Local News Articles

Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections Underway

November 8, 2012
Donny Green

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency, announced that the 2012 FSA county committee elections are underway as ballots were mailed to eligible voters in Local Administrative Area # 1 on November 5th. December 3rd, 2012, is the deadline for eligible voters to return ballots, either post marked in the mail or delivered in person, to their local FSA offices.

"The FSA county committee system is unique among government agencies, because it allows producers to make important decisions concerning the local administration of federal farm programs," said Green. "I urge all eligible farmers and ranchers, especially minorities and women, to get involved and make a real difference in their communities by voting in this year's elections."

Committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on disaster and conservation payments, establishment of allotments and yields, producer appeals, employing FSA county executive directors and other local issues. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in FSA programs. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm, can also vote. Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate names during the nomination period held last summer.

Eligible voters in Local Administrative Area # 1 who do not receive a ballot can obtain a ballot at their local USDA Service Center. December 3rd, 2012, is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than December 3rd. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office January 1st, 2013.

For more information about FSA county committees and FSA programs, visit: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

Longtime Educator Retires from School System

November 7, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joy Parker

After more than thirty years as an educator, Joy Parker has retired from the school system. But while her teaching career may be over, Parker has no intention of slowing down.

She has already taken another job, working for attorney Gayla Hendrix as a secretary.

Parker's retirement as a teacher became effective last month and though excited about the new job, she has mixed emotions about leaving behind the one she's known for much of her life. "I always wanted to teach school. I loved that job. Its been a great job for me. It was way more emotional to leave it than I realized it might be. I'm very excited to do something new but it was kind of bittersweet to leave what I've loved for thirty years," she said.

A graduate of DeKalb County High School, Parker furthered her education at MTSU where she earned a BS degree with endorsements in elementary and special education. Soon after she landed a job with the local school system. "I graduated in December, 1981. I started as a substitute teacher and was later hired in the fall of 1982. I taught special education for fourteen years at DeKalb Middle School. I left there and went to Smithville Elementary to teach fourth grade. I did that for twelve years and in that process I moved to Northside. Four years ago I moved back to the Middle School where I started teaching special education again," said Parker.

Although she enjoyed being a regular classroom teacher, Parker said her first love was working with special education students. "The special education class that I taught is called the Comprehensive Development Class. Its often referred to as CDC. At that time when I started teaching, there was one CDC classroom in this county and that was at the Middle School. We had children from five and six years old all the way to twenty one. So when I started teaching school I had several students who were almost as old as I was. And then I had little bitty guys running around. I look back at that and they were great years. They are some of my best memories. The kids I've had over the years have truly influenced me a lot. And especially when you work with special ed students. Just to watch them day to day, they are very motivating. When you teach special ed, you have the same kids for several years in a row so you get really attached to those students. I got attached to fourth grade students I had for one year. But when you teach special ed you have that child for maybe three years. And years ago when I started, we had kids in that class for seven, eight, and nine years in a row. So by the time you work with a child for that long, you know every member of their family. You know everything about them and you get very attached," she said.

While she enjoyed her years as an educator, Parker said she is anxious to try something new. "I've gone to work for Hendrix Law Office. I'm learning how to be a secretary. I think its going to be fun. Gayla and I have been friends for years. We grew up together. Our fathers were friends in high school. Our families have been close. I think we'll have a big time. I'm looking forward to learning something new," said Parker.

Parker said she is thankful for the opportunity to have worked in the school system for so many years. "I really would like to thank Mr. Willoughby and Randy Jennings. They have given me a great send off and made me feel like they appreciated what I did. That's always a good feeling when you teach school. To feel like you've done something that benefitted kids and you helped out the school system," she concluded.

Liquor Loses in Smithville, Weaver Re-Elected

November 6, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver Re-elected to 3rd Term

Smithville city voters have defeated a liquor referendum for the second time this year. By a vote of 684 to 558, city voters rejected a referendum that would have allowed retail package stores, under certain conditions, to sell alcoholic beverages within the city limits of Smithville. Earlier this year, city voters rejected a referendum that would have allowed the sale of liquor by the drink in local restaurants.

