Local News Articles

School Board Calls Special Meeting on Director Selection Procedure

April 23, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
School Board
 School Board Members

The DeKalb County Board of Education will have a special called meeting on Monday, April 27 to establish a procedure for selecting the next Director of Schools.

The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Board of Education building. A work session is scheduled prior to the meeting at 6:00 p.m.

As WJLE first reported last week, the board's policy states that the board must develop a procedure for selecting a new director before it begins a search. "Prior to conducting a search to fill the position, the Board shall initially develop the following:
* A job description
* A timeline
* A process for accepting and reviewing applications
* Selection procedures

Dr. Danielle Collins currently serves as Interim Director.

The policy gives the school board the option of allowing an interim to be a candidate but a board member cannot apply. "An interim director of schools appointed during the time of a search shall not become a candidate unless the Board expressly permits such inclusion in the selection procedures. A board member may not apply for or in any other way be considered for the position of director of schools," the board policy states.

WJLE will have LIVE coverage of the meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Voters Prohibited from Using Cell Phones Inside Polling Place Except for Informational Purposes

April 23, 2015
Dennis Stanley

The Tennessee Legislature has passed a law prohibiting the use of cell phones inside the polling place, except for informational purposes.

“This is something that needed to be addressed by the legislature and codified into law,” said Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator
of Elections. “Until this law passed, local election commissions could or could not adopt a similar policy, which the local commission did two years ago. Now, the issue is addressed in state law and there is conformity state wide.”

The legislation states a county election commission cannot prohibit a voter from using a mobile electronic or communication device at the polls “for informational purposes to assist the voter in making election decisions.”

However, the measure goes on to say a voter “shall be prohibited from using the device for telephone conversations, recording or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place.”

The law also gives election commissions the authority to “require that any mobile electronic or communication device be silenced while in use at the polling place.”

“Election commissions all across the state are charged with protecting the integrity of the ballot and this law will help them do that,” Stanley added.

The bill calls for the law to go into effect January 1, 2016.

DeKalb County to Participate in Great American Cleanup Campaign

April 23, 2015
Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Drug Court Coordinator Norene Puckett, Sheriff Patrick Ray, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, County Mayor Tim Stribling

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Mayor’s office would like to invite residents across the county to participate in the DeKalb County Clean Up campaign on Saturday, May 16th. 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 Mayor Tim Stribling says, “We invite people to come out and help clean up around our communities and highways. Folks are welcome to pick up litter at places of their choice, or we will be glad to assign a safe place for you.”

DeKalb Clean Up volunteers are asked to come to the County Complex, 732 So. Congress Blvd., Smithville on May 16th between 9 AM and 10 AM to sign-in and pick up the provided trash bags, rubber gloves, and bottles of water. We will be taking a group picture at 9:30 AM for the media if you like to participate in that.

For early sign-up, you can stop by the Chamber, located in the Courthouse, Room 201, anytime during regular office hours by May 15th 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!

Tanya Howard Named DeKalb County Teacher of the Year

April 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
SES Principal Julie Vincent, Teacher of Year Tanya Howard, and Assistant SES Principal Karen Knowles
Dr. Danielle Collins, Tad Webb, Lori Pryor, Jennifer Griffith, Tanya Howard, and Sonja House
Danny Parkerson, Steve Officer, Doug Stephens, and W.J. (Dub) Evins, III

A kindergarten teacher at Smithville Elementary School was named " DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" and received the "John Isabell Memorial Award" Tuesday night during the eighth annual Teacher of the Year banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The award was presented to Tanya Howard by Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins.

Howard was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Jennifer Griffith, a third grade math, science, and social studies teacher at Northside Elementary School; Lori Pryor a third grade self-contained teacher at DeKalb West School; Tad Webb a seventh grade math teacher at DeKalb Middle School; and Sonja House a ninth grade English/10th-12th grade Theatre Arts teacher at DeKalb County High School.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career; and to encourage public involvement in education.

Principals introduced the Teachers of the Year at their schools, remarked on how they deserved the honor, and presented them with a school bell award.

Local community leader Steve Officer served as guest speaker for the banquet.

Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank, a sponsor of the banquet, was also an honored guest. School board members attending were Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Danny Parkerson, and Doug Stephens.

The DeKalb County Teacher of the Year Award is now named for John Isabell, a long time educator and former President of the DeKalb County Education Association, who passed away last year after suffering from cancer.

