Local News Articles

Hall Charged with Three Counts of Forgery

November 25, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Andrew Tyler Hall

A 27 year old man was arrested on three counts of forgery last week.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said Andrew Tyler Hall is under a $15,000 bond and he will be in General Sessions Court on December 12.

The investigation began on August 21 when Corporal Travis Bryant took reports from a local bank concerning checks being forged on an account holder who resided in another county. Video surveillance showed Hall passing checks on the victim's account July 29, August 9, and August 13. After confirming the checks were forged, police took warrants for Hall's arrest. On Thursday, November 21, Detective Matt Holmes saw Hall on the Smithville public square. He asked Hall to meet him at the Police Department. After arriving there, Hall was read his rights and placed under arrest.

In other cases, 31 year old Jessica French Hale was cited for shoplifting on Tuesday, November 12. K-9 Officer James Cornelius was dispatched to the Dollar General Store where he was informed that someone had taken items from the business without paying for them and then had driven away. A description was given of the vehicle in which the shoplifter had left. Officer Cornelius later located the suspect, Hale and the items taken from the store were recovered.

Officer Matt Farmer cited 29 year old Randall Jake Hines for shoplifting at Ace Hardware on Saturday, November 16. Hines was spotted by an employee putting an item belonging to the store under his shirt and walking out without paying for it. The stolen item was returned to the store. Hines will be in court on December 12.

Captain Steven Leffew was dispatched to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter on Saturday, November 16. A store employee saw 47 year old Peggy L .Jordan put items in her purse. After speaking with Jordan, Captain Leffew recovered the unpaid for items. Jordan was cited to appear in court on December 12.

Officer Will Judkins cited 38 year old Stephanie Ann Pierce for shoplifting at the Dollar General Store on Monday, November 18. Pierce was found with several items from the store inside of her clothing that she had not paid for.

25 year old Steven Cuevas was arrested for domestic assault on Wednesday, November 20. Officer Will Judkins responded to a domestic and upon arrival he spoke with the victim. According to police, it appeared that the victim was trying to get her belongings and leave when Cuevas pushed her and hit her in the face. The victim's left eye appeared to be swollen and red. Bond for Cuevas is $2,500 and he will be in court December 12.

Election Commission Issues Seven Petitions Friday

November 22, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

Friday was the first day persons could pick up qualifying petitions to run for public offices next year and seven potential candidates wasted no time.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections reports that Michael Clayborn for County Clerk, Jeffrey McMillen for Register of Deeds, James L. Poss for County Clerk, James Sprague for Road Supervisor, Katherine Pack for Circuit Court Clerk, Bratten H. Cook II for General Sessions Judge, and Jonathan Low for Constable in the Second District were all issued petitions on Friday, November 22.

All but Low plan to be candidates in the May 6, 2014 DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

Low, a resident of Hillview Heights in Dowelltown, will be an Independent candidate to fill the remaining two years of the vacant constable seat in the second district. His name will appear on the DeKalb County General Election ballot in August.

Clayborn, who not only picked up but has already completed and returned his petition to the election commission office, will be seeking his fourth term as County Clerk. Poss, a resident of Bright Hill Road, will challenge Clayborn in the primary.

McMillen, who was first elected Register of Deeds in 1986, will be seeking his eighth term.

Pack will be looking to win a fourth term as Circuit Court Clerk.

Cook is hoping to secure a third eight year term as General Sessions Judge.

Sprague, a resident of Holmes Creek Road, is running for the Democratic Nomination for Road Supervisor, a seat that has been held by Republican Kenny Edge since 1990. Edge is not seeking another term.

The qualifying deadline is NOON February 20, 2014

The DeKalb County Democratic Primary, to be held May 6, establishes the qualifying deadline for Republican and Independent candidates. Republicans and Independents must qualify by the same time as Democrats, noon February 20.

The DeKalb County Republican Party is expected to certify its nominees for county offices by Caucus.