The breakdown of the liquor referendum vote is as follows: In early votes and absentee ballots, 490 voters cast ballots against the sale of liquor while 368 voted in favor of it. At the Church of Christ Annex, 100 voters cast ballots in favor of the sale of liquor while 92 voted against it. At the County Complex, 18 voters said yes to the sale of liquor while 13 voted against it, and 27 voters at the Courthouse said 'no' to sale of liquor while 15 voted in favor of it.

By law, another referendum permitting the sale of liquor in retail package stores cannot be placed on a city ballot for at least two years.

Meanwhile, Republican incumbent State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver was re-elected to a third term. Weaver carried all 13 precincts in which she was on the ballot in DeKalb County along with early voting and absentees, earning a total of 2,741 DeKalb County votes to 1,517 votes for Democratic challenger Sarah Marie Smith. District-wide, Weaver won with 16,396 votes to 9,130 for Smith.

The following are the results of the Weaver-Smith race district wide by county:
DeKalb:
Weaver: 2,741
Smith: 1,517

Smith:
Weaver: 4,069
Smith: 2,684

Sumner:
Weaver: 8,094
Smith: 3,677

Trousdale:
Weaver:1,492
Smith: 1,252

Republican incumbent State Representative Mark Pody of the 46th Legislative District was unopposed and received 933 complimentary votes in DeKalb County.

In the Presidential election, Republican challenger Mitt Romney easily carried DeKalb County with 4,134 total votes to 2,168 for Democratic incumbent Barack Obama. Romney won all 16 county precincts along with early voting and absentee ballots.

Republican incumbent United States Senator Bob Corker also won all 16 DeKalb County precincts as well as early voting and absentee ballots for a total of 3,828 votes. Democratic challenger Mark E. Clayton received 1,521 votes in DeKalb County.

Republican incumbent Congresswoman Diane Black earned 3,738 votes in DeKalb County.

A total of 6,479 voted in DeKalb County including 3,217 who voted either early or by absentee and 3,262 on election day.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW DEKALB COUNTY PRECINCT RESULTS FOR EACH RACE INCLUDING THE LIQUOR REFERENDUM

http://www.wjle.com/node/11682

Police Chief Releases Update on Recent Crime News

November 6, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger has released his latest update on criminal activity in the city.

26 year old Devin Anson French was arrested on Tuesday, October 23 for domestic assault. According to the warrant, Officer Stephen Barrett responded to a 911 call of a woman screaming in the area of Bell Street. Upon arrival he made contact with the victim who said that her ex-boyfriend had assaulted her. The man, French, who had left the area was later located by Officer Joey Myers on Jackson Street. Upon further investigation it was determined that French was the primary aggressor. Bond for French is $2,500.

27 year old Clent Lee Shehane was arrested Thursday, October 25 for domestic assault. According to the warrant, Officer Matt Farmer was dispatched to a possible domestic. Upon arrival he saw Shehane yelling and fussing with a family member who was standing by a car. Officer Farmer determined that Shehane had allegedly committed the assault by grabbing and throwing the victim. Shehane's bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on November 15

33 year old Jack Mullican Jr. was arrested on Thursday, October 25 for tattooing a minor. Mullican allegedly tattooed a minor without the consent of the parent. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court on November 8
.
51 year old Larry Estil Lattimore was arrested Saturday, October 27 for public intoxication. Sergeant Bradley Tatrow was dispatched to Cherry Street in reference to a complaint of someone armed with a knife. Lattimore was told by the resident to leave and he was sitting in the driver seat of his vehicle with the door open upon Sergeant Tatrow's arrival. Lattimore was found to be unsteady on his feet. He had slurred speech, a strong odor of a fermented beverage about his person and he had an aggressive demeanor. Lattimore was arrested for his safety and the safety of the public. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on November 15

28 year old Daniel Ray Wilson was arrested on Tuesday, October 30 for burglary. On Thursday, October 18 at Taco Bell, Wilson allegedly broke the passenger side window of the victim's vehicle with a brick and then reached inside and took her purse. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is November 15

22 year old Felicia A Moore was arrested on Tuesday, October 30 for theft under $500. Moore allegedly took items from Wal-Mart without paying for them with the intent to deprive the store of its property. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on November 29.

35 year old Crystal Gail Pettit was cited for simple possession on Tuesday, October 30. Pettit was stopped at Wal-Mart for possible shoplifting and upon a search of her person, white capsules, a schedule V drug, were found. Her court date is November 29.

