Local News Articles

DeKalb Musicians Bring Home the Ribbons

March 4, 2014
Photo:  (Left to Right)  Evan Morse, Jake Ramsey, Summer Morse, Darrah Ramsey

Four young DeKalb County musicians participated in the 11th Annual East Tennessee Young Musicians Bluegrass Contest held on February 22, 2014 in Rogersville, Tennessee. Jake Ramsey came home with first place in the 12-and-under Guitar competition, and Summer Morse brought home second place in the 7-and-under Fiddle category. Jake also won third place in both the Vocals and the Mandolin competitions. Evan Morse and Darrah Ramsey enjoyed participating in the Vocals, Fiddle, and Mandolin categories. Congratulations to these fine young musicians! We look forward to seeing them on the Jamboree stage this summer!

Photo: (Left to Right) Evan Morse, Jake Ramsey, Summer Morse, Darrah Ramsey

Monday Afternoon Fire Destroys Home on Jacobs Pillar Road (View Video Here)

March 3, 2014
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters Battle Fire at Home on Jacobs Pillar Road
Camper Trailer Damaged by Fire last Thursday on Page Drive (Photo by Ken Underhill)

A Monday afternoon fire destroyed a residence at 1993 Jacobs Pillar Road.

David Agee, Assistant DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Chief, told WJLE the home belonged to Jimmy Womack but that Shane Downy was renting it. No one was at home when the firefighters arrived.

It was reported to 911 at 4:21 p.m.

Members of the County Fire Department including the Keltonburg, Blue Springs, and Short Mountain Highway stations, along with the Tanker Truck unit spent several hours trying to extinguish the fire, which gutted the structure. The cause is undetermined. The fire is believed to have started in the living room and spread up the wall into the attic. Some of the families pets perished in the fire.

There were apparently no injuries.

Meanwhile, another fire last Thursday destroyed about half of a camper trailer at 188 Page Drive.

Captain Anthony Boyd told WJLE that the camper trailer belonged to Mark Cantrell but that Lisa Brown lived there. The blaze apparently started as a grass fire and spread to the camper trailer.

Members of the Midway, Short Mountain Highway, Cookeville Highway, and Brush truck responded. No one was injured.

Child Leaves Home on Four Wheeler, Found Safely Hours Later

March 3, 2014
Dwayne Page

An eleven year old boy who abandoned the four wheeler he was riding before disappearing into the woods in the Blue Springs area early Saturday morning was found unharmed a few hours later.

The boy took off on a four wheeler from his home on Big Woods Road around 6:45 a.m., according to Sheriff Patrick Ray. The child's parents heard the ATV start up and went to check. When they saw the boy ride away, the parents gave chase on foot but couldn't catch him. They reported the incident to the Sheriff's Department.

The ATV was later found abandoned at the corner of a bean field. The engine was still running. The boy had apparently jumped off the four wheeler and run into the woods.

The Sheriff's Department then called out members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad to help look for the child.

Joe Johnson told WJLE that he and about fourteen other members of the Rescue Squad conducted a search both by four wheel drive vehicles and on foot. A local pilot also joined the search by air in his Gyrocopter. Sheriff Ray said plans were also to call in a THP helicopter with a fleer heat sensing device but it was not needed.

The boy emerged from the woods around 11:30 a.m. and was spotted by his father walking along Herman Road, according to Sheriff Ray. The child reportedly had on a jogging suit but was not wearing a jacket. He was examined and then taken to the Sheriff's Department, where a call was placed to Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II. Upon orders of the judge, the boy was taken to a juvenile detention facility in Rutherford County.

Martin Earns Ph.D from UT Knoxville

March 3, 2014
Dwayne Page
Dr. April Martin

Local UT Extension Agent April Martin recently earned a Ph.D in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

In an interview with WJLE, Dr. Martin said it's an accomplishment in her life she has been looking forward to for a long time. " I finished my Ph.D in December in Business Administration at UT. It really is an honor and a huge accomplishment in my life. It's a lifelong goal. I started working on my Ph.D almost twelve years ago and with a full time job working with the UT Extension Service and having a family, it took a little bit longer for me than it might have for the average person but I made it and I am proud of it," she said.

