Local News Articles

Buck Supports Lottery Scholarship Legislation To Expand Opportunities For Students

March 15, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

This week, the State House of Representatives moved closer to passing important lottery scholarship legislation designed to expand the opportunity for more Tennesseans to attend college.

"The original purpose of the lottery was to help send Tennesseans to college, " said Representative Frank Buck. "That purpose remains true today and years of running a surplus shows that we could be helping more people achieve the dream of a college degree."

In the Higher Education Subcommittee, a bill targeting the retention GPA of students who receive the HOPE Lottery Scholarship was approved and moved to the full House Education Committee for passage. Under the new legislation, the retention GPA for students would be revised from 3.0 to 2.75, helping to increase the retention rate among college freshmen and sophomores. Currently, more than 70% of incoming freshmen who qualify for the HOPE Lottery Scholarship lose it after the first year."

"With so many losing their scholarships, it's obvious that a change is needed," Buck said. "Working students and students who struggle when they first start college shouldn't be penalized the rest of their college career. A college degree is not just for the elite or the privileged, but for all those who want to attend higher education."

In an interview with WJLE Thursday, Buck says he supports revising the GPA from 3.00 to 2.75. " I understand there is a compromise in the making that will suggest that you can keep your lottery funding of the HOPE scholarship at 2.75 but that you must raise it up to be fully funded. That's one of the compromises that may be coming out. I really think we probably ought to lower it to 2.75 during the first year because a lot of these kids are just adjusting to college and a very high percentage of them have been losing that scholarship the first year. There are a lot of kids that don't come from a really good environment and they are not goofing off. They are trying. You know a 2.75 is almost a B average so I really think that is probably what we ought to do."

On another issue, Representative Buck says the state gasoline tax may have to be increased before too long. "There is no way around it. Keep in mind that the last time the gas tax was raised petroleum was selling at about $30 a barrel or less. It may have been around $25 a barrel. It is now $100 a barrel. The problem that you have is that every time you lay a yard of asphalt of repaving, that product is costing three or four times as much as it used to and the last time the gas tax was raised was around 1992. Not only that, but that bulldozer that builds the highway is using diesel fuel that costs three or four times as much as it used to cost. What choice do we have? if we're going to have good roads, at some point in time, we're going to have to (raise gas tax) whether we like it or not. Our costs keep going up."

Another costly project is the proposed replacement of Sligo bridge, which has state officials thinking that it would be more cost effective to remodel the existing bridge. Buck says bridge construction there will also cause traffic problems for a long period of time. "We've got the problem with Sligo bridge. That thing is $23 million. That's what it's going to cost to rebuild that bridge. They are now trying to decide whether or not they can remodel the floor for five or ten million dollars and save that old bridge, but again the problem you get into is if they do that, that thing will be closed for a year to two years. That would mean people in DeKalb County would have to drive 50 miles (alternate route) to get to the other side of Sligo bridge. What is making that bridge so terribly expensive is the fact that the water is so deep over there. It's not just the cost of the bridge per se. It is the cost of the footers that makes it so horribly expensive. The bridge is not unsafe yet. They tell me it is not ready to cave in but that at some point in time in the very near future we're either going to have to put a new deck on that thing or we're going to have to build a new bridge right beside it. They indicated to me that they looked at building a new bridge, but once they got into it, they began to realize that the footer to the bridge is so expensive, they then began to look at refurbishing the old one. The federal government gives so much for bridge replacement, but apparently the feds have cut back on the money as well. So it's a crisis not only at the state level but it's also on the federal level. But what are we going to do? We can't allow our bridges to fall in. They've had a net underneath Sligo bridge for about two years now to keep the concrete from falling on the fishermen's heads down there. They've also inspected Hurricane bridge which is the same design as the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota. The difference is that they were rebuilding that bridge or remodeling it in Minnesota and they put a bunch of building materials out there on that bridge and just stored it, which put a lot more weight on that bridge than it should have had. So they contributed to a very substantial degree to the failure of that bridge."

Buck also supports stronger penalties on scrap metal thieves and a law requiring a registry for the sale of precious metals. "We've got to do something to jack up the penalty. Whenever these thieves are going out here and stealing air conditioners out of churches, something has to be done. I don't know what they get for that copper, but it's not that much. But there are people who are having to pay $4,000 to $5,000 to replace their central air units and these thieves are getting, maybe $200. We must do the same kind of thing as we did with ephedrine and cold medicines. Whenever we made people register to buy that cold medicine, which was a necessary ingredient to make crystal meth and the pharmacies couldn't just sell it across the counter anymore, that cut down the meth business very substantially. We're going to have to do the same thing with precious metals. We have no choice."