55 year old Sharon Kay Robinson was cited for theft on Friday, November 2. Robinson allegedly attempted to walk out of the Dollar General Store without paying for products in her possession. Her court date is November 29.

47 year old Rose Marie Hines was arrested on Friday, November 2 for DUI and simple possession of a Schedule II & IV controlled substance. 45 year old Richard Eugene Nokes was arrested for public intoxication. Police were dispatched to the parking lot of the Family Dollar Store to check on two people passed out in a vehicle. Upon arrival, police found Hines passed out under the steering wheel. Hines was awakened. She had slurred speech and could barely keep her eyes open. She performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Found on her person were schedule II & IV drugs. Nokes was a passenger of the vehicle. He was awakened. Nokes was disoriented. He had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet. Nokes was arrested for public intoxication. Bond for Hines is $5,500 and $1,500 for Nokes. They will be in court on November 29

43 year old Robert Roy Atnip Jr. was arrested on Saturday, November 3 for public intoxication, carrying a prohibited weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia. According to the warrants, police were dispatched to an area on Golf Club Lane to check on a person knocking on doors trying to sell gun ammunition. When the officer approached, he found that Atnip had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was unsteady on his feet and disoriented. Atnip gave consent to search a backpack in the back of his truck and police found drug paraphernalia there. Upon a search of his person, police found a knife in a sheath with a blade longer than four inches. A hatchet was also found in Atnip's pocket. Bond for Atnip is $7,500 and he will be in court on November 15.

65 year old John Edward Turner was arrested on Saturday, November 3 for public intoxication. The warrant states that police received a call of an intoxicated person who had fallen inside the store at Mapco Express. Upon arrival, an officer found Turner sitting in the floor with a busted mouth. After being cleared by DeKalb EMS, who came to examine him, Turner was escorted out of the store. Turner had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He couldn't walk without assistance and his eyes were glazed over. Turner was placed under arrest for his safety and transported to the jail for booking. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court November 29.

While on a call at Mapco Express, police recently arrested 31 year old Robert Dale Menzie for a second offense of driving under the influence. Menzie, who had been operating a motor vehicle, was approached by an officer in the parking lot of the store. Menzie had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was unsteady on his feet and he performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Menzie's vehicle was seized for driving on a suspended license due to a previous citation against him for driving under the influence. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court November 29.

Meanwhile, anyone with information on criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that would help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense is greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Smithville Aldermen Seek Meeting with DUD Board to Discuss New Water Contract

November 6, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen (older photo)
DUD Board members Roger Turney, Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Hugh Washer

With plans for a new DUD water treatment plant still in the making, officials of the DUD are asking city fathers to make them a proposal for a new thirty year contract.

The city aldermen, Monday night at the suggestion of Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, voted to send DUD board members a letter asking for a meeting between the city and DUD to begin face to face discussions.

"DUD has sent us a written proposal/contract asking us what we would like for the contract to be for a long term purchase program of our water," said Hendrixson. "Rather than just go back and forth by letters, I think the board (mayor and aldermen) should have a sit down with their board to just get down to it and figure out what they (DUD) want and if they really want it. I would like permission from the board (aldermen) to send a letter to each of their (DUD) board members asking for a sit down (meeting) to hopefully negotiate a long term contract," he said.

The City of Smithville currently sells water to the DeKalb Utility District for $2.00 per thousand gallons and under terms of the contract, the rate increases by five cents per thousand in January of each year. The two parties entered into the contract in 2004 and it expires in 2014.

On August 28, DUD manager Jon Foutch sent to Hendrixson, a rough draft of a proposed contract for water purchase by the DUD from the City of Smithville. The proposed contract was accompanied by a request for DUD officials to inspect and copy certain "public records". Foutch wrote, "In order to aid in the determination and discussion of a reasonable rate, we need certain information to review."

"We asked for these documents from the city so DUD can be prepared for any circumstances," Foutch told WJLE. "We just want as much information as possible available to us in order to make the best decision for our customers," he said.

On September 6, Hendrixson responded to Foutch's letter "The City of Smithville is more than willing to meet with the DeKalb Utility District about a long term water purchasing agreement

Foutch replied in a letter on September 19, "I would ask that you please advise as to the city's position on the proposed contract and or provide me with a proposed contract that the city would like to submit for DUD's consideration. I ask that you please address this issue as soon as possible and I appreciate your kind attention to this request," wrote Foutch.