An East Tennessee native, Dr. Martin began her career with the UT Extension Service in Smith County after graduating from Berea College in Kentucky. She transferred to DeKalb County in 2006. "I grew up in East Tennessee in Claiborne County in Tazewell, Tennessee. Its right above Knoxville. I went to school there and when I graduated high school I attended Berea College, which is near Lexington, Kentucky. Soon after I graduated there, I started my career with the University of Tennessee Extension Service in Smith County. I was there for thirteen years until 2006 when I transferred to DeKalb County and became the Extension Family Consumer Science and 4-H Agent. I really enjoy serving the people of DeKalb County," she said.

April is married to Gilbert Martin, an employee of DeKalb Farmer's Coop and they have two children, Lily, a fifth grader at DeKalb West School and Wyatt, a freshman at DCHS.

Dr. Martin hopes that her ability to further her education will inspire others. "To anybody who thinks they can't do something like this I can tell you that I wasn't the most talented person. I certainly was not academically gifted growing up as a child. I was a B average and sometimes a C average student. But the number one secret to going forth and getting your education is determination, persistence, and hard work. If you've got that you can do anything," she said.

Two Locals Arrested after Police Pursuit in Mount Juliet (VIEW VIDEO OF PURSUIT)

March 2, 2014
Dwayne Page
Edward Judkins
Candida Driver

Two people from DeKalb County were arrested after a short police pursuit at Mount Juliet Thursday morning.

51 year old Edward Judkins of Smithville is charged with Evading and Reckless Endangerment. 41 year old Candida Driver of Smithville was arrested on existing warrants for evading and failure to appear in DeKalb County. She was also charged with Simple Possession of a Schedule VI drug (Marijuana).

The following is a prepared news release from the Mount Juliet Police Department:

"After a short pursuit Thursday morning, Mt. Juliet Police successfully stopped a fleeing car with a spike system. Around 7:15 a.m. Thursday morning, a Mt. Juliet Police Officer attempted to stop a 1996 Toyota Camry on Interstate 40 westbound for a traffic violation. The driver (Judkins) failed to stop, and led police officers on a short pursuit. The pursuit entered Metro-Nashville for a very short period of time, turned around, and headed eastbound on Interstate 40. While on Interstate 40 eastbound, a Mt. Juliet Police Officer was able to safely deploy a spike system in front of the fleeing car. The spike system deflated two of the car’s tires, which eventually disabled the vehicle. Officers were able to successfully arrest the driver and passenger (Driver) without further incident on Interstate 40 near the Mt. Juliet Road interchange.

The driver, Edward Judkins, 51, of Smithville, was arrested and charged with Evading and Reckless Endangerment. The passenger, Candida Driver, 41, of Smithville, was arrested on existing warrants for evading and failure to appear in court out of DeKalb County. In addition, she attempted to conceal a baggy of marijuana on her person, which was discovered by medical personnel. She was charged for Simple Possession of a Schedule VI drug. Both are set to appear in court on May 13, 2014."

Willoughby Gets New Three Year Contract

March 1, 2014
Dwayne Page
School Board Chairman Johnny Lattimore and Director Mark Willoughby

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has been offered a new three year contract by the Board of Education. He is expected to sign it.

The school board met in special session Friday night and voted 4-3 to enter into a new agreement with Willoughby, which will be from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017. Board members John David Foutch, Charles Robinson, Kenny Rhody, and Chairman Johnny Lattimore voted in favor. Members Billy Miller, Doug Stephens, and W.J. (Dub) Evins, III voted against it, preferring a one year contract instead.

The agreement establishes Willoughby's base salary to be $97,675 per year plus benefits and any additional increases in pay he may be due if state and or local governments should grant future raises.

Other terms are essentially the same as the old contract except for a few changes. The new deal broadens the provision for which the director may be terminated for cause. It drops a section under which the director would have had to repay the school board for the costs of conducting a search for a new director up to $10,000, if he should resign within the first year of his contract. And it waives the authority of the board to be able to transfer the director to another position in the school system, if the board should want to replace him as director.

"I think it needs to be a one year contract," said Board member Miller. "We have five members on this board that may not be here next year that are up for re-election. If he is doing a fine job, he doesn't have to worry about a job," he said.

