Local News Articles

Center Hill Dam Generators to Undergo Renovations

February 19, 2014
Center Hill Dam

The Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans a $1 billion project to improve hydroelectric generators at dams in the region.

The Tennessean reported work could begin this year at the Center Hill Dam where plans call for three aging generators to be renovated.

Jamie James, a program manager for the district, says the refurbished generators will mean that more low-cost energy is on the market.

“More efficient generation equates to lower costs,” James said.

After work on the generators at Center Hill Dam is completed, crews will begin renovating generators at the Old Hickory Dam near Nashville.

The generators are being worked on one at a time so that there won’t be a big effect in its ability to supply energy to the power grid. The entire project is expected to take about 20 years.

“The goal of what we do — and even the pace that we’re doing these — is to maintain the low cost of the electricity and avoid anything that’s going to contribute to a rate increase,” James said.

Most of the dams were built more than five decades ago. James said the generators are designed to have a useful life of about 35 years.

“Even with the best care, electrical equipment gets old,” James said. “We are well past the design life of these units.”

The project should give the generators 30 to 40 more years of life.

Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of energy compared with sources such as coal, nuclear and natural gas. The Army Corps sells its power to an intermediary and some of it is purchased by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides energy for much of Middle Tennessee.

David Mistakovich, the district’s chief of hydropower, says the work will also allow the generators to provide more aeration to the water, which will reduce the environmental impact.

Kelsey Evins Named Valedictorian at DCHS

February 18, 2014
Dwayne Page
Kelsey Evins
Ashley Barnes

DeKalb County High School has released the names of students in the Class of 2014 Top Academic Ranking including the Valedictorian Kelsey Evins and the Salutatorian Ashley Barnes.

Evins is the daughter of W.J. (Dub) and Edie Beth Evins. Barnes' parents are David and Suzette Barnes.

Beginning with the Class of 2014, students must have completed more challenging honors and advanced placement courses in order to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and the top academic ranking. Their ACT scores and attendance are also factors. In order to meet the new standards, students must have taken ten or more honors classes and have a minimum 21 ACT composite. Students receive more quality points toward their grade point average for taking honors classes. Students who do not meet the new standards are ranked according to their GPA after all the other students who are ranked and do meet the standards. A student must have attended DCHS for two years to be eligible for becoming the Class Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

Students in the Class of 2014 Top Academic Ranking are as follows:

Kelsey Evins, Ashley Barnes, Justin Wiser, Peter Antoniak, Joshua Davidson, Danielle Tyson, Courtney Caldwell, Kayna E. Caplinger, Crystal Vickers, Kalab Ferrell, Travis Ferrell, McKenzie Poteete, Laura Reed, Emily Snow, Lauren Medlin, Connor Giddens, Elizabeth Mason, Chelsey Brannon, Courtney Rice, Kelsey MacDonald, Steven Laxton, Samantha Sircy, Erika Brown, Tyler Monette, Hannah Ball, Seth Gerringer, Mallory Sullivan, Alexis Cornelius, Hunter Eckert, Taylor Cantrell, William Dougherty, Elizabeth Lasser, Katlin Emme, Roger Sharp, Brittany Wilkerson, Eli Gill, Evan Ward, Julia Armendariz, Karem Bain, Kalynn Thompson, Austin Frazier, and Lauren Colwell.

Sheriff's Department Investigating Church Vandalism

February 18, 2014
Dwayne Page
Graffiti Vandalism at Church (Photo Courtesy of Jeania Poss)
Graffiti Vandalism now removed from Church (Photo Courtesy of Jeania Poss)
Lisa Lue Ray
Patrick Jess Gilliam

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department is investigating a vandalism discovered Thursday night, February 13 at Buckner's Chapel Church on Cookeville Highway.

Someone painted graffiti on the side of the church building.

No arrests have been made as yet.

Meanwhile in a separate case, the Sheriff's Department has charged a woman with trying to smuggle drugs into the jail.