So far, no contract offer has been made and no meeting between city aldermen and DUD board members has been held. "At this point, everything is stagnant right now," said Hendrixson during Monday night's city council meeting. "They (DUD) are not selling bonds to my knowledge at this moment to fund their (water treatment plant) project which is going to run anywhere from ten to fifteen million dollars. I believe the city should re-negotiate a contract with them at a decent price to continue working with DUD and to keep ratepayers on both sides of the utility districts from having to suffer any rate increases. So with your (aldermen's) permission I would like to invite them to sit down with us," said Hendrixson.

City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said Monday night that if a meeting is held, he and the DUD attorney Keith Blair should also be there. "Their attorney has never contacted the city attorney about this. They did send us a proposal some months ago. However, that wasn't sent to the city attorney. It was sent to you (Hunter) and the mayor. It was a one sided contract. It wasn't a negotiated one. It was one they were proposing. Normally, the attorneys representing the various entities are involved. (In this case) at least they did not involve me. Now whether Keith Blair was involved as their attorney, I don't know. Maybe he wrote the contract. But irrespective at any meeting, I think it would be imperative that Keith and myself be there so that we understand what terms are trying to be negotiated and the prices and any escalator clauses and so forth. But to this date, I have never received anything from DUD asking me to re-negotiate or try to negotiate other than what you have received. I feel it is important that the attorneys be involved," said Parsley.

"Have we determined how much it costs (to produce water)?," asked Alderman Shawn Jacobs. "I think we cannot in good faith negotiate any kind of contract until we can determine how much it costs us to produce a gallon of water," he said.

"In their contract, I do like the fact that they are willing to split the costs 50/50 for a (cost) study on this and I'm willing to do that now if the board is," said Hendrixson.

"That's a very prudent thing to do," said Alderman Jacobs.

"I commented on that a couple of months ago," said Alderman Tim Stribling. " There are so many factors involved. Depreciation. Raw materials. It's not just the people at the plant," he said.

"That (cost study) will help us from our own standpoint in addition to this contract," added Alderman Jacobs.

"I make a motion that we give Hunter the authority to contact the DUD board for a sit down meeting to begin talks," said Alderman Stribling. "Not necessarily negotiations but to begin talks to find out what they really want to do," he said.

The DUD has already secured an ARC grant as well as loan and grant funding from USDA Rural Development for their proposed water plant, along with a bond resolution which has been approved for the authorization and issuance of waterworks revenue refunding and improvement bonds. But to date the bond sale has apparently not been finalized.

Even if the DUD proceeds with its plan to build a water plant, it will most likely need a new water contract with the City of Smithville, at least in the short term, since its current agreement with the city is due to expire by the first of 2014, before a water plant could be completed

DUD is also awaiting the outcome of a rate review hearing by the Tennessee Utility Management Review Board which has not yet been scheduled. Last Thursday, the DUD board met in regular monthly session and retained the services of C. Dewey Branstetter, Jr. of Branstetter, Stranch, and Jennings PLLC of Nashville. He will be joining DUD attorney Keith Blair in handling legal issues pertaining to the rate review hearing before the UMRB.

Voters Decide Tuesday

November 5, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Terri Lynn Weaver
Sarah Marie Smith
Barack Obama
Mitt Romney

Election day is Tuesday, November 6 and polls at all sixteen precincts will be open for voting in DeKalb County from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

A total of 3,196 DeKalb County voters have already cast ballots during the two week period for early voting, October 17 through November 1.
WJLE will have LIVE local election return coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night on AM 1480/FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

DeKalb County voters may cast ballots for President of the United States, a U.S. Senator of Tennessee, U.S. Representative of the Sixth Congressional District, and State Representatives of the 40th & 46th districts. City of Smithville voters will also decide the outcome of a liquor referendum.

