Local News Articles

Wauford Warns of Dramatic Rate Increases If DUD Builds Its Own Water Treatment Plant

April 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb Utility District is proceeding with plans to build its own water treatment plant off Holmes Creek Road in the Yolanda Hills Drive area and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson and members of the city council are not happy about it.

In order to try and stop it, the aldermen Monday night voted to hire the Calvert Street Group of Nashville, a public relations firm, to launch a campaign to let the public know that, according to city officials, water rates for both Smithville and DeKalb Utility District customers will increase dramatically if this proposed water treatment plant is built and the DUD stops purchasing water from the City of Smithville.

If the DUD goes through with it's plans, the City of Smithville stands to eventually lose it's largest water customer and over a half million dollars in sales each year.

J.R. Wauford, the city's utility engineer since 1962, who spoke during Monday night's meeting, said a DUD water plant is unnecessary since the city's newly renovated water treatment plant has more than the capacity to meet current and future needs of the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District. "You(Smithville) have a four million gallon a day water treatment plant. You're producing about 1.8 million gallons per day. About 700,000 to 800,000 gallons is going to the DeKalb Utility District. Your contract with DUD now gives them the right to buy two million gallons a day which is well within your capability of doing so. They're (DUD) proposing to build a three million gallon a day treatment plant at Holmes Creek," said Wauford.

"About ten years ago, we (Wauford Engineers) were asked to assist in negotiating with the DeKalb Utility District a water contract which we did. Last October, Mr. Hendrixson advised me that the DUD was planning on building a water treatment plant and asked me to look into the matter and see what their proposal was and give him an assessment of what it would mean to Smithville. Pursuant to a Freedom of Information request I examined the files of Rural Development in Cookeville and determined from their files that the DUD was indeed proposing to build a water treatment plant by presumably using their own water and stop buying it from Smithville. Their proposal was similar to the one they made ten years ago. The reason the one ten years ago didn't fly was when they took bids on it, they ran some two or three million dollars over their estimate and they weren't going to fund it. So they negotiated a contract with Smithville," said Wauford.

"This proposal proposes to increase the water rates to their (DUD) customers by fifty percent. If they disconnect from your system, my preliminary assessment is that your (Smithville) customers will have to absorb a ten, fifteen, twenty percent increase. Somewhere in the range of ten to twenty percent. Ten percent being the lowest. You (Smithville) are selling water to DUD at what is a reasonable rate, less than other utilities around you, namely Sparta, Lebanon, Cookeville, and Livingston. So it seems to me that it's a matter of whether or not you want to advise the people of DeKalb County of what is going on and how much their water rates are likely to increase,' said Wauford.

"They (DUD) are projecting that this fifty percent increase goes along with a three percent compounded growth rate. When I say a three percent compounded growth rate, I mean for forty years. I mean 1.03 times 1.03 forty times which means that their customer count will be 3.26 times what it is now. DeKalb County, which is their main service area grew three tenths of one percent the last ten years. They (DUD) serve most of DeKalb County except for Smithville and Alexandria. They also serve a good bit of Cannon County. They serve a little sliver of Smith County and a small sliver of Wilson County. If you assume a growth rate of two percent, that would be 2.20. So you can see that this three percent growth rate is higher than anybody around including Murfreesboro, Franklin, and places like that. It appears to me that their customers are more than likely are going to see some terrific rate increases over a period of time," said Wauford.

"Smithville has just modernized their water plant and put in standby generators at both the water plant and the raw water intake. You have modernized the equipment in the plant. It needed to be done whether you continue to have DeKalb Utility District as a customer or not," he said.

"Mayor Hendrixson and I met with Bobby Goode, the state director of Rural Development and were not treated really courteously. We objected to what he was proposing to do. What the Rural Development is proposing to do is to give them (DUD) a million dollars, loan them five million dollars, and then they propose to borrow through the Tennessee Utility District Association to fund the other five million dollars. Our opinion is in estimating this project at $10.5 million, that they (DUD) have underestimated again which would be in keeping with the previous estimates of the same engineers ten years ago. Our experience in raw water intakes is quite extensive. We have done sixteen raw water intakes, three on the Caney Fork River so we believe our estimates are pretty good, but they are arguable. But what is not arguable is the fact that they (DUD) are going to raise their water rates fifty percent based on a three percent growth rate and that's going to adversely affect your (Smithville) revenue stream," said Wauford.

"Mayor Hendrixson and I talked about it and he asked me to locate a professional (Calvert Street Group of Nashville) to perhaps lead a program to inform the public," said Wauford

After Waufords' remarks, Mayor Hendrixson said if DUD proceeds with its plan it could also mean layoff of city water department employees."If they do this, we will have to lay off one or two at the water plant because we definitely will not make half the water we're making and we won't need all those folks. We've spent three million dollars(water plant renovation) and that means depreciation is going up starting this year so expenses will be more and there are fixed costs, depreciation, and insurance that you can't do anything about whether you sell two gallons or two million gallons a day," said Mayor Hendrixson.

In 2004, officials of the DeKalb Utility District entered into a ten year agreement with the City of Smithville to purchase water at $1.60 per thousand gallons with a five cent escalator increase per thousand gallons each year of the ten year contract. The DUD currently pays $2.00 per thousand gallons. The contract is scheduled to expire in 2014. By law, the city must sell the DUD water at no less than cost. According to this year's budget, actual sales to "other districts" (DUD) for the year ending June 30th, 2010 was $539,455.

In order to build this proposed $10.5 million water plant, the DUD needs financial assistance and is seeking help through USDA Rural Development's loan/grant program. The plan is to construct a three million gallon a day plant, intake, and transmission lines. In an effort to derail DUD's funding for this project, Mayor Hendrixson recently sent letters in opposition to Bobby M. Goode, State Director of the USDA Rural Development and Justin P. Wilson, Comptroller of the Treasury.

In the letter sent last month to Bobby M. Goode, State Director of USDA Rural Development, Mayor Hendrixson wrote, "we respectfully request that your agency NOT participate in the funding of this project for the following reasons:

1. Smithville has adequate high quality water to meet the foreseeable needs of DUD. We currently pump 1.7 to 2.0 million gallons per day (MGD) of which we sell 0.7 to 0.8 MGD to DUD. We have offered to make 2.0 MGD available to DUD on a 10 or 20 year contract. Our water rates to DUD are reasonable, currently at $2.00 per thousand gallons.

2. Most important is the financial effect on DUD's customers, who will see their water rates increase 50% or more, and on our customers, whose rates will also have to be increased due to the loss of this big customer.

