Local News Articles

DCHS Proposes Final Exam Exemptions

December 11, 2015
Dwayne Page
Board of Education

As a means of inspiring student motivation and achieving higher grade point averages and better attendance, the Board of Education is considering allowing final exam exemptions for DCHS students.

Under the proposal, high school students would not be required to take final exams provided they met the following conditions:

*"A" average with no more than three excused absences

*"B" average with no more than two excused absences

*"C" average with no more than one excused absence

No exemption would be allowed for any unexcused absences. Five unexcused tardies equals one absence.

"We started looking at this a few years back. A lot of counties surrounding ours has gone to this to try to increase their attendance rates, their student GPA's, and academic grades. DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant and Assistant Principal Jenny Norris have called other counties and have gotten their break down on how they have done it over the past few years," said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps during Thursday night's monthly Board of Education meeting.

"We've met and researched and talked to these other counties and what the leadership team is proposing is that we offer an exemption policy for our students. If they have an "A" in the class they are allowed to have up to three excused absences. If they have a "B" they can have up to two excused absences or one excused with a "C". They have to be excused absences in order to be exempt from the exam. We're really hoping that this will improve our attendance rate," said Norris.

Fourth District Board member Kate Miller expressed concerns about the proposal. "This policy was in place when I was in high school and when I went to college I was not prepared for a final exam. I know there are more tests now but there is nothing like that high stress, high stakes test at the end. I know there are end of course exams and I think it would be reasonable to say that classes that have end of course exams, they could be exempt from the final exam because that is a duplication. But for the other classes, do we really need to exempt students who have a "C" average? Do they really understand the material like they should? I'm just concerned about that," said Miller.

"In the past there have been concerns about kids being prepared to take finals before when they do go to college but there are still mid terms that they (students) would be taking. You'll still have benchmark tests that kids will have to prepare for that's more than just the chapter test," said Cripps.

"And with all the state tests, they're going to have several tests. For example, this year our Juniors are going to be testing at least eight days," added Norris.

The School Board has delayed action on the request until a workshop can be held to discuss the issue further.

In other business, Director Cripps updated the board Thursday night on personnel moves since the last meeting.

Chasity Redmon has been employed as an educational assistant at Smithville Elementary School, replacing Kaci Miller.

W.C. Braswell from the Adult High School has been granted a leave as requested.
Sara Young from DCHS has been granted a leave as requested

Margaret Coyle, DeKalb Middle School, part time speech instructor has resigned.

Consumers Reminded About Open Enrollment Deadline

December 11, 2015
Dwayne Page

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace started on Nov. 1 and will run until January 31, 2016. To have your insurance in effect on Jan.
1, 2016 you must apply, select a plan, and pay your first premium by December 15, 2015.

Barbara Myers from the Tennessee Healthcare Campaign will be in Smithville on Saturday, December, 12th and January 16th from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Community Complex. Ms. Myers will be assisting people who wish to enroll in health insurance provided through the Affordable Care Act.

If you currently have an account with the Marketplace and you want to be sure you have the best plan for you and your family in 2016 you should update your account information. You can make an appointment to meet with a Navigator at Dekalb County Community Complex on Dec. 12 to assist you in either updating your account or creating a new application for 2016. Just call (844)-644-5443 for your appointment.

If you are not sure what to do please make an appointment and a Navigator will answer your questions and show you how the program works before you make your decision. Remember this year the personal responsibility payment you will be charged for not having health insurance is increasing to $695.00 for each adult and $347,50 per child or 2.5% of your income whichever is greater.

Stage is Set for Assessor and Constable Elections

December 10, 2015
Dwayne Page
Scott Cantrell
Shannon A. Cantrell

Incumbent Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell will be unopposed for re-nomination by his party in the March 1 DeKalb County Democratic Primary but he will be opposed by Republican Shannon A. Cantrell in the August General Election.

Noon today (Thursday) was the qualifying deadline for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to run for Assessor of Property and Constable in DeKalb County.

The only contested Constable race will be in the first district between Democrat Jason C. Taylor and Republican Lee Plummer. Taylor will be unopposed for the Democratic nomination on March 1 but he will face Plummer in the August County General Election.

Republican Tom Theriaque in the 2nd district will be unopposed in the August General Election. There is no Democratic candidate for that position.

Incumbent Democratic Constables Travis Bryant in the 3rd district, Paul Cantrell in the 4th district, Mark Milam in the 5th district, Carl Lee Webb in the 6th district, and Johnny King in the 7th district will be unopposed in both the March 1 Primary and in the August General Election.

The DeKalb County Democratic Primary, to select party nominees for Assessor of Property and Constable, will be held in conjunction with the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primary on March 1.

The local Republican Party selected nominees for the August election by caucus last Saturday.

Jury Convicts Petty of Aggravated Burglary and Theft

December 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
David Petty

A 54 year old Smithville man who allegedly broke into a residence last year stood trial and was convicted in DeKalb County Criminal Court Wednesday.