Before the three year contract was adopted, Miller made a motion to offer Willoughby a one year deal. Board member Stephens seconded the motion but it failed on a 4-3 vote. Evins was the only other member to vote with them.

"The reason I am voting "yes" (for a one year contract) is because I was elected by the people and they know I am very conservative in my actions. I have nothing against Mr. Willoughby and I think he could spend ten years here doing the job that he is doing right now. But my vote is "yes", said Stephens.

"My vote is "no" (for a one year contract)," said Board member Foutch. "I am not going to be sitting in this seat another year. (Foutch is not running for re-election) I feel like the person that sits in this seat needs some time to understand the functions of this board, to get their feet on the ground and to see what is going on. A year (director) contract won't give that person (new board member) the depth (understanding) that they need. For that reason I have to vote "no", he said.

Second district member Robinson voted "no" on a one year contract saying he thought Willoughby has earned another three years. "When you look at the state report card, you can see that we are progressively moving forward at a good pace but maybe not as fast as we probably need to. But our overall school system is going in the right direction under the guidance of Mr. Willoughby," he said.

Third district member Rhody then made a motion for the three year contract. Foutch seconded the motion and Board members Robinson and Lattimore joined them in voting its approval. The other three members voted against it.

Miller was concerned that some members of the board were voting on the contract when they may not have completely read it. Although a majority of the board members participated in recent workshops in coming to terms with Willloughby on a new contract, the final draft was not presented to the board until the meeting Friday night. Director Willoughby said he had not made any changes in the proposal but he had sent it to Chuck Cagle for review. Cagle is an attorney for the School Boards Association who usually represents the local school system in legal matters.

Shortly after the meeting was gaveled to order, Chairman Lattimore called for a ten minute recess to give the board more time to look over the new contract. Miller found that at least one provision was left out of the final draft that he had requested be put in during previous workshops.

Specifically, Miller wanted to add a clause that would require Willoughby to repay the school system for the cost of conducting a new search for a director, if he should resign at any time during his employment contract. Under the existing agreement, Willoughby was responsible for this cost only if he were to leave during the first year of his contract.

Director Willoughby said Cagle told him that this provision was not legally enforceable and should not be included in the new agreement.

Miller also wanted a clause carried over from the existing contract that would give the board the authority to transfer the director to another position within the school system, if the members should ever want to replace him as director. If he should refuse to be transferred, the director's contract could be terminated. The new contract waives the board's authority to transfer the director.

Willoughby said Cagle also recommended making this change. He said a transfer provision is not needed since the Board has the right in the contract to terminate the Director at any time for cause.

Miller moved that both the "repayment" and "transfer" provisions be added back to the new contract saying he felt it was the board's fiduciary responsibility to protect its own interests and those of the taxpayers and not just provide the best deal for Mr. Willoughby. Miller's motion died on a 4-3 vote.

UPDATED: City Must Reduce Water Rate to DUD, Chancellor Grants Motion for Temporary Injunction

February 28, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chancellor Ronald Thurman

The City of Smithville has been ordered by the Chancery Court to immediately reduce its water rate to the DeKalb Utility District from $5.00 to $2.67 per thousand gallons, which a water study last year found to be the city's actual cost to produce water.


Motion for Temporary Injunction re City filed 2 21 14.pdf (3.11 MB)


Response.pdf (1.2 MB)

Following a two hour hearing Friday in Cookeville, Chancellor Ronald Thurman granted a DUD motion for a temporary injunction barring the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gives proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons. The ruling was only on the motion for a temporary injunction. The lawsuit brought against the city by the DUD is yet to be litigated. The city has agreed not to disconnect water service to the DUD while it is pending.

As part of the ruling, the Chancellor required the DUD to post an injunction bond (as required per Rule 65.05 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure) of $75,000 to be held by the Court pending the final outcome of this case as security for any damages that might result. This action indemnifies the city against loss in case it is later decided that the injunction should not have been granted.

As a result of Friday's ruling, DUD will immediately reduce rates charged to its customers who receive water that the District purchases from the City of Smithville. As an example, the minimum bill will be reduced from $28.93 for 2,000 gallons purchased to the rate of $22.15. The average District customer purchases 6,000 gallons per month and that rate will go down from $76.88 to the sum of $56.54, a decrease of $20.34.