41 year old Lisa Lue Ray of Cookeville Highway, Smithville, charged with possession of contraband in a penal institution, is under a $10,000 bond and she will be in court on Thursday, February 20. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Wednesday, February 12, Ray was brought to jail on a separate warrant. During a strip search conducted by a female corrections officer, a pill bottle fell from Ray's body cavity. The bottle contained two- half oblong white and blue speckled pills, a schedule IV drug; one blue diazepam pill, a schedule IV drug; and a pack of Suboxone strips, a schedule III drug. According to the warrant, Ray did knowingly and unlawfully intend to take controlled substances into a penal facility where prisoners are quartered.

19 year old Patrick Jess Gilliam of Rogersville, Tennessee is charged with two counts of felony reckless endangerment and felony evading arrest. His bond is $25,000. He was also issued a citation for driving on a suspended license. Gilliam was arrested on Tuesday, February 11.

Sheriff Ray said that on October 16, 2013 two Sheriff's Department Detectives responded to an unwanted guest call on Highway 56 north. They stopped a vehicle and checked for warrants on the two persons in that automobile. The passenger had an active warrant against him out of Hawkins County. The detectives approached the vehicle, opened the door, and asked the passenger to get out. The driver, Gilliam, then took off at a high rate of speed on Highway 56 north endangering the lives of the two detectives.

39 year old Autumn Danielle White of Dowelltown is charged with driving on a suspended license. White was also issued a traffic citation. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on March 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, February 13 a deputy was dispatched to check out a complaint of a possible drunk driver on Short Mountain Highway. The officer spotted the car in question on Midway Road, crossing over to the other lane of traffic. The deputy conducted a traffic stop and found the driver to be White. A computer check revealed that her license were suspended. She was placed under arrest and brought to the jail for booking.

Center Hill Dam Rehabilitation Continues with Barrier Wall Installation

February 18, 2014
By Mark Rankin, Nashville District Public Affairs
A worker for the Bauer Foundation Corporation at Center Hill Dam. (Photo by Mark Rankin)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s ongoing foundation rehabilitation project at Center Hill Dam is making progress as work crews continue to drill deep into the main dam earthen embankment to install a subsurface concrete wall. The current efforts are the second of three major contracts from 2008 to 2017 that comprise ongoing efforts to rehabilitate Center Hill Dam.

According to construction resident engineer Bill Debruyn, the problems stem from the karst limestone foundation and from the standard foundation preparation practices of the early 1940’s. The foundations of the two large earthen embankments, the main dam and a smaller saddle dam, are the focus of the multi-year project. The goal is to prevent foundation seepage from potentially harming the embankments.

Today’s technology makes it possible for work crews to make the necessary repairs deep in the foundation.

“Construction is going very well and the weather is cooperating with no major delays,” said Debruyn.

Despite the arrival of cold weather and bone-chilling temperatures, workers from the Bauer Foundation Corporation are making strides at the project site located in Lancaster, Tenn., on the Caney Fork River.

According to Debruyn, an encasement concrete wall, the first major structure, is near completion. The encasement wall is made of 10-foot by six-foot overlapping-rectangular columns into the earthen portion of the dam down to the rock foundation.

“Bauer is using custom built state-of-the-art equipment to excavate vertical columns, held open with continuously circulating slurry mix,” said Debruyn. Made primarily of clay and water the slurry not only supports the hole but transports the cuttings to the surface for removal. The slurry in each encasement wall column is then replaced with concrete. The columns overlap to form a long continuous concrete wall which protects the earthen embankment while the smaller and deeper barrier wall is similarly constructed.

“Beginning in March the barrier wall will be built through the encasement wall up to three hundred feet below the top of the dam through the karst rock ending in the solid rock layers,” said Center Hill project manager Linda Adcock.

Adcock said the barrier wall is a permanent seepage barrier and is planned to be completed in the summer of 2015.

A report is undergoing final approvals to implement the best repair plan for the earthen saddle dam. A concrete berm is planned downstream of the saddle dam from 2015 to 2017 as the final major rehabilitation phase of construction.

The Corps currently manages Center Hill Lake levels targeting a summer high of 630 feet above mean sea level and a winter pool of about 620 feet; however, day to day lake levels are highly dependent on the weather. These target elevations are 10-15 feet lower than normal and are part of risk management until the repairs are complete in late 2017.

Center Hill Dam is one of the multipurpose projects that make up the Corps of Engineers’ system for development of the water resources of the Cumberland River Basin. This system is an important part of a larger plan of development for the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The dam controls the runoff from a drainage area of 2,174 square miles.

