Local News Articles

Fall Break and Parent-Teacher Conferences Set for DeKalb Schools

October 2, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

DeKalb County Schools will be closed for the fall break October 11-22 (The first week will be intercession)

Meanwhile Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 5th at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 7th at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 4th

Any DCHS student interested in working on grade recovery, Tiger Academy, or credit recovery during fall break needs to sign up in the counseling office as soon as possible. Fall Intercession will be held October 11-15th from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. Bus transportation is available. Students wanting to do grade recovery for classes they are currently enrolled in need to check with their teachers before signing up.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said during Parent-Teacher Conferences, parents in DeKalb County will be receiving their child's individual Student Performance report, or a comprehensive review of how the child performed on the state's Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests.

This year parents will notice some changes as a result of reforms at the state level.

Tennessee adopted revised academic standards through the Tennessee Diploma Project in 2008 and during the 2009-2010 school year students completed their first year of learning and testing on those standards. Willoughby said the tests given in 2009-2010 reflect not only revised academic standards but a much higher bar for the "proficient" and "advanced" levels of performance.

The performance report this year will include new levels of performance, "basic" and "below basic" that are used to help identify how much students need to progress to be proficient.

A new definition of proficiency now indicates a mastery of knowledge in a subject rather than minimal understanding. The combination of higher standards and proficiency means, ultimately, more students will be college and career ready. But it also means harder tests, and a potential dip in the immediate future with lower test scores and performance at the school level.

Despite the immediate outlook, Willoughby said these changes mean that our students will be better prepared for success in a global economy. They will be better prepared to not only compete with their peers in Tennessee, but with their peers in high-performing nations across the world, he said.

The DeKalb County School System, Willoughby said, is dedicated to helping parents during this transition. If parents have questions about student test scores, please contact the schools. Willoughy added, "we will work together for each student's success."

Local Libraries to Receive Grants for Computer Centers and Job Skill Development

October 1, 2010
Dwayne Page

Justin Potter Library of Smithville and the Alexandria Public Library are among dozens of rural libraries across Tennessee that will share in nearly $1.5 million in combined federal and state grants to provide computers, education courses and job skill training. The grants are targeted to help Tennesseans improve computer-related skills so they will be more competitive as they seek jobs.

The libraries in Smithville and Alexandria will each receive a total of $16,013

The project is the culmination of more than a year’s effort by the Department of State and the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD). The joint effort was successfully leveraged to secure additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Of the nearly $1.5 million, ECD will provide $1,030,000 and the Department of State will provide up to $70,000. The remaining $356,577 will come from USDA Rural Development. The funds will be used to provide computers, peripheral equipment, high-speed Internet routers and instructors to conduct training classes.

In addition to administering the $70,000 grant, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, which is a division of the Tennessee Department of State, will administer the other grant funds. TSLA is currently assisting the local libraries in finalizing the consent agreements required before the money is disbursed.

“Now rural communities across Tennessee will have greater access to the technology their citizens need to be more competitive and successful in the workplace,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Our work to obtain the first-class equipment and training for citizens in some of the hardest-hit local economies in our state will yield great benefits across Tennessee. I am grateful for the persistent support of our friends in ECD through this lengthy process and that of USDA Rural Development to further extend the reach of what we could have otherwise accomplished.”

“Libraries play a vital role in the success of entrepreneurs and the creation of jobs across our state,” said Matt Kisber, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “Libraries are where people go to research strategies for a business plan, learn more about market opportunities and to gain skills to become more marketable employees. We’re pleased to be able to partner with the Secretary of State’s office and USDA Rural Development to make this project happen.”

County Names Architect to Oversee Shopping Center Building Renovation

September 30, 2010
Dwayne Page

The county commission Monday night selected J. Mark Rodgers Architect of Cookeville as a third party consultant on the renovation of the 61,000 square foot shopping center building.

According to terms of the deal, Rodgers will receive a one percent consultation service fee, which is to be included as an allowance with each potential bidder. However, this fee will be paid directly from the county to Rodgers to assure an arms-length relationship with the successful team builder.

County Mayor Mike Foster said by providing third party consultation, the county will be given an objective evaluation and progress of the work.

Foster says bids could be advertised as early as next week for the renovation of the shopping center complex, half of which will be for county administration and half for recreation.

Trooper Eric McCormick Nabs Prison Escapee

September 29, 2010
Dwayne Page
Trooper Eric McCormick

A Cookeville Tennessee Highway Patrolman originally from Smithville captured a male inmate Wednesday who escaped from a prison work detail at Roane Mountain State Park.

Brian D. Knighton, 34, a prisoner from the Northeast Correctional Complex-Annex in Mountain City, stole a state-registered 2007 Dodge Caravan, changed the license plates, and fled the upper East Tennessee state park just after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28.

