Local News Articles

Sheriff's Department Makes Theft Arrests

January 30, 2014
Dwayne Page
Terry Lee Jones, III
Randy Glenn Haslam
Lydia Renee Judkins
Lucas Dale Hall

Four persons have been arrested recently by the Sheriff's Department on burglary and or theft charges.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Monday that 21 year old Terry Lee Jones, III of Dowelltown is charged with two counts of burglary and two counts of theft of property over $1,000. According to Sheriff Ray, Jones allegedly broke into a residence on Dale Ridge Road on Friday, January 17 and stole several items including a 2003 Red Honda 250 Recon ATV, a Remington Model 870 Shotgun, Insulated Carhartt Jacket, Trail Cameras, a full box of 12 gauge shotgun shells, eight bottles of whiskey, and one Igloo cooler. Six days later, on Thursday January 23, Jones allegedly broke into a garage on Johnson Ridge Road and took a Yamaha Kodiak 400 four wheeler, valued at $4,000. His bond is $30,000 and he will be in court on February 13. The case was investigated by a deputy of the Sheriff's Department.

41 year old Randy Glenn Haslam of Murfreesboro is charged with theft of property over $1,000. He will be in court February 6. The case against Haslam is more than a year old, but he has been incarcerated since then on separate charges in another county. Sheriff Ray said that December 7, 2012, Haslam allegedly took several items belonging to a female family member. The items were locked up in a safe at her home on New Hope Road in Alexandria. Haslam was living with this woman at the time of the theft. Several pieces of jewelry were taken with a total estimated value of $12,725. The stolen items included a gold woman's watch, a gold nugget bracelet, a 3 karat diamond gold bracelet, hoop earrings with diamonds, an 8 mm gold band quarter karat ring with seven diamonds on the top, a 3 karat diamond cluster ring, and miscellaneous gold rings and earrings. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

26 year old Lydia Renee Judkins of Jefferson Road, Smithville is charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Her bond is $20,000 and she will be in court on February 6. Sheriff Ray said that on December 16, Judkins allegedly broke into a building on Blue Springs Road and stole property valued at approximately $5,500, including a 2003 Polaris 4 Wheeler, two chainsaws, and a cordless drill. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

25 year old Lucas Dale Hall of Brush Creek is charged with theft of property over $500. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on February 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, January 15 a deputy met with a complainant on Evins Mill Road who told the officer that he believed one of his employees had stolen a Glock model 19 handgun from a residence. After the deputy asked for permission to search that employee's vehicle, Hall came forward and told the complainant that he had the gun in his 1999 Dodge Intrepid. The officer asked Hall to turn the weapon over to him. Hall then went to his vehicle, reached between the front seats, pulled the gun out, and handed it to the deputy. Hall was placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, two more persons have been arrested by the Sheriff's Department from the recent undercover drug investigation. Sheriff Ray said 30 year old Christopher Wayne Miles of Earl Avenue, Smithville was indicted by the grand jury on January 13 on two counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Percocet) in a drug free zone. His bond is $100,000 and he will be arraigned February 21.

Vickie Anne Cantrell of Adcock Cemetery Road, Smithville was arrested on Wednesday, January 22. She was indicted by the grand jury on January 13 on one count of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid). Her bond is $30,000. She will be arraigned on February 21.

In other cases, 34 year old Dwayne Allen Reeder of Meridian Drive, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, January 19 a deputy went to Meridian Drive on a domestic call. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Reeder and a woman. She had marks on the back of her head and chest allegedly from an altercation with Reeder. He was determined to be the primary aggressor and was arrested for domestic assault.

33 year old Heather Starr Trapp of South College Street, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on February 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 20 Trapp was operating a vehicle on West Main Street in Smithville when she was stopped for driving on a suspended license. The arresting officer had prior knowledge that Trapp's license were suspended and a computer check confirmed it. Trapp's license were suspended on October 4, 2012 in Warren County for failure to satisfy a citation. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

29 year old Jonathan Dewayne Barnes of Judkins Lane, Smithville is charged with two counts of criminal impersonation, simple possession, and a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $15,000 and he will be in court February 13. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, December 26, Barnes was a passenger of a vehicle that had been stopped by a deputy for a traffic violation. When asked for identification, Barnes told the officer that he had no identification on him and then said his name was John Walls. It was later learned that Barnes had given the officer a phony name. Almost a month later on Tuesday January 21, a deputy stopped Barnes' vehicle on J.C. Jones Road to serve a warrant on him for the previous criminal impersonation charge. Barnes could not produce a driver's license and a computer check revealed that his license were suspended in Jackson County. When the officer asked for his name, Barnes identified himself as Randy Jackson. The officer actually already knew Barnes' real name and arrested him. During the stop, Barnes admitted to the officer that he had a bag of marijuana in his pocket. When the officer emptied Barnes' pocket, he found a plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Barnes was brought to the jail for booking.

