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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.

Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday

April 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition encourages all DeKalb County residents to join the effort to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse by participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This event will be held on the public square in front of the Smithville City Hall on Saturday, April 30 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition urges DeKalb County residents to come out to this event and drop off any unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription medication for safe disposal. This is confidential and no names or information will be collected.

The DeKalb County Prevention Coalition is partnering with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in association with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Office of Diversion Control in providing this service.

On Saturday, April 30, in communities across the state, Tennesseans have the opportunity to take part in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs from homes and offices.

“This is a chance for everyone to contribute, and become part of the solution to our state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic that has hurt so many of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “Every person in our state has been touched by this epidemic, in one form or another. We have lost too many to this disease of addiction. If you have unused medications, do your part and join in Take-Back Day. Ask others to do the same.”

In 2015, the Tennessee Department of Health released some very sobering statistics on the impact of substance use in Tennessee revealing: The number of Tennesseans who die each year due to drug overdoses increased again in 2014. The total number of overdose deaths rose by nearly 100, from 1,166 in 2013 to a record-setting 1,263 in 2014. If those numbers are hard to comprehend, consider this: more people died from drug overdoses in Tennessee last year than were killed in motor vehicle accidents.

“For most of this decade we have witnessed the fall-out from prescription drug abuse,” said Commissioner Varney. “In addition to unintended deaths and overdoses, as access to prescription pain medications has become more difficult, many people are feeding their addiction by others means, switching to heroin and other drugs. They’re putting themselves and their loved ones at great risk.”

“Once again this year we are pleased to be partnering with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), which provides the drop-off boxes,” said Commissioner Varney. “And what’s especially helpful is the online interactive map TDEC has created, which pinpoints the exact location of every drop-box in Tennessee, accessible to everyone.”

TDEC began the Pharmaceutical Take-Back initiative as a pilot program with the City of Knoxville in 2011. Today the project has a total of 155 Take-Back Box locations in 85 counties. In partnership with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Department of Homeland Security, Health, Mental Health and Substance Abuse and local law enforcement agencies, the collection program offers a safe and easy way to dispose of unwanted medication, and creates opportunities for Tennesseans to promote environmental protection and safer communities.

“In addition to being a health hazard, throwing medication away with household garbage or flushing it is harmful to our environment,” said Lori Munkeboe, director of the TDEC’s Office of Sustainable Practices. “We hope National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will create awareness of the viable disposal options across the state to keep drugs out of our water and off the streets.”

With that in mind, participating in Drug Take-Back Day becomes an opportunity for all Tennesseans to fight back, to keep our bodies and environment free of harmful substances and to become part of the solution, rather than contributing to the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

The response to the September 2015 Take-Back event resulted in more than 350 tons (the equivalent of more than 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs collected nationwide at more than 5,000 sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and another 3,800 locations managed by state and local authorities.

“This is a terrific partnership with law enforcement. It’s free, anonymous and no questions asked,” said Commissioner Varney. “We need to do all we can to encourage people to participate, as the rate of prescription drug abuse in Tennessee keeps rising, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses.”

Take These Steps to Remove Prescription Drugs From Your Home or Office

•Check for unused prescriptions in medicine cabinets, bathroom, closets, bedside tables and kitchen drawers, under the sink, and in closets, purses, handbags, and containers.

•Remove all labeling and packaging on bottles and containers before disposing to ensure the protection of your privacy and personal information.

Keep in mind: the majority of Tennessee’s Take-Back Boxes are in locations that are accessible seven days a week, 24 hours a day. While there is special focus on take-back events each year in April and October, most boxes are located in law enforcement buildings and offices, where they are available for safe disposal anytime you need them.

“It is so important to properly discard unused prescription medications from your home to ensure they are not obtained, misused, or abused by family and friends,” said Commissioner Varney. “By joining in Drug Take-Back Day, you will be taking the best approach in removing unused, unwanted, or expired prescription drugs.”

“Every pill that’s not properly disposed of is a chance it will result in an unintended overdose or death or addiction,” said Commissioner Varney. “I urge all Tennesseans to take part in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, so these unused drugs don’t harm those we love and care for the most.”

If you or someone you care for is in need of substance use treatment, call the Tennessee REDLINE anytime at 1-800-889-9789 for help now. Resources are available across the state.

DCHS Students Participate in Math Contest

April 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Hunter Robinson, Madi Cantrell, Louise Dillen

Approximately 329 middle school and high school students from Upper Cumberland schools participated in the 60th Annual Tennessee Mathematics Teachers' Association Mathematics Contest on the TTU Campus on April 12.

The following students placed for DeKalb County High School.

Hunter Robinson - 9th place in Calculus

Madi Cantrell - 1st place in Algebra 1

Louise Dillen - 3rd place in Calculus


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