Local News Articles

Carlee Elizabeth West Wins Little Miss Pageant

July 19, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Carlee Elizabeth West
Little Miss and Runners-Up
Extreme Queen, Congeniality, Photogenic, and People's Choice

Carlee Elizabeth West won the Little Miss Title of the DeKalb County Fair Tuesday evening.

West, the six year old daughter of D.J. and Megan Stewart of Smithville, succeeds the retiring Little Miss Kenlee Renae Taylor, the six year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville .

First runner-up in the Little Miss contest was Sydney Keegan Pardo, the four year old daughter of Tony and Whitley Pardo of Smithville.

Second runner-up was McKenzie Faith Sanders, the six year old daughter of James and Misti Sanders of Smithville.

Six year old Arista Isabella Rigsby was third runner-up. She is the daughter of David and Tyroma Rigsby of Lebanon

Fourth runner-up went to Hannah Trapp, the six year old daughter of Jeremy and Jenny Trapp of Smithville

Meanwhile, four year old Avery Agee was crowned Extreme Queen, an award given by Extreme Looks Design Team Salon. Agee is the daughter of Joey and Casey Agee of Dowelltown.

Five year old Kyleigh Marie Ramsey was named Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Dewayne and Candy Ramsey of McMinnville

The Miss Photogenic title went to four year old Annabella Eleni Dakas, daughter of John and Mandy Dakas of Smithville.

Six year old Tori Summers, daughter of Robin and Leighann Summers of Smithville, received the pageant's first ever People's Choice Award.

Rounding out the top ten were Kylee Raegan Cantrell, the six year old daughter of Paul and Michelle Cantrell of Smithville; Malanna Suzette Brown, six the year old daughter of Heather and Talmadge Brown of Sparta; Ansley Faith Cantrell, the five year old daughter of Tony and Amee Cantrell of Smithville; Addison Roller, the six year old daughter of John and Chana Roller of Smithville; and Katherine Dell Gassaway, the six year old daughter of Kelly and Julianna Gassaway of Smithville.

More than thirty contestants were entered in this year's pageant.

(Top Photo: Little Miss Carlee Elizabeth West)

(Second Photo from Top- left to right, 3rd runner-up Arista Isabella Rigsby, 1st runner-up Sydney Keegan Pardo, Little Miss Carle Elizabeth West, 2nd runner-up McKenzie Faith Sanders, and 4th runner-up Hannah Trapp)

(Bottom Photo- left to right, Extreme Queen Avery Agee, Miss Congeniality Kyleigh Marie Ramsey, Miss Photogenic Annabella Eleni Dakas, and Peoples Choice Tori Summers)

Little Mister Title goes to Holden Craig Trapp

July 19, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Holden Craig Trapp
Little Mister and Runners-up

Six year old Holden Craig Trapp of Smithville was crowned Little Mister of the DeKalb County Fair Tuesday evening.

Trapp, son of Amanda and Tony Trapp, succeeds the 2010 Little Mister, Trevor Matthew Kirby, the five year old son of Cyndi and Clent Shehane of Smithville. Trapp also received the distinction of being Mister Photogenic.

First runner-up in the Little Mister contest was Dylan Bogle, the four year old son of Chris and Shana Bogle of Smithville. Bogle also received the pageant's first ever People's Choice award.

Four year old Joseph Bristol Redmon, son of Joey and Brittany Redmon of Dowelltown was the second runner-up. Redmon was the pageant's Mister Manners.

Third runner-up was Landon Speaks, the five year old son of Justin and Donna Speaks of Smithville.

These four boys were the only contestants in the pageant.

(Top Photo: Little Mister and Mr. Photogenic Holden Craig Trapp)

(Bottom Photo: left to right- 3rd runner-up and Mr. Manners Landon Speaks, 1st runner-up and People's Choice winner Dylan Bogle, Little Mister and Mr. Photogenic Holden Craig Trapp, and 2nd runner-up Joseph Bristol Redmon)

Katie Sue Haggard Crowned Fairest of the Fair

July 18, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fairest of the Fair Katie Sue Haggard
Fairest of the Fair and Runners-Up
Extreme Queen, Photogenic, Congeniality and People's Choice

17 year old Katie Sue Haggard of Smithville is the 2011 Fairest of the Fair.

Haggard, daughter of David and Vicki Haggard, succeeds the retiring Queen Amanda Bee Martin of Smithville, the 21 year old daughter of Lynn and the Late Freddie Martin. In addition to being named Fairest of the Fair, Haggard was also chosen Most Photogenic.

