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DeKalb Suicide Rate Among Highest in Upper Cumberland for 2008

August 29, 2011

In Tennessee, an estimated 800 men, women, and children die by suicide each year. More people die by suicide each year than from homicide, AIDS, or drunk driving. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youth and young adults ages 15-24 in Tennessee and throughout the entire nation.

In order to bring attention to the urgency of the problem, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has set aside September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Tennessee.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were nine recorded suicides in DeKalb County during 2008, at a rate of 48.1 per 100,000 people. That's the highest rate among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland and third highest in the state. Only Grundy and Benton County had a higher rate per 100,000 persons. The actual number of suicides in DeKalb County, at nine, is the third most in the Upper Cumberland behind Putnam and Cumberland, each with 10. Of the 95 counties in the state, 27 had a higher number of suicides than DeKalb. Three other counties had the same number as DeKalb at nine, but the rate per 100,000 persons in those three counties, Coffee, Dickson, and Hamblen was much lower.

Statewide, the Tennessee Department of Health reports 965 recorded suicide deaths for 2008, at a rate of 15.7 per 100,000 people. Both this number and the rate are the highest ever recorded for Tennessee. The last national rankings, published in 2007 by the American Association of Suicidology, placed Tennessee at 20th in the nation for suicides.

Suicide can happen to anyone, according to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. Most victims suffer from depression, which afflicts more than 17 million Americans yearly. When the spiral of isolation and misery is left unchecked, suicide may appear to be the only answer, and the solitary and self-defeating nature of this illness can impede a person's ability or desire to get help. But with the proper diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide and the terrible toll it takes is preventable.

In almost all cases, suicide can be traced to unrecognized, untreated, or poorly treated mental illness, according to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. It can happen to people of either gender, any race or ethnicity, and any economic status. The average suicide death leaves behind six survivors—family and friends of the deceased—all of who are at increased risk for a suicide attempt themselves. As if the emotional and psychological toll were not enough, suicide and suicide attempts cost the state of Tennessee $1 billion a year in medical treatment, lost wages, and lost productivity.

The best solutions to the problem of suicide are pro-active, not reactive. Individuals struggling with suicidal impulses need to know that people care about their situation, and they need access to community mental health resources. Most suicides are preventable, and through public discourse, education, and awareness, each person can play a part in reducing the frequency of suicide in our communities. With compassion and courage, each person can give a loved one hope in time of despair.

TSPN, along with other state and civic agencies, are joining forces to recognize the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

More information about local and statewide Suicide Prevention Awareness Month events are available on the TSPN website (www.tspn.org). Additional information on these events and TSPN is available from the TSPN central office at (615) 297-1077.

TWRA Hunter Safety Course Begins Soon

August 29, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tony Cross

A Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Hunter Safety Course will be held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, September 12th, 13th, 15th, & 16th from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. each night at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

The church is located on Highway 83 at Golf Club Drive, Smithville.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross says participants must be at least nine years old by the first night of the class and must attend each night. There is no charge for the course. Just bring a pencil and your social security card.

For more information, call Tony Cross at 597-9625.

Jennings Loses Appeal

August 28, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Richard Jennings

Former Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, who had sued the City of Smithville claiming he was wrongfully terminated in 2009, has lost an appeal of his case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Jennings filed the lawsuit in DeKalb County Chancery Court in February, 2010 claiming that his termination by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was fraudulent, arbitrary, and capricious. Jennings asked the court to have a hearing and order the city to restore him to his position with the Smithville Police Department.

Chancellor Ronald Thurman held a hearing in September, 2010 and in a final order in November affirmed the decision of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen "in all respects".

Jennings filed an appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals and in a majority opinion, handed down on August 11, 2011, the appellate court, affirmed the judgment of the Chancery Court.

The Smithville board of aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, on December 7th, 2009 upheld the city discipline board's decision in November, 2009 to terminate Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence.

Jennings initially filed a federal court lawsuit, which was dismissed in February, 2010.

Jennings alleged that the city never established a cause for his termination, that the city violated his constitutional due process rights, and that he was the victim of age discrimination in the dismissal.

Jennings has been represented by Murfreesboro attorney Kerry Knox. No word yet on whether Jennings will exercise his further right of appeal.

TCAP Scores Count Toward Student Grades

August 28, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County students now have even more reason to perform well on TCAP exams.

Beginning last spring TCAP Achievement test scores in the third through eighth grade began comprising 20% of a student's final grades in the subjects of Math, Reading/Laguage Arts, Science, and Social Studies. The percentage increased to 25% beginning with this school year, 2011-12.

Meanwhile, the End of Course test grades for high school students now count for 25% of their final grades. The percentage last year was 20%.

The DeKalb County Board of Education last December adopted this new policy based on a recommendation by Jonathan Fontanez, who was the Supervisor of Instruction for Grades 7-12 at that time.