Democratic Candidates Make Announcements During Mass Meeting (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

January 25, 2014
Dwayne Page
Tim Stribling to Run for County Mayor
County Clerk Mike Clayborn to Seek Re-election
James L "Jimmy" Poss to Run for County Clerk
General Sessions Judge Bratten Cook II to Seek Re-Election
Margie Rigsby Miller to Run for General Sessions Judge
Jimmy Sprague to Run for Road Supervisor
Shane Walker to Run for Road Supervisor
Michael Agee to Run for Sheriff
Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack to Seek Re-election
Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen to Seek Re-election

Candidates for various public offices announced their intentions during the DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting Saturday at the high school cafeteria.

The May 6th DeKalb County Democratic Primary looks to feature at least three contested races for county offices including County Clerk, General Sessions Judge, and Road Supervisor.

Three term Incumbent County Clerk Mike Clayborn will face opposition from James L "Jimmy" Poss. General Sessions Judge Bratten Cook, II is being challenged for a third eight year term by Margie Rigsby Miller. Jimmy Sprague and Shane Walker will battle for the Democratic nomination for Road Supervisor.

Smithville Alderman Tim Stribling announced his candidacy for County Mayor.

Mike Foster, the Democratic Incumbent County Mayor, did not attend the Mass Meeting and has not yet made any announcement about whether he will seek a fourth term.

Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen and Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack each announced re-election plans. McMillen will be looking for his eighth term. Pack is seeking her fourth term.

Michael Agee will be running for Sheriff.

County Commission candidates making their intentions known Saturday included :

Jerry Hutchins, Jr. and Clarence Trapp in the Second District

Jerry Scott (Incumbent), Bradley Hendrix (Incumbent), and Jack Barton in the Third District. Barton, an incumbent county commissioner in the Second District has resigned that position because he has moved his residence to the Third District.

David McDowell (Incumbent) in the Fourth District

Rick Cantrell (Incumbent) and Anita Puckett in the Fifth District

Betty Atnip in the Sixth District

Larry Summers (Incumbent) and Kevin Robinson in the Seventh District.

Other Democrats who did not attend Saturday's Mass meeting but who have picked up petitions from the election commission office are:

Kenneth Clayborn for County Commissioner in the First District

Elmer Ellis, Jr. for County Commissioner in the First District (Incumbent),

Bennett Armstrong for County Commissioner in the First District

Bobby Taylor for County Commissioner in the Fourth District

Wayne Cantrell for County Commissioner in the Fourth District (Incumbent),

Jeff Barnes for County Commissioner in the Sixth District (Incumbent),

Marshall Ferrell for County Commissioner in the Sixth District (Incumbent)

Two county commissioner candidates can be nominated from each of the seven districts.

An announcement was made on behalf of Benjamin Chad Curtis for Constable in the First District.


Several Democratic candidates for judicial offices in the seven county 13th Judicial District also attended the Mass meeting announcing plans to seek the party's nomination including:


William F. Roberson of Putnam County who is running for Criminal Court Judge, Part I.


Anthony Craighead of Putnam County for District Attorney General

David N. Brady of Putnam County for District Public Defender (Incumbent)

Amy Hollars of Overton County for Circuit Court Judge, Part I (Incumbent)

Randall York of Cumberland County for Circuit Court Judge, Part II

Retiring Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns, Jr. spoke on behalf of Incumbent Chancellor Ronald Thurman, who was unable to attend the meeting.

Aubrey Givens and Rachel Givens, candidates for the Democratic State Executive Committee also spoke during the Mass meeting. The guest speaker was State Representative Gloria Johnson of Knoxville.