During Friday's hearing, the Court found that the city violated Section 18-502 of the Smithville City Code, which requires the City of Smithville to give the DeKalb Utility District 30 days' notice in advance of a rate change. The City of Smithville gave the DUD only 16 days' actual notice in advance of the rate change, effective January 1st. The Chancellor also found that the city had not given proper justification for arriving at the $5.00 rate.

The primary reason given by the city for raising the DUD rate from $2.05 to $5.00 per thousand gallons was that this is the rate city customers are paying for water.

Chancellor Thurman further agreed with DUD's argument that the higher rate has caused irreparable harm to the DUD and its customers. As evidence, attorneys for DUD said sixteen DUD customers have already canceled service and they cited one customer's claim that she must now make adjustments in her family budget to pay the higher water bills. Attorneys also claim that DUD's reputation with many of it's customers has been damaged, due to the higher water rate imposed by the city.

Attorneys for the city said the Chancery Court does not have the authority to change the water rate. "It is not within the province of this court to set water rates, even temporarily, for the sale of water by the city to the DUD. This court should refrain from vacating a decision of the city board and substituting its judgment for the broad discretionary authority afforded by the City Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Moreover, even if this Court had the authority to set a temporary water rate as requested, DUD has not met its burden of proof on the required elements for a temporary injunction" wrote the attorneys in their response to the DUD's motion for a temporary injunction against the city.

"The Plaintiff (DUD) seems to be assuming that this court has the legal authority to play the oversight role over the city which the Utility Management Review Board exercises over Utility Boards and that this court will engage in an extensive fact-finding process to determine what the "reasonable" rate should be, but there is no legal basis for the court to do this. Instead, the court's proper role is limited to a review of whether the city's action on December 12, 2013 (setting the $5.00 per thousand gallon rate) was illegal, arbitrary, or capricious, and the Plaintiff (DUD) has alleged no fact indicating that high standard has been met," the city attorneys wrote.

They also argued that despite the ordinance requiring a 30 day notification, the DUD was fully aware that the city had intended to change the water rate, effective January 1st because that is the date when the DUD's ten year water purchase agreement was set to expire. On November 13, the city sent DUD proposals for a new contract and served notice that if the options were rejected, the city would begin charging the DUD the same rate as outside city customers, effective January 1st. The DUD subsequently rejected the city's offers primarily because they required minimum purchase amounts of water.

The city's lawyers further claim that the $2.67 rate determined by Warren and Associates to be the city's cost of producing water was based on the assumption that the city would continue selling roughly the same amount of water that it is currently selling to DUD as its major customer so that the city could recover its capital costs of upgrading the water treatment plant by approximately $3 million dollars over 20 years. "In light of the fact that two-thirds of the city's water business will "dry up" when DUD builds its own facility within two years, the $2.67 per thousand gallon figure set forth in the Warren study becomes inapplicable. DUD has publicly indicated that it wants to continue to have access to the city's water supply and water treatment facilities without an obligation to pay its fair share of the city's capital costs to maintain and improve those facilities. The DUD effectively wants a rate based on capital costs spread over 20 years without committing to purchase its water from the city over those 20 years," wrote attorneys for the city in their response.

"The DUD's failure either to negotiate a contract renewal with the city or to obtain an alternate source of supply in advance of the expiration of the contract, with the predictable result that the city began charging the same rate it charges other customers in the area, reflects nothing more than poor business planning on the part of the DUD. Thus, any damages to DUD are self-inflicted and in no way constitute an "irreparable injury" sufficient to justify a temporary injunction," concluded attorneys for the city.

Attorneys for DUD contend the city's rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons to the DUD represents a 144% increase and is unreasonable and in conflict with a provision of state law which requires that "Municipal utility systems shall charge rates that reflect the actual cost of providing the services rendered and shall not operate for gain or profit or as a source of revenue to a governmental entity".

The city's Warren Study last year determined the city's actual cost of producing water to be $2.67 per thousand gallons. However during the UMRB hearing last April, Jerry Warren of Warren and Associates testified that because there is no transportation costs for providing water to the DUD, the rate could be reduced by as much as 42 cents to $2.25 per thousand gallons.