3. DUD's projected growth rate is 3% annually for 40 years. This would amount to their customers more than tripling (3 percent compounded for 40 years is 3.26). This is unreasonable when one considers that the population increased only 0.3% for the past ten years (0.3 percent compounded for 40 years is 1.13). If this growth rate proves too optimistic, it appears DUD's rates could easily triple.

The more prudent action for DUD appears to be to negotiate a new 10 year contract with Smithville, allowing DUD to sell water to Alexandria or Watertown and expand their service within a 2.0 million gallon a day allocation (60 million gallons per month). State regulation requires planning begin for expansion when a water plant is at 80% of capacity; therefore, we have 3.2 MGD available, and DUD would have 2.4 MGD available with their 3.0 MGD plant. If we continue to furnish water, NOBODY would be required to pay a higher water rate due to construction of an unneeded water treatment plant.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that your agency reject this application. I am sure there are plenty of needed projects where these funds can be put to better use".

In a letter sent last month to State Comptroller Wilson, Mayor Hendrixson wrote, "I am appealing to you to prevent an unneeded project which will immediately raise the water rates for the customers of the DeKalb Utility District by 50% according to their calculations, and raise the water rates for the customers of the City of Smithville by 15 to 25%. The Utility District's customer rates will be raised considerably more than 50% when the projected 3% exponential growth rate for the District fails to materialize".

"The short story is that Smithville sells DUD all of its water, which amounts to about 24 million gallons per month. This represents about half of the water which we produce. DUD has an allocation of 60 million gallons per month from us and we are willing to renew our contract which expires in 2014. Our position is that this project is not needed and is not financially feasiable due to the unreasonable assumed growth rate".

"I am writing to you because I understand a private bond sale through TAUD/Wiley Brothers is under consideration for either all or part of this $11 million project, and I understand that you have authority to approve or disapprove this bond issue."

"I respectfully request your careful consideration of this matter".

Mayor Hendrixson also sent a letter last month to Roger Turney, Chairman of the DeKalb Utility District, which states" As you may recall, I wrote to you last October about negotiating a new contract or an extension of our existing contract with DeKalb Utility District. We have determined that you propose to build a 3.0 million gallon a day water treatment plant. According to state regulation, you can load your proposed plant up to 2.4 million gallons per day (80% of rated capacity) before TDEC will require that you commence plans to expand. Our renovated water treatment plant has a capacity of 4.0 million gallons per day. We have installed standby generators at both our raw water intake on the main channel of Center Hill Lake and at our treatment plant; thereby, as nearly as possible, assuring power and reliability.

"I am advised that your engineers have projected your water system to grow 3% per year. Under that assumption, DeKalb County would more than triple in 40 years. I hope they are correct; however, past history and the coverage you have of your potential service area cast doubts upon that projection. If it does not occur, the 50% increase in water rates proposed by your engineers will prove inadequate.

We can furnish DUD up to 2.0 million gallons per day for 20 years. We are willing and indeed anxious to negotiate a water purchase contract for the next 10 or 20 years, and believe it is in the best interest of both your ratepayers and those of the City of Smithville. We will be glad to continue to share the Best Tasting Water in the Upper Cumberland as judged by TAUD".

The proposed DUD project consists of the construction of a new water treatment plant on approximately 30 acres of land, which the DUD owns, near Holmes Creek Road. The project also consists of a raw water intake near the location of the former Holmes Creek Marina on Center Hill Lake, three new pump stations, and necessary transmission lines to accommodate water distribution throughout the DeKalb Utility District's service area."

Jon Foutch, DUD manager, told WJLE last May that the DeKalb Utility District is growing, adding more customers, and the utility wants its own water treatment plant in order to better control its future water supply expansion issues. Currently, the DUD purchases almost all of its water supply from the City of Smithville except for the Silver Point Community of DeKalb County. DUD buys water to serve that area from the City of Baxter.

According to Foutch, another plant would increase the area's water capacity which could be used as a selling point for possible industrial expansion and recruitment. Plus, he said the city and DUD could work together in times of crisis. "If something were to happen to the Smithville treatment plant or DUD's plant we could lean on each other. All we would have to do is turn on a few valves since we're already connected to each other. We could support each other," said Foutch.

The DUD already has settled with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a storage volume fee arrangement to draw up to two million gallons a day, once the plant is completed and in operation, according to Foutch. And should the DUD be unsuccessful in it's efforts to secure USDA Rural Development Loan/Grant funds, the utility is prepared to proceed with the plans through other funding sources. "We have had an outside firm come in and look at our books and they have said this is feasible for us. So even if we don't get the grant money, we can proceed with financing through another avenue," said Foutch.

DUD officials are hoping that the plant would be completed and ready for operation by 2014.

This is not the first time the DUD has seriously considered building its own water treatment plant. In January, 1999 the DUD was awarded a $1 million Rural Development Grant and a $2,380,000 loan. In addition to the money for the water plant, another $500,000 was made available to the project from a Community Development Block Grant for an elevated water storage tank which now stands at the top of Snow Hill. The tank was built to solve the problem of water pressure in some areas.

However when it came time to build the water plant, the DUD apparently discovered that the costs were much more than the available grant/loan funds. While DUD had sufficient local reserves to make up the difference and assurances from Rural Development for extra financial help if needed, the DUD decided instead to enter into negotiations with the City of Smithville for a new water rate. Some of the loan/grant funds were later used to make other improvements to the existing infrastructure.

City Voters to Decide Restaurant Liquor by the Drink Referendum

April 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

A restaurant liquor by the drink referendum will be on the Smithville city election ballot June 19.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, told WJLE Monday afternoon that Randy Paris has turned in over 100 valid signatures on petitions to the election commission office, more than the 90 signatures needed to get the referendum on the ballot.

The petition, as WJLE first reported on Thursday April 5, seeks to "authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in the City of Smithville.

Under the law, such a petition must be presented to the election commission office no later than 45 days before the Smithville Municipal Election.

Should the referendum be approved, eligible restaurants in the city of Smithville could apply to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission for an on premises license to sell liquor by the drink, but it would still be up to the Smithville Beer Board whether or not to grant a permit for those same businesses to sell beer, according to Keith Bell, assistant director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, in an interview with WJLE.

