Local News Articles


February 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Taylor Leach, Valedictorian
Phillip Jacob (P.J.) Carroll, Salutatorian

DeKalb County High School has released the names of this year's Honor Students including the 2013 Valedictorian Taylor C. Leach and the Salutatorian Phillip J. Carroll



Students among the top twenty five senior academic ranking from numbers one to twenty five are as follows:

Valedictorian Taylor Leach, Salutatorian P.J. Carroll, Kristen Campbell, Hunter Collins, Zach Martin, Jacob Parsley, Cassi Lester, Jessica Acuna, Kayley Green, Grace Webb, Ben Pafford, Erin Cantrell-Pryor, Annieka Norton, Taylor Poston, Lauren Craig, Chelsea Lewis, Haley Keck, Alex Hayes, Martha Martin, Katie Haggard, Samantha Leiser, Jessica Harbaugh, Caleb Cantrell, Casey Alderman, and Cecilia Maciel Ortega.

Students earning "Highest Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.8 to 4.0 are:

Valedictorian Taylor C. Leach (4.0), Salutatorian Phillip J. Carroll (4.0), Daniela J. Acuna (4.0), Casey J. Alderman, Kristen R. Campbell (4.0), Caleb B. Cantrell (4.0), Sarah E. Cantrell, Erin Cantrell-Pryor, Hunter T. Collins (4.0), Lauren E. Craig (4.0), Emily R. Davidson, Savannah P. Dexter, Benjamin G. Driver, Hayden R. Ervin, Christina Ferguson, Makayla S. Funk, Callie A. Gash, William G. Graham, Kayley B. Green, Katie S. Haggard (4.0), Jessica L. Harbaugh, Amy L. Hastings, Alexander D. Hayes (4.0), Haley Keck(4.0), Elizabeth A. Koegler, Mandee R. Lattimore, Samantha R. Leiser (4.0), Cassandra L. Lester (4.0), Chelsea A. Lewis (4.0), Cecilia Maciel Ortega, Martha L. Martin (4.0), Zachary R. Martin (4.0), William M. Molander, Annieka M. Norton (4.0), Benjamin P. Pafford (4.0), Johnathon K. Page, Haley D. Parchman, Jacob E. Parsley (4.0), Taylor B. Poston (4.0), Martelia L. Tallent, and Rebekah G. Webb (4.0)

Students earning "High Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.6 to 3.79 include Kaylee S. Cantrell, Mykaela O Duke, Alyssa K. England, Marissa E. Garmer, Cory A. Kijanski, Spencer B. Maynard, Taylor B. Monette, Lucas D. Phillips, Skyar J. Ritchie, and Dalton H. Vaughn.

Those earning "Distinction" with a grade point average of 3.2 to 3.59 include Connor N. Apple, Emily K. Blackwell, Matthew W. Boss, Matthew C. Bouldin, Brittany N. Brakeall, Ashley S. Brandt, Benjamin F. Brandt, Cohen W. Brown, Downing E. Burke, Abbey L. Caldwell, Paige L. Cantrell, Austin L. Certain, Evan M. Curtis, Rachel L. Edge, Fantasia M. Erdman, Cain A. Evans, Krestin M. Evans, Lydia M. Foutch, Ashlee M. Gunter, Kelsey R. Hale, Alex C. Hall, Laddie B. Jerrells, Jason A. Judkins, Harley D. Lawrence, Walter L. Lewis, Quenton P. McSparren, Derek C. Parsley, Bindiya R. Patel, Elijah C. Poss, Nathan A. Sexton, Ethan D. Shaw, Spencer E. Stanfield, Cheyenne L. Stanley, Lindsey M. Taylor, Elijah G. Turner, Zachary D. Vincent, Emily J. Webb, and Zoe E. Whaley.

The Class of 2013 at DeKalb County High School will graduate on Friday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m.

Kayla Belk of DeKalb Middle School Wins Spelling Bee (SEE VIDEO OF ENTIRE SPELLING BEE HERE)

February 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Holly Evans (left), Mark Willoughby, Kayla Belk (right)

Kayla Belk, a seventh grader at DeKalb Middle School, won the 10th annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee Monday night at the county complex auditorium.

Belk, the 12 year old daughter of ChrisAnne Belk and Andrew Fults of Smithville was among forty students from the fourth grade to the eighth grade who participated in the contest.

