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County Commission Kills Land Deal for School Board

April 18, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby addressing county commission
Jack Barton
Mike Foster

The DeKalb County Board of Education will not be able to purchase fifty two acres of property on the Allen Ferry Road for the future home of a new school.

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night, on a 7 to 7 tie vote, denied the school board's request for approval of a budget amendment in the amount of $374,000 from the school system's Basic Education Program Reserve (BEP) Funds to buy the property.

Eight yes votes were needed for passage.

County Mayor Mike Foster could have exercised his privilege of voting to break the tie but he chose not to do so.

Those voting in favor of granting the school board's request to approve the budget amendment were Mason Carter and Elmer Ellis, Jr of the first district, Bobby Joines of the second district, David McDowell of the fourth district, Jerry Adcock of the fifth district, Marshall Ferrell of the sixth district, and Jimmy Poss of the seventh district.

Those voting against the school system's request for the budget amendment were Jack Barton of the second district, Jerry Scott and Bradley Hendrix of the third district, Wayne Cantrell of the fourth district, John Green of the fifth district, Jeff Barnes of the sixth district, and Larry Summers of the seventh district.

Although the director of schools and school board members have not said definitely that the Allen Ferry Road property was intended for a new high school location, at least some county commissioners believe that was the intent of this proposed purchase.

Seventh district member Larry Summers, prior to casting his no vote, said he favored developing two community elementary schools elsewhere in Smithville, similar to DeKalb West School, rather than building a high school. "I'm for a building program but not this building program. I think the success of the west school is known. I think two community schools up here would kind of mimic the size and community involvement like the west school and would be better served so I vote no on this property," said Summers.

Later in his remarks to the commission, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby apparently took exception to Summers statement, saying that the job of the county commission is to authorize funding for school needs, not to decide where schools should be built. "I think some members of the county court have gotten their role and the school board's role confused or mixed up. I would ask that you let the school board do their job and respectfully county commissioners I would ask that you do your job of funding. I'm not mad. I'm disappointed because I'm talking about three thousand students. To the seven members of this court (who voted no), I think you've made a bad decision about what's best for the children of DeKalb County," said Willoughby

In response to Summers' suggestion about having two community schools in Smithville similar to the west school, Willoughby explained that the west school has approximately four hundred students in pre-kindergarten to eighth grade but that two similar schools in Smithville would each have about 857 students, which is more than the high school population. Willoughby questioned whether that would be a good move. "In the Smithville area where we have most of our population of students, if you have a school with more than eight hundred students the majority of the parents probably would not want kindergarten students and those in pre-school and first grade in the same building with seventh and eighth graders. Most progressive school systems are now going to a three tiered system, pre-k through 5 schools, 6th-8th grade schools, and 9th through 12th grade schools." Willoughby admitted though that studies have shown that many students experience an achievement gap when they have to move from one school building to another.

During his remarks, Willoughby read from a letter he sent to members of the county commission over the weekend making his final appeal for their approval. In the letter, Willoughby said " I am writing to request that you vote yes to allow the DeKalb County School System to amend the budget in order to purchase the property on Allen Ferry Road for a future school. This vote is not for any adult on the school board or any adult on the county commission. It is a vote for the children of DeKalb County. This has not been a rushed decision to purchase land for the children."

"As you may know the school system in 2008 formally made a request for funding once a suitable building site was located. We have now located a suitable building site which is centrally located and has been confirmed by professional engineers. These professionals make a career out of evaluating building sites. They have evaluated this site and determined that it is in the top 33% of building sites where schools are built on. After the evaluations of the property, it is proven to be an even better site than what I thought in the very beginning. The school system is not asking for any money. The school system is only asking to use money in the BEP reserves which is intended for only one time purchases. The BEP reserves are often used by school systems throughout the state of Tennessee for such purposes. It is no secret that the future of the children of DeKalb County will have to have a new school built soon. So I ask you to allow the school system to use the money that is already in reserves for this purpose," wrote Willoughby.

Some members of the county commission have expressed concerns about the potential costs of excavation and site preparation at this location. In response, Willoughby said " It would be hard to find property at a better price, which is centrally located, even considering excavation of the land and site preparation. If excavation (site preparation) of the property is what we heard $2.1 million, I don't believe that's out of line when you consider that takes in sewage, pumping station, roads to be built and things like that. This is not out of line with any major building project of a school," said Willoughby.

