Local News Articles

The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

February 14, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Greetings Folks of the Fortieth! I pray this week’s update finds you and yours blessed. The tempo on the hill is beginning to pick up as bills are now appearing in committees this week. Also, many department heads are presenting their respected jurisdiction as it relates to specific committee topics. In Full Committee we heard a presentation by Max Thomas, Director of the Department of Agriculture Crime Unit, concerning forest fire investigation, livestock, equipment theft, state forest crimes, and homeland security as it relates to Agriculture services. This is one department of many that will experience major cuts as a result of this critical recession.

In the House
The House voted 65 – 31 to override veto of menu-labeling. Again, putting certain nutritional information on menus places an unnecessary burden on restaurant owners in an already struggling economy. Common Sense dictates what to consume for good health.

House Bill 270 will require that voter registration forms carry a disclaimer that clarifies giving false information to register to vote carries a criminal penalty, and also requires that the applicant affirm that they are lawfully in the United States. An amendment was offered, and the bill was discussed by the committee. It is expected to be up for a vote next week.

Another measure presented in the House Elections Subcommittee would make it easier for troops overseas to vote absentee. House Bill 2799 would allow election commissions to email ballots that troops could then print and return by mail. Currently, election administrators mail the ballots overseas and do not utilize electronic means.

The legislation hit a roadblock in the Elections Subcommittee last year, as the bill failed on a party line vote. I was livid! The state should do all it can to ensure the votes of our brave men and women serving overseas count.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Pew Research Center for People and Press reports that one-third of states do not allow enough time for overseas voters, listing Tennessee as one of 16 states that sent ballots after the date necessary for voters to meet deadlines. Last year, at least seven states enacted legislation to authorize some form of electronic transmission. The committee will vote on the bill next week.

SCORE releases ‘Race to the Top’ application summary
The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) released a summary of the state’s ‘Race to the Top’ (RTTT) application this week, taking a straightforward look at the key points in the document. The summary mirrors the application and breaks it down into seven sections: governance and oversight; standards and assessments; data systems; teachers and leaders; low-performing schools; STEM; and budget.

If Tennessee wins the RTTT funds, districts will have 90 days to submit a plan outlining how they will locally implement the program. The Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation, and Development (TN CRED) will be created, and will identify best practices and research the impact of the RTTT grant.[1]

By 2010, the application specifies that Common Core Standards will be adopted and are to be closely related to the Tennessee Diploma Project. The application also explains how the training programs for teachers and administrators are to be set up, and includes other details on professional development.

The application was submitted last month after the legislature wrapped a special session on education to compete against other states across the nation for the federal government’s ‘Race to the Top’ funding. Grant recipients will be notified by the end of March.

Being ever the supporter of limited government, legislation that would have saved the state $30,000 failed in Full Committee this week. HB2535 by Representative Harwell, as introduced terminates a particular selected committee in education that was established in 1984. Certain topics call for extended study therefore selected members are called to the roundtable to discuss those items of interest. Change is hard to do sometimes; however, in lieu of the critical budget cuts, at least this bill does not eliminate any jobs. We can still study topics of significance by transferring its duties to the senate and house education committees when we are in session and save the state money by eliminating excessive per diems. HB2535 failed by 13 to 18. I hope this is not any indication of the “Budget Climate” here on the Hill.

Issues in Brief

House members introduced House Bill 2789 this week, which would create a violent juvenile sexual offender registry. The bill passed out of the House Criminal Practice and Procedure Subcommittee.

Next week, the House Criminal Practice and Procedure Subcommittee is expected to take up DUI ignition interlock legislation. House Bill 2768 would require a device to be attached to the vehicle of certain DUI offenders and will only operate if the offenders have not consumed alcohol.
House Bill 746 would urge 911 call centers to accept text messages. The legislation passed unanimously out of the House State Government Subcommittee.

The Week Ahead
I continue my work to give rural Tennessee a voice. My colleagues and I have been attending budget hearings and meeting with other rural Tennessee legislators to work on legislation for our district. To that end, I am thrilled to announce the bridges and road projects in my district are moving forward. Working together with my local government brings a get-r-done result. It is teamwork indeed! Many of you will soon be receiving the first edition of my newsletter. In fact, as I write this text there is an army of interns down the hall folding and placing labels on over 12,000 pieces of mail. It is important to me to keep you, those I work for, informed. This was a promise I made when you sent me here to represent you.