Both parties will have primaries to nominate candidates for judicial offices in the 13th district, which includes DeKalb County.

Democratic and Republican nominees for all local and district offices along with Independent candidates will appear on the DeKalb County General Election ballot in August.

Offices up for election in 2014 include County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Trustee, Road Supervisor, Sheriff, General Sessions Judge, and all fourteen county commissioners and possibly unfilled constable seats. All terms are for four years except the General Sessions Judgeship, which is an eight year term.

In the 13th Judicial District, two criminal court judges, two circuit court judges, a chancellor, district attorney general, and district public defender are also to be elected, each to serve an eight year term.

DeKalb County School board seats in the first, second, third, fourth, and seventh districts will be filled in the 2014 August County General Election. Terms are four years. School board candidates are non-partisan, which means they run neither as Republicans or Democrats. The qualifying date for school board candidates is not until April, 2014. Qualifying petitions are not yet available for school board positions.

"Individuals may be announced candidates and may begin soliciting campaign funds at any time before the election. However, before a candidate raises or spends money, the candidate needs to file an “Appointment of Political Treasurer” with the Election Commission," said Stanley. "This form is available at http://www.tennessee.gov/tref/forms/ss-1120.pdf or can be obtained at our office. You can print it out online and bring it to us. We must have the original, so a fax or email will not work.”

”You may file the Appointment of Political Treasurer at any time, but it must be filed before you raise or spend money,” Stanley continued. “The Registry of Election Finance has said that “incidental” expenses while you are thinking about running do not count. There are different regulations for judicial candidates, so please ask us before soliciting campaign funds.”

Once a candidate files an Appointment of Treasurer form, the candidate is required to file periodic disclosure reports. The reports are to be filed quarterly during the election year and semi-annually in either the year(s) before or after. Additionally, a report is due 10 days before any election. The report dates can be found at http://www.tennessee.gov/tref/cand/cand_filing.htm or you can obtain a copy at the local election office.

“The State Registry of Election Financial (615-741-7959) or http://www.tennessee.gov/tref/contact.htm has jurisdiction over election financial issues,” Stanley said. “The DeKalb County Election Commission merely files the reports and makes them available to the public. The state office can answer any question you have about financial reports or requirements.”

More information about the petition process, including additional deadlines for Road Superintendent and Sheriff candidates, can be obtained at the election commission office on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse or by logging on to www.dekalbelections.com.

The DeKalb County Election Commission Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Eighth Grader Nominated for Harris Award

November 22, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ethan Martin

8th grader Ethan Martin is the D.W.S. Junior Beta nominee for the John W. Harris award. His nomination has been submitted to the National Jr. Beta Club for consideration. Only twenty-five students across the nation are selected for the Beta Club’s top trophy. Martin, the son of Dewayne and Stacy Martin, has been in Junior Beta since his 5th grade year. His brother, Zack Martin, won the Harris award when he was at DWS.

The Harris award is given to students who exemplify the qualities of leadership and service. Ethan has maintained Honor Roll grades while staying busy with sports, academic fairs, and community events.

He has volunteered for the DeKalb County Fair where he helps prepare the grounds for the annual event. The last years he has also worked the entrance gates almost every night for a few hours. Martin shows his creative side as well with the Christian puppet ministry at his church that travels to other congregations to entertain children and adults. “This is something I think is very fun to do, and I feel it is a good way to express and share my Christian beliefs,” Martin said.

Martin also helps organize and monitor activities for the kids at Vacation Bible School. He lends a hand packing food bags for those who need a little extra help with charitable causes like the DWS Backpack program. Previously, Martin has helped with the City of Alexandria’s annual Halloween celebration, dressing up and handing out candy or walking the streets to greet the kids.

“This year was especially fun and a little hard,” he admits. “I was a wolf and had to walk on small crutches humped over all night, but the reactions from the crowd were worth it.”

