Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 8% in December

January 26, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for December dropped to 8%, down from 8.3% in November and 1.4% under the December, 2010 rate of 9.4%

The local labor force for December was 9,870. A total of 9,080 were employed and 790 were unemployed.

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

Pickett County- 14.9%
Jackson- 10.9%
Clay- 10.8%
White- 10.7%
Van Buren- 10.6%
Cumberland- 9.9%
Warren-9.6%
Fentress- 9.5%
Overton- 8.7%
Smith- 8.5%
Macon- 8.4%
DeKalb-8%
Putnam-7.5%
Cannon- 7.2%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for December 2011, show that the rate decreased in 56 counties, increased in 27 counties, and remained the same in 12 counties.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for December fell to 8.7 percent, down from the November revised rate of 9.1. The national unemployment rate for December 2011 was 8.5 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the November rate.

Williamson and Lincoln counties registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 5.4 percent. Both counties had higher rates in November with Williamson at 5.8 percent and Lincoln at 5.6 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 18.8 percent, up from 17.5 percent in the previous month, followed by Obion County at 15.3, which was unchanged from the November rate.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.9 percent, down from 6.3 percent in November. Davidson County was 6.9 percent, down from 7.3 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.2 percent, down from 7.4 percent, and Shelby County was 8.8 percent, down from the November unemployment rate of 9.3 percent.

Miss Tennessee High School America Victoria Dawn Tatrow to Compete for National Title

January 26, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Victoria Dawn Tatrow with County Mayor Mike Foster

Victoria Dawn Tatrow of DeKalb County, the reigning Miss Tennessee High School America, will be competing in the national pageant this March in San Antonio, Texas.

The 17 year old beauty, daughter of Corey and Vickie Funk and the late Shanna Tatrow, was crowned Miss Tennessee High School America at the state pageant held August 6, 2011 at the Buckman Performing Arts Center in Memphis.

Tatrow, a senior at DeKalb County High School, will represent the state of Tennessee at the 2012 Miss High School America & Miss Collegiate America Pageant March 7-10 . This year the pageant will be held at the BEAUTIFUL Lila Cockrell Theatre located on The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.

Tatrow, who attended the county commission meeting Monday night, told WJLE afterwards that the national pageant is fun filled with many wonderful activities including a visit to Sea World, Dinner at the River Walk, River Walk Boat Tour, Photo Shoots, Alamo Tour, and so much more. " It offers a scholarship of $10,000 to any college that I want, a $5,000 wardrobe, and a lot of other goodies", said Tatrow.

"I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me in this county and I hope to make you proud," she said.

DeKalb County 4-Her Selected To Serve On National 4-H Congress Design Team

January 26, 2012
Elizabeth Sanders

Elizabeth Sanders from DeKalb County is one of eight young people selected from across the nation to serve on the National 4-H Congress design team. Elizabeth, along with the Extension professionals and volunteer leaders comprising the team, with help give guidance to the planning and implementation of the 2012 event to be held in Atlanta. National 4-H Congress is the culminating event for high school members competing in one of the 4-H projects.

Elizabeth attended the 2011 Congress as Tennessee's state winner in the goat project. She was initially selected as a nominee by the Tennessee delegation attending the 2011 Congress and after submitting an application and video tape, was chosen by the National 4-H Congress design team selection committee.

Congratulations to Elizabeth. She will attend the first planning meeting in February in Atlanta.

WJLE to Broadcast Ninth Annual County Spelling Bee

January 25, 2012
2011 County Spelling Bee Winner Chase Bryant

Forty two students will be competing in the ninth Annual County Wide Spelling Bee on Thursday, February 2 at 6:00 p.m. at DeKalb County High School.

The 2011 County Spelling Bee Champion is Chase Bryant

Earlier students from DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School and Northside Elementary School competed at the school level to become eligible for the county competition. WJLE will broadcast the Spelling Bee LIVE. Along with thirty-nine counties, the first and second place winners in the DeKalb County Spelling Bee will compete in the Middle Tennessee Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz and Belmont University. The regional bee will take place on Friday, March 2, 2012 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The winner of the Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

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 are:

