Local News Articles

DeKalb Fire Dept Partners with Head Start to Cleanup Playground

February 2, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Fire Dept Partners with Head Start to Cleanup Playground

Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department recently partnered with Smithville Head Start to provide cleanup services to the playground.

Brent Reed, Wayne Johnson, Shawn Chausse, Mark Johnson, and Chris Mulford all volunteered their time to help with the Head Start's playground.

They provided services such as raking of leaves, washing of equipment, filling of sand, painting of equipment as well as chopping up roots and filling any holes.

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

February 2, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Michellle Burklow

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

The DeKalb County School System is offering a series of three workshops for parents and caregivers to learn about age-appropriate targets and tools to use at home to ensure children begin kindergarten prepared.

The first "Parent University" workshop will be Thursday, February 5 and all parents with children ages 3-4 are urged to attend starting at 5:30 p.m. at Smithville Elementary School. Other workshops will be March 9 and April 9. Child care will be provided and snacks will be available for parents and children. Free toys and games will be provided for children to take home and keep for each session.

"Through our parent university, we're going to be offering a series of parent workshops to focus on a program called "Ready" designed to prepare three and four year olds for kindergarten," said Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through 6th grade.

"The expectations of students entering kindergarten today are so different from past years. As educators, we know parents play such an important role in their child's early development. This program will help parents in being their child's first and most influential teacher. In these workshops, parents will come together with a facilitator and be provided with a kit of materials (puzzles, books, toys, etc) for the children to play with and use during the workshop. These are free resources for the parents. We will go over the different (Melissa & Doug type) toys in the kit. After the workshop, parents will then take their kit home to have purposeful play with their child for a month until the next workshop. We'll ask them (parents) to take a few minutes a day to spend with their child in using these materials to help develop language and listening skills," said Burklow.

"The first workshop will be held at Smithville Elementary School on Thursday, February 5 with an orientation at 5:30 p.m. followed by the class at 6:00 p.m. "We want to have an orientation with our parents which will last about 30 minutes. The actual workshop will start at 6:00 p.m. and we'll go through about 7:30 p.m. We will be focusing on literacy and language development in our first class because when students start kindergarten they are really expected to know twelve to fifteen letters of the alphabet and the sounds that those letters make. The children should be able to repeat beginning and ending sounds and they should have about a five thousand word vocabulary. Math is also part of the workshops along with social and emotional skills," Burklow said.

The program is made possible through the Upper Cumberland Children's Foundation in partnership with the National Foundation. "We were able to write a grant in the Upper Cumberland to receive these kits to hold our parent universities. The Upper Cumberland received around 300 parent kits and they were disbursed among the nineteen counties in our region," said Burklow.

Sign up by calling 615-597-4084. Visit www.readyforkindergarten.org for more information.

Northside Elementary Recommended for Reaccreditation

January 31, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Northside Elementary Recommended for Reaccreditation

Northside Elementary School will be recommended for AdvancED reaccreditation by members of an external review team who visited the school Thursday and Friday, January 29-30.

"The External Review Team recommends to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that Northside Elementary School earn the distinction of accreditation by AdvancED for a five year term that expires June 30, 2019," said Dr. Alice Patterson, AdvancED Lead Evaluator who addressed members of the administration, faculty, and WJLE at Northside Elementary in an exit report meeting Friday afternoon.

But while the school drew praise for advancements, the team cited an improvement priority that must be addressed within two years. "You know you need additional resources for your students regarding mental and emotional health needs. You know this is an area in which you are not at a standard you want to be or should be, where students need to be. This will be what has to be reported to AdvancED and you will have two years to rectify this area for improvement," said Dr. Patterson.

The AdvancED external review team, made up of five Middle Tennessee educators, met with eighty six stakeholders including administrators, teachers, parents, students, school board members, and others in conducting its two day evaluation. Northside Elementary was evaluated in three domains "Teaching and Learning Impact on Student Performance", "Capacity of Leadership to guide and ensure effectiveness in carrying out the strategic direction of the institution", and "Utilization of Resources".

According to Dr. Patterson, the Index of Education Quality results for Northside Elementary School indicate that it is performing within acceptable ranges as compared to the expected criteria as well as with other institutions in the AdvancED Network nationally. " We take the three domains and use all of our data and standards indicators to make the connection between what we found locally to a national ranking," she said.

