Local News Articles

TCAP Testing Begins Tuesday

April 22, 2013
Dwayne Page
Michelle Burklow

DeKalb County students will be taking the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, Achievement Tests starting April 23.

Students in grades 3-8 take the Achievement Test, and high school students take End of Course exams for various subjects. In addition, some school systems, including DeKalb County will administer the Achievement Test to students in Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 in the areas of reading/language arts, and math. TCAP is a set of statewide assessments given in Tennessee to measure students' skills and progress.

The Achievement Test is a timed, multiple choice assessment that measures skills in Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. "April 23 is the first day of testing. It will be our Reading, Language Arts test," said Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K to 6th grade. "On April 24 it will be Math. April 25th will be Science and April 26th will be social studies. That is the 3-8 grade schedule. This year we are also testing kindergarten and first grade. Last year we tested second grade. But for kindergarten, first and second grade, the main focus of their testing will be the Reading, Language Arts, and Math. Those are very important subjects and we want to make sure that they have those foundational skills and that they are ready for third grade. April 29-30 will be two days that we have for make ups," said Burklow.

School officials urge parents to make sure their children are well rested and have had breakfast before they get to school. "Parents make sure your child gets plenty of sleep the night before the tests," said Burklow. "We do not want anyone to oversleep because we are going to start testing at 8:15 a.m. so we do not want children to come into school feeling rushed and under pressure. We want them to come in relaxed. So make sure students get plenty of sleep and that they get up in time and be ready to go to school. Also be sure that the child eats a healthy breakfast. I know Stephanie Dyer, our school nutrition supervisor will be serving breakfast on the main days of testing, TCAP as well as End of Course. She is very supportive of supplying breakfasts for the children because it is a pretty long testing session in the mornings and she knows the importance of the children eating breakfast. If your child does not eat breakfast at home, they have a great breakfast at the schools so parents help your students start the morning off right. Make sure they have a full stomach and are ready to learn," said Burklow.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby also asks parents to try and avoid any conflicts that would keep your children out of school this week. "During this week that we are giving TCAP tests, we would ask that parents don't schedule any kind of appointments, such as dental visits. Please reschedule those to another time. Because if you come to school at 9:00 a.m. and want to check your child out of school, if the test is underway we cannot go in and disturb that classroom. We have to monitor that classroom and make sure that everyone in that classroom has a great opportunity to do well on the test," said Willoughby.

State House of Representatives Rejects Judicial Redistricting

April 22, 2013

A proposal to redraw Tennessee's judicial districts for the first time since 1984 was killed on Friday when House members voted against it.

Even if the measure had passed the current makeup of the 13th Judicial District, which includes DeKalb County, would have remain unchanged. The district includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.

The State House of Representatives voted 66-28 to defeat the measure sponsored by Republican Representative Jon Lundberg of Bristol. The companion bill in the Senate was approved 27-4 earlier this month. The plan from Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, would have affected 22 counties in eight districts. The number of judicial districts would have been reduced from 31 to 29.

Most of the House members against the measure said they felt they were being dictated to by the Senate, particularly Ramsey.

The proposal would have created separate judicial districts for Rutherford and Williamson counties because of population growth in the Nashville suburbs over the last three decades.

Two judicial districts in northwestern Tennessee made up of Lake, Dyer, Obion and Weakley counties would have been merged into a single district. Meanwhile, Coffee County would have ceased to have its own district and instead be folded into one with Cannon, Warren and Van Buren counties.

Ramsey has said the changes were not expected to affect the positions of existing judges, but that the elimination of two judicial districts would reduce the positions of two prosecutors and public defenders.

He estimated the cost savings of eliminating those four positions would be more than $600,000.

State Legislature Approves New City Charter for Smithville

April 22, 2013
Dwayne Page

Both the State House and Senate Friday adopted a rewrite of the Smithville charter, subject to final approval by the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen.

The legislation amends Chapter 486 of the Private Acts of 1941 to make changes in the city charter, as sought by the mayor and aldermen.

The measure passed in the State House of Representatives 87-0 and in the State Senate 29-0.

The resolution was passed by the Board of Aldermen in February and sent to the legislature. It will now return to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a second reading where it must receive a vote of not less than two thirds of the entire membership of the board before it can take effect.