In their motion for a temporary injunction, DUD attorneys wrote "Based upon the contractual rate of $2.05 per thousand gallons, the DUD paid approximately $632,880 for the water purchased from the city in 2013. By way of comparison, if the DUD purchases the same amount of water from the city in 2014 as it did in 2013, at the rate of $5.00 per thousand, the cost will soar to $1,543,610, an increase of $910,000".

Even at the $2.05 per thousand rate, DUD attorneys claim the city made money off the DUD. Cash reserves were used to pay for the renovation of the Smithville water treatment plant a few years ago and the city water and sewer fund still has zero debt with cash reserves of almost three million dollars and liabilities of less than $234,000.

After the city raised the rate to $5.00 per thousand gallons on January 1st, DUD gave notice to its customers that a rate increase would be necessary for them to help absorb the cost, since state law prohibits a water utility from operating at a loss.

DUD attorneys contend that the city has engaged in a money grab in that they know their largest water customer will be going away after the DUD water plant is in operation and they want to get as much revenue from DUD while they can in order to keep from having to raise water rates to their own customers.

They claim the actions of the city have been arbitrary and capricious and that the Chancery Court does have the authority to intervene in order to stop it.

DUD was represented Friday by attorneys Dewey Branstetter, Jr. of Nashville and Keith Blair. The City's attorneys were Kristin E. Berexa of Nashville and Vester Parsley.

Alexandria Runaway Child Found Unharmed

February 28, 2014
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins

A ten year old child, who went missing from his home in Alexandria Thursday night, was found unharmed some four hours later around midnight.

Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins told WJLE that the boy, who lives with his mother and three siblings on Avant Circle, left home around eight p.m.. He was found by Chief Collins and Alexandria Police Sergeant Chris Russell around 11:57 p.m. hiding behind a central heat and air unit at a building on Edgewood Street about a quarter of a mile from his residence. The boy was wrapped in a comforter that he had brought from home. The child was also wearing a jacket and a back pack.

Because of the extremely cold weather, officials knew it was imperative to locate the boy as soon as possible once he was reported missing by his mother.

A search began involving members of the Alexandria Police and Fire Departments, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS, and a four member team of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Operations who brought in tracking dogs. Officials had also called for a THP helicopter to fly over with its fleer system heat sensing device but the child was found before it arrived.

Although he appeared to be okay, the boy was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital to be checked out.

This is the second time within a week that the boy has run away from home. According to Chief Collins, the child ran away last Saturday night but was found a couple of hours later at an abandoned structure on Industrial Road.

Chief Collins wishes to thank everyone who joined in the effort to find the child Thursday night.

Governor Cites State's Achievements and Goals at Reagan Day Dinner (VIEW VIDEO OF GOVERNOR'S SPEECH HERE)

February 27, 2014
Dwayne Page
Governor Bill Haslam, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Election Commission Chair Walteen Parker
Local GOP Party Chair Jennifer Winfree presents plaque to Barbara Vanatta in memory of her late husband Kennith Vanatta, former party chairman

Vowing to continue working to make Tennessee a better place to live, work and raise a family, Governor Bill Haslam addressed a gathering at the DeKalb County Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner Thursday evening at the county complex auditorium.

The Governor commended state legislators for joining him in efforts to more wisely manage the taxpayers money, cut taxes, improve education so that high school graduates are more ready for college or a career, and create a business friendly climate in the state to attract more jobs.

"In Tennessee, we have the lowest debt per person of any of the fifty states," said Governor Haslam. When you go to bed at night, you probably should sleep with one eye open worried about how much debt we have out of Washington but at least as a Tennessean you should know that for years we in Tennessee have been responsible about how we manage your money. We have one of the two or three lowest tax systems in the country. We have a state where our savings account, what governments call rainy day funds, has doubled since we've been in office. We've lowered taxes. We've cut the tax on groceries. We eliminated the gift and inheritance tax. And we're cutting the Hall Income Tax for senior citizens. We're cutting taxes. We also owe less money than we did before. Hardly any other government anywhere can say that. I think that's what conservative government looks like. We run our budgets the way that you do and because of that we've been named one of the three best managed states in the country," the Governor continued.