Eleven year old Holly Evans, a fifth grader at DeKalb West School, was the runner-up. She is the daughter of Mike and Amy Evans of Alexandria.

Belk and Evans were the last two contestants in the sixth round. Evans misspelled the word "trek" which opened the door for Belk to claim the championship by correctly spelling the next two works "gardenia" in the sixth round and "futon" in the seventh round.

Students from DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, and Northside Elementary School recently competed at the school level to become eligible for the county competition. Along with winners in thirty-nine other counties, Belk and Evans will compete in the Middle Tennessee Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University. The regional bee will take place on Saturday, March 2 at 9:30 a.m. at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The winner of the Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.


spelling bee from dwayne page on Vimeo.

The purpose in sponsoring the County Wide Spelling Bee is to "help students improve Spelling skills, increase vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives".

Participants in this year's County Wide Spelling Bee were:

DeKalb West:
Cayden Kyle, Jordan Crook, Holly Evans, Ashton Sensing, Phillip Coats, Jaime Alexander, Cody Hale, Jayra Plattenburg, Casey Vickers, Jacob Billings, Rosa Payne, and Paige Snyder

Northside Elementary:
Briona Agee, Alexis Cudney, Julia Curtis, Yessi Dragustinovis, Kenzie France, Skylar Fuson
Kiersten Griffith, Savannah Jackson, Duncan Johnson, Karly Knowles, Raiden Martin, Makenzie Poss, Laynie Rippee, Carly Vance, Justin Washer, MyKenzie Wilson, and Jayden Worley

DeKalb Middle
Kayla Belk, Timothy Cassinera, Baylie Davis, Malone Fletcher, Olivia Fuson, Kyle Justice, Reagan Patton, Skylar Pease, Ashley Phillips, Alec Reynolds, and Alyssa Sewell.

Twenty four students made it to the second round including Rosa Payne, Duncan Johnson, Cayden Kyle, Yessi Dragustinovis, Raiden Martin, Alec Reynolds, Jordan Crook, Karly Knowles, Makenzie Poss, Alyssa Sewell, Olivia Fuson, Malone Fletcher, Jayden Worley, Paige Snyder, Holly Evans, Justin Washer, Briona Agee, Kayla Belk, Ashton Sensing, Kiersten Griffith, Skylar Pease, Julia Curtis, Ashley Phillips, and Carly Vance.

Eleven students advanced to the third round including Duncan Johnson, Yessi Dragustinovis, Alec Reynolds, Olivia Fuson, Paige Snyder, Holly Evans, Justin Washer, Kayla Belk, Skylar Pease, Ashley Phillips, and Carly Vance.

Six students competed in the fourth round including Duncan Johnson, Yessi Dragustinovis, Olivia Fuson, Holly Evans, Justin Washer, and Kayla Belk.

The fifth round featured five students, Duncan Johnson, Olivia Fuson, Holly Evans, Justin Washer, and Kayla Belk.

The sixth round was narrowed to two spellers, Holly Evans and Kayla Belk

Belk claimed the championship in the seventh and final round.

Woman Arrested for Drugs Allegedly Tries to Swallow Pills and Meth

February 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Autumn Danielle White

A Smithville woman, recently arrested on a marijuana charge, apparently produced more drugs from her body while in custody and tried to swallow them to avoid detection.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that 37 year old Autumn Danielle White was charged on Friday, February 1 with simple possession and possession with intent to resell a schedule II controlled substance after drugs were found on her person. According to the warrant, White was placed under arrest at the police department after she was found with marijuana at Wal-Mart. After being placed in custody, White was searched by a female correctional officer at the police department and a baggie was found on her person. Authorities later noticed that Ms. White, while still in custody, appeared to be trying to recover something from her body. As officers approached her, she attempted to swallow a plastic baggie containing pills and eight small bags containing less than one gram of methamphetamine with a total weight of three grams. Bond for White is $11,500 and she will be in court March 14.

Meanwhile, 30 year old Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth, a passenger in White's vehicle, consented to a search. A small baggie with a white substance was found on Hollingsworth along with a used hypodermic needle which belonged to him. Hollingsworth was cited for simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. He will be in court on March 14.