On illegal immigration, Buck says he has mixed emotions." This is a terrible issue. Here we've got an estimated 20 million people in this country who are illegal aliens. We don't know who they are and where they are, but they have come across the border. We've got to get some kind of reasonable policy. I don't know what you do in these circumstances, as long as you have a situation like our nursery and tobacco business. If we didn't have these workers we couldn't ultimately grow the nursery stock that we do or get the tobacco in. We've got to develop some reasonable method because we need the labor in this country. Maybe we need to let them come in from Mexico on a visa but then make them go back home after the visa expires. Register them, find out who they are. There's bound to be some kind of middle ground that's workable in this case. If they're here on a visa and have to go back to Mexico before they can return, that's another possible solution. Make them go back home, then if they've been here, and have been a good citizen, not given us any trouble or been in our jails, then give them another visa to come back. But make them go home first. And for all those folks who have gotten into a lot of criminal trouble while they are here, they need to go back and stay down there."

Enforcing the borders of this country is a difficult task, but Buck says deporting illegals is also a problem, especially concerning those who have given birth to children while they're here. "Remember they have kids while they're here and our Constitution provides that a child born on American soil is an American citizen. They may have illegal alien parents, but once that baby is conceived and born in this country, they're an American citizen. Our border with Mexico is so long and we have so much shoreline, it's going to be very difficult to build a wall around America, it's just almost impossible."

Buck says he tends to agree with the Bush administration that a path to citizenship is probably the best solution. "I disagree with (President) Bush about a lot of things, but one of the compromises they were working on was to give them (illegal immigrants) a certain period of time to come in here and register and get legal. I don't think we ought to give them any gifts but we need to make them learn English and do all the kinds of things that naturalized citizens have to do."

Buck adds that one reason the Congress may be slow to act is because illegal immigrants are paying into the Social Security System. " A lot of them are using invalid or fake social security numbers, but withholding taxes are coming out of their paychecks. That money is going into that Social Security system and it ain't never coming back out again. Not to them it won't because with a bad or fake Social Security number, they will never get to draw any benefits. It's propping up our Social Security system and it's delaying the Congress from having to make a decision about the future solvency of Social Security."

Another top issue is proposed expansion of the Pre-Kindergarten program in Tennessee. Buck says the local Director of Schools and two school board members have expressed their opinions. "You know Governor Bredesen is just determined to do it. I've had the Superintendent and two board members come down there and indicate to me they think the money could be better spent other places. That's a very controversial matter. But whenever two board members and my Superintendent come by and tell me that the money could be better spent in other places, that causes me to stop and think. After all, they are in the trenches. They know more about education than I do. I'm going to check it out in these other counties. I want the opinion of the educators in the other counties. There is a very substantial dispute about that matter. It's also a matter of the wisest use of the money. My understanding is that the difference in those kids that have it (pre-k) and those that do not have it disappears somewhere around the third grade. Kids from disadvantaged homes probably do need that (pre-k) but for our kids, we kept books around all the time. Our children were exposed to books. Our grandchildren are exposed to books. There are some families that don't do that. But that's what Head Start is for. The truth is money is tight and sales tax revenues are down. We're going to have to make every wise use of every dollar we've got. We need to look at the pre-K program and make the best use we can of that money."

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

March 14, 2008

Tennessee may soon require convicted sex offenders to provide email addresses and screen names to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), under legislation approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers said the bill would strengthen Tennessee’s laws against child sex offenders and better protect children online.

“Child sexual predators know how to reach their victims via the Internet,” said Beavers. “I believe this legislation will be an effective tool for law enforcement to find and prosecute these offenders.”

According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, one of five U.S. teenagers who regularly log on to the Internet say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation via the web. However, only 25 percent of the children who encountered the approach told a parent or adult.

The legislation, SB 2594, would require that convicted sex offenders provide email addresses, chat names, instant message screen names, and any other online electronic communications information to the TBI as part of their routine and annual information collection requirements. The TBI would be authorized to transmit that information electronically to companies that provide pre-screening services. In order to obtain information from the TBI, this bill requires the requesting business or organization to agree to notify them when a comparison indicates that a registered offender's email address, instant message, chat, or other Internet communication name or identity is being used on their system. Finally, the bill would also provide stiff penalties and/or incarceration for the falsification or omission in providing this information to the TBI.