Visitors from the Fortieth such as teachers, hospital administrators, session judges and avid outdoorsman all came this week with concerns about the budget, certain legislation, and some good visit time as well. I really enjoyed each and every visitor. It is such an honor to serve you. I look forward to many more visits here in War Memorial Building 105.

Blessings Folks of the Fortieth!

Patterson Charged in Stabbing/Shooting Investigation

February 13, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bransford (Brad) Lee Patterson

A 23 year old man who allegedly stabbed his wife and step-mother and assaulted his father before being shot himself has been charged in the case.

Bransford (Brad) Lee Patterson is charged in warrants with two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of aggravated assault. He was arrested immediately upon his release from Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Friday, February 12th

Patterson's bond was set at $250,000 and he will appear in court on February 25th.

Warrants allege that Bransford Lee Patterson did attempt first degree murder by stabbing with a knife his wife, Reba Patterson and his step-mother Lisa Patterson, causing them to be in fear of their lives. This occurred at their residence at 6270 Patterson Road in DeKalb County.

Another warrant alleges that "Bransford Lee Patterson did assault his father, Shannon Patterson, by cutting him with a knife on his hand. This also occurred at their residence at 6270 Patterson Road."

In a prepared statement released last Sunday, Sheriff Patrick Ray said at 4:57 p.m. Saturday, February 6th, central dispatch received the call. Upon arrival, officers found two female victims who were each stabbed once and Patterson who had suffered a single gunshot wound.

Vanderbilt Life Flight was summoned to the intersection of Patterson Road and Turner Road and airlifted Patterson to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. The two female victims were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by personal vehicle where they were treated and released. Patterson has also been released from the hospital.

According to Sheriff Ray, Patterson had gotten into an argument with members of his family and stabbed the two females. Patterson then started beating one of the wounded females. In an attempt to get Patterson under control, another family member got a pistol and fired a warning shot. When that failed, the family member then shot Patterson one time and called central dispatch.

The case is still under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Sullivan Convicted as Charged in April Shooting

February 12, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Matthew Sullivan

A man who was wounded in a shooting at his own home last April on Mountain View Drive was convicted in DeKalb County Criminal Court Thursday of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault for trying to stab the man who shot him in self defense.

A jury of eight women and four men found 25 year old Matthew Randall Sullivan guilty as charged following the day long trial. After the verdict was announced, Judge Leon Burns, Jr. revoked Sullivan's $100,000 bond and ordered him incarcerated until his April 5th sentencing hearing.

The shooting was reported to 911 at 3:24 a.m. on Saturday, April 18th, 2009.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department was contacted and upon arrival, officers found Sullivan in a wooded area behind the residence.

DeKalb EMS arrived on the scene and a Life Force Helicopter was summoned to airlift Sullivan to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. A helicopter landing zone was set up on Highway 56 north in the Buckner's Chapel Church area. Sullivan was treated and released a short time later.

Sheriff Ray says through interviews and evidence that was collected at the crime scene, the shooting appeared to have been justified. "Through interviews with the victim and witnesses at the scene, it appears that Sullivan assaulted one man at the residence and then kicked a bedroom door open where another man, female and two small children were present."

"The man in the bedroom was then approached by Sullivan, who was holding a large knife, and witnesses state that Sullivan began to try and assault the man with the knife. The man, in fear of his life and the safety of the other people in the room, shot at least one round from a 38 caliber pistol which hit Sullivan's right arm and chest area, exiting his back. Sullivan then left the residence and went out side."

According to Sheriff Ray, prior to the shooting, Mr. Sullivan had gotten arrested by the Smithville Police Department for driving under the influence. "He bonded out of jail and found out that Mandy Sullivan, his estranged wife, had some people (two men) at her residence that he was not fond of. Sullivan and his wife (Mandy) had been separated for about a week and a half prior to the shooting."

"He (Matthew) arrives at the residence, goes in and assaults one of the guys pretty badly. He (Matthew) then winds up getting a butcher knife and threatens the other man in the house. The victim stated that he actually jabbed at him one time with the knife and when he jabbed again, he (victim) shot him (Matthew) in self defense."

"Our evidence at the crime scene shows that the victim was actually the shooter."

