Local News Articles

Administrative Law Judge Says City May Participate in DUD Rate Review Hearing

February 6, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

When the State's Utility Management Review Board comes to Smithville on April 4 for a DeKalb Utility District rate review hearing, the City of Smithville will apparently get to intervene along with DUD ratepayers.

Steve R. Darnell, an Administrative Law Judge, has granted a motion by the city to be a participant in the hearing, along with DUD ratepayers, to address the UMRB on how the proposed plans for a DUD water treatment plant could impact city water ratepayers.

Attorneys for the DeKalb Utility District are opposed to the city's intervention in the hearing.

Darnell's order, which came down Tuesday, stated "This is an action initiated by the petitioners (DUD rate payers) which grants the Board (Utility Management Review Board) the authority to review rates charged and services provided by public utility districts."

"Smithville's motion demonstrates the disposition of this case may, as a practical matter, affect Smithville's interests. The factual issues asserted by Smithville are intertwined with the petitioners (DUD ratepayer's) assertions. Finally, Smithville's participation will not render the hearing unmanageable or interfere with the interests of justice and the orderly and prompt conduct of the proceeding. Accordingly, Smithville's motion to intervene should be granted without restriction," wrote Darnell.

"We had filed a motion to intervene in the hearing with DUD to set out what the position for the City of Smithville would be if we lost the contract with DUD and how that would affect our rate payers as well as their ratepayers," said City Attorney Vester Parsley. "The administrative law judge filed an order this afternoon (Tuesday) allowing the city to intervene in that matter and be there on April 4 when we have a hearing here in Smithville to put on anything that we have to show that the ratepayers of DUD would certainly be materially affected and so would the city rate payers. Its good news for the city because the opposing counsel, Mr.(Dewey) Branstetter had opposed the intervention of the City of Smithville on the grounds that we didn't have any basis to argue about what the rates are for DUD. We (city) filed a motion to intervene. Mr. Branstetter had filed a motion objecting to our intervention and the administrative law judge has made his decision and said we (city) are allowed to intervene and be a part of this hearing and have a right to participate in the hearing without restrictions. Mr. Branstetter was wanting to restrict it some if we were allowed to intervene. But the order clearly sets out that there are no restrictions (on the city)," said Parsley.

The DUD is represented by its own attorney Keith Blair and by Dewey Branstetter, a Nashville attorney recently hired by the DUD to help represent them before the UMRB.

Attorney Jason Holleman of Jones, Hawkins & Farmer, PLC of Nashville represents the City of Smithville in this matter along with City Attorney Vester Parsley.

Meanwhile an issue was raised as to whether Branstetter's firm could represent DUD in this proceeding due to a potential conflict of interest. But the Administrative Law Judge said that issue was not proper for him to consider.

Darnell's order states that "It appears the issue of a conflict of interest has been raised concerning the Branstetter firm's representation of Respondent (DUD) in this proceeding, and also, the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts of which Smithville is a member. This issue is not a proper consideration in determining whether to grant Smithville's motion to intervene. No motion to disqualify the Branstetter firm is pending before the undersigned (Darnell). It is noted that if there is a conflict it may exist regardless of whether Smithville is permitted to intervene. The parties are referred to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility for guidance on this issue. If either party believes this to be a legitimate issue, guidance should be sought immediately to avoid delay of this hearing."

"It is therefore ordered that Smithville's motion is granted and Smithville shall have the right to participate in this hearing without restriction," wrote Darnell.

City Going to New Automated Water Meter Reading System

February 6, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is taking advantage of a USDA Rural Development Grant/Loan for the purchase and installation of a new automated water meter reading project.

Under the program, the city has been approved for a total of $410,000 in funding including a $95,000 grant and a $315,000 loan for the project. The city will have to repay the loan. The aldermen, Monday night, adopted a bond resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds up to $315,000 at an interest rate not to exceed 2.75% per annum. The bonds shall be payable over a term not to exceed twenty years. The bonds shall be revenue and tax deficiency general obligation bonds of the City of Smithville and will be payable from revenues derived from the City's water and sewer system.

The new equipment will be installed on the existing water system but will replace the current manual read meters and include leak detecting encoding and a radio frequency transmitter. The new equipment will send a radio signal that can be read from outside by simply driving along the streets within the service area. The project will allow the city to make meter reading more efficient and billing more accurate.