53 year old James D Roberts was arrested for violation of an order of protection. The warrant against him stated that on Sunday, February 3 at Food Lion, Roberts was with his girlfriend. She has an active order of protection against him. Bond for Roberts is $2,500.

33 year old Robert Charles England was cited for simple possession on Tuesday, February 5. During a traffic stop, an officer recovered from England, 5.5 pills believed to be hydrocodone. He will be in court on March 14.

37 year old Jason Mark Watts was arrested Wednesday, February 6 for a first offense of driving under the influence and evading arrest. According to the warrant, an officer was on routine patrol when he saw a vehicle failing to maintain his lane of travel. The officer activated his blue lights and siren to get the vehicle to stop near the high school. The man, Watts stopped near DeKalb Market. As Watts got out of the vehicle, the officer saw that he was unsteady on his feet and that he was slow to comply with verbal commands. Watts had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Watts refused to submit to any field sobriety tasks but he did submit to a blood alcohol test. His bond is $3,000 and his court date is March 14..

Anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Three Caught in Barn Burglary; Speeding Truck Driver Found with Drugs

February 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Andy Joe Certain
April Lee Hollingsworth
Kelly Lee Hollingsworth
David Ray Johnson
Christopher Justin Garrett
Christopher Shannon Mooneyham

Three people were caught at the scene of the crime by sheriff's department deputies after allegedly breaking into a barn on Joins Road last week

35 year old Andy Joe Certain of Bright Hill Road, Smithville and 34 year old April Lee Hollingsworth and 53 year old Kelly Lee Hollingsworth both of West Main Street, Smithville are each charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Bond for each is $11,500 and they will be in court February 14. April Hollingsworth was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia after officers found needles, straws and a spoon while conducting an inventory of her vehicle before it was towed. She allegedly admitted to officers that those items belonged to her.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Certain and the two Hollingsworth's allegedly entered the barn on Joins Road through the barn doors and took numerous old and antique farm equipment, valued at $1,500.

According to Sheriff Ray, deputies arrived at the scene before the three intruders left and the stolen property was unloaded from their vehicle and returned to the owner.

Meanwhile in a separate case, a semi-truck was pulled over for speeding near Dowelltown last Friday and the driver was found with drugs.

50 year old David Ray Johnson of Old Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with unlawful possession of a schedule III drug for resale (hydrocodone), unlawful possession of a schedule IV drug for resale (xanax), and unlawful possession of a schedule VI drug for resale (marijuana). Johnson was also issued citations for speeding and for failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $11,500 and he will be in court February 28.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday February 8, Johnson was stopped for speeding in a semi-truck by a sheriff's department drug detective. While observing traffic on Highway 70 at Dry Creek Road near Dowelltown, the detective spotted a semi-truck, driven by Johnson traveling west and passing other vehicles. The semi was clocked at 74 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. The detective got behind the truck and activated his lights and sirens. He said the truck was weaving all over the roadway. The semi continued traveling about a half mile to a mile before pulling over. When Johnson got out of the truck, the drug detective smelled the odor of marijuana on him and saw rolling papers in the passenger side floor board of the truck. The passenger side window was rolled down. After observing Johnson taking his hands in and out of his pockets several times, the detective asked for and received consent to search. Four oblong pills were found in Johnson's left front pocket. In his right front pocket was a bottle that contained nine oblong pills. These pills are believed to be hydrocodone. Johnson did not have a prescription bottle for these pills. Lying beside the truck on the ground were more rolling papers. A search of the area turned up a large pill bottle containing two plastic bags with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. One of the plastic bags held eight blue pills thought to be xanax. Johnson allegedly admitted to tossing those items from the truck saying he got scared and that this would ruin him.

22 year old Christopher Justin Garrett of Clear Creek Road, Liberty is charged with evading arrest. His bond is $5,000. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, January 18, Garrett was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 when a sheriff's department drug detective spotted him driving erratically. The detective tried to pull him over but Garrett refused to stop. He turned onto Dale Ridge Road and traveled about three miles before the detective terminated the pursuit. Garrett's vehicle was recovered sitting in the middle of Carter Road at Temperance Hall. Witnesses in the vehicle with Garrett later identified him as the driver. Garrett was arrested on Monday, February 4.

