Local News Articles

Victims Injured by Driverless Car Recovering as Case Remains Under Review

February 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
Driverless PT Cruiser runs over Angelia Burke and Knocks down Alecia Burke
Driverless PT Cruiser runs over Angelia Burke and Knocks down Alecia Burke. It also hits  Toyota Camry and Chevy Tahoe
Victims Injured by Driverless Car Recovering as Case Remains Under Review

One of two women struck by a driverless 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser on Valentine’s Day in the parking lot of City Walk Apartments remains hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

50 year old Angelia Burke is recovering from serious injuries sustained in the incident. Her daughter, 32 year old Alecia Burke was also hurt.

Smithville Police were summoned to the scene that afternoon due to a report of a fight in progress and injuries to victims struck by an automobile. Members of DeKalb EMS, the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol were dispatched. Medical first responders and the Smithville Elementary School SRO and nurse also responded.

According to Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the PT Cruiser, which belongs to Vicky Alvis, went in motion backward in the parking lot with no one behind the wheel and it struck both Angelia and Alecia Burke, knocking them to the pavement. The vehicle continued moving backward in a circle, striking a parked 2001 Toyota Camry, and then running over Angelia. The PT Cruiser then hit a parked Chevy Tahoe, before coming to a stop. Angelia was pinned underneath.

Bystanders and first responders came to the aid of both women. A jack was initially used to help raise and stabilize the car until Smithville Firefighters arrived to deploy air bags to help lift the car to get Angelia out. She was taken by ground ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital. Alecia was transported by EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital.

Police have not released details of the alleged incident involving Alvis and the Burkes but the case reportedly remains under review by the District Attorney General’s Office.

Sheriff says Social Media Rumors of School Threats Unfounded

February 23, 2018
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department will have more officers at schools Friday to help ease worries after rumors surfaced on social media Thursday that a student was planning to carry out a threat at the high school.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the rumors proved to be unfounded.

In a prepared statement, Sheriff Ray explained how the story unfolded.

"Around 6 pm on February 22, 2018 the School Resource Officer at the High School contacted me and advised me he had a concerned parent call him. The parent said their child had overheard a student make a threat to the DeKalb County High School.

I immediately contacted a Detective from my department to investigate the complaint.

Through an investigation, the Detective and School Resource Officer found out a 17 year old DeKalb County High School student made a comment that was interpreted as a threat to the school. Both of them interviewed the student and the student said he did not make the comment. The Detective and School Resource Officer also talked to a teacher who was present at the time the comment was made. The teacher confirmed the student never said anything about harming the school.

The Sheriff’s Department has been working with the Director of Schools, Patrick Cripps, the Principal of DeKalb County High School, Randy Jennings, and school support staff along with the Assistant District Attorney General Stephanie Johnson since the investigation started.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps is reporting “Last evening we received information concerning a potential threat to DeKalb County High School. Law enforcement was contacted and an investigation has been initiated.

We would like to remind all families of DeKalb County that the safety of our students is our utmost concern and we will continue to be proactive in ensuring all students remain safe.”

Sheriff Ray said “After our investigation started, there were multiple posts going around on social media that were incorrect and causing a panic. As a result, I will have extra Deputies in and out of the schools tomorrow (Friday) and a couple of deputies placed in certain schools along with the School Resource Officers as a safeguard for our students and school faculty.”

Smithville Elementary Recognizes Students of the Month

February 22, 2018
Dwayne Page
Smithville Elementary Recognizes Students of the Month

Smithville Elementary would like to recognize our Students of the Month for February. These students were selected for their outstanding character, academics, and other traits that make them an all-around excellent student. Selected as Students of the Month for February are:

Pre-K: Julien Kleparek

Kindergarten: Addison Love

1st grade: Brandon Garcia

2nd grade: Khloe Grandstaff

DeKalb 4-H Member Attends National Healthy Living Conference

February 22, 2018
Lily Martin

DeKalb County 4-H member, Lily Martin recently represented Tennessee and DeKalb County at the National 4-H Healthy Living Conference.

Tennessee 4-H had 53 individuals in attendance at the summit in Chevy Chase, Maryland February 16 - February 19, 2018. The Healthy Living Summit involves high school students from around the country gathering at the National 4-H Center to assist them in the development of knowledge and skills to address today's issues including nutrition education, physical fitness, wellness, and emotional well-being. Students are trained to create action plans to implement in their communities and teach other youth about what they have learned. The structure of the summit maximizes the amount of hands-on learning experiences and translates that learning to direct outcomes.

Lily is a Freshman at DeKalb County High School. She plans to use what she learned to create an action plan to have a healthier community.

Board to Consider Contract Extension for Director of Schools

February 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
Patrick Cripps

The DeKalb County Board of Education may consider a contract extension for Director of Schools Patrick Cripps when it meets again next month.

Cripps’ contract currently runs through June 30, 2019. He has served as Director since July, 2015.

The original contract was for two years to expire on June 30, 2017 but the Board voted in June, 2016 to extend the contract by two years based on overall high marks given by the Board in a director performance evaluation.