"The grant/loan will free up our two meter readers that currently spend six to seven days reading meters and allow them to spend more time helping with other public works needs," said City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson. "With the new automated system our entire water meter system can be read within one days time and without getting out of the vehicle which increases safety as well. Although it's a 20 year loan I believe the city should be able to repay the entire sum within three to five years. Plus the city will receive $95,000 towards this project as a grant that does not have to be repaid," said Hendrixson.

During a city council meeting in February 2010, Will Taylor of the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, addressed the mayor and aldermen on this issue. According to Taylor, benefits to the city by having an automated meter reading system are that it would reduce water loss by an estimated seven to fifteen percent and cut costs associated with the current manner of reading meters.

Many utilities are now using Automated Meter Readers as a way of improving customer service while reducing the cost of reading meters. With this process, one driver in a vehicle is able to read more meters in one day. At the end of the day, the meter reader unloads the information to the city's billing system.

City and DUD at Odds Over Water Cost Study

February 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen (older photo)

The City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District are at odds again. This issue is over which company should conduct a cost study of the city's water system.

City officials have already contracted with Warren & Associates of Lebanon but the DeKalb Utility District wants the Jackson Thornton firm to perform the study.

(LISTEN TO ENTIRE CITY COUNCIL MEETING BY CLICKING AUDIO PLAY BUTTON BELOW)

During Monday night's council meeting, city officials said they are disappointed because DUD officials had said, in a contract proposal, that DUD would share in the cost of the study with the city.

In a letter to Mayor Jimmy Poss, the aldermen, and City Attorney Vester Parsley, DUD manager Jon Foutch wrote on January 29 that "DeKalb Utility is not agreeable with sharing the expense of a cost study performed by Warren & Associates as you had proposed. We have been provided no information as to the qualifications, experience, or background of this entity especially in the area of a cost study such as this. I am sure both DUD and Smithville want an accurate and qualified cost study especially when Smithville has never had one performed before," wrote Foutch

"In an effort to get this process initiated, I would propose using the Jackson Thornton firm who has a very solid reputation and experience in performing this type of study. DUD would be agreeable in sharing the expense of a study performed by them. I look forward to hearing from you as to whether that is agreeable. We can discuss other possible entities to perform the study if necessary," wrote Foutch.

City secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, during Monday night's meeting, said the study is already underway. "They (Warren & Associates) are already probably three weeks into it (cost study) and we hope to have the results within the next three to four weeks by the end of February," said Hendrixson.

"The two gentlemen who are actually doing this rate study for Warren & Associates are Jerry Warren and David Pine. I have given you a list of their experience and education. They have done rate studies before. They have done one for the Smith Utility District, which has about 2,500 customers roughly about the same as the City of Smithville. They have also done a rate review for the Cordell Hull Utility District. They are civil engineers. They do all kinds of water line extensions and other water and sewer projects. They did a water line extension for the Town of Alexandria and a water rate analysis as well. Mr. Warren, who owns the company, has twenty nine years of engineering experience for site planning and design, water and sewer design, water booster pump, and sewer lift stations. I see no problem with their experience. We have already got them on (the job). The total cost is going to be $7,500 which I assumed DUD would pay half of but they don't approve of who we are using to figure out what it costs to make our water," said Hendrixson.

City officials said an effort was made to contact Jackson Thornton before the decision to go with Warren & Associates. "We tried to contact that company," said Mayor Jimmy Poss. "They never did return our calls," he said

Hendrixson added, "well they (Jackson Thorton) finally did (return our calls) but we had already (chosen Warren & Associates)".

City Attorney Vester Parsley said DUD officials, in saying they would share in a cost study with the city, never put conditions on who was to do the study."They never asked for nor did we provide them the credentials of anyone. They (DUD) had no preference until we chose someone," he said.

"In the writing where they (DUD) agreed to pay half the costs, they didn't stipulate it was depending on who did the cost study," said Alderman Gayla Hendrix.

"They absolutely did not," answered City attorney Parsley."No mention was made of giving prior approval of whoever we chose to hire," he said.

"I think enough publicity was made of this that we certainly had a gentleman's agreement," said Alderman Shawn Jacobs. " It may not have been a contract per se but it was certainly in black and white and this board was under the full faith of believing they (DUD) would do what they said. We had no knowledge to the contrary that there were any other stipulations. I am very disappointed," said Alderman Jacobs.

"In my opinion, this is the city's water plant and the city's water that's being sold so I don't know why we would need a customer telling us who we need to use," said Hendrixson.