Martin recently initiated a project to benefit a variety of charities, and he is leading other Beta members in accomplishing the task. Boxes have been set up in churches to collect items each month to send to the Nashville Rescue Mission or other worthy organizations.

“I always try to volunteer my services when they are needed, while keeping my grades up to a high average,” Martin said in an essay he wrote for the Harris award.

The National Beta Club office will announce the winners of the Harris award later this year.

(UPDATED) State AG Finds Local Democratic Party Private Act Unconstitutional

November 21, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper Jr.

A sixty four year old private act governing the manner in which members of the DeKalb County Democratic Party's Executive Committee are selected has been deemed unconstitutional by the Tennessee Attorney General.

AG Robert E. Cooper, Jr. issued a written opinion Tuesday at the request of State Representative David A. Shepard of Nashville on behalf of local party leaders who wanted an opinion as to the "enforceability" of the Act as originally adopted in 1949 and amended in 1972 by the Tennessee General Assembly.

Cooper's opinion basically finds that the legislature can't constitutionally place burdensome restrictions on political parties in how they may organize.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO READ ACTUAL ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION)

http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/op/2013/op13-090.pdf

In his opinion, the attorney general wrote that "the statute constitutionally burdens the associated rights of the Tennessee Democratic Party and its members in DeKalb County and therefore is unenforceable".

The DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee was established under Private Acts of 1949, Chapter 771 and was subsequently amended in 1972. The Act calls for forty members to be elected from nineteen different precincts according to the population at those times. Several of the old precincts in the statute no longer exist and attempts by local party leaders to determine the old boundaries proved unsuccessful. It has been several years since anyone ran for the executive committee in DeKalb County on the primary election ballot, something the Private Act requires every two years, and the Act does not provide for reapportionment in redrawing the precincts.

Instead of electing members to the executive committee, as the Private Act calls for, the party sought an answer as to whether members could be appointed under the Tennessee Democratic Party Rules. Without a compelling state interest, Cooper's opinion basically finds that the party may determine for itself how to organize, a right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

In seeking the AG opinion on the enforceability of the Act, local party leaders posed the question as to whether the DeKalb County Democratic Party could cease following provisions of the seemingly antiquated private act, which remains the law for DeKalb County, and hold a reorganization convention pursuant to Tennessee Democratic Party rules, organizing every two years under the general statutory law for the purpose of conducting business

Local party leaders, through State Representative Shepard, requested an expeditious opinion from the Attorney General on October 21. The AG opinion was issued Tuesday, November 19

Not knowing when the AG opinion would come down and facing a November 22 deadline in calling a Primary for May 6, 2014, party leaders held a reorganization convention last Saturday, November 16 at the courthouse . The local party organized under Tennessee Democratic Party rules and selected members to the newly organized DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee, naming one person from each of the seven districts in the county to serve. But in an effort to ensure that the party leadership was legally constituted in the event the AG were to uphold the Private Act in his opinion, another vote was taken to follow rules provided for under the act, calling on the last known duly elected members of the executive committee in attendance to caucus and appoint others at the convention to fill vacancies on the committee. After the appointments were made, the committee then voted to name the same seven members chosen earlier in the meeting under state party rules to become the official DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee for the next two years. Those members include Judy Slager, Frank Buck, Faye Fuqua, David McDowell, James Hale, Flint Gilley, and Tommy Webb.

In his opinion, Attorney General Cooper wrote that "A political party's determination of the boundaries of its own association, and of the structure which best allows it to pursue its political goals, is protected by the United States Constitution". He cited a California case in which the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional several California statutes restricting the organization and composition of political party committees. The high court ruled that the restrictions limited a political party's discretion in how to organize itself, conduct its affairs, and select its leaders and that because these were constitutionally protected associational rights, the state of California's restrictions could only be upheld if they served a compelling state interest. In that case, the court ruled California had not shown a compelling interest.