All THP units in the Cookeville District were instructed to “be on the lookout”, and by Wednesday morning, Trooper Eric McCormick noticed the vehicle at the Marathon Gas station located on South Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville. Trooper McCormick, who was assisted by additional State Troopers, took the subject into custody just before 11 a.m.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Tennessee Department of Correction (DOC) are investigating.

McCormick is the son of Jim and Becky McCormick of Smithville.

Walmart Supports DeKalb West School through Teacher Rewards Program

September 29, 2010
Walmart Supports DeKalb West School

Walmart is helping 10 teachers at DeKalb West School to purchase much-needed classroom supplies this back-to-school season as part of its Teacher Rewards program. Nationally, Walmart and Sam's Club locations are awarding more than 45,000 educators with $100 infusing $4.5 million to schools across America.

It's estimated that educators spend approximately $500 out of their own pockets each year for classroom supplies, including snacks for students who may not have regular access to food. The Teacher Rewards program helps offset those costs.

"Walmart is committed to supporting the local community and addressing unmet needs," said John White, Store Manager. "We know teachers are on tight budgets to provide supplies for their classrooms and Teacher Rewards helps offset those costs."

Picture from Left to Right front row are Pam Cunningham, Walmart ZMS and Jennifer Cantrell, Walmart Personnel Manager, who presented the rewards to teachers today (September 28) at DeKalb West School
Back row left to right are teachers Deb Poteete, Regina Kent, Susan Robinson, Cindy Pulley, Vicki Wilson, Jenny Cantrell, Jeanna Caplinger, Cynthia Preston, and librarian Genrose Davis.

DeKalb County Earns Three-Star Certification

September 29, 2010
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Earns Three-Star Certification

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber announced that DeKalb County has achieved certification under the state's Three-Star program for excellence in economic development.

"Solid community development provides the foundation for successful economic development," said Commissioner Kisber. "Our Three-Star communities play an integral role in the overall economic health of the state, and I congratulate DeKalb County for its commitment to excellence and dedication to long-term economic growth and success."

DeKalb County and the Town of Alexandria, Town of Dowelltown, Town of Liberty and City of Smithville are now eligible to receive additional incentives under the guidelines of the Tennessee Three-Star program.

"ECD is proud to support DeKalb County in its dedication to long-term economic growth and success," said ECD Assistant Commissioner of Community Development Rick Meredith. "The community has emphasized essential foundational steps and targeted its strengths that will improve quality of life and grow jobs."

The Three-Star program has set high standards like no other state-run program in the nation. Governor Phil Bredesen's five-year asset-based economic development strategic plan is the cornerstone of Three-Star. The strategic plan addresses development issues and challenges a community is facing in an ever changing economic environment. Additionally, it helps communities preserve existing employment, create new employment opportunities, improve family income and develop a strong leadership base for economic development.

In 2005, the Southern Growth Policies Board, a bipartisan public policy think tank devoted to strengthening the South's economy, recognized the Three-Star program as a best practices program and a Southern leader in community certification programs. The Southern Growth Policies Board honored the Three-Star program again in 2010 with an Innovator Award for its unique partnership with the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence. TNCPE provides services to the communities that participate in the Three-Star program based on the Baldrige National Quality Program and provides feedback to help communities implement and improve their plans.

The Three-Star program is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year after beginning in 1980 as the "Three-Star Award for Successful Completion of the Community Economic Preparedness Program." Under Governor Bredesen, the Three-Star program has been revamped to include a benchmarking system for community excellence which raised the bar for performance. The program has now grown to 89 programs certified, representing more than 340 cities and towns.

In order to receive the certification, communities are required to meet criteria in planning, leadership, community, business and education and work force development categories. Incentives for receiving the certification include identification on all FastTrack infrastructure and job training applications; eligibility for matching grants, if criteria set by ECD are met; earning points in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; assistance from ECD's Regional Economic Development Specialists and the sharing of "best practices" in community development; and the establishment of a strategic plan that is updated annually with measurable goals, specific actions, responsible parties and a timeline.

(Pictured L to R:
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Matt Kisber, Governor Phil Bredesen, ECD Assistant Commissioner of Community Development Rick Meredith, State Senator Mae Beavers)

Smithville Police Department to Conduct Child Safety Seat Inspections

September 29, 2010
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Randy Caplinger

The Smithville Police Department is urging parents and caregivers to make sure their child safety seats are properly installed. The police department will have certified technicians available to provide free hands-on child safety seat inspections and advice from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 30th in the Wal-mart parking lot in Smithville.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger says "It's the responsibility of every single parent and caregiver out there to make sure their children are safely restrained, every trip, every time. We are urging everyone to get their child safety seats inspected. When it comes to the safety of a child, there is no room for mistakes."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, 8,959 lives have been saved from 1975 to 2008 by the proper use of child restraints. In 2008, among children under age 5 in passenger vehicles, an estimated 244 lives were saved by child restraint use (child safety seats and adult seat belts). Research shows that child restraints provide the best protection for all children up to age eight.