"Especially when they didn't specify any prerequisites or any lists of individuals or companies that they wanted us to consider," added City Attorney Parsley.

Alderman Hendrix asked "upon providing DUD with these credentials (of Warren & Associates) do you think they will change (their position)"?

"I haven't responded to (Foutch's) letter because I wanted to meet with you (Aldermen) first. I can respond by saying here are the credentials and we feel like they are sufficient to meet the criteria of doing a rate study," said City Attorney Parsley.

"I am very pleased that we have begun the study and are moving forward to find out what it's going to cost to make our water so we'll know what the rates will be in the future. If you (Parsley) as our attorney could write a letter (to DUD) to see if they would be willing to pay half," said Alderman Tim Stribling. "Send them (DUD) these credentials that you have provided us tonight," he added.

"I'll get a letter out tomorrow," said City Attorney Parsley.

However, a proposed unsigned contract presented to the city by DUD recently indicates that the parties would need to agree on an unbiased entity to perform the study.

The proposed contract states. "The initial rate for water furnished by the seller (city) to the purchaser (DUD) shall be subject to and in accordance with a Cost of Service Study. The parties shall have prepared and jointly fund a Cost of Service Study that shall serve as the basis for seller's allocated revenue requirement on a per thousand gallons of water basis to the purchaser."

The proposed contract further states that "The parties shall agree on an entity to perform the Cost of Service Study so as to be unbiased as reasonably possible," Again, city and DUD officials have not yet approved this or any other water contract between the two parties.

Last month, city officials received a letter from Roger Turney, Chairman of the DUD board of directors addressing the city's request for a face to face meeting on proposed contract discussions for a long term water purchase agreement and he mentioned that DUD would be interested in sharing the cost of a study if an "independent" entity is selected.

Turney wrote "As we have earlier stated, DUD is interested in entering into a long term water purchase agreement with the City of Smithville. We have earlier provided to you a rather standard agreement for your review and consideration and have heard no response as to whether the terms set forth therein are agreeable or not or of any proposed changes to the agreement. As we had earlier set out, DUD is willing to share one-half of the cost of an independent entity to conduct a cost study of the city's water production operation but have received no input as to whether that offer is acceptable and if there is any action currently being taken to accomplish such a study. It would seem that there can be no meaningful discussion until such a study is performed since that would address the rate that would be included in any such contract for the purchase of water by DUD. We understand that cost studies are commonly recognized in this industry to establish an appropriate rate."

"Please be advised that DUD still intends on proceeding with the construction of a water treatment plant but will no doubt still need to purchase water or have the ability to purchase water from the City of Smithville. Therefore, we await word on the progression of a cost study so that we can then meaningfully sit down and further discuss the completion of an agreement between the DUD and the city," wrote Turney.

The City of Smithville currently sells water to the DeKalb Utility District for $2.05 per thousand gallons and under terms of the contract, the rate increases by five cents per thousand gallons in January of each year. The two parties entered into the contract in 2004 and it expires in 2014.

Meanwhile, the state's Utility Management Review Board has scheduled a meeting for April 4 in Smithville to conduct a DeKalb Utility District rate review.

In other business, Public Works Director Kevin Robinson said the city's rate of water loss has been increasing lately going from 25% per month to 31%. A search began for a water leak and one was found near Juniper Lane. The city's existing leak detector was not sufficient to locate the leak at Juniper Lane so someone had to be brought in with a more modern device to find it. Robinson said the city needs a new updated leak detector.

Glen Nichols, Jr. was named to replace Sandra Wall on the Smithville Planning Commission and the board of zoning appeals. Wall recently resigned.

The alderman also approved the list of officers and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department for the year 2013, as presented by Chief Charlie Parker. The officers for the year are Chief Parker, Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale, Captain Jeff Wright, and Lieutenants Danny Poss, John Poss, Donnie Cantrell, and Anthony Wright. Other members are Cody Jenkins, Kevin Adcock, Cory Killian, Ronald Whitaker, Glen Lattimore, Stephanie Wright, James R. Hunt, Gary Johnson, Wallace Caldwell, Charles Young, William Brown, and Photographer Greg Bess,

Judge Finds Hutchins Not Guilty of DUI; Charge against Thomas Dropped

February 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jerry Hutchins, Sr.
Willie Thomas

Two Smithville men, charged with driving under the influence a year ago, were cleared of those offenses in DeKalb County General Sessions Court Thursday.