"If Smithville passes liquor by the drink, if a restaurant is properly permitted to sell liquor by the drink, then they would be "authorized", and I emphasize the word "authorized". They would be authorized by the Tennessee Code to also sell beer, but they would have to be permitted through the appropriate jurisdiction, which in this case would be the Smithville Beer Board. Let me repeat this so its completely understood. If Smithville passes. If Smithville authorizes to conduct a referendum, pursuant to Tennessee Code 57-4-103 and your voters pass the referendum to allow liquor by the drink in their restaurants and then a restaurant applies for a license to sell liquor by the drink with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, essentially if they're licensed or permitted to sell liquor or wine for on premises consumption, pursuant to Chapter 4 of Title 57, they're also allowed to sell beer at the establishment if they are properly authorized to sell liquor or wine, provided that the establishment lawfully obtains a beer permit from the Smithville Beer Board," said Bell

However, under the current City of Smithville Beer Ordinance, the sale of beer for consumption on the premises is prohibited. The ordinance states that "It shall be unlawful for any beer permit holder to allow the consumption on his premises of any beer whether sold from his premises or elsewhere; or to serve, sell, or allow the consumption on his or her premises of any alcoholic beverage with an alcohol content of more than five percent by weight."

If restaurants in the city were licensed to sell liquor by the drink, they would have to abide by the designated serving hours, but could sell on Sunday, according to Bell. "No licensee shall permit alcoholic or malt beverages to be consumed on the licensed premises between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. on Monday through Saturday or between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, unless the local jurisdiction has opted out of the expanded hours. If such is the case, then the consumption and or sale of alcoholic beverages may begin at 12:00 noon on Sunday," said Bell.

Moseley Arrested for Burglary and Theft

April 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jason Allen Moseley
Brandon Ross Bogle
Lonnie Lynn Wheeler

A Smithville man has been charged in a recent burglary and theft investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

31 year old Jason Allen Moseley of Jennings Lane, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and burglary. He was arrested on Wednesday, April 11. Moseley's bond is $23,000 and he will be in court on April 26

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Wednesday, March 28, Moseley broke into a shed on New Bildad Road and took a riding mower, a weedeater, a leaf blower, a power washer, two propane fish fryers, two propane tanks, a black plastic tool box, and a battery charger. The total value is $3,047.

Meanwhile, 29 year old Brandon Ross Bogle of Kendra Drive, Smithville is charged with three counts of violation of probation and one count of driving on a revoked license. He was arrested on Tuesday, April 10. Bogle's total bond is $2,250 and he will be in court April 19.

Sheriff Ray reports that on April 10, a DeKalb County Sheriff's Department drug detective observed Bogle operating a motor vehicle on Short Mountain Highway. Having prior knowledge his license were revoked, the detective stopped the vehicle. Bogle gave the detective his identification. A computer check through central dispatch found that Bogle's license were revoked for driving under the influence on July 14, 2011 in Wilson County.

36 year old Lonnie Lynn Wheeler of Lincoln Street, Smithville was arrested on Wednesday, April 11 for leaving the scene of an accident. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court May 3.

Sheriff Ray reports that on April 11 Wheeler was driving a red Toyota pickup truck on the Sparta Highway when he crashed into a driveway causing property damage. Wheeler's truck was found at the intersection of Brent Taylor Road and Sparta Highway. A passenger of the truck told the investigating officer that Wheeler was the driver and that he had fled the scene. Later that night, 911 received a call from Wheeler stating that he was lost in the woods in the area of Midway Road. The Rescue Squad and TWRA were called out to help locate Wheeler and he was later found in the woods.

UCHRA May Contract with American Modus Partners, LLC to take Over Lakeside Resort

April 16, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lakeside Resort

Lakside Resort could be in the hands of another very soon.

A UCHRA committee is expected to meet this week in Cookeville for the purpose of awarding a bid to one of the groups who have submitted proposals to take over the operation of Lakeside Resort, which is located on Center Hill Lake off the Cookeville Highway in DeKalb County.

A sub-committee reviewed all the proposals last week which had been under consideration including a new one offered by Jim Himelrick and Bob Pierce of American Modus Partners, LLC, a Brentwood based company which was organized in 2010. Himelrick and Pierce were part of the Investors Equity Holdings group that put $1.5 million worth of improvements into Nashville Shores before its sale in 2011. The sub-committee voted to recommend that UCHRA enter into contract negotiations with American Modus, a recommendation that will go before the full board.

UCHRA's Pat Callahan told WJLE last week that American Modus Partners, LLC wishes to initially enter into a management contract to operate Lakeside Resort with an eye toward taking over the facility before the end of the year, which would take it out of the hands of UCHRA. If UCHRA chooses American Modus, the deal is contingent on the company extending or renewing a long-term lease with the Army Corps of Engineers for the land, 139 acres, on which Lakeside is situated, as well as working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assume UCHRA's existing loan, a note that totals nearly $1.6 million. If those conditions are met, the deal could close on or before January 1st. "As of this past Monday, a sub-committee of our board that was appointed by our board, after reviewing a number of different proposals, have decided to recommend that the board approve a management contract with an investment group out of Nashville that will immediately come in and start phasing in, as far as the management of the property," said Callahan. "All the rentals would continue and be paid to us (UCHRA). We would pay all the bills and we would pay them a management fee ($5,000 a month, or $40,000 total through December 31) which is approximately equal to or maybe a little less than the pay in benefits that went to the previous managers. So it's a pretty attractive deal for the board. Their long term goal is that by the first of the year they would assume the lease with the Corps and also assume the loan with Rural Development and the agency and the board would be completely out of the business," said Callahan

"Their (American Modus') long term goal is to create more of a Disney type landscape down there and create a year round operation that would be able to support itself year round and be a much nicer asset than what it is now for DeKalb County and the entire region," he said.

"They started the Nashville Shores project and recently sold that so the two partners here (Himelrick and Pierce) have been in the business for about fifteen years and they have developed a number of different investment projects including some retail mall areas and those kinds of things. I think the board feels like they are the most viable prospect that we have at this point. If they enter the management contract they're going to help deal with the advertising and promoting the property, trying to increase the rentals between now and the time that they would assume the lease," said Callahan.

"I think what they want to do is try and create a facility, a property that will attract parents and children, entire families. There would be things for everybody there. There would be some types of things that would be going on year round," he said.

"The management fee is about $5,000 per month. I believe it was eight months for $40,000. That's a flat fee. There's no fringe or no travel or no expenses that are added to that as far as my understanding of what their proposal is for. They are going to also take care of some of the advertising, booking, and all that. We are going to continue with limited part time people we have down there that will do some of the grounds maintenance and those kinds of things. I think we're in the process of actually hiring a couple of people for that and a couple for clerical. Those will be temporary until they decide what they want to do when they assume the lease," said Callahan.