As a major unit in the system, Center Hill Dam and Lake function to control the floodwaters of the Caney Fork River and contribute to the reduction of flood levels at municipal, industrial and agricultural areas along the Cumberland, lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Highway 96/141 which routes traffic over Center Hill Dam is a heavily traveled road and is now restricted to one lane. The restriction is required to support the construction on the project and installation of the foundation barrier wall. During the two-year duration of construction at the site, one lane of Highway 96 will be closed and an automated traffic control system will safely manage vehicles across the dam. Debruyn said the maximum expected wait time is five minutes.

To read more on Center Hill Dam, the seepage problem, the fix and project updates visit the Nashville District webpage at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/CenterHill. For more information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook for updates at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and http://www.facebook.com/centerhilllake, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.

Walker Says Road Supervisor Qualifications Too Strict

February 17, 2014
Dwayne Page
Shane Walker

Shane Walker had hoped to become the next DeKalb County Road Supervisor but that will not happen this year.

The Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board recently denied Walker's application for certification to become a candidate. "I was hoping to run for Road Supervisor but the state felt like they had certain implemented things in the statutes that I wasn't able to be certified through them. So I cannot run this time but hopefully in the next election in 2018, maybe I can run then," said Walker in an interview with WJLE Friday.

Though Walker has had supervisory experience in the construction industry; has studied engineering at Nashville Community College, and is now a certified bridge inspector, the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board found his qualifications lacking. Walker believes he has sufficient experience and education to carry out the responsibilities of Road Supervisor. "I already have several certifications through the state that I have been working on since 2011-12 plus a year of college but they (state) don't recognize that (course) from Nashville State Community College. At the time I went there it was not an accredited college course toward engineering. The years in supervisory experience that I had was in a different field of work (construction) that I had done prior to this (bridge inspector)," he said.

Currently, in order to be certified, a candidate for county road supervisor must:

(1) Be a graduate of an accredited school of engineering, with at least 2 years’ experience in highway construction or maintenance; or

(2) Be licensed to practice engineering in Tennessee; or

(3) Have at least 4 years’ experience in a supervisory capacity in highway construction or maintenance; or

(4) Have a combination of education and experience equivalent to either (1) or (2).

Walker plans to take his concerns to state legislators, hoping to get the law changed to provide more options for persons to become certified to run for Road Supervisor in the future. "The statutes in place right now say that you either must have a two year engineering degree or you must have four years of supervisor experience with a highway or road crew of some sort. It leaves it too narrow. I would like to see a state certified course that they will teach where you could serve your community without them putting you under such scrutiny. If they could just put something in as an addendum (to the law) for smaller counties where they could say if you've got this state certified course and you can prove you've had the capability of running (supervising) crews then that should be enough for a county with a population like DeKalb County. I am going to pursue this and see if we can get that (law) changed and get something added to give other people chances that want to run," said Walker.

Had he been eligible to run, Walker believes he would have been a viable candidate and he wishes to thank all his family, friends, and supporters who would have backed his candidacy.

Ralph Vaughn Named President of Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce

February 17, 2014
Ralph Vaughn

Former Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Vaughn has been named president of the Nashville-based Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce (TNCCC).

During his tenure at the Rutherford chamber from 1986-97, membership grew from 400 to a thousand, and the annual budget increased from $80,000 to more than $750,000. He also was instrumental in helping raise $1.2 million for construction of the chamber building on Memorial Blvd., recruiting new companies to the area and starting the first Convention & Visitors Bureau to help promote tourism.

“It is my honor and privilege to announce the hiring of Ralph Vaughn as president of the Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce. Ralph has a vast history of business success and brings with him an incredible ability to develop and grow chambers of commerce, as well as other organizations,” said TNCCC Board Chairman Bob Gerard.

“However, the most important quality about Ralph is his heart for bringing ministry to the workplace. This aligns perfectly with our mission, and we look forward to where God is taking this organization,” he added.

Most recently, Vaughn handled special projects for Barrett Firearms Manufacturing in Murfreesboro, which included seeking branding and licensing partnerships with manufacturers; serving as publicist and overseeing community, charitable and political programs on behalf of the company; and managing the Barrett real estate development.