*Northside's overall IEQ score was 284.62 compared to the AdvancED Network Average of 282.79 (All schools in the network nationally)

*Teaching and Learning Impact on student performance: Northside IEQ Score:285.71. AE Network Average 274.14

*Capacity of Leadership to guide and ensure effectiveness in carrying out the strategic direction of the institution. Northside IEQ Score: 292.73. AE Network 296.08.

*Resource Utilization: Northside Elementary Score: 268.57. AE Network Average 286.32.

While Northside Elementary's score in Resource Utilization is below the national AdvancED network average, the school has two years to make improvements. "You have an improvement priority which will address that. When your review comes back that will have been addressed and that is going to bring that report up more to the national average. Improvement priorities must be addressed within two years," said Dr. Patterson.

A written external report will be prepared and sent to the State AdvancED headquarters in Nashville and to the regional office in Atlanta for final action on the recommendation. It will be several weeks before Northside is informed of the decision on reaccreditation.

Dr. Gayle Redmon, Principal at Northside Elementary thanked Dr. Patterson and members of the external review committee as well as the Northside teachers and assistant principal Beth Pafford. "Dr. Patterson on behalf of Northside, our parents, and our community we would like to thank you so very much. You have been a fabulous team to work with and you are welcome to come and visit our school at any time. We appreciate you and the hard work you have done. I think we are a great school. I tell our teachers all the time that they are the hardest working bunch of people I've ever been around. But it is so nice to occasionally have someone come in and take a good look at us. And we're so glad you think we are (a great school) too. I want to thank our parents for coming back today. We have two school board members here (Doug Stephens and Shaun Tubbs) and Dwayne Page from our radio station. We're delighted to have him here as well. And teachers, as always, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the hard work that you do. And I couldn't do this without Ms. Pafford. She turns out more work than anybody I know," said Dr. Redmon.

Members of the AdvancED External Review Team who visited Northside Elementary School Thursday and Friday, in addition to Lead Evaluator Dr. Alice Patterson were Sharon Anderson from Putnam County; Adelaide Nicholson, a Nashville School Principal; Craig Lynn, Principal at White County Middle School; and Scott Gaines, Assistant Director of Maury County Schools in Columbia. Dr. Patterson also serves on the faculty at Trevecca Nazarene University and the School of Education in Nashville.

The AdvancED Network was created as a result of a merger of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. "Several years ago SACS merged with North Central and created AdvancED which was the K-12 component for accreditation purposes. AdvancED is now a global leader in providing continuous improvement and accreditation services to over 32,000 institutions serving 20 million students worldwide. Our office is in Atlanta, Georgia serving this region. Our state office is in Nashville," said Dr. Patterson.

DeKalb Middle, DeKalb West, and Smithville Elementary are also to be evaluated for reaccreditation this year. DCHS was reaccredited last year.

(PICTURED ABOVE: Beth Pafford, Shaun Tubbs, Dr. Gayle Redmon, Doug Stephens, Dr.Alice Patterson, Craig Lynn, Sharon Anderson, Scott Gaines, and Adelaide Nicholson)

2015 Chamber of Commerce Executive Board and New Board Members Announced

January 30, 2015
Chamber of Commerce Executive Board

At the January Chamber Board Meeting and Retreat, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce Board elected their 2015 Executive Officers. Jeff Crips of Regions Bank is the 2015 Chamber President. Shan Burklow of DeKalb Community Hospital is the new Vice-President. Jane Brown of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas is the Chamber Treasurer. Joan Barrett of Premier Realty at Center Hill Lake will continue to serve as the Chamber Board Secretary. Julia Cantrell Vanderpool of Cumberland Insurance will serve as the Past President.

Five new Chamber Board Members have begun their 3-year term – Kathy Hendrixson, Justin Potter Library; Reed Vanderpool, Smithville Review; Shan Burklow, DeKalb Community Hospital and Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival; Gail Gentry, Appalachian Center for Craft; and Shannon Adkins, Calum Farms Décor. Beginning a 2-year term, Jane Brown of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, will finish out a former board member’s term.

Other Chamber Board Members serving in 2015 include Sue Conley, DeKalb Community Hospital; Raul Ramirez, Federal Mogul; Sherry Harris, D&S Specialtees; Stein Prichard, Prichard Foods; Dwayne Cornelius, DeKalb Depot; Jason Murphy, Optimus Pest Solutions; Elaine Swicker, Smithville Computer Repair.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams is very excited about working with this wonderful group of people and is looking forward to a great 2015!