Amos Powers of Cookeville announced that he is seeking the Democratic Nomination for U.S. Representative in the 6th Congressional District which includes DeKalb County.

Candidates were not required to make announcements Saturday. The qualifying deadline for the May 6th primary is noon on February 20th with the DeKalb County Election Commission Office.

Although city races are non-partisan, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss announced that he would be a candidate for re-election in August. Former alderman Gayla Hendrix, who lost a bid for re-election last summer, said she would be running for alderman again this August.

Lebanon Man Seriously Injured in Fall from House

January 25, 2014
Dwayne Page
Man Falls from Top Deck of House on Skyline Drive (Photo by Jason Majors)
Rescue Squad Comes to Aid of David French (Photo by Jason Majors)

A 28 year old Lebanon man was seriously injured Friday after falling from the top deck of a two story house under construction at 500 Skyline Drive off Holiday Haven Road.

David French was airlifted from near the scene by a helicopter ambulance and reportedly flown to Vanderbilt Hospital.

French was part of a crew doing work on the home being built on the side of a steep hill when the accident occurred. According to Captain Dustin Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, French was on the top deck, lifting a beam from an eight foot ladder, when he fell off the house and several feet down a steep slope.

Because of the difficulty in reaching French, members of the Rescue Squad were called to the scene. They used ropes to go get to French and then brought him back up the hill in a Stokes basket assisted by members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb EMS.

French was taken from the scene by ambulance to a helicopter landing zone in the Holiday Haven Road area and then airlifted.

McMinnville Woman Airlifted After Two Vehicle Crash

January 24, 2014
Dwayne Page
McMinnville Woman Airlifted After Two Vehicle Crash

A 64 year old McMinnville woman was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital after a two vehicle accident Friday morning at the intersection of Highway 56 and Blue Springs Road.

Patsy Inglis was flown out from a field near the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance.

According to Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 18 year old Victoria Brooke Cantrell of Smithville was traveling east on Blue Springs Road in a 2000 Toyota 4Runner when she failed to yield to a stop sign at the intersection. Cantrell turned south onto Highway 56 and into the path of a northbound 2006 Mercury Voyager Van, driven by Inglis resulting in a head-on crash.

Cantrell was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Trooper Johnson said Cantrell claims her brakes failed contributing to the accident.

Members of the Keltonburg and Blue Springs Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with officers of the Sheriff's Department.

Man Pleads Guilty to Meth Charge, Furloughed to Drug Treatment Facility

January 24, 2014
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

A 34 year old man pleaded guilty Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court to one count of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine in a July, 2013 case. But instead of jail, Judge David Patterson furloughed Bradley Pugh to a drug treatment facility in Arkansas. He was also fined $2,000 and given over six months of jail credit.

If he doesn't successfully complete the program, Pugh is facing an eight year sentence to serve at 30% before parole eligibility, plus an additional eight year sentence after being found in violation of his probation in another meth crime which occurred in October, 2011.

A court order signed by Judge Patterson states that, Pugh is to "be furloughed and released from the DeKalb County Jail on January 22 to be transported to Grace Mission Bible Training Center in Paragould, Arkansas by his parents. It is anticipated that Pugh will complete the program within ten months after which he will be placed on probation for the remainder of the sentence imposed in this case. However, if Pugh fails to successfully complete the intensive outpatient program at Grace Mission Bible Training Center, then he will immediately return to the DeKalb County Jail to serve the balance of his sentence.

Pugh was one of two people arrested on July 11, 2013 after a sheriff's department detective discovered meth related items in their truck during a traffic stop and then found more incriminating evidence against him at a residence in Dowelltown.

In November 2011, Pugh pleaded by information to a separate charge of initiation of a process to manufacture meth. He received an eight year sentence in that case, suspended to probation. Pugh's arrest in that crime came on October 10, 2011 after a deputy found items used to make meth in Pugh's truck on Seven Springs Road.

In other court cases Wednesday, 29 year old Rhonda Joy Goff pleaded guilty to three charges of forgery. She received a total sentence of three years on these charges suspended to supervised probation but the term is to run consecutive to another sentence she is currently serving. Goff must also make restitution to the victims.

Sheriff Ray said that Goff allegedly went to Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard last year and passed forged checks on May 2, May 3, and May 14. She allegedly admitted to a detective to having committed the forgeries.