DeKalb West:
4th Grade: Lexy Gammons, Christian Trail, Kelsey Wade

5th Grade: Callie Mulloy, Harley Sloan, Thomas Tippin

6th Grade: Jacob Frazier, Mark Mace

7th Grade: Jayra Plattenburg, Brandy Rock, Casey Vickers

8th Grade: Madison Hayes, Mary Mofield, Kirkland Smallwood, Morgan Vickers

Northside Elementary:
4th Grade: Chantz Bowling, Anna Chew, Isaac Cross, Braxton Hutchings, Katherine Malone, Raiden Martin, Logan Speaks, Malia Stanley

5th Grade: Madi Cantrell, Malone Fletcher, Molly Hall, Dulce Marcel, Ashley Phillips, Christian Sisk, Isaac Walker, Derek Young

DeKalb Middle School:
6th Grade: Kayla Belk, Olivia Fuson, Haley Martin, Allison Maynard, Shauna Pedroza, Hunter Speaks, and Justin Stanick

7th Grade: Alexis Cantrell, Timothy Cassinera, Reagan Patton, Skylar Pease, Alyssa Sewell

$2.7 million Lawsuit over Inmate Death Set for Trial in Federal Court

January 24, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jackie Lee Snider

A federal court lawsuit against DeKalb County over the death of an inmate while in custody of the Sheriff's Department two years ago has been set for a jury trial in December.

Doris Hullett filed the lawsuit a year ago in the death of her son, Jackie Lee Snider, who was arrested December 31, 2009 and died on January 30, 2010 after being taken from the jail to DeKalb Community Hospital. According to the lawsuit, "the medical examiner reported that Snider died of pancreatitis, which is an extremely painful and serious medical condition. If Snider's pancreatitis had been treated on or before the morning of January 30, 2010, Snider would have survived without permanent, long term consequences".

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated Snider's constitutional rights when they denied him reasonable medical care for his serious medical condition, thereby causing him extensive pain and suffering and ultimately death.

In response to the lawsuit, Sheriff Patrick Ray released the following statement to WJLE. "I have been advised by the County Attorney to decline discussions or comments on any pending litigation; however, I have confidence in my employees and in the manner of the operations of the DeKalb County Jail," said Sheriff Ray.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include DeKalb County; Patrick Ray, individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff; Kenneth Ray, Rick Smith, Jim Hendrix, Mark Nichols, Ernie Hargis, Kyle Casper, individually and in their official capacities; John Does 1-4; Renee Riddle, LPN; Robert Alan Stultz, PA; and Southern Health Partners, Inc.

Hullett is seeking compensatory damages against all defendants, jointly and severally in the amount of $750,000; an award, including loss of consortium in the amount of $750,000; punitive damages in the amount of $1,250,000; attorney fees and litigation expenses in an amount to be determined at trial; and treble damages; plus such other and further legal and or equitable relief to which she may be entitled or the court deems proper.

The lawsuit was brought against DeKalb County because it is "responsible for the funding for the operation of the Sheriff's Department and the DeKalb County Jail and that the county was the employer" of the other defendants.

Sheriff Ray is named in the lawsuit because he was "the policymaker and most senior decision maker with respect to establishing, implementing and training of employees on the rules, regulations and policies and practices of the DeKalb County Jail applicable to the delivery of Jail detainee health care".

Kenneth Ray is named because he was employed "as jail administrator with supervisory authority over the jail employees and detainees, including Snider. Ray was further responsible for the training of the jail employees on the jail policies and practices applicable to the delivery of Jail detainee health care".

Defendants Rick Smith, Jim Hendrix, Mark Nichols, Ernie Hargis, and Kyle Casper "were correction officers working at the jail, who were responsible for implementing the Jail's policy and procedures applicable to the delivery of Jail detainee health care," according to the lawsuit.

Defendants John Does 1-4 "are other unidentified employees at the jail, who upon belief and information were correction officers working at the Jail and who were responsible for implementing the Jail's policy and procedures applicable to the delivery of Jail detainee health care".

Southern Health Partners, Inc (SHP) is a company doing business in the state and performing the traditional state government function of providing health care to Jail detainees through a contractual relationship with the county, and as such, all actions and inaction of SHP and its employees in the health care evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of Snider were acting under color of state law. Accordingly, SHP and its employees are state actors for the purposes of liability."

"Renee Riddle is a licensed practical nurse, who is employed by SHP and working at the Jail at all times mentioned" in the lawsuit.

"Robert Alan Stults, PA is a licensed physician's assistant, who is employed by SHP and working at the Jail at all times mentioned" in the lawsuit.

