February 25, 2021
By: Dwayne Page
The DeKalb County Health Department is hosting a COVID vaccine clinic Friday February 26 and Saturday, February 27. If you are in one of the following categories: 65 or older, first responder, teacher, or healthcare worker and would like a vaccine please call the Health Department 615-597-7599 to schedule your appointment, or you may go by the health department.
Tennessee began registering Tennesseans aged 65 and older and those in Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 vaccinations on Feb. 22. Phase 1b includes staff members of kindergarten through 12th grade schools and child care facilities.
“Tennessee has administered more than one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine so far, and we’ve made substantial progress in protecting our senior citizens who are over age 70 through vaccination,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “While we remain focused on our seniors, who are the highest-risk population, we’re able to expand vaccine eligibility to these additional groups as our supply continues to grow each week.”
Online Scheduling for COVID-19 Vaccination
TDH has launched a new online scheduling tool that allows users to book their appointment for COVID-19 vaccination at participating health department sites when they are eligible to do so. Tennesseans can access the system at covid19.tn.gov and select their county to schedule an appointment. Users will enter their demographic information and will then be able to choose a date and time for their vaccination appointment. Tennesseans who have already registered for a COVID-19 vaccination do not need to re-enter their information in the new system.
Updates to Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan
TDH has updated the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan by adding pregnant women to Phase 1c. Although pregnant women were not included in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, they are at increased risk for hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. Pregnant women may choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 1c, along with others with high-risk health conditions. Pregnant women are encouraged to talk with their health care providers to help them make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidance for pregnant women to help reduce their risk of COVID-19 at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html.
Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan includes operations personnel of first responder agencies along with teachers and staff members of schools and child care facilities.
Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan prioritizes those most at risk of illness and death from COVID-19. Tennessee will continue to move through phases of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan as vaccine supplies increase.
Tennesseans can find information on the phases eligible for vaccination in their county and, when eligible, register for vaccination through their county health department at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/county-vaccine-information/. Due to their independent operations and larger populations, Tennessee’s metropolitan counties may have different instructions, so residents in these areas should check with local authorities about their plans.
TDH reminds all Tennesseans that in addition to vaccination, wearing a face mask, maintaining social distance and getting tested when exposed or sick are critical to controlling the pandemic.
Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is available online at www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/COVID-19_Vaccination_Plan.pdf. Find answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination at https://covid19.tn.gov/data/faqs/.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.
DeKalb County Library System Re-Opening Guidelines
February 24, 2021
The DeKalb County Libraries will re-open to the public on Monday, March 1, 2021 by appointment only. There will be safety guidelines that are to be followed by the library and the public as mandated by the CDC, State and Federal Government on the COVID-19 Pandemic. These guidelines are being implemented to ensure the safety and well-being of the community and the library staff and are subject to change depending upon the current health situation and regulations. “We want to work with the public in providing as many services as possible in a safe and welcoming environment. This is a list of the guidelines that have to be followed in order for the libraries to re-open to the public,” said Library Director Kathy Hendrixson.
The public can only enter Justin Potter Library from the side door next to the City Hall for their appointment. The front door is for Curb Side service only.
The patron will need to call and schedule an appointment time to enter the library. The appropriate amount of time will be allotted for their visit depending on the service that the patron requires.
The computer usage is limited to a one-hour session per day. The first priority will be for those needing to apply for jobs, school work and unemployment sign up. There will only be two computers available for use at this time in order to keep social distancing. The computer keyboard and mouse will be cleaned between patron visits. One on one assistance is not available during this time. Wi-Fi is available outside the building 24/7.
“Patrons will have an allotted amount of time to check out books and movies. There will be a limited number of people allowed in the library at one time. This way we can accommodate as many people as possible each day in a safe environment. All returned items need to be placed in the outside book drop before you enter the library. We will not accept returned items inside the library. Returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours before being checked out again.
Please help keep everyone inside safe by wearing a mask and honor social distancing guidelines when you enter the library. There will be hand sanitizer available for use by the door. Please stay home if you are ill or running a fever,” said Hendrixson
“We will continue to provide curbside service with copying, printing, faxing, book and movie pick up to those who are not able to meet these safety guidelines or that are concerned about entering the library,” she continued.