64 year old Jerry Hutchins, Sr. was found not guilty of DUI following a bench trial by Judge Bratten Cook, II. He was ordered to attend a driver safety school for a violation of failing to maintain his lane of travel.

67 year old Willie Thomas, charged with DUI in a separate case, was also scheduled to stand trial before Judge Cook on Thursday. But the assistant D.A., Greg Strong moved to nolle or drop the case against Thomas after the not guilty verdict was handed down in the Hutchins case. Judge Cook granted Strong's motion.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested both men during separate traffic stops in February, 2012. Hutchins was pulled over on Wednesday, February 1 on Highway 56 south near South College Street for failure to maintain lanes. According to the warrant, Hutchins failed field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest. He was charged with driving under the influence, possession of a schedule III and IV drug, and he was cited for violation of the open container law and failure to maintain lanes. Hutchins allegedly was in possession of three and a half hydrocodone pills and three blue xanax pills in an unmarked pill bottle and did not have his prescription in possession.

One day after Hutchins was arrested, Thomas was pulled over by Trooper England on Thursday February 2, 2012 on Highway 56 near Jewel's Market for no seatbelt. Thomas was charged with driving under the influence and possession of a schedule IV drug. According to the arrest warrant, "Upon contact with the driver, Mr. Thomas admitted that he had taken a 10 milligram diazepam earlier in the day. Mr. Thomas failed all field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest for DUI.

The arrest warrant on the drug charge stated that "On February 2, Thomas was in possession of one yellow pill identified as a five milligram diazepam. He did not have it in a proper prescription bottle. It was mixed with other pills."

Thomas was represented by attorney Jim Judkins.

According to Hutchins' attorney, Hilton Conger, He (Hutchins) had a prescription for the medications he was found with during his traffic stop. "That was his medication that he did not have in the prescription bottle. But we produced valid prescriptions (in court) so that was dismissed," said Conger in a phone conversation with WJLE Friday.

Trooper England claimed that Hutchins did not perform satisfactory on the field sobriety tests including the nine step walk and turn test and the one leg stand test.

A video tape recording was made of Hutchins taking the field sobriety tests and Judge Cook reviewed the tape during Thursday's bench trial.

Although blood and toxicology tests showed Hutchins' blood alcohol content was only at .01, well below the legal limit of .08, an expert witness for the state testified that Hutchins may have been impaired by the combinations of medicines he was taking for a back condition which may have caused him to perform poorly on those field sobriety tasks. "The state brought in the state toxicologist and her name was Melinda Quinn, a forensic scientist who analyzed the blood. There was a blood alcohol and a toxicology report. The blood alcohol was .01. Any lower and it would not have registered. But she testified that the combination of the different medications which were in his system could have impaired him," said Conger.

Dr. Melvin Blevins, Hutchins' physician, had a different opinion. "We countered (Quinn's testimony) with his (Hutchins') long time physician, Dr. Blevins who testified that his (Hutchins') physical condition was a bad back that needed surgery and that his back was so bad that it could have interfered with his ability to perform field sobriety tasks," said Conger.

According to Dr. Blevins, the levels of medications prescribed for Hutchins would not have been sufficient to render him impaired. "There was some medication which was prescribed for him. But there was no contention that he had abused his medication. It was medication that could cause drowsiness or sedation but he (Dr. Blevins) said with the medications he (Hutchins) was one, he didn't think the levels would have impaired him. And he (Hutchins) had been taking them (medications) for so long, Dr. Belvins said he would have developed a tolerance for them and that he could function perfectly fine on them," said Conger.

Since Judge Cook found Hutchins not guilty on the DUI charge, Conger said the state does not have a right of appeal in this case. "We agreed to try this case in front of Judge Cook on the merits. So it wasn't a preliminary hearing. That concludes it. The state has no right of appeal from a not guilty verdict," said Conger.

The only offense for which Hutchins was found in violation was on a citation for failure to maintain his lane of travel. " The trooper said when he saw him (Hutchins), he was weaving over into the southbound lane from the northbound lane," said Conger. Hutchins must attend driver safety school based on that offense," according to Conger.

New Dollar General Store Opening Soon

February 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
New Dollar General Store Under Construction on Snow Hill

A new Dollar General Store will be opening soon in DeKalb County.

Construction is underway on the building, located on Highway 70 at Snow Hill. With the new store, Dollar General will have three locations in DeKalb County. The other two are in Smithville and Alexandria.