For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers can visit their local inspection stations and refer to the following 4 Steps for Kids guidelines that determine which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on age and size:

1. For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds)

3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4'9" tall)

4. When children outgrow their booster seats (usually at age 8 or when they are 4'9" tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

Remember: All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

County Yields to State in Enforcing Building Codes

September 28, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

DeKalb County currently does not require homebuilders to adhere to any residential building codes, but that will change soon under the Tennessee Clean Energy Future Act.

County Mayor Mike Foster said DeKalb County had three options: to adopt the state requirements for enforcement of residential building codes; to adopt a plan of it's own and hire a building codes inspector; or to opt out altogether. The county commission, Monday night, voted to let the state enforce the codes. "We have the building codes on file, but we feel like we should let the state do it (enforce state required building codes) for a while and if building (construction) picks back up later we can look at it. But for now, we don't want to be in the building codes business. We'll let the state go ahead and initiate theirs", said Foster.

"I think it's (building codes) a good thing, especially around the lake. If you see the horror stories of some contractors, the things they have done to some people, I think you'd agree it's a good thing to have some oversight to make sure the house is structurally correct. They'll tell them about things they can do to make homes more energy efficient and it will generally make the house be built to a certain level so that the person having the house built doesn't get ripped off. It'll be safer, more economical, and it will be a better built house", Foster added

This new state law calls for the adoption and enforcement of a residential building code to one-and two-family residences across the state. The State Fire Marshal Office's code enforcement program will begin in October. In the interim, the State will contract with code inspectors, establish a network of issuing agents where the construction permits can be obtained and finalize the process for payments.

Effective October 1st, the State Fire Marshal's Office will issue residential building permits using a system similar to the electrical inspection program that it presently operates. Owners and licensed contractors will obtain a construction permit from the local issuing agents. Inspectors will then inspect residences during construction to ensure code compliance.

Cities and counties that presently enforce a building code that is current within seven years (the 2003 or 2006 edition of the International Residential Code will qualify) can notify the State Fire Marshal's Office and continue local enforcement. Local codes may be more stringent than the state adopted code. Cities and counties may also choose to have no minimum one- and two-family residential building code and no inspections to ensure quality home construction by a two-thirds opt-out vote of their governing bodies (county commissions).

New State Fire Marshal's Office regulations adopt the 2009 International Residential Code and the 2006 International Energy Code. These building codes will only apply to new construction of residential structures. Nonresidential structures, such as out buildings and unattached garages, are not covered. Renovation of existing structures, no matter how extensive, is also not covered. Sprinkler requirements have not been adopted, although a city or county is free to adopt a sprinkler requirement.

Two DCHS Golfers Advance to State Tournament

September 28, 2010
Dwayne Page
Logan Clark, Mallory Sullivan, Coach Joe Pat Cope

Two DeKalb County High School golfers will be participating in the State Tournament after outstanding regional tournament play at Chattanooga Monday.

In the Region, Logan Clark shot a 77 and earned 4th Medalist honors while Mallory Sullivan shot an 87. The DCHS boys golf team finished in third place out of sixteen teams competing in the region while the DCHS girls team tied for third place with Monterey out of fourteen teams.

Click here to listen to Coach Joe Pat Cope's comments about the Region Tournament

County to Share in Cost of Directing Traffic at Northside Elementary School Zone

September 28, 2010
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night voted 12-2 to participate in a partnership with the City of Smithville and the school system to appropriate up to three thousand dollars a year toward the cost of hiring someone to direct traffic in the school zone at Northside Elementary. First district commissioners Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Mason Carter voted against the proposal

The Smithville Aldermen voted to make the same $3,000 appropriation earlier this month with the understanding that the county and school board would each fund one third of the costs as well.

Several county and city officials held an informal meeting at the courthouse a few weeks ago to discuss the plan which calls for the County, the City of Smithville, and the Board of Education to share in the cost of funding the position of one crossing guard or officer to direct traffic in the mornings and afternoons for a total of approximately four hours a day, Monday through Friday, in the school zone at Northside Elementary School. County Mayor Mike Foster said the cost is estimated to be eight to nine thousand dollars per year, which could be split equally between the county, city, and school system.

During Monday night's county commission meeting, seventh district member Jimmy Poss said he recently discussed the issue with Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger who mentioned that
a plan could be worked out to have someone directing traffic at both Northside Elementary and at DeKalb County High School each day, using the same amount of time and money. According to Chief Caplinger, Poss said instead of paying one person to spend four hours per day at Northside Elementary School (two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon), two people could be hired, one for Northside Elementary and one for DeKalb County High School each to direct traffic for two hours per day (one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon).

The school board has not yet taken up the proposal.


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