Beavers said other studies show teens are willing to meet with strangers, with 16 percent of them considering meeting someone they have talked to online. Eight percent have actually met someone they only knew online.

Recently, a Tennessee convicted sex offender’s vehicle was stopped during a routine search in Nashville and was found with five male children, ranging in age from 12-13 years-old. The sex offender met one of the boys on MySpace, a popular social networking site. The five juveniles were in the vehicle with the offender for three hours, and officers discovered that none of them had any relation to the defendant, police records indicate. Earlier this year, MySpace announced a national partnership with 49 states to implement greater security measures for sites available to teens online.

“Hopefully, this bill will keep these convicted sex offenders from using the Web to contact children,” she added.

There are 600,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. An estimated 150,000 of these offenders have been “lost” in the system.

Beavers said action to strengthen Tennessee’s sexual offender laws build on legislation passed last year including:

The Tennessee Jessica Lunsford Act which implemented the 25-year minimum mandatory sentence for sex offenders and global positioning system (GPS) monitoring for those under community supervision

A measure to create a class of “child sexual predators,” who upon a second or subsequent conviction would be required to serve 100 percent of their sentence

A new law to add rape of a child and aggravated rape of a child to felony murder offenses

Legislation to extend the group of people required to give DNA samples to those convicted of a misdemeanor sexual offense

A measure requiring sex offenders to report a change in employment status

A new law ensuring that sex offenders who enter a plea of “nolo contenderes” or who are found guilty by a jury or court in any other state or country register with the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry

Legislation that aims to strengthen Tennessee’s new law against the hiring of illegal aliens has advanced in the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill is one of a series of proposals being considered by the State Senate this year that would address illegal immigration reform.

“This bill is one of several bills pending before us that will crack down on the hiring of illegal aliens in the workplace in Tennessee,” said Senator Beavers. “Our legislature is taking a comprehensive look at bills to stop the flow of illegal aliens within Tennessee’s borders.”

Currently, only state or local government agencies can file complaints against companies who knowingly hire illegals with the Department of Labor. The bill, SB 3647, approved by the committee deletes this requirement and instead allows any person who has reason to believe that an employer has knowingly employed an illegal alien to file a complaint. It also requires that the complaint be in writing and under oath, and imposes a penalty for intentionally falsifying information.

The current law, which went into effect on January 1, allows the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development to take away an employer’s business license for up to one year if the employer is found to knowingly employ an illegal immigrant. The complaints filed with the Department of Labor are followed with an investigation. If probable cause is found, a hearing is held. If the employer is found to have employed an illegal immigrant, their business license can then be revoked, suspended or denied.

The full Senate gave final approval this week to legislation clarifying that Tennessee employers have a right to institute an English-in-the-workplace policy. The bill, which was passed by a vote of 30 to 0, makes it clear that an English-in-the-workplace policy is not considered discrimination on the basis of national origin while the employee is engaged in work.

Protection of employer rights in instituting English-in-the-workplace policies has increased both in the states and on the national scene since the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began prosecuting employers who required that English be spoken while conducting business. One notable case involved a Salvation Army thrift store in Framingham, Massachusetts, where two employees refused to learn English and were subsequently fired after being given a year’s notice to learn the language.

Under the bill, SB 2849, a person would not be considered to be engaged in work during any meal period, rest period, or any other break. The bill is permissive and only applies during the period in which the person is required to perform official duties associated with their employment.

“This bill is permissive,” said Senator Beavers. “It simply says that if employers want to require that employees speak English while on the job, they can do so. There are many occupations where there could be real safety concerns if there are court rulings holding that other languages are the ‘civil rights’ of workers while on the job.”

Issues in Brief

Sales Tax Holiday bill becomes law -- The governor signed into law legislation sponsored by Senator Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) this week to move the state’s spring sales tax holiday to the last weekend in April so that it will not interfere with businesses that close for Easter. The holiday, which was designed to provide relief to taxpayers by instituting a temporary sales tax exemption on certain items, was scheduled by law for the weekend of March 21 – 23. Those dates coincide with both Good Friday and Easter this year. Senate Republicans were instrumental in the passage of several tax reform initiatives during the past legislative session, including Senator Mae Beavers’ (R-Mt. Juliet) bill that reduced the sales tax on food and created the spring sales tax holiday.