In the Presidential race, the ballot includes:
Electors for Mitt Romney for President and Paul Ryan for Vice President (Republican Nominee)
Electors for Barack Obama for President and Joe Biden for Vice President (Democratic Nominee)
Electors for Virgil Goode for President and Jim Clymer for Vice President (Constitution Party Nominee)
Electors for Jill Stein for President and Cheri Honkala for Vice President (Green Party Nominee)
Electors for Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson for President and Luis J. Rodriguez for Vice President (Independent Candidate)
Electors for Gary Johnson for President and James P. Gray for Vice President (Independent Candidate)
Electors for Merlin Miller for President and Virginia D. Abernethy for Vice President (Independent Candidate)

Candidates for the U.S. Senate are:
Bob Corker (Republican Nominee)
Mark E. Clayton (Democratic Nominee)
Kermit Steck (Constitution Party Nominee)
Martin Pleasant (Green Party Nominee)
Shaun E. Crowell ( Independent Candidate)
David Gatchell (Independent Candidate)
James Higdon (Independent Candidate)
Michel Joseph Long (Independent Candidate)
Troy Stephen Scoggin (Independent Candidate)

U.S. House of Representatives (6th Congressional District)
Diane Black (Republican Nominee)
Pat Riley (Green Party Nominee)
Scott Beasley ( Independent Candidate)

Tennessee House of Representatives (40th District)
Terri Lynn Weaver (Republican Nominee)
Sarah Marie Smith (Democratic Nominee)

Tennessee House of Representatives (46th District)
Mark A. Pody (Republican Nominee)

City of Smithville
Liquor Referendum
"To permit retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the City of Smithville"

"Not to permit retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages in the City of Smithville"

2012 State Report Card: DeKalb County Schools Show Gains

November 5, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

DeKalb County schools, county wide, made Value Added gains in math and science, improved in individual year ACT scores, and maintained grades from last year in other Achievement and Value Added subject areas according to the 2012 Report Card on Schools.

The Tennessee Department of Education Thursday released complete results from the 2012 state Report Card. The report includes district- and school-level data on a variety of indicators, from student achievement and growth on standardized tests, to attendance and graduation.

The 2012 Report Card is difficult to compare to previous years in some areas because the new report reflects the first year of the state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. Tennessee now operates under a new accountability system, which has been approved by the federal government.

"We're real proud of our report card," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby in an interview with WJLE last week. "A lot of major accomplishments have been made this year. The rigor has really increased tremendously in the last two years. We have gone up a letter grade in several areas. When you can do that with the rigor that's demanded and required with our standards in the state of Tennessee, you've accomplished a lot. Our students have accomplished much this last year and our report card shows that," he said.

DeKalb County also received recognition from the state department for closing the gaps among Limited English Proficient students in Reading and Language Arts by eighteen percent, according to Dr. Danielle Collins, Federal Programs Supervisor "That's a huge gain for one year. Its because of the great commitment from our teachers. They just do amazing work daily and that is exceptional," she said.

Director Willoughby; Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for Grades 7-12; Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for pre-K through 6th grade; and Lisa Bell, Data Analysis Leader Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education, and Dr. Danielle Collins, Federal Programs Supervisor met with WJLE last week to explain the data.

The following is a summary of the DeKalb County School System Report Card for 2012 from the Tennessee Department of Education:

The graduation rate of 93.5% is down from 94.2% in 2011 but it is above the state goal of 90% and has been for several years
Attendance for K-8 was 95.8%, the same as 2011
Promotion Rate for K-8 was 99%, slightly below the 99.7% in 2011
Attendance at DCHS was 96.9%, up from 95.2% last year

"We're very pleased with the efforts of each of the schools as well as parents and the students, said Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education, referring to the high rate of attendance. "Everybody is making a conscious effort to be in school and stay the full day, not leave early and not come in late. That's just a fabulous attendance rate. A lot of the schools do initiatives to get the kids there 100% or as close to 100% of the time as possible. They do rewards for having perfect attendance and our parents really do help with that as well. We're pleased that they're (students) there for that good percentage of time," said Arnold.

Achievement continued to earn "B"s countywide in all academic 3-8 TCAP tested grades, the same as last year, as did the state for this year. In grades 3-8, the county received ALL "B"s for Academic Achievement in the areas of Math; Reading/Language Arts; Social Studies, and Science.

Value-Added countywide improved in Math from a "C" to a "B". Science also improved from a "D" to a "C". Reading maintained a "B" and Social Studies a "C". Tennessee Value Added Assessment Scores (TVAAS) measures academic growth over a three year period.