33 year old Christopher Shannon Mooneyham of Green Acre Drive, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. He was further issued a citation for driving on a revoked license because of a DUI. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on February 14. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, February 6 a sheriff's department drug detective saw a vehicle traveling very slowly in the middle of the roadway on Broad Street in Smithville. The automobile made a left turn onto Short Mountain Highway and crossed both lanes traveling at approximately 25 miles per hour in the 40 mile per hour zone. The detective pulled over the vehicle on Green Acre Drive. Mooneyham was the driver. The officer reported that Mooneyham's speech was very slurred and slow and he was unsteady on his feet. Mooneyham submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol drug test. His prior DUI offense was on March 26, 2009.

Truck Driver Escapes Unharmed After his Semi Catches Fire

February 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Truck Driver Escapes Unharmed After his Semi Catches Fire

The driver of a semi freightliner escaped unharmed after the truck caught fire on Blue Springs Road Sunday night.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said Calvin Lankford had just left home to go hook his truck up to a trailer when a fire started in the engine compartment while he was driving down the road, only about a half mile after leaving his residence.

Lankford told firefighters that the engine stalled a couple of times and then flames shot up through the dash. Heat from the flames singed Lankford's hair and beard. He brought the truck to a stop and got out safely.

The truck was a total loss.

Central dispatch was notified at 5:39 p.m. and members of the Blue Springs and Short Mountain Highway stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Coach Lynus Martin Named Boys District Coach of Year; Fullilove Selected Defensive Player of Year

February 10, 2013
Dwayne Page
Lynus Martin-District Coach of Year
Sonni Fullilove-District Defensive Player of Year

DeKalb County's Sonni Fullilove has been named the boy's Defensive Player of the Year in District 8 AA while Tiger Coach Lynus Martin is the Boy's District Coach of the Year.

The All-District selections were announced Friday.

Livingston Academy's Mason Ramsey is the District's Most Valuable Player for boys while Cannon County's Abby Sissom took the MVP honor for girls.

For the boys, Colton Blevins of York Institute was named Freshman of the Year and Wade Eldridge of Livingston Academy is the Most Improved Player in the district.

Jordan Hollis of Cannon County is the girl's Defensive Player of the Year in the district. Ola Obie of Central Magnet was named the district's Most Improved Player. Casey Gregory of Smith County is the Freshman of the Year and Micheal Dodgen of Cannon County received the Girl's Coach of the Year honor.

In addition to taking the Defensive Player of the Year award, Sonni Fullilove of DeKalb County was also named to the All-District's 1st Team along with Braxton Atnip. Stephen Howell was named to the 2nd Team. Ethan Roller made the 3rd Team and Lucas Phillips and Will Molander received Honorable Mention.

Loren Cripps of the Lady Tigers made the All-District 3rd Team. Ashli Chew and Morgan Pedigo were selected to the All Freshman Team and Chelsea Lewis received Honorable Mention.

The following are the All-District selections for both boys and girls in District 8AA

MVP- Abby Sissom, Cannon County
Defensive Player of the Year - Jordan Hollis, Cannon County
Most Improved Player - Ola Obie, Central Magnet
Freshman of the Year - Casey Gregory, Smith County
Coach of the Year - Micheal Dodgen, Cannon County

1st Team
Callie Hackett, Smith County
Ola Obie, Central Magnet
Claudia Smith, Central Magnet
Ashley Wright, York Institute
Abby Jakes, Cannon County

2nd Team
Marley Sells, Livingston Academy
Claudia Hull, Upperman
Sydney Staggs, Livingston Academy
Casey Gregory, Smith County
Kailey Winningham, Livingston Academy

3rd Team
Ashley Brewer, Central Magnet
Kat Carter, Upperman
Jordan Hollis, Cannon County
Raven Wright, Smith County
Loren Cripps, DeKalb County

All Defensive Team
Jordan Hollis, Cannon County
Ashley Wright, York Institute
Raven Wright, Smith County
Rachel Reeder, Livingston Academy
Taylor Meadows, Livingston Academy
Callie Hackett, Smith County
Claudia Hull, Upperman

All Freshman Team
Casey Gregory, Smith County
Jacquelin Carpenter, Smith County
Kelly Davis, Cannon County
Kylea Carver, Central Magnet
Ashli Chew, DeKalb County
Morgan Pedigo, DeKalb County
Skylar Looper, Livingston Academy
Kellie Lamb, Livingston Academy
Sarah Eldridge. Upperman

