Local News Articles

Funds for Teacher Pay Raises and More Technology Included in New School Budget

April 26, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Patrick Cripps
Board of Education

Teachers will get a pay raise and support staff a one time bonus with passage of the new school budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The DeKalb County Board of Education met briefly Monday night and adopted the spending plan which will now be presented to the county commission’s budget committee for approval.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps calls this a fair budget with no proposed local property tax increase for schools and not a lot of extras.

Although the school system is bracing for a cut in federal funding by 18% or $150,000 the state is sending about one million dollars more Basic Education Program (BEP) funds next year totaling $15,962,000.

In addition to pay raises and the scheduled step increases , the school system plans to spend more money on technology to bring one to one computer devices into the 6th to 8th grade classrooms. “The state sent us $144,000 this year for teacher raises. That comes to about $600 per teacher. We have added a $250 one time bonus for non certified staff. We put in technology for grades 6-8 for one to one devices about $200,000," Director Cripps told WJLE.

One to one computers are electronic devices that allow students to access the Internet, digital course materials and digital textbooks. By providing students their own notebook computer or tablet, schools make it possible for students to find information instantly to produce rich multimedia content.

“There is going to be a demand for more technology in the schools. The state is sending money for us to put more money for technology and they are tracking it to make sure the funds are going toward technology,” said Director Cripps.

“The state is going to all testing online. At the high school it will be online next year with 3-8 grades the following year. These one to one devices are needed not only for testing but because of the way kids are learning and the way teachers are presenting the material to the kids today. It is totally different from the way that we learned and what the state is asking from our kids today. They are not being taught or expected to learn like we did. They (state) wants them to gather information, not just to give an answer, but a thought process on how they are arriving at an answer and how they are to use that in the real world,” Director Cripps continued.

The new budget also includes $20,000 for a school building feasibility study. “We put in $20,000 for an architect to come in and do a study. It is my hope that with an architect study we will be able to get a break down of different school sizes (options) and what it would cost to build those schools,” he said.

The general purpose school budget for 2017-18 totals just over $22 million dollars. Anticipated revenues are budgeted at $ 20.7 million. More than $1.2 million of the school's reserves may be needed to balance the budget on paper but that is less than last year’s projection. “We are trying to go less and less into our reserves and we have done that this year,” said Director Cripps.

Jobs4TN Hiring Event Coming to DeKalb County TODAY (Wednesday)

April 26, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
obs4TN Hiring Event Coming to DeKalb County TODAY (Wednesday)

DeKalb County Government and Justin Potter Library will be teaming with The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to bring the Jobs4TN Hiring Event to DeKalb County.

This free employment services event will take place on Wednesday, April 26th from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm in the mobile Career Coach that will be located in the parking lot of the DeKalb County Complex at 712 South Congress Blvd in Smithville.

The Career Coach staff will be able to assist individuals in registering on the Jobs4TN job site, show them how to navigate the site of 90,000 plus jobs, create and post resumes, and search for jobs. They will give you tips on interview skills and assist you in connecting with other services if needed. No appointment necessary, just come by and check out the services they have to offer those seeking a job. For additional information contact Justin Potter Library at 615-597-4359.

Harrison Named Assistant Commissioner for Consumer and Industry Services

April 25, 2017
Keith Harrison

With more than 30 years of experience promoting and leading in agriculture, Wilson County native Keith Harrison, with ties to DeKalb County, will take on the role of Assistant Commissioner for the Consumer and Industry Services division at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Commissioner Jai Templeton made the announcement today.

“Keith’s roots are in agriculture,” Commissioner Templeton said. “From his professional experience to his personal life as a farmer, Keith has extensive agricultural knowledge and has developed strong relationships, respect and credibility in the ag community. I am confident he will be a staunch defender of consumer protections while ensuring a positive environment for business development.”

Since 2001, Harrison has put his skills and experience to work for the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, headquartered in La Vergne, Tenn. From marketing to public outreach, to management of and recruitment for numerous corporate and educational events, Harrison excelled in a variety of roles during his tenure with the Co-op.

This appointment marks Harrison’s return to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA). He served in the Market Development division from 1984 until 2000, working his way up from an agricultural marketing specialist to assistant marketing director to ultimately, the marketing director. Harrison was instrumental in development of the Pick Tennessee Products and Ag Tag campaigns, which remain hallmarks of TDA’s public outreach today.

“Agriculture is my passion and I am truly humbled to be asked to serve in this capacity,” Harrison said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with the Consumer and Industry Services division team members to build on their successes.”

Harrison will assume his responsibilities as Assistant Commissioner on May 30. His predecessor, Jimmy Hopper, recently retired after 32 years of leadership with TDA.

Harrison is very active in the community, currently serving or having served in leadership positions with the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives, Farm Animal Care Coalition of Tennessee, Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee, National Agri-Marketing Association, American Feed Industry Association, Cooperative Research Farms, Middle Tennessee Ag Club, Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, UT Institute of Agriculture Alumni Council and Wilson County’s UT Alumni chapter, Leadership Wilson, as well as Wilson County’s Agricultural Hall of Fame board, Fair board, Farm Services Agency, Farm Bureau and Livestock Association. Harrison has also chaired the Watertown High School Scholarship Fund committee and has devoted his time to other organizations benefiting the state and agricultural endeavors.

