Local News Articles

Eagle Scout Honors Former DWS Principal

October 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Jen Sherwood and Danny Parkerson

Former DeKalb West School Principal Danny Parkerson is being honored by having the flagpole at the school dedicated to him.

The Board of Education Thursday night granted the request made by Jen Sherwood, on behalf of her son James who has been doing work at the school as part of his Eagle Scout Project.

"On behalf of my son James Sherwood, his Eagle Scout project, which he has been working on at DeKalb West School included planting a tree, donated by Mack Harney of Harney's Nursery, and adding four welcoming benches at the entrance of the new building. He also created a paving walkway from the concrete to the flagpole," said Sherwood.

The tree was planted in memory of three individuals to replace other trees which had been removed with the expansion of the West School building last year. "The tree was set in memory of three individuals who had trees donated and planted in their memory. But those trees had to be removed in order for the building to be placed where it is. The new tree is to continue to recognize those individuals in memory," Sherwood continued.

"What Jim would like to do in addition to that (tree planting) is to dedicate the flagpole in honor of retired principal Danny Parkerson. This is the school where our (Sherwood) boys went to but for years Danny Parkerson has been influential in many children's and families lives in our community. Boy Scouts are to be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight and Jim could think of no better person to honor that flagpole than Mr. Danny Parkerson," said Sherwood.

The plaque reads "In Honor of Principal Danny Parkerson. "Life is Simple. Do the Right Thing". James Sherwood. Eagle Scout Project 2015. "Many children and staff members heard these words many times (from Mr. Parkerson). "Life is simple. Do the right thing". After every one of his morning announcements, that is what he would say. These are great words to live by and I'm sure that many children and parents will remember that also. Jim remembers that and would like to place this (plaque) by the flagpole with your permission to commemorate that," said Sherwood.

Parkerson, who retired as Principal at DeKalb West School last year and is now a member of the Board of Education, said he is grateful for the honor but gave credit to his teachers and staff.

"To me that's a way teachers get paid that they don't get paid monetarily, when their kids (former students) recognize them for something that they have done. There have been a lot of good principals at the West School. There's a lot of good teachers and staff that made my job and leadership easy. I accept and recognize (this honor) for all of them because they are part of the family at the West School in what we do for kids. I know it's continuing. There are other people just as deserving but I really appreciate it," said Parkerson.

In other business, the Board set the date for the DCHS graduation next year for May 20, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps updated the board on personnel moves since last month.

Elise Driver, Coordinated School Health Coordinator
Kaci Miller, Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary School

Leave of Absence:
Suzette Barnes, leave as requested

Linda Moser, from substitute to full time cook at DeKalb West School
Nancy Mulloy, from assistant manager to cafeteria manager at DeKalb West School

The board voted in support of a Girl Scout effort to collect pajamas for the Foster Care program. Darrah Ramsey, a member of Girl Scout Troop 750 addressed the board. " Our Girl Scout Troop is working on the Bronze Award in collecting pajamas to give to the Foster Care program. We would like permission from the board to challenge the fifth grade students at Northside Elementary to donate pajamas. The class that donates the most will get a pizza party from the Girl Scout Troop," she said.

Local Bridge Named for Zachary Lee Close

October 9, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night, September 28 voted to name a bridge in memory of a nine year old boy who lost his life in a 1997 accident with a horse.

The bridge, over Smith Fork Creek, on the Lower Helton Road near Mount Zion Baptist Church will be named the Zachary Lee Close bridge.

The bridge over Smith Fork Creek on the Alexandria to Dismal Road had been named for Close several years ago but vandals repeatedly damaged or tore down the memorial signs at the bridge. First District Commissioner Mason Carter said the child's mother requested that the memorial be transferred from the bridge on Alexandria to Dismal Road to the one on Lower Helton Road, hoping that the signs would not be vandalized there.

The resolution is as follows:

"Whereas, Zachary Lee Close was born on November 30, 1987 and departed this life tragically on January 3, 1997; and

Whereas, the bridge across Smith Fork Creek located on the Alexandria to Dismal Road is named in memory of Zachary Lee Close; and

Whereas, Tammy Close, mother of Zachary Lee Close has requested that the bridge across Smith Fork Creek located on Lower Helton Road be named in memory of Zachary Lee Close; and

Whereas, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners has the authority to name bridges located on county roads, and

Whereas, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners is pleased to name the bridge located across Smith Fork Creek on Lower Helton Road in memory of Zachary Lee Close.