After the shooting, his (Matthew's) wife (Mandy) goes back in, moves evidence around in the home, hides the knife, takes the gun, unloads it, throws away the spent round and a live round and keeps the gun, hiding it from the officers while they were there. She also gave some false statements, covering for her husband."

The case against Mandy Sullivan, charged with filing a false report, tampering with evidence, and fabricating evidence, is still pending.

Parents Face Drug and Child Neglect Charges

February 12, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jesse Alexander Easley
 Hillary Dawn Campbell
Reko Lamont Powell
Brian Matthew Lasser

A mother and father along with another man were arrested by Smithville Police on Thursday after they were found to be smoking marijuana in a vehicle in the presence of their small child.

Officer Matt Holmes and Corporal Travis Bryant charged the parents, 25 year old Jesse Alexander Easley and 22 year old Hillary Dawn Campbell both of 135 Ridge Top Circle, Sparta with simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance and child neglect and abuse. Meanwhile, 21 year old Reko Lamont Powell of 165 Ridge Top Circle, Sparta was charged with simple possession and criminal impersonation.

Officer Holmes received a call from an off duty State Trooper who informed him that he saw an automobile at a car wash occupied by two males, a female and a small child. The trooper, who was also at the car wash, advised Officer Holmes that he smelled what he believed to be an odor of marijuana coming from their vehicle. The trooper said that he looked in the car and saw one of the men holding what he believed to be a marijuana cigarette.

Officer Holmes, after observing the vehicle coming out of the automatic car wash, initiated a traffic stop. As he approached the automobile, Officer Holmes smelled what he believed to be an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Campbell was the driver. Easley was a front seat passenger and Powell was a passenger in the back seat. Officer Holmes asked all three to exit the vehicle. And when asked, all three admitted they had been smoking marijuana. A three year old child was also in the vehicle with them. After an investigation police discovered that the child is the daughter of Campbell and Easley. Again, Powell, Campbell, and Easley were arrested and charged with simple possession. Campbell and Easley were also charged with child neglect and abuse. Powell was further charged with criminal impersonation after he gave a fake name to Corporal Bryant. Bond for each is $3,000 and their court date is March 11th.

Meanwhile in other cases, 48 year old Eddie James Anderson of 430 Oriole Drive, McMinnville was arrested Sunday, February 7th for driving on a suspended license. Officer Scott Davis made the arrest. Anderson was stopped for a brake light out and a check of records revealed that his driver's license was suspended for failure to satisfy a citation. Bond for Anderson was set at $1,000 and his court date is February 17th.

35 year old Brian Matthew Lasser of 782 Moores College Road was arrested Tuesday, February 9th for simple possession of schedule II and IV drugs. K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow observed a vehicle traveling north bound on South Mountain Street with a tail lamp out on the passenger side. The vehicle made a right turn onto Bryant Street. After Officer Tatrow activated his blue lights to signal the vehicle to stop near the ball park on Bryant Street, the automobile continued to travel east. It went through the intersection of Bryant and South College Street and then stopped near Doc's Auto Detail. Upon stopping, the driver appeared to be stuffing something into his pants or reaching into his pants for something. Upon making contact with Lasser, the driver, Officer Tatrow saw that he did not have anything in his hands, such as driver's license or vehicle information. Fearing that Lasser may have a weapon, he was asked to exit the vehicle. When Lasser refused to be patted down for weapons, Officer Tatrow called for additional officers to assist. After the officers arrived, Lasser consented to a pat down search. Upon conducting the search, Officer Tatrow heard what he believed to be pills rattling in a bottle in Lasser's right pocket. Lasser was asked if he had any pills in his pocket and he replied that he had some Xanax pills in his pocket that were in a hydrocodone bottle. Lasser voluntarily produced the pill bottle from his pocket upon being asked. The bottle contained four blue pills believed to be Xanax as well as three yellow pills thought to be oxycodone. Lasser said he had a prescription for Xanax but did not have one for oxycodone. Lasser's bond was set at $2,000 and his court date is March 18th.