Fontanez explained that beginning with the 2011 spring semester, the state began requiring that each local board of education develop a policy by which scores on the TCAP achievement tests administered to third through eighth grade students comprise a percentage of the students final grade for the spring semester in the subjects of Mathematics, Reading/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies. According to Fontanez, the percentage shall be determined by the local board of education within a range of 15%-25%. The policy had to be developed and implemented by the spring semester of 2011.

According to state policy, High School End of Course test grades formerly counted for 20% of the final course grades in End of Course assessed subjects. Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year and the subsequent years following, the End of Course test grades for those assessed courses will count 25% toward a student's final grade.

Fontanez recommended that the board make the percentage for grades 3-8 coincide with the high school requirement already in place so as to help establish a measure of continuity across grades within the district.

Under the new policy, the percentage is 25% of a students final grade in class for grades 3-8 which is the same percentage used for the high school End of Course grade calculations .

Bounds Up For Another Parole Hearing in October

August 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds

64 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville will be up for another parole hearing in October.

Bounds, convicted of first degree murder, is serving a life prison sentence at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville.

Last fall, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to concur with a recommendation by two of it's members Yusuf Hakeem and Charles Taylor that Bounds be denied parole due to the seriousness of the offense in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of DeKalb County.

Following Bounds' last parole hearing in October, 2010, Hakeem and Taylor recommended that Bounds be "put off" for two years before his next parole hearing, but the state board decided instead to review Bound's case again in October, 2011.

The board requested that Bounds undergo a psychological evaluation prior to his next hearing, as was recommended by parole board members Hakeem and Taylor.

2012 Political Season on the Horizon

August 25, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

The political campaigns will be firing up again in a few months.

The 2012 election season will begin with the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primaries in March and although no official announcement has yet been made, the DeKalb County Democratic Primary will mostly likely be held in March to coincide with the Presidential primaries.

On the local scene, the office of Assessor of Property will be up for election along with all seven constable positions. Each of the terms is for four years. In 2008, Assessor of Property Timothy Fud Banks was re-elected while those elected as constable were Reed Edge in the second district, Wayne Vanderpool in the third district, Paul Cantrell in the fourth district, Mark Milam in the fifth district, Cantrell Jones in the sixth district, and Johnny King in the seventh district. No one was elected in the first district.

While the local Democratic Party will be selecting its nominees through the primary process, the DeKalb County Republican Party will choose any nominees it has by convention.

Any Republican and Democratic nominees for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable will face off in the August 2012 DeKalb County General Election.

Meanwhile, school board members will be elected from the fifth and sixth districts in the DeKalb County General Election in August, 2012. Each term is for four years. W.J. (Dub) Evins, III is the fifth district school board member and Bruce Parsley represents the sixth district. School board members do not run as party nominees but as non-partisan candidates.

Meanwhile, the offices of State Representative, U.S. Congressman, and U.S. Senator will also be up for election in 2012. The positions are currently held by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, Congressman Diane Black, and U.S. Senator Bob Corker. Nominees for these offices will be selected in the Tennessee Democratic and Republican primaries in August and will run against each other in the Tennessee General Election in November, 2012. The terms of office for State Representative and U.S. Congressman are for two years and six years for U.S. Senator. The Presidential election will also be held in November 2012

In Smithville, a Mayor and two aldermen will be elected in the municipal election next June. Those positions are currently held by Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 9.7% in July

August 25, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for July dropped to 9.7%, down from 10.3% in June. The rate for July, 2010 was 9.4%

The Labor Force in DeKalb County for July was at 10,150. A total of 9,160 were employed and 980 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for July was third lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland region as follows:

Pickett County- 14.8%
Overton- 12.7%
Van Buren- 12.2%
Clay- 12%
Fentress- 11.7%
White- 11.5%
Warren- 11.4%
Jackson- 10.6%
Macon- 10.6%
Cumberland- 10.5%
Smith-9.8%
DeKalb-9.7%
Cannon- 9.3%
Putnam-9.2%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for July show that the rate decreased in 90 counties. Five counties increased including Houston, Obion, Overton, Smith and Weakley.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for July was 9.8 percent, unchanged from the June revised rate. The national unemployment rate for July 2011 was 9.1 percent, down from the June revised rate of 9.2 percent.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, down from the June rate of 6.7 percent, followed by Williamson County at 6.7 percent, down from 7.2 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.8 percent, down from 20.8 percent in the previous month, followed by Pickett County at 14.8 percent, down from 15.0 percent in June.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.5 percent, down from 8.0 percent in June. Hamilton County was 8.4 percent, down from 9.2 percent the previous month. Davidson County was 8.5 percent, down from 9.1 percent in June, and Shelby County was 10.6 percent, down from the June unemployment rate of 11.1 percent.