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Board of Commissioners of DeKalb County, meeting in regular session this the 28th day of September, 2015, does declare and name the bridge located across Smith Fork Creek located on Lower Helton Road the Zachary Lee Close Bridge.

Be it further resolved that the bridge across Smith Fork Creek on the Alexandria to Dismal Road be returned to the status of an unnamed bridge."

The county commission approved the request. The bridge on the Alexandria to Dismal Road will return to being an unnamed bridge.

Smithville Police Officers Visit First Methodist Preschool

October 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Pictured are Lt. Matt Holmes, Capt. Steven Leffew, Officer Lance Dillard and Detective Brandon Donnell.

Members of the Smithville Police Department visited the First United Methodist preschool on Thursday.

The children were told that police officers are their friends and that they (children) may go to them if they need help. The officers also talked about safety concerns such as buckling up and being beware of strangers. The children also received coloring books, Jr. police stickers and Smithville Police Department hats.

Pictured are Lt. Matt Holmes, Capt. Steven Leffew, Officer Lance Dillard and Detective Brandon Donnell.

Local artists announce annual studio tour

October 8, 2015
Claudia Lee Boxes
Chery Cratty Pulp Painting

Artists of Off the Beaten Path cordially invite you to their 16th Annual Studio Tour, which takes place October 23-25, from 10:00 to 5:00 in and around DeKalb County.

Take a drive through beautiful fall foliage as you tour 14 artist’s studios, watch demonstrations, buy handcrafted fine art and craft, and chat with more than 25 artists about their work and processes. Of the 14 different stops on the tour this year, there are three new stops in addition to six “visiting artists” participating, making for a wide-variety of contemporary fine-craft to see and purchase.

Some of the finest artistry and craftsmanship in the region will be represented in a wide-variety of artistic media: rake pottery, hand-blown glass, ceramics, handmade paper & books, reclaimed jewelry, sterling silver jewelry with semi-precious stones, woodturnings, architectural ceramics, women wearables, furniture, large-scale pulp painted canvases, ethnic-inspired dolls, and original paintings.

There is something for everyone at this family friendly event. Don’t miss this great opportunity to tour Tennessee’s beautiful autumn back-roads and support your local artists. For a printable tour map, list of artists on the tour and more information about Off the Beaten Path, visit www.offthebeatenpathtour.com

Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday

October 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday
The Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church is again sponsoring a drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning, October 10 rain or shine.
Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church to feed the hungry Saturday

As part of its community outreach ministry, the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church is again sponsoring a drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning, October 10 rain or shine.

In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, the church plans to prepare enough food boxes to serve up to 300 families regardless of their income status, on a first come, first served basis. Families will receive enough food to last them for a full week. The church held its first mobile food pantry in April and it was a great success.

Second Harvest will bring in pallets of food on trucks. The food will then be off loaded and organized in preparation for the distribution.

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the food will be delivered from 9:00 a.m. until noon. Unlike most food distributions, those being served by the mobile pantry will not have to get out of their automobiles. They will drive thru in a pickup line and volunteers will deliver the food directly to their vehicles, placing the food boxes either in the back seat or trunk. Cars will line up facing north on College Street across from the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

"It's a mobile food pantry but it's also a drive thru. The recipients will stay in their cars. They will line up starting at 8:00 a.m. on College Street and when we have everything prepared and organized we'll start the line moving, hopefully around 9:00 a.m. Recipients will drive through. As they enter in we'll have a team there to put a box of food in their cars, either in their back seat or trunk," said spokesperson Teresa Trapp Brown.

"We will line up right across from the church (Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church) on College Street. We'll start registration at 8:00 a.m. We'll need the name of the recipients and how many families are being served. We're limited to two families per vehicle to make sure we have enough food," added Isaac Gray, Minister of the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Others who wish to volunteer may show up Saturday or call for more information at 615-464-7896

County Wide Pink-Out Set for October 16th

October 7, 2015
Shan Burklow
 Erica Jenkins shows off her pink painted pinkies in support of the ‘Pinky Swear Dare’ for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital, along with the local schools and civic organizations, are bringing awareness to this important topic in various ways throughout the month of October. A county-wide ‘Pink-Out’ is scheduled for Friday, October 16th where the public, county schools, and businesses are encouraged to wear pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness and our fight against all forms of cancer. The public is invited to gather on the Smithville Courthouse steps for a media photo in support of breast cancer awareness. County schools are participating in a ‘pink’ jack-o-lantern contest sponsored by Saint Thomas DeKalb and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospitals, and various businesses and organizations have agreed to take the ‘Pinky Swear Dare’ - painting their pinky nails pink throughout the month of October after pledging to get regular mammograms after the age of forty.

“We would like to thank the community and local schools for making last year’s Pink-tober events so very successful,” said Shan Burklow- Marketing Director for Saint Thomas DeKalb and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospitals, “We look forward to an even greater response for 2015. I am humbled by the wonderful and caring people who have volunteered their time to help us spread the word about the importance of early detection and mammograms in the fight against breast cancer. This is such an ugly disease and it has touched everyone in some way. Take this month to remind your friends and family of the importance of weekly self-exams and annual mammograms after forty. Early detection is so very important in the fight against cancer. Hundreds of people across Tennessee have taken the ‘Pinky Swear Dare’ posting photos of their manicure on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter and we hope that hundreds more participate before the month’s end.”

For more ways that your family, business or organization can support the fight against breast cancer, go to www.cancer.org or contact Shan Burklow: shan.burklow@sth.org

Pictured: Erica Jenkins shows off her pink painted pinkies in support of the ‘Pinky Swear Dare’ for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Body Found In Backseat of Car at Hospital, Suspicious Death Under Investigation

October 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Captain Steven Leffew

The body of a man of unknown age at this time was found in the backseat of a car in the parking lot of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital early this morning. (Wednesday).

The vehicle was still running when the discovery was made by hospital staff.

The incident was reported at 2:17 a.m.

According to a prepared statement by Captain Steven Leffew, "On Wednesday, October 7 at approximately 2:17 a.m. the Smithville Police Department was dispatched to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in regards to a deceased body being found in the backseat of a vehicle in the parking lot. The death was deemed to be of a suspicious nature. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway along with investigators from the District Attorney's Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene.

This case remains under investigation at this time. "I would like to thank CEO Sue Conley and the staff of Saint Thomas-DeKalb Hospital for their cooperation and hospitality during this investigation" added Captain Leffew.

DeKalb Woman Charged 2nd Time with TennCare Fraud

October 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Ashley Morgan

A DeKalb County woman is charged a second time with TennCare fraud involving prescription drugs.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Cannon County Sheriff’s Office, Monday announced the arrest of Ashley Hope Morgan, 28, of Readyville. A Cannon County indictment charges her with three counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances by doctor shopping for the painkillers Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, using TennCare to pay for the clinical visits.

Morgan was first charged with doctor shopping in DeKalb County this past April. That case is still pending adjudication in the DeKalb County Criminal Court.

She was indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on April 6, 2015 for TennCare Fraud. At that time she lived on Gassaway Road, Liberty. According to the DeKalb County indictment, Morgan unlawfully obtained or attempted to obtain on or about June 14, 2014 a prescription from a healthcare provider and failed to disclose to that healthcare provider that she had received a prescription for a controlled substance of similar therapeutic use from another healthcare provider within the previous 30 days, and she did use TennCare to obtain the benefit, constituting the offense TennCare Fraud.

“When individuals go from doctor to doctor to obtain prescription drugs through TennCare benefits, state dollars are involved in illegal drug sales,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “We appreciate and value the hard work of the healthcare providers and the local law enforcement across the state and their efforts in helping us develop these cases.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Jennings H. Jones is prosecuting the Cannon County case.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,455 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or go to http://www.tn.gov/finance/topic/fa-oig.

Election Commission Wins Legal Battle

October 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Nashville Attorney John Harris, III

The six year legal battle by former administrator of elections Lisa Peterson against the DeKalb County Election Commission is over.

After losing on the trial court level and in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, plaintiff attorneys had indicated an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would be coming. But none did, according to Nashville Attorney John Harris, III who represented the DeKalb County Election Commission in the case. "They started that process (appeal to U.S. Supreme Court) but then did not complete it, which resulted in the judgment in favor of DeKalb County becoming final this year. So the case is over," said Harris in a statement to WJLE Tuesday.

In January, a three judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit on the trial court level against the DeKalb County Election Commission and several others in Tennessee brought in 2009 by former administrators of elections who claim they did not get to keep their jobs for political reasons.

"This opinion from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the federal trial court's initial decision that a Tennessee Administrator of Elections at the county election commission level is a position that can be terminated or even hired based upon political party affiliation. The significance of that is it means that if the plaintiffs in the case were correct in alleging that in 2009 they were terminated or not rehired because of their affiliation with the Democratic party, the 6th Circuit and the federal court hearing the case have now said that's okay because the positions (administrators of elections) are political enough in nature that it is reasonable for the election commissions to consider party affiliation in making their employment decisions," said Harris following that opinion.

Former DeKalb County Election Administrator Peterson and other former administrators filed the lawsuit in July 2009 against the defendant county election commissions, claiming that their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when they were removed from their jobs because of their actual, or perceived, political party association. The former administrators asked the court to order their reinstatement, or in the alternative, order that they receive front pay for a reasonable amount of time. They wanted full back pay and a judgment for compensatory damages and punitive damages and an award for reasonable attorneys fees. Locally, the lawsuit named as defendants the three Republicans on the DeKalb County Election Commission James Dean, Walteen Parker, and Barbara Vanatta.

In February 2014, U.S. District Judge Kevin H. Sharp dismissed the case in favor of the election commissioners. The plaintiffs then appealed the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals as to whether the federal court's ruling that the position of administrator of elections is a job under Tennessee law that has sufficient political significance that the individuals holding that position can be selected or deselected or fired based upon their party affiliation.

According to Harris, the case is also over for all the other counties involved in the lawsuit."That is all of the counties that were still involved in the case. I think there were maybe eight or nine counties still covered by the Peterson case and then there was a parallel lawsuit filed separately against Clay County and it was dismissed in favor of Clay County just last week," he said.

Public Urged to Vote Online to Help SES Win New Playground

October 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Public Urged to Vote Online to Help SES Win New Playground
Smithville Elementary School Desires to Replace Asphalt Play area with new Cork Court

Smithville Elementary is asking you to help the school win a new playground.

Although most of the existing playground areas at the school are in good condition, Assistant Principal Anita Puckett said one asphalt section has not been upgraded in more than forty years.

"We have three different playground areas. The playground and the place where we have the swing areas and slides, those are fine. My big concern is this asphalt that has been here since I was a student back in the 70's. It's very dated. There are tree roots growing up underneath it (pavement) and it's very dangerous. We have children who sustain a lot of boo boos, skinned knees, and hurt body parts due to this asphalt being so outdated and unlevel. I want us to have a cork court. Basically it's material much like cork board. It doesn't retain water but it will allow our playground to be updated and more safe especially for special needs children," said Puckett.

"We have special needs students who are in wheel chairs and those who can't physically walk on this unlevel asphalt. The cork court will allow them (special needs students) to be able to get down on their hands and knees and be able to play on the cork court and do some interaction with their teachers. We would also like to get some new basketball goals and just have a place for kids to learn basic skills in PE such as hopping, skipping, and things like that on the new court," she said.

Members of the community can help by visiting the Smithville Elementary School website at http://ses.dekalbschools.net/ and voting online for a chance to obtain new playground equipment at "Together Counts" and "Imagination Playground".

"We've got two different things on our website. One of them is "Together Counts" which is a $30,000 grant that can help us with our vision of getting this cork court to renovate our playground," Puckett said.

"Another is "Imagination Playground". It's just a unique kind of foam with blue type shapes that are kind of like Legos that kids can use their imagination and play with," she added.

How to vote?

"Basically this is just an online vote where parents, teachers, and anyone in the community can go online and vote for our school. Just go to the Smithville Elementary School website at http://ses.dekalbschools.net/ and click on the links. Type in your email. Once you have voted it will store your email. You confirm your email each day and that counts as your vote," said Puckett.

Smithville Elementary School serves almost 600 students in pre-k through second grade.


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