Three Vehicle Crash Claims One, Injures Three Others

April 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
2007 Ford Expedition comes to rest in field after the driver Edgar Louis Madewell was ejected and died at the scene (PHOTO BY KEN UNDERHILL)
1997 Olds Bravada driven by Joshua Johnson of Smithville (PHOTO BY KEN UNDERHILL)
2008 Mazda SUV driven by Virginia Hendrixson. Neodia Cantrell was a passenger (PHOTO BY KEN UNDERHILL)
Scene of Fatal Crash (PHOTO BY KEN UNDERHILL)

A McMinnville man was killed and three other people were injured in a three vehicle crash Tuesday on Highway 56 just south of the Magness Road intersection.

THP received the call at 12:20 p.m.

Dead is 72 year old Edgar Louis Madewell of McMinnville. 33 year old Joshua Johnson of Smithville, 58 year old Virginia Hendrixson of Liberty, and 73 year old Neodia Cantrell of Dowelltown were all injured and transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Johnson was northbound on Highway 56 in a 1997 Olds Bravada and failed to stay in his lane of travel while negotiating a curve. Johnson crossed over into the southbound lane and struck an oncoming 2008 Mazda Tribute SUV, driven by Hendrixson. Cantrell was a passenger with Hendrixson. The impact of the crash knocked Hendrixson's SUV sideways before it came to rest in the southbound lane. Johnson's car continued northbound in the southbound lane and met an oncoming 2007 Ford Expedition, driven by Madewell, who was negotiating a curve. Madewell's vehicle veered left to avoid a head-on collision but was hit at an angle by Johnson's automobile. Madewell's Expedition was then knocked sideways into the northbound lane and yawed off the left shoulder of the highway before rolling over twice and ejecting Madewell, who was not wearing his seatbelt. Madewell's vehicle came to a final rest upright in a field. After impact with Madewell's Expedition, Johnson's car continued in the opposite lane and traveled off the left shoulder of the highway before coming to final rest on its left side in the ditchline.

All were wearing their seatbelts except for Madewell.

Johnson has been cited for failure to maintain lane of travel and failure to exercise due care. Criminal charges are pending.

The crash was investigated by Sergeant Eric McCormick and Troopers Tommy Cooper and Troy Withers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

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

DCHS Senior to Receive College Degree Through Dual Enrollment

April 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Leah Burchfield and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps

Leah Burchfield, a senior at DCHS, is on track to earn a college degree less than two weeks before she gets her high school diploma.

On Saturday, May 9th, Burchfield will receive an Associates Degree at Motlow State Community College. Her graduation from DCHS will be thirteen days later on Friday, May 22. Burchfield's goal is to further her college education as she works toward becoming a General Physician.

Burchfield is not the first student at DCHS to receive a college degree while still in high school, but she is the first to have completed college courses in just two years.

Through a program called dual enrollment, high school students may take one or more college courses for which they may receive both high school and college credits. The college courses are available online. "It's an opportunity for students to get high school and college credit. We run through Motlow and Vol State Community Colleges. We have agreements with them. It's a good way for students to get a jump on their college career. There are a number of courses they can take. We started off many years ago with just two English courses (for college) and now it has ballooned to where students are able to take a variety of courses for college," DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps told WJLE Monday.

"My junior year I got really interested in taking dual enrollment because I wanted to get ahead. The end of the first semester of my senior year, Ms. Jamie (Wright) informed me that I already had 48 credit hours and I was really close to having 60. So I scheduled everything out to where I could go ahead and have my associates degree. It was kind of a shock to think I had done it in two years and last year it was done in four years," said Burchfield in an interview with WJLE Monday.

"The first semester of my junior year I took three classes and each one was for three hours. The next semester I took four classes and over the summer I took three classes. The first semester of my senior year I took five and this semester I have six classes," said Burchfield.

"I wanted to get my basics out of the way because with wanting to be in pre-med I knew I had to look forward to eight years of college so I took my English, History, and some Biology and Chemistry and I did all my humanities like art and music," she said.

"I want to continue on and go to MTSU to finish up my pre-med. I haven't picked a medical school yet but I'm hoping for Vanderbilt or Meharry Medical. I want to be a general physician," Burchfield told WJLE.

Burchfield, a resident of Alexandria, is the daughter of William Burchfield and Glenda Eaton.