“Keith is well known for his leadership, customer service and advocacy for agriculture,” Commissioner Templeton continued. “His desire to grow opportunities for Tennessee producers and ag manufacturers will benefit our entire state. He will continue TDA’s tradition of maintaining a high level of consumer confidence, while fostering an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and business expansion.”

Harrison obtained his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He later achieved a master’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

Keith and his wife, Julie, have three children and raise beef cattle and produce hay near Watertown, Tenn.

Highway 56 Project May Be Delayed

April 25, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

The first section of the proposed Highway 56 improvement project is scheduled for a TDOT bid letting in June but may be delayed again.

The original plans called for building a four lane road from south of the Warren County line (in Warren County) to near Magness Road in DeKalb County. TDOT now proposes to build a new two lane road (typical section) with twelve foot lanes and ten foot paved shoulders and passing lanes along the 3.30 mile existing alignment.

“The 3.3 mile section of SR-56 in DeKalb County from south of Warren Co. Line to Magness Road is currently scheduled to be let to contract on June 23, 2017, but it may be pushed back pending some environmental document re-evaluation issues,” Jennifer Flynn, TDOT Community Relations Officer told WJLE.

“This is an Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) project, and the construction re-evaluation of the environmental document needs to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration because the EPD recommendations do not match the original environmental document that was done for the full-build project. Once we get the re-evaluation approved, the project should move forward to the construction letting. Once the environmental document re-evaluation issues are resolved, we will submit the project for the next available letting. Currently our Project Development division is working with the Federal Highway Administration to arrive at a solution,” said Flynn.

Meanwhile, the second phase of the Highway 56 improvement project is tentatively scheduled for a bid letting next year.

“The project from South of State Route 288 to east Bryant Street in Smithville is currently tentatively scheduled for a summer 2018 letting. This is also an EPD project and subject to the same action by the Federal Highway Administration. The construction re-evaluation of the environmental document needs to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration because the EPD recommendations do not match the original environmental document that was done for the full-build project. We will need to get permits and most likely will reassess some of the environmental issues. That should take place this summer,” said Flynn.

CSBG Funding Available to Assist

April 25, 2017

The Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) Program has funding available to immediately assist applicants in need due to a temporary emergency situation. Applicants must be income-eligible and show their need for service based on guidelines for each program.

You may qualify for a one-time payment if you are 60 years old or above, disabled, a family caregiver, or have a child under the age of six.

You may qualify for a one-time payment toward rent, mortgage, electric, water, or food assistance if you have a household with one member working at least 29 hours or more a week.

Please contact your local UCHRA office during business hours for details.

No Wheel Tax in DeKalb County Anytime Soon

April 25, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Anita Puckett

DeKalb County will not be implementing a wheel tax anytime soon.

Although at least one county commissioner, Anita Puckett believes a wheel tax is needed to help secure funding for the future construction of a new elementary school, she has decided to delay asking for a vote on it until the Board of Education presents the commission with a building plan based on results of its own feasibility study.

Puckett addressed the issue during Monday night’s regular monthly meeting of the county commission. “I have spoken with (Director of Schools) Patrick Cripps Friday and today (Monday). They (school board) are actually meeting with the Upland Group Architectural firm and they are going to be getting them to do a more indepth feasibility study and with that study they will be able to tell us specifically what they desire and the cost on that. We’ll hold off on making any decisions about how to approve that revenue until we follow up with the board of education about what their desires are,” said Puckett.

Prior to the county commission meeting, the Board of Education Monday night adopted its tentative budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year which includes $20,000 for a school building feasibility study.

“We put in $20,000 for an architect to come in and do a study. It is my hope that with an architect study we will be able to get a break down of different school sizes (options) and what it would cost to build those schools,” Director Cripps told WJLE.

Puckett, who serves as a fifth district county commissioner and is also assistant Principal at Smithville Elementary School, first raised the issue during a county commission education committee meeting and then shared her suggestion with other members of the commission during an all committees workshop Thursday night at the courthouse.

The County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) recently conducted a building feasibility study and concluded more classrooms are needed particularly at the lower elementary grade levels within the system.

Puckett said the county commission should adopt a wheel tax and earmark the funds for school infrastructure. The commission can take action on its own to implement a wheel tax but passage requires at least a two thirds vote (10 out of 14) in support on two separate readings at least a month apart. Residents opposed to a wheel tax could mount a petition drive between the first and second readings to force a public referendum on the question.

A proposed $50 wheel tax at the current car count in DeKalb County would raise approximately one million dollars a year.

“We’re in dire need of a new school. The need is pretty much pre-K through 8 but we can build any type of school in that range as far as the need. My point is whatever they (school board) chooses to build, we need to start looking at approving revenue to build a school. I mentioned to the education committee about a wheel tax. I know that is a sensitive subject but it is a very strong way of generating revenue to build schools. The average age of our schools is 41 years old. The newest building (Northside Elementary) is 17 years old. There is a need. It’s time to be building some schools. Its time to be moving forward,” said Puckett Thursday night.