Fairest of the Fair Contestants from dwayne page on Vimeo.
17 year old Victoria Dawn Tatrow of Smithville was named first runner-up. She is the daughter of Corey and Vickie Funk and the late Shanna Tatrow.

16 year old Tessa Thomas, daughter of Judy and Troy Thomas of Smithville was named second runner-up in the pageant. She also received the Extreme Queen honor, presented by the Extreme Looks Design Team Salon.

Third runner-up went to Tiffany Celestino, the 17 year old daughter of Tammy Horsley of Smithville.

17 year old Stephanie Carmen Rackley of Smithville, daughter of Will and Angie Meadows and Gordon and Jessica Rackley was named fourth runner-up. Rackley also received Miss Congeniality and the pageant's first ever People's Choice award.

These five contestants were the only entries in this year's pageant.

Meanwhile, there was no cash winner Monday night. The money from Monday night will be given away on Saturday night which means at least $2,000 will be given away Saturday in increments of $1,000 each.

(Top Photo: Fairest of the Fair Katie Sue Haggard)

(Second Photo from Top: left to right, 3rd runner-up Tiffany Celestino, 1srt runner-up Victoria Dawn Tatrow, Fairest of the Fair Katie Sue Haggard, 2nd runner-up Tessa Thomas, and 4th runner-up Stephanie Carmen Rackley)

(Bottom Photo: Extreme Queen Tessa Thomas, Fairest of the Fair and Most Photogenic Katie Sue Haggard, and Miss Congeniality and People's Choice Stephanie Carmen Rackley)

Rodeo Highlight at Fair Monday Night from dwayne page on Vimeo.
The following events are scheduled for the remainder of the week at the fair:

Tuesday, July 19th: Visit from WSMV's Snowbird; the Little Mr. and Miss Pageant for contestants ages 4-6 at 6:00 p.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion with a concert by The Springs to follow; Go-Cart Racing at 6:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena; and a Horse Show at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:30 p.m.

Take a stroll down Memory Lane and enjoy nightly entertainment at the Memory Lane Stage in Memory Village, sponsored by DeKalb Community Bank. The DeKalb County Fair Memory Lane Stage Line-Up for Tuesday is as follows:
6:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.: Born for This-Zachary Allen
7:45 p.m.-8:45 p.m.: Kingdom Reign-Zachary Allen

Kids Enjoying Water Ball at the Fair from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Wednesday, July 20th: Little Miss Princess Pageant for contestants ages 7-9 at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Miss Sweetheart Pageant for those ages 10-12 at the Lions Club Pavilion; Four Wheeler and Motorcycle Racing at 6:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 21st: Senior Citizen Day activities at 9:00 a.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; 4-H Chick Chain Show at 5:00 p.m. at the Tot Kelly barn; Junior Goat Show at 6:00 p.m. at the Tot Kelly barn; a Baby Show at 6:00 p.m. followed by a Vintage Fashion Show at the Lions Club Pavilion; and Mud Drag Racing at the T.C. McMillen Arena at 7:00 p.m.; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:30 p.m.

Cattle Show from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Friday, July 22nd: Toddler Show for contestants 13 months to 47 months at 6:00 p.m. followed by DeKalb Idol Final Competition at the Lions Club Pavilion; a Super Truck and Tractor Pull at 7:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena; and a Demolition Derby/Lawn Mower Derby at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 23rd: Horseshoe Tournament at the Tot Kelly barn at 1:00 p.m.; Gospel singing at the Lions Club Pavilion at 6:00 p.m.; Super Tractor and Truck Pull at 7:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena: and a $1000 cash giveaway at 9:30 p.m.

Train Ride from dwayne page on Vimeo.

One thousand dollars in cash will be given away each night, Monday through Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at the Lion's Club Pavilion and you must be present to win. If no one presents the winning ticket within three minutes, the money will be saved and given away on Saturday night in increments of $1,000. Your fair admission ticket is your ticket for the cash drawing.

Calf scramble at the DeKalb County Fair from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Rides on the Midway will be provided by the Family Attractions Amusement Company. Unlimited rides will be available each night for $18.00. Wednesday will be Discount Ride Night- Arm Bands Only for $14.00

Admission to the fair is $3.00 per person. Children age four and younger will be admitted free! Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Parking is Free!

Every night is T-shirt night! Wear any DeKalb County Fair T-shirt from ANY YEAR and ask for your ticket to win the newest fair T-shirt during the cash giveaway at 9:30 p.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion. Request tickets at the gate.