"They (American Modus) would assume the lease that we have with the Corps. That is our understanding. That would get us completely out of it. The remainder of that note is approximately $1.6 million dollars. This (offer by American Modus) will be presented to the full board on April 18 and they will vote on the recommendation. (If approved) it will actually get us out of that business where we would have no connection with the property any longer," said Callahan.

Proposals have also been presented by Robin Driver, owner of Center Hill Chalets, who has submitted a three-year management contract, and Deanna Pierson, current owner of Mills of Gold in Jamestown and founder of PeopleBuilders, a faith-based 501(c)3, who wants to lease the property for one to three years before making the purchase, at $1.8 million. Bob Sotis, who served as the resort, food and hospitality management teacher at Lakeside for a number of years, also made an earlier lease proposal, but reportedly notified the committee last week that he was withdrawing his offer in order to join with Driver.

"The second most attractive offer was a longer term management contract but we (UCHRA) would still have responsibility for seeing that the mortgage is paid every year and that all the bills are paid," said Callahan.

Boy Critically Injured In Four Wheeler/Car Accident at Dowelltown

April 15, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fourteen year old Smithville boy was critically injured Sunday afternoon when he pulled out in front of a car on a four wheeler at Dowelltown.

Central dispatch received the call at 12:36 p.m.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol would not release the name of the boy because he is a juvenile, but WJLE has been told by other sources that he is Caleb Gingerich.

According to Trooper England, 62 year old Joe Johnson of New Home Road, Smithville was traveling east on East Main Street in Dowelltown in a 2005 Lincoln LS when the Manco 90 cc four wheeler pulled out in front of him from a field of tall grass on the south side of the road. The ATV made impact with the right front corner of the car. Trooper England said Johnson could not see the ATV in time because of the tall weeds and he was unable to avoid the collision.

Neither Johnson nor his wife Marie, who was a passenger with him, were injured. The boy was critically injured. According to Trooper England, the boy was thrown from the ATV. Both he and the four wheeler were knocked back into the grassy field.

DeKalb EMS transported the boy from the scene to a helicopter landing zone at the intersection of Highway 70 and Dry Creek Road. The boy was airlifted and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care where at last report he was in critical condition.

Others on the scene were members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Qualls Wins Junior Miss Pageant

April 15, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Junior Miss Liz Abigail Qualls
Junior Miss and Runners-Up
Junior Miss Photogenic and Congeniality

Fourteen year old Liz Abigail Qualls of Smithville is the new Junior Miss of the Spring Blossom Pageant, which was held Saturday night at the high school and sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

Qualls, daughter of Brad and Kim Trapp and Jason and Stormy Qualls, succeeds the 2011 Junior Miss Kelsey Sueanna Hedge of Smithville, the fourteen year old daughter of David and Trina Hedge

First runner-up in the pageant was Morgan Faith Green of Smithville, the twelve year old daughter of Suzanne and Jon Harrison.

Thirteen year old Rachel Olivia Fuson of Smithville was second runner-up. She was also named Miss Photogenic. Fuson is the daughter of Missy and Joe Fuson.

Tyra Grace Graham of Smithville, the thirteen year old daughter of Doris and Kyle Graham was named third runner-up.

Twelve year old Destiny Danielle Franklin of Smithville, daughter of Jennifer Ware and Christopher Franklin was the fourth runner-up.

Morgan Marie Vickers was selected as Miss Congeniality. She is the fourteen year old daughter of Wanda and Joe Vickers of Liberty.

Others making up the top eleven in no particular order were Morgan Marie Vickers, the fourteen year old daughter of Wanda and Joe Vickers of Liberty; Madison Butler, the thirteen year old daughter of Ronda Butler and Dennis Butler of Smithville; Bailey Redmon, the thirteen year old daughter of Elizabeth and Mike Redmon of Dowelltown; Miranda Davis, the twelve year old daughter of Nicole and step father Robert Bruhn of Smithville; Katie Roehner, the fifteen year old daughter of Christina and William Roehner of Smithville; and Chasity Garrett, the fourteen year old daughter of Jamie Garrett of Liberty.

A total of sixteen young ladies participated in the pageant. Other participants were Madison Hope Hayes, the fourteen year old daughter of Gracie Nicholson and Timothy Hayes of Smithville; Maegan Harris of Liberty, the twelve year old daughter of Ronda Johnson and Shannon Harris and Donnie Johnson; Baylie Ann Davis, the eleven year old daughter of Shara Davis Cowan and Jason Davis of Smithville; Casey Elizabeth Vickers, the thirteen year old daughter of Wanda Sue and Joseph Vickers of Liberty; and Izabella Perez, the eleven year old daughter of Michelle Brawley and Louis Perez of Smithville.

(Top Photo: Junior Miss Liz Abigail Qualls)

(Middle Photo: Left to Right: Destiny Danielle Franklin (4th runner-up), Rachel Olivia Fuson (2nd), Junior Miss Liz Abigail Qualls, Morgan Faith Green (1st), and Tyra Grace Graham (3rd)

(Bottom Photo: Junior Miss Photogenic Rachel Olivia Fuson (left) and Junior Miss Congeniality Morgan Marie Vickers)

Rackley Claims Little Miss Title

April 14, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Little Miss Isabella Faith Rackley
Little Miss and Runners-Up
Little Miss Photogenic and Little Miss Personality

Four year old Isabella Faith Rackley of Smithville is the 2012 Little Miss of the annual spring pageant sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

She was crowned Saturday night at DCHS.

Rackley, daughter of Jessica and Gordon Rackley, succeeds the retiring Little Miss Addison Jean Puckett, the seven year old daughter of Jimmy and Anita Puckett of Smithville.

Rackley was also named Little Miss Photogenic.

Five year old Ansley Faith Cantrell of Smithville, daughter of Amee and Tony Cantrell, was named first runner-up. She was also chosen Little Miss Personality.

Second runner-up went to Ally Roxanne Fuller, the six year old daughter of Amanda and Anthony Fuller of Smithville.

Third runner-up was Avery Nicole Agee of Dowelltown, the five year old daughter of Casey and Joey Agee

Five year old Addison Isabella Kyle of Smithville was fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of Kimberly and Jamie Kyle of Liberty.