The underlying facts alleged in the lawsuit are as follows:

"On or about December 31, 2009, Snider was arrested and taken to the Jail. He was under the continuous exclusive custody and control of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and its employees and officials during his incarceration until he died on January 30, 2010. During his incarceration, the only health care evaluation and or treatment made available to him was through SHP, Riddle and Stults".

"On or about January 3, 2010 Snider began vomiting 6-7 times a day which continued in such an amount nearly every day until his death. From January 3-30, 2010, Snider complained every day to correction officers of severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting", according to the lawsuit.

"Between January 15-26, Hullett repeatedly called the Jail and complained about Snider being sick and needing to be "seen by a medical doctor". On each occasion, Hullett was told by defendants Ray, Smith, and Hendrix that "we will watch him."

"On January 4, Snider complained of abdominal pain to Riddle, who was the nurse on duty at the Jail. Riddle did not evaluate Snider's complaints nor did she report such to a physician or physician assistant. Riddle did not follow up with Snider on his complaints," according to the lawsuit.

"On January 12, Snider was seen by Riddle. During this examination, Snider complained of stomach pain, nausea, dizziness, headaches, nervousness, vomiting, and muscle and joint problems". Significant weight loss was not addressed by Riddle, nor did she consult with a physician or assistant regarding Snider's physical change."

"On January 16, Snider complained to Smith of chest pain, tightness of the chest, heart burn, heart racing and headache. Snider asked to be transported to the emergency room. Snider's request was ignored by Smith, and Snider was not examined by a health care provider that day."

"On January 16, Smith made notes in the Jail computer regarding Snider needing to be seen by a health care provider, but these were erased from the computer."

"On January 17, Smith instructed Casper to give Snider a sick call slip to see the doctor the next day. Smith told Casper that Snider was sick, but Casper failed and refused to do so. Snider was not allowed to see the doctor."

"On January 18, Hullet called the Sheriff at home. She told him that Snider was sick and she asked him if Snider saw the "doctor" who had visited the Jail that day. The Sheriff told Hullett that only one inmate had seen the doctor that day and it was not Snider. Hullett, again, insisted to the Sheriff that Snider needed to see a doctor."

"On January 18, Smith called Riddle and stated, that Snider was complaining of anxiety. Snider was not seen by the nurse or doctor, and he was not provided any health care in response to his complaint."

"On January 19, Riddle saw Snider because as she told him,"your mom kept calling", and he needed to tell her to "quit worrying me to death". Riddle documented that Snider "doesn't feel well. During the approximate 3rd and 4th weeks of January, 2010, Hullett spoke with Riddle on approximately three separate occasions. During each of these occasions Hullett told Riddle that Snider was hurting and needed to be seen by a doctor. Riddle replied to Hullett, "we will take care of him."

"On January 25, Snider completed an Inmate Sick Call Slip and writes, "..Almost 2 weeks hurting bad.." The assessment of Snider by Riddle on January 25 does not reflect that there was a detailed history taken to evaluate such pain, nor was Snider's abdomen examined. Riddle did not make a referral to a physician or assistant for evaluation of Snider's complaint of "two weeks' of abdominal pain."

According to the lawsuit, "On January 30, Snider was carried out of the general detainee population and placed in the floor of the holding cell. Snider laid in the holding cell, vomiting on himself for 30 minutes before an ambulance was dispatched by county officials. When the paramedics arrived, they found Snider with vomitus around his head. He was pulseless, No one had begun chest compressions prior to the paramedics arriving. Snider was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital. He could not be resuscitated. He was pronounced dead in less than an hour after arrival to the hospital."

The lawsuit claims that "with full knowledge that Jail detainees would suffer inadequate health care for their serious medical conditions, the county inadequately provided the Sheriff with funds to operate the Jail. Because of this and rising health care costs of the Jail detainees, the Sheriff had a policy and practice that allowed the release of Jail detainees to obtain their own health care for their non-serious and serious medical problems. At the conclusion of such health care treatment, the released detainees were arrested and re-incarcerated. This custom, policy and practice existed prior to and after Snider's death. Defendants never provided this option to Snider", according to the lawsuit.