Under the DeKalb County Act, the State Attorney General opined that "the General Assembly directed that the DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee have forty members elected in the Democratic Primary from a list of precincts, some of which apparently no longer exist. Members must be elected to two-year terms. The Act thus sets the size of a single county executive party committee, the method by which its members must be elected, and the terms they must serve. The Act clearly imposes restrictions limiting the Tennessee Democratic Party's discretion in how to organize itself, conduct its own affairs, and select its leaders in DeKalb County. This Office is unable to identify any compelling State interest "necessary to the integrity of the electoral process" that these restrictions serve. For this reason, the Act unconstitutionally burdens the associational rights of the Tennessee Democratic Party and its members in DeKalb County and is unenforceable," wrote AG Cooper.

The State Attorney General's opinion does not change a law already on the books, therefore legislation may be filed seeking to abolish the private act for DeKalb County once the General Assembly convenes early next year.

DCHS Softball standout Danielle Tyson Signs with Trevecca

November 21, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Softball standout Danielle Tyson Signs with Trevecca

Surrounded by her parents, coaches, and fellow players, DCHS Softball standout Danielle Tyson signed Wednesday with Trevecca Nazarene University to play softball after she graduates here.

Trevecca is a private Christian liberal arts college located in Nashville.

"I chose Trevecca because I felt like it was where the Lord was calling me to go," said Tyson. " It is a great school. I loved the players when I went there to camp this past summer. I just really liked the atmosphere and the campus. Those are the major factors why I chose Trevecca," she said.

DCHS Tigerette Coach Danny Bond said Tyson has been an asset to his program and has helped put them in contention for district and regional championships in recent years. "Dani Tyson came in four years ago having moved in here. She tried out for the team and we found that she had a lot of talent. She has refined her skills through the years and has led us in many categories each and every year. Last year she led the team in about seven categories, including batting average and stolen bases. She has developed into a good overall player. Dani can do a lot of different things. She can play the outfield or infield, which she has done here. She pitches for us and has turned from being a dominant batter from the right side to the left side with the drag and slap. She has great speed and I think that will be one of her biggest assets in college along with her size and raw talent. She will do well at Trevecca. Dani has been a big plus for our program here at DCHS the last three years. We've been in the hunt for the district championship and regional tournaments each year that she has been here. I see great success for her and Trevecca with her being on the team," said Coach Bond.

Tyson's mother, Fran gives much of the credit for Dani's abilities to her high school coaches. "We appreciate very much the coaching staff at DCHS. I think that is such a crucial part of developing Danielle into the player she is now. They have worked hard with her and been patient with her and pushed her. I think that produced the ability for her to go on to the next level and play so we just appreciate all the coaches who were involved here," said Tyson.

Danielle was joined at the signing at DCHS Wednesday by her parents, her coaches, and fellow players.

(Pictured above: Standing left to right- Emily Robinson, Shauna Taylor, Lauren Colwell, Tyra Graham, Chelsey Brannon, Hannah Walker, Loren Cripps, Dani Meadows, and Katie Hall. Seated left to right: Melissa Ruch, Danny Bond, Jeffrey L. Tyson, Danielle Tyson, Fran Tyson, Linus Martin, and Danny Fish.)

DeKalb West School Construction Proceeding on Schedule

November 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Block walls going up on new DWS addition
Tornado Safe Rooms Under Construction at DWS
Construction proceeding on schedule
Mark Willoughby with Construction Superintendent Joseph Muscarnero
DWS Principal Danny Parkerson (center) Mark Willoughby and Joseph Muscarnero

Construction of the new addition at DeKalb West School is progressing on schedule.

David Brown of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects, Inc. of Mount Juliet addressed the school board Tuesday night with an update on the project. "In the classroom addition which is our storm shelter the foundations are complete. The slab is complete. The block is going up. Most of it is to bearing height already. Most of the door frames are in place. The roofing is underway as well. You have about five more weeks of roofing the existing building. The next big thing that will happen on the classroom addition is that they will place the concrete planks that are the roof of that. That will happen in about three or four weeks. The school has turned over the music room, which will become a part of the new kitchen. We have a lot of electrical work to do to relocate your existing electrical. They are wanting to do that over the Christmas holiday. They will do some exploration and if that looks good they will make that transition then but if they run into something unexpected or unforeseen they will wait until after the semester is over," said Brown.