Sign up to compete in the DeKalb Idol competition through Thursday backstage at the Lions Club Pavilion from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The registration fee is $10.00. The final competition will be Friday, July 22 at 7:00 p.m. following the Toddler Show at the Lion's Club Pavilion. You could win a $300 cash prize and a $100 People's Choice Award.

For more information, call 529-FAIR or visit on-line at www.dekalbcountyfair.us.

Melanie Grace Rush Named Junior Fair Princess

July 18, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Junior Fair Princess Melanie Grace Rush
Junior Fair Princess and Runners-up
Extreme Queen,Miss Congeniality, Photogenic, and People's Choice

The 2011 Junior Fair Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is 16 year old Melanie Grace Rush of McMinnville, daughter of Susan and Greg Rush.
CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO GALLERY FROM MONDAY'S EDITION OF THE DEKALB COUNTY FAIR
http://www.wjle.com/videos/fair2011

Rush was among 32 young ladies who competed for the crown on the opening night of the DeKalb County Fair on Monday night.

Rush succeeds the retiring Junior Fair Princess, 17 year old Victoria Dawn Tatrow of Smithville, daughter of Corey and Vickie Funk and the late Shanna Tatrow.

The first runner-up was Taylor Cantrell, the 15 year old daughter of Jeff and Deborah Cantrell of Smithville.

Second runner-up was 15 year old Brittany Nicole Wilkerson, daughter of Sean Wilkerson of Lebanon and Michelle Cantrell of Smithville. Wilkerson also received the first ever "People's Choice" award for this pageant.

14 year old Haley Marie Hale was the third runner-up. She is the daughter of Chad and Melissa Hale of Smithville

The fourth runner-up was Amy Lynn Hastings, the 16 year old daughter of Paulette and Tom Clark and James and Lana Hastings of Liberty.

The "Extreme Queen" sponsored by the Extreme Looks Design Team Salon went to 15 year old Lauren Ashley Medlin, daughter of Greg and Teresa Medlin of Smithville.

15 year old Shauna Faith Taylor, daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville, was named Miss Congeniality.

16 year old Makayla Shea Funk, daughter of Amie Funk of Dowelltown received the Most Photogenic honor.

(Top Photo: Junior Fair Princess Melanie Grace Rush)

(Second Photo from Top: left to right, 3rd runner-up Haley Marie Hale, 1st runner-up Taylor Cantrell, Junior Fair Princess Melanie Grace Rush, 2nd runner-up Brittany Nicole Wilkerson, and 4th runner-up Amy Lynn Hastings)

(Bottom Photo: left to right, Extreme Queen Lauren Ashey Medlin; Miss Congeniality Shauna Faith Taylor, Most Photogenic, Makayla Shea Funk, and People's Choice Brittany Nicole Wilkerson)

New DCHS Science Lab Expected to Be Ready By Mid-September

July 18, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Latest look of DCHS science lab. New lab stations will be located where pipes pr
New DCHS science lab stations will be located where pipes protrude up

Smithville Elementary School, which received primarily roof damage from storm winds on the last day of school, May 26 should be ready to re-open on the first day of School August 1. However, the DCHS Science lab, which has been under renovation since school has been out for the summer, will not be completely ready until possibly mid-September.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby updated the Board of Education on both projects Thursday night. As for the DCHS science lab, while the water, gas, electric, and drainage lines have been re-configured for eight new lab stations (to acommodate up to four students per station), and a lab station for the teacher, the new furniture and lab components will not arrive until mid-September. "When we started and ordered everything, it was not in writing but it was said that if everything went as planned, everything (furniture and lab components) would come in right before school started. But very few times do things come in as they are supposed to come in. Therefore, the email that I received this week said that all the things we have ordered are due to arrive now September 13. That is not what we wanted to hear. Hopefully it will be earlier than that but we were already anticipating not using that room at the very beginning of the year. This has just pushed it back a little further than what our anticipations were to begin with. A lot of work has gone into that (science lab) and we will be ready to do the floor on Tuesday. So when you open the door to that particular classroom, it will look like a brand new school," said Willoughby.

Meanwhile on the Smithville Elementary School Project, Willoughby said "The insurance people told Earl (Jared), Maintenance Supervisor, today (Thursday) that it (elementary school) would be ready by the time school started. I would like to have a little more comfort there, but they did promise to have it ready by the time school started. Our insurance company and the underwriters had a disagreement on how much it would cost to fix it. Our insurance company went ahead and said we're going to go ahead and fix it and we will take up the disagreement later," said Willoughby.