"Additionally, the Sheriff had a custom, policy and practice of minimizing Jail detainee's access to health care outside of the Jail, for which the Sheriff and not SHP, was financially responsible. This action was taken to control the rising Jail detainee health cost with the Sheriff's full knowledge of the risk that such actions were life-threatening to Jail detainees and would cause a deprivation of Jail detainees' federally protected rights."

"By virtue of the facts pled herein, defendants acted objectively and subjectively with deliberate indifference to the health care needs of Snider for treatment of his serious medical condition, which were the proximate and direct cause of Hullett's emotional pain and suffering and Snider's emotional and physical pain and suffering and death." according to the lawsuit.

Hullett is represented by Cynthia A. Wilson and Kenneth S. Williams of Cookeville while the County, Sheriff, Kenneth Ray, Rick Smith, Jim Hendrix, Mark Nichols, Ernie Hargis, and Kyle Casper are all represented by Jennifer Orr Locklin of Nashville. Riddle, Stultz, and Southern Health Partners, Inc. are represented by Daniel F. Beasley of Huntsville, Alabama.

Hartman Gets 16 Years for Two Counts of Rape

January 24, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Walter Hartman
Tammy Denise Currie
Melisha Cantrell

A 47 year old man accused of providing beer to two fourteen year old girls and engaging in sexual activity with them almost a year ago pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, January 23

Judge Leon Burns, Jr. sentenced Walter Hartman to an eight year term in each case to serve. The sentences will run consecutively or back to back for a total of sixteen years. Hartman must register as a sex offender and he will be under supervision for life. He was given jail credit from February 26, 2011 to January 23, 2012.

According to Detective Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department, who investigated the case, the incident occurred around 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning, February 26 at Hartman's home where a birthday party had been held Friday night for one of the girls, who is related to Hartman. The other girl is a friend who had come over for the party and had planned to stay the night.

Detective Holmes said that Hartman had given the girls three beers each for the birthday party and the girls told police that they had drank some of the beer. Later, as the girls were lying on a pallet in the floor watching TV, Hartman approached them complaining of back pain. He asked the girls to give him a back massage. After one of the girls fell asleep on the pallet, Hartman allegedly began massaging the other girl's back, before removing nearly all of her clothes, and then engaging in sexual activity with her. He also allegedly made sexual contact with the girl who had fallen asleep.

Detective Holmes said the girls later contacted police to report that they had been raped.

Meanwhile, a Dowelltown woman, accused of breaking into the home of a neighbor on four separate occasions last July while the victim was in the nursing home, has been convicted of four counts of aggravated burglary

40 year old Tammy Denise Currie pleaded guilty to all four counts in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Monday.

She received a six year sentence in each case to run concurrently. The sentences have been suspended to supervised probation by community corrections. She has been ordered to stay away from the victim and family and make restitution totaling $8,250, paying $250 monthly. She was given jail credit from July 26, 2011 to January 23, 2012

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Currie took advantage of her neighbor being in a nursing home, going to the residence on East Main Street, Dowelltown four times in July to remove items from the home.

On each occasion, Currie entered the residence through a back door

On July 5, Currie allegedly stole several dishes, antique plate sets, China sets, and other glass items valued at $200.

Three days later on July 8, Currie allegedly took more dishware from the home, valued at $150 including China cups, matching some of the dishes taken on July 5.

Currie returned to the home on July 12 and allegedly stole a box of China dolls, two bb guns, and two lamps, valued at $475.

On July 14, Currie entered the home again and allegedly took a suitcase, jewelry, and a VCR, valued at $390.

39 year old Melisha Cantrell pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation, including six months supervised and six months unsupervised. Cantrell must also pay a fine of $750.

Applicants Sought to Fill Vacant School Board Seat

January 23, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Members of County Commission
County Commissioners

If you reside in the sixth district and would like to fill the unexpired term of Bruce Parsley on the Board of Education you may submit your letter of interest to the county mayor's office at the courthouse.

The county commission Monday night voted to accept applications through noon on Monday, February 6.

Parsley, who was elected in August 2008, resigned as of December 31 to pursue a career as a certified teacher. His term expires August 31.

Your application can be simply preparing a letter stating your interest in being considered for the position. The person selected by the commission will serve until August 31.

The county commission will conduct interviews of all applicants for the position during an all-committees meeting on the evening of Thursday, February 23 and then choose one of the applicants to fill the unexpired term during the next regular meeting on Monday night, February 27.