J Cumby Construction of Cookeville is the General Contractor for the project.

Joseph Muscarnero, Superintendent for J. Cumby Construction, spoke with WJLE Wednesday morning about the progress of the work. "The weather has been cooperating. So far conditions have been perfect for construction. Right now we are completing the structural walls to set the roof planks and to complete the exterior of the structure. Then we will proceed with the interior finishes, mechanical and electrical. The FEMA standards pretty much set what construction we do on the exterior of the building in order to provide the safe shelter for the children," said Muscarnero.

"You can see a lot has happened in a really short time," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby during a visit to the construction site Wednesday morning. "It will be used in storm situations but we'll have a plan where the community can come and use this facility also in tornado weather. We'll have a system in place where we will be able to open this building up so that people in this area can come and have a safe place in the event of a tornado," he added.

The "Tornado Safe Rooms" are being funded mostly by FEMA grant funds but also with local dollars. The addition, being built in the front of the school, will have eight classrooms, restrooms, a new secure entrance, an office, clinic, conference room, and a guidance and teacher work area. A kitchen/cafeteria renovation in the existing building and a re-roofing of the school is also part of the overall project.

Construction is expected to be completed by late June or early July.

Smithville Police Department to Host Cops for Kids Christmas Party

November 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department would like to announce that they will be hosting their 2nd Annual Cops for Kids Christmas Party. The event is held to provide relief around the Holidays for any family that may be going through a difficult time due to illness, loss of income or other circumstances. The goal of the event is to help lessen the stress on families and provide them with a fun evening of food, fellowship, gifts for their children and, of course, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. This event is by invitation only, and anyone wishing to attend must fill out an application. Applications may be picked up at the Smithville Police Department or can be printed online at www.wjle.com.

(CLICK LINK BELOW FOR APPLICATION)
Cops for Kids.pdf (66.17 KB)

Applications must be turned in no later than Friday, December 6, 2013. They may be returned to the Smithville Police Department or mailed to SPD, Attn: Cops for Kids, 104 East Main Street, Smithville, TN 37166.

Anyone who would like to donate gifts may do so by bringing a new, unwrapped gift to the Smithville Police Department, Cash Express at 126 East Bryant Street in Smithville or the Dollar General Stores in Smithville and Dowelltown or you may give your donation directly to a City police officer. Deadline for donations is December 10, 2013.

For more information regarding applications, donations or general information, please contact Beth Adcock at 615-597-8210 extension 1.

School Board Opposes State Plan to Tie Teacher Licenses to TVAAS Results

November 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Educators in the audience applauded after the DeKalb County Board of Education Tuesday night approved a resolution opposing a state-proposed policy under which a teacher could lose his or her teaching license based on results of the Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS)

Board member Charles Robinson, who raised the issue during the regular monthly meeting, said he thought the local school board ought to take a stand against this and adopt the resolution.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said TVAAS was never intended to be used as a punishment to teachers. "The straw that broke the camel's back was when the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education said they wanted to take the license away from a teacher because of a test score. We would love to have every teacher in our system and the State of Tennessee to score five on Value Added (TVAAS) and a five on Achievement. That would be wonderful. This was set up years ago and Dr. William L. Sanders, who did the research, has told the state that this was never meant to be used the way it's being used. It was intended to be used to help educators improve on their teaching skills, on the strategies that they use, but it is now being used to take away a teacher's license if it goes forward. This has passed but they have postponed it for a year," he said.