Dollar General has not yet announced a specific date for the opening of the new store here.

Dollar General recently announced plans to add 635 new stores and 550 relocations or remodels throughout the country in 2013 creating 6,000 new jobs. "Throughout 2013, we plan to expand throughout the 40 states we serve based on how we can best meet our customers' needs," said Crystal W. Chassemi, Public Relations Manager for the Dollar General Corporation.

"We look for locations where we can offer customers an easy and convenient shopping choice. We also take demographic trends, competitive factors and traffic patterns into consideration. We know convenience is a major factor in our customers' shopping decisions as we generally serve customers within a 3-5 mile radius, or 10 minute drive. We determine new store and remodel/relocations based on this criteria," said Chassemi.

With the addition of these 6,000 jobs in 2013, Dollar General will have created approximately 30,000 jobs in the last six years.

"Dollar General's continued growth reflects our customers' increasing satisfaction with our everyday low prices and convenience," said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General's chairman and CEO. "Further, 2013 will mark another growth milestone as we plan to open the organization's 11,000th store before the year's end when we will begin our 75th anniversary in 2014."

In order to generate a high caliber candidate pool, Dollar General also participates in proactive hiring initiatives such as Paychecks for Patriots that demonstrate the company's commitment to an employee base including veterans. The Paychecks for Patriots program helps resolve the challenges of unemployment facing veterans by equipping the military community with the resources to better access available job opportunities at committed companies.

"Dollar General is a thriving organization looking to attract new employees that embody our mission of ‘Serving Others,' which complements the company's efforts to promote from within. We are excited to welcome new talent with a passion for the retail business," said Bob Ravener, executive vice president and chief people officer.

Dollar General's commitment to employee development will also continue in 2013 by using training as an instrumental tool in the company's overall success. Recently, Training magazine recognized the company among its Training Top 125 for the second consecutive year.

Alderman Danny Washer to Seek Re-election

February 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Alderman Danny Washer to Seek Re-election

Smithville Alderman Danny Washer has picked up his qualifying petition from the election commission to seek re-election this summer.

Washer, who was first elected two years ago, will be running for his second two year term.

He is owner and operator of Doc's Detail or Custom on East Bryant Street.

The Smithville Municipal Election is set for Tuesday, June 18. Three aldermen are to be elected. The positions are currently held by Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer.

All three have now picked up their petitions and are planning to seek re-election.

Anthony Scott of Riley Avenue also plans to be a candidate.

Woman Charged with Assaulting Her Son

February 4, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Glenda Madonna Bogle
Jared Scott Atnip
Corey Robert Winchester
Autumn Danielle White

A 42 year old woman is charged with domestic assault for allegedly hitting her 20 year old son during an argument at their home on Young Ridge Road.

Glenda Madonna Bogle is under a $2,500 bond and she will be in court on February 28. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, February 2 the sheriff's office received a call of a fight in progress at a residence on Young Ridge Road. Upon arrival, a deputy spoke with Glenda Bogle and her son, 20 year old Brent J. Bogle. According to Sheriff Ray, Brent had been drinking alcohol and wanted to leave the residence but his mother would not let him. The two got into an argument and Glenda allegedly hit Brent in the face with her fist. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. Brent Bogle was cited for underage consumption. He will also be in court on February 28.

23 year old Felicia Ann Moore of Rosewood Lane, Smithville is cited for possession of a schedule III drug. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, January 26 a sheriff's department drug detective found Moore to be a passenger of a vehicle which was stopped for a light law violation. Moore told the detective that she had pills inside her body cavity. Moore was brought to the jail where the pills were retrieved. Moore had eight Lortab (10 milligram) and thirteen Vicodin, which are both schedule III drugs. She will be in court on February 14.

32 year old Jared Scott Atnip of Allen Ferry Road is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on March 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 28 Atnip was in the courtroom of the courthouse. He was very unsteady on his feet and he had problems standing. His speech was slurred. Atnip was found to be under the influence and he was brought to the jail for booking.