After deliberating for less than an hour, a jury of six men and six women found David Michael Petty guilty of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 as charged in the indictment against him.

A sentencing hearing will be held on January 7th. Petty will be held in jail without bond until the hearing.

Because Petty has six previous felony convictions, Assistant District Attorney General Stephanie Johnson told WJLE after the trial that she will ask the court to sentence him as a career offender. A penalty which carries a maximum of fifteen years in prison.

A co-defendant in the case, 44 year old Anthony Lynn Colwell pled guilty in July to aggravated burglary and received a TDOC sentence of eleven years at 45% before parole eligibility. The term is to run concurrently with a Warren County case against him. He was given two days of jail credit.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time of their arrests that on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Petty and Colwell broke into a residence on Man Hill Road and stole a jewelry box containing several items of jewelry which were later pawned at a local jewelry store and at a pawn shop in Warren County.

Testifying for the state were the victims in the case, the manager of the pawn shop in McMinnville where some of the jewelry was pawned, and Detective Robert Patrick of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Petty did not testify himself but his wife took the witness stand on his behalf. Petty's defense essentially was that while he sold the property, he did not commit the burglary and theft. But Assistant D.A. Johnson said that doesn't matter. "In Tennessee when you benefit from a crime that is committed you're responsible for that crime as well," she told WJLE.

Petty was represented in the case by attorney Michael Auffinger.

Farm Service Agency Recognizes Outgoing Members

December 9, 2015
Farm Service Agency Recognizes Outgoing Members

The DeKalb/Cannon Farm Service Agency County Committee recognized two outgoing members of the Committee on Tuesday, December 8.. Mary Sanders (DeKalb County) has served on the Committee for 18 years; 9 years as the Committee’s Advisor and 9 years as a voting member. Charles Brown has served on the Committee for 17 years; 8 years as the Committee’s Advisor and 9 years as a voting member. Both were presented plaques of appreciation for their exemplary service to the farmers of DeKalb and Cannon counties.

Pictured from left to right: R.V. Billings, Jr.(Committee Member), Charles Brown (Outgoing Committee Member), Jack Campbell (Committee Chairperson), Mary Sanders (Outgoing Committee Member), Javin Fann (Committee Vice-Chairperson), and Donny Green (County Executive Director).

Chamber Presents Grant Checks to Downtown Property Owners

December 9, 2015
Chamber Presents Grant Checks to Downtown Property Owners

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce presented checks to several downtown Smithville property owners after being awarded a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The CDBG funding was used for commercial façade improvements on the west side of the public square including new awnings and signs, painting, building repair and other upgrades.

"Community development is one of the major keys to continued economic growth in our county," says Chamber Director Suzanne Williams. "We are very grateful for the State of Tennessee's investment in our ongoing downtown revitalization project. We are excited about future collaborative efforts with the State as we move forward with our Tennessee Downtowns Program."

The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Malone Gets Five Years Probation for Aggravated Burglary

December 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sherry Kay Malone

One of three people involved in a burglary and theft in June, 2014 was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 7.

36 year old Sherry Kay Malone entered a guilty plea to a charge of aggravated burglary and received a five year sentence all on TDOC probation. A theft charge against her was dismissed. The sentence is to run consecutively with another case against her.

A co-defendant in the case, 27 year old Brandon Hutchings pled guilty in August to aggravated burglary and received a five year sentence to serve. The term is to run consecutive to a violation of probation sentence against him. He was given jail credit of 420 days.

The case against another co-defendant, 47 year old Shannon Lynn Newby remains pending in court.

The three are believed to be responsible for a burglary and theft at a residence on Early Bain Road on Monday, June 2, 2014. Sheriff Patrick Ray said the investigation revealed that Malone dropped off Newby and Hutchings at the residence, drove away, and then parked nearby. While Malone was gone, Newby and Hutchings allegedly broke into the residence and removed from the home a 32 inch Element television, a 42 inch Sanyo television, several nail guns, and assorted tools. Malone was to have picked up Newby and Hutchings after they brought the stolen goods outside the home but a neighbor, who became suspicious when he saw Malone parked in the driveway of another residence in the area, went to confront her. The neighbor then notified central dispatch by cell phone and officers of the sheriff's department were sent to investigate. The officers found the stolen items from the victim's home outside near the garage but by that time Newby and Hutchings had already fled the scene.

Prior to the burglary and theft, the observant neighbor had already become suspicious when he spotted more than one person in a strange car driving back and forth several times down the road in the area. Later, he saw the same car again going down the road with only one person inside.

According to Sheriff Ray, Malone was questioned by detectives and subsequently charged in the case. Later that night, Newby was found walking on Robinson Road while Hutchings was picked up on Dry Creek Road. Both were wet and had scratches on them. Detectives believe at least one of the burglars cut himself during the break-in because blood was found inside the victim's home. The DNA evidence was collected and sent to the crime lab.