Willoughby said it's also unfair to hold teachers to different evaluation standards with their licenses at stake. "Statistics say forty four percent of educators in Tennessee do not teach a tested subject so it's not going to be equal for everybody. If fifty six percent teach a tested subject and forty four percent don't then everybody is not on the same playing field. We also have students who are "more needy" than others and those students cannot make the Achievement and Growth the same as other students and to take a teacher's license away because of that is not acceptable to me nor to a lot of other people," said Willoughby.

The Resolution is as follows:

"Whereas, a professional license is a qualification-based threshold for a profession and is not a measure of effectiveness of said professional; and

Whereas, in the four state-approved evaluation models TVAAS only counts thirty- five percent of a teacher's effectiveness rating; and

Whereas, state law for teacher evaluation will be superseded by State Board of Education rules; and

Whereas, the state legislature has indicated that classroom observations should be the largest percentage of any teacher evaluation; and

Whereas, Tennessee has changed its curricular standards multiple times in a short period of time; and

Whereas, the predicting of student growth is more difficult to benchmark when standards are changed so often; and

Whereas, teacher TVAAS scores can vary with little clarification of cause and there is no validated improvement plan for teachers from the Tennessee Department of Education; and

Whereas, a teacher with a high TVAAS score can also have low proficiency ratings; and

Whereas, a teacher with a low TVAAS score can also have high proficiency ratings; and

Whereas, forty-four percent of DeKalb County teachers have individual TVAAS scores by which they are rated indicating that not all teachers are evaluated equally; and

Whereas, the National Research Council and the National Academy have indicated that value-added assessment is not stable enough for use in high-stakes evaluation and "20 years of TVAAS HAS TOLD US ALMOST NOTHING" by Andy Spears, October 7, 2012 (http://TNEDREPORT.COM/?PAGE? ID-HD-2); and

Whereas, there is a lack of research indicating Common Core standards are age appropriate at all grade levels; and

Whereas, teacher effectiveness is going to be determined from the results of tests that are yet to be created; and

Whereas, baseline tests in primary grades are formatted differently, lack time requirements, and are overly dependent on student test-taking skills;

Therefore, Be It Resolved that the DeKalb County Board of Education urges the General Assembly and the State Board of Education to oppose any proposal whereby a teaching license is issued, renewed, or denied based on results of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS)".

School Report Card Shows Academic Gains

November 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lisa Bell

The state's 2013 Report Card on DeKalb County Schools reveals that the system received A's and B's in the areas of achievement and value added growth in grades 3-8.

Students take the TCAP tests in the spring. The report card released last week represents data collected from the spring of 2013 for the state, school districts and individual schools. As in its past version, the report card also includes end-of-course exam percentages, ACT results, graduation percentages and other school-related profile information.

The DeKalb County School System had all B's in Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies, the same letter grade as last year but in each subject the actual scores were up. "Achievement is a measure of how well students performed on the TCAP tests in 2013. How high did they score? Were they proficient? We have many areas to celebrate that showed an improvement over 2012," said Data Analyst Lisa Bell, during Tuesday night's school board meeting.

Value Added marks (Growth) were as follows: A in Math, up from a B last year; a B in Reading, the same letter grade as last year but with a higher score; and a B in Science and Social Studies, better than last year's C in those subjects. (Value Added) Growth is measured by comparing test performance over the previous years of testing," said Bell.

The DCHS graduation rate was 95.4% for 2013, up from 93.5% in 2012 and well above the state average of 86.3%.

The DCHS Junior and Senior Classes ACT three year average remained the same at 18.4, which falls short of the students predicted score of 19.5 and the state average of 19.1. However, officials say ACT study online courses have been implemented at DCHS for students to help improve ACT results.

DeKalb County High School End of Course Achievement results and Valued Added Growth for Algebra I and II, English I, English II, and English III, and Biology I and US History are also shown on the Report Card. "Algebra I and II Achievement increased from 2012 to 2013," said Bell. "The growth was below average. Ninety two percent of students passed the U.S. History End of Course Exam last year but U.S. History also had below average growth. "English I, II, and III all had average growth comparable with the state average. Biology had a significant increase in achievement. The percentage of students passing the Biology End of Course increased last year from 57% to 72%. Biology also had above average growth last year," said Bell.