DeKalb County Fair Opens Monday Night

July 17, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Fair Opens Monday Night

The DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria opens Monday evening, July 18 through Saturday July 23

This year's theme us "DARE2FAIR..It's a Sweet Ride "

CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK TO VIEW A PHOTO GALLERY OF EXHIBITS THIS YEAR IN THE KENNETH SANDLIN CENTER

More Pictures

The following events are scheduled Monday night:
National Anthem at 5:45 p.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; Cattle Show at 6:00 p.m. at the Tot Kelly barn; Rodeo at the T.C. McMillen Arena at 6:30 p.m.; Junior Fair Princess Pageant for contestants ages 13-16 at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Fairest of the Fair Pageant for contestants ages 17 to 20 at the Lions Club Pavilion. $1000 cash giveaway at 9:30 p.m.

Take a stroll down Memory Lane and enjoy nightly entertainment at the Memory Lane Stage in Memory Village, sponsored by DeKalb Community Bank. The DeKalb County Fair Memory Lane Stage Line-Up Monday night is as follows:
6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Donny Barthelemy
7:45 p.m.- 8:45 p.m. Burden Rock Band

One thousand dollars in cash will be given away each night, Monday through Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at the Lion's Club Pavilion and you must be present to win. If no one presents the winning ticket within three minutes, the money will be saved and given away on Saturday night in increments of $1,000. Your fair admission ticket is your ticket for the cash drawing.

Visit the food booths and view exhibits in the Kenneth Sandlin Center and Commercial building.

Rides on the Midway will be provided by the Family Attractions Amusement Company. Unlimited rides will be available each night for $18.00. Wednesday will be Discount Ride Night- Arm Bands Only for $14.00

Admission to the fair is $3.00 per person. Children age four and younger will be admitted free! Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Parking is Free!

For more information, call 529-FAIR or visit on-line at www.dekalbcountyfair.us.

School Board to Purchase School Bus Tracking System

July 16, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kelly Lee
Zonar School Bus Inspection and Tracking System

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night voted to purchase a Transportation Software program from Zonar Systems to better keep track of school buses, monitoring where they are located at all times, and recording excessive idle times, excessive speeding, etc. in order to cut down on fuel costs and to speed up repairs. It also automates and verifies bus inspections.

Kelly Lee, a representative of Zonar, addressed the board of education Thursday night. According to Lee, this GPS/Cell phone based tracking system simplifies the entire pre and post trip inspection process of a school bus. It is easy to use and captures and stores fleet performance data. The cost is $27,127. "Its basically a cell phone based system that we use to monitor fuel costs and excessive idle times, excessive speeding, and location reporting., " said Lee.

"We use what we call a zone based system that can tell where the bus is at as far as school zones and where the bus is at as far as drive out or drive home. Anything to do with where the vehicle is at during all times, we can tell you where its at. Is it running? Is it using excessive amounts of fuel? Is it speeding? Primarily is it speeding in school zones or anywhere where there is a reduced speed zone? It can tell you that," said Lee.

" If it (bus) leaves a location its not supposed to leave, it can tell you that. Totaling fuel mileage, totaling hard braking, it (system) can do all that. Also part of the request is an inspection system that ensures that all of the drivers do an entire physical inspection on the whole bus and that every inspection they do, whether it be a special needs bus or a straight bus, that everybody is doing the same inspection and a physical walk around of the vehicle. Pre-trip, post-trip, student/child check, anything like that, they (bus drivers) have to do a physical walk around of the vehicle. Its all paperless. Its all accessible on the Internet and if any driver gets pulled over by the DOT (Department of Transportation), we (Zonar) are approved in all fifty states for the DOT to view up to thirteen inspections on the system," according to Lee.

"Its cell phone based so there are situations where you won't have cell phone service but in an event where you don't have cell phone service, the system is still actually working and once you get into an area where you do have cell phone service, it recovers all the information. So none of the information is lost and its all gathered.," said Lee.

"We've got a system that we've worked with in Chicago called Freeport School System and they saved 21% on their fuel last year alone. When you're talking 21% of a fuel bill at four dollars a gallon, its a pretty hefty number. I guarantee you that the system will pay for itself or we will take it back. Part of the quote is to have two people come in and train for two days on how to use the system and if you utilize the system I can promise you, from a savings standpoint, you're going to pay for the system and when you're ensuring that every driver is doing a physical inspection every day and you know how long it has taken them in each area, and in each location you know exactly what they're riding in and you don't have to rely on a hand written inspection, you know you can view it at any time, just the safety in that alone is worth that. From the day you get the system or even a year from then, if you get a call from someone who says a certain bus was speeding in our neighborhood a year ago, all you have to do is get the address, plug it in and we can know how fast that bus was going and what time it went through there. All the information is valid based on our GPS software," according to Lee.

