Local News Articles

Students Eligible for Second Statewide ACT Retake Day

July 7, 2017
Dwayne Page
Candice McQueen

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that the state is expanding its ACT Senior Retake Day to all Tennessee public high school students in the class of 2018, totaling nearly 70,000 students. In addition, the department is making it easier for public school seniors to retake the ACT this fall by offering this second opportunity during the school day in students’ own schools.

These changes will give all students equal access to take advantage of the opportunity. Unlike in the past, students do not need to sign up to retake the test – it will automatically be provided. School districts have been empowered to choose the testing date that is best for their students and causes the least disruption for those not taking the exam. Districts may offer the retake on Oct. 3, Oct. 17, or on both days.

“Tennessee is once again a national leader in education as the first state to offer an ACT retake opportunity to all public school seniors,” McQueen said. “By expanding our retake day, we send a strong signal that our state is committed to further increasing access, especially among students who stand to benefit the most from this opportunity.”

October 2016 was the first time Tennessee offered public high school seniors the chance to retake the ACT for free, but it was only available to students who had previously taken the ACT as juniors and who were able to take it on a weekend testing date at a testing center. Of those who participated in the 2016 retake, nearly 40 percent increased their overall score.

The department’s research shows that students have a high likelihood of increasing their score when they take the college entrance exam a second time. Higher composite scores not only provide access to state scholarships, but they also make a student more competitive for entry into higher education institutions and for institutional and private scholarships. In the first year of the state offering a free ACT Retake Day, an additional 1,300 students earned a composite score of 21 or above on the ACT, providing them access to $21 million in additional HOPE scholarship funds.

Higher scores also allow students to enroll directly into credit-bearing postsecondary coursework, avoiding non-credit-bearing remedial classes that take students’ time and money and can discourage their progress. On the 2016 ACT Retake Day, thousands of students improved individual subject scores in math, English, science, and reading, allowing them to avoid mandatory remediation courses in postsecondary. This is significant for Tennessee’s seniors, because last year over half of Tennessee community college students required remediation.

Also today, the department posted additional resources about the ACT, including an ACT Retake Guide and ACT Toolkit, on its website. To learn more about the ACT Retake Day, contact Jerre Maynor, director of student readiness, at Jerre.Maynor@tn.gov. For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of strategic communications and media, at Sara.Gast@tn.gov.

DeKalb Fair Accepting Non-Perishable Exhibits Saturday

July 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Fair Accepting Non-Perishable Exhibits Saturday

The DeKalb County Fair is accepting non-perishable exhibits ONLY on Saturday, July 8 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Kenneth Sandlin Center.

Perishable Items ONLY will be accepted on Saturday, July 15 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

The fair will be held Monday through Saturday, July 17-22 in Alexandria.

Click the link below to learn more.
http://www.dekalbcountyfairtn.com/ .

Applications Sought to Fill Pre-K Classes at DeKalb West

July 6, 2017
Dwayne Page

If you would like to enroll your child in pre-kindergarten at DeKalb West School this year you may pick up an application at the Ernest Ray Education Center downtown Smithville.

A few Pre-K spots still remain to be filled at DeKalb West School, according to Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K to 6th Grade.

The DeKalb County School System has been awarded $486,167 from the Tennessee Department of Education to fund five voluntary Pre-K classes to serve up to 100 students for another year.

“We are excited to receive this news”, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps told WJLE. "With the funding, the school system will continue to offer four Pre-K classes at Smithville Elementary and one class at DeKalb West School.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced in May that 18,340 students in 917 classrooms across the state will benefit from the Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) program in the 2017-18 school year. Nearly 95 percent of districts in Tennessee will receive VPK funding designed to serve 4-year-olds who are at-risk. A list of preliminary funding amounts by district and the number of classrooms that funding supports is located on the department’s website.

The application process was strengthened this year to ensure the program provides children with a high-quality opportunity to develop school readiness skills and a strong foundation for learning. Pursuant to the requirements outlined in the Pre-K Quality Act of 2016, this year VPK funding was awarded on a competitive basis in order provide consistently high-quality VPK programs that prioritize serving students from low-income families.

“High-quality early learning opportunities are one of the best investments we can make in our kids,” Commissioner McQueen said. “We want to ensure we are supporting strong early learning opportunities for our students with the greatest need, and that is reflected in the updated application process and in these grantees.”

To ensure VPK funds are used to maximize and increase student outcomes, the funding for districts for 2017-18 VPK programs changed from a formula-based allocation to a competitive grant process based on program quality standards, including:

•full enrollment in programs serving the highest-need students;

•use of a quality curriculum aligned to the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards for 4-year-olds;

•daily schedule that maximizes instructional time, minimizes transitions, and contributes to children’s healthy growth and development;

•use of student outcome data to improve instruction;

•frequent classroom observations with job-embedded support for pre-K teachers; and

•family outreach to maximize enrollment and support at-home learning.