Second district member Jack Barton, who voted no on the request, stressed that his opposition is based on fiscal responsibility, not whether he supports the school system. "This is not a vote about the children. This is a vote about the fiscal responsibility of trying to find the best property for the school board to build on. Ours isn't to choose the schools they build, whether it be a K-8 or a high school, but without options we can't really know for sure, with myself not being an engineer and Mr. Willoughby not, that a higher (priced) piece of property on the front end doesn't equate to a better piece of property on the back end. I've had so many people approach me about please vote for the schools. I'm not against schools. I would vote to buy property that was fiscally prudent. My no vote was not against children or the future growth of the school system. I encourage the school board to come back to us with a five year plan, a ten year plan, and a fifteen year plan of where our growth rates are going and not from somebody trying to sell us a school but from somebody who can help us arrive at correct population figures. We need to pick property that's not only fiscally sound but also provides for expansion. I'm not against the school system, Mr. Willoughby, or the school board. I'm proud of our schools, but I want to make sure that the voting public knows that this is not just about children, it's about money. Whether its BEP reserves, state money or federal money, its somebody's tax money," said Barton.

Willoughby responded "Mr. Barton that's why I hired civil engineers and architects to make the evaluation. Their evaluation proved very positive on that site. I went to professionals and asked them how it needed to be evaluated. These people build schools all over the state of Tennessee and they tell us that this building site is in the top 33% of building sites".

County Mayor Foster suggested that the school board and county commission work toward ending their differences and find common ground. "My idea is we sit down and try to solve problems rather than create problems for each other. I fully understand that the school board's responsibility is to run the schools. I also understand that these fourteen men here (county commissioners) are the ones who decide how things are funded. We have got to be together. We don't need to be two separate entities arguing with each other. I think everybody here is concerned about the children. We don't need to be argumentative. We need to sit down and communicate. We all realize that a lot of our schools are old and need something done to them. I fully agree with you Mark (Willoughby) that its your (school board's) decision what schools to build, but the county commission will have to arrange funding for that (in the future) and we'll have to ask the taxpayers to probably increase their taxes by thirty, forty, or fifty percent. We all need to be on board with that. We can't do it if we're divided. It's time we sit down and try to solve those things," said Foster

In January, the school board voted unanimously to enter into a contract to buy this property, subject to approval by the county commission and a favorable site assessment study by the engineers.

The site, which is located near the existing DCHS/DeKalb Middle School campuses, belongs to Mark and Karen Adams, Melvin and LeeAnn Crips, and Billy Crips.

Under terms of the contract, the school system had a 90 day "due diligence" period to have an engineering firm conduct core drilling, inspections of the title to the property, the environment condition of the land, and other site assessments to determine whether the property is satisfactory for it's intended purposes.

Director of Schools Willoughby said that architects and engineers who conducted the site study found 44 usable acres suitable for a new school.

Appeal Dismissed, New Trial Date Set in Election Commission Lawsuit

April 18, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
John Harris, III

Former election administrators in DeKalb and several other Tennessee counties, claiming they were ousted in 2009 by GOP controlled county election commissions because of their political party affiliation, have lost an appeal challenging a recent court ruling over whether they can seek monetary damages against the election commissioners who didn't reappoint them.

Locally, the federal court lawsuit was filed by former election administrator Lisa Peterson who was not re-appointed in 2009 by the Republican majority of the local election commission. Another case involving the election commission, also filed by Peterson in DeKalb County Chancery Court is still pending.