Achievement is reported on the report card for Writing. Students across the county received an "A" in 5th, 8th, and 11th grades for Writing, the same as last year, as did the state.

"Overall, countywide a lot of things we put into place to help improve the learning in math have really come out this year through the achievement and the value added at each of the schools," said Lisa Bell, Data Analysis Leader. "The teachers are trying to implement Common Core in so many different strategies to get the students to be much more active learners. I'm really excited about things I see happening in the classroom," said Bell.

The ACT individual year in 2012 shows that DeKalb County students' average scores increased in every area, English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning from 2011, but are still below the state. Three year averages are also down in each subject area.

"I am very pleased with the progress DeKalb County Schools have made," said Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for 7th-12th grades."I am very proud of the teachers. It's not been too long since I was in the classroom (as a teacher) and I realize the pressures of the classroom (for teachers today). The students have really met the challenges of the rigorous material that we have. I am so pleased with the ACT scores being up in all areas of English, Math, Reading, and Science for 2012. That's a big accomplishment because we do test every child now in the eleventh grade and we're one of seven states that do that. We do incentives for those students (taking the ACT). Even if they're not planning on going to college, they do have to take that ACT so we're trying incentives. I'd like to also thank the parents for encouraging the students," said Cripps.

Value-Added for the high school in the area of Biology I and English I, II, and III earned a status of NDD. This means that the students met their predicted scores to have an acceptable year's growth. Algebra I and II had below average growth for the year.

Although more than 95% of DeKalb County students were proficient on the US History End of Course state test, the growth for Value-Added was below average. This is a common trend across the state.

DeKalb Middle School:
In Achievement, DeKalb Middle School continued to receive "B"s in Social Studies and Science. The school also maintained a "C" in Reading. Math improved from a "C" to a "B". The state had All "B"s. For Value-Added, DeKalb Middle School Math improved from a "C" to an "A" while all other areas received a "D".

DeKalb West School:
In Achievement, DeKalb West School continued to score above the state in every academic area receiving "A"s in Reading, Social Studies, and Science. Math received a "B". The state had All "B"s. For Value-Added, DeKalb West School improved in academic areas from last year. Math improved from a "D" to a "C" and Social Studies improved from a "C" to a "B". Reading maintained an "A" and Science a "B".

Northside Elementary School:
In Achievement, Northside Elementary School maintained "B"s in Social Studies and Science. Reading improved from a "C" to a "B" and Math maintained a "C" For Value-Added, Northside Elementary maintained "A"s in Reading and Social Studies. Math improved from a "D" to a "B" and Science improved from a "C" to a "B".

Smithville Elementary School has the same report card and standing as Northside Elementary since it is a feeder school to Northside.

"I think the report card is absolutely fantastic," said Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for pre-k to 6th grade. " I'm excited. I think that we have made great strides over the last year. I see that with the new standards, we're looking at even kindergarten students now being college and career ready. That's a big change for us but we are now looking at the broader picture. I think our kids are learning more and more each day as a result. Our teachers are working hard and I think they're doing a great job too," said Burklow.

"I want to brag on all of our employees," said Willougbby. "They have worked really hard. The things that were required three years ago versus the things that are required now for employees and for students are not the same. So much more is being required. Accountability is so much higher. Standards have changed so much and are much more rigorous than what they used to be. Its difficult but it's a good thing for our kids. That's the business we're in, doing what's best for children. We want our children to be prepared when they graduate from DeKalb County schools. We think we're doing a good job. Teachers are just doing an outstanding job and working hard. The demands that are put upon educators are more than they have ever been. Our children who are graduating from schools today are more prepared for the future than they have ever been. I just appreciate what everybody is doing," said Willloughby.

Baxter Man Arrested for Burglary and Theft

November 5, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
William David Arendall
Christopher Allen Richardson

A Baxter man has been arrested for breaking into an outbuilding and stealing a riding lawn mower in the Silver Point area.

60 year old William David Arendall of Baxter is charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $30,000 and he will be in court on November 15.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, October 8 Arendall allegedly broke into an outbuilding on Lafever Ridge Road in the Silver Point area of DeKalb County and stole a riding lawn mower, valued at approximately $1,600. He was arrested on Monday, October 29.