Meanwhile on another issue, the school board members discussed but tabled for now a proposal to offer basic life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment coverage for all employees at a monthly cost of $710 to the school system. Under the plan, each employee would be covered for a flat $10,000 for Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage. The cost per employee per month is $1.44 for the Life coverage and 17 cents per employee per month ($1.61 combined for the $10,000 of coverage), based on the census provided there are 457 employees who would be covered equating to a monthly cost of $710.66 (Basic Life and AD&D combined). These quoted rates are guaranteed for three years.

Budget Committee Proposes $1.62 Property Tax Rate, an Increase of 10 Cents

July 15, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Your property taxes will be going up this fall if the county commission adopts a recommendation by the budget committee.

In their final meeting before passage of the new spending plan for the county, members of the budget committee met Thursday night at the courthouse and voted to recommend a tax rate of $1.62 cents per $100 of assessed value. That's a ten cent increase above the state established certified tax rate of $1.52.

A nickel of that ten cent increase will go to schools and the other nickel will help fund the county general budget. The five cent increase budgeted for schools is less than the amount requested by the board of education.

Here's how the proposed tax rate breaks down:

County General: 83 cents
General Purpose Schools: 55 cents
Debt Service: 12 cents
Highways/Public Works: 3 cents
General Capital Projects: 9 cents
Total Tax Levy: $1.62

Meanwhile, the solid waste department is to be funded by the following monies:
Gross Receipt Tax funds deposited into the General Fund: proceeds from the state beer tax, wholesale beer tax, bank excise tax, state revenue sharing-TVA funds, interest earned on county investments (excluding interest from the central cafeteria, trust funds, or bond proceeds); hotel/motel tax funds; the county's portion of the local option sales tax; proceeds from payments in-lieu of taxes; and the alcoholic beverage tax.

Prior to the committee taking action on the budgets and tax rate, County Mayor Mike Foster made the following prepared statement:

"With much discussion, the budget committee found it necessary and advisable to call for an increase in the property tax levy. The Tax Levy Resolution in the consolidated budget document increases the property tax levy to $1.62 per one hundred and reflects a .0986 cent increase from the equalized rate of $1.5214 and was only considered after making projections and considering long term financial stability. The driving force behind the increase was anticipated future requirements of meeting the schools "maintenance of effort" as well as meeting the local matching portion for the States BEP funding formula, with the General Fund levy increasing due to the notations listed below," said Foster

"Of particular note, the consolidated 2012 budget document changes the school board approved General Purpose School Fund budget only by lowering the amount of local revenues requested by the school board which was far above what the budget committee deemed necessary. Although the budget committee submits a tax rate resolution as noted above which increases the levy for the General Purpose School Fund by five cents on an equalized basis or seven cents when compared to the prior year, the budget committee believes that expenditures in the General Purpose School Fund budget which has been approved by the school board cannot be sustained on a long-term basis unless the DeKalb County Board of Education takes immediate steps to correct deficiencies. The budget committee made no effort in trying to identify expenditure cuts which should be a responsibility of the school board and believe that non-recurring revenues are being used for recurring expenses," said Foster.

"As noted above, the consolidated budget document also increases the levy for the County General Fund by five cents. A pay scale system was presented by the DeKalb County Sheriff and implemented into the budget in order to maintain qualified personnel in law enforcement, with longevity pay for the Sheriff's Department being cut out. Pay raises for county employees are budgeted at $1,000 per year with spending cuts being made by officeholders in order to offset some of the additional expense. Increases in utilities, workers comp, and liability insurance are included, with particular emphasis on utilities which is a best estimate due to the anticipated occupation of the new county administrative building. Although the budget projects a decline in cash fund balance for the General Fund, the budget committee does not believe the decline will be as steep as presented. The largest outlays are unknowns such as ambulance service revenues and expenditures, as well as declines in revenues due to the recession but the budget committee is confident that actions taken in prior budget years have been successful and will carry the county through the current economic downtown and projects fund stability within two budget cycles," said Foster.

Foster added that "the budget committee recommends approval of the consolidated budget and rejection of the school board approved General Purpose School Fund," he said.

All members of the budget committee voted in favor of the above recommendations on budgets and tax rate including Wayne Cantrell, Jack Barton, Jerry Scott, John Green, and Marshall Ferrell, who declared his conflict by being a school system employee, but yet voted saying that he was "voting his conscience"

The budget committee will now forward the proposed new tax rate and spending plans for all county departments to the county commission for final approval during a special meeting on Monday, August 8th at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse. The budgets will be published as a legal notice in the newspaper next week as required by law.