As for education, Governor Haslam said the state has a primary responsibility to see that students in Tennessee are better prepared for the future. "In about three months we will be having high school graduations all across the state. One of our primary responsibilities is to make certain that when those students walk across the stage and shake the principal's hand and get a diploma that they are prepared when they walk off that stage either to go on to school, to college or that they are prepared for a job. In Tennessee we haven't always done a good job on that. About four or five years ago, Tennessee was given an F minus for truth in advertising because we were saying that ninety percent plus of our kids were proficient at their grade level. But seventy percent of those kids needed remedial work when they got to community college. Now we're raising expectations, making certain that student are prepared for the work that is out there. We do that for two reasons. One is so that our kids will have every opportunity in a very competitive world. But the second reason is because businesses want more depth of talent. They have told us we should produce more of those skill sets that are needed so we're working hard to do that, making certain that our students are prepared for this. At the end of the day, those of us in government struggle hard to make critical choices and we don't take it lightly. We know that the things we do really have impact and we want to make certain that we're preparing students and that we're making this a place where businesses want to locate," said Governor Haslam.

"Businesses are deciding where to locate by the kind of government that exists in that place. About three months ago CEO magazine polled 500 CEO's of all sized businesses from all across the country. They ranked all the states one to fifty in order of the state's you'd like to do business in. Tennessee ranked fourth. Of the top twenty states ranked by the CEO's, seventeen of them were led by Republican Governors. Of the top ten, nine were led by Republican Governors and of the top five all of them were. What that says is, we set the climate and people are choosing our states to do business," he said.

"My pledge to you is to do everything we can to make this the kind of state you're proud of and where you want to raise your family and grow your business," concluded Governor Haslam.

Following the Governor's remarks, Jennifer Winfree, local GOP Party Chair presented a plaque to Barbara Vanatta, whose late husband Kennith Vanatta served as party chairman from 2002 to 2008.

The plaque reads " Presented in memory of Kennith Vanatta, Chairman 2002-2008. For his many years of dedicated and loyal service to the party. It is people like him who have made this party strong. DeKalb County Republican Party"

Barbara Vanatta is a member of the DeKalb County Election Commission.

Governor Greeted with Protests over Education Standards in Tennessee (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

February 27, 2014
Dwayne Page
Local Teachers Protest Governor's Stand on Education Standards
Local Educators Suzanne Gash and Suzette Barnes Carry Signs in Protest
Educator January Agee with a message to Governor Bill Haslam
Students Joined in the Protests

A group of local educators, students, and others opposed to Tennessee Common Core standards greeted Governor Bill Haslam with protest signs and chants as he arrived in Smithville Thursday evening to speak at the local Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner. The event was held at the county complex auditorium.

The Governor did not acknowledge the protestors as he emerged from his automobile and entered the building where friends and supporters were waiting to welcome him.

Many educators say they are fed up with the pressures put upon them in the classroom and they want the Governor, a supporter of Common Core, to hear their voices. "We're sick and tired of being sick and tired with the way teachers and kids are being treated in education," said Bill Conger, President of the DeKalb County Education Association. "We're over testing and putting too much on the kids. The Common Core and the standards they're trying to set for us are too high, too fast and they're putting pressure on teachers making it difficult for them to do their job every day," said Conger.

"It's difficult for the teachers to live up to all the mandates," said Bryan Jones, an eighth grade science teacher. "We just can't teach school because of all the paperwork. We have so many things going on we have to do to comply with the state. It's also very difficult for the kids. Common Core is something we need to reject as a county and state," added Jones.

Lisa Mabe, a third grade teacher at Northside Elementary, said the evaluations and merit pay system are most unfair to teachers. "We teach our hearts out every day. We want our students to do well but we are judged on an evaluation system that isn't fair. We're scored one through five and we're rarely given five's because we're not perfect. Yet we do everything that is expected of us. We love our kids and we want them to learn. We only ask that they treat us fairly. The merit pay isn't fair. They want to give us raises based on our job performance and our test scores but our classes aren't divided equally. If you want us to have merit pay, you've got to base all our classrooms equally and give all teachers a chance to achieve those standards but it's not set up that way. It never has been. I've been teaching for nineteen years and I've had more evaluations this year than I had my first year of teaching. You are welcome in our classroom anytime. I want to be accountable. I am accountable but do it fairly," said Mabe.


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