Rounding out the top sixteen in no particular order are KerriAnn VanDyne, the five year old daughter of Yvonne and Timothy VanDyne of Smithville; Presley Finocchiaro, the six year old daughter of Sinead and Joseph Finocchiaro of Alexandria; Lilliana Grace Vickers, the four year old daughter of Brandi and Kevin Vickers of Smithville; Addison Grace Miller, the five year old daughter of Amy and Josh Miller of Smithville; Araya Hope Ittayem, the five year old daughter of Sarah South and Hani Ittayem of Smithville; Peyton Elizabeth Norris, the six year old daughter of Jenny and Jonathan Norris of Smithville; Kara Wright, the four year old daughter of Amanda and Brandyn Wright of Smithville; Carlee Elizabeth West, the six year old daughter of Megan and D.J. Stewart of Smithville; Katherine Irene Knowles, the five year old daughter of Jared and Karen Knowles of Smithville;Emma Grace Martin, the six year old daughter of Kim and Curtis Martin of Liberty; and Olivia Daryl Taylor, the four year old daughter of Stephanie Harness and Ronnie Taylor of Smithville.

The pageant featured twenty seven contestants. Other participants were Addison Rena Hale, the five year old daughter of Cayla and Chris Hale of Smithville; Katherine Ann Vickers, the five year old daughter of Crystal and Jonathan Vickers of Smithville; Elizabeth Carlene Gaines, the six year old daughter of Beverly Anderson of Smithville; Shauna Jade Kempf of Liberty, the six year old daughter of Monja Kempf and her grandparents are Debbie and Roger Riser; Raylie Danielle Cowan, the four year old daughter of Shara and Ryan Cowan of Smithville; Brooklyn Ann Ponder, the five year old great granddaughter of Peggy and Brownie Barnes of Smithville; AutumnBelle Grace Redmon, the four year old daughter of Brittney and Joseph Redmon of Dowelltown; Kora Lin Kilgore, the five year old daughter of Ginda and John Kilgore of Smithville; Macy Lynn Anderson, the five year old daughter of Tabitha and Bobby Joe Anderson of Smithville; Cayalyn Turner, the six year old daughter of Glenda and John Turner of Smithville; and Kyra Michelle Baker, the six year old daughter of Crystal and Matthew Baker of Smithville.

(Top Photo: Little Miss Isabella Faith Rackley)

(Middle Photo: Left to Right-Addison Isabella Kyle (4th runner-up), Ally Roxanne Fuller (2nd), Little Miss Isabella Faith Rackley, Ansley Faith Cantrell (1st), and Avery Nicole Agee (3rd)

(Bottom Photo: Little Miss Photogenic Isabella Faith Rackley (left) and Little Miss Personality Ansley Faith Cantrell)

Benson Crowned Little Mister

April 14, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Little Mister Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson
Little Mister and Runners-up
Mister Photogenic and Mister Personality

Five year old Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson of Smithville was crowned Little Mister of the annual spring pageant held Saturday at DeKalb County High School sponsored by the Smithville Women's Club.

Benson, the son of Karey and Chris Benson, succeeds the 2011 Little Mister, Trevor Matthew Kirby of Smithville, the six year old son of Cindy and Clent Shehane.

Five year old Landon Orien Speaks was named first runner-up in the pageant. He is the son of Justin and Donna Speaks of Smithville.

Adan Ramirez of Smithville was the second runner-up. He is the six year old son of Cardelly and Hector Garcia.

Third runner-up went to Gabe Austin Creech of Smithville, the four year old son of Misty Creech.

Jackson Wayne Graham of Smithville was fourth runner-up. He is the five year old son of Rebecca Graham and Wayne and Kim Graham.

Meanwhile five year old Aydan Slade Bean was chosen as Mister Photogenic. He is the son of Heather and William Arnold Bean of Dowelltown.

The title of Mister Personality went to four year old Chase Sullivan of Smithville, son of Charity Sullivan and the late Jamie Sullivan.

The pageant featured eight little boys. The other contestant was Caleb Finocchiaro of Alexandria, the four year old son of Sinead and Joseph Finocchiaro.

(Top Photo: Little Mister Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson)

(Middle Photo: Left to Right- Jackson Wayne Graham (4th runner-up), Adan Ramirez (2nd), Little Mister Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson, Landon Orien Speaks (1st), Gabe Austin Creech (3rd)

(Bottom Photo: Mister Photogenic Aydan Slade Bean (left) and Mister Personality Chase Sullivan)

School Board Upholds Teacher Suspension For Neglect of Duty and Insubordination and Increases the Penalty

April 14, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Bradley Hendrix (Older Photo)

A physical education teacher at Smithville Elementary School, who has already served a one day suspension without pay for "neglect of duty" and "insubordination", has been suspended for two additional days by the Board of Education.

During a special meeting Friday night, the board voted 5 to 0 to sustain the one day suspension of Bradley Hendrix which was imposed by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and later upheld on appeal by Hearing Officer Robert G. Wheeler, Jr. But taking the position that the one day suspension was not enough, the board then voted 4 to 1 to suspend Hendrix for two more days without pay, making his total suspension three days.

Hendrix has twenty days to appeal the board's decision to the Chancery Court.

The board left the decision on when the suspension should become effective to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, who later said he would place Hendrix on suspension Monday and Tuesday, April 16 & 17.

Director Willoughby suspended Hendrix for one day several weeks ago for "neglect of duty" and "insubordination" after Hendrix left early from a student field trip in Murfreesboro last December without getting the permission of his supervisor, Principal Dr. Bill Tanner. Hendrix appealed Willoughby's decision and Wheeler, the hearing officer took up the matter on February 27. A month later Wheeler issued a written report on his "Finding of Facts and Conclusions of Law" upholding Director Willoughby's suspension. Hendrix then filed an appeal with the Board of Education, which was the reason for Friday night's special meeting.

The trip for which Hendrix was suspended occurred on December 9, 2011 when the elementary school rewarded certain pre-k through second graders for their efforts in a fundraising project by arranging a field trip to Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Murfreesboro. There were approximately five or six employees/chaperones on the trip that consisted of a teacher, an assistant, and a bookkeeper from Smithville Elementary. Taking the students on this trip was considered a work day, not a personal day for those teachers who accompanied the students. Mr. Hendrix left early from Chuck E. Cheese to return to DeKalb County for a middle school basketball game in which his daughter was playing. He had not ridden the bus to Murfreesboro and was leaving early in his own car to attend the game. In his report, hearing officer Wheeler wrote that "he (Hendrix) did not specifically ask permission of the assistant principal nor Principal Dr. Tanner to go to Murfreesboro by himself or to leave early".

According to Wheeler's report, "When Dr. Tanner later spoke to Hendrix about leaving the field trip early, Hendrix apologized for doing so. It was Dr. Tanner's opinion that Hendrix put those other teachers in jeopardy that day by leaving without permission."