Cripps was recently evaluated again by the Board but the results have not yet been tabulated

Cripps' annual salary is $85,000 paid in twelve equal monthly installments in accordance with the policy.

The next meeting of the DeKalb County Board of Education will be Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m. at the Ernest Ray Education Center.

The agenda is as follows:

Consider and act on the Director's Contract

Consider and act on approval of the Career and Technical Education 2017-18-Crossville

Consider and act on 2019-2020 school calendar

Consider and act on updating/adopting school board policies on 1st reading.

School updates and committee reports will be given.

A personnel report will also be given by the Director of Schools.

Any other business that may properly come before the Board.

The consent agenda is as follows:

Consider and act on a request for the Prom to be held off campus at "The Capitol Theater" in Lebanon on April 27

Consider and act on a request to submit 21st Century Grant application

Consider and act on an overnight trip request from DCHS Student to attend All-State Honors Chorus April 11-14

Consider and act on Budget Amendment for Soccer

Consider and act on extended bus utilization

Consider and act on Budget Amendment-CSH

DCHS Tiger Basketball Coach Lynus Martin Resigns

February 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tiger Basketball Coach Lynus Martin Resigns

After sixteen seasons DeKalb County High School Tiger Basketball Coach Lynus Martin has announced his resignation as coach.

Martin informed his players of the decision last week and has sent a copy of his letter to both DCHS Principal Randy Jennings and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps. Martin will continue to serve as teacher.

Coach Martin took over from former Coach Danny Bond during the 2002-03 season and compiled an overall record of 276-203, becoming the second winningest coach in DCHS Tiger basketball history behind former Coach Harold Luna. A successor to Coach Martin has not yet been named.

In his letter to DeKalb County boys basketball players, parents, and fans, Coach Martin wrote as follows:

“I really don’t know where to begin. Most importantly, I just want to say Thank You”.

“The past sixteen years have been some of the best, most memorable years of my life. I feel as though I’ve grown up in front of you, and being able to lead our basketball family has been a dream come true”.

“It has been an honor to represent both the school district and town of DeKalb County. I can’t say enough about how much all of your support has meant to me and our program”.

“After lots of thoughts and prayers, I’ve decided that it is in my best interest to resign my basketball coaching position at this time. Effective immediately at the end of this school year. For many years Tiger Basketball has been my #1 priority, but as life progresses, circumstances change, and at this time, I felt it necessary to refocus much of my energy to my family and other avenues of life”

“I truly can’t say thank you enough to our coaches, parents, and all associated with our program. I’ve always said our program is defined by EA, our Effort has been relentless, and our Attitude has been our backbone. Those two characteristics are what have defined our program”.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity former Head Boys Basketball Coach Danny Bond gave me back in 2002, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my experience. Also, thankful to my wife Jessica for her undying support and love throughout all these years and to all my kids for their love and suppport of their dad when it seemed like I was never home”.

“Most importantly, to all my players(alumni and current), outside of my immediate family, there’s no one I care for more. My off-court, practice, and game antics weren’t an act, but rather what you brought out of me - my best, and I will forever be indebted to all of you for that”.

“I will continue to represent DeKalb County to the best of my ability, regardless of what the future may hold. I will never forget these years as head of the FAMILY; not just for the basketball victories, but for the relationships built, culture created, lessons learned, and the memories that will last a lifetime,” wrote Coach Martin.

DeKalb County Receives TDEC Grant to Upgrade Used Oil Recycling Stations

February 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling

DeKalb County has been awarded a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to upgrade its used oil recycling stations.

The grant amount for DeKalb County, $88,750 is among $6,041, 629 in grants being awarded to support community recycling efforts in a statewide move to reduce landfill waste.

“The grant funds will pay for replacing and or installing new collection tanks for used oil, canopies, pads, oil pumps, oil filter crushers, and old tank removals at the garbage collection convenience centers where the existing oil collection stations are located at Midway, Keltonburg, Alexandria, Snow Hill, Allen’s Ferry Road, and McMinnville Highway. Grant funds will also be used to provide education and outreach materials,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling.

“TDEC is committed to increasing the diversion and beneficial use of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills or contaminating our waters,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “These grants will help local communities meet the ever-growing challenge of finding ways to reuse materials that would otherwise be discarded to benefit our economy and protect our environment.”

Awarded projects fall into one of five categories: Recycling Hub and Spoke, Recycling Equipment, Recycling Rebate, Used Oil and Convenience Centers.

Recycling Equipment Grants were authorized by the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 and are supported by the Tennessee Solid Waste Management Fund, which is administered by TDEC. The fund receives revenues from a state surcharge on each ton of solid waste disposed in landfills and from a fee on new tires sold in the state. Used Oil Grants are authorized under the Used Oil Collection Act of 1993 and are funded by the Used Oil Collection Fund, which receives its revenues from a fee collected against every quart of oil sold.

Living Well Workshops Help DeKalb County Live Better with Chronic Conditions

February 21, 2018
Dwayne Page

For people with chronic health conditions, good medical care is just half of the equation. Equally important is their ability to make healthy decisions, follow their doctor’s recommendations and take care of their condition.