Former Dairy Queen Manager Pleads Guilty to Theft

December 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Rebecca Dawn Duffield

A former manager of the Dairy Queen who allegedly stole thousands of dollars from the business and then staged the scene to make it look like a break-in earlier this year was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, December 7.

21 year old Rebecca Dawn Duffield entered a guilty plea to a charge of theft of property over $1,000 and received a two year sentence but has been granted judicial diversion. She will be on supervised probation by TDOC. A vandalism charge against her has been dismissed. She will make restitution to the Dairy Queen in the amount of $380.27.

Duffield and her boyfriend, 20 year old James Anthony Skinner were co-indicted by the grand jury on November 23 for theft over $1,000 and vandalism under $500. Skinner's case remains pending in court.

According to Smithville Police, Duffield and Skinner were inside the Dairy Queen on Sunday night May 3 cleaning up before closing when they stole more than $6,800 from the safe and then ransacked the office. Before they drove away in a blue Dodge Durango, Skinner was observed by a witness breaking out a glass in the drive through window apparently to give the impression that someone had broken into the business. The witness notified police and Officer Joey Myers responded to the scene at around 11:55 p.m.

Upon further investigation, Captain Steven Leffew said that the Durango was found parked at a residence on Short Mountain Highway and that both Skinner and Duffield were inside the home. Lieutenant Matt Holmes was informed that Duffield had just closed up the Dairy Queen and left moments prior to the incident. Lt. Holmes went to the residence and requested permission to search both the home and the Durango where evidence was collected. Police recovered over $6,800 which was returned to the owners of the Dairy Queen.

Commission Votes Removal of Gate Across County Road

December 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Commission Votes Removal of Gate Across County Road

A gate across a county road in the Belk community will apparently have to be removed.

The county commission last month went on record to direct the Road Supervisor to take the necessary action to have the gate removed on Sunset Drive off Allen Bend Road.

According to County Mayor Tim Stribling, the Planning Commission discussed the issue on Monday, November 9 and adopted a motion to recommend to the county commission that the existing gate on Sunset Drive be removed.

County Attorney Hilton Conger said that Sunset Drive has been on the county road map since 1998. "There's a plat that was approved by the planning commission in 2004 and the people who owned that property subdivided a 1.8 acre tract off of that and it referred to two roads, Sunset Drive and Hidden Hollow. Those two roads are shown on the DeKalb County Road list and have been since 1998. They certainly don't meet county specifications. One of them is nine feet wide. When this plat was approved there was a notation that was entered on the plat which provided that should the current owners sell that property or that property be otherwise transferred then the remaining acreage would not have its primary access along this 20 foot easement with a nine foot wide gravel driveway. The current owner of that residual property, he and one of the owners I think are in a dispute over this but at any rate the owner of the property put a gate across this road back a few months ago. It came to the attention of the planning commission and its the planning commission's recommendation to the commission that the gate be removed. Of course the Road Supervisor has the authority by law to remove any obstruction on county roads. In fact if a person obstructs a county road and refuses to move it then that's a misdemeanor. I'm not advocating that somebody be arrested because they put a gate across a road but I think the planning commission wanted to suggest to the commission that this ought not be a precedent and that it be removed. I think the Road Supervisor would like to have the county commission's feelings on this. If you say remove it I'll get with him and we'll contact the landowner and take the appropriate steps," said Conger.

The county commission voted unanimously to have the gate removed.

In a letter dated December 3, Conger wrote to the landowner, Robert G. Manning explaining the reasons for the commission's decision and added that Manning had ten days to remove the gate or legal action would be taken.

McPheron Gets Four Years Probation for Prescription Fraud

December 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Brandi Lynn McPheron

A woman indicted by the grand jury for six counts of obtaining a prescription by fraud last month was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday, December 7

Under an agreement, 35 year old Brandi Lynn McPheron entered a guilty plea to two counts of obtaining drugs by fraud. She received a two year sentence in each case all suspended to supervised probation. The terms are to run consecutively with each other for a total sentence of four years.

McPheron is requesting judicial diversion probation and that the case be transferred to Missouri.

According to Smithville Police, McPheron signed for and picked up prescriptions for the schedule IV drug Tramadol on six occasions at Rite Aid Pharmacy from August 11 to October 24, 2014.

Each prescription was for 60, 50 milligrams.

Police said a pharmacy representative reported that on each occasion, someone had called Rite Aid purporting to be from Mercy Clinic Family Medicine in Holister, Missouri on behalf of Dr. William Zeller ordering a prescription for Kari Stevens.

Police were notified and arrested McPheron when she came to pick up the prescription on October 24, 2014.

According to Police, Dr. Zeller was contacted and denied having a patient by the name Kari Stevens and said that the clinic in Missouri had not phoned in any prescriptions


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