22 year old Jeffery Lynn Smith of 1053 Blues Hill Road, McMinnville was arrested for domestic assault on Tuesday, February 9th. K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow made the arrest. Bond for Smith was $2,500 and his court date is February 25th

43 year old Jeffrey Todd Oakes of 10409 Spanntown Road, Arrington Tennessee was arrested on Wednesday, February 10th for a fifth offense of driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license. Officer Tatrow was called to the parking lot of McDonald's after a complaint that possibly two intoxicated persons were making threats to employees at the drive thru. Officer Tatrow was told that these people were parked in a green truck next to a Yukon. Officer Tatrow made contact with Oakes, the driver. The vehicle was running but setting obscured in a parking space. Officer Tatrow smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the vehicle. Oakes had slurred speech and appeared to be intoxicated. Oakes could not produce a driver's license. A computer check revealed that his license was revoked for a third or more offense of driving while intoxicated. Oakes was asked to exit the vehicle. He was unsteady, leaning against the vehicle as he was getting out. Officer Tatrow smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from Mr. Oakes' person and he was unsteady on his feet. Oakes submitted to field sobriety tasks but he performed poorly. Oakes' vehicle was seized by the Smithville Police Department. Bond for Oakes was set at $6,000 and his court date is March 18th.

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

On Friday, February 5th Corporal Travis Bryant took a report of a 13 year old female Chihuahua which was taken from the owner, Patricia Tousey's yard. According to Ms. Tousey, she placed the dog outside on a leash and when she checked on the dog later she noticed her to be missing. The dog is described as a female Chihuahua, tan in color, short & fat and answers to the name of Dolly and is wearing an Indian design collar.

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

Senator Mae Beavers Legislative Update

February 12, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Senator Mae Beavers

The following is a legislative update from State Senator Mae Beavers

Healthcare and the state budget were recurring topics for discussion on Capitol Hill as lawmakers completed the third week of the regular 2010 legislative session. While Senate committees are beginning to move a number of bills to the floor for final consideration, they continue to be updated on a wide variety of important matters facing Tennessee.

Senator Mae Beavers Passes Tennessee Health Freedom Act through the Senate Commerce Committee

The Tennessee Health Freedom Act, a bill that mirrors legislation currently moving through the Virginia and Idaho legislatures and being considered in over thirty other state legislatures, cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday by passing through the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 8-0, with one abstention. The legislation’s sponsor, Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt Juliet), presented a passionate plea to the committee regarding the need to adopt a measure that ensures Tennesseans’ right to choose whether or not to purchase a particular type of health insurance, and to defend them from federal mandates and penalties if one chooses to not purchase a particular product.

“This act seeks to protect the rights of Tennesseans to choose what type and quantity of health insurance to purchase,” said Beavers. “No matter what legislation eventually passes through Congress, as state legislators, we need to stand up for the citizens of this state, our fantastic doctors and hospitals, and stand up against unconstitutional and unprecedented federal mandates.”

Senate Bill 3498 would protect a person’s right to participate, or not participate, in any healthcare system, and would prohibit the federal government from imposing fines or penalties on that person’s decision. The bill does not seek to “nullify” any federal law, as it would still allow individuals the option to participate in a federal program; however, it would also acknowledge the right of individuals to refuse to participate in a government-run health insurance program.

“Unlike car insurance which is not compulsory but is required when one chooses to utilize the privilege of driving on public roads, the pending health insurance mandates are entirely different because they are based solely as a requirement of U.S. citizenship,” said Beavers. “Never in our history has the U.S. government required its citizens – simply because they are citizens – to purchase a particular product from a private company or government entity.”

The Tennessee Health Freedom Act will now move to the Senate floor in the coming weeks to be voted on by the entire Senate, and then the measure will have to pass through the House before it will go to the Governor for his signature.

Copeland Cap Amendment Moves to the Senate Finance Committee

SJR 682, a resolution proposed by Senator Beavers to make it harder for the Governor to pass a budget that contains excessive spending as a percent of economic growth, failed to receive a majority of votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

The “Copeland Cap” is a provision in the state constitution that says that state spending can grow no faster than the annual growth in personal income. The cap is supposed to make tax hikes unnecessary, and allow Tennessee to operate as a “pay-as-you-go” state with a balanced budget. Yet, currently the cap can be broken with a simple majority vote of the legislature.

Senator Beavers hopes to restore fiscal accountability and to control the growth of state government with a new amendment that will require a 2/3 vote by the House and Senate to override the Copeland Cap, not a simple majority as it currently requires.

