Local News Articles

Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair coming to TTU in March

January 7, 2009

Students put your thinking caps on to come up with sensational science projects to enter in the 55th Annual Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair on March 27-28 at Tennessee Tech University.

It's never too early to start planning your project and getting your paperwork started. Two senior exhibitors will win trips to Reno, Nevada in May, to exhibit projects at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair as well as receiving a $3,000 scholarship each to Tennessee
Tech. Two more senior exhibitors will be selected to win a $1,500 scholarship each. Team projects at any level will no longer be accepted.

The fair, sponsored by Tennessee Tech, will be held at TTU's Roaden University Center. Affiliated with the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) organized annually by the Society for Science and the Public, it is open to all 4th through 12th grade students attending public, private, parochial, or home schools in the following Tennessee counties: Bledsoe, Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Scott, Smith, Van Buren, Warren, and White.

Teachers and sponsors may advise students and facilitate the projects, but all work must be done by the students. Students may be asked to explain their work in detail to a panel of judges. All rules and regulations issued by the ISEF must be followed, including the completion of various forms documenting parental approval and adequate supervision to ensure the safety of the student and their human or animal subjects before experimentation begins.

Two Grand Award winners selected from the senior division will receive $3,000 scholarships to TTU and expense-paid trips to enter their projects in the 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno on May 10-15. Two Grand Reserve Award winners will receive $1,500
scholarships. If a Grand Award winner is unable to attend, a Grand Reserve winner will have the opportunity to participate as an exhibitor.

All exhibits must be pre-registered to compete in the fair. Registration forms must be received by the Fair Director by March 24. Any student in grades 4 through 8 who has received an award in a school fair and all students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible to compete. A student whose school does not have a science fair may enter the regional fair directly.

Visit our web site at www.tntech.edu/scifair/ for links to the Intel ISEF Rules and Guidelines, the Regional Fair Rules and Guidelines, information for parents
and teachers, a list of the Science Review Committee and Institutional Review Board members, registration forms that can be submitted online, and photos from previous regional fairs.

Registration forms may also be mailed to Cumberland Plateau Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Tennessee Tech University, Box 5051, Cookeville, TN 38505, or faxed to (931) 372-6351. For more information, contact Gloria Julian at (931) 372-3483 or e-mail science_fair@tntech.edu .

Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee Awards Grants

January 7, 2009

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has distributed $6,000 in grants to two nonprofit organizations in DeKalb County as part of The Foundation's annual grant making process.

"The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee connects generosity with need by supporting our region's hard-working nonprofit organizations," said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation. "The Foundation appreciates that these programs matter, congratulates the organizations on their efforts and salutes the dedicated people who work to enhance the quality of life in our community."

Freckles Friends Pet Shelter, Inc. has received a grant to provide spay/neuter services to pets of low-income families in DeKalb County.

Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance, Inc. has received a grant to provide spay/neuter services to pets of DeKalb County residents.

These contributions are part of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee's annual grant making process that has distributed more than $1 million to 202 nonprofit organizations throughout 30 Middle Tennessee counties.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee oversees more than 670 charitable funds. In the past seventeen years, The Community Foundation has distributed $408 million to community programs and institutions. It is located at 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, #400, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit www.cfmt.org.

Future Location of Fiddlers Manor Annex Recommended for Rezoning

January 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Planning Commission voted Monday night to recommend to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen the re-zoning of property that may soon become the location for an apartment complex for low-income grandparents who are raising a child.

The two acre site, owned by Bruce Medley, is located to the south of Bright Hill Road and to the rear of Fiddler's Manor and other property owners on Walker Drive.

The proposed Fiddlers Manor Annex would actually be situated on 1.76 acres of the property. Site plans have not yet been considered for approval by the planning commission.

The planning commission gave the public an opportunity to speak but no one voiced any opposition to the proposed rezoning.

The issue will now be considered by the city council. Approval is required by ordinance on first and second reading before the rezoning can take effect. If approved, the property would be rezoned from R-1 low density residential to R-3 high density residential.

Congressman Bart Gordon made the announcement of the proposed complex in a news release last month.

In the announcement, Gordon said "More grandparents are responsible for raising their grandchildren than ever before. However, many of these grandparents are retired and struggling with the cost of raising a child. Today, Congressman Bart Gordon announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a $1.67 million grant to build eight apartments in Smithville for low-income grandparents who are raising a grandchild.

"The numbers are staggering – more than 101,500 children are being raised by a grandparent in Tennessee," said Congressman Gordon. "While I am happy UCDD received this grant, more needs to be done. If a grandparent steps forward to raise their grandchild, we have a responsibility to make sure the grandparent isn't overwhelmed financially as a result."