Honorable Mention
Madison Walkup, Cannon County
Rebecca Faulkner, Cannon County
Chelsea Lewis, DeKalb County
Taylor Meadows, Livingston Academy
Rachel Reeder, Livingston Academy
Allison Conder, Smith County
Katelyn Butler, York Institute
Mallory Hull, York Institute
Hannah Burke, York Institute
Haley Attkinson, York Institute

MVP - Mason Ramsey, Livingston Academy
Defensive Player of the Year - Sonni Fullilove, DeKalb County
Most Improved Player -Wade Eldridge, Livingston Academy
Freshman of the Year - Colton Blevins, York Institute
Coach of the Year - Lynus Martin, DeKalb County

1st Team
Braxton Atnip, DeKalb County
Sonni Fullilove, DeKalb County
Brock McCoin, Livingston Academy
Jordan Craighead, Smith County
Joe Jones, Upperman

2nd Team
Cory Henley, Cannon County
Tyler McWilliams, Upperman
Stephen Howell, DeKalb County
Wade Eldridge, Livingston Academy
Jared Case, Upperman

3rd Team
Corbin Patton, York Institute
Kevin Craighead, Smith County
Cody Devillanueva, Upperman
Ethan Roller, DeKalb County
John McBride, York Institute

Honorable Mention
Lucas Phillps, DeKalb County
Will Molander, DeKalb County
Wyatt Slagle, Upperman
Dalton Dronebarger, Upperman
Dylan Hedgecloth, Upperman
Jacob Day, York Institute
Byron Matthews, York Institute
Jamal Carter, Smith County
Sam Holliman, Smith County
Beau Carr, Smith County
Creed Hayes, Livingston Academy
Bennett Fouts, Central Magnet
Coyle Gregory, Central Magnet
Camron Huff, Smith County
Bubba Jolley, Livingston Academy
Tanner Larson, Cannon County
Jarrett Melton, Cannon County

All Defensive Team
Creed Hayes, Livingston Academy
Brock McCoin, Livingston Academy
Jared Cox, Upperman
Kevin Craighead, Smith County
Tanner Larson, Cannon County

All Freshman Team
Colton Blevins, York Institute
Camron Huff, Smith County
Ben Guffey, Upperman
Dylan Linder, Livingston Academy
Peter Hollars, Livingston Academy

Jones and Morris Named Queen and King at Motlow College

February 10, 2013
Dwayne Page
Kelsey Jones and Corey Morris
Tyler Glenn of Morrison and Jaya Harwell of Smithville

Kelsey Jones and Corey Morris, both of McMinnville, were named queen and king during recent homecoming activities at Motlow College, according to Sheri Mason, assistant director of student services and Student Government Association sponsor.

Jones and Morris were nominated for the honors by members of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society at Motlow's McMinnville Center. Jones is studying criminal justice at the college and will graduate in May. Morris, who also will be among the May graduates, is a political science major.

Other nominees for queen and king were Courtney Michaels of Hazel Green, Ala.; Andrew Mustin of Fayetteville; Jaya Harwell of Smithville; Tyler Glenn of Morrison; Catherine Chappell of Tullahoma; Ange'lica Looney of Smyrna; and Presley Owen of Tullahoma. Homecoming was held on Motlow's Moore County campus and was sponsored by the SGA, which hosted a photo booth and distributed free pompoms and megaphones to attendees

Infinity Athletics All Star team Takes Second Place in Cheerleading Competition

February 10, 2013
Infinity Athletics All Star team Takes Second Place in Cheerleading Competition

The Infinity Athletics All Star team, the Stunners, brought home 2nd Place at the Jamfest Cheerleading competition at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, February 2nd.

Pictured are:

Malia Stanley, Kaitlyn Fish, Kailey Herron, Alley Sykes, Shaunta Koegler, Chloe Sykes, Katherine Malone, Rachel Rhody, and Leah Davis.

Coached by Avarie Maynard and Jennifer Sykes

Alexander Pushes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Reconsider Fishing Restrictions

February 8, 2013
Lamar Alexander

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), in a meeting recently with Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Capitol hosted by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), said that he will explore writing legislation to change the law in order to stop the Corps’ current plan to restrict access to dam tailwaters along the Cumberland River. Alexander urged Maj. Gen. Walsh to consider alternatives that would keep people safe when dams are spilling while allowing full access to the tailwaters when the dams are not spilling.