Dr. Tanner had testified that, in addition to the Murfreesboro field trip incident, there had been other previous occasions when Hendrix would leave school duties early without permission. In his report, Wheeler wrote that " He (Tanner) had testified that on several previous occasions, Hendrix would come to him and ask for permission to leave early for various reasons, some of which pertained to his ailing father, and some of which was due to Hendrix building or remodeling a house. It came to the point that Dr. Tanner instructed Hendrix to come and ask him directly if he needed to leave, that he was not simply to leave word with a secretary or a bookkeeper when he was going to leave during the workday. Dr. Tanner further explained that there had been a problem with people complaining about Hendrix being seen about town during the workday when Tanner did not know Hendrix was away from school."

Wheeler also wrote that an additional issue arose in that Hendrix made an oral request to be allowed to take one-half of a sick day for having left the field trip early, in case he was out of personal days. The problem with that request, according to Wheeler, "is that Hendrix was not sick that day. Thus, the evidence of "cutting corners" with rules and mandates is emphasized".

During Friday night's hearing, Knoxville attorney Chris McCarty, saying he represents Director Willoughby and the board's interests, asked the school board to sustain the suspension of Hendrix. "Two years before this happened (Murfreesboro Field Trip) Mr. Tanner went over with Mr. Hendrix orally about leaving the campus (saying) a teacher will not leave the campus unless it is with the principal's direct permission. This was not based on just one event. This was based on a repeated failure of Mr. Hendrix to follow these rules. That's why Mr. Tanner had the original meeting with him two years ago which Mr. Hendrix admits to. When Mr. Hendrix was brought in and asked about it (Murfreesboro Field Trip), it was also found out that he didn't even take half of a personal day. He asked if he could take a sick day. He cuts corners on trying to take a sick day when he admits that he wasn't sick and he cut the corners repeatedly by trying to leave campus and leaving campus without permission. This is not one incident. This is the straw that broke the camel's back. For that reason we are asking that the board sustain the decision of Mr. Willoughby," said McCarty.

Hendrix, who appeared before the school board without his attorney Friday night, admitted that he should have sought permission before leaving early from the field trip. However, Hendrix added that in his twelve years as a school teacher, he has never before been suspended and that he is the only teacher to ever have been suspended by Director Willoughby. Hendrix indicated that he has been treated differently than other teachers who have done similar things and that his troubles with Willoughby began after he was elected to the county commission.

Hendrix was among those county commissioners who helped defeat a proposed school budget offered by Willoughby and the school board last summer along with a proposal for the purchase of land for a new high school. But, according to Wheeler's report, Willoughby denied this being the real motive for his suspension of Hendrix. According to Wheeler, " Mr Willoughby testified that even though Mr. Hendrix is a county commissioner and had voted against the school's budget and for a land purchase that was proposed for a new high school, he, Mr. Willoughby, did not base his one-day suspension on Mr. Hendrix's position; but rather, on the facts that Mr. Hendrix ignored a prior directive, and that Mr. Willoughby felt that it was neglectful of Mr. Hendrix' duty to leave the activity early".

Before the vote Friday night, Seventh District School Board member Johnny Lattimore said he felt Director Willoughby's one day suspension was justified, but not enough. "Its my opinion that Mr. Hendrix still doesn't believe that what he done was a severe offense. The suspension was, in my opinion, to get his attention that you don't need to do things like this anymore. It wasn't, in my opinion, about the money. It was to get his attention that this can't go on. You can't continue like this. Its time to take an about face, turn around, and start following the rules. I don't think a one day suspension is sufficient in my opinion. I think he needs something else to get his attention that you will follow the rules. I have employees, Mr. Evins has employees, and if you don't follow the rules, you don't keep your job very long. I think its to his benefit, as well as the school system, that his attention be gotten right now. My opinion is that I would recommend a greater suspension than one day," said Lattimore.

First District member John David Foutch agreed with Lattimore and called for three day suspension of Hendrix. "I don't think the suspension is stiff enough. You (Hendrix) have been cautioned time and again and you've ignored those cautions. If I had an employee who had done me that way, I would have warned him and warned him and then I would have suspended him. The next time I would have fired him. You are to directly report to that gentleman (Dr. Tanner) and you did not report to him. You should have reported to that gentleman. You knew that and he had cautioned you about that time and again. That was your responsibility to that gentleman and your responsibility to our children and to your children. The only thing that keeps me from recommending that this board fire you is because your child is over there (elementary school) and I believe you, as a parent, love your child enough that you would not purposely have put your child in any kind of danger. I don't believe that's a question at all. But I do believe that you have abused the system and it's just as this man (McCarty) said. This is a straw that broke the camel's back. You don't stand any more leniency than our students do in our school system. Whenever they misbehave a three day suspension is what they get a lot of the time. I would recommend that you get that three day suspension because I don't believe that you stand above our students. I believe you should be setting an example for those students. Sir, if you can't do that, then you don't need to be part of this school system. I think you need to take this as a very serious warning and a serious matter. You have a great responsibility upon you where our children are concerned. They are the most precious that we have and you need to take that seriously. Your leaving the school system and leaving those children there is not a very good thing at all and I think its something that really has to be looked at very closely. I hope this never has to come up before this board again," said Foutch.

Hendrix, in response to Foutch, insisted that he does take his teaching job seriously and that he is concerned about the children. "I've been teaching here for twelve years. I got my first write up when I became a county commissioner five days later," said Hendrix.

Board Chairman Charles Robinson interjected: "We're not going to go that way with that rebuttal"

Hendrix: "I take teaching very seriously. I take taking care of the kids very seriously. There's not one write up that I signed about me leaving school. He (Dr. Tanner) talked to me one time about leaving school. I made a mistake by not telling my principal that I was leaving to go see my daughter play basketball. The other times that I left school was for a family crisis. All I ever wanted to get from this school system is the same chances that the other teachers around me are getting. You can ask any parent. If their child does not feel safe in my gym or in my presence, I'll quit today. But I guarantee you that you can ask any parent that I've had. I've had Mr. (Dub) Evins' kids. Have you (Evins) ever felt that they were not safe in my presence?"

Dub Evins: "My daughter was intimidated by you if you want to know the answer to that"

Hendrix: "I didn't ask about intimidation, I said safe"

Evins: "She considers that safe"

Hendrix:"She knew nothing was going to happen to her I guarantee you that. What about your son?"

Evins:"I haven't talked much about it to my son. He don't mention those things. I'm talking about my daughter and I told you how she felt."