26 year old Corey Robert Winchester of Roy Womack Road, Smithville was charged three times within five days last week for driving on a suspended license. His total bond is $7,500 and he will be in court on all the charges February 28. Winchester was first arrested on Monday, January 28.. Sheriff Ray said that a deputy spotted a vehicle on Sink Creek Road traveling in the middle of the road moving back and forth, left to right. The officer tried to stop the vehicle near the intersection of Sink Creek Road, Haley Road, and Roy Womack Road. The driver of the automobile did not stop for the officer, but instead pulled up to a residence and drove behind the house. The deputy followed the vehicle with his blue lights still activated and shown his spotlight into the passenger side window. The officer saw Winchester, the driver, swapping seats with a female passenger. The deputy knew that Winchester's license were suspended, having already given him a warning on a previous occasion. A computer check confirmed that Winchester's license were still suspended for failure to pay child support on November 6, 2010.

Five days later on Saturday, February 2, Winchester was caught twice driving on a suspended license. Sheriff Ray said that a deputy saw Winchester operating a vehicle at the intersection of Miller Road and Highway 146. Winchester had stopped in the street, got out of the car, and started walking. The officer had prior knowledge that Winchester's license were suspended due to the offense on January 28. The officer obtained a warrant against Winchester. In the second offense that day, a sheriff's department drug detective saw Winchester coming out of Walmart, getting into an automobile, and driving away. The detective followed Winchester from Walmart to Greenwood Drive and pulled him over, having knowledge that his license were suspended. He was transported to jail for booking.

34 year old Terra Elizabeth Taylor of Williams Lane, Alexandria is cited for possession of a schedule II drug (oxycodone), a suspended drivers license, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), and failure to maintain a lane of travel following a February 3 traffic accident on Brush Creek Road at Alexandria in which her vehicle left the roadway, striking a mile marker sign. She will be in court February 21. Sheriff Ray said that Taylor, following the accident, could not provide a valid drivers license or proof of insurance. She was in possession of seven small round blue tablets, believed to be oxycodone. The tablets were in a pill container. Taylor removed the pill container from her pocket and handed it to the officer. Her drivers license were suspended in Wilson County in 2005.

38 year old Autumn Danielle White of Chapman Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on February 28. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, February 3 a deputy found a vehicle parked in the roadway on Vandergriff Road. He stopped to check the automobile and found White passed out in the passenger seat. She had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. She was unsteady on her feet and her speech was very slurred. White told the officer that she had been around where methamphetamine was being cooked that day. For the safety of the public and herself, White was brought to the jail for booking.

Wreck Victim Found Three Hours After Leaving the Scene

February 4, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Casimiro Silva Injured in Wreck on Bethel Road
Putnam County K-9 Officer preparing to deploy dog in search

A 23 year old man, who was injured in a one vehicle wreck on Bethel Road Sunday night, left the scene but was found hiding in a ditch over three hours later on Underhill Road.

Trooper Craig Wilkerson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Casimiro Silva, an undocumented immigrant who lives at 1579 Bethel Road, was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where he was treated for head trauma, including a laceration to the head.

Central dispatch received the call about the accident at 8:34 p.m.

According to Trooper Wilkerson, Silva was driving north on Bethel Road in a 1994 Chevy Astro van when he failed to negotiate a curve, went off the right shoulder, overcorrected, crossed the center line, and then ran off the left shoulder of the road and struck a tree. Upon impact, the van turned counter clockwise and came to rest facing south just off the road. Silva, whose head struck the windshield, climbed out of the van after the wreck and fled on foot before anyone arrived on the scene. After officers got there and saw blood, they began a search.

Members of the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, deputies of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the Putnam County Sheriff's Department K-9 unit, DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and others came to the scene. Some searched on foot through the woods near the crash scene. Others used all terrain vehicles. According to Trooper Wilkerson, the THP provided aviation support with a helicopter. Thermal imaging was used by ground and from the air to aid in the search. Before midnight, Trooper Wilkerson said someone spotted Silva lying in a ditch on Underhill Road.

Silva has been charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, no seatbelt, failing to maintain his lane of travel, failing to give immediate notice of an accident, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), and no drivers license. He will be in court on April 25th.

TCAP Writing Assessment Upcoming For DeKalb Fifth, Eighth, and Eleventh Graders

February 3, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Michelle Burklow

DeKalb County students in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades will be taking the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) Writing Assessment this week.

The TCAP Writing Assessment requires students to write a rough draft essay in response to an assigned prompt (topic) within a limited time period. Fifth-grade students are asked to write a narrative essay; eighth-grade students an expository essay; and 11th-grade students a persuasive essay. Historically, the TCAP Writing Assessment has been scored holistically using one rubric across all grade levels. A new scoring instrument is being developed to better accommodate the new design of the 2012-13 prompts.