Under the new city charter the terms of office for the mayor and aldermen will go from two to four years (beginning with the elections in June this year and in August next year). It extends voting rights to county residents that own commercial property in the city (two persons per deed), allows property rights voting to county residents who own at least 3,500 square feet of property in the city, and allows by ordinance regular city council meetings to be held only once per month.

The new charter calls for city elections every two years, on the first Thursday in August to coincide with the county general election and state primaries. Terms of office for the mayor and aldermen will go from two to four years.

There will be no change in the date of the city election this year. The election will be held on Tuesday, June 18. The three aldermen elected this year will serve for a three year term until after the August election in 2016. From then on three aldermen will be elected to serve four year terms.

Next year under the proposed new charter, a mayor and two aldermen will be elected on the first Thursday in August. Those elected will serve for four years.

Relay for Life Set for May 10

April 22, 2013
Dwayne Page
Relay for Life May 10

Everyone's reason to Relay is as unique as their own personal story. At Relay for Life, you can find healing, comfort, and support from others who have faced cancer or who have lost a loved one to the disease. You have a chance to meet people in the community who are equally as passionate about finding an end to cancer in our lifetime. No matter why you take part in Relay, however, one thing is clear: with every step you take, you are helping the American Cancer Society save lives.

Come share the Relay experience at Green Brook Park on Friday, May 10 and take pride in knowing that you are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten the lives of our loved ones or claim another year of anyone's life.

The 16th annual Relay for Life begins with musical entertainment at 5:00 p.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. featuring personal testimonies from cancer survivors and then a Survivors' Lap, during which those who have survived the struggle circle the track together to help everyone celebrate what has been achieved against cancer.

As the sun sets, Luminaria bags lining the track illuminate the night and then a hush falls over the event as Relay participants, survivors and caregivers gather together for a Luminaria Ceremony at 9:00 p.m. to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to honor those who have battled the disease.

As participants walk the track lined with Luminaria bags in reflection, a caregiver who has lost a loved one may find comfort from a fellow caregiver who has faced a similar loss. Meanwhile, a survivor gains hope and strength from others who have followed the same journey and survived. All resolve to keep fighting to save more lives so no more Luminaria bear the names of those lost to the disease.

Teams take turns doing laps, but there must be one member from each team on the track at any given time during the 12-hour relay event. While team members off the field can sleep in the tents, most don't. There is a lot of fundraising at the event as well, through concessions, games, and other activities.

As volunteers and donors, your efforts support research, education, advocacy, and services that allow the American Cancer Society to offer help and hope to people across the country when they need it most. By joining together at Relay, we celebrate life, friendship, and an opportunity to work to defeat cancer for future generations

DeKalb County to Participate to in the Great American Clean up

April 19, 2013
Ronda Butler and Suzanne Williams

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Executive’s office would like to invite residents across the county to participate in the DeKalb County Clean Up campaign on Saturday, May 18th. This event will be held in conjunction with the Keep America Beautiful initiative going on across the country. This organization’s mission revolves around a core belief that beauty is a silent but powerful force that makes communities safer, healthier and more livable.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, would like to remind everyone that DeKalb County’s peak tourism season is about to begin, so now is a great time to start getting things spruced up for our coming visitors. According to Williams, “I think we are all aware of the value and importance of beautification in our communities to attract newcomers and tourists to our area and to maintain a stable and growing economy.”

To get a head start on clean up, dumpsters will be set up at highly visible and convenient locations a few days prior to the main event. Dumpster locations will be at the Dowelltown Community Center, Liberty Community Center, Alexandria City Parking Lot (behind square), and the County Complex parking lot.

County Executive Mike Foster says, “We would like for people to come out and help clean our communities and roadways. Folks are welcome to pick their own locations to clean, or we will be glad to assign a safe place for each person to participate.”

DeKalb Clean Up volunteers are asked to come to the County Complex, 732 So. Congress Blvd., Smithville on May 18th between 9 AM and 10 AM to sign-in and pick up the provided trash bags, rubber gloves, and bottles of water. For early sign-up, you can stop by the Chamber, located in the Courthouse, Room 201, anytime during regular office hours by May 17th to pick up supplies. Or if stopping by is not convenient, call the Chamber office at 597-4163 to be counted as a DeKalb Clean Up volunteer -- just give your name and the general area where you will be working. Whether you’re beautifying your street, a highway, a park, ball field, a stream, or your own home, what a difference we can make through working together!