"I'm very proud of the Report Card. The growth that has been made and the accomplishments that have happened," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. "When I look at some of our other school systems surrounding us, I am pleased with how DeKalb County Schools are doing compared to those schools. What would really be wonderful is if parents would send a note to the teachers telling them that you appreciate their hard work. More has been put on the plates of teachers in Tennessee and in my opinion, they have been less appreciated by the state department of education in the last few years than they ever have been. They are doing more and working harder than they ever have. I think we owe our teachers in DeKalb County and across the state of Tennessee more than we could ever pay them for what they do in shaping the lives of our children. I think we should show our appreciation to them more and more every day," said Willoughby.

DeKalb Middle School Achievement showed all B's in the areas of Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies. It's the same letter grade as last year in Math, Science and Social Studies but an improvement over a C last year in Reading. Actual scores were up from last year in all subjects.

Value added growth at DeKalb Middle: An A in Math, the same as last year; an A in Science, up from a D last year; a D in Reading, the same as last year; and a B in Social Studies, up from a D in 2012. Actual scores were up in all categories showing improvement.

DeKalb West School Achievement: a B in Math, the same as in 2012; and A's in Reading, Science, and Social Studies, the same as last year. Actual grades in Math and Reading were the same as last year and slightly better in Science and Social Studies.

Value Added growth at DeKalb West showed a B in Math, up from a C in 2012; an A in Reading, the same as last year; a C in Science, down from a B in 2012; and a B in Social Studies, the same as last year. Actual scores were better in all categories except Science where the score was just two tenths of a point below last year.

Northside Elementary Achievement: a B in Math, up from a C in 2012; and a B in Reading, Science, and Social Studies, the same as last year in each category. Actual scores were better in Math and Reading and the same in Science and Social Studies.

Value Added Growth at Northside Elementary showed an A in Math, up from a B last year; an A in Reading, the same as 2012; a B in Science, the same as last year; and an A in Social Studies, the same as 2012. Actual grades were better in all subjects except Social Studies, which showed a dip of fourth tenths of a point.

Results at Smithville Elementary mirror Northside Elementary because it is considered a feeder school.

The 2013 state Report Card offers increased functionality for users to view detailed breakdowns of last year’s continued statewide student achievement growth.

The new design of the 2013 Report Card offers users the ability to create personalized comparisons between state, school, and districts on the following measures: achievement, ACT scores, graduation rate, student enrollment and ethnicity, and value-added composite scores. As an example, parents and community members can now compare individual schools or districts to see how well they are preparing students for college and careers, or to see which has a higher percentage of students on grade level in a specific subject area.

The 2013 Report Card also features a new profile page for each school, which shows student demographics, value-added composite scores, and student achievement in one central location.

“We think it’s important for parents and students, as well as school and district leaders, to know how well their schools are doing each year,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “The new functionality of the 2013 Report Card allows parents and the community to organize and compare specific information about students at the state, district and school level.”

The 2013 Report Card also features a new College and Career Readiness tab. This tab includes data on graduation rates, ACT scores, college readiness benchmarks, and the percentage of students who are eligible to receive the HOPE Scholarship.

As the state strives to advance outcomes for all Tennessee students, these results allow educators to identify areas that need the most improvement. Through its regional offices, the department provides resources, support, and expert analysis to help districts and schools with data-driven interventions.

•For the newly redesigned 2013 state Report Card, visit http://www.tn.gov/education/reportcard/2013.shtml.
To view previous state Report Cards, visit http://www.tn.gov/education/reportcard/index.shtml.

City Attorney Sends Letter to DUD Outlining Proposals for New Deal

November 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Vester Parsley

The City of Smithville is offering alternatives for the DeKalb Utility District to consider on a possible new water purchase agreement.

The existing ten year agreement is set to expire as of December 31.