Auto theft -- The full Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) to reduce auto theft in Tennessee. The bill, SB 2858, would require scrap metal processors who purchase vehicles with the intention of dismantling or salvaging them to provide proof of ownership. Any vehicle purchased that is over ten years old and which does not contain the motor or is inoperable, would not require a title but must have a written statement signed by the seller or their agent stating they have a lawful right to sell and dispose of the vehicle. It also requires records on those transactions be kept for five years, including the name and address of the buyer, the amount they paid for the vehicle, date of sale, description of the auto, VIN number, and the license plate number of any vehicle transporting the automobile.

Charter Schools – Legislation extending the life of charter schools in Tennessee was heard in the Senate Education Committee. The bill, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) would also make a very conservative expansion of student eligibility to public charter schools to fill any empty slots with students who are classified “at risk.” Tennessee has the most restrictive public charter school law in the nation. Currently, a student must be from a "failing" school or the student must be a "failing" student. Tennessee's charter schools passed their first real performance test this year when the State Comptroller's Office of Education Accountability issued its findings to the General Assembly. The study showed a higher percentage of middle and high school students in charter schools scored "proficient" or "advanced" in 35 comparisons with their traditional school counterparts, while the traditional school students scored higher in 18 of the comparisons.

Election of Lt. Gov. and Secretary of State -- The full Senate approved 20 to 10 a resolution calling for the election of Tennessee’s lieutenant governor and secretary of state. The lieutenant governor is currently elected by the State Senate every two years, while the secretary of state is elected by House and Senate members in a joint session every four years. The proposal to change the state constitution would have to pass both chambers this year; and then again by a two-thirds vote in the next General Assembly before it could be voted on by Tennesseans in the 2010 election.

Health Care Tax Credits -- The Senate Finance’s Tax Subcommittee considered but deferred until next week, action on two bills to provide health care tax credits. One bill, SB 3936, sponsored by Republican Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) would provide a Hall Income Tax deduction for premiums paid by the taxpayer for long term care insurance. The credit would be in an amount equal to the total amount of premiums paid by the taxpayer. The other bill, SB 2659 , sponsored by Republican Caucus Chairman Diane Black (R-Gallatin) would establish tax credits for small business owners who offer health insurance to their employees and dependents.

Endangered Child Alert for Smithville Infant Cancelled

March 14, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Middle Tennessee Endangered Child Alert was issued Thursday by the Smithville Police Department for 4 month old Cori Alaina Edwards.

The child was apparently with her father Michael L. Edwards.

According to the alert, Mr. Edward's wife last spoke with Michael L. Edwards on March 12, at Noon. He advised he was traveling to a hardware store in Smithville. There had been no contact with Edwards since that time until he returned home with the baby Thursday evening.

The baby is now in her mother's custody.

Buck Says He Will Not Endorse Any State Representative Candidate During Primary Season

March 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Retiring Democratic State Representative Frank Buck says he will not endorse any candidate to succeed him during the primary season

In an interview with WJLE Thursday, Buck said it would not be appropriate for him to support one candidate over another during the Democratic Primary. "If anybody tells you or the public that I am endorsing any one candidate over another, they are simply not telling the truth. I have not said anything like that to any of the candidates that have come by and talked with me. I've made it very clear to everyone of them who have come by that in the primaries I'm not going to endorse anybody and anyone who tells the public otherwise is simply not telling the truth."

"The matter of gaining the trust of the public is going to have to be done by the candidates themselves. There are dozens of issues that are dealt with during the General Assembly that you cannot anticipate from one year to the next. The members of the General Assembly have to make judgment calls. They have to make decisions and over innumerable matters. It is up to the candidates to get out here and make the public understand whether or not they can be trusted. Anytime you have a new representative who is elected to vote on that many different issues, this is a leap of faith to some degree on behalf of the public. They have to try to decide to vote for whoever they think will be fair, who will try to use the position for the interest of the counties and the public, and not to use the position for their own benefit. All these things are matters of confidence of the public in the representative. One person cannot give trust and confidence to some other candidate. The candidates themselves have to convince the public that they're worthy of trust and that simply has to be done by the candidates. Simply put, I'm doing exactly what I ought to do. These candidates ought to have to get out here and convince the public themselves and for that very reason I feel like it's highly inappropriate for me to embrace anybody. They need to get out here and convince the public themselves."