Jury Convicts Lawson of Burglary and Theft; Not Guilty of Intoxication

April 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Robin Lee Lawson, II

A McMinnville man allegedly caught breaking into an outbuilding on Bethel Road in September 2013 stood trial and was convicted Thursday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

A jury found 37 year old Robin Lee Lawson, II guilty of burglary and theft of property over $500. He was found not guilty on a charge of public intoxication. He will appear before Judge David Patterson for sentencing on Friday, May 22.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, September 5, 2013 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Bethel Road to a complaint of a theft in progress. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Lawson and another man (the victim). Lawson had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were bloodshot and he was unsteady on his feet. The victim said that Lawson had come to his residence and knocked on the door. When the victim did not answer the door, Lawson went to the victim's outbuilding and took a chainsaw and weedeater. Lawson was detained under officers arrived and he was placed under arrest.

During the trial Lawson allegedly testified that he knew the victim and that he was not stealing the items, but borrowing them.

Meanwhile, in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday April 13, 40 year old Sara Patterson pled guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule III drug and received a three year sentence in each case suspended to TDOC probation. The two sentences are to run concurrently and Patterson is seeking judicial diversion. She was fined $2,000 and must make restitution of $70 to the Alexandria Police Department.

32 year old Tamer Jason Jones pled guilty to two counts of theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve in each case but to run concurrently with each other and concurrently with a Putnam County violation of probation he is now serving. He was given jail credit of 136 days and he is under a restraining order to keep away from Walmart.

35 year old Chris Mooneyham pled guilty to delivery of a schedule II drug and a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a total sentence of four years suspended to probation but he must serve 30 days for the DUI. He was given jail credit for one day. Mooneyham must also pay a $2,000 drug fine and a $350 fine for the DUI offense. He will lose his driver's license for one year and must perform 24 hours of service in litter removal. He will report to jail on May 8 at 6:00 p.m.

53 year old Richard Chapman pled guilty to attempted sale of a schedule III drug and received a two year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. He was fined $2,000.

TCAP and EOC Testing to Begin Soon

April 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lisa Cripps

DeKalb County students will be taking the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, Achievement Tests starting April 28.

TCAP Achievement testing for grades 3-8 will begin on April 28 with Reading/Language Arts; April 29 for math, and April 30 for Science with makeup testing on May 1.

SAT-10 (Stanford Achievement Tests) testing for K-2 Achievement will be April 28 .

Meanwhile a Social Studies online pilot test for grades 3-8 will begin May 4-8 for grades 3 and 6; for grades 4 and 7 on May 7 -13; and grades 5 and 8 on May 11-15.

End of Course testing at DeKalb County High School also begins in May. "As we approach the end of a school year final end of the year assessments start. DeKalb County High school just finished their online US History test Pilot last week," said Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for 7th through 12th grades. " We will be starting our End of Course testing in May with the following tests each day as follows":

May 4 -English 3 and Algebra I
May 5 -English 1 and Algebra 2
May 6- English 2
May 7- Biology and Chemistry
May 8- Makeup test day.

Directly after EOC testing the high school we will be reviewing for their final exams, and then Graduation is May 22," Cripps continued.

"All testing will be under a secure testing environment. If you enter the schools at that time you may see signs letting you know that tests are in progress. That means the doors are shut and we are in a secure environment for testing," said Cripps.

For more information on testing check your school's webpage or call the school or central office.

Meanwhile, Kindergarten registration will be on May 6th at 9am- 1pm at DeKalb West and Smithville Elementary Schools

Children who plan to attend kindergarten must turn five years old on or before August 15, 2015 in order to enroll for the 2015-16 school year.

Parents, when you come for that registration, you will need to bring with you the following information:

*Child's Birth Certificate

*Child's Social Security Card

*Recent Kindergarten Physical.

*Current Immunization Certificate (shot record)

*Proof of residency for DeKalb County (i.e. gas/electric bill)

"Parents, please share with your child that he or she will be tested on registration day. This is an opportunity for your child to show the kindergarten teachers what he or she knows.

Registration forms may also be found online at www.ses.dekalbschools.net under news/information.

NES Third Graders Win March Madness Reading Challenge

April 21, 2015
Lisa Mabe's third grade class has won the March Madness Reading Challenge at Northside Elementary School.

Lisa Mabe's third grade class has won the March Madness Reading Challenge at Northside Elementary School.

Mabe's class earned 582.8 total Accelerated Reader (AR) points for the month. Students averaged 30.3 AR points each. That is equal to every student reading 60 half-point books in one month.

Students also submitted summaries to earn points for any articles or books they read not included on the AR list. Each student was presented with a special medal by Librarian Ms. Libby McCormick

Smithville Police Department Warns Citizens of Scams

April 21, 2015
Captain Steven Leffew

The Smithville Police Department is urging citizens to be vigilant to avoid becoming the victim of scams

"As reports of scams continue to increase at an alarming rate, I would like the community to be aware of the top scams that we are encountering. Sadly our senior citizens and the unaware are being victimized. Unfortunately prosecution proves difficult most of the time due to jurisdiction issues. I know people work hard for their money so hopefully this information will be helpful in protecting against these predators," said Captain Steven Leffew.