Two persons, Boyd Trapp and Doug Stephens attended last Thursday night's all-committees meeting of the county commission to express their interest. They were also present during Monday nights regular meeting.

In the August DeKalb County General Election, school board members from both the fifth and sixth districts will be elected, each to serve a four year term. The qualifying deadline to get your name on the ballot in the school board races is April 5.

In other business, the county commission took no action on a school board request that the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) be asked to do a traffic study in the school zones in Smithville.

County Attorney Hilton Conger said he had received a letter from Director of Schools Mark Willoughby concerning the school board's request but found that CTAS does not perform traffic studies. "I did check with CTAS and got a response back from them that CTAS does not do traffic studies." Conger said that he would respond to Willoughby's letter.

The school board has also made a similar request of the city, asking that City Attorney Vester Parsley and city officials seek a traffic study through the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). No word yet on whether the city will follow through on the request.

Meanwhile, the commission, on a near unanimous voice vote, adopted a resolution to mirror a similar one approved by the local democratic party on Saturday expressing opposition to the Republican drawn state redistricting plan, which splits DeKalb County between the 40th and 46th legislative districts. Fourth district member David McDowell voted no.

The resolution states "Whereas DeKalb County has always been represented by one State Representative and one State Senator;

Whereas, DeKalb County cannot have an effective voice in state government when its citizens are split amongst multiple legislative districts (especially given the size of the county and of the newly carved segments);

Whereas, there is both a constitutional and case law requirement that lawmakers avoid splitting counties into multiple legislative districts;

Be it resolved that the Democratic Party of DeKalb County hereby asks the Tennessee General Assembly to amend the redistricting plan to keep all of DeKalb County in one Senate and one Representative district."

In a letter to County Mayor Mike Foster, DeKalb County Democratic Party Secretary Joyce Hendrixson requested that the county commission adopt this resolution as approved by the Democratic Party's Executive Committee and mass attendees on Saturday. "The Party voted to request help from the Tennessee State Legislature to address the injustice that has recently been done to the County by the proposed redistricting,' she wrote.

"I am asking that the County Commission vote to voice their opposition to the newly proposed carving up of the county. The Governor has not yet signed off on the legislation."

"David Harper, State Executive Committee Representative for the Democratic Party, 40th District, asked that a copy be mailed to the State Party by early Monday Morning. I have done that. I am asking that the Commission vote to oppose the redistricting Monday night, January 23," wrote Hendrixson.

The letter went on to state that " The new law, as is, would carve the County into two separate representative districts. DeKalb County has fewer than 20,000 citizens. One of the new districts, as is, would contain approximately 6,000 citizens and the other would contain approximately 12,000. Separately, the new districts would not provide sufficient voice for candidates to feel compelled to listen to the Citizens of the County, especially the precincts totaling approximately 6,000 citizens who would be relegated to an invisible and unvoiced status. We, the members of the Executive Committee of the DeKalb County Democratic Party, offer our signatures in opposition to the new redistricting plan. A universal voice vote of the mass attendees of approximately 150 people is also noted."

Under the redistricting plan, all of the sixth district of DeKalb County, nearly all the seventh district, and portions of the second and fifth districts would be in State Representative Mark Pody's 46th district which also includes Cannon and a large portion of Wilson County. The rest of DeKalb County would remain in State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver's 40th district, which also includes Smith, Trousdale, and a portion of Sumner County.

On another issue, the county has tried for up to three years to have caution lights erected at the intersection of US 70 and highway 83 near Kilgore's Restaurant, where several serious traffic accidents have occurred in recent years, and now comes another delay.

The state recently authorized the county to proceed with the project at the county's expense and last summer the county commission voted to seek bids for the project. The county later awarded the contract to Stansell Electric. The cost was to be around $30,000. But County Mayor Mike Foster said Monday night that the county has since learned that the Tennessee Department of Transportation is prepared to fund the project through TDOT's so called "Stop Safety Program." "We've been three years trying to get lights put up at the intersection of Highway 70 and 83. We thought we had contracted with Stansell Electric to put up those lights but when they went to get the permit to put them up they got this response" (about TDOT funding for the project).