In December, U.S. District Judge Thomas Wiseman found that the Republican election commissioners named in the lawsuit in DeKalb and other counties were not subject to liability for monetary damages sought, in their official capacities as "state actors". The plaintiff's claims, to the extent they sought declaratory and injunctive relief, remain pending. After Wiseman's ruling, attorneys for the former administrators or plaintiffs filed an appeal to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

According to John Harris, III of Nashville, an attorney for the DeKalb County Election Commission, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has now dismissed the appeal as premature, meaning that more proceedings must be held at the trial court level before an appeal can be considered at the appellate level. The dismissal of the appeal does not prohibit the parties from appealing any final judgment in the case. Meanwhile, Harris said a new trial date on the remaining issue in the case has been set for September, 2012. "The district court, in December, dismissed all of the monetary claims against the election commissioners based upon a concept called qualified immunity. Basically, that's a finding that there is no just basis to proceed on claims that these administrators were wrongfully terminated because the law prior to that point in time was unclear. The former administrators, who are the plaintiffs in the case, appealed that decision to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals which is a federal court sitting over Tennessee although its in Cincinnati. That court said we're going to reject the appeal because we believe that its premature. There needs to be further proceedings at the trial court before they would entertain it as an appellate matter. So the appeal in March was rejected by the (appellate) court in Cincinnati and that sends it back to the trial court level for further proceedings. Since it came back, the trial court has entered an order setting out various things that has to be done over the next year and a half. The case is now set for trial in September, 2012," said Harris.

With the appeal having been dismissed, Harris said the only significant remaining issue to be decided at the trial court level is the "injunctive relief" claim in the lawsuit and a jury trial date has been set in U.S. District Court for Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. in Nashville. "The main issue now is whether it is allowable under federal law to replace a public official with the authority and discretion that an administrator of elections had based only upon party affiliation. The court could find that this is okay because a person holding that position has sufficient political discretion in carrying out their job that party affiliation is relevant. It could easily do that here because of the fact that everybody who serves as a commissioner, either at the state or at the county level, is basically selected along party lines. Or the court could find that these are just ministerial jobs and there is no significance to party affiliation in making that selection. If the court finds that party affiliation is irrelevant, it could then issue an injunction telling future election commissions that they cannot consider party affiliation in selecting or releasing an existing administrator of elections. If it grants relief and puts down an order saying election commissions can't consider party affiliation then it also has the authority to award, under the federal statute, attorneys fees in favor of the plaintiffs and that's really the biggest issue from a short term perspective because if the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs on this declaratory aspect of the case, will it then award attorneys fees in favor of the plaintiffs. If so, the concern I think most counties should have is that an award of attorneys fees in this case, given the amount of time its going to take and the possibility of an appeal, could easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars. At this point, the court has ruled that there cannot be monetary damages for things like wrongful termination or back pay. But if you consider an award of attorneys fees damages then the attorneys fees award is still a possibility," said Harris.

Meanwhile, legislation has been filed in the Tennessee General Assembly that if approved would require terms of county administrators of elections to expire when the commission's term expires. It would also allow county election commissions to consider political party affiliation, knowledge and experience when hiring administrators

Republican members of the DeKalb County Election Commission are Walteen Parker, Barbara Vanatta, and Jim Dean. Democratic members are Harry Lasser and Kenneth Moore.

Ring Indicted for Child Abuse

April 18, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kenneth Brian Ring
Matthew Gilles
Elizabeth D. Riley
Sharon Morton
Bratten Hale Cook, III
Samuel Wade Walker
Donna Sue Overall

A 26 year old Smithville man has been charged in a grand jury sealed indictment with child abuse.

The indictment against Kenneth Brian Ring of Foster Road, Apartments alleges that "On or about December 18th, Ring intentionally and knowingly did, other than by accidental means, treat a fifteen month old child, in such a manner as to inflict injury, constituting the offense of child abuse."

The case was presented to the April term of the grand jury by Detective Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department.

Ring's bond is $25,000 and he will be in court on May 20th.

Meanwhile, 25 year old Matthew Allen Gilles of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged under a sealed indictment with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. His bond is $60,000 and he will be in court on May 20th.

Gilles' girlfriend, 20 year old Elizabeth D. Riley is charged with filing a false report for allegedly trying to keep officers from serving the warrant on Gilles. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on April 21st.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, "We went to Gilles' home on Short Mountain Highway to execute the warrant. We could see Gilles through the window and knocked on the door to get him to come out. But Riley, who was also there, told officers that Gilles wasn't in the house and added that unless officers had a warrant, they were not going to be allowed to enter. She tried to shut the door on us but we went in and arrested him".

35 year old Sharon Morton of Readyville is charged under a sealed indictment with theft of property over $1,000. Her bond is $25,000 and she will be in court on May 20th.