Living Well with Chronic Conditions, a workshop offered in DeKalb County, teaches people with lifelong health conditions to do just that. Participants have less pain, more energy and fewer hospitalizations.

The classes, offered weekly at the DeKalb County Health Department from March 5- April 9, are for anyone with a chronic disease. Chronic diseases are lifelong health conditions and include diabetes, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, chronic pain, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and others.

There’s a significant need for support for people with chronic diseases, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the most common, costly and preventable of all U.S. health problems. They are also the leading causes of death and disability, responsible for seven out of 10 deaths each year.

Living Well workshops are delivered in six two-and-a-half-hour weekly sessions. They are taught by two certified leaders; either one or both are non-health professionals who have a chronic disease themselves and can speak from their own experience.

During the six-week session, participants receive support from trained leaders and other workshop participants, learn practical ways to manage their pain and fatigue, learn about nutrition and exercise options, understand new treatment choices and learn better ways to communicate about their conditions with doctors and family members.

Governor Hopeful Craig Fitzhugh Addresses Local Democrats at Mass Meeting (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

February 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
Governor Hopeful Craig Fitzhugh Addresses Local Democrats at Mass Meeting

State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh is in the race to become the next Governor of Tennessee.

The twelve term member of the Tennessee General Assembly from Ripley represents the 82nd legislative district including the counties of Crockett, Haywood, and Lauderdale. He spoke Saturday at the DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting.

Fitzhugh said the three main issues in this campaign are education, health care, and jobs for Tennesseans.

“I’m for giving everybody the opportunity to have the American dream. What is that American dream? The ability to take care of your family. The ability to give them food, clothing, and shelter. The ability to educate them. The number one issue is education. It is the reason state government exists. There is a provision in our state constitution that says the state of Tennessee must provide a program of free public education. And it doesn’t start in college. It starts in early childhood education. Everybody also needs a high school degree and then training after that. Does that mean a four year or two year degree? Maybe, maybe not. But it means at least some technical training so we can get those better jobs,” said Fitzhugh.

“The most pressing issue is health care. It is a big issue nationally and there are some things we can do at the state level that we haven’t done. The biggest moral failure the legislature has done in the 24 years I have been there is the failure to expand Medicaid. It makes such a big difference. We have forfeited over $4 billion in your tax money that we didn’t take here that is going to other states. The hospital I was born in at Brownsville closed two years ago. It would not have closed if we had expanded Medicaid. Rural hospitals are going to keep closing. Medicaid would have also helped in the opioid crisis,” Fitzhugh continued.

“The third issue is jobs. The Governor says we have the lowest unemployment we’ve had in years. That is right. But we have more people in this state percentage wise working for minimum wage than any other state in the country. What we need is better training for better jobs. And if we can put Broadband in rural areas it will change the way we live. We have got to get it done. The Governor has put money in it but not much,” added Fitzhugh.

Craig graduated from Ripley High School in 1968, where he played varsity baseball, football, and basketball on some of the earliest integrated sports teams. A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the UT College of Law, where in 2010 he was a finalist for its Presidency. He served four years active duty in the Air Force as a Captain in the Judge’s Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

He returned to Ripley to practice law. In 1992, Craig joined the Bank of Ripley, where he currently serves as Chairman and CEO. There he created a bank grant program providing more than $300,000 to supplement classroom resources for local public school teachers.

Craig has represented the people of Tennessee’s 82nd legislative district in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 1994, chosen by his colleagues to serve as House Minority Leader. Craig is a strong advocate for public schools, improved health care especially in rural areas, and economic development throughout the state.

Craig has been married for over 40 years. Pam Fitzhugh is a Lauderdale County native who also attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Pam is a retired consultant for hearing-impaired children with the Lauderdale County School System. She previously worked in this capacity for the Dyer County School System.

Pam and Craig have two married children: Elizabeth Molder is a former first grade teacher and her husband Chaz Molder is an attorney in private practice in Columbia; Tom lives in Memphis and works at the Bank of Ripley/Bank of Tipton and his wife, Windy, is a pediatric nurse practitioner at St. Jude. They have four grandchildren: Marley, Hugh, BeBe and Ollie.

Craig is a fourth generation member of First Baptist Church, Ripley. He serves there as a Deacon and Chairman of the Trustees.

UCHRA Director Placed on Administrative Leave with Pay

February 21, 2018
Dwayne Page
Luke Collins

The executive director of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending an independent investigation.

Luke Collins is under scrutiny after a Channel 4 investigation into his questionable time sheets, per diem payments, and use of a public transit vehicle.

The UCHRA board met Tuesday morning in Cookeville and voted to put Collins on leave with pay and to ask the agency’s attorney to find another lawyer to lead an independent investigation.

According to reports, some members of the board argued that Collins should not receive pay while on administrative leave, but ultimately the motion was passed to allow him to be paid while the investigation was underway.

Rebecca Harris, the agency’s transportation director, will temporarily serve as executive director until next week when the board meets again.


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