The official public notice of the meeting is as follows:

The DeKalb County Commission will meet in special session on Monday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse in order to consider the following agenda:

Call to order

Invocation

Appropriation Resolution

Consideration of Consolidated Budget Document and Discussion of Approved School Board Budget

Resolution to Levy a Tax Rate in excess of the Certified Rate

Tax Levy Resolution

Non- Profit Resolution

Budget statements of the individual funds

Adjourn

This notice serves as the official intent of DeKalb County to exceed the certified tax rate.

There will also be a Public Hearing as required by law which will be held at 5:00 p.m. prior to the County Commission meeting. The public may review the proposed Fiscal Year 2011-12 Budget document during the Public Hearing.

The public is invited to attend this meeting as well as all meetings of the Board of County Commissioners

WJLE will have more details on the budgets in later news stories on the radio and at www.wjle.com.

School Board Raises Price of School Lunches

July 15, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

If you pay for your children's school lunches, you'll have to ante up a little more this year.

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night voted to increase the price of school lunches 10 cents, going from $1.25 to $1.35 for pre-kindergarten students to third graders and from $1.50 to $1.60 for fourth through twelfth graders. Breakfast prices will remain the same at $1.00 for all students.

Stephanie Walker from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Stephanie Walker, School Nutrition Supervisor had actually recommended that the prices be increased by twenty five cents due to the rise in food costs but at least some board members felt that was a little too much for now. "The only reason that I'm asking for a quarter increase is that USDA, using the current rates of inflation, says if a school system charges as much as $2.46 for a paid lunch it would not be required to increase prices. They want us to increase by at least five cents. The only reason I'm asking for a quarter (increase) is to cover us for about the next three years so I won't have to ask for it again. This is a requirement through USDA that we do that to reach eventually $2.46, which I feel we're far away from, but it is a plan for the future," said Walker.

Walker said by increasing prices now, it will hopefully prevent the food service budget from going into the red in the future. "This is also hopefully to try not to get in the red. A lot of schools feel like they will go in the red and that they will use their a la carte money to cover them for those months that they go in the red. A la carte is just individual items sold within the schools such as french fries. If you get a meal and you wanted an extra french fry, that would cost fifty cents and that's considered a la carte. So they're using their a la carte process to cover them going into the red. However, we don't sell a lot of a la carte. Our main school is the high school where we provide a la carte. Every now and then in the elementary schools they can buy an extra meal, but that's about all we do. So this is just to decrease the potential of going into the red," said Walker

Even with the increase, Walker said DeKalb County will be in line with or below what most other school systems in the area charge for school lunches and many of them are also raising prices . "I feel like we have done a really good job at keeping our lunch prices as low as we can and out of the county comparisons in the area that I have provided you (school board) only three are not going up (on prices) that were the same price as us," said Walker

When asked by board member Johnny Lattimore if she would feel comfortable with only a ten cent increase, Walker said it would be much easier in making change with a quarter. "The reason that I chose not to do a dime is because of the volume of kids coming through the lunch line and the amount of change that we have to deal with. Its just better if they deal with quarters," said Walker.

Board member Bruce Parsley said he was concerned about the increased costs being passed on to the parents in a quarter versus a dime. "I've got three kids in the school system and I've got a friend who has five kids in the system and the difference between a dime and a quarter over a year's time is close to two hundred dollars," said Parsley.

Lattimore added "I would be more in favor of going with a dime (increase) right now and if we need another dime next year, come back and get another dime," he said.

More than sixty percent of DeKalb County students qualify for either free or reduced priced meals which means much of the school system's food service budget is supported by federal funds under this assistance program. The rest is borne locally by those who can afford to buy their own breakfasts and lunches. The food service budget does not receive any local property or sales tax dollars to operate.

In other business, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly update on personnel.

Jimmy Sprague has been employed as an interim Transportation Manager

Penelope Mason has resigned
Michelle Fontanez, DCHS teacher has resigned
Jonathan Fontanez, Secondary Supervisor of Instruction has resigned

Amy Tobitt, DCHS teacher, has been granted a leave of absence as requested.