Chief Mark Collins of the Alexandria Police Department said that Morton was working as a property manager for the Maplewood and Parkview apartment complexes in Alexandria which is owned by MACO Management Co, Inc . Chief Collins states that between November 2009 and September 2010 Morton took approximately $9,873 from approximately 10 tenants living at the properties . Chief Collins states that the money came from security deposits and rent which never got deposited to Maco. The case was investigated by Sergeant Chris Russell. Morton was booked in the DeKalb County Jail on April 15th.

Meanwhile, two people have been charged in connection with a recent theft.

Sheriff Ray said that 30 year old Bratten Hale Cook, III of East Bryant Street, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000. Cook was also issued a citation for simple possession of a schedule II , III, IV, and VI controlled substance. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court April 28th.

According to Sheriff Ray, at the time of his arrest Cook had in plain view at his residence a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana, eight xanax pills, half of a percocet pill, oxycontin, suboxone, and suboxone strips. Cook allegedly admitted that these items belonged to him.

Samuel Wade Walker of Jerry Walker Road, Smithville is charged with two counts of theft of property over $1,000 and one count of aggravated burglary. His bond totals $25,000 and he will be in court on April 28th.

According to Sheriff Ray, both Cook and Walker, who were arrested on Wednesday, April 13th, are charged with taking four shotguns from a residence on Maple Lane without the owners consent on January 1st. The stolen guns were then sold.

Meanwhile in a separate case, Walker is alleged to have committed an aggravated burglary of a residence on Cripps Lane with the intent to commit a theft on August 29th. Entry was made through a back door. He allegedly took four shotguns and several other items from the home with a total value of $5, 575.

41 year old Donna Sue Overall of McMinnville is charged with failure to appear. Her bond is $1,500. Her court date is set for May 20th.

Sheriff Ray reported that on Friday April 15th, Overall was supposed to report to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department to serve a forty eight hour jail sentence but she failed to report until Sunday, April 17th at 6:08 p.m.

A Look at the Tennessee Legislature

April 17, 2011
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

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

Voter Photo ID Passes House

Late in the week, we passed a major reform to our electoral system that calls for Tennesseans to present a valid photo ID in order to vote. Various public opinion polls from Tennessee show citizens overwhelmingly support the common sense measure.

The bill, HB 7, passed the House by a wide 57-35 margin. Numerous comments were made in support of the legislation. One of the bill’s Republican backers stated, “For years, our system has operated under the premise of ‘one person, one vote.’ This bill respects that premise and removes any doubt that is the principle guiding our electoral system.”

By requiring a simple photo ID, the legislation institutes a common sense reform that ensures every legitimate vote in Tennessee counts. “With the technology we have in today’s world,” noted another conservative legislator, “there is no excuse to allow someone’s legitimate vote to be cancelled out by a person who shouldn’t be voting in the first place.” The bill now moves to the Tennessee Senate for consideration.

Tenure Reform Becomes Law in Tennessee

During the mid-week, the Governor officially made the education tenure reform bill law by signing HB 2012. The legislation moves tenure for educators from three to five years and links the tenure privilege to revised performance evaluations. The law is part of an ambitious education agenda advanced by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to remake the face of education in Tennessee.

The core principles of these reform initiatives are promoting student achievement and encouraging teacher excellence throughout Tennessee. In the long-term, Republican leaders of the House believe these initiatives will lead to a better trained workforce for the State. “If Tennessee is going to become the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, then it is critical that we improve education because businesses are looking to compete with employees educated for the 21st century workplace,” said the Governor. The House Speaker added, “Our goal is to make sure our teachers are equipped with the best tools possible to educate Tennessee students. We want an effective teacher in front of every classroom, and we want those who are excelling to be rewarded. This proposal is absolutely key to education reform.”

"Study after study shows when our students have the highest quality teachers leading them they will reach their full potential,” said the House Majority Leader. “I'm proud to support the Governor's efforts to identify and protect the best educators in our schools. Ultimately, this law ensures our next generation will be better equipped to enter the workforce and make Tennessee a better place to live and raise a family.”