Of the meeting, Alexander said, “The tailwaters are only dangerous when the water is spilling through the dam, and when it’s not, tailwaters provide some of the best fishing areas in the U.S., attracting thousands of fishermen and creating hundreds of jobs in Tennessee and Kentucky. For example, water spills through the Center Hill dam about 14 percent of the time. The most logical solution would be to make the area safe when the danger exists: To close the tailwaters to fishing 100 percent of the time would be like keeping the gate down at the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time – the track is not dangerous when the train is not coming, and the tailwaters are not dangerous when the water is not spilling through the dam.”

Alexander sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, voicing his “strong opposition” to the Corps plan that would divert $2.6 million in federal money toward barriers restricting access to the tailwaters. In the letter, Alexander highlighted the importance of the fishing areas, both recreationally and economically: “The Cumberland River system is enjoyed by Tennesseans and visitors from around the world, and the open access of the Cumberland River system is critical to our recreational fishermen and is an important part of Tennessee’s economy.”

Alexander is the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which has jurisdiction over the Army Corps of Engineers.

The full text of the letter is below:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to restrict access to fishing areas in tailwaters below dams on the Cumberland River system.

On December 6th, I met with Lt. Colonel James DeLapp, Commander of the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to discuss the proposed restrictions. While I understand the importance of improving boater safety, the Corps is planning to divert previously appropriated federal funding to implement the proposed restrictions. I received a list of projects in the Nashville District that will be affected by the Corps’ decision, and I am very concerned about some of the proposed actions which include delaying maintenance activities and reducing services at recreation areas.

I also want to make you aware that the Corps’ actions will have a significant impact on fisheries in Tennessee and Kentucky, and the Corps’ proposed restrictions are opposed by both state wildlife agencies. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation believe that further restricting access to tailwater areas is unnecessary, and I agree with them. You should consider reasonable alternatives to improve public safety, not unilaterally prohibit access to some of the highest quality fishing areas in my state. Changes should only be considered after a thorough review of all public comments and suggestions, which will not happen if the Corps proceeds according to their proposed timeline. I am concerned that the proper environmental assessment has not occurred, and I am evaluating legislative options to prevent the Corps from going forward.

I would like to talk with you directly about the Corps’ decision before the Corps takes any further action. The Cumberland River system is enjoyed by Tennesseans and visitors from around the world, and the open access of the Cumberland River system is critical to our recreational fishermen and is an important part of Tennessee’s economy.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to meeting with you.

Lamar Alexander
United States Senator

Principal Calls for More School Resource Officers, Board of Education Sets Workshop

February 8, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dr. Gayle Redmon, Principal of NES, calls for more SRO's
Danny Parkerson, Principal of DWS, supports more SRO's
School board member Billy Miller (right)calls for workshop on school security

With a local principal calling for more School Resource Officers, the school board has scheduled a workshop for Monday, February 25 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss options for strengthening school security, including the possibility of asking the state legislature and county commission to help fund more SRO officers.

DeKalb County currently has one School Resource Officer at DCHS. The four other schools do not have an SRO.

During Thursday night's school board meeting held at DeKalb West School, Dr. Gayle Redmon, Principal at Northside Elementary School said its time for the school board to act. "While I am aware that the funding for School Resource Officers is not an item that comes out of the school budget, I would like to make an appeal to the School Board to request from our County Commissioners, a School Resource Officer in each of our schools in DeKalb County," she said.


M2U00996 from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Referring to an incident in Warren County Thursday, Dr. Redmon said "today (Thursday), we had a report of a threat made by a student in another county (Warren County) and our school (NES) was fortunate enough to have an officer assigned to our school for most of the day as we maintained a high alert status. The presence of this officer made everyone at Northside feel safer and more secure," she said.

"While it saddens me that we must make this request, I believe it is imperative that we think in terms of being proactive rather than reactive," said Dr. Redmon.