Here are a few scams of which you should be aware:

Fake check scams:

Fake check scams are clever ploys designed to steal your money. You can avoid becoming a victim by recognizing how the scam works.

•There are many variations of the fake check scam. It could start with someone offering to buy something you advertised, pay you to do work at home, give you an “advance” on a sweepstakes you’ve supposedly won, or pay the first installment on the money that you’ll receive for agreeing to have money in a foreign country transferred to your bank account for safe keeping.

•Fake check scammers hunt for victims. They scan newspapers and online advertisements for people listing items for sale, and check postings on online job sites from people seeking employment. They place their own ads with phone numbers or email addresses for people to contact them. They also buy lists on the black market of people who have been previously scammed.

•They often claim to be in another country. The scammers say it’s too difficult and complicated to send you the money directly from their country, so they’ll arrange for someone in the US to send you a check.

•They tell you to wire money to them after you’ve deposited the check. If you’re selling something, they say they’ll pay you by having someone in the US who owes them money send you a check. It will be for more than the sale price; you deposit the check, keep what you’re owed, and wire the rest to them. If it’s part of a work-at-home scheme, they may claim that you’ll be processing checks for their “clients.” You deposit the check and then wire them the money minus your “pay.” Or they may send you a check for more than your pay “by mistake” and ask you to wire them the excess.

•The checks are fake but they look very real. In fact, there have been cases where the bank tellers have been fooled. The companies whose names appear may be real but they have been dummied up on the checks without their knowledge.

•You don’t have to wait long to use the money but that doesn’t mean the check is good. Banks usually make the funds you deposit available quickly. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good. It may take several days for the forgery to be discovered.

•You are responsible for the checks you deposit. When the check bounces, the bank deducts the amount that was originally credited to your account. If there isn’t enough to cover it, the bank may be able to take money from other accounts or even sue you to recover the funds.

There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back. It’s a scam.

Prizes and Sweepstakes scam:

•Never pay to play. It’s illegal for a company to require you to buy something or pay a fee in order to win or claim a prize.

•Don’t believe that you have to give the company money for taxes on your prize. Taxes will be deducted from your winnings or you will pay them directly to the government.

•Guard your credit card and bank account numbers. No legitimate sweepstakes company will ask for this information. Your social security number may be required for tax reporting purposes if you have won. Do not provide that information unless you’re absolutely sure that you entered the contest and that you know the company operating it.

•Watch for imposters. Some con artist use company names that are identical or very similar to well known, legitimate sweepstakes operators.

•Be wary of offers to send you an “advance” on your “winnings.” Some con artist uses this ploy to build trust and get money from your bank. They send you a check for part of your “winnings” instructing you to deposit it and then wire payment to them for taxes, bonding or for some other purposes. Again, the check may clear because it may take several days for the forgery to be discovered. After you wire the money back, the check finally bounces and you are left responsible for the debt to the bank.

•Get it in writing. Legitimate sweepstakes companies will give you written information about how a contest works, including the odds of winning, the value of the prizes, the fact that no purchase is necessary and that buying something does not improve your chances of winning.

•Don’t be fooled by official looking advertisements. One clue that you haven’t really won is if a letter or envelope is sent at bulk mail rates. Meaning that thousands of other people are receiving the exact same thing.

Charity scams:

•If you’re approached by an unfamiliar charity, check them out. Most states require charities to register with them and file annual reports showing how they use donations. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Giving Alliance also offers information about national charities or go to Give.org

•Ask for written information. Legitimate charities will be happy to provide details about what they do and will never insist that you act immediately.

•Beware of sound-alikes. Some scammers try to fool people by using very similar to those of legitimate, well known charities.

•Ask about the caller’s relation to the charity. The caller maybe a professional fundraiser but not even an employee or a volunteer.

•Be wary of request to support local police or firefighters. Some fraudulent fundraisers claim that donations will benefit local police or firefighters. If you’re not sure whether the charity is legitimate, contact your local police or fire department to verify the claims are true.

•Be especially cautious after natural or other disasters. Scammers love to take advantage of those situations to trick people who want to aid victims.

If you’re not sure whether a charity is legitimate, check it out with your state charities regulator or the BBB before you donate.

There are many other scams being conducted but these are the top three that the Smithville police department is encountering at this time, according to Captain Leffew.

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