Economic Giant Officially Breaks Ground in Tennessee

Last week, Tennessee received additional good news as it seeks to brand itself as the number one destination for high quality jobs in the South. Wacker Chemical, a worldwide manufacturer of numerous products, hosted a groundbreaking at the location of its soon-to-open operations facility in Bradley County. The company announced it would invest $1.45 billion into the plant—the largest single private investment in the Chattanooga-area.

The company joins other corporate giants who have recently joined the growing number of top-tier companies to call the Volunteer State home like Volkswagen, Hemlock Semiconductor, Amazon, and others.

One GOP Representative from the area stated, “Bradley County and East Tennessee are leading the way back in our state from the depths of the Great Recession because of great projects like this new Wacker Chemie facility.” The Governor also stated his hope that bringing in a company like Wacker would promote further growth. Another conservative Representative for the area noted, “Wacker increased its investment in Bradley County, adding nearly a half-billion additional dollars and 150 more jobs to the originally planned 500 positions.”

Charter Schools Cap Lifted by House Committee

Legislation at the center of the General Assembly’s education reform package to remove the cap on charter schools passed the House Education Committee on Tuesday. The bill moved by a wide 12-5 margin and now heads to the House Finance Committee for consideration. Under current law, the number of charter schools is capped at 90 statewide. This bill would do away with the cap, while also allowing any student in a charter school's area to attend the school.

Proponents note that increasing the number of charter schools increases the access of Tennessee students to a high quality education. These education reforms moving through the Legislature prioritize student achievement – the standard by which all reforms should be judged. Conservative leaders say that, ultimately, this reform and others are really about job growth in Tennessee.

The Majority Caucus Chair stated, “A wider array of educational opportunities only strengthen our State’s ability to attract a more diverse collection of high-paying jobs for our citizens. We campaigned on high quality jobs last fall—higher standards in education will lead to just that. Check this off as yet another promise kept by our Republican Majority.”

Bills to Combat Illegal Immigration Moving Through House

After several hours of discussion in both subcommittee and full committee, Republicans moved three immigration bills out of State and Local Government Committee this week. The bills enact simple reforms that will address concerns over illegal immigration. The first bill will require all employers—both public and private—to submit the names and Social Security numbers of employees hired. The second piece of legislation asks for a verification to be made of a person’s lawful status and any person found to be an unlawful alien is prohibited from receiving taxpayer benefits, potentially saving the State millions of dollars. The final bill says in the course of a lawful stop, State and local law enforcement must determine the legal status of the individual in question.

Republicans contend that the inaction of the federal government has forced states to implement stringent illegal immigration measures. The bill’s sponsor said, “By taking a comprehensive approach that targets three distinct areas of the law, we can bring the reform demanded by so many of our citizens. I believe this plan will place Tennessee at the forefront of State efforts to combat illegal immigration and provide a blueprint for other States to follow.”

Having passed State and Local Government Committee, the bills now advance to several committees for further consideration.

New Requirements to Fight Meth Advancing

Strong legislation to stop the scourge of meth in Tennessee advanced in the House Health & Human Resources Committee this week. The bill, HB 1051, requires all pharmacies to log the sale of products made from pseudoephedrine into an electronic tracking system. Pseudoephedrine is the main component used by drug users to produce meth, a highly-addictive and destructive drug.

The electronic database is known as the National Precursor Log Exchange. Additionally, the legislation strengthens penalties for drug charges. An individual arrested for meth production in the presence of a child under 8 years old will be classified as a Class A felony while “smurfing” will now be classified a Class A misdemeanor should the bill pass. Smurfing is when several buyers are sent to multiple locations to by pseudoephedrine products.

The electronic database will not be funded by taxpayer dollars and, instead, will be paid for by the cold medicine manufacturers—an example of a strong relationship that can be forged when government works with the private sector.
In closing…
It is such and blessing and an honor to serve each and every one of you. Please do not hesitate to call on me anytime if I can ever be of assistance to you.

Buying a Boat? Make Sure It's Properly Registered

April 16, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mike Clayborn

Now that spring has sprung many people will be spending lots of leisure time recreating on Center Hill lake.

If you've recently purchased a boat or planning to buy one, make sure you have the vessel properly registered.