In a letter to DUD manager Jon Foutch, dated Thursday November 14, City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. set out the proposals being offered by the city for the DUD board to consider. Although the mayor and aldermen have been consulted, no vote has been taken by the city council on this offer in either a regular or special meeting. Any accepted proposal by the DUD would have to be approved by the mayor and aldermen.

One of proposals calls for a new ten year deal with the city to charge the DUD $2.20 per thousand gallons for five years and $2.40 per thousand gallons for an additional five years. But that deal would be below the city's cost according to a recent study by Warren and Associates, paid for by the city, which revealed that the actual cost for Smithville to produce water is $2.67 per thousand gallons. Under this proposal, the city is asking the DUD for at least a minimum amount of water to be purchased during this ten year period and for DUD to abandon plans to build its own water plant.

The second proposal seeks to negotiate a new rate based on the DUD sale of three of its metering points to the City of Smithville.

During a workshop with the mayor and aldermen on Monday night, November 11, the city's utility engineer J.R. Wauford said that if the DUD were willing to sell the city the water lines and customers connected to at least three of its metering points, the city could be in a position to negotiate the price it charges the DeKalb Utility District.

DUD Chairman Roger Turney and board members Joe Foutch and Hugh Washer attended the workshop along with DUD manager Jon Foutch and DUD attorney Dewey Branstetter, Jr. of Nashville.

If the DUD were to reject the proposals offered herein and have no new agreement by January 1, the city may begin charging the DUD $7.50 per thousand gallons, the same rate it charges water customers outside the city.

The letter containing these proposals was delivered to Foutch last Thursday. The DUD board has not yet taken up the offer. The proposals are apparently being reviewed by DUD's attorney.

The DeKalb Utility District currently pays $2.05 per thousand gallons for the water it buys from the city. The rate has increased by five cents per thousand gallons each year since 2004.

The letter from Parsley to Foutch states as follows:

"The City of Smithville is very appreciative of the fact that you attended our workshop on Monday night, November 11 in Smithville and became aware of some possible solutions to the ongoing purchase of water issues. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen have asked me to write you a letter setting out proposals for your Board to consider in an attempt to settle our differences. The Board has asked me to give you the following proposals:

Proposal #1: The Board would reiterate our previous proposal to DUD whereby we agreed to sell DUD water for five years at the price of $2.20 per thousand gallons and an additional five years at $2.40 per thousand gallons. However, we would insist that a minimum amount of water be purchased during those ten years and further that DUD abandon their plans to build their own water treatment plant."

Proposal#2: The City would ask of your Board whether they are willing to negotiate the sale of at least three of four metering points which were mentioned in the work session on November 11. The City would like to negotiate to purchase the metering points for Evins Mill Road, Hobson Street, and the Old Sparta Pike. If your Board is willing to negotiate on these metering points we will need you to provide us with the number of customers served for each metering point and a map showing the water system served by each metering point so that we can determine the revenue that the City can derive from these points in order to make an intelligent offer. It is very possible the City will be able to offer the best deal for some variation of this proposal since it will provide Smithville with a long-term solution to the growth area problem."

"If DUD feels that neither of the above proposals are satisfactory, the City sees no reason to enter into a contract with DUD and will once the contract expires, charge DUD as an outside water customer for your current needs."

"The Mayor and Aldermen would appreciate your immediate consideration of these proposals and a response as to which proposal your Board intends to take," wrote Parsley.

If the city loses DUD as a water customer with the construction of a new DUD water plant, Wauford told the mayor and aldermen last week, "our calculations indicate that water rates would have to be increased to city customers by a minimum of 20%".

By expanding the city's service area with these DUD metering points, Wauford said the city could possibly set an "incremental" water rate to DUD at a level so that rates for city customers would not have to rise. "We could look at what the incremental rate would be. In other words, what would it take if they (DUD) would sell you (city) those customers? What would your rate to them need to be to avoid having to raise rates on Smithville's customers,"asked Wauford?

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