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Board Seeks TDOT Approval for New School Traffic Flow Plan (View PDF Here)

September 16, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Although it has to meet with the approval of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Board of Education has settled on a traffic plan for the proposed new elementary school and the existing Northside Elementary School on North Congress Boulevard.

Traffic Flow Plan

During a work session with the Board last Thursday, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said T-Square Engineering based in Franklin recently conducted a study to determine how best to get traffic entering the schools off of Highway 56 to reduce congestion.

T-Square offered three options but according to Cripps, the one selected by the Board will work better for this location. Each school would have its own entrance for car traffic off of Highway 56 (North Congress Boulevard) but there would also be a lane connecting the two schools should parents have to pick up and drop off children at both places. Buses would enter the Northside campus from Smith Road for student pickup/drop off and then would follow a bus (only) lane to the new elementary school for pickup/drop off to be located at the rear of both schools. After making a turnaround at the new school, buses would then exit the same way they entered via the bus lane and then back onto Smith Road.

“Its going to get the parents that bring their children to school off the road (Highway 56) both at the new school and at Northside. T-Square Engineering says two lanes looping through the campus will get up to 109 cars off of the highway at the new school and we will be adding an extra loop (lane) at Northside which will get up to 90 cars off the road there,” said Director Cripps.

“Each school will have its own car entrance. If you have children at the new school you will enter below where the Family Medical Center is located but if you have children at both the new school and Northside we will hook it up where parents will not have to re-enter the highway. We will have a lane connecting the two schools that parents can travel directly from the new school to Northside for a smoother transition. We are looking at adding a third traffic or bypass lane at the new school so that if someone gets in the wrong lane and needs to get out they can. Buses will drop off at Northside and then route behind Northside to the new school for drop off and then the buses will come back out the same way they entered. There will be no access points where cars and buses will enter at the same area,” Director Cripps added.

No construction or alterations will be needed on Highway 56 to accommodate the school traffic plan according to T-Square Engineering.

Cripps said it may take up to two months for TDOT to approve the traffic study. After that the board will review it again and then let the county commission take a look at it.

Funds are included in the school budget for the purchase of 24.5 acres of property on North Congress Boulevard near Northside Elementary School for construction of a new pre-K to 2nd grade elementary school. The price is $18,000 per acre for a total of $441,000. The purchase is subject to a favorable TDOT traffic study. The school budget includes $500,000 of available funds to cover the land purchase cost.

Traffic Flow Plan

Shelbyville Fiddler to Appear at Official Unveiling of Downtown Mural which Bears her Likeness (View Videos Here)

September 15, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

A young dancing fiddler from Shelbyville who served as an inspiration for a portion of a new mural at the law office of Gayla Hendrix downtown will be making an appearance at the official unveiling Sunday, September 20 at 2 p.m.

Hillary Klug is a well-known professional musician & dancer with roots from the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree.

Klug is featured on the mural by artist Scott Shaw of Breakthrough Murals. Scott had a bold and unwavering vision for this mural which includes aspects of Center Hill Lake and the Jamboree, along with the “Fiddling Dancer”. The mural was commissioned by Gayla Hendrix as a way to further support beautification projects across the downtown area.

The public is encouraged to join in honoring Klug at the office on the corner of North 4th Street in Downtown Smithville.

Following her visit to Smithville on Sunday, Klug will head to the Smokey Mountains to begin her new performance schedule at Dollywood for the fall season.

Local Attorney Gayla Hendrix and local Muralist Scott Shaw unveil Hometown A new mural on the side of Hendrix’s law office buil from dwayne page on Vimeo.
The following is a WJLE feature story on the mural and a video interview with Gayla Hendrix and artist Scott Shaw in the first unveiling last month.

DeKalb County is known for tourist attractions such as Center Hill Lake and the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival and those scenes are captured in a “Hometown” mural which is now complete on the exterior west wall of the Gayla C. Hendrix Law Office building on the public square.

Hendrix came up with the idea for the mural and turned to local muralist Scott Shaw of Breakthrough Murals to create the design. They invited WJLE down for the unveiling of “Hometown” on Monday morning.