Under state law, all mechanically powered vessels and all sailboats which are principally used in Tennessee must be registered. (Boats are not titled in Tennessee.) Mechanical propulsion includes electric trolling motors but does not include boats powered only by oars or paddles. Boats which require registration must be properly registered before using them upon any public water of Tennessee. Registration fees are determined by the length of the boat.

The Tennessee Department of Revenue requires that boats which have never been registered before must show certification that their sales tax was paid when purchased. The owner needs to have the appropriate County Clerk's office or boat dealer stamp the application verifying that the tax was paid. The registration form is then mailed to or taken to the address shown on the form for processing.

If a registered boat is being transferred from one individual to another, you must follow the same process as described for previously unregistered boats above. If a dealer is not involved, the county court clerk's office will require a notarized bill of sale from the individuals involved, according to DeKalb County Clerk Mike Clayborn. "We register boats just about every day. But what the Department of Revenue is doing now and what they have instructed us to do is that we must have a notarized bill of sale with the name and address of the seller in order to register a boat. The reason they do that is because on the information you have the TN number and the boat VIN number. They (state) run that and want to make sure that you're buying it from the person they have it registered to. It's a tax thing. Most of us know that our state is low on money. They are really getting to the place that anything which has taxes on it, they're watching. They want to make sure that everybody is paying their taxes, especially on boats. Right now, it's a big time of the year. Boats are being traded and being sold so anyone who is fixing to buy a boat, if somebody gives you the card make sure the name on that card and that bill of sale are the same person because if they're not, then you've got problems. If you have a bill of sale that is not notarized, it really doesn't mean anything. But whoever notarizes that bill of sale is declaring that they saw you sign that. This way you can't come back and say I didn't sign that because its been notarized. That's the reason they want the notarized bill of sale so there won't be any controversy about who signs the bill of sale," said Clayborn.

If you should violate the boater registration laws in regard to the payment of sales tax, you are subject to investigation by the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

Four and a half months ago, a former DeKalb County man, 54 year old Michael Gene Cantrell who now reportedly resides in Jamestown, was indicted by the grand jury here on three Class E felony counts of Sales Tax Evasion. The indictment alleged that between July 2003 and May 2007, Cantrell submitted false and fraudulent documents to the DeKalb County Clerk's Office for the purpose of registering two vehicles and a boat. The Special Investigations Section of the Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of Cantrell. The case is still pending.

Time for Dogs and Cats to Receive Rabies Vaccinations

April 16, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Spring and summer mean having fun in the sun and enjoying many outdoor activities. Keeping your family safe is also important. The Tennessee Department of Health reminds Tennesseans that preventing exposure of people and their pets to the rabies virus is a priority, especially during this time of year.

Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs and cats, as required by Tennessee law and local ordinances. Owners are urged to have their dogs (3 months of age or older) and cats (6 months of age or older) vaccinated. Store purchased vaccines are not legally acceptable.

Vaccination clinics will be held today, Saturday, April 16th from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at the Liberty Community Center, at the Alexandria Parking Lot, and at the DeKalb Middle School Parking Lot. A fee of $7.00 will be charged for each innoculation.

For more information contact an Environmental Health Specialist at the DeKalb County Health Department at 597-7599.

Humans can be exposed to rabies when attempting to assist, feed or handle wild animals. If a wild or domestic animal is seen as ill or acting strangely, it should be reported to your local animal control agency. Bats in particular should not be handled. If a bat is found inside, in a swimming pool, or brought home by your pets, use precautions and consult your local health department.

Rabies is a deadly virus transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies infection occurs primarily in wildlife in Tennessee, but it can be transmitted to any mammal, including humans and family pets. Bites are the most common means of transmission; contact with saliva from an infected animal can also be a concern.

Citizens can take the following actions to help prevent the spread of rabies:

Keep your pets under direct supervision so they do not come into contact with wild animals. If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately.

Keep children away from any wild or dead animals. Educate them not to touch or attempt to pick up, feed or handle any wild or unfamiliar domestic animals, especially those that are or appear to be sick or injured.

Do not disturb bats. Instead, consult your local health department or animal control agency for assistance in dealing with potential exposure to bats.

For more information or assistance with a potential rabies exposure, call your local health department or the Tennessee Department of Health emergency line at 615-741-7247.