Prior to that he served as president and CEO of the Madison-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce in Georgia; CEO of Swanson Developments, a multi-million dollar real estate and property management company in Murfreesboro; and in various news and management positions for two Tennessee radio stations and for the DeKalb Star newspaper in Smithville, Tenn.

In addition to his new role at TNCCC, Vaughn is volunteer president of the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame, an organization dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the legacy of radio in the state.

"As Christians, we are to honor the Lord in all that we do, especially in the work world. The Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce is a wonderful opportunity for us to do exactly that," Vaughn said.

The Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce is a faith-based organization whose mission is to advance the common business interest of its members. Established in January 2008, TNCCC’s purpose is to transform the economic and spiritual climate of the community by invoking the principles of faith at work. More than 300 companies, organizations and individuals are members.

Foster to Seek Re-Election

February 15, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster
Tim Stribling
Chris Smithson

County Mayor Mike Foster has announced that he plans to seek re-election to a fourth term, now that the federal indictment against him has been dismissed.

Foster picked up his qualifying petition Friday from the election commission. Foster will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for County Mayor on May 6th.

Foster will be challenged in the primary by Tim Stribling, who currently serves as one of the Smithville Aldermen. Stribling plans to file his petition with the election commission on Tuesday.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face a challenge in August by Republican nominee Chris Smithson. Chris Batcher, II has also been issued a petition for the office of County Mayor as an Independent.

The qualifying deadline for this and most other offices is Noon Thursday February 20.

Candidates for other offices who have been issued or filed petitions with the election commission or who have been certified by their party are as follows:

Michael J. Agee (Democrat) has filed his petition and is certified by POST to run in May 6th Primary
Larry Flair, Sr. (Democrat) has filed his petition and is certified by POST for May 6th Primary
Patrick Ray (Republican Nominee) and certified by Post for August General Election

Mike Foster (Democrat) has filed his petition for May 6th Primary
Tim Stribling (Democrat) has filed his petition for May 6th Primary
Chris Bratcher, II (Independent) has been issued a petition for August General Election
Chris Smithson (Republican Nominee) for August General Election

Michael Clayborn (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
James L. (Jimmy) Poss (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Daniel Critser (Independent) has been issued a petition for the August General Election

Bratten H. Cook, II (Democrat) has filed his petition for May 6th Primary
Margie Miller (Democrat) has filed her petition for May 6th Primary
Mingy Bryant (Republican Nominee) for August General Election

James (Jimmy) Sprague (Democrat) has filed his petition for May 6th Primary
Butch Agee (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

Katherine Pack (Democrat) has filed her petition for the May 6th Primary

Jeffrey McMillen (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary

Sean Driver (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election


Bennett Armstrong (Democrat) has filed a petition for the May 6th Primary
Kenneth Clayborn (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary
Elmer Lee Ellis (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Mason Carter (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

Jerry Hutchins, Jr. (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Clarence Trapp (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Bobby Joines (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election
Jimmy Midgett (Independent) has filed his petition for August General Election
Joe Johnson (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Frank Thomas (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Myron Rhody (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary

Jack Barton (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Bradley Hendrix (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Jerry Scott (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Wesley Nokes (Independent) has been issued a petition for the August General Election

Charles Wayne Cantrell (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
David L. McDowell (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Bobby R. Taylor (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Jonathan Norris (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Anthony (Tony) Poss (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary

Anita Puckett (Democrat) has filed a petition for the May 6th Primary
Rick Cantrell (Democrat) has filed a petition for the May 6th Primary
Jerry Adcock (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

Betty Jean Atnip (Democrat) has filed her petition for the May 6th Primary
Jeffery Barnes (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Marshall Ferrell (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Danny L. McGinnis (Independent) has filed his petition for the August General Election

Larry Summers (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Kevin E. Robinson (Democrat) has filed a petition for the May 6th Primary
David Agee (Democrat) has been issued a petition for the May 6th Primary


Benjamin C. Curtis (Democrat) has filed his petition for the May 6th Primary
Lee Plummer (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election

Chris Tramel (Republican Nominee) for the August General Election
Tony D. Lawson (Independent) has filed his petition for the August General Election
Jonathan Low (Independent) has filed his petition for the August General Election