The grant was awarded to the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD) as part of the HUD's Demonstration Program for Elderly Housing for Intergenerational Families. This program is intended to assess the best way to assist the more than 6 million children in the United States being raised by a grandparent. If the UCDD program is successful, it will potentially be used as a model for assisting other grandparents throughout Tennessee and the rest of the country.

"This grant will help us build upon our previous work," said UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins. "Not only will we be able to help grandparents pay for expenses such as school supplies and clothing for their grandchildren, but we will be able to build and provide them with safe and affordable living environments. I would like to thank Congressman Bart Gordon and his staff for their support and help in getting this project funded."

UCDD was one of only two organizations to receive HUD's Demonstration grant (the other organization is based out of Chicago). UCDD received the grant in part because of its previous efforts to assist grandparents raising their grandchildren. Since 2000, UCDD has received grant money from the Tennessee state government as part of the Relative Caregiver Program and developed a program to assist low-income grandparents to pay for their grandchild's basic needs.

Larry Webb who runs the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation – UCDD's nonprofit housing construction partner – explained that the grant money will be used to build six two-bedroom units and two three-bedroom units. Rent will be based on 30 percent of the grandparent's income minus any medical expenses they have. In addition, UCDD will pay the utility bills.

"I am confident that UCDD will develop a successful program with this HUD grant," said Gordon. "When they do, I will work to ensure that they receive additional grant money to expand their program and help the many other grandparents who have stepped in to raise their grandchildren."

City Pays Tribute to the Late Don Cantrell

January 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kenny Rhody
Smithville Mayor, Aldermen, City Attorney & Secretary-Treasurer

The City of Smithville will honor Don Cantrell, a former police officer and city firefighter who recently passed away.

The Smithville Aldermen voted 5 to 0 Monday night to retire Cantrell's badge number 409 and to rename East Walnut Street by city hall the Don Cantrell Avenue, provided there are no legal or other reasons why the street could not be renamed.

The action was taken at the request of Kenny Rhody, who was a friend and former co-worker with Cantrell in the police department.

In addressing the Mayor and Aldermen, Rhody made the following remarks,

"As I walk around this town, I am reminded of the services some people have contributed to our community in order that the citizens here enjoy all that we have. Some of the people which have helped this town to become what it is today include Mr. Shannon Taylor, Mr. Billy J. Lefever, Mr. Joe Evins, Mr. Hobson Reynolds, and Mr. Cecil Burger."

"Recently we have lost another person who has made a difference in our town. That was Mr. Don Cantrell. Don was a devoted employee of 35 years as a Smithville Police Officer. He was also a firemen of 15 plus years. He was a husband, a father, and a friend."

"As a former police officer, I had the pleasure of working with Don for four years. Many times I witnessed Don go above and beyond the call of duty to assist people when they needed it most."

" I would like for us to do something to honor this man, who gave so much of himself to this community. I'm asking that the council to consider retiring badge #409 that Don wore for some 35 years and possibly renaming East Walnut Street right here beside the police department the Don Cantrell Avenue".

"In West Tennessee on a tomb rock for Sheriff Buford Pusser, it reads three words, "He Walked Tall". For those of us who knew Don, although he wasn't six foot, six, Don walked just as tall. He served our community. He worked with at least eight mayors and at least one hundred council members that I know of and he managed to get along with all of them. Don taught us officers many things. How to help people when they really needed it. How to do your job properly. And I'd just like for us to honor him in some way or another. We'll always remember Don Cantrell."

In other business, Travis Stephens was hired as a certified water plant operator to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of another water plant employee. Stephens was put to work on October 30th at $11.75 per hour. His pay will increase to $12.42 per hour after his 60 day probation period. The aldermen voted 5 to 0 to hire him. The city currently has two certified water plant operators and a trainee working toward his certification.

Secretary Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson gave a brief report on two grants that have been approved for the city airport. "The TDOT Aeronautics Division has approved two more grants for the city airport, one for $166, 667 of which 90% comes from federal funds with a 10% city match. That is for a new fueling system. Ours out there is not in bad shape but it's aging and while the state is dishing out money I'm not going to turn it down. I think it's a good idea to go ahead. If we can get a new fuel system for $16,000 or less I think we should jump on it. We've sold quite a bit of fuel out there this year. It's been pretty busy. There's a lot of people flying. Not so much in the winter, but they have been during the spring and summer. Hopefully that will bring in more fuel sales.

"We also put in for a security grant at the airport. Our airport manager, Mr. Wes Nokes put in for that and it came back as a $21,590 grant with the city matching 10% of that which will be roughly $2,200. This will pay for any kind of video surveillance we need out there, updating any of our fence, or just anything to help keep the area more secure."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson added that "It seems that the aeronautics grants are more plentiful than anything else and we'll try to get our share. (With these latest grants) That's going to be about a million dollars worth of aeronautics grants in the last year and a half."