Smithville Convenience Store Burglarized

March 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Another Smithville business has been burglarized.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings told WJLE Thursday afternoon that someone broke into the Smithville BP convenience store at 627 West Broad Street around 1:13 a.m. Thursday but the intruder quickly left after the motion sensor alarm in the store activated.

According to Officer Scott Davis' report, "I was dispatched to the business in reference to a burglar alarm. Upon my arrival, I discovered that an unknown subject had made entry into the rear of the business. The suspect gained entry into the business by knocking a hole into the concrete wall with a sledge hammer. Once inside, the suspect then crawled toward the front of the business when he activated the alarm." The suspect then fled the scene, apparently going back out the same way he came in.

The complainant, Rasikkumar Patel, stated at the time of the report that he could not determine if any merchandise or money was missing. Patel stated that he was going to do a complete inventory of the store.

The estimated amount of damage to the building is approximately $2,000.

The suspect, whose image was captured from the store surveillance camera, is described as a male, approximately 5' 10 inches to 6' 1 inch, weighing 180 to 210 pounds. He was wearing a ball cap and a white zip-up hoodie jacket with some sort of design over the entire jacket, and jeans.

If you have information that could help solve the crime, contact the Smithville Police Department.

Board Adopts State Required Financial Reporting Policy for School Fundraising Groups

March 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Any school club or booster organization raising funds in the name of the school system must adhere to new state law known as the "School Support Organization Financial Accountability Act"

The DeKalb County Board of Education adopted the policy on first reading Thursday night.

Public Chapter 326, Acts of 2007 enacts the "School Support Organization Financial Accountability Act" which requires local education agencies to adopt a policy concerning local school support groups. The policy must be in place by July 1, 2008.

The policy must require, at a minimum, that local school support groups do the following:

Furnish a form stating the organization's status as a nonprofit organization, the goals and objectives of the organization and the telephone number, address and position of each office of the organization;

Provide an annual detailed statement of receipts and disbursements to the applicable school principal;

Maintain a copy of its charter, bylaws, minutes, and documentation of its recognition as a nonprofit organization

Maintain financial records for a period of at least 4 years;

Operate within the applicable standards set by a related state association, if applicable;
Ensure that funds are safeguarded and spent only for purposes related to the goals and objectives of the organization;

Get prior approval from the director of schools or the director's designee before the organization undertakes fundraising activities that utilizes any property or facilities owned or operated by the local education authority

Provide access to all books, records, and bank account information upon request to the local school board, local school principal, or auditors of the office of the comptroller of the treasury.

The act prohibits school representatives from acting as a treasurer or bookkeeper of a school support organization and prohibits a majority of the voting members of the group's board from being school employees.

The principal of a school may agree to allow an authorized school support organization to operate and collect money for a concession stand or parking at a related school academic, arts, athletic, or social event on school property without the prior approval of the director or his designee. Any money payable to the school pursuant to the agreement with the principal will be considered school support group funds and not student activity funds if the school support organization provides the school with relevant collection documentation required by the student activity funds manual produced by the state

These groups would be subject to audit by the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury.

The board is expected to adopt the policy on second and final reading next month.

Principals Re-hired for 2008-09 School Year

March 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has re-hired the principals for the 2008-09 school year.

Willoughby made the announcement Thursday night during his monthly report on personnel to the Board of Education.

Principals Kathy Hendrix at DeKalb County High School; Randy Jennings at DeKalb Middle School, Gayle Redmon at Northside Elementary School, Danny Parkerson at DeKalb West School, and Bill Tanner at Smithville Elementary School will all return next school year.

Meanwhile, Lisa Pack has been transferred to a Special Education teacher position at Smithville Elementary School and Catlin Williams has resigned as a Special Education Assistant at Northside Elementary School.

In other business, the board approved the teacher licensure advancement of the following teachers;

DeKalb County High School- Donna Emmons, Rolando Navarro, Amy Tobitt, Frederick Sanders, Kristin Reagh, and Steve Trapp.

DeKalb Middle School- Karen Pelham, Lori Sexton, and Mike Lewis.