The bill will now proceed to the Senate Finance Committee, where it will need to receive five votes to move to the Senate Floor. If passed by two consecutive General Assemblies, the citizens of Tennessee will get to vote on the amendment and decide whether or not stronger fiscal responsibility should be a priority in our state’s constitution.

Bredesen Announces CoverKids To Resume Enrollment

February 12, 2010

Governor Phil Bredesen today announced that CoverKids, Tennessee's program for uninsured children, will reopen enrollment to new members on March 1, 2010. Enrollment in CoverKids was suspended late last year when membership reached the maximum that could be supported by the current budget.

Bredesen's proposed budget for FY 2010-2011 includes an additional $13.1 million in recurring state dollars to continue the CoverKids program next fiscal year, which would support increased program enrollment. Reopening enrollment on March 1, however, means children will have access to this coverage four months earlier.

"For three years, children across Tennessee have benefited from the quality coverage provided through CoverKids," Bredesen said in a speech to members of the Tennessee Press Association. "In light of the state's budget situation, we had to make a tough decision to suspend enrollment last year. Fortunately, we've been able to dig deep and find additional funding to keep this option available to families in need."

In addition to the new state appropriation, $41.5 million in federal funds will come to Tennessee as a result of the state's increased contribution. Combined, this budget increase will allow for continued growth in CoverKids' membership.

When CoverKids originally opened, officials estimated somewhere between 40,000 and 45,000 children in the state would qualify for the program. The program's capped enrollment of 45,000 indicates the number of CoverKids-eligible children has increased, which is likely a result of the national economic downturn.

"CoverKids plays an important role in serving the needs of Tennessee's uninsured children," Bredesen said. "While the number of eligible children who have yet to enroll is relatively low, we hope to serve as many of them as possible through this increased funding."

Looking forward, program administrators believe as many as 5,000 more children in Tennessee qualify for coverage through CoverKids.

In Tennessee, TennCare remains the primary provider of insurance for low-income uninsured children. TennCare currently has more than 750,000 children on its rolls.

As part of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, CoverKids picks up where TennCare eligibility ends and provides comprehensive health and dental coverage to children in families who cannot otherwise afford or access private health insurance.

Tennessee families earning less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $55,125 per year for a family of four, qualify for CoverKids and pay no monthly premium for the plan. Income-based co-pays are required for most services, though preventive care, including well-child visits, teeth cleanings and vision screenings are fully covered.

CoverKids is a program of Cover Tennessee, Bredesen's initiative to address the health care needs of Tennessee's uninsured. Cover Tennessee offers three other programs including CoverTN, a limited benefit health plan for the working uninsured; AccessTN, which offers comprehensive health insurance for those who are uninsurable due to pre-existing medical conditions; and CoverRx, which provides access to affordable prescriptions for Tennesseans who lack pharmacy benefits.

For more information about any of the Cover Tennessee programs, visit www.CoverTN.gov or call
1-866-COVERTN.

Property Taxes Due February 27th

February 12, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Trustee Sean Driver

DeKalb County property taxpayers have until Saturday, February 27th to pay their tax bill.

Trustee Sean Driver says even though February 27th falls on Saturday, his office will be open all day until 4:30 p.m. on that date to accommodate you. "As a courtesy to you, the Trustee's Office would like to remind you that February 27th is the last day to pay the 2009 property taxes before penalties start accruing March 1st. The Trustee's Office will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 27th."

"The Trustee's Office offers the State of Tennessee Tax Relief. If you would like to check on a possible tax relief for 2009, come and see us at the courthouse, room 206, or call 597-5176. The income limit is $25,360 for single or combined household income. The last day to sign up on tax relief is April 5th, 2010."

" Also any unpaid property taxes will be turned over to the Chancery Court on April 1st."

School H1N1 Vaccination Clinics Set for Next Week

February 12, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeeAnna Persinger (file photo)

The Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office will set up school clinics to administer H1N1 vaccinations beginning next week.

A team of nurses and health department staff will be manning the clinics

In order for children in the school system to receive the immunizations, their parents or guardians would first have to complete and sign a form, giving permission. The immunizations will be free of charge.

Dee Anna Persinger, School Health Coordinator, reported to the school board Thursday night that the clinics will begin Tuesday, February 16th. "The H1N1 shots will be given at DeKalb West School starting at 8:00 a.m. That is open to anyone as long as you fill out a consent form. We will move on to the Middle School after that, and after lunch we will move to the high school. We will start Wednesday morning, February 17th at Smithville Elementary at 8:00 a.m. and as soon as we finish there we will move to Northside Elementary School."