Mayor Hendrixson also reported on the city's insurance audit. "We got our insurance audit. We always get this in December and we have to pay the premium by the middle of February. There is some good news. This is our total package of insurance except for one thing for the airport that TML doesn't do. But it is down by approximately 9% from last year, down about $24,500. I think that's down because the accidents have been down and days off from work from accidents are down. I really didn't expect that, but it's good news."

The mayor also addressed the issue of the lake elevation and the need for a portable pump to support the water intake at Sligo. "This morning (Monday) Center Hill Lake was at 628.3 MSL (Mean Sea Level). That is good news. They are generating a lot down there (dam) and probably after tonight and tomorrow, according to the weather forecast, it (lake level) will be up again. So hopefully we won't need the portable pump system. However in this CDBG grant that we're asking for, we're going to include that (portable pump) in this grant (application)."

Man Arrested in Burglary Investigation by Sheriff's Department

January 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Scott Lynn Sykes

A 35 year old Smithville man was arrested Sunday in a burglary investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Rays says deputies and detectives arrested Scott Lynn Sykes of Alexander Street, Smithville Sunday for burglary, theft of property over $1,000, and possession of burglary tools.

According to Sheriff Ray, Sykes went to a residence on Dry Branch Road in Alexandria and entered the home by prying open the back door. While inside, Sykes took the faucets, sinks, and a ceiling fan with 3 lights, drain pipes, light covers, a showerhead, and the central heat and air unit of the home all valued at over $1,000.

Sheriff Ray says Sykes has admitted to his part in the crime. When lawmen picked up Sykes at his home, they found some of the items in Sykes' automobile along with tools believed to have been used to commit the theft. These items included a hacksaw, screwdriver, an ax, and a hatchet.

Bond for Sykes was set at $80,000 and he will appear in court on January 22nd.

Sheriff Ray says the home received extensive damage, especially water damage from the cut water lines.

Meanwhile, a county deputy last Wednesday spotted a vehicle weaving on Highway 70 East. Upon making a traffic stop, the officer found 23 year old Jesse Louis Clouse of South Walnut Street, Cookeville to be the driver.

Sheriff Ray says Clouse submitted to and failed sobriety tasks and a check of his driver's license revealed that it was revoked..

Clouse was convicted of a DUI in Putnam County on December 17th, 2007.

He was arrested and charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and driving on a revoked driver's license. Clouse was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law.

His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on January 8th.

32 year old Oliver Eiland and 25 year old Jessica Charlene Brett of Cookeville Highway, Smithville were charged Friday with filing a false report with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Ray says the two had earlier filed a theft report and then returned to the Sheriff's Department on Friday to add to the report that a book of checks had also been stolen.

Upon an investigation, detectives learned that Eiland and Brett had written the checks to businesses in surrounding counties for large amounts and then went to the bank and reported them forged. Detectives obtained photos of the two from at least one of the businesses showing them writing a check which they reported forged.
Bond for Eiland and Brett was set at $1,000 each and they will appear in court on January 22nd. More charges are pending.

On Sunday, deputies were summoned to Alexandria on a theft investigation. When they arrived, the complainant told them that a man had stolen an item from him. The victim was able to get a tag number from the vehicle the man was driving.

Sheriff Ray says while the deputy and victim were talking, the vehicle in question drove by. The officer took off after the vehicle and attempted to stop it. The driver refused to stop for at least 1 ½ miles. After getting the vehicle stopped, officers found the driver to be 24 year old Danny Ray Alsept of Stigall Street, Camden Tennessee. Deputies also learned that Alsept has apparently never had a driver's license in Tennessee.

Alsept was charged with evading arrest and no driver's license. His bond was set at $6,000 and he will appear in court on January 22nd.

Students and Teachers Go Back To School

January 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The winter break is over which means students and teachers are back in the classrooms this week to begin the third nine week session.

Schools will be closed again for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 19th and for President's Day, Monday, February 16th.

The spring break will be March 19th, 20th, & 23rd

Students will not attend on Good Friday and Monday, April 10th & 13th . Students will also be off on Thursday, May 21st. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend.

The last day of school will be Friday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be given to the students.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Thursday, March 12th at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 29th at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home on Thursday, January 8th, and Tuesday, March 10th.

Competency testing at DCHS will be February 10th-12th.

Gateway testing at DCHS will be May 5th-7th. Gateway test makeup will be May 8th.

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3rd. Writing Assessment make-up will be February 4th.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 20th-24th.

(Stockpile Days) Professional Development/Instructional Days will be held from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 1st.