DeKalb West School- Lori Sexton, William Conger, and Vicki Wilson

Northside Elementary School- Bethany Rigsby, Betty Walker, and Holly Espinosa

Smithville Elementary School- Ana Bain, Layra Crook, Kristy Parsley, and Kristin Ontiveros.

In other business, the board approved a request that a course change be added to the Automative Technology program for the 2008-09 school year at DCHS. The additional course will be course number 5710 Steering and Suspension. This additional course is needed to complete the Program of Study for the transportation curriculum and give students more opportunities to prepare themselves for post secondary school. The request was made, by letter, from Brad Leach, Career Technical Education Director, and Principal Kathy Hendrix.

The board also voted to authorize the transfer of certain school owned property, no longer in use, to either city or the county governments, where they are located subject to proper documentation. Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III said "This consists of properties throughout the county where a lot of the old community schools were located many years ago. A lot of them are now being used for different functions, including community centers so to get our books cleared up, we'd like to turn these properties over to the cities or county so we don't have to keep showing them on our books and keep up with them as an asset in our inventory."

Some of those properties are located at Midway, Snow Hill, Blue Springs, Keltonburg, Belk, Pine Creek Saddle Club area, and the parking area at the old Liberty school.

The board approved a trip for several FFA students to attend the State Convention in Gatlinburg March 30th through April 1st.

Approval was also given for several FBLA students to attend the State Leadership Conference in Chattanooga April 9th-12th and for one student to attend the State Executive Board meeting prior to the State Conference on April 7th-9th.

The DeKalb County High School Chapter of the National Beta Club was granted permission to attend the National Beta Covention in Nashville March 24th-26th during Spring Break.

DeKalb Middle School 8th grade teacher Anita Puckett addressed the board. She has been selected as a member of the Tennessee's 2008 delegation to the Atlantik-Bruecke program for social studies teachers. Puckett says she will travel to Germany next fall, as one of 12 teachers from across the state of Tennessee, to learn about post-war Germany as the guest of a consortium of business and government leaders.

Puckett will represent DeKalb County and the State of Tennessee.

Transportation Director Shane Cook addressed the board about the recent school bus rescue training course. " I would like to thank the DeKalb County Fire Department, Chief Donny Green, Assistant Chief Roy Merriman, and Extrication leader Mark Young for allowing me to attend the school bus rescue course training held last weekend at the department's main station. This class was instructed by the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads and in attendance was most all of DeKalb County's extrication and rescue units. My thanks go out to them because there were several courses they could have chosen to come to DeKalb County and the department chose school bus rescue. Two old busses were brought in for training scenarios and each person had plenty of hands on experience with the tools and equipment needed to do a school bus rescue. We hope to never need to use this training but we are very thankful to the DeKalb County Fire Department and Extrication Team for attending this training and showing interest in school bus rescue. I feel comfortable as the Transportation Director of DeKalb County to say if we ever need the help of the rescue team, they are trained professionals who can respond efficiently and effectively to our needs. I'd also like to thank Mr. Willoughby for allowing me to attend this training. It allows me to come back and share some of this information along with my staff as well."

Middle Tennessee State University recently hosted the Regional National History Day competitions for Middle Tennessee schools. Over 250 competitions were displayed or performed in four different divisions: exhibit, drama, documentary, or essay.

Winning first place in the Junior Group Performance were the following DeKalb County Middle School students: Kidman Puckett, Christopher Powell, Heather Hughes, and Jessica Garrison. Their drama was entitled, "The Diary that Changed the World" depicting the life of Anne Frank.

Winning first place at the Senior Individual Documentary was DeKalb County High School student Weston Rhody for his documentary covering Tiananmen Square.

These students will now proceed to the state level competitions in Memphis on April 5th.

Lisa Cripps Named Upper Cumberland Regional Teacher of the Year

March 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb Middle School 8th grade teacher Lisa Cripps has been named the Upper Cumberland Regional Teacher of the Year.

Cripps was named DeKalb Middle School Teacher of the Year and then was selected as the 5th through 8th grade DeKalb County Teacher of the Year. This qualified her as a candidate for the Regional Teacher of the Year. She was chosen from a number of teachers across the entire Upper Cumberland Region. Mrs. Cripps is now eligible for the Grand Division Teacher of the Year Award, which covers the entire Middle Tennessee area.