The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

42 year old Christopher Allen Richardson of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with domestic assault and vandalism under $500. His bond is $7,500 and he will be in court on November 29.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, November 4 Richardson allegedly assaulted a family member at a residence on Sparta Highway. According to Sheriff Ray, Richardson allegedly followed the victim into a room where he broke a window, causing less than $500 in damage. He is accused of holding the woman down by the hair of the head and strangling her, making it hard for her to breathe, and leaving red marks on her throat. The woman pulled away and went to a neighbor's house. Richardson allegedly followed her to the neighbor's house and threatened to kill all of them there. The victim had red marks on her chest and throat area, and a cut on one of her ears. Richardson was arrested and taken to the jail for booking.

Meanwhile with the holidays approaching and thefts on the rise Sheriff Ray is asking you to report any suspicious activity you may encounter. "We're in that time of year where break-ins are on the rise. We've had home break-ins recently on Edge Road in Dowelltown, the Alexandria to Dismal Road, and Old Snow Hill Road. We've also had other thefts across the county, such as metal products that have been stolen including equipment, scrap metal and things like that. We just want to advise everybody as to what has been going on. We urge you to take an extra look at your surroundings and be our eyes and ears. If you hear or see anything that looks suspicious or have knowledge that someone is trying to sell something that doesn't belong to them, we would encourage you to call the sheriff's department at 597- 4935. You can speak to me or to one of our criminal detectives. Or you can call the dispatch line at 215-3000 and they will get a deputy in response to check on it," said Sheriff Ray.

Smithville BPW Fall Pageants set for Saturday at New Location

November 4, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lauren Ashley Medlin
Anna Rachel Blair
Tyra Grace Graham

The Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club will be moving their annual Fall Fest, Autumn Princess, and Autumn Sweetheart pageants to the DeKalb County Complex auditorium Saturday. The first pageant begins at 3:00 p.m.

16 year old Lauren Ashley Medlin is the reigning Fall Fest Queen. She is the daughter of Greg and Teresa Medlin of Smithville. The Fall Fest pageant is for girls ages 14-18.

11 year old Anna Rachel Blair is the 2011 Autumn Princess. Blair is the daughter of Keith and Amanda Blair of Smithville. The Autumn Princess pageant features girls ages 7 to 10.

14 year old Tyra Grace Graham is the first ever Autumn Sweetheart. Daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville, Graham will crown her successor Saturday. The Autumn Sweetheart pageant is for girls ages 11-14.

All Princess entries will receive a trophy and all Sweetheart/Queen entries will receive an Entry Gift from the BPW Club.

Long Branch Community Church Celebrates New Beginnings

November 2, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Pastor Mark Miller at New Home for Long Branch Church
Aerial View of Long Branch New Beginnings
Pastor Mark Miller inside Church Sanctuary

The Long Branch Community Church has long wanted and needed a bigger building to house its growing congregation. After years of planning and construction, pastor Mark Miller and his fellow church members will experience a new beginning Sunday as they hold services for the first time in their new home which will also have a new name the Long Branch New Beginnings.

"We have just completed our new building and Sunday, November 4th will be our first service," said Miller. " Its been a long time coming," he added.

The former location of the church, about a mile below Center Hill Dam at Lancaster served as a place of worship for decades. "We just out grew it", said Miller. "During the past few years we have seen a tremendous growth in our attendance. So in 2009, the church decided to build a new facility with construction beginning in the early part of 2010. We are a non denominational church and are excited about what the future holds for our church," he said.

The new sanctuary is located in DeKalb County on State Highway 264 between the Temperance Hall community and the Smith County line. "The church is 100' x 115'," said Miller. "Its handicapped accessible. Our Sunday School facility is so much greater than it was. Our fellowship hall is now right in with the church. The auditorium is in the center of the building. Our lighting, video, and audio is so much different than what we've ever known. We appreciate all the prayers and the support and work that people have put into this. We're excited about getting in it," he said.

Miller and the congregation invite everyone to come join them in their first worship service at the new church sanctuary on Sunday. "We invite one and all to come out and join us on Sunday, November 4. Our service this Sunday will start at 10:30 a.m. We will not have Sunday School this Sunday. Our normal services will start at 9:45 a.m. for Sunday School and 10:30 a.m. for worship and at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night," he added.

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