43 year old Vickie Cantrell pleaded guilty to two counts of Sale of a Schedule II controlled substance. She received a sentence of four years in each case to run concurrently with each other but consecutively with another sentence she is now serving. Cantrell must serve at least 30% before parole eligibility. She was fined $2,000 and must make restitution to the Smithville Police Department. The term is to run consecutive to another sentence she is currently serving.

Cantrell is one of the sixty four people indicted by the grand jury last week in the Sheriff's Department's recent undercover drug investigation. She was also indicted in August 2013 as the result of a Smithville Police Department undercover drug probe in December 2012.

42 year old Donald Junior Perry pleaded guilty to delivery of a schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) and violation of probation. The sentences are to run concurrently but he has been furloughed to the DeKalb County Drug Court. If he doesn't successfully complete the program Perry is facing a two year sentence on the drug charge and the balance of a six year term in the previous case for which his probation was revoked. Perry was given 129 days of jail credit.

Perry was indicted in August 2013 as the result of an undercover drug investigation by the Smithville Police Department in February, 2013.

43 year old Jeffery White pleaded guilty to promotion of methamphetamine. He received a two year sentence suspended to probation. He must pay a $2,000 drug fine. White was given jail credit of forty three days.

21 year old Travis Melton pleaded guilty to introduction of contraband into a penal facility. He received a three year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. The term is to run with his current probation. He was given jail credit from August 6 to December 22, 2013.

Sheriff Ray said that while being booked into the jail on other charges Tuesday, August 6, officers asked Melton if he had anything on him. He replied no. Before being locked down, Melton was searched by a correctional officer who found less than a half ounce of marijuana on Melton's person.

34 year old Tammy Sue Steele pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and driving while her license was suspended. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve on the theft charge and six months to serve on the license offense. The two sentences are to run concurrently with each other and with cases against her in White County. Her license is suspended for one year.

40 year old Gary Lane Hale pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II drug and received a three year sentence suspended to probation. Hale was granted judicial diversion. He was fined $2,000 and must make restitution of $90. He is to undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

Chamber Elects Officers for 2014

January 24, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chamber Elects Officers for 2014

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce Board elected their 2014 Executive Officers during the January Chamber Board Meeting and Retreat.

Julia Cantrell of Cumberland Insurance will serve as the 2014 Chamber President. Jeff Crips of Regions Bank is the new Chamber Vice-President. Susan Young of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas is the Chamber Treasurer. Joan Barrett of Premier Realty at Center Hill Lake will serve as the Chamber Board Secretary.

Five new Chamber Board Members have begun their 3-year terms - Dwayne Cornelius, DeKalb Depot and pastor of New Life Pentecostal Church; Elaine Swicker, Smithville Computer Repair; Gail Looper, Off the Beaten Path group; Joan Barrett of Premier Realty at Center Hill Lake; and Jason Murphy, Optimus Pest Solutions.

Other Chamber Board Members serving in 2014 include Shea Colwell, NHC Healthcare; Craig Gates, DTC Communications; Charlotte Parsley, SHIROKI, North America; Sue Conley, DeKalb Community Hospital; Raul Ramirez, Federal Mogul; Sherry Harris, D&S Specialtees; and Stein Prichard, Prichard Foods.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams is very excited about working with this wonderful group of people and is looking forward to a great 2014!

The Chamber Director and Board would like to express appreciation to Leadership Director Jen Sherwood for facilitating the January Board Retreat, to DeKalb Community Hospital for sponsoring the January Meeting/Retreat and to NHC Healthcare, sponsor of the regular monthly Chamber Board Meetings providing a great meeting space and delicious lunches.

Pictured l-r

2014 Chamber of Commerce Executive Board

Susan Young, Treasurer; Julia Cantrell, President; Jeff Crips, Vice-President; Joan Barrett, Secretary

Jennings Receives GHSO Trooper of Year Award

January 24, 2014
Dwayne Page
Dewaine Jennings Receives GHSO Trooper of Year Award

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of Smithville has been presented an award by The Governors Highway Safety Office for Trooper of the Year for 2013.

The plaque reads "In Recognition of your commitment to saving lives In Tennessee through highway traffic safety in the Cumberland region".