In a phone interview with WJLE Thursday, Cripps said she is excited to have received this honor."
"I'm extremely happy and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow teachers at DeKalb Middle School for their vote of confidence. I would also like to congratulate all the other teachers in DeKalb County that do an excellent job on a daily basis. I have had the opportunity to work in three of DeKalb County's schools and I have a wonderful working relationship with the staff in each one. I especially feel pretty close to the high school with my sister as the high school principal. It has truly been a twenty eight year experience for me and this year certainly has been a humbling one with this honor. I am an eighth grade teacher. I teach science. I have five classes a day of students and I try to do a lot of hands on materials with them. We do not have a science lab and that has been a negative for me to do those hands on projects, but I give great effort at doing what I can in the classroom. Maybe I'll see that lab one day. I would just like to say a special thank you to my parents, Woodrow and Louise Frazier, who were both educators. I think this is kind of in my blood to be a teacher. It's been that way all my life and I just thank them and my family for their support. I've also had a lot of support from my fellow teachers at DeKalb Middle School and the administration there and I would just like to say that I appreciate everybody's congratulations to me too."

The faculty and staff of DeKalb Middle School would like to congratulate Mrs. Cripps and wish her good luck in the Grand Division Teacher of the Year selection process.

Smithville Police Investigating Break-In at Collier Ford

March 12, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police are investigating a break-in which occurred sometime either late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning at Collier Ford at 710 West Broad Street.

Officer Travis Bryant, in his report, states "On Wednesday at 7:48 a.m., I responded to Collier Ford to a break-in that occurred during the night. When I arrived on the scene, I observed the back rolling door broke off the track where someone had made entry to the building. They (intruders) had gone through the parts department to the front lobby where they broke into the owner's office and took a 50 inch Plasma TV valued at $2,500, a Nintendo WII valued at $400, two shotguns (a double barrel and a single barrel pump) valued at $1,000. They then broke into the finance manager's office and went through the drawers but nothing was removed. The value of the damage to the door is estimated at $1,000."

If you have information that could help solve the crime, contact the Smithville Police Department.

In other city crime news, Smithville Police cited 25 year old Mrs. Rousha C. Prater of North Mill Street, Dowelltown for shoplifting from the Wal-Mart store on Sunday, March 9th. She will be in General Sessions Court on the citation April 10th.

In his report, Officer Randy King states that "I was dispatched to 515 West Broad Street for a reported shoplifter. Upon arrival, I met the Wal-Mart security and the manager. I was advised at that time that Wal-Mart security had caught a woman stealing makeup. Mrs. Prater was detained by Wal-Mart and was being held in the manager's office until the arrival of the police. I spoke to Mrs. Prater and she advised me that she had put the makeup in her purse because she did not have the money to pay for it. Found in Prater's purse were fifteen items that totaled $122.56. She was cited for shoplifting."

Meanwhile, 23 year old Sara Nicole South of Toad Road, Smithville was charged Tuesday with Theft of Property under $500 for allegedly shoplifting from Dollar General Store. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court on the charge March 27th.

Sergeant Joey D. Jones, in his report, states that " On March 11th at the Dollar General Store on Highway 56, South took from the store seven bottles of personal hygiene products and did not pay for them. They were recovered in the vehicle she was in. She did admit to taking the items."

South's boyfriend, 28 year old B.J. Ittayem of Toad Road, was charged with filing a false report for allegedly trying to take the blame for the theft. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on the charge March 27th.

Sergeant Jones' report states that "Ittayem told the officer that he had taken several items from the store and did not pay for them. His girlfriend, South, had taken the items and she did admit to taking them."

In other cases, 18 year old Lucio Romo of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville was charged Sunday with possession of alcohol by a minor and underage consumption of alcohol. His bond is $1,000 on each charge and he will be in court April 3rd.

Officer Scott Davis, in his report, states that he was dispatched to the area of Hayes Street and College Street in Smithville to a possible drunk driver. The vehicle was stopped by Officer Bradley Tatrow. Officer Davis made contact with the passenger who was identified as Romo. Officer Davis noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person and a six pack of beer between his feet and an open bottle of beer he had dumped out prior to Officer Davis' arrival.

Romo was charged with underage possession and consumption after officers discovered his birth date is September 19th, 1989.

Meanwhile, 25 year old Jose Antonio Rodriguez Coronilla of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville was charged Sunday with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and no drivers license. His bond is $1,000 on each charge and he will be in court March 27th.