John Green Resigns from County Commission

April 19, 2013
Dwayne Page
John Green (Second from Right) Resigns from Commission

Having moved his permanent residence to White County, long time fifth district county commissioner John Green has submitted his resignation.

During the county commission's all-committees meeting Thursday evening, County Mayor Mike Foster informed the commissioners that Green turned in his resignation letter on Monday, April 8.

"I am writing to inform the DeKalb County mayor and county commission that I, John D. Green as of April 8, 2013, am resigning from my current position as fifth district county commissioner, " wrote Green. "As of March 30, 2013 my permanent address has changed to White County," he concluded in the letter.

Green has served on the county commission for eleven years. He was first elected in 2002 and then re-elected in 2006 and 2010.

Foster said the county will advertise for applications from persons in the fifth district interested in filling the unexpired term. The commissioners will interview the applicants and later vote to name a successor. Green's term expires August 31, 2014.

Meanwhile, Foster announced Thursday evening that Chip Cook, the director of the local ambulance service is resigning by May 15. Assistant director Hoyte Hale will be the acting director. The county will advertise the opening, accept applications, and then name a new director.

The county budget committee will begin work on the new 2013-14 spending plan for the county in a meeting on April 24 at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse. Foster said its hard to plan for the budget right now because officials are still learning about the federal Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) which will have to be implemented by next year and its effect on the county's budget. The county may have to find new money to cover possible increases in county employee health insurance costs which could rise by several hundred thousand dollars.

Still bothered by skeptics among the public opposed to adding more equipment to the fitness center at the county complex, County Mayor Foster Thursday night updated the county commission on the number of people taking advantage of the center and the money it has generated for the county. Foster said that the center has had as many as 1,041 members but that there are currently 979 active members. Since July, 2012, a total of $54,185 has been brought in through the facility at the complex. The monthly expense is about $4,200 so the county is coming out about $12,000 to the good, which would go a long way toward adding more exercise equipment.

The county commission will meet in regular monthly session on Monday night, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse. The agenda is as follows:

Budget amendments/quarterly reports

Discuss DeKalb County Complex

Discuss Ambulance Service

Discuss Commission Vacancy in the 5th District

Discuss Budget and set meetings-Insurance questions for budget

Discuss DeKalb County Cleanup Day/Groups

Any old business properly presented (Folk Dance June 13, 2013)


Chamber to Apply for CDBG Downtown Revitalization Grant

April 18, 2013
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams

In a continuing effort to revitalize the downtown commercial district, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is applying for a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $25,000.

If approved, funds from the grant will go toward façade improvements to eligible downtown buildings, specifically on the north and west blocks of the Smithville Public Square. Store owners in those areas who wish to participate will be responsible for funding the grant's 25% local match. There would be no cost to the City of Smithville.

(Play video below to see results from work done through previous projects)

Its all part of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development's Tennessee Downtowns program, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts.

As part of the grant application process, the Smithville aldermen Monday night adopted a resolution designating the area eligible for the program. Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams addressed the mayor and aldermen making the request for passage of the resolution. "We're here on behalf of the Tennessee Downtowns program. The chamber is going to be applying for a CDBG block grant for downtown. Its for $25,000. Its for improvements. Its not a sure thing like the last $15,000 grant we got. There's going to be eight communities that receive this grant. I think we have a really good chance. The state says we are their poster child because we took $15,000 and did such a large amount of improvements with that. We posted our video presentation on youtube at their (state officials) request and they have been showing it to everybody. They are very excited. They think we have a good chance and they called and told me to apply. The grant does have a 25% matching fund. One of the qualifications is that we have to designate that area. It sounds terrible but its called "slum blight". The city will have to pass a resolution declaring that determined area to be blighted and that will be part of the application. It's a real broad definition. It could mean a beautiful building that is vacant. It could mean a building that's got something in there but it needs improvements on the outside," said Williams.

Smithville was one of 12 communities selected to participate in the first phase of the program several months ago. Chamber Director Williams made application on behalf of the city of Smithville and later for the $15,000 grant made available.