Smithville Police Make Arrests For Drug and Alcohol Related Offenses

January 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has made a few arrests in recent days on drug and alcohol related charges.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings says 21 year old Joshua Lynne Batey is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a schedule VI controlled substance for sale and delivery.

His bond totals $30,000 and he will be in court on January 8th.

Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. reports that on December 30th, Batey called the Smithville Police Department to 228 Green Acre Drive. Upon entering the residence, a plastic bag of marijuana could be seen in plain view on a table. After obtaining consent to search, police also found a box of sandwich bags and a marijuana grinder in the house.

Meanwhile, 37 year old Richard B. Turner is charged with public intoxication and simple possession. His bond totals $5,000 and he will be in court on the charges January 8th.

Officer Matt Farmer reports that on December 30th on Crestlawn Avenue, the Smithville Police Department was in the area on a dispute call. Turner was walking across the street. He was unsteady on his feet and had an odor of alcohol on his person. Turner is under a restraining order and not supposed to be at the housing authority. Upon incident to arrest, Officer Farmer found six seroquel pills, a legend drug, loose in his front pocket.

In another case, 47 year old Roy Douglas Atnip is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court January 8th. Officer Nathan Estes reports that on December 30th at 634 Crestlawn Avenue, the Smithville Police Department received two calls on Atnip. He was seen in the front yard very unsteady on his feet. He also had an odor of alcohol on his person.

Another vandalism was reported on Tuesday. Lieutenant Steven Leffew reports that on December 30th at 5:16 p.m., he responded to Sundance Restaurant downtown where someone had busted out the front glass. A large rock was found near the front of the building.

Tracy Foutch also reported to police on December 30th that someone trespassed on his property at 720 Robinson Road and cut six trees valued at $2,000.

Chief Jennings asks that if you have seen or see anyone cutting trees in that area to contact police.

DeKalb County Fire Department Receives $190K Federal Grant

January 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Fire Chief Donny Green

When there is an emergency, fire stations should have the necessary staff and personnel to properly respond. Today, Congressman Bart Gordon announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded $190,000 to the DeKalb County Fire Department for recruitment of volunteer firefighters.

“Countless lives are saved every day by the courageous efforts of first responders – our nation’s firefighters, EMTs, and police officers,” said Congressman Gordon who is a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “This DHS grant will allow the DeKalb County Fire Department to staff up and do an even better job than they are already doing.”

The grant was awarded through the DHS Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The program was developed to help firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment to improve their ability to protect the public and emergency personnel from fires and related hazards.

The DeKalb County Fire Department will receive the $190,000 grant incrementally over the next 4 years and use the funds to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and personnel.
“We’re excited about this. We’ve been struggling with recruitment and retention of volunteers,” Chief Donny Green said.

The DeKalb County Fire Department plans to use billboards and media advertisements to expand the 72 all-volunteer countywide department. The department currently serves 11 stations in DeKalb County. “That’s a little less than seven firefighters per station, and with volunteers, half are at work or out of town,” explained Chief Green. “We really need 40-50 more volunteers.”

Retention incentives include fuel reimbursement of $10 per call and payment of $200 at the end of the year to each firefighter who attends 75 percent of monthly training drills or $400 for 100 percent of all training.

Wednesday Morning Fire Damages Shop Building

December 31, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Firefighters at Shop Building Fire

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to a structure fire at 539 West Main Street Wednesday morning at 6:36 a.m.

Chief Charlie Parker says a garage type shop building belonging to Stevie Cripps was extensively damaged in the fire. The building is located behind Cripps' home.

A passerby, who spotted the smoke, stopped at the Cripps home to alert him

No one was in the shop at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Chief Parker says a lot of the contents including cabinets, tools, and other odds and ends, were either damaged or destroyed in the fire.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Several Firefighters Complete Rookie Recruit Training

December 31, 2008
Area Firefighters Receive Training

The DeKalb County Fire Department recently held its semiannual 64 hour rookie recruit training class at the new facility.

Assistant Chief Roy Merriman says he is proud of the sacrifice of these individuals who took time to complete this basic firefighter class. He says most of these firefighters have already signed up for the 32 hour pumper operations class that will begin in January here and the 22 hour live burn at the Tennessee fire academy

Among those taking part in the class included Instructors Marvin Montgomery and Wallace Colwell, Smithville firefighters Joseph Hall , Stephanie Wright, Dusty Johnson and Glen Lattimore; Baxter firefighter Tonya Lee; North Warren firefighters Trey Clark and Dowie Green; Alexandria firefighters Brian Partridge, John Partridge, Jeff Ash and Brent Davis; and DeKalb firefighters Skip Roberts, Chris Wyke and Dale Pack.

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