Man In Prison for Reckless Homicide Says He Doesn't Deserve Parole

July 14, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page/WJLE NEWS STORY
James Vernon Speaking at Parole Hearing Via Video Conference (WJLE Photo)
Joseph David "Joey" Clark (WJLE Photo)
Clark's Mother and Grandfather Teresa Prater and Harold Gay(WJLE Photo)
James Vernon at the time of his arrest in 2009

A Rock Island man, serving a four year sentence for reckless homicide, may have blown any chance he had to be set free from prison after telling a state parole board member Thursday that he should not be granted early release.

The parole hearing for 40 year old James P. Vernon was held at the Cookeville offices of the Tennessee Board of Probation. Neither Vernon nor the state parole board member, Lisa Jones were present in Cookeville for the hearing. Jones presided by video conference from her office in Savannah while Vernon was connected by video from the Turney Center Industrial Complex in Hickman County, where he is incarcerated. Members of the victim's family and the assistant district attorney general, who were present in Cookeville, could see Jones and Vernon on a television monitor and they could be seen by Jones and Vernon on a monitor from their locations.

James P. Vernon Parole Hearing from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Vernon, convicted of reckless homicide in the brutal beating of 24 year old Joseph David "Joey" Clark on Center Hill Lake in July, 2009, received the four year prison sentence in DeKalb County Criminal Court on January 26th.

Teresa Prater from dwayne page on Vimeo.
After a thirty minute hearing Thursday and just before delivering her decision to vote against parole, Jones asked Vernon for a comment on why he should be set free. "You have an opportunity now to tell me why you believe that I should vote to parole you today".

Vernon responded, " I don't think you should".

Jones then asked " So you do not believe that you should be paroled"?

Vernon answered " No ma'am"

Jones concluded "Because of the serious nature of the crime of which you have been convicted, I can't vote to parole you. My vote is going to be to balance your sentence. I have but one vote. Your case is not final today. Your case is a three vote case. You have one vote to balance your sentence. Your file will now be forwarded to other board members across the state until there are three votes (concurring). That usually takes three to four weeks. If you are inclined you have limited rights to appeal."

Harold Gay from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Vernon has already served a total of twenty three months since his initial arrest and subsequent conviction. His sentence is set to expire on January 28, 2013, although that date could be moved back.

Originally charged with first degree murder, Vernon stood trial on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 in DeKalb County Criminal Court for second degree murder. Later that evening the jury, made of up six men and six women, returned from it's deliberations with a verdict of reckless homicide.

Assistant District Attorney Greg Strong from dwayne page on Vimeo.
State prosecutors said Vernon was responsible for the death of Clark, who was severely beaten during an attack on a houseboat at Center Hill Lake July 7th, 2009. Clark died a week later from his injuries at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. The fight was apparently over Vernon's missing wallet, which he accused Clark of stealing. The assault occurred in DeKalb County, only a short distance from Horsehoe Bend Marina, which is in White County.

Vernon, who testified during the trial in his own defense, said that he met Clark on the fourth of July, 2009 during an outing on the lake. Two days later, July 6th Vernon said Clark showed up at his boat, just to hang out. Vernon invited him inside but a short time later, Vernon said Clark suddenly left, saying he had to go. Vernon looked around and noticed that his wallet, which he kept on the bar near the dining table, was missing. Thinking that Clark took it, Vernon followed after Clark and confronted him about the wallet, which he said contained $50. Clark denied taking the wallet and Vernon apparently never found it.

The next night, July 7th, Vernon said he showed up at a friend's houseboat and that Clark later arrived. Witnesses testified that Clark was already at the boat when Vernon got there. Vernon apparently confronted Clark again about the wallet. Clark denied taking the wallet and then made another comment which apparently caused Vernon to become angry. Vernon began punching Clark. According to the witnesses, Vernon inflicted three or four blows to Clark and then continued beating him after he fell to the floor unconscious, even though witnesses tried to restrain Vernon and called for him to stop.

Clark's mother Teresa Prater, spoke against Vernon's early release during Thursday's parole hearing. "Joey was my son. My one and only child. This man (Vernon) has no idea how many lives that he has ruined. This man entered a boat that he was not even invited onto and he beat my son. The first three licks he was unconscious and he continued to beat him, stomp him, and kick him in the head. He (Vernon) has never shown any remorse. He has never said he was sorry. He did this and he should be punished for it. Four years is not near enough for what he has done and I don't think that he should get any leeway at all. My son was in the hospital for eight days. I got to see him twice a day. When I went in that room I could not touch him. I could not speak to him. All I could do was stand there and watch my baby die. For eight days he fought for his life til he couldn't fight anymore," said Prater.