Hendrix: "I asked you did she feel safe?"

Evins: "What kind of safe? She felt intimidated to be in your gym."

Hendrix: "Some kids do"

Evins: "She was scared of you. She was afraid of you"

Hendrix:"A lot of kids are afraid"

Evins: "If she's afraid of you then she didn't feel safe"

Hendrix: "I was afraid of a lot of teachers when I was growing up"

During Friday night's hearing, the school board by law had the option to sustain the decision of Willoughby and the hearing officer Wheeler, "send the record back if additional evidence is necessary, revise the penalty, or reverse the decision. Before any findings and decision are sustained or punishment inflicted, a majority of the membership of the board shall concur in sustaining the charges and decision".

Board members voting for upholding the one-day suspension of Hendrix were First District member John David Foutch, Second District member and Board Chairman Charles Robinson, Fifth District Member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Sixth District member Doug Stephens, and Seventh District member Johnny Lattimore.

Board members Kenny Rhody and Billy Miller were unable to attend Friday night's meeting.

All members voted to increase the suspension by an additional two days to a total of three days, except for Stephens, who voted "no".

The following is the "Finding of Facts and Conclusions of Law" by Robert G. Wheeler, Jr, Hearing Officer in the case of the DeKalb County School System versus Bradley Hendrix

"This cause came on to be heard on the 27th of February, 2012 at the central office of the DeKalb County Board of Education. After the transcript of the hearing was presented to the Hearing Officer, and after a brief illness, these Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law are submitted."

"Bradley Hendrix is an elementary P.E. Teacher at Smithville Elementary School and has been for 12 years."

"On December 9, 2011, the school rewarded certain pre-k through second graders for their efforts in a fundraising project by arranging a field trip to Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Murfreesboro. There were approximately 5 or 6 employee/chaperones on a trip that consisted of a teacher, an assistant, and a bookkeeper from Smithville Elementary School. Taking the students on this trip was considered a work day, not a personal day for those teachers who accompanied the students."

"Mr. Hendrix left early from Chuck E. Cheese to return to DeKalb County for a middle school basketball game in which his daughter was playing. He had not ridden the bus to Murfreesboro and was leaving early in his own car to attend the game. He did not specifically ask permission of Ms. (Karen) Knowles, the assistant Principal at Smithville Elementary, nor of Dr. Bill Tanner, the Principal at Smithville Elementary, to go to Murfreesboro by himself or to leave early. Ms. Knowles states unequivocally that Mr. Hendrix did not ask her permission to leave the field trip early. Ms. Knowles testified that the only person who would have been able to give him permission to leave the field trip early would have been Dr. Tanner, the school's Principal. Ms. Knowles did find out from the school's bookkeeper prior to the trip that Mr. Hendrix would be leaving early."

"Dr. Billy Tanner has been the Principal at Smithville Elementary School for seven years. He testified that on several previous occasions Mr. Hendrix would come to him and ask permission to leave early for various reasons, some of which pertained to his ailing father, and some of which was due to Mr. Hendrix building or remodeling a house. It came to the point that Dr. Tanner instructed Mr. Hendrix to come and ask him directly if he needed to leave; that he was not to simply leave word with a secretary or a bookkeeper when he was going to leave during the workday. Dr. Tanner reduced that directive to writing. That written directive was effective from at least the school year 2010-2011. Dr. Tanner further explained that there had been a problem with people complaining about Mr. Hendrix being seen about town during the workday when Dr. Tanner did not know that he was away from school.. Dr. Tanner is of the opinion that there was no misunderstanding with Mr. Hendrix about having to ask for Dr. Tanner's permission to leave school or an assignment early. Dr. Tanner testified that nothing was said to him by Mr. Hendrix about leaving the Chuck E. Cheese field trip early, and Dr. Tanner did not give him permission to do so. Mr. Hendrix did not fill out the appropriate paper work to take a half-day personal leave prior to the field trip in question, and he did not take half of a personal day until Dr. Tanner asked him to do so. Dr. Tanner came to learn that Mr. Hendrix told the bookkeeper that he would be leaving the field trip early. Dr. Tanner, however, did not know of Mr. Hendix' plan to leave early until after the event."

"When Dr. Tanner did speak to Mr. Hendrix about leaving the field trip early, Mr. Hendrix apologized for doing so. Ms. Knowles did not discuss with Dr. Tanner the information that she had that Mr. Hendrix would be driving separately to the field trip. Had he known Mr. Hendrix was going to leave early and that he was not going to be riding the bus with the rest of the chaperones, Dr. Tanner would have sent someone else. It was Dr. Tanner's opinion that Mr. Hendrix put those other teachers in jeopardy that day by leaving without permission. If I had known that he was going to be leaving, I would have sent someone else to cover for him. But I did not know that, I did not know that he wasn't going to ride the bus either."

"Mark Willoughby is the director of schools for DeKalb County. He has been in education for thirty three years. He is in his sixth year as the Director of Schools for DeKalb County. He has known Bradley Hendrix for that period of time. Mr. Willoughby, pursuant to the Tennessee Code, is the person who suspended Mr. Hendrix for one day due to leaving the field trip early, thinking it was an example of neglect of duty and insubordination. In making the decision to suspend Mr. Hendrix for one day, Mr. Willoughby accepted the recommendation of the building Principal, Dr. Tanner. Mr. Willloughby did consider what Dr. Tanner had told him in the past that resulted in Dr Tanner's written directive that Mr. Hendrix was not to leave the school without direct permission from the Principal. Mr. Willoughby testified that in a meeting with Mr. Hendrix and his counsel, Mr. Hendrix said he made a mistake and that he should have asked Dr. Tanner for permission to leave the field trip early. Mr. Willoughby was also at the middle school basketball game that Mr. Hendrix attended. He did contact Dr. Tanner because he knew of the prior admonition to Mr. Hendrix to seek permission of the school's principal before leaving his school duties. Mr. Willoughby testified that even though Mr. Hendrix is a county commissioner and had voted against the school's budget and for a land purchase that was proposed for the new high school, he, Mr. Willoughby, did not base his one-day suspension on Mr. Hendrix's position; but rather, on the facts that Mr. Hendrix ignored a prior directive, and that Mr. Willoughby felt it was neglectful of Mr. Hendrix' duty to leave the activity early."