The Chamber Director and Board would like to express appreciation to Leadership Director Jen Sherwood for facilitating the January Board Retreat, to DeKalb Community Hospital for sponsoring the January Meeting/Retreat and to NHC Healthcare and DeKalb Community Hospital for co-sponsoring the monthly Chamber Board Meetings by providing great meeting spaces and delicious lunches.
Pictured l-r

Front:
Jane Brown, Treasurer; Joan Barrett, Secretary

Back:
Shan Burklow, Vice-President; Jeff Crips, President; Julia Cantrell Vanderpool, Past President;

DeKalb Jobless Rate for December at 6.1%

January 29, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for December, 2014 was 6.1%, up from 6% in November but still below the 7% rate for December 2013.

The local labor force was 8,970. A total of 8,420 were employed and 550 were without work.

DeKalb County's Jobless Rate for December was fifth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region.

Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:
Pickett: 12.5%
Van Buren: 9.5%
Clay: 9.3%
Cumberland:8.7%
White: 7.8%
Jackson:7.4%
Fentress: 7.1%
Overton:6.7%
Warren:6.5%
DeKalb: 6.1%
Putnam: 5.9%
Cannon:5.6%
Macon:5.1%
Smith:5.1%

County unemployment rates for December 2014 show the rate decreased in 20 counties, increased in 64 counties, and remained the same in 11 counties.

Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate in December at 5.0 percent, down from 5.1 percent in November. Davidson County was 5.1 percent in December, down from 5.2 the previous month. The Hamilton County December rate was 6.4 percent, unchanged from November. Shelby County was 8.1 percent in December, also unchanged from the previous month. Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for December was 6.6 percent, two-tenths of one percentage point lower than the November revised rate of 6.8 percent. The U.S. preliminary rate for December was 5.6 percent, also falling two-tenths of one percentage point from the prior month.

The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Hendersonville Woman Airlifted After Bizarre Crash

January 28, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Photo by Donny Green
Donny Green Photo

A Hendersonville woman was injured in a bizarre crash Wednesday morning on the Old Casey Cove Road in DeKalb County.

41 year old Krystal McFall was airlifted by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

The accident is under investigation by Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Members of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded and the following is a supplement to an incident report filed by County Fire Chief Donny Green as to the details of the accident.

"The DeKalb County Fire Department responded to a reported motor vehicle accident at 911 Old Casey’s Cove Road in Smithville, Tennessee. 911 Dispatch provided information that the vehicle had gone over a steep embankment and there was a patient trapped. The DeKalb County Fire Department’s Extrication Unit was also dispatched to the scene."

"Chief Donny Green arrived on the scene and discovered a Ford F-150 pickup truck off the steep embankment with the front of the truck resting against a lakeside cabin. Green also discovered that a female, Krystal McFall, was pinned between the truck door frame and a large tree stump."

"Rescue technicians and equipment arrived on the scene and a plan was devised to safely move the truck off of the pinned patient. The rescue operation went very smoothly and the patient was quickly freed and turned over to DeKalb County EMS for trauma treatment."

"Upon interviewing witnesses at the scene, Chief Green learned that a 5-year old boy who was in the care of the victim, Krystal McFall, was actually present and witnessed the accident. His account, along with evidence at the scene, indicated that McFall had attempted to turn around on the narrow road and became stuck when the front end of her Ford pickup truck went slightly over an embankment. As it became apparent she was stuck, she got the young boy out of the truck as she attempted to back the truck up".

"McFall put pieces of wood under the back tires to gain more traction. But, as she was still outside of the truck, the truck began sliding or rolling further over the steep embankment. McFall attempted to jump in the truck to apply the brakes to stop it when she became pinned between a large tree stump and the open door frame of the truck. Apparently, the 5-year old boy, who was not inside the truck and not injured, witnessed the accident and ran approximately ½ mile down the road and found someone to alert about the accident. DeKalb 911 Central Dispatch was notified of the accident and immediately dispatched appropriate resources".

"The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and DeKalb Tire and Service were on the scene to render additional assistance. DeKalb Tire and Service’s wrecker was requested to be dispatched to the scene by the fire department’s rescue personnel in case heavy equipment was needed to stabilize and move the vehicle. However, the extrication team was able to free the patient without having to use the wrecker. Chief Green expresses his appreciation to DeKalb Tire and Service for their quick response to standby at the scene".