Also present in the photo is Richard Holt and Clint Shrum with the Governors Highway Safety Office

The award was presented at a conference held at Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Man Charged with Car Theft

January 22, 2014
Dwayne Page
Lance Miller

A Kentucky man was recently arrested for the theft of a vehicle here. Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said 38 year old Lance Miller of Russell Springs, Kentucky is charged with theft of property over $10.000. He is under a $25,000 bond. Police were dispatched on New Year's Day to Steeple Chase in reference to a vehicle theft. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the owner of the automobile who reported that her vehicle had been taken sometime between 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The stolen vehicle was later stopped in Cookeville allegedly driven by Miller. He was subsequently arrested and charged in the case.

In other recent cases, 34 year old Mackie Dawn Williams is cited for shoplifting. She was observed at the Dollar General Store last month placing personal items in her purse. The officer arrived to investigate and Williams produced the items from her purse.

25 year old Steven W. Pusley is cited for three counts of simple possession of drugs (Xanax, Oxycontin, and Marijuana). An officer was dispatched last month to a local business to check out a suspicious person believed to be selling pills. The officer spoke with the man and found baggies in his backpack containing pills, believed to be Xanax and Oxycontin, along with Marijuana. Pusley did not have a prescription for the pills. Pusley will be in court on February 13.

46 year old William Ray Cantrell was recently charged with driving under the influence. An officer was dispatched to Walmart last month in reference to a man passed out at the wheel of a car. Upon arrival, the officer saw the car exiting the parking lot, turning onto West Broad Street. The driver of the vehicle did not maintain his lane of travel. The officer stopped the car and identified Cantrell as the driver. He was very unsteady on his feet and he performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Police said Cantrell claimed to have taken Xanax. He is under a $1,500 bond and he will be in court on February 13.

41 year old Willard Brown is charged with public intoxication and possession of a schedule II and IV drug with intent to sell. His bond is $11,500. Brown was observed walking on Dry Creek Road but before police got to him, he had reached a nearby business where he slumped over the steps. The arresting officer found in Brown's possession several pills believed to be Xanax and Oxycodone. Brown's speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. He was taken into custody.

22 year old Anthony South was recently charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1500. Officers were dispatched to the area of Miller Road and O'Conner Street to check out a report of a man walking down the road who was possibly intoxicated. The officer spoke with the man, South. He had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and he was very unsteady on his feet. South claimed to have consumed several alcoholic beverages within the hour. He performed poorly on field sobriety tasks.

23 year old Justin Estes was recently cited for shoplifting. He was observed at Walmart opening DVD boxes and concealing the contents in his pants. Officers spoke with Estes and he allegedly admitted to taking the DVD's

22 year old Miguel A. Campos-Leal was recently charged with driving under the influence and evading by motor vehicle. He was also cited for speeding , for not having a drivers license, violation of the implied consent law, and failure to maintain his lane of travel. A car was observed speeding on East Broad Street at night near Smith Road, traveling at speeds of up to 64 miles per hour in a posted 40 mile per hour zone. The officer activated his blue lights but the car initially did not stop, continuing to go west on Broad Street. According to police, the man was driving erratically, moving in and out of traffic. He was eventually stopped by the officer and arrested. His bond is $5,000.

29 year old Breanna D. Mabeus is charged with shoplifting. She allegedly stole merchandise from Walmart and got caught when she tried to return it for cash. Police said she admitted to taking the merchandise. She will be in court on February 13.

21 year old Tyler Bennett is charged with shoplifting from a local business. He was allegedly trying to put store merchandise in his coat pocket. While the officer spoke with Bennett, he produced the unpaid for items valued at $40.82. Bennett will be in court on February 13.

31 year old Jessica Hale was recently cited for shoplifting at Walmart. She allegedly took items from the store and placed them in her jacket. After she walked out the front door, Hale was stopped and the stolen items were found on her. Hale will be in court February 13.

33 year old Jared Scott Atnip was recently charged with public intoxication. His bond $1,500. An officer was dispatched to check out a report of a suspicious person on West Broad Street. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Atnip. He had a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He allegedly admitted to having consumed several beers. His speech was slurred and he was very unsteady on his feet. Atnip submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was arrested and taken to jail.

