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WJLE Turns the Spotlight on DCHS Senior Band Member Charlie Ford in First of Four Part Series

December 31, 2020
By: Bill Conger

The DeKalb County High School Fighting Tiger Band didn’t enjoy its typical marching season this year due to restrictions from the pandemic. Originally scheduled for two weeks, band camp, where most of the musical marching show is developed, was cancelled. During the first part of the football season, the band wasn’t allowed to play due to COVID-19 concerns, and many of the competitions were cancelled. On top of that, Band Director Tracy Luna was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and in the interim Assistant Band Director Don Whitt stepped in to the lead spot.

Despite the disappointments, the band moved forward the best it could performing a special tribute show at halftime of Homecoming for Mr. Luna.

“I loved hearing them play in person,” Tracy Luna said. “We are smaller in number this year, but we are mighty in spirit, and it showed on the field.”

“I really hated being away from all of my students,” Luna added. “It means so much to me to see how our band students have kept their chins up this season. It’s been such an unsettling time, but they’ve come through like the champions that they are.”

Band students and boosters showed their love for the devoted band director by donating the $2,000 raised at the Chrome Concert to help Mr. Luna and his family.

“I want to thank all the students, parents and members of the community that came out to support me at the Chrome Concert,” Luna said. “It meant so much to me and my family. My colleagues at the high school and other people in the county showed their support by buying t-shirts and wearing them in my honor on Black and Gold day at the school. It really choked me up seeing people show how much they care.”

While Luna continues to undergo chemotherapy and radiation to attempt to shrink the tumor, the shows will go on for the D.C.H.S. band. For now Acting Director Don Whitt plans to have both a concert band and jazz ensemble for the second semester.

WJLE also is kicking off a four part series on the senior band students—Charlie Ford, Josh Moon, Victor Luna, and James Tramel. Today’s spotlight falls on Charlie Ford.

Music is all in the family for D.C.H.S. Senior Charlie Ford

“I joined band because each of my siblings as well as my parents were in band,” Ford said. “The first show I performed in marching band was also the first time my brother, my two sisters, and I were all performing together.”

Charlie’s brother Sam played trumpet, and his sister Mattie played percussion while Julie played clarinet and was drum major.

Charlie is the 17-year-old son of Jeff and Bobbie Ford. Both his parents are musical too. His dad played trumpet in high-school and at Mississippi State and mom played clarinet and was drum major at her high-school.

Charlie has been playing alto saxophone for eight years.

”I became interested in band in 3rd grade after Sam and Julie both enjoyed a year of band and finally joined in 5th grade.”

“What I enjoy about Charlie is he is an out of the box thinker,” Acting Band Director Don Whitt said. “He can see a situation different than what I see things. He is a very gifted saxophone player.”

“The most challenging part about learning how to play and improve the saxophone is learning the new fingerings for each note,” Ford said. “There are plenty of different notes that use complex fingerings.”

When Charlie plays his last note in high school, he plans to head to Dark Horse to study to become an audio engineer.




Gov Lee: High school sports can continue, but attendance will be limited

December 30, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Attendance at all high school athletic contests will be dramatically limited until at least January 19 under Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order #70.

Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) has announced that effective immediately, “Pep bands, cheerleaders, and dance teams may not attend athletic contests while these restrictions remain in place in accordance with the new Executive Order. The only attendees permitted at practices or games, in addition to the student-athletes on the team, are parents and immediate household members, first responders, coaching and team personnel, athletic officials, media and scouting personnel.”

Childress stressed that social distancing between persons from different households is required.

The DCHS basketball teams will return to action Saturday, January 2 at York Institute in Jamestown. The girls will play at 4 p.m. followed by the boys contest and WJLE’s John Pryor will broadcast LIVE.

The DCHS schedule for next week is as follows:
*Tuesday, January 5: Warren County-Home- 6 p.m.
*Friday, January 8: *Cannon County-Away- 6 p.m.
*Saturday, January 9: ^Sequatchie County-Away- 6 p.m.

The Governor has issued Executive Order No. 70, effective immediately and remaining in effect through January 19, 2021. Because of the significant increase in the incidence of COVID-19 infections in Tennessee, additional restrictions on who may attend interscholastic athletic practices and contests will be in place.

Unfortunately, large scale attendance by spectators and students must be curtailed. Doing so means that bands, pep bands, cheerleaders, and dance teams may not attend athletic contests while these restrictions remain in place. In accordance with the new Executive Order, the only attendees permitted at practices or games, in addition to the student-athletes on the team, are:

1.Players’ parents or guardians and immediate household members;
2.First Responders;
3.Coaching and team personnel;
4.School, game, and facility administrators;
5.Athletics officials; and
6.Media and athletic scouting personnel attending the event in their professional capacity.

Social distancing between persons from different households is required. While the Executive Order does not mandate the use of masks, the Governor has encouraged masks, and the TSSAA COVID-19 Sports Regulations provision regarding the use of masks remains.

These are minimum restrictions. Depending on particular school, facility, or community circumstances, school officials may require additional limitations on attendance.

The Governor’s office conferred with TSSAA about these restrictions. TSSAA concurs with Governor’s office that these restrictions represent the best means for us to continue providing interscholastic athletic participation opportunities to our student-athletes while also doing our part to curb the spread of the virus. “We remain hopeful that we will soon begin to see a decline in the instances of infection and that our schools will soon be able to return to more normal operation of their athletic competition,” added Childress.




Sounding the Alarm (View video here)

December 30, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Now hear this!

The City of Smithville now has sirens installed at three specific locations to alert the community in the event of a tornado threat and a test of those sirens was conducted today (Wednesday, December 30).

The video below shows the test of the siren on Miller Road.

A test of Smithville’s new tornado alert siren on Miller Road Wednesday from dwayne page on Vimeo.

In June Smithville Aldermen awarded a bid to Capitol Electronics for a Federal Signal alert system. The cost was $71,497. One time state grant funds to the city covered the purchase.

Smithville Fire Chief and DeKalb Emergency Management Agency Director Charlie Parker said installers for the company have been in town this week placing sirens on poles at the city’s water tank near the high school on Highway 70 and near the city’s water tank on Miller Road. The existing siren on top of city hall has also been wired into the alert system. More sirens could be added later if needed.

“We probably need to clarify that DeKalb 911 will not be activating the tornado sirens. The equipment is residing at DeKalb 911 but we have nothing to do with its activation. The system is supposed to activate when a warning is issued by the national weather service. Our only obligation is to provide space and a means of accessing our radio network. The system is self sufficient and requires no intervention by DeKalb 911 staff. I think it is important for the general public to know that we are not responsible for the tornado sirens bought and purchased by the City of Smithville,” said Brad Mullinax, DeKalb E911 Director




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