"Research does indicate that a School Resource Officer would be instrumental in protecting students and staff in the event that we were to ever to have an intruder in our school who intended to do harm to students or an adult. I am aware of only one incident in which an SRO officer was killed in a school shooting. Most of the attacks in schools occur where there is not an SRO present. In instances where there has been an SRO present during a violent attack at school, the officer has been able to signficantly limit the harm to innocent people," she said

"In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for example in 2011, a student entered a school with two pipe bombs in his backpack. He then shot and wounded the School Resource Officer. But the officer was able to stop that student before he could do any further harm," said Dr. Redmon.

"In our own state of Tennessee, in Sullivan County a 62 year old man came in and confronted a principal. He put a gun in the principal's face. The School Resource Officer intervened and was able to calm the man down at least until more officers could arrive, at which time that man did draw the gun on the SRO and he was shot by those officers," she said.

"Examples like that could go on and on."

"The one thing that really sticks out in my mind at all the school safety and security meetings I have attended in our own county or at Tennessee Tech and other places is that each of the schools reported having one thing in common and that was that they never thought that a shooting would occur at their school," she said.

"I believe an SRO is needed at every school. I believe they would be able to protect our schools. I think they could coordinate the response better for other police resources and maybe help us to address crime and disorder problems as they occur and further help prevent such crimes," according to Dr. Redmon.

"I believe an SRO would be able to take action immediately against unauthorized persons on our school property. In addition, I think they would be a deterrent to bullying in our schools," she said..

"I believe the presence of SRO's in our schools would be invaluable an immeasurable if they were able to save even one life," concluded Dr. Redmon.

"I concur with Mrs. Redmon," said Danny Parkerson, Principal at DeKalb West School. "Schools have changed. Our society has changed. An SRO Officer in the schools just has a calming affect if nothing else. I've been to ball games and had SRO Officers attend our ball games and it makes an unruly fan, ruly," said Parkerson.

First District member John David Foutch said the school board has been discussing ways to improve school security for several weeks. "The day after Sandy Hook, we started working on this," said Foutch. " We've talked to local law enforcement departments. In our own county, we've gone a long way. We've got people interested in taking those jobs (SROs). What we are lacking mainly is funding. If you will talk to your county commissioners, we'll talk to our legislators. To get this funded and off the ground, we need people at home standing behind us. This is something we're trying to make happen but we can't make it happen on our own. We need everybody's help," said Foutch.

"In the workshop prior to this meeting, we were already discussing some of these issues," said Board Chairman Johnny Lattimore. " I think Mr. (Mark) Willoughby is going to be checking into the costs and we will be making recommendations. Some of our board members will be attending the "Day on the Hill" (State Legislature) in just a few days and they will be talking to some of our legislators about such things as being able to help fund some of those (SROs) and a lot of other things we need to do to upgrade our security systems at the schools," said Lattimore.

Fourth District member Billy Miller proposed having a workshop on school security, but to open it up to the community so that more people, including local law enforcement officers and business persons could offer up ideas. "I do think it is a community responsibility for us to look at this," said Miller. " I would make a proposal that we have a workshop to come up with solutions. It needs to be an open workshop to include the Sheriff's Department, the Police Department, First Responders, local businessmen, and the community. If we come together as a community I think we can get way ahead on this problem. If we have the community involved in this, maybe we can come up with a solution and maybe be able to put more SRO's into the school system. It's not going to solve all our problems but it's a start in the right direction. I would like to see this board step up for the community and have the community involved," said Miller.

Chris Allen, a concerned parent and owner of two local businesses addressed the school board offering an idea on how to pay for more SRO's. " I've thought about the funding for the SRO's. If every working citizen in DeKalb County who works in the county would commit to having one penny an hour deducted off of their pay, that would fund an SRO Officer for each school in the county. I don't know how difficult that would be to do but it wouldn't have to come out of anybody's budget. I don't know how it could be implemented or even if it could be a private thing instead of through the state or the county," said Allen.

Board Chairman Lattimore said the school system could not implement such a plan and that Allen would have to contact the county commission or state legislature about his proposal. "That would be something that would have to be taken up by the county commission or the state legislature," said Lattimore. "How ever the SRO's are funded, the taxpayers will have to pay for that. Right now all of our county taxes are through property taxes so if the county commission pays for it (more SRO's) then that's probably how they would do it is add to the county property taxes. I recommend that you talk to your county commissioners and maybe you can send in an email to your state representatives too and let them know about your idea. They are the ones who actually tax us so that's where that would have to come from," said Lattimore.


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