In the first phase, eligible downtown store owners who chose to participate received $500 for investing a minimum of $1,000 in exterior improvements of their buildings through the grant program. All sixteen mini-grant recipients were funded including The Flower Box, Cantrell's Men Store, Cantrell's Ladies Clothing, Attorney Keith W. Blair, Attorney Frank Buck, Thomas G. Janney, Henrietta Hale, Attorney Jeremy Trapp, Granny's Goldmine, Alan Webb, Attorney Gayla C. Hendrix, Richard Williams, Attorney Vester Parsley Jr., Annette Greek, Attorney J. Hilton Conger, and Gail H. Webb.

If anyone is interested in obtaining more information about this phase of the program and the CDBG grant, contact the Chamber office at 597-4163. Letters of support for this project are also requested to help in obtaining the grant.

“DeKalb’s Got Talent” Coming Up April 25

April 18, 2013
Judith Hale

DeKalb County High School’s Project Graduation Committee is hosting the First Annual DeKalb County Talent Show, “DeKalb’s Got Talent”, on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7:00pm at the County Complex Community Theater. One lucky winner will receive a $250 Cash Prize as well as an additional People’s Choice Award Winner. All proceeds will support Project Graduation for graduating seniors of DCHS.

“We are hoping for the community to come out and support the show and have a great time helping Project Graduation. The program (Project Graduation) was designed to keep students off of the road and safe from harm as they celebrate their graduation together. Project Graduation's mission is to provide a free-of-charge, safe, supervised, alcohol and drug free, all night event for each graduating class,” Volunteer Judith Hale commented, “It takes lots of business and community support to raise the money needed to make this a success for our seniors. We appreciate every dollar that is given.”

Businesses such as DeKalb Community Hospital have stepped up to the plate to do their part. “It was a no-brainer when we heard that the high school needed our help with this event”, Marketing Director, Shan Burklow commented, “It is important that our seniors have safe activities available to them on a night that symbolizes their future. We are proud to sponsor ‘DeKalb’s Got Talent’ and ask that our friends and neighbors come out to support such a worthy cause.”

Ages 6 to adult are encouraged to participate in the talent show as individuals or as a team to win the $250 Cash Prize or the People’s Choice Award based on audience response. Any family-friendly talent is permitted. Contestants are asked to sign-up at the door starting at 6:00pm. Tickets are available at the door only ($3 Adults $2 Children 12 and under). For more information, contact Judith Hale at (615) 464-7810 or Shan Burklow at (615) 594-2792.

Fire Destroys Vacant Home on Hurricane Ridge Road

April 18, 2013
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Vacant Home on Hurricane Ridge Road

A fire early Tuesday morning destroyed a vacant brick home at 1081 Hurricane Ridge Road, belonging to the Federal Mortgage Home Loan company.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said a neighbor saw the flames and reported it just before 3:00 a.m.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Liberty, Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and tanker truck responded but could not save the structure. The sheriff's department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene but no one was injured.

No one lived at the residence. The cause of the fire is undetermined.

City Getting Pool Ready for Swimming Season

April 17, 2013
Dwayne Page
New Restroom Building and Showers at City Pool
Pool floor to be pressure washed before repairs are made
Pool cracks to be fixed

With the swimming season about to begin, the City of Smithville is working to get the pool ready to open.

During Monday night's city council meeting, Mayor Jimmy Poss said the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation of Nashville has been asked to come back and fix cracks that have developed in the pool since their repair work during the spring of 2011. The city has a three year warranty and the company is apparently liable for work called for under the contract which was warrantied but not done properly. "The pool guy came up today (Monday). We had a real good meeting with him. He will call before he comes back. We told him we wanted the work done just as quick as possible. He said it would take a day and a half and he would be out of there. But we have to pressure wash it first. The pool is empty. We drained it and we'll pressure wash it,' said Mayor Poss.

Meanwhile the new restrooms and showers will soon be completed at the pool. The building will have two commodes and a sink in both the men and women's side and two showers will be installed on the outside of the structure. Most of the work on the restrooms is being done by city public works employees. "The bathrooms at the pool, we've got them dried in. We've got them basically plumbed. We've done all the work except the plumbing part. We got a certified contractor to do the plumbing. It hasn't cost us a whole lot of money," said Mayor Poss.

Pool operator Tony Poss said he is hoping the pool can be ready to open by May 11.


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