Travis Bryant (Independent) has filed his petition for the August General Election
Lou Ann Sanders (Independent) has been issued a petition for the August General Election



Matthew Boss has filed a petition
Danny Parkerson has been issued a petition

Charles Robinson has been issued a petition

Kenny Rhody has been issued a petition
Jonathan Willoughby has been issued a petition

Johnny Lattimore has been issued a petition

Jennifer Winfree (Republican) in the State Primary in August

Gayla Hendrix has been issued a petition for Alderman
Wallace Caldwell has been issued a petition for Mayor

Ronald Griffith has been issued a petition for Alderman
Keith Farler has been issued a petition for Alderman
Brad Driver has been issued a petition for Alderman

Krista Eickmann has been issued a petition as an Independent in the State General Election in November

U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger has signed the agreed order of dismissal in the case against Mike Foster

February 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster
Hal Hardin

Five months after being indicted by a federal grand jury as a result of the "Living the Dream" investigation, County Mayor Mike Foster has been cleared of the charge against him.

U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger has signed the agreed order of dismissal in the case against Foster.

"I am grateful it's over," said Foster in an interview with WJLE Friday afternoon. " I'm very thankful to my attorneys Hal Hardin and Harold Donnelly. They worked very hard. And I am thoroughly appreciative of the people who would come up to me on a daily basis, saying keep your head up high. We know you. We believe in you. We're praying for you. I'm grateful to the people that repeatedly told me they believed in me," said Foster.

Foster's attorney, Hal Hardin, phoned WJLE Friday afternoon to confirm that the indictment against Foster is being dismissed with prejudice, meaning that this particular case can never be brought against Foster again. Foster has also agreed not to sue for any claims he might have had against the government.

"Prosecutors in the case filed a notice with the court stating that they no longer wished to pursue the charge," said Hardin in his statement to WJLE.

"I always felt Mr. Foster was an innocent man and I knew this day would come. I am just sorry it didn't come sooner. I am very happy for him. I know it has been a tough time for him but he has stood tall through it all and it's over now," said Hardin.

In September, 2013 Former UCDD Executive Director Wendy Askins and former Deputy Director Larry Webb were named in a sixteen count federal grand jury indictment accusing them of conspiring to misuse government funds at the "Living the Dream" complex. The grand jury also indicted Foster, the former Chairman of the UCDD Board of Directors, alleging that he read a statement that he knew was false at the UCDD board's January 19, 2012 meeting to cover up Askins' and Webb's alleged illegal activity.

Foster said he couldn't understand why he was ever indicted in the first place. "This was a federal charge and I was shocked and sickened when I heard this had happened. The charge they had me for was reading a statement handed to me in the middle of a (UCDD) meeting that was on TV. I read it but I clearly said that I don't think this was properly presented, that I don't think we voted on it, and I don't think it is correct, but I remember us talking about it. But then, when everybody else (at the meeting) got to talking about it, four or five spoke up and said "yeah we remember talking about it" and then they voted but I passed. For me (to be accused) of being involved in it was insane to me. I could not believe it," said Foster

The agreed order of dismissal and release, filed in federal court Friday afternoon, February 14 states as follows:

"It appears to the Court from the signatures below of the defendant, the defendant's attorney, and the attorneys for the government that the parties have agreed that the indictment should be dismissed with prejudice."

"The parties and their attorneys further agree that no factual concession or admission concerning any matter in this case is being made by either party but rather the dismissal is based on a mutual desire of the parties and their attorneys to resolve this case without the necessity of further proceedings. The parties and their attorneys further agree that the defendant shall not authorize, file or otherwise pursue any alleged claims he may have against the government for failure to prosecute him, for a claim that he is a "prevailing party", or any other claims he may have pursuant to 18 United States Code, Section 3006A. The parties further agree that the defendant's waiver of his claims is done knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily."

The agreed order has been signed by Foster, his attorney, Hardin and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur and Scarlett Singleton Nokes. Judge Trauger signed the order Tuesday.