The county commission took no action Monday night.

Hartsville Man Found in Bed with Underage Girl

April 24, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jonathon Dewayne Lee
Joseph Allen Maples
Billy James Hobbs

A 30 year old Hartsville man was arrested last week after he was caught in bed with a minor.

Jonathon Dewayne Lee of Woodmore Hollow Lane, Hartsville is charged with sexual contact. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is May 4.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW MUG SHOTS OF PERSONS RECENTLY BOOKED AT THE DEKALB COUNTY JAIL- Intakes & Releases From: 4/17/2017 Thru: 4/24/2017)
Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_20.pdf (2.37 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, April 20 a detective was called to a residence on Potts Camp Road, Smithville where a deputy had gone to do a welfare check on a juvenile and found a naked Lee in bed with the 17 year old girl.

Meanwhile, 54 year old Joseph Allen Maples of Potts Camp Road, Smithville is charged with filing a false report related to the same incident. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on May 4.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, April 20 a deputy went to a residence on Potts Camp Road to do a welfare check on a juvenile. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Maples who resides at this home. The deputy asked Maples several times if the girl was at home and warned that lying to an officer was against the law. Maples told the deputy several times that the girl wasn’t there but after receiving consent to enter the home, the deputy found the girl in the bedroom asleep with Jonathon Dewayne Lee.

57 year old Billy James Hobbs of East Main Street, McMinnville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is May 4.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 22 a deputy was called to a business on McMinnville Highway where a man was found to be passing in and out of consciousness. Upon arrival, the officer found the man, Hobbs, passed out at a table inside the store. Hobbs showed signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, loss of balance, and an inability to maintain consciousness. Prior to this incident earlier calls came in from persons complaining that Hobbs was possibly intoxicated and had become a nuisance at three other businesses on South Congress Boulevard in the City of Smithville.

McMinnville Man Caught with Drugs During Traffic Stop

April 24, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Joseph Mingle
Regenia Kay Satterfield

A McMinnville man was arrested last week after he was found with drugs during a traffic stop.

38 year old James Joseph Mingle of Drake Road, McMinnville is charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale or delivery. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is May 11. Mingle was also issued citations for simple possession of a schedule VI drug (0.25 ounces of marijuana); simple possession of a schedule III drug (subutex), violation of the registration law, violation of the light law, and possession of drug paraphernalia (glass pipe and digital scales used for illegal drugs).

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW MUG SHOTS OF PERSONS RECENTLY BOOKED AT THE DEKALB COUNTY JAIL- Intakes & Releases From: 4/17/2017 Thru: 4/24/2017)
Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_20.pdf (2.37 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, April 20 a deputy pulled over a red truck for a head light violation. While speaking to the driver, Mingle, the officer smelled an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. After receiving consent to search, the deputy found 0.25 ounces of marijuana in the pocket of Mingle’s cargo pants. A further search revealed a green container in the front pocket of Mingle’s overalls. Two baggies of methamphetamine were inside the container. One baggie held 0.7 grams of a clear crystal substance and the other baggie contained 0.4 grams of a white powdery substance. The contents of each baggie field tested positive for meth. Mingle was placed under arrest.

44 year old Regenia Kay Satterfield of Prater Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000. Her bond is $6,000 and her court date is May 4. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 18 Satterfield allegedly stole a gold necklace and a ring from a residence on Carter Drive, Smithville. The total value of the property is $1,127.

DeKalb EMS Awarded FEMA Grant

April 24, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Hoyte Hale

The DeKalb County Ambulance Service has been awarded a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help purchase EMS equipment.

The operations and safety grant, in the amount of $24,000, was awarded through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The local match is $1,142.

DeKalb EMS Director Hoyte Hale said plans are to purchase two transport ventilators to enhance respiratory care of patients while being transported to the hospital and between hospital transports. “I am very happy that we have been awarded this grant. They are few and far between and getting fewer. We are fortunate to have received it. This will allow us to improve patient care in the county,” he said.

The application for the grant was filed last fall. Hale said he received word that the grant was approved earlier this month from the office of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander.

It still may be a few months before the ambulance service actually obtains the transport ventilators. Bids have to be advertised and the EMS staff has to be trained by a certified instructor in the use of the equipment.

TDOT to Re-Bid Veterans Memorial Bridge May 12

April 22, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
TDOT to Re-Bid Veterans Memorial Bridge May 12

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will have another bid letting on Friday, May 12 and the repair of the Veterans Memorial Bridge on College Street will be included.

TDOT initially let bids for the project on Friday, February 10 but the only bid received, from Mid-State Construction Company, Inc. was considered too expensive at $238,600.

“The project was rejected in the February letting because the bid prices came in too high. We are looking at ways to lower them and once we decide on how to do this we will re-let the project and see what we get. We understand that it is an inconvenience, but we must be good stewards of the public’s money and look for fair and equitable prices,” Jennifer Flynn, TDOT Community Relations Officer told WJLE.

If the contract is awarded this time, the project is expected to be completed on or before October 31, 2017. The bridge has been closed since Monday, June 27, 2016.

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