44 year old Robert R. Atnip, Jr. was recently charged with public intoxication. His bond is $2,500. Police were dispatched to Walmart to remove someone from the business. The officer spoke with the man, Atnip and noticed that he had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Atnip was taken into custody. While being detained at the police department, Atnip was also served with an outstanding warrant for forgery in a separate case. Atnip allegedly forged a check to Walmart for $981.66

27 year old Travis Baisden was recently cited with theft of merchandise. An officer was dispatched to Walmart to check out a report of a possible shop lifter. The suspect was in the electronics department. Several open and unopen packs of playing cards were found in the front pocket of his sweat shirt. The man, Baisden allegedly admitted to taking the merchandise valued at $44.65. He will be in court on February 13.

DCHS Recommended for Re-Accreditation

January 21, 2014
Dwayne Page
Al Rogers, Dr. Carol Hawkins, Karen Garner, and William “Butch” Vaughn,

DeKalb County High School will be recommended for re-accreditation by a study committee with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools who visited the school last week. But while DCHS drew praise for advancements, the committee found a need for more space and better technology.

"Plan a new school that will hold all the students and provide adequate technology for them," said Committee Chairperson Karen Garner.

The committee, made up of four Middle Tennessee educators, met with teachers, parents, and students in conducting its two day review last Thursday and Friday.

"We determine the institution's effectiveness in meeting the requirements of accreditation," said Garner, who spoke with WJLE Friday at DCHS.

"We were here Thursday and Friday all day but prior to that we had received the school's self assessment which covered five standards, things like the administration governance of the school, teaching and learning and how that happens in the school, and other aspects. We studied those and observed eighteen classrooms. We found good class work and good class management. We also interviewed many people here at school to come up with the preliminary findings for our report which will be that we will recommend that the school be re-accredited by the state SACS committee," she said.

While Garner said DCHS has earned high marks, there are areas that need to be addressed. "The one thing we found lacking was up to date and adequate facilities and technology. I think most people in this community know that," she said.

A SACS re-accreditation committee review is conducted every five years to determine if member schools have made sufficient progress and to make recommendations for improvement. "This is a five year study. When the next five year study comes along they (DCHS) will be checked to see how they have progressed. If SACS deems it necessary they might check in two years to see if any of these things are being addressed sufficiently," said Garner.

A final decision on SACS Re-accreditation of DCHS is expected by summer. "Our recommendation goes to the state. They will look at all parts of the report and decide before June," Garner concluded.

On Friday afternoon, Garner and members of the committee reviewed their findings with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps, Assistant Principals Kathy Bryant and David Gash, along with several teachers at the school and members of the Central office staff.

"The process: There is an analysis and evaluation," said Garner. "The school analyzes themselves. We provide the evaluation and hopefully we can say it's valuable feedback for you and a direction for improvement. Here's what we have done the last couple of days. Overall, we have conducted 87 interviews with administrators, teachers, support staff, students, and parents. We went into eighteen classrooms and did a minimum of twenty minutes of observations in each of those eighteen classrooms. When we go in and do observations, there's about thirty points that we look for. It's a four point scale. Anything scored three and above is great. Guess where you weren't three and above? Digital learning environment. Technology. Does that surprise anyone? No. You had a 3.57 on "supportive learning environment". That's a great score. You had a 3.47 score on "well managed learning environment". Another great score. There is nothing for you to worry about on those scores except for technology and that is not in the teacher's hands. We were very happy with what we saw. Overall, those are good scores for you," she said.

"Powerful practices. This is where we brag on you," Garner continued. " The faculty and administration are approachable and valued by the students and parents alike. Teachers participate in collaborative learning scheduled within the school day at "Tiger Time". That's a great thing. I know you are still working on that. Instructional practices have been implemented to meet the needs of all students. Counseling, assessment, referral, education and career planning exceed the student and parent expectations. They all have said anytime they ask for something, for scholarship applications, etc, there was always more given, which is a great thing," she said.

Recommendations for improvement. "Some required actions that we see. Develop a plan to respond to intervention challenges. That's where you are working on that "Tiger Time" plan. It's there. Now fine tune it and get it there. Include your team evaluations to determine professional development. You can recognize your needs and just take it from there to plan the professional developments. Where do teachers need it? That will help you focus a little bit," said Garner.

"Plan a new school that will hold all the students and provide adequate technology for them and design your learning environment to include all of these things. Higher expectations, exemplars, and formative assessments," she said.