Moving to a competitive application process is the first of many targeted updates the department is undertaking to ensure VPK funding is utilized to support high-quality pre-K programs across the state. As the department continues to make pre-K program quality improvements, we will continue to partner with districts across the state to measure program quality and to provide strategic professional development and support.

Saint Thomas Health Bringing Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota to Smithville

July 6, 2017
by Dwayne Page
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and Saint Thomas Health are partnering to visit four middle Tennessee high schools Tuesday, July 25th, 2017. The entire community is invited to attend the events, which will feature a Q&A with Mariota. Saint Thomas Health is part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system.

Here is the event schedule for Tuesday, July 25th:

White County High School in Sparta: 8:30 a.m.
DeKalb County High School in Smithville:10:00 a.m.
Warren County High School in McMinnville:11:45 a.m.
Cannon County High School in Woodbury:1:00 p.m.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with Marcus on a high school tour as part of our ongoing relationship,” said Andy Wachtel, CEO of Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury. “We appreciate very much Marcus’ focus on the importance of physical activity, healthy eating and making healthy life choices. These are values that are very important both to him and to Saint Thomas Health.”

“We love working with Marcus, and this will be a great opportunity for youth and adults in these communities,” said Dale Humphrey, CEO of Saint Thomas River Park Hospital in McMinnville. “We are especially glad to help Marcus carry the message of his Motiv8 Foundation to the middle Tennessee region.” Mariota established the Motiv8 Foundation during his rookie year in 2015 to promote and support a healthy mind and body among youth in Hawaii, Oregon and Tennessee.

Marcus Mariota and Saint Thomas Health began working together in 2015.

(UPDATED) College Street Bridge Hit Again

July 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
A loaded car hauler truck, driven by Caisson Martin,  was traveling east on Highway 70 Thursday morning when it hit the underside of College Street Bridge and destroyed at least one car and damaged another being hauled.
A loaded car hauler truck, driven by Caisson Martin, was traveling east on Highway 70 Thursday morning when it hit the underside of College Street Bridge and destroyed at least one car being hauled.

The Veterans Memorial Bridge on College Street has been hit again.

Trooper Mark Jones of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 41 year old Caisson Martin of Smithville was driving east on Highway 70 in a 2001 Freightliner car hauler, transporting eight used automobiles when it struck the underside of the overpass causing damage to a majority of the load. At least four or five vehicles on the truck were damaged, some significantly. Martin was enroute from Lebanon to Huntsville, Alabama for Martin's Transport.

The mishap occurred at around 6:15 a.m.

No one was injured in the crash. Martin was cited for his load being over height. .

An inspector of the Tennessee Department of Transportation arrived on the scene to inspect the bridge for possible further damage.

The Smithville Police and Fire Departments were also on the scene.

Eastbound traffic on Highway 70 was re-directed during the crash investigation.

The bridge has been closed since Monday, June 27, 2016 when a county landfill truck first hit it causing major damage. TDOT recently awarded a bid to Mid-State Construction Company, Inc. of Livingston to repair the bridge at $222,894.68. The project has not yet begun.

Patterson Arrested After Allegedly Shooting his Wife

July 6, 2017
Dwayne Page
Ronald Jeffery Patterson

A man who allegedly shot his wife during an argument Wednesday night has been arrested after trying to flee from law enforcement officers during a pursuit with his 6 year old child in the vehicle with him.

51 year old Ronald Jeffery Patterson is charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment (3 counts), and evading arrest. His bond is $85,000 and his court date is July 20.

Patterson’s wife was treated for gunshot wounds to the hand and hip at a Murfreesboro Hospital.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the incident began when Patterson and his wife got into an argument while traveling in a white Isuzu Rodeo. The Patterson’s children, ages 6 and 4, were in the vehicle with them. After stopping near their home, Patterson fired shots from a .22 caliber handgun, one of which struck his wife. He then drove away with the 6 year old child. The 4 year old child was left at the home of a family member.
Patterson’s wife was taken to a Murfreesboro Hospital for treatment. The shooting was reported to Murfreesboro Police, who in turn notified DeKalb County authorities.

Sheriff Ray explained how his department learned of the shooting. “At approximately 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Central Dispatch in DeKalb County was notified by the Murfreesboro Police Department that a woman was in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the hand and hip. The victim told the Murfreesboro Police Department that a verbal argument ensued between her husband and her. They argued while driving down the road in DeKalb County and then pulled into a driveway on Patterson Road. Their two children, ages 6 and 4 were with them. Patterson pulled out a .22 caliber pistol and fired once into a field and then fired once toward the victim hitting her. Patterson then left with the 6 year old child. The 4 year old stayed at a family member’s house,” said Sheriff Ray.