“We have missed everyone and look forward to welcoming our patrons back into the library. The staff and library board appreciate the public’s understanding and co-operation during this stage of the libraries re-opening process. For further information call Justin Potter Library at 615-597-4359 or Alexandria Library at 615-529-4124, visit us on Facebook or our website at www.dekalblibraries.net,” Hendrixson concluded
City, County, and DeKalb Animal Coalition Seeking Common Ground
February 24, 2021
By: Dwayne Page
Seeking Common ground
In an informal workshop forum Tuesday night, the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen met with the County Mayor and the County Commission along with members and staff of the DeKalb Animal Coalition and shelter to seek solutions to issues that have fostered differences between the parties in recent months including taking in animals at the shelter from anywhere in the county.
The Smithville Aldermen essentially banned all animals being brought into the shelter from outside the City in October due to concerns of liability and costs. Since that time the shelter, which had been at capacity of more than 30 animals most days is well under capacity now. As of Tuesday, there were only six animals housed at the shelter.
During Tuesday night’s workshop, Alderman Brandon Cox explained what led to the city’s decision.
“The reality is the numbers we were seeing and the situation our employees were dealing with was over capacity, being overworked, and having not enough support. That comes from a number of factors. Our original contract with the coalition was to provide one full time and one part time employee (etc) but essentially since I have been on the city council we have grown that from one full time and one part time employee to two full time employees and that is still not enough. I think the last numbers before the motion I made last year to stop taking county animals was about 67% of the animals at the shelter were from the county. Since the coalition and this building was built and improved upon the city has doubled its expenditures from roughly $60,000 a year to almost $120,000 a year for this particular department. There is a financial burden that the city has taken on behalf of the county and we are not really getting a lot of reciprocation from the county. My goal is to see if we can get something from the county to help carry some of that burden,” said Alderman Cox.
The shelter opened in November 2017 on Transfer Station Road behind Tenneco Automotive under the guidance of the DeKalb Animal Coalition, a non-profit organization, with a mission to provide a safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in homes. The new shelter replaced an old dilapidated dog pound which the city operated and staffed on Smith Road
The two full time employees who work at the shelter, Director Megan Moore and Emmaly Bennett are employed by the City of Smithville. The Coalition also funds a part time employee. The city provides a truck for the shelter which is used for animal transports and the city has other expenses related to the shelter as specified in a 99 year lease which the city entered into with the Coalition in 2015. The original agreement was for the city to fund only one full time and a part time employee but that was later changed due to the workload.
Both the City of Smithville and the DeKalb County Government appropriated $75,000 for construction of the shelter and the Coalition raised funds and borrowed money to complete it.
Also under a memorandum of understanding with the county, the Coalition is to pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor’s office or the sheriff’s department at a fee to the county of $110 but city officials say the City of Smithville is not a party to that agreement and receives none of that money.
Some have suggested that the city and county form their own agreement to include the county funding at least one full time position at the shelter.
Speaking hypothetically, County Mayor Tim Stribling said Tuesday night that if the county were to fund a shelter position that money should go directly to Smithville and the person hired become a city employee in much the same way as school resources officers are funded for the sheriff’s department under a funding partnership between the city, county, and school system.
“If it came to that and they (city) asked the county to provide funding for that (animal shelter position) my thoughts are that this person should be employed by the city of Smithville and not the county. Take for example the SRO’s in the schools. The Board of Education gives funding, the City of Smithville gives funding and the county gives funding but they (SRO’s) are Sheriff’s Department employees,” said County Mayor Stribling.
Attorney Sarah Cripps, speaking on behalf of the Coalition during Tuesday night’s meeting suggested that a new partnership agreement be drawn up between the coalition, city, and county to more clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each and that until such an agreement is reached, that the city resume accepting and picking up animals from outside the city.
“The problem here is that we have a triangle. The Coalition has signed a lease and contract with the City of Smithville. The Coalition has signed a memorandum of understanding with DeKalb County. We have never had and do not currently have anything in writing that involved all. It may be that this is what we need to do. In the interim the Coalition proposes to resume receiving animals from outside the city limits but within the county on the prior basis of $110 per animal received pending resolved by a contract that involves all three of these entities,” said Cripps.
Fourth district county commissioner Scott Little said he liked Cripps’ suggestion.
“That’s a really good idea. We have some structural problems here and I’m not speaking for the commission but I don’t think the commission will act before the budget committee meets on our budget for next year. That gives us a couple of months for the city, county, and coalition to hammer out something. The coalition has done an outstanding job and they deserve a seat at the table but they don’t pay the bills. I think we can work out something between all three of these parties before we talk about some extra funding or whatever from the county. As Sarah said the next step may be to form a committee from the three of us (city, county, and coalition) to work things out and to restructure and re-do these contracts,” said Commissioner Little.
Since Tuesday night’s meeting was only a workshop, no action could be taken by either the aldermen or county commission.
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