"Emergency personnel also credit the 5-year old boy’s bravery and composure as he played an integral role in quickly alerting a neighbor so that emergency responders could be summoned. According to Chief Green, had it not been for this young boy’s quick and smart actions, the accident would have likely been delayed in getting reported because of the remote nature and infrequent travel of this road," Green concluded in his report.

February to be Busy Month for Trustee's Office

January 28, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sean Driver

As of Monday, January 26th the DeKalb County Trustee's Office had collected 45.53% of the $7.5 million in 2014 county property taxes to be collected by February 28. That includes property, residential, commercial, personal, and public utility taxes.

Trustee Sean Driver told WJLE on Tuesday, January 27 that collections to date are in line with those of previous years which means February will be a busy month for the Trustee's Office as taxpayers rush to beat the deadline. "Last year on this same date, January 26 we had collected 46.66% . We're usually at this same level every year with about the same percentages. We are about to go into the month of February and we're fixing to be busy. Just by looking at all the past years taxes have come in we're due to collect about $3.5 million coming up. That's collecting about half of the tax base in February alone.," said Driver.

Saturday, February 28 is the last day to pay the 2014 property taxes before penalties start accruing March 1. Since the deadline falls on Saturday, Driver said the Trustee's office will be open that day from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The Trustee's Office is also open regular hours from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday- Friday. "Remember, if the last day comes and you can't make it to the post office to postmark your payment, we do have a drop box on the outside wall of the county offices section of the county complex. If you choose to use the drop box that weekend (February 28) we will gather the mail on Monday, March 2 from the drop box and no penalties will be applied to your 2014 tax bill," said Driver.

Driver said you have four options for paying 2014 property taxes. "You can come by in person at the Trustee's Office or you may mail in your payment. We also offer online bill pay at www.tennesseetrustee.com. You go to that website and select DeKalb County and then follow the instructions. Business Information Systems has set this up for Trustees across the state and there is a fee to use your debit or credit card. If you do pay online the fee to use your debit or credit card is 2.75% of your total tax bill. Or you can use an e-check for $2.50 on any total. Online accepts Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. Business Information Systems collects the fees, not DeKalb County" said Driver.

"We are also accepting partial payments in any amount. Remember, whatever portion of taxes is unpaid for 2014 using the partial payment plan, only the portion left unpaid will accrue at 1.5% penalty and interest per month starting March 1. The office can still receive partial payments on 2013 delinquent taxes up until March 31" said Driver.

Any 2013 unpaid property taxes will be turned over to the Chancery Court on April 1 for collection. The Trustee's office has collected to date 97.3% of the 2013 property taxes and will be sending out a notice to those still delinquent. "We are in the process of mailing out a reminder for those taxes that are left unpaid for 2013. We will be sending out those (notices) within the next week. If those taxes for 2013 are not paid before April 1 we will be sending that file to the Chancery Court on April 1. We can still receive partial payments on 2013 taxes up to that date," said Driver.

The Trustee's Office also offers the State of Tennessee Tax Relief. "If you would like to check on a possible tax relief for 2014, come and see us at 732 South Congress Boulevard, Room 103 or call us at 597-5176," said Driver. " The last day to sign up for tax relief is April 6.

TCAP Writing Assessments Begin Next Week

January 27, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Michelle Burklow

DeKalb County students in grades 3-11 will be taking the TCAP Writing Assessments in February.

The MIST online testing process will be administered throughout the month of February. According to Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through 6th grade, this year's testing is different in that it is on-line and students will read two informational texts and complete a writing task in response to a prompt/or prompts as part of the assessments. "Our new TCAP test is not going to be just multiple choice. It's going to involve writing. The state is preparing our students for next year's testing through different components this year. As in the past, we will still have the writing assessment for this year but it has expanded and changed dramatically. Every student in grades 3-11 will be taking the writing assessment which is now a computerized test. Dates for the testing have also been spread throughout the month because of so many students having to take the writing assessment. Different grade levels are going to be taking a week at a time to take this test. This does not mean that it will take an entire week for an individual child to take this test. We just had to set grade level windows so the school could set classroom schedules," said Burklow.

Grade level testing windows will begin next week, February 2-6 for students in grades 3, 6, & 9. "These students will be participating in the writing assessment. This means those students will go into the computer lab or they may have the mobile lab brought to their classroom and they will be reading two texts and writing based upon a prompt from those texts," said Burklow.

Other grade level testing windows are as follows:
February 9-13th grades 4, 7, and 10th
February 16-20th grades 5 and 11
February 23-27th grade 8.