Saturday Is Free Hunting Day in Tennessee

August 25, 2011

All Tennesseans are reminded that Saturday, Aug. 27 is Free Hunting Day in Tennessee when state residents may hunt without a license. The annual event coincides with the opening day of squirrel season.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in hunting. Squirrel hunting is one of Tennessee's oldest and favorite traditions. The day serves as an excellent opportunity for persons to experience the enjoyment of the sport. Regular hunters are encouraged to introduce friends and family members (young and old) to the outdoors sport. It is also an excellent opportunity for those folks who have not tried hunting in a while to get back into the woods.

On Free Hunting Day, state resident hunters are exempt from hunting licenses and WMA permits requirements. Many of the WMAs are open to hunters seeking public access on Aug. 27. Hunters are asked to check the information for particular WMAs in the newly-published 2011 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide which is available online at www.tnwildlife.org or copies are available at any TWRA regional office or at most outlets where licenses are sold.

Hunter education requirements have not been waived for Free Hunting Day. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 is required to have successfully completed a hunter education course. A one-time, one-year apprentice license is required for those born on or after Jan. 1, 1969 if the hunter education course has not been completed.

Hunters are allowed to harvest up to 10 squirrels a day from this Saturday through Feb. 28, with each hunting day beginning a half-hour before sunrise and ending a half-hour after sunset.

In addition to squirrels, those species that have a year-round season will be open as well. The year-round species are armadillo, beaver, coyote, English sparrow, groundhog, nutria, pigeon, starling, and striped skunk.

For more information about hunting in Tennessee, visit TWRA's website at www.tnwildlife.org or contact your nearest TWRA Regional Office.

Now Recruiting for Leadership DeKalb Class of 2012

August 24, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Leadership DeKalb is seeking participants for its 14th class to run September 2011 – June 2012. The first class is Tuesday, September 20.

The program's mission is to develop a diverse pool of business and community leaders, and to provide them with the information and tools needed to become more effective and active leaders in creating positive change in DeKalb County.

Anyone who lives or works in DeKalb County is encouraged to join the upcoming class. For more information, please contact Jen Sherwood at 615-464-0645 or the chamber office at 597-4163

Leadership DeKalb is an adult leadership enhancement program. This program is for individuals who are or show the desire for the role of community trustees. Participants study the county in-depth, strengthen leadership skills and build a network of fellow leaders through the Leadership DeKalb classmates and alumni. Leadership DeKalb shapes our county's future with knowledgeable, effective and active leaders.

Each year, twelve individuals who live and/or work in DeKalb County are selected to participate in the September to June program. Selection into Leadership DeKalb is competitive, based upon a written application. The selection committee considers candidates' involvement in the community and demonstration of their current or future leadership potential. The overall diversity among the class participants - including occupation, age, heritage, gender, education and geography -- plays a significant role in the selection process. Tuition is $175 and is expected to be paid at least in part by the participant. Tuition scholarships are available.

The following dates provide the selection schedule for the Class of 2012:

September 1 - Deadline for application

Class of 2012 Program Schedule

Program Meeting Days Time Topics

Tuesday, Sept 20, 2011
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Opening Retreat (full attendance required)

Tuesday, Oct 11, 2011
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Team building-Being a Change-Agent (Health Care & Quality of Life)

Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Networking (Local Government)

Thursday, Dec 15, 2011
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Cooperation- (Justice System)

Thursday, Jan 19, 2012
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Resource Allocation-(Economic Development)

Thursday, Feb 16, 2012
7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Decision Making- (Education)

Mon-Tues, March 12-13, 2012
2 p.m Monday - 5 p.m. Tuesday
Advocacy (State Government)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Visioning-(Community & Communications)

Monday, May 14, 2012
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Implementing Your Passion (CHL)

Thursday, June 19, 2012
5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Graduation

Participants must be committed to attending all sessions, and a maximum of only 10 excused hours may be missed throughout the year in order to successfully complete the program. Opening retreat and graduation are required.

For questions or more information, contact the chamber office at 597-4163 or Jen Sherwood at 615-464-0645.

Alexandria City Election Upcoming with Only One Name on Ballot

August 24, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria City Election is set for Thursday, September 1 but only one name is on the ballot.

Darrell Dixon, a current alderman, was the only person to qualify to run in the election. Three aldermen were to be elected.

According to the DeKalb County Election Commission, no one else can be elected that day in this election, even by write-in. Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, said persons attempted to be elected by write-in ballots had to complete a notice requesting his/her votes be counted no later than NOON July 13. Since no one met that deadline, no write-in votes can be counted on election day.

Members of the Alexandria council are Aldermen Pat Jackson, Tony Tarpley, Addie Farley, Derrick Baker, and Darrell Dixon. One position remains vacant. The Mayor is Ria Baker.

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