During last month's school board meeting, Persinger said the school system, nor the board of education would be held liable since "children are covered through malpractice insurance through the health department, just the same as if they went to the health department themselves."

The vaccinations would not just be available to children. Persinger says others could receive the immunizations as well. " Not only is this H1N1 flu vaccination and or mist available to our students, its also available to any adult, faculty or staff member, a younger sibling, or parents as long as they fill out the form. They (health department) are going to have plenty of vaccinations while they are at the school so anybody can get this for free. There's no cost, they just have to fill out the form and sign it."

A consent form and a letter has been sent to parents and guardians from the Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office:

"As you may have heard, a new influenza virus, called the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, was first identified in the United States in late April 2009. The virus has caused illness ranging from mild to severe, including hospitalizations and deaths in adults and children. Many children have gotten H1N1 infection and there have been large outbreaks in some schools across the country. Flu is unpredictable and activity can rise and fall throughout the season, but flu is likely to continue for months, caused by either 2009 H1N1 viruses or regular seasonal flu viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that children and young adults be vaccinated against H1N1."

"Vaccination is the best way to protect your child from this potentially serious disease. The health department is working with your child's school to give the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine to children at school. A vaccination clinic will be held at your child's school in the month of February 2010. Please complete the consent form along with your signature giving permission to vaccinate your child."

"Children under age 10 need two doses of vaccine spaced one month apart to provide adequate immunity. Only one dose is required for children age 10 and older or for children that obtain the first dose at age 9 and will turn 10 before the second dose is due. If your child meets the criteria for a second dose, it will also be administered at school to fulfill the requirement. There will be no cost to you for this vaccine."

"If you have any questions about the vaccine or the vaccination clinic, please call your local health department from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please visit the CDC's H1N1 web site at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/and http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/parents for information especially for parents.

School Board Pays Tribute to Principals and Assistant Principals

February 11, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night adopted a resolution expressing appreciation to principals and assistant principals in the school system.

The resolution states that "Whereas, principals and assistant principals are charged with the responsibility of providing safe, healthy, welcoming and supportive places for children to learn and grow in knowledge, understanding and character development; and,

Whereas, principals provide leadership for learning in our school district by helping students achieve high standards of excellence and ensuring that every child succeeds; and,

Whereas, principals serve as mentors to teachers, students and staff by providing support, direction and inspiration to be the best that they can be, by showing respect and appreciation for the contributions of individuals, by establishing a tone of encouragement and cooperation, and by recognizing and celebrating their successes; and,

Whereas, principals lead their faculties into analysis and discussions about student learning and promote improvements in teaching and learning; and,

Whereas, principals seek to build collaboration and support from parents and community and seek their engagement in their schools; and,

Whereas, principals and assistant principals establish and maintain discipline so that students learn and practice to be self reliant and productive citizens; and

Whereas, principals are directly responsible for every aspect of school operations and performance,

Now, Therefore, be it resolved that, the DeKalb County Board of Education hereby established February 11th, 2010 as Principal Appreciation Day in all of our Schools; and

Be it further resolved that, the board expresses deep appreciation to principals and assistant principals in our school system and encourages each school and community to recognize their principal and assistant principal on this day for the leadership they provide in the success of our school system and in the lives of students."

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly update on personnel.

The following have been employed since last month:
Brenda Bandy, Robert DePriest, Sharon Moffett, Joel Moss, and Tara Young as substitute teachers

Transfers:
Clay Bumbalough, transferred to a full time custodian position at Smithville Elementary School

Leave of Absence:
Dena Haugh, DCHS Educational Assistant, leave as requested
Barbara Hibdon, cafeteria worker DeKalb Middle School, leave as requested
Gina Arnold, Supervisor Special Education, leave as requested

Resignations:
Dianne Page, Education Assistant, DeKalb Middle School

In other business, the board gave permission for the Department of Health to have a rabies vaccination clinic at the DeKalb Middle School parking lot on April 17th from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.

The board gave permission for three DCHS students to attend the Tennessee Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville February 24-26th.

Permission was also granted for FCCLA students to attend the State Leadership Meeting April 6-8 at Opryland Hotel.