“I sent a detective from here to the Murfreesboro hospital to gather evidence from the victim and to take a statement from her,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray along with deputies and detectives from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department went to Patterson’s home on Patterson Road but discovered he was not there. While conducting interviews with other family members, they saw him drive by and then got in pursuit.

“We saw a vehicle drive by that matched the description of Patterson’s vehicle. The vehicle drove past Patterson’s driveway and pulled into another driveway that leads back to his residence. Detectives tried to initiate a traffic stop by turning on their blue lights but the vehicle did not stop. He (Patterson) drove behind his residence to a wooded area and into three bean fields. Although Patterson tried to get us stuck in the fields to keep us from catching him, we were able to stay with him in pursuit for about eight minutes until he drove back out through a bean field near Patterson Road, where he stopped. Patterson got out of his vehicle and was taken into custody without further incident. The 6 year old child, who was with Patterson during the pursuit, was not hurt,” said Sheriff Ray.

First Day of School Education Celebration Monday, August 7

July 5, 2017
Dwayne Page
First Day of School Education Celebration Monday, August 7

The Annual First Day of School Education Celebration for DeKalb County will be held on Monday, August 7 starting at 6:00 p.m. downtown around the courthouse square.

The celebration is held on school registration day.

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 Monday, August 7 starting at 6:00 p.m.

DeKalb Schools Re-Open for Registration August 7

July 5, 2017
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Schools will re-open with registration for all students on Monday, August 7.

The first day of school education celebration (free school supplies) will be Monday, August 7 starting at 6:00 p.m. on the Smithville Public Square

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 9.

Wednesday, August 2 will be a system-wide in-service.

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Thursday and Friday August 3 & 4

Teachers only will report for an administrative day on Tuesday, August 8.

The 2017-18 school calendar is as follows:

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 4.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 16-20 (one week)

The Thanksgiving break has traditionally been for three days, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. This year, schools will be closed for an entire week for Thanksgiving, November 20-24. Those two extra days off for Thanksgiving will be made up at the end of the school year in 2017-18. The last day of school was originally set for Tuesday May 22, 2018 but has now been changed to Thursday, May 24, 2018.

The Christmas break will be December 21 through January 3.

Wednesday, December 20 will be the last day students attend before Christmas break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Wednesday, January 3, 2018 will be a stockpile day for teachers.

Students will return after the holidays on Thursday, January 4.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 15 and for President's Day, Monday, February 19.

Spring break will be March 26-30.

Students will not attend on Wednesday, May 23. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Thursday, May 24 and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 24 and Tuesday, March 6 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 26 and Thursday, March 8 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards will be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, October 24; Tuesday, January 9; Tuesday March 6; and Thursday, May 24.

Summer Edition of Reeling in the Years Saturday

July 4, 2017
Dwayne Page
Shawn Jacobs and Dennis Stanley

The Summer edition of Reeling in the Years will air Saturday (July 8 from 6-10 p.m. on WJLE.

"We’ll be playing many of the songs that many listeners will remember as teens and young adults,” former WJLE announcers and hosts Dennis Stanley and Shawn Jacobs said. “Our playlist will include the “Song of the Year” in 1968 and the Number One song the week of July 8, 1973. It’s those little details we usually incorporate into our show to make it even more enjoyable.”

Remember, it’s Reeling in the Years on WJLE Saturday (July 8) from 6 to 10 p.m.

“Life Jackets Saves and Pays Day"

July 4, 2017
By Park Ranger Sarah Peace
A visitor to Hurricane Bridge Recreation Area at Center Hill Lake in Smithville, Tenn., receives free entry after displaying her life jacket on "Life Jackets Saves and Pays Day" July 23, 2016. (Photo by Courtesy Asset)
Park Ranger Sarah Peace

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is offering free entry into participating day use areas Saturday, July 8 at Center Hill Lake, Cordell Hull Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, and J. Percy Priest Lake during “Life Jackets Saves and Pays Day."

“Life Jackets Saves and Pays Day” is a local event held each year by USACE to emphasize the importance of wearing a life jacket when around water. During last year’s event more than 450 visitors brought their life jackets to 11 participating Nashville District day use areas. Presenting a life jacket, each visitor enjoyed a free one-day admittance to the area.

“This is a twofold event,” explained Park Ranger Ben MacIntyre at J. Percy Priest Lake. “It allows the public an opportunity for a free day at the lake, plus by having boaters show us their life jackets, they then have them out, inspected, and ready to use, as opposed to keeping the life jackets stored or hidden away.”

As always, USACE park hosts and park rangers encourage visitors to not stow their life jackets away, but instead keep them out, or better yet, wear them. Many boaters do not plan on swimming and statistics show that most drowning victims had no intention of being in the water, and were often within 10-30 feet of safety. Wearing a life jacket could make the difference between drowning or returning to shore and family.


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