"Mr. Hendrix testified that he has taught in the DeKalb County School System for twelve years. He has a physical education and wellness degree, a Master's degree in administration, and an EDS in administration. Mr. Hendrix testified that he started to mention to Dr. Tanner that he would leave early on the aforementioned field trip but that as Dr. Tanner passed through the area where Mr. Hendrix was speaking to the bookkeeper, Dr. Tanner told him that he would have to talk to him later. Mr. Hendrix admitted that he never returned to discuss or ask Dr. Tanner's permission to leave the field trip early. He stayed at the field trip until approximately 11:35 a.m., and after attending the basketball game at DeKalb Middle School he dropped by his house on the way back to Smithville Elementary. He returned to the school at approximately 1:20 to 1:25 p.m. He was there when the bus returned and helped unload the students.

The following response was submitted to the following questions:

Q. And since you didn't-and since you have admitted, you know, that you were wrong that you didn't go back to talk to him- but after he talked to you, did you voluntarily take half a personal day.

A. Yes, I did. I had one question for him when I took that personal day is that could I take a sick day instead? Because I didn't know if I had enough personal days. I thought I might be out of personal days.

Mr. Hendrix admitted that Dr. Tanner did go over the contents of Exhibit C (concerning leaving school early) with him personally. That session preceded the field trip to Murfreesboro. He admitted that he never asked Dr. Tanner's nor Ms. Knowles' permission to leave the field trip early. When asked about the request to take a sick day, the question was-

Q. So why would you think that you could geta sick day for time when you are not sick?

A. Well it just covers me. I mean....
Q. But it's not technically correct, is it?
A. Technically, no.

Mr. Hendrix responded in the negative when asked if anybody that was on duty covered for him on the field trip.

Conclusions of law

The Director of Schools, Mark Willoughby, suspended Mr. Hendrix pursuant to the two of the five causes for suspension or dismissal of a tenured teacher in Tennessee as they appear in T.C.A. 49-5-501. The two causes at issue here are neglect of duty and insubordination. They are defined in the statutes as follows:

(8). "Neglect of Duty" means gross or repeated failure to perform duties and responsibilities that reasonably can be expected of one in such capacity or continued unexcused or unnecessary absence from duty

(7) "Insubordination" may consist of:

(A) Refusal or continued failure to obey the school laws of this state, to comply with the rules and regulations of the board or to carry out specific assignments made by the board, the director of schools or the principal, each acting within its own jurisdiction, when the rules, regulations and assignments are reasonable and not discriminatory;

(B) Failure to participate in an in-service training program as set up by the local board of education and approved by the state board of education;

(C). Treason, or any effort to sabotage or overthrow the government of the United States; or

(D). Refusal by the teacher to disclose to the board whether or not the teacher is, or has been, a member of the communist or any other party that advocates the overthrow of the government;

While it is obvious that sub-paragraphs (B), (C), and (D) immediately above are inapplicable to this case, this Hearing Officer is of the opinion that the directive from the principal, Dr. Tanner, to Mr. Hendrix regarding leaving school only with Dr. Tanner's direct permission was specific, reasonable, and non- discriminatory. It is also the opinion of the hearing officer that leaving word with office personnel that he would be leaving early from the field trip did not meet the requirements of the directive that had been presented to Mr. Hendrix and that he acknowledged by his signature. The directive was developed because of previous issues that arose as a result of Mr. Hendrix being away from school. Failure to meet the directive yet again does constitute neglect of duty and insubordination as defined above.

An additional issue arose in this matter that has not gone unnoticed- Mr. Hendrix's oral request to be allowed to take one-half of a sick day for having left the field trip early, in case he was out of personal days. The problem with that request is that Mr. Hendrix was not sick that day. Thus, the evidence of "cutting corners" with rules and mandates is emphasized.

This Hearing Officer is of the opinion that under all the facts and circumstances of this case the one-day suspension is reasonable and justified.

It is therefore, ORDERED that the decision of the Director of Schools to suspend Mr. Hendrix for one day is sustained.

T.C.A. 49-5-512 states, in pertinent part as follows:

(c) (1) If the affected teacher desires to appeal from a decision rendered in whole or in part in favor of the school system, the teacher shall first exhaust the administrative remedy of appealing the decision to the board of education within ten working days of the hearing officer's delivery of the written findings of fact, conclusions, and decision to the affected employee.

(2) Upon written notice of appeal, the director of schools shall prepare a copy of the proceedings, transcript, documentary and other evidence presented and transmit the copy to the board within twenty working days of receipt of notice of appeal

(3). The board shall hear the appeal on the record and no new evidence shall be introduced. The affected employee may appear in person or by counsel and argue why the decision should be modified or reversed. The board may sustain the decision, send the record back if additional evidence is necessary, revise the penalty or reverse the decision. Before any findings and decision are sustained or punishment inflicted, a majority of the membership of the board shall concur in sustaining the charges and decision. The board shall render its decision on the appeal within ten working days after the conclusion of the hearing.

Parents Urged to Make Sure Children's Immunizations Are Up To Date

April 13, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

Next year's kindergarten students and those who will be entering the seventh grade must have their immunizations up to date or their parents risk those children not being enrolled in school this fall.

Dee Anna Reynolds, School Health Coordinator, and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby addressed the issue during Thursday night's school board meeting. "Our nurses checked records for students in the sixth grade who will be going into the seventh grade next year. Parents of students who are currently not compliant in the sixth grade should have received a letter prior to spring break giving them the opportunity to get those immunizations current and up to date. Our nurses will check again before school is out for summer break. We'll send home those letters a second time if we need to and then on the first day, registration day Coordinated School Health and our school nurses will be there checking those records one final time," said Reynolds

Director of Schools Willoughby said incoming kindergarten students must also meet state immunization requirements. "Basically the state of Tennessee says that in the seventh grade year, you don't start school unless your immunizations are up to date. For the past two years, we have actually been letting students come (to school) and to work with them on trying to get those immunizations up to date in a time frame. This year we're doing more homework up front in notifying those parents. They've already gotten one notification before spring break and they're getting another notification before they go home (for the summer). We're going to follow the state guidelines and for seventh graders and kindergarten students, if they come to school to register and they do not have their immunizations up to date, we're going to ask them at that time to go get their immunizations," said Willoughby.

Reynolds added "more of our issues were with seventh grade and that's why I addressed it more. Just to let parents know, there are two shots that we're checking for, because all other shots should be current anyway up until sixth grade, and that is the Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster ("Tdap") and then there's a second dose of Varivax which is chicken pox. The only way they would be allowed back in school without that second dose of Varivax is if they do have a doctor's documentation of having had the chicken pox. So that's the two we're looking for and checking for in our sixth graders who will be seventh graders next year," said Reynolds.

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