“I had the idea of utilizing this wall space for quite some time and traveling to other towns I had seen where a lot of people had done murals . I thought those looked really cool and promoted their small towns. One day I was at the Button Willow Coffee Shop downtown and ran into Scott who was doing a mural for them inside. I introduced myself and told him you are just who I am looking for. I want something like this mural on my building. Scott gave me his business card and we got together and I started sharing ideas I had. I wanted to incorporate scenes from all around our small town including the lake, the Fiddlers Jamboree, and Storytelling. I gave him my ideas and showed him some pictures from the Fiddlers Jamboree website and told him of scenes from the lake that I liked and he came up with the design. We tweaked it a few times and this is the end result” said Hendrix.

Originally from New York, Shaw said he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona in 1994 before settling in Tennessee. Over the years Shaw has dabbled in creating murals for others and was excited to be able to showcase his talents in downtown Smithville.

“I am originally from northern New York. I have been dabbling in murals for probably 20 years part time. I moved to Phoenix in 1994 and worked in child care and did small murals for friends on the side. I was later blessed to be able to come to Tennessee. I work at Federal Mogul here in Smithville. I happened to be at the coffee shop one day and showed a patron some of my work and Joe and Angela Brown of Button Willow asked me if I would be interested in doing a mural for them. I started a mural there and then ran into Gayla who told me about her great idea for this mural. She asked me if I would be interested in doing it. I was so excited to work with Gayla to create this amazing mural for the wall and town,” said Shaw.

The Mural appears to actually break through the brick wall in sort of a 3D image and depicts a man whittling as a pastime, a young man with his arms raised holding a banjo over his head facing a lake view, a young lady fiddler, a youngster playing a bass fiddle, and a woman sharing a story with a child.

Hendrix said she hadn’t thought much about giving the mural a name until people began asking about it.

“A lot of people would drive by and stop to ask questions because they were curious about it. They would ask what the painting was called. Scott and I thought about it and I talked to my sister and we came up with the idea “Hometown”,” said Hendrix.

Early Voting Hours Set for Presidential Election (View Sample Ballot Here)

September 15, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Due to increase interest in the upcoming election, the DeKalb County Election Commission has voted to slightly expand the normal early voting hours.

Sample Ballot

Early voting for the Presidential Election begins October 14 and runs through Oct. 29. The commission voted Monday night to set the hours as follows:

Mondays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Thursdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (except the last Thursday, Oct. 29 when the hours will be 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (except the last Friday, October 23 when the hours will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Saturdays 9 a.m. to Noon.

“Thursdays have always been a heavy turnout-out day and in August there was an increase in Friday voting, so it was only natural that the commission vote to extend the hours on the last of those respective days,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. “Early voting is so convenient, and the commission wanted to make it even easier for November when historically the voting numbers are much larger than other elections.”

Meanwhile, the official ballot for the November election has been released (can be viewed here).
In addition to Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, there are seven Independent candidates for President. There are 11 candidates for U.S. Senate including Republican Bill Hagerty and Democrat Marquita Bradshaw. Sixth District Congressman John Rose, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Christopher Martin Finley and Independent Christopher B. Monday.

Incumbent State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-40th District) is being challenged by an Independent candidate, Paddy Sizemore. Incumbent State Representative Cark Boyd (r-46th District) is unopposed.

Also, the local commission wants to remind voters than October 5th is the registration deadline for the November election and the last day to request an absentee is October 27th.

Local and state election officials are warning voters to be aware of misleading information regarding the upcoming November 3, 2020 Presidential election.

“There are various organizations (and sometimes individuals on Facebook) that try to help people with voter registration and provide information about absentee voting,” said Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections. “Sometimes that information is not completely accurate or may refer to other states. Each state’s rules and regulations can be different.”

“The best way to avoid misleading information is to go straight to the source,” Stanley said.
Information regarding the November election can be found at, the local election commission website, and the state website at Residents may also call the local election office at 615-597-4146. Voters can also check their status by downloading the GoVoteTn app, available in the App Store or Google Play.

Sample Ballot

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