"These are grade level schedules. The classroom schedules are being developed at the school level but we want to encourage all students to make sure to get to school on time because we're not sure which classes will be starting first thing in the mornings. We will be testing early and it may go through most of the day so please parents have students in class in order for them to participate in the writing assessment," said Burklow.

"Grades 3-5 will only have to write one text while grades 6-11 will have to write two different texts. Grades 3-5 will write and read for 90 minutes while grades 6-11 will have 120 minutes for writing and reading with the stimulus the state has provided," she said

"We also have a Wida test where we test students with a second language and that window is very similar to the writing assessment window so students with a second language will be tested that week as well," Burklow concluded.

County Seeks THDA Grant Funding to Upgrade Housing

January 27, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Attorney Hilton Conger, County Mayor Tim Stribling, County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss (Older Photo)
Donny Green Reappointed County Fire Chief
Bazel Dick Knowles Resigns from County Beer Board

The county will re-apply for a grant to rehabilitate dilapidated homes at no cost to the homeowner.

During Monday night's regular monthly meeting, the county commission adopted a resolution authorizing the filing of an application for $500,000 in funding through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency’s Home Grant program, which would help bring a certain number of dilapidated homes up to code. The limit of assistance per household is $40,000.

The county and City of Smithville each applied for the grants last year but neither received approval.

Homeowners who have at least one codes violation would be able to submit an application. Once received, the applications would be ranked based on a number of criteria, such as household income and the home’s location. Approved houses would be upgraded at no expense to the homeowner, with a maximum amount that can be applied toward each house. Funding restrictions apply, such as the home must be a single family dwelling and owner occupied (not a rental or manufactured). Funds must also be limited to existing structures.

Funding can only go toward homes that can be rehabilitated to meet housing codes using up to the limited amount.

Cities and counties who apply will learn if they are approved for the grants later this year after a THDA board meeting.

In other business, the commission approved the reappointment of Donny Green as Chief of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and David Agee as Assistant Chief for the next year.

County Mayor Tim Stribling announced that members of the Fire Department met January 4 for the annual election of officers and nominated Green and Agee subject to approval of the county commission.

Bazel Dick Knowles, Fifth district member of the county beer board has resigned his position. County Mayor Stribling announced the vacancy Monday night and added that the position could be filled by the commission at the February meeting

DeKalb County Audit Reveals No Major Issues

January 27, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

An annual state audit of the DeKalb County government has resulted in ten findings with apparently no major deficiencies or problem areas being identified.

The Tennessee Department of Treasury's Division of Local Government Audit last week released the Annual Financial Report of DeKalb County for the year ended June 30, 2014.

A few of the ten findings in the audit are recurring and have been cited in previous years audit reports. Detailed findings, recommendations, and management's response are included in the Single Audit section of this report

(CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW DEKALB COUNTY AUDIT REPORT. READ FINDINGS ON PAGES 169-176)
http://comptroller.tn.gov/repository/CA/2014/DeKalbAFR.pdf

The following are summaries of the audit findings and recommendations:

*Office of County Mayor (prior administration):
The Solid Waste Disposal Fund had a deficit in unrestricted net position. The Solid Waste Disposal Fund had a deficit of $2.8 million in unrestricted net position. This resulted from the recognition of a liability totaling $6.6 million in the financial statements for costs associated with closing the county's landfill and monitoring the landfill for 30 years after its closure. The county intends to fund this liability on a pay-as-you-go basis. Generally accepted accounting principles and state statutes require that such costs be reflected in the financial statements. County officials should develop and implement a plan that would fund the deficit in unrestricted net position.

It is not the first time the county has been "written up" for this. It has become an annual finding of the state. The county is expected to provide financial assurance of a funding mechanism for performing post-closure corrective action at a closed solid waste landfill that may cause some type of contamination in the future. According to the state, the county is $2.8 million short of meeting that obligation, which could come to as much as $6.6 million over the next 30 years.

*Office of Road Supervisor (prior administration):
The office did not maintain adequate controls over consumable assets. The office did not maintain inventory records of consumable assets, such as fuel and tile. Generally accepted accounting principles require accountability of all consumable assets. The failure to maintain adequate records of consumable assets weakens controls over these assets and increases the risk of inventory loss. Furthermore, personnel independent of maintaining the inventory should periodically verify these records.