Man Injured In Friday Morning Wreck

April 16, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 21 year old man was injured Friday morning in a one vehicle accident on Keltonburg Road.

Central dispatch received the call at 6:15 a.m.

Trooper Darrell Knowles of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said that Joshua Cantrell was driving east on Keltonburg Road in a Dodge Ram pickup truck when he went across the road and struck a ditch and culvert. The truck came to a stop in the ditch on the north side of the road. Cantrell, who suffered a head injury, was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

According to Trooper Knowles, Cantrell had completed second shift factory work and then did some work on a car before heading home. He apparently fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in the accident. Cantrell did have on a seatbelt but Trooper Knowles said he wasn't wearing it properly.

Past Due Parking Ticket Could Delay Your Vehicle Registration Under Proposed New Law

April 14, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mike Clayborn

Be careful not to get a parking ticket, and be sure to pay the fine on time if you do. Otherwise, you may be prohibited from getting your vehicle registration renewed under proposed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly.

DeKalb County Clerk Mike Clayborn told WJLE Thursday that if the "parking ticket" bill is passed in the state legislature, county clerks would be prohibited from registering or renewing registration if the owner of a vehicle has parking tickets within such county that are more than 60 days past due." Most people realize that if you get stopped without proof of insurance, that goes directly to the state and the state puts a block on your tag and you can't do anything with it. You can't renew it. You can't transfer it. You can't do anything with that tag until your insurance company proves to the state that you have insurance on your particular vehicle. This legislation would impose (regulations) on parking tickets. If you have a parking ticket, we would have to verify that you don't have an outstanding parking ticket. If you do, we would not be able to renew your tag. We wouldn't be able to do anything for you. If that happens, its going to be a nightmare not only for us but for city policemen, our sheriff, and anybody who has the authority to write a ticket. We're hoping this (legislation) doesn't pass," said Clayborn.

Present law provides that the office of county clerk is not required to review the driving record of any owner before issuing a certificate of registration or a tab, sticker or other device as a prerequisite to payment of wheel or road taxes.

This bill adds a requirement for the county clerk to inquire to county law enforcement and to appropriate officials in any city within such county as to whether the owner has any outstanding parking tickets that are more than 60 days past due. If the owner does have such outstanding parking tickets, then the clerk will not issue a certificate of registration, registration plate or sticker to the owner, until the owner shows proof that the parking tickets have been paid. The clerk must send written notice to the owner that the tickets must be paid prior to registration or renewal.

The legislation is sponsored by Democrat Karen D. Camper of Memphis in the State House and by Republican Brian Kelsey of Memphis in the State Senate.

School Board Pays Tribute to Teachers, Administrative, and Instructional Support Staff

April 14, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night adopted resolutions honoring administrative and instructional support staff and teachers. The April monthly meeting of the school board was held at Smithville Elementary School.

The resolution of appreciation honoring teachers states that " Whereas, teachers nurture students and engage them in activities which will educate and graduate tomorrow's citizens and leaders; and

Whereas, teachers spend countless hours preparing teaching materials, grading papers and projects, studying about issues in education, consulting with administration, parents, students, and fellow educators; and

Whereas, teachers create a safe and healthy learning environment for the students to enjoy while they participate in daily lessons; and

Whereas, teachers demonstrate an exemplary attitude and establish rapport with the students; and

Whereas great teachers transmit their passion for learning onto their students; and

Whereas, effective teachers give positive and constructive advice, praise accomplishments, and adjust their teaching styles as needed to meet the individual needs of students.

Now, Therefore, Be it resolved that the DeKalb County Board of Education recognizes the numerous contributions that our teachers make each day by establishing May 3, 2011 as Teacher Appreciation Day in all DeKalb County Schools; and

Be it further resolved that the board expresses appreciation and thanks to teachers in our school system and encourages each school and community to recognize them for their contribution to the success of our school system and its students".