Prater's father and Clark's grandfather Harold Gay also pleaded against parole for Vernon. " I don't think justice was done to start with at the trial. The man didn't get anything near what he deserved. I don't think the man should be released at such an early time for the heinous crime that he committed, beating this kid to death. There's no proof that Joey took the wallet. Anyway, if he did (steal the wallet) to beat a man to death over $50 is uncalled for and inhuman. I don't think the man should be released," said Gay.

Greg Strong, an Assistant District Attorney who helped prosecute the case, added that the state's position is that Vernon should remain in prison. "He still doesn't show any remorse for the death of Joey Clark. He talked about that he has a good relationship with his adult daughter but based on his actions, the family that sits here with me today will never have any kind of relationship with their son. I don't think he has dealt with any kind of anger issues. I think they are still present. As witnesses recounted what happened after about two to four punches to his head, Mr. Clark was no longer even able to defend himself and the beating continued by some witness accounts up to twenty punches and some kicks as well. He still won't accept the accountability for that. The state takes the position and I support fully the family in this that the time that he has served is in no way commensurate with the action that he took on that night on a houseboat and I don't know that any amount of time could be. He has taken away any chance of a relationship that this family has with Mr. Joey Clark. The state is adamantly opposed to parole in this situation," said Strong.

Earlier during the hearing, state parole board member Jones asked Vernon about the incident leading up to the beating of Clark. The following is that exchange between Jones and Clark:

Vernon: "Mr Clark had stole something from me and while meeting with him a couple of days later after the theft offense, we got into a fight about it."

Jones: "How do you know Mr. Clark was the one who stole something from you"?

Vernon: "Because we were the only two in the room and when he left the room the item was gone".

Jones: "What do you believe he stole from you"?

Vernon: "My wallet"

Jones: "How long had you known Mr. Clark"?

Vernon: "That was the second time I had ever met him".

Jones: "The information I have is that you severely beat him. He was hospitalized and I believe he died as a result of that beating a few days later. Is that what you know"?

Vernon: "Yes ma'am"

Jones: "Were drugs or alcohol involved in this"?

Vernon: "I had been drinking"

Jones: "Was there not a better way to handle the situation other than beating the man to death"?

Vernon: "Yes ma'am"

Jones: "How would you have handled this current situation differently"?

Vernon: "I could have just got up and walked away and just dealt with the loss of what he stole from me"

Jones also asked Vernon about a previous misdemeanor aggravated domestic assault case against him involving his girlfriend which was on his record at the time of the beating of Clark.

Jones: " What about with your girlfriend, in that instance"?

Vernon: "In the report that you're probably reading, it says that I beat her up, which isn't the case, as she later stated in court".

Jones: "Why then did you get the misdemeanor aggravated domestic assault offense"?

Vernon: "Because that's what the judge give me"

Jones: "But you maintain that you did not do that"?

Vernon: "I did not severely beat her, no ma'am. She tried to stab me with a pair of scissors and I shoved her away from me and she went over a chair and hit her nose on a chair and her nose was bleeding when they (officers) got there"

Jones: "You have an opportunity now to tell me why you believe that I should vote to parole you today"?

Vernon: "I don't think you should"

Jones: "So you do not believe that you should be paroled"?

Vernon: "No ma'am"

Jones: "Mr. Vernon there's no doubt that the lives of the family and friends of Mr. Clark will never be the same. You could and should have walked away or handled the situation in a different way. But instead you beat a man until he lost his life. That being said, because of the serious nature of the crime of which you have been convicted, I can't vote to parole you. My vote is going to be to balance your sentence. I have but one vote. Your case is not final today. Your case is a three vote case. You have one vote to balance your sentence. Your file will now be forwarded to other board members across the state until there are three votes (concurring). That usually takes three to four weeks. If you are inclined you have limited rights to appeal", said Jones.

Jones noted that Vernon had no criminal convictions as a juvenile but has a record of three misdemeanors as an adult, in addition to the reckless homicide felony. Those previous charges include the aggravated domestic assault on his girlfriend in which he received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days with 10 days to serve on weekends; a theft of property up to $500; and a failure to appear.

Vernon said he is a graduate of Warren County High School and completed a vocational course in welding. His last place of employment was Ace Fence in Warren County from 2007-08. He left Ace to work for himself as a handyman and carpenter.

Vernon is divorced and has an adult daughter, in her early 20's. Vernon said he has a good relationship with her.

According to Vernon, he now holds a maintenance position at Turney and has had no disciplinary problems or write-ups since being incarcerated.

If granted parole, Vernon said he would have a home with his parents. As for a job, Vernon said he would like to go to driving a truck.

Pages

Follow Us


facebook.jpg

News Feed
feed.png

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree