Local News Articles

Northside Summer School Students Present Play About Civil Rights Activist (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

June 15, 2018
Dwayne Page

Fourth and fifth grade summer school students at Northside Elementary School presented “The Unstoppable Ruby Bridges” Friday afternoon for the public.

The play was based on Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, an American civil rights activist, who was the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960.

The play was directed by Teacher Alisha Day and produced by Teacher Kristy Lasser.

M2U02789 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

After the presentation a group of students performed a song about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. followed by second and third graders participating in a reader’s theater

Supreme Court Ruling in Minnesota Case Relating to Political Apparel at Polls Doesn't Apply in Tennessee

June 15, 2018
Dennis Stanley

A Supreme Court ruling in a Minnesota case relating to “political” apparel at polling places has no impact on current Tennessee law, said Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections.

“We know some people will hear the national media reports on that court ruling and think they can now wear campaign material at the polling place and that is not the case,” Stanley said.

In Minnesota Voters Alliance vs. Manksy, the Court struck down a Minnesota law that banned “political” apparel at polling places. The Court determined the law was unconstitutional because it was overbroad and too hard to uniformly enforce. For example, NRA, Black Lives Matter, and I am Pro Life shirts could have been barred under the Minnesota law.

“The Court made it clear it was not ruling on ‘the constitutionality of laws that are not before us,’ meaning its decision only affects Minnesota,” Stanley said.

The Supreme Court previously upheld Tennessee’s law in 1992. Tennessee law, Stanley said, is more specific about what is not allowed within the 100-foot boundary and polling place.

T.C.A. 2-7-111 prohibits “display of campaign posters, signs or other campaign materials, distribution of campaign materials, and solicitation of votes for or against any person, political party, or position on a question” in the polling place and within 100 feet of each entrance to the building containing the polling place.

The Supreme Court pointed to similar laws from other states as potential ways Minnesota could properly regulate what can be worn or displayed in a polling place.

Board of Education Forced to Downsize Its Request for Teacher Pay Raises

June 14, 2018
Dwayne Page
Board of Education and Director of Schools at Work Session prior to Thursday Nights Regular Monthly Meeting

The Board of Education has been forced to downsize its request for teacher pay raises.

During its regular monthly meeting Thursday night following a one hour work session, the Board voted to revise its proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year after the budget committee of the county commission rejected the first proposal last month.

The Board is asking that all certified personnel including teachers be given a $600 local pay raise in addition to the $600 increase they are getting from the state for a total of $1,200. Support staff would also get a local $600 pay hike under the board’s new request.

The School Board initially wanted to give teachers and other certified personnel a $2,400 local pay raise along with the $600 state increase and $1,500 for support staff.

In addition to the reduced proposed pay raises, the board has revised its requests in other areas.

“The county commission (budget committee) requested that we go back to last year’s budget (funding levels) and we did for the most part except for the smaller pay raises and areas where we thought there may need to be an increase such as insurance, utilities, and other needs,” said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

Funding to implement a Dyslexia Program for children at the elementary school grade level has been eliminated. The board cut its requests for $215,000 in new money to buy science textbooks down to $65,000. One new school bus will be purchased instead of two buses, a savings of $100,000.

Money to purchase Chrome Books for the 3rd through 5th grades at a cost of $240,000 will be carried over since it was budgeted this past year and not spent. Students from the 6th grade through high school already have Chrome Books. Extra funds ($20,000) is still included to repair and replace existing Chrome Books.

The proposed budget still includes $10,000 in new spending for meeting mandates of state evaluation and testing.

Due to the increasing demands of technology, the board still plans to make a current half time computer tech position full time ($13,150 in new money) which would give the school system three techs.

Extra funds are included for employee matching benefits and $2,500 to help schools cover their phone bills.

The proposed general purpose school budget now totals $23,217,059 for the 2018-19 fiscal year, an increase in spending of $890,816 from this past year.

The revised budget for schools will be submitted to the county budget committee for review and approval next week.

Thirteen Teachers Granted Tenure

June 14, 2018
Dwayne Page

Thirteen teachers have been granted tenure by the Board of Education.

The school board made it official during Thursday night’s monthly meeting upon the recommendation of Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

The following teacher have successfully completed the probationary period of five years and received evaluations demonstrating an overall performance effectiveness level of above or significantly above expectations as required for tenure:

Mollie Bratten, Suzanne Gash, Martha Melching, Shelia Vanatta, Amee Cantrell, Josh Gulley, Josh Odom, Jenny Cantrell, Sara Halliburton, Heather Shehane, Trent Colwell, Cathleen Humphrey, and Ashlee Thomason.

Meanwhile, Director Cripps gave his monthly report on personnel to the board.

Those granted a leave of absence as requested are:
Rachel Desimone, Galen Brown, Sara Halliburton, Nadina Martel, and Leslie Parsley

Those who have resigned or retired are:
W.C. Braswell, resigned
Alexandra DiRaimo, resigned
Thelma Martin, retired
Rhonda Merriman, resigned
Denise Rutland, retired
Cynthia Wilson, retired
Tiffany Wheatley, resigned

Teachers and Other Certified Staff Employed for Upcoming School Year

June 14, 2018
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and School Board (Photo from Previous Meeting)

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has signed contracts with the Professional Personnel for the 2018-19 school year.

Cripps presented a list of the employees to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Certified personnel at each school are as follows:

DeKalb County High School-
Angie Anderson, Charlotte Blaylock, Danny Bond, Amanda Brown, Kevin Burchfield, Cody Burton, Justin Burum, Thomas Cagle, Britney Campbell, Amee Cantrell, Jeanine Cantrell, Todd Cantrell, Gary Caplinger, Mary Anne Carpenter, Karen Clark, Andrew Cook, Lisa Craig, Deborah DePriest, Andrew Dixon, Brittany Dixon, Donna Emmons, Danny Fish, Samantha Fletcher, Lacey Foutch, Amy Fricks, Amanda Fuller, Stephanie Fuson, David Gash, Josh Gulley, Sara Halliburton, Susan Hinton, Sonja House, Randy Jennings, Adam Kefauver, Dylan Kleparek, Brad Leach, Elizabeth Lewis, Tracy Luna, Rebecca Miller, Lori Myrick, Jenny Norris, Scott Odom, Nallely Ortega-Prater, Shelly Painter, Walteen Parker, Linda Parris, Leslie Parsley, John Pryor, Marilyn Roberts, Melissa Ruch, Daniel Seber, Steve Trapp, Stephanie Turner, Chris Vance, Barbara Weller, Michael Whitefield, Seth Willoughby, and Sara Young.

Northside Elementary School-
Marla Beshearse, Mollie Bratten, Linda Bush, Shanea Cantrell, Megan Carroll, Lori Chew, Allison Collier, Trent Colwell, Michael Crockett, Alisha Day, Tabitha Farmer, Lindsay Floyd, Jerry Foster, Carrie Gottlied, Amanda Griffith, Jennifer Griffith, Cynthia Hale, Jessica Hale, Patty Hale, Jennifer Herndon, Lorie Isabell, Shelly Jennings, Karen Knowles, Kristy Lasser, Lisa Mabe, Jama Martin, Lynus Martin, Amanda Mathis, Libby McCormick, Elizabeth Miller, Diana Moon, Melissa Odom, Josh Odom, Beth Pafford, Deb Poteete, Amy Raymond, Kristen Rowland, Melissa Roysdon, Carol Sampley, Tammy Sims, Jessica Styer, Carol Tripp, Cheryl Vandagriff, Kristen Van Vranken, Ginger Wenger, Jared West, and Sandy Willingham.

DeKalb West School-
Joey Agee, Jessica Antoniak, Whitney Brelje, Jenny Cantrell, Jeanna Caplinger, William Conger, Kim Crook, Martha Damron, Rachel Desimone, Tonya Ellis, Janet England, Sabrina Farler, Karen France, Julie Hale, Cathleen Humphrey, Nadina Martel, Jennifer Martin, Shelia McMillen, Amanda Mullinax, Tammy Payne, Lori Pryor, Kelly Pyburn, Jennifer Shores, Cynthia Snow, Katie Stutts, Teresa Sullivan, Ashlee Thomason, Shelia Vanatta, Natasha Vaughn, Susan West, Vicki Wilson, and Amy Young.

Smithville Elementary School-
Misty Agee, Ashley Barnes, Renee Beaty, Lindsey Bouldin, Beth Cantrell, Tiffany Cowart, Edward Dillard, Mykaela Duke, Melba Farmer, Christina Ferguson, Amy Fox, Tina Gash, Katie Haggard, Vicky Hawker, Jennifer Hawkins, Bradley Hendrix, Holly Hendrix, Tanya Howard, Kelly Huling, Ana Jarvis, Sydney Johnson, Amanda Johnson, Niki Johnson, Leah Magness, Kristen Malone, Laura Martinez, Adrienne McCormick, LeVaughnda Midgett, Leslie Moore, Sarah Noe, Macy Nokes, Allison O'Conner, Joy Parker, Anita Puckett, Jane Ramsey, Amanda Rhoady, Bethany Rigsby, Heather Shehane, Melissa Sliger, Cristy Spears, Emily Summers, Allison Taylor, Janet Trapp, Julie Vincent, Kristy Williams, Janet Woodward, Christie Young, Crystal Young, and Sherian Zamora.

DeKalb Middle School-
January Agee, Josh Agee, Suzette Barnes, Kelly Birmingham, Galen Brown, Nancy Cowan, Amanda Dakas, Tena Davidson, Jason Farley, Amy Fletcher, Suzanne Gash, Lesa Hayes, Lori Hendrix, Callie Herman, Sarah Jacobs, Angela Johnson, Teresa Jones, Bryan Jones, Michelle Jones, Natalie Kintz, Alyssa Leslie, Martha Melching, Justin Nokes, Courtney O’Conner, Emily Phillips, Justin Poteete, Cody Randolph, Candice Scrabo, Penny Smitty, Tonya Sullivan, Laurie Sweeney, Carol Tallent, Kitty Thomas, Cheryl Vance, Tad Webb, and Jennifer West.

Central Office Staff-
Dr. Kathy Bryant, Michelle Burklow, Dr. Danielle Collins, Elise Driver, Shea Hennessee, Amy Lattimore, Joey Reeder, and Lori Rogers.

Support Staff Hired for New School Year

June 14, 2018
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools and Board of Education (Photo from Previous Meeting)

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has employed the support staff for the 2018-2019 school year.

The personnel report was submitted to the Board of Education during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting

Those employed at DeKalb County High School are:
Rena Adcock, Vicky Atnip, Wanda Bradford, Kathy Chapman, Norma Dyer, Debbie Eaton, Terry Emberton, Regina Estes, Beverly Ferrell, Betty Fisk, Doris Graham, Yvonne Hale, Ester Holder, Thomas Maney, Charles Martin, Marsha Martin, Paulette McDonald, Tere Mooneyham, Sara Parker, Carol Swope, Brad Trapp, Erin Turner, Norman Underhill, Danny VanDyne, Vicky Walker, Jamie Wright, and Debbie Young.

DeKalb Middle School:
Martha Cantrell, Anita Conley, Tammy Ferrell, Trena Ferrell, Roger Gaw, Fay Gilreath, Jeremy Haas, Ginda Kilgore, Tammy Maynard, Cindy Miller, Linda Moser, Lisa Norton, David Parker, Laura Patterson, Tina Pedigo, Mary Sanders, and Ruby Thomason.

Smithville Elementary School:
Janis Barnes, Brenda Beth Cantrell, Cindi Dias, Tammy Edgar, Darlene Evans, Jennifer Gay, Betty Griffith, Margie Hale, Kayla Hale, Milinda League, Sara Lomas, Talitha Looney, Pat Milam, Eden Nokes, Holly Owens, James Owens, Cody Pack, Rebecca Parker, Rhonda Pelham, Amelia Phillips, Lori Poss, Amelia Randolph, Stephanie Reeder, Brenda Rigney, Jennifer Roller, Kathy Stanley, Beverly Starnes, Marie Storie, Mary-Margaret Tripp, Tammy Tyler, Victoria Vincent, and Celia Whaley.

Northside Elementary:
Pam Baines, Fay Baker, Rosalinda Cervantas, Debra Dunaway, Tena Edwards, Terrie Ford, Robbie Joan Frazier, Glenda Gassaway, Phyllis Hallum, Rochelle Johnson, LaTonya Kleparek, Melinda Lattimore, Lynn Pichey, Jo Dean Redmon, Teresa Steele, JoAnn Vanatta, Kim Violet, Melissa Wallace, Deneene Willingham, and Rita Young.

DeKalb West School:
Brooke Atnip, Holly Bain, Brenda Bandy, Margaret Curtis, Todd Davis, Donna Driver, Dorothy Duggin, Makenzie Dunaway, Pauline Frazier (part time), Donna Hale, Lisa Hale, Kathy Malone, Nancy Mulloy, Tina Paschal, Rhonda Patrick, Courtney Reynolds, Tonya Roberts, Stephanie Stewart, Kristi Sullivan, and Rena Willoughby.

County Wide Positions:
Chandra Adcock, Cindy Childers, Christie Colwell, Shea Colwell, Kenderly Cripps, Bettye June Dodd, Christie Driver, Wade Ferrell, Greg Frasier, LeAnne Frasier, Kim Frazier, Jordon Funk, Maria Garza, Rebecca Hawkins, Dillon Hicks, Terry Hicks, Cynthia Hill, Earl Jared, Freda Johnson, Rita Johnson, Barbara Johnson, Tammy Judkins, Jenean Lawson, Patricia Linder, Debbie London, Deborah Magness, Shirley Mathis, April Odom, Shirley Ours, Natasha Pedigo, Danny Pirtle, Jr., Melissa Pirtle, Kayla Randolph, Jo Dean Redmon, Roger Sharp, Merilynda Sibert, Kimberly Turner, Jamie Vickers, Judy Wiggins, Joannie Williams, and Aaron Young.

Michael Agee, Danny Bond, Josh Brown, Dwayne Cantrell, Shannon Cantrell, Justin Coats, Shara Cowan, Cathy Driver, Suzanne Dunn, Debbie Eaton, Marshall Ferrell, Julie Fitts, Lorie Gallagher, Terry Hall, Darnette Hibdon, Melissa Hicks, Kathy Jacobs, Danny Jenkins, Janie Johnson, Dwight Knowles, Frances Lawson, Daniel Lawson, Donnie Lewis, Roy Merriman, Ronald Merriman, Linda Gail Pack, Tony Poss, Jimmy Poss, Ashley Redmon, Myron Rhody, Jimmy Sprague, Robert Steinmetz, Carol Swope, Ken Taylor, Bobby Taylor, Juanita Thomas, B.J. Thomason, Danny Washer, and Angela Wilkerson.

Education Celebration Scheduled for July 27

June 14, 2018
Dwayne Page
Students getting free school supplies from Dowelltown Baptist Church booth last year at First Day of School Education Celebration
Free School Supplies at DeKalb Middle School Tent last year at First Day of School Education Celebration

The Annual First Day of School Education Celebration for DeKalb County will be held on Friday, July 27 starting at 6:00 p.m. downtown around the courthouse square.

This year’s event is being held a few days prior to the actual first day of school. Registration for students will be Wednesday, August 1 and the first full day of classes is set for Thursday, August 2.

Anyone planning to set up a booth for the Education Celebration this year is asked to wait until after 1 p.m. that day, Friday July 27 because early voting for the August elections will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-Kindergarten to 6th Grade, said the event is free and all parents and students are urged to attend to help kick off the new school year. "Our goal is to provide an evening of activities, education, and enjoyment for the residents of DeKalb County. We will be having information booths, passing out school supplies, refreshments, and various activities for the students to participate in while promoting education."

"This will also provide a time for our teachers and parents to come together to build a foundation for new and positive relationships, right from day one," said Burklow

"Our First Day of School Celebration is an opportunity for our schools to take a leadership role in re-enforcing and improving relationships among parents, teachers, students, and the community. This is the one day each year when it is both easiest and most important to enlist families as partners in our children's education. This is a great time for us to engage our families and make them feel welcome into our schools."

"So come out and join us. Everything is free that evening. We'll have free school supplies, free food, snacks and lots of community people coming together to make this event possible", said Burklow.

"There are many volunteers, churches, and organizations that come together to make this event possible for our children so they are able to start school with new supplies and a great positive attitude."

If you would like to help with this event please call Michelle Burklow at 615- 597-4084. Volunteers are needed.

This celebration is totally free of charge to those who attend so make plans now to join the fun downtown Smithville on Friday, July 27 starting at 6:00 p.m.

Blue Blaze Award Winner Michael Cleveland to Perform at Fiddlers Jamboree (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

June 14, 2018
Michael Cleveland
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper

Award-winning fiddle player Michael Cleveland has been named the 2018 Blue Blaze Award Winner for the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival. This most recent honor will be added to a rather impressive collection of accolades among his musical peers.

Cleveland has won more IBMA awards than any other fiddle player including 10 wins for Fiddle Player of the Year, six wins for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year, and fronts their 5-time Instrumental Group of the Year. On March 30th, Michael was inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Together with Flamekeeper members Josh Richards (guitar), Nathan Livers (mandolin), Jasiah Shrode (banjo) and Tyler Griffith (bass), Cleveland makes his way around the country performing and delighting audiences, while leaving them with jaws dropped in complete amazement.

Cleveland will be accepting the Blue Blaze Award on Saturday, July 7th, 2018 during the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival at 5pm followed by a mini-concert by Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.

“Michael Cleveland embodies what we look for in a musician when choosing a recipient for the Blue Blaze Award,” said Sam Stout, President and Coordinator of the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival, “He started performing at the Jamboree as a young boy, and grew his talent to an impressive career in bluegrass music. The purpose of the Blue Blaze Award is to recognize a group or individual who keeps the embers of bluegrass music glowing for future generations. Michael Cleveland certainly does that, and more. He is an inspiration to all of us. We invite the public to come out and support Michael, while enjoying the best that bluegrass has to offer.”

Cleveland has a very loyal fan base, along with an amazing story. Michael was born blind, along with many additional health complications. He has endured over 20 reconstructive surgeries including brain
surgery. In addition to these challenges, he lost 80% of his hearing in his left ear. But Michael Cleveland is not a ‘glass half empty’ kind of guy. He prefers to focus on his goals, his love of music, and being the best in his field. Although only in his mid-30’s, Michael Cleveland, a 2018 Grammy Nominee, has reached plenty of those goals.

Cleveland began his love affair with music by taking violin lessons at only four years old. This passion for the stringed instrument led him to bluegrass music. His teachers quickly labeled him a musical prodigy. “When I started taking lessons at age 4,” he remembers, “I told the teacher right up front that I wanted to learn how to play bluegrass and I wanted to play ‘Orange Blossom Special.'" Reluctant as they were, his teachers quickly found reason to his rhyme, helping him progress to the point when, at age 9, Michael was invited to sit in with the legendary Bill Monroe at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. During this time, he visited the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and competed alongside fiddle players of all ages and skill levels. Soon after, he brought his virtuosic style to the Grand Ole Opry as a guest of Alison Kraus, and was hand-picked for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Bluegrass Youth All Stars before he was 14. His blistering prowess and technical fluency have since marked him as a sought-after musician, leading to performances with Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Tim O’Brien, J.D. Crowe and the New South, Andy Statman, and The Kruger Brothers in recent years. However, it wasn’t until 2006, when Michael formed his own band Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, that he found the right vehicle for his musical vision, and he hasn’t rested since, constantly looking for new ways to push himself and his music forward.

One would think that with all of his life-long accolades, his own award-winning band, a concert tour, and celebrity performances at the Opry, that Cleveland would have no more goals to shoot for…but we know him better than that. ‘Flamekeeper - The Michael Cleveland Story’ is a feature length documentary film coming in 2018. To follow Michael Cleveland’s journey, go to www.flamekeeperband.com or follow his facebook page.

Alexandria Senior Center Celebrates Flag Day

June 14, 2018
Dwayne Page
Members of Boy Scout Troop 347 conducted a flag retirement ceremony as part of a Flag Day observance

Members of Boy Scout Troop 347 conducted a flag retirement ceremony as part of a Flag Day observance Wednesday at the Alexandria Senior Citizens Center.

“The scouts brought about 40-50 flags to retire. Each flag was carefully folded into the formal triangular shape, prior to burning. It was very touching and respectful. The service was led by Jonathan Birmingham, Committee member; Darren Waggoner, scout; Ben Waggoner, cub scout; and Miranda Waggoner, Committee member", said Sandy Brown, Director of the Alexandria Senior Citizens Center.

The United States federal law provides that the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display should be destroyed in a dignified way preferably by burning.



Write-Ins to Decide Alexandria Mayor Race August 2

June 13, 2018
Dwayne Page
Bennett Armstrong
Donna Davis

The Alexandria Mayor’s race will be contested on Thursday, August 2 during the Municipal Election although voters will find no name on the ballot.

Incumbent Mayor Bennett Armstrong will be seeking re-election to a second term but this time he is running a write-in campaign. He will face a challenge from Donna Davis, who is also a write-in candidate for mayor.

The term of office is four years.

Meanwhile three aldermen are also to be elected in Alexandria but only one name for alderman appears on the ballot, Lloyd Dale Dyer. Two other persons will be mounting a write-in campaign for alderman including Shane Blair, an incumbent, for a full four-year term and Bridgette Rogers, for a two-year term that fills a vacancy.

Noon Wednesday, June 13 was the deadline for write-in candidates to make their intentions known to the election commission for the August 2 elections.


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