"Based on our findings, we recommend you for accreditation. That is our recommendation. AdvancED makes the final determination. They will look at every score on everything we submit within the next couple of weeks and they will make the final determination," Garner said.

"We have just completed our external review. AdvancED office will review and send the report back to you. It may be at least thirty days in a good month. The commission will then act on your status between now and June. They will meet in June. They'll have everything done in April or May and they may tell you ahead of time," she added.

"We want to thank everybody for all the hospitality and for all the support and professionalism that we have seen on this visit. We respect and acknowledge your efforts to improve the quality of education here at your school and our congratulations to you for your progress toward achieving your accreditation as a quality institution," Garner concluded.

DCHS Principal Cripps expressed his appreciation to the faculty and staff. " I'd like to thank our teachers for the time and hard work they put into this, to Ms. Bryant, and to everyone else who has been involved in the process. Again thanks to all of you for everything you have done," he said.

Along with Chairperson Garner, other members of the visiting committee to DCHS were Al Rogers, now retired from the Franklin County school system; Dr. Carol Hawkins of Christiana Middle School; and William “Butch” Vaughn of Providence Christian Academy. Garner is a teacher at Seigel High School in Murfreesboro.

Director Willoughby said he was pleased with the committee's report. "To have such a quality group of people who are practitioners as part of the SACS accreditation group to come in and do an evaluation reinforces what we all know that the sooner DeKalb County schools can get better technology, better funding, and a new (high) school, the better off our children will be because all we're talking about is what's best for students. That is what we are mainly concerned with. These people (committee) bragged on what was happening in our classes. They bragged on our students and teachers. I'm very proud to have them come in and reinforce some of these thing we already knew," he said.

Judge Gives U.S. Attorney More Time to Respond in Foster Case

January 21, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

A federal judge has granted a motion by a U.S. Attorney asking for more time in filing a response to motions on behalf of Mike Foster who is seeking to have the criminal case against him stemming from the Living the Dream incident dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger is giving U.S. Attorney David Rivera until February 10 to respond.

Hal Hardin, the attorney for Foster filed a motion last month asking the federal court to dismiss the case against the county mayor alleging that the former UCDD Chairman made false statements to the agency's board of directors relating to the Living the Dream facility, a home for seniors in Putnam County.

In his motion to dismiss, Hardin claims that "Mr. Foster is entitled to dismissal of the charge because the "statements" he made are ambiguous to such an extent that they cannot be prosecuted as a crime".

Hardin has also filed a motion for a "Bill of Particulars" seeking specificity of the charge against Foster, and a motion for "Severance" claiming that Foster would be prejudiced by a joint trial with his co-defendants Wendy Askins and Larry Webb.

U.S. Attorney Rivera has since submitted a request for an extension of time in filing responses to Foster's motions.

In his pleading, Rivera said "At the December 10, 2013 status conference the Court established pretrial deadlines. The court ordered a deadline for the Government's responses to Foster's pretrial motions to be January 10, 2014.

The United States is seeking an additional 30 days to respond to Foster's motions.

Foster's motions raise several legal issues and will take significant time to research. The United States is seeking additional time in order to fully address the issues raised.

The United States has been advised by Foster's counsel that Foster does not object to the request for additional time to respond to his motions.

For the reasons stated above, the Government respectfully requests that it be granted a 30 day extension to file its response.

Again, U.S. District Judge Trauger has granted a 30 day extension.

Meanwhile, Askins, the former UCDD Executive Director, filed a motion last month seeking a delay in her trial date with co-defendants Foster and former UCDD Deputy Director Larry Webb because her daughter is getting married during that time.

The trial is set for May 20. Askins claims her daughter is to be married on May 24. The date for the wedding was selected in April 2013, long before Askins was indicted in the case.

Webb's attorney, Edward Yarbrough, has responded to Askins motion. Yarbrough said Webb has no objection to a delay because more time is needed to prepare for the trial anyway.

Hardin, Foster's attorney, is opposed to a continuance at least as far as Foster is concerned. "Foster appreciates the situation involving Askins' difficulty in trying this case on the date presently set. However, Foster wishes to dispose of his case at the earliest possible moment, and therefore, suggests that his case be severed as previously requested, dismissed and or tried at an earlier date," said Hardin in his response to Askins' motion.

No ruling has yet been made on Askins' request for a delay of the trial.


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