The resolution honoring administrative and instructional support staff states that "Whereas, the administrative and instructional support staff in the DeKalb County School System is an outstanding group of dedicated school employees who care deeply about the students; and

Whereas, our teachers and administrators depend upon administrative and instructional support staff members to prepare learning materials, operate the office, and carry out business functions of the school, tutor, counsel, advise, and guide individual students and perform a variety of other activities that result in an improved learning environment for students and their teachers throughout the school year; and

Whereas, our instructional and administrative support staff is made up of individuals who have shown a commitment to our schools and the students they serve; and

Whereas, most members of our administrative support staff bring into our schools a pleasant personality, a good measure of common sense, a calm demeanor, and a willingness to let others occupy the spotlight and receive credit for success; and

Now, Therefore be it resolved that the DeKalb County Board of Education hereby establishes April 21, 2011 as Administrative and Instructional Support Staff Appreciation Day; and

Be it further resolved that the board expresses appreciation and thanks to all the support staff in our school system and encourages each school to recognize and join in the celebration of these individuals on that day for the role they play in the success of our school system.

Be it further resolved that the board endorses the use of an outer space theme to celebrate administrative and instructional support staff members because students can have fun with the theme, use what they have learned about space in the celebration and because many of our students consider them to be shining stars who help to guide them in the right direction".

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby gave his monthly update on personnel:

Rebecca Purdue, a teacher at DCHS has resigned
Annie Walker, PreK Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary School has retired

Candice Scarbro, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, was granted a leave as requested.

In other business, the board voted to accept sealed bids on the sale of six buses being taken out of service as surplus property. Sealed bids will be opened on June 9th. The board also approved the disposal of other surplus property including several computer monitors and printers.

Darrell Gill, on behalf of the Junior Pro Football Program, asked for and received permission from the school board for the architectural and engineers building plans to be submitted to the state fire marshal for the construction of a new 5,134 square foot field house at DCHS, subject to a review by the school system's maintenance supervisor Earl Jared.

The new fieldhouse, being built with high school football and Jr. Pro funds, will be for the Tiger football program complete with a dressing room area, locker room, training room, utility room, showers and bathrooms, an office for the coach, and two dry storage areas, one of which would be for the youth football league. Construction is expected to begin this summer with volunteer labor.

The board also voted to ask Director Willoughby to gather more information on what is specifically needed and the cost estimates for updating the existing science lab facilities at DeKalb County High School. Once that information is obtained, the board may schedule a special meeting to discuss the issue further.

Martha Webb Commits to Maryville College

April 12, 2011
Martha Webb Commits to Maryville College

Martha Webb has committed to continue her education, and basketball career at Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee.

The daughter of Alan and Lora Webb, Martha was a standout forward for the Tigers at DeKalb County High School.

This 5'11" standout was an All-District 8AA performer during her junior and senior seasons under head coach Joe Pat Cope at DeKalb County. During her career she deposited 1,141 total points while knocking down 127 career three-pointers. She was also versatile enough to haul down 668 career rebounds.

As an NCAA Division III institution, Maryville College does not award scholarships based on athletic performance; however, for her proven academic ability and accomplishments in high school, the Smithville, Tennessee native and class salutatorian has been awarded the Maryville College Scholarship.

Darrin Travillian, head coach of the Maryville College women's Basketball team, said, " Martha is an excellent addition to our program. She has been the "go-to" player and leader of her team. Although she played a great deal of post this season, Martha has the ability to step out on the perimeter and make shots, giving her the chance to play some at the four and five. She is a willing rebounder and defender, which will give her the opportunity to compete for playing time in our front court."

This fall, Webb will join a team that finished the 2010-11 season with a 21-5 record winning the Great South Athletic Conference regular season crown by posting a perfect 14-0 mark during the regular season. The Scots have earned 17 invitations to the NCAA tournament pacing the school's athletic department in post-season appearances.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for its academic rigor and its focus on the liberal arts, Maryville is where students come to stretch their minds, stretch themselves and learn how to make a difference in the world. Total enrollment for the spring 2011 semester is 1,103 men and women, representing approximately 17 states, 15 countries.

(PICTURED ABOVE: FRONT ROW LEFT TO RIGHT- Emily Webb, Lora Webb, Martha Webb, Alan Webb and Thomas Webb. BACK ROW- Coach Lynus Martin, Coach Joe Pat Cope, and Coach Josh Agee. NOT PICTURED- Anderson Webb (Martha's brother who is a student at Belmont University) and Mary Ann Puckett (Assistant Coach)

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