*Office of the Director of Schools:
Material audit adjustments were required for proper financial statement presentation. At June 30, 2014, certain general ledger account balances in the Education Capital Projects Fund were not materially correct, and audit adjustments totaling $409,427 were required for the Financial statements to be materially correct at year-end. Generally accepted accounting principles require the DeKalb County School Department to have adequate internal controls over the maintenance of its accounting records. This deficiency was the result of a lack of management oversight. The School Department should have appropriate processes in place to ensure that its general ledgers are materially correct.

*Office of the Director of Schools:
The School Federal Projects Fund had a cash overdraft of $26,060 at June 30. 2014. This cash overdraft resulted from the issuance of checks exceeding cash on deposit with the county trustee. The cash overdraft was liquidated subsequent to June 30, 2014. In the Management Response from the Office of Director of Schools, "We currently have an $80,000 reserve in federal projects to cover any cash overdrafts. This unfortunately was not enough to cover our accounts receivable at year-end since the reimbursement request dated May 30 for the Twenty First Century Community Learning Centers was not received until July 7, 2014, along with our other June requests. Had we received this request of $35,753 in June, we would have had sufficient funds to cover the cash overdrafts".

*Office of Director of Schools:
The office processed and distributed payroll checks inappropriately. The School Department processed and distributed payroll checks to 12-month support staff on the fifth day of each month for that month's salary, in effect paying these employees for work that had not yet been performed. If an employee were to leave service prior to the end of the month, the School Department would have to attempt to recover the overpayment of wages. This deficiency is the result of a Board of Education policy dictating the pay date for these employees. School officials should not issue payroll checks to employees before they earn the compensation.

*Office of Trustee:
The trustee did not require a depository to adequately collateralize funds. During the year, deposits exceeded FDIC coverage and collateral securities pledged by $1.2 million; however funds were adequately secured at June 30, 2014. The Trustee should require all depositories to pledge sufficient securities to protect county funds exceeding FDIC coverage as required by state statute.

In response to WJLE, Trustee Sean Driver explained that this finding was the result of a timing issue involving the merger of two banks and in trying to determine with whom the pledges were to be secured after the merger. When the Trustee's office made this determination the issue was properly addressed and should not reoccur in the future.

*Office of Circuit, General Sessions, and Juvenile Courts Clerk:
Execution of docket trial balances for Circuit and General Sessions Courts did not reconcile with general ledger accounts by $6,679 and $2,937, respectively. Therefore we were unable to determine if the clerk had complied with provisions of the Unclaimed Property Act. The statute provides that any funds held by the courts for more than one year and unclaimed by the owner are considered abandoned. TCA (state law) further requires these funds to be reported and paid to the state Treasurer's Office.

*Offices of Circuit, General Sessions, and Juvenile Courts Clerk and Register of Deeds:
Multiple employees operated from the same cash drawer. Good internal controls dictate that each employee have their own cash drawer, start the day with a standard fixed amount of cash, and remove all but that beginning amount at the end of the day. This amount should be verified to the employee's receipts at the end of each day. Failure to adhere to this control regimen greatly increases the risk that a cash shortage may not be detected in a timely manner. Furthermore, in the event of a cash shortage, the official would not be able to determine who was responsible for the shortage because multiple employees were working from one cash drawer. Officials should assign each employee their own cash drawer.

*Offices of Road Supervisor, Trustee, Register of Deeds, and Sheriff:
Duties were not segregated adequately. Officials and employees responsible for maintaining the accounting records in these offices were also involved in receipting, depositing, and/or disbursing funds. Accounting standards provide that internal controls be designed to give reasonable assurance of the reliability of financial reporting and of the effectiveness and efficiency of operations. Officials should segregate duties to the extent possible using available resources

*DeKalb County Commission:
The County Commission's Audit Committee is not a functioning committee. DeKalb County participates in the Three Star Program through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to assist the county's community development efforts in competing for jobs and attracting industry. One of the requirements of the Three Star Program is that the county must create and maintain an Audit Committee. DeKalb County created an Audit Committee on May 11, 2011 as provided by TCA (state law); however there are minutes from only one meeting on July 30, 2013, to document that Audit Committee has met or conducted business. Without a functioning Audit Committee, the County Commission does not have independent and objective reviews of the financial reporting process, internal controls, the audit function, and monitoring management's plans to address various risks. The County Commission's Audit Committee should be a functioning committee, maintain minutes of its meetings, and annually present a written committee report detailing how it discharged its duties and any committee recommendations to the full County Commission.

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