Several aspects of the test are being changed this year to meet the expectations of the new Common Core Standards. All eighth and eleventh graders will take the test only online. Since these middle school and high school students are testing on line, the test administration can be taken within a window time frame from Feb. 4 - 8. Locally, fifth graders will continue to take the test by paper and pencil on one specific date, Tuesday, February 5 with a makeup day on Wednesday, February 6. "It is changed from being a one day test and a makeup day to a complete week window," said Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K to 6th grade. "The reason for this change is that grades eight and eleven are going to be testing on the computer. The test is going to be on line. We'll have to move students in and out of computer labs so the state is giving us a one week window to get this completed. Students will be taking the tests, typing the tests into a site that is provided by Measurement Incorporated. It's a secure site. Once the student has typed in his essay, it will be submitted and scored by Measurement Inc. Normally, we test grades five, eight, and eleven. Grades eight and eleven will be computer tested this year. We had an option whether or not we wanted to do paper-pencil or computer tests for the fifth grade. This year we opted to continue with the paper-pencil test for the fifth graders. There are so many changes coming with the writing assessment that we thought too many changes would be very difficult for them as young writers," said Burklow.

The design of the prompts has changed, according to Burklow. "All of these changes are coming from the state due to the fact that we are moving, transitioning to Common Core. The tests this year have changed drastically from what it has been in the past," she said. "Normally students have been given a prompt and they would write to that prompt. Fifth grade would write narratively. Eighth grade would write an explanatory. Eleventh grade would write a persuasive. That is the same for this year. However, there are a few changes to that," said Burklow

Students will now encounter a reading stimulus and prompt that they are required to read before they begin to write. "The state department has looked at the Common Core and some of the things we need to change in order to implement the Common Core state standards. Looking at the English Language Art classes, Reading, Science, and Social Studies classes, there has been some major changes in all of these academic areas to have more of a focus on literacy. These changes have been made across the board in grades three through twelve," said Burklow. "This year as we have trained our English Language Arts teachers, we have also had our Science, Social Studies, and Career Technical teachers at these training sessions too because we know that every teacher is a Reading teacher and the Common Core standards are emphasizing this by bringing literacy into all of our academic areas. Teachers have been using content rich non fiction throughout the year. We started at the very beginning implementing these new changes. Students have now been introduced to a higher percentage of non fiction texts, informational texts. The reason for this change is because this is tied directly to the writing assessment," she said.

A reading stimulus can be a work of fiction or an informational piece. Speeches, poems, charts, graphs, letters, legal decisions, or timelines may also be considered as reading stimulus. The prompt will appear in a text box at the end of the reading stimulus. The students will have to utilize information from the reading stimulus to write their response. In some cases, students may encounter two paired passages. They may even encounter two different types of reading stimulus.

The new prompts have a new time limit of one hour. "Students will now be given an informational text, a stimulus to read prior to answering a prompt. The writing assessment has gone from a thirty five minute period to a sixty minute test where they will be asked to read a passage or passages, analyze informational texts and write to that," said Burklow. "Its very important that students are reading on grade level for this writing assessment. Parents, I want to encourage you. If you have concerns about your child's academics, please contact the teacher. Make an appointment to go see that teacher and working together we will help your child move academically. The rigor that we are moving to is going to require such a partnership between parents and schools. We are moving to preparing these children for college and career readiness," she said.

For the February 2013 Assessment Only:

•Fifth graders will encounter a reading stimulus and a narrative prompt
•Eighth graders will encounter a reading stimulus and an expository prompt
•Eleventh graders will encounter a reading stimulus and a persuasive prompt
In future test administrations, students on any of the tested grade levels may encounter a narrative, expository or persuasive type of prompt.

Burklow urges parents to make sure their children are rested and ready for the writing assessments. "Parents please have your children to school rested. Make sure they have eaten breakfast because we know that students can concentrate much better if they are not hungry. Have them to school on time, relaxed and ready to go," said Burklow.

Smithville Girls Win Big

February 3, 2013
Addison Puckett and Morgan Green

International Fresh Faces recently held their preliminary Pageants in McMinnville

Two locals girls Addison Puckett, 8 year old daughter of Jimmy and Anita Puckett, and Morgan Green, 13 year old daughter of John and Suzanne Harrison, were crowned Finalists.

Addison walked away with Overall Queen while Morgan received Supreme. These girls now qualify for Regionals to be held in Murfreesboro.

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