The school board voted to ask permission from the county commission to bid two school buses and a new maintenance van/truck for delivery in August to be funded in the 2010-2011 general purpose school budget.

In other business, the board re-appointed two school board members as Trustees to the Sick Leave Bank.

The purpose of the sick leave bank is to provide sick leave to contributors who have suffered an unplanned personal illness, injury, disability, or quarantine and whose paid leave is exhausted.

The sick leave bank shall be administered by a committee of Trustees. The committee shall be composed of five members: two members appointed by the board, two members appointed by the Teachers Association and the Director of Schools who shall serve as chairperson.

The two board members are Kenny Rhody and Joan Draper.

The request for the Sick Leave Bank was presented to the board in August, 2006 by John Isabell, former President of the DeKalb County Education Association. Isabell said "A Sick Leave Bank serves the purpose of allowing teachers to contribute some of their stored up sick leave days into a pool that would allow teachers who are experiencing a catastrophic event, such as a sickness in the family or sickness to themselves, who have exhausted their own sick leave, the ability to go into that pool and use some of those days."

Officials say the Sick Leave Bank is a voluntary statewide program for certified employees of Tennessee Public Schools, established by state law. Members donate earned sick leave to the bank and are then eligible to supplement normal paid sick leave if diagnosed or an immediate family member is diagnosed with a serious or catastrophic illness.

A participant shall not receive any sick leave from the Bank until after having exhausted all accumulated sick, personal, and or annual leave including all paid extensions.

Members must submit an application to the Sick Leave Bank Trustees for review. Medical documentation must accompany the application.

The employee will be notified in writing the status of the application.

The board voted to declare the following items surplus property and will sell by sealed bid to the highest bidder:

2-Blue Bird Bus 1997 Models, a Vulcan gas convection double stack oven, a large Vulcan pizza type gas stacked oven, and 2-five gallon Vulcan commercial gas kettles.

The items will also be advertised on the Internet.

Young Magician Accepts Houdini’s Challenge

February 11, 2010
 Devon Owens

Illusionist Devon Owens is planning to follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous magician, Harry Houdini. Devon will be performing at Tennessee Tech University on Feb 13th at the half time of both the Golden Eagles and the Lady Golden Eagles basketball games. The Women’s game begins at 5:30 and the Men’s Game begins at 7:30.

Greg, Devon’s father says, “He’s always looking for the next big challenge and he has now found that challenge.” At 13 years old, Devon will be attempting Houdini’s Strait Jacket Escape for the first time in front of an audience. “We’ve been rehearsing this at home for several weeks, but to put this in front of people will be a different bird all together.” Greg continues, “It took a lot of convincing as parents to buy him a strait jacket. No parent wants to see their kid struggle. Devon made me promise that I wouldn’t help him on the 13th; that’s going to be really hard for me.”

“The Tech crowd has lots of energy. I enjoyed performing there last year and I’m looking forward to returning,” says Devon. “I chose to do this escape because I wanted to see how hard it was and it is actually a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Devon is an award winning magician. One of his major awards includes the Youth Stage Magic Competition at the Winter Carnival of Magic in Pigeon Forge, TN against some of the best youth magicians in the country. He’s also a percussionist in the DeKalb County High School marching band. “I’ve been in the Band since 5th grade and have been performing magic since 3rd grade,” says Devon. “Music and Magic are a very big part of my life.”

According to Devon and Greg, the Strait Jacket escape is not a magic trick; it’s based strictly on skill. When Harry Houdini first took on the challenge of the strait jacket, he would go behind a curtain and several minutes later he would come out with the Strait Jacket in his hands. He would get a lukewarm response from his audience. It was then that Houdini’s brother, Theo, suggested he try the escape while the audience watched. That’s when the escape became a world-wide sensation. Devon will be escaping from a regulation strait jacket right in the middle of Tennessee Tech’s Hooper Eblen Center.

Tennessee Tech’s Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing, Misty Pearson said, “Our fans have been asking when we’re bringing the ‘little magician’ back. We’re excited to see Devon again this year. We’re all wondering what he’s going to pull out of his hat.” There will be no hat, but in addition to the Strait Jacket escape, Devon will be performing The Metamorphosis, which is the illusion that made Harry Houdini famous.

You can find out more about Devon and even become a fan on Facebook at www.MagicOfDevon.com.

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