Officer Bradley Tatrow's report states that "I responded to a drunk driver in the area of South College Street. Upon making contact with the vehicle, I observed it weaving on the roadway. Upon stopping the vehicle and speaking to the driver and passenger, I noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on both subjects. The passenger was 18 and there was beer in the vehicle. The driver, Cornilla, was arrested for contributing, knowing the passenger was only 18 years old."

Since he could not produce a drivers license, Cornilla was also charged with no drivers license.

19 year old Brandon Matthew Byford of Luttrell Avenue was charged with forgery on Thursday, March 6th. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court March 27th.

According to the warrant, "Byford did forge a check on his grandfather, John Dorton, in the amount of $530.37 and cashed the check at First Bank in DeKalb County. Dorton states he did not authorize anyone to sign this check."

The case was investigated by Investigator Jerry Hutchins Jr.

41 year old Phillip Wesley York of Anthony Avenue was charged Sunday with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court April 3rd.

Officer Scott Davis, in his report, states that he responded to NHC on an intoxicated person in the building. Upon arrival, he found York who was very unsteady on his feet and had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He also had slurred speech and his eyes were bloodshot and watery. He allegedly was also bothering patients and nursing staff at the facility. York was a danger to himself and the public at large", according to the report.

In another case, Sosa Celaya Roel of Smith Road was charged Sunday with a first offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court March 27th.

In his report, Officer Tatrow states that "I observed a vehicle on East Broad Street weaving across the yellow line five times as well as jerking out of it's lane three times. Upon getting the vehicle stopped and speaking to the driver (Sosa Roel), I noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He stated he had drank two beers. He performed several field sobriety tasks and he performed poorly on all tasks. He did submit to a breathalyzer test and blew a .19."

Roberto Cortez of Smith Road was arrested Sunday for public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court April 3rd.

The police report states that "Cortez was a passenger of a vehicle where the driver was arrested for DUI. Cortez had a strong odor of alcohol on his person and advised Officer Davis that he had drank several beers. He did not have any ID on his person and could not find a safe ride home. He was a danger to himself so Officer Davis placed him under arrest."

35 year old Dora Leigh Mooneyham and her husband 32 year old Billy Paul Mooneyham of Parkway Drive were each charged with filing a false report on Monday. They will be in court on the charges March 27th.

According to Officer Mark Milam's report, Dora Mooneyham initially told police she was driving a vehicle involved in an accident on Allen's Chapel Road but it was later determined that her husband was the driver.

Mr Mooneyham was charged after first reporting to police that his wife wrecked the vehicle. It was later determined that he was driving the vehicle.

DeKalb County Families Can Enjoy Additional Tax Savings This Spring

March 12, 2008

The Tennessee Department of Revenue has announced the change of the special spring Sales Tax Holiday date to Friday, April 25 through Sunday, April 27, 2008. This one-time holiday will offer three full days of tax savings to shoppers on clothing, school and art supplies, and computers.

The date, originally set for March 21-23 on Easter weekend, was changed by the General Assembly to April 25-27.

“By moving the date, consumers and retailers will be able to enjoy three full days of tax savings as the legislation originally intended,” said Senator Tim Burchett, Senate sponsor of the bill
that moved the date to April.

“Now people can take advantage of the tax savings offered by the state, and still be able to honor their other commitments,” said Representative Randy Rinks, the House sponsor.

During the holiday,shoppers may purchase selected clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and school art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item and computers with a price of $1,500 or less without paying Tennessee's state and local sales tax on the items. The
holiday also includes purchases of qualified items sold via mail, telephone, e-mail or Internet if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the holiday for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the exemption period.

“All Tennesseans can benefit from the state’s sales tax holidays,” said Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. “The April holiday offers tax-free purchases on clothing for summer, computers and
supplies for summer programs or early back-to-school preparations.”

Details about the state's special Sales Tax Holiday are available at the state’s dedicated Web site,www.tntaxholiday.com (http://www.tntaxholiday.com/ ). The Tennessee Department of Revenue also offers assistance to consumers via e-mail, Salestax.Holiday@state.tn.us,
and through its toll-free statewide telephone hot line,(800) 342-1003.

Staff is available to answer questions Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.Central Time. (Out-of-state and Nashville-area callers, please dial (615) 253-0600.)

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 92 percent
of total state tax revenue.

During the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the department collected $11 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.9 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

Besides collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government.
To learn more about the department, log on towww.Tennessee.gov/revenue.

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