The trial date of former UCDD officials Askins and Webb has been reset for June 3 in U.S. District Court in Nashville

Hospitals Wear Red for Heart Disease Awareness

February 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
Hospitals Wear Red for Heart Disease Awareness

The directors and staff of DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospitals joined together to show their support for Heart Disease Awareness Day by wearing red on the job. “The truth may surprise you. Heart disease strikes more women than men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined,” said Sue Conley- CEO of DeKalb and Stones River Hospitals, “With the right information, education and care, heart disease in women can be treated, prevented and even ended. If you are having any symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or go directly to the emergency department. Every moment counts.”

Several symptoms that may mean you are having a heart attack:

•Chest pain or discomfort
•Unusual upper body discomfort
•Shortness of breath
•Breaking out in a cold sweat
•Unusual or unexplained fatigue
•Lightheadedness or dizziness
•Nausea (sick stomach)

“If you see or have any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1. Not all these signs occur in every heart attack. Sometimes they go away and return,” said CNO Kim Frazier of DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospital, “If some of these symptoms occur, get help fast! Waiting can be damaging or even deadly. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. The more women we tell, the more women we can save.”

To learn more, go to: www.GoRedForWomen.org.

Pictured: Directors and staff of DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospital gather to show their support of Go Red Day celebrating the fight against heart disease in women.

School Board Electronic Attendance Policy Put on Hold

February 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
School Board Electronic Attendance Policy Put on Hold
School Board Delays Electronic Attendance Policy

The school board's proposed new electronic attendance policy will have to wait for now.

The Board of Education failed to adopt the policy on second and final reading Thursday night, after unanimously approving it in January.

Under the proposed policy, school board members who are unable to attend regular or special meetings due to a family emergency, military service, or a work related absence would be able to participate through electronic attendance. Third district board member Kenny Rhody might have been able to take advantage of it since he has had to miss meetings for the last several months due to a serious illness. Before the end of the month, the board is expected to vote on Director Mark Willoughby's employment contract.

Fourth district member Billy Miller said Thursday night the proposal should have first gone to the board's policy committee before having been voted on. Miller made a motion that the first reading action taken last month be rescinded and that the measure be reviewed by the policy committee. "Since we do have a policy committee, policies brought before this board should be sent to the policy committee first and should be recommended by that board before coming to the full board," he said.

Miller added that he still has questions about the proposed policy. "There are some issues in here that are probably state laws that have to be mandated but there are clarifications I've tried to get that I have not been able to ascertain yet on some of the wording and verbage of this that I would like to get before I make a second motion on this," he said.

Sixth district member Doug Stephens offered a second to Miller's motion to rescind action from last month and send the measure to the policy committee. Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III joined Miller and Stephens in voting for it. Board members Charles Robinson, John David Foutch, and Chairman Johnny Lattimore voted against rescinding action. Since four affirmative votes are needed for passage, Miller's motion failed.

First District member Foutch then made a motion to adopt the electronic attendance policy on second and final reading. Robinson offered a second to the motion. Again, the vote failed 3-3 with Foutch, Robinson, and Lattimore voting for it and Miller, Stephens, and Evins voting against.

Another vote was then taken on Miller's restated motion to rescind and send the proposal to the policy committee. This time, Lattimore joined Miller, Stephens, and Evins in voting for it in order to avoid a further stalemate.

Members of the policy committee are Miller, Stephens, and Rhody. But since Rhody is unable to attend, Chairman Lattimore appointed Robinson to the committee. The policy committee is expected to convene to discuss the proposed electronic attendance policy on Tuesday, March 4.

Under the proposed policy, an absent board member may attend a regular or special meeting by electronic means as often as he or she is able to do so if the absence is because of military service. However, a board member may not participate electronically more than two times per year for absences due to work and or family emergencies. A quorum of the Board must be physically present at the meeting in order for any member to attend electronically.

Any member wishing to participate electronically must do so using technology which allows the Chair to visually identify the member.

The responsibility for the connection lies with the member wishing to participate electronically. No more than three attempts to connect shall be made, unless the Board chooses to make additional attempts.

The policy provides for electronic attendance due to a family emergency. The member must be absent due to the hospitalization of the member or the death or hospitalization of the member's spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, step-son, step-daughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.

Electronic attendance is also provided due to a work related absence. Under the policy, the board member must be absent from the county due to work. The member wishing to participate must give the Chair and director at least five days notice prior to the meeting of the member's desire to participate electronically.


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