessee FBLA State Secretary. She also placed 3rd in Electronic Career Porfolio.

Judge Modifies Petty's Sentence But Denies Motion for New Trial

April 13, 2016
Dwayne Page
David Petty

A man convicted in December of a 2014 aggravated burglary and theft in DeKalb County will no longer be serving his fifteen year prison sentence as a "career" offender.

During a hearing Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court, Judge Gary McKenzie denied a motion for a new trial but found that due to a miscalculation of his prior offenses, 54 year old David Petty does not qualify as a "career" offender. Instead Petty will serve his fifteen year term, the maximum allowed by law in this case, as a "persistent" offender. As a "career" criminal, Petty would have had to serve at least 60% of the sentence before coming eligible for parole. As a "persistent" offender, Petty will become eligible for parole after serving 45% of the sentence.

Petty stood trial and was convicted by a jury in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday, December 9, 2015. A month later following a sentencing hearing, Judge McKenzie handed down the fifteen year term against Petty for aggravated burglary and another twelve years for theft of property over $1,000. The sentences were merged as one fifteen year term.

In his amended motion for a new trial, Petty's attorney Michael Auffinger set forth grounds including one in which he claimed "the trial court erred in its determination that Petty qualified as a "career" criminal. Although Petty has prior convictions for kidnapping, these do not qualify to be counted individually. The statutory language within Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-108 (b) (4) reads: except for convictions for which the statutory elements include serious bodily injury, bodily injury, threatened serious bodily injury, or threatened bodily injury to the victim or victims...convictions for multiple felonies committed within the same twenty four hour period constitute one(1) conviction for the purpose of determining prior convictions. In contrast, the statutory definition of kidnapping contains the language: under circumstances exposing the other person to substantial risk of bodily injury", according to Auffinger's motion.

"The trial court erred when it found Petty to be a career offender. Under TCA 40-35-108, once a defendant has been convicted of a Class C felony, the court must find any combination of six or more Class A, B, or C prior felony convictions. However, upon looking at Petty's prior record, there are no A or B offenses, and at most, five Class C offenses. At most, Petty is a Range III Persistent Offender," Auffinger's motion states.

Assistant District Attorney General Stephanie Johnson said while Judge McKenzie found in favor of Petty on this one point he ruled for the state on the remaining issues raised by Petty's attorney in his motion.

"There was a miscalculation in his (Petty's) prior convictions therefore he did not fall into a "career" offender range of punishment. Instead, he fell into a "persistent" offender range. The only change the court made based on that was instead of his (Petty's) sentence being fifteen years at 60%, his sentence will still be the maximum of fifteen years but at 45%. While the judge changed the sentence a little bit he denied the defense motion for new trial and ruled in favor of the state on all of those points (raised by the defense) except the re-sentencing with the calculations of the priors," Johnson told WJLE Wednesday.

After deliberating for less than an hour in December, a jury of six men and six women found Petty guilty of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 as charged in the indictment against him.

Because Petty has multiple previous felony convictions in several counties dating back to 1980, Assistant District Attorney General Johnson asked the court in January to sentence him as a career offender. "Mr. Petty's criminal conduct spans 35 years. He has very serious prior felony convictions. I understand they are from the 1980's but still we have someone who has persistently violated the law and obtained criminal convictions in several different counties in our state. Mr. Petty has been active in five different surrounding counties. He previously violated and has been revoked on parole twice and probation five times. This defendant has not had any measure of success on supervised release in our community. Furthermore, while he has not been charged, he has been out on an OR bond and has admitted drug use so he has continued to involve himself in illegal activity while this case was pending trial," Assistant DA Johnson told the court during Petty's sentencing hearing in January.

A co-defendant in the case, 44 year old Anthony Lynn Colwell pled guilty in July, 2015 to aggravated burglary and received a TDOC sentence of eleven years at 45% before parole eligibility. The term is to run concurrently with a Warren County case against him. He was given two days of jail credit.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time of their arrests that on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Petty and Colwell broke into a residence on Man Hill Road and stole a jewelry box containing several items of jewelry which were later pawned at a local jewelry store and at a pawn shop in Warren County. Petty's defense essentially was that while he sold the property, he did not commit the burglary and theft.

Petty's attorney Auffinger, in asking the court for leniency for his client during the January sentencing hearing, said that Petty was never proven to have participated in the burglary. "There was never any direct proof whatsoever that tied him to the burglary," he said.

Auffinger also pointed out that Petty voluntarily cooperated with law enforcement officers in the burglary investigation and tried to settle the debt with one of the pawn shop owners who suffered a loss because of the case. He also said Petty suffered from significant health problems and underwent surgery a week before the sentencing hearing. Auffinger asked the court to make Petty's sentence at the "bottom of the range" of punishment allowed by law in this case.

During the January sentencing hearing Judge McKenzie found that due to seven prior felony convictions since 1980, which included three kidnappings, an assault with intent to commit a felony, and a grand larceny, Petty should be sentenced as a career offender.

"Mr. Petty it looks to me that from 1980 to today (January 7) there has been criminal behavior on your part," said Judge McKenzie during the sentencing hearing. " In the sentencing report there was a DUI conviction around 2003. There is a disorderly conduct in 2000. If your 1983 cases were not of a felony nature that would be one thing. If they were smaller level offenses that would be one thing but they are kidnappings. There's an assault. And then there are some drug offenses and burglaries. There is a lot of criminal history here. Based on those seven felonies I'm going to classify you as a career offender. Most individuals go their entire lives without a single arrest. Without a single conviction. The vast majority of us go our entire lives without multiple convictions. And you've got seven. The prior criminal history and multiple convictions certainly weighs strong for the state. If an individual in our community gets seven prior felony offenses then there becomes a need to protect society from releasing him back," added Judge McKenzie.


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