"Many months ago, I talked to TDOT about trying to get them to put up caution lights there because we felt like it was an extremely dangerous intersection,' said Foster. We had 18-20 wrecks at that intersection. We felt like it would come under their (TDOT) guidelines to correct this extremely dangerous situation. We had applied (for state assistance) but I had not been told anything. But apparently we did get it (approval). I have now been informed that this project has been approved through the Stop Safety Program and that TDOT is currently under design and will go to bid under this program at a later date. TDOT has said that if the county wishes to pull its request from the Stop Safety program, it could but the county would be financially responsible for the work and would need to obtain the proper permits in order to proceed" said Foster.

The county commission Monday night voted to table any further action on proceeding with the project until Foster obtains official confirmation from TDOT on state funding.

In other business, the commission voted to advertise for bids on replacing the roof on the veteran's building downtown and to do an emergency purchase on an electrical upgrade there.

The commission also gave its approval to officers selected by the county fire department. This is routinely done by the commission each January. Donny Green has again been named chief and Jeff Williams is the assistant chief.

A resolution was adopted by the commission seeking state action to make the sale of synthetic drugs a felony. Several other counties have adopted similar resolutions hoping to create a movement statewide to get this approved by the legislature.

The resolution states that "Whereas, synthetic marijuana and designer stimulants have created a public health problem in DeKalb County as witnessed by the DeKalb County Emergency Medical Services and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department; and

Whereas, during a recent raid in September 2011 conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, State Attorney General's Office, Rutherford County District Attorney's Office, Murfreesboro Police Department and the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department, thirty six convenience stores in Rutherford County were found to be selling synthetic marijuana and designer stimulants for up to $30 per package; and

Whereas, currently in the State of Tennessee some of these products are being sold legally while some are covered under current legislation making them illegal but is a misdemeanor charge.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, that the DeKalb County legislative delegation be asked to write and pass comprehensive legislation to make the manufacturing, distribution, and selling of synthetic drugs a felony in the State of Tennessee."

County Commission Pays Tribute to Eagle Scout Thomas Claston Beltz

January 23, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Thomas Claston Beltz and County Mayor Mike Foster

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution honoring Eagle Scout Thomas Claston Beltz.

In reading his accomplishments, County Mayor Mike Foster said that Beltz is the son of Charles and Connie Beltz. "He earned his Eagle rank through the Boys Scouts on January 2, 2012. His project was landscaping the area in front of the outside eating spot beside the principal's office at DCHS. He is an active member of FFA and will be graduating from DCHS in May. Beltz plays on the varsity soccer team. He has also joined the Marine Corps and he will be leaving for the marines in mid August," said Foster.

The resolution states "Whereas, the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor wish to express their pride, respect, and appreciation to members of our community who so capably fulfill requirements and duties to reach lofty goals and levels of achievement."

"Whereas, Thomas Beltz has broad and diverse achievements. He has distinguished himself as a student, an athlete, and a community leader. We wish to bestow our honor tonight for all those goals, but especially for the years with the Boy Scouts."

"Whereas, only a select few Boy Scouts earn the Eagle Award. This award is a pinnacle sought by many and earned by few."

"Whereas, the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor wish to thank Thomas Beltz, his family, and other scouts who helped him and his leaders for the honors they have brought to themselves and DeKalb County."

"Now, therefore, be it resolved, by the DeKalb County Commission that January 23, 2012 be officially named Eagle Scout Thomas Claston Beltz Day"

Aspen Institute Visits DeKalb County Schools

January 23, 2012
by: 
Lisa Cripps
Aspen Institute Visits DeKalb County Schools

Members of the Aspen Education and Society program visited the state last week and paid a call on DeKalb County Schools Thursday, the only rural school district on the Aspen 2012 Tennessee tour. Aspen works with local, state and national education leaders to share and build knowledge about how school systems can improve.

The groups meet with various groups/stakeholders to listen and learn together and to put aside the political and ideological posturing that too often characterize education debates. They highlight the best work from the field, synthesize the best research and provide a forum for its distribution to those who can use it.

The Aspen Institute is in constant conversation with policymakers and practitioners, which helps foster a more productive dialogue for change. The Aspen group consists of many Education Legislative Assistants from the following Representatives: Jim Cooper, Phil Roe, Lamar Alexander, Marsha Blackburn, and Diane Black, along with several committee members representing the Majority Education Policy Advisor from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions staff.

The meeting Thursday morning started with the group of nineteen from Washington interviewing Mark Willoughby, Director of Schools and Central Office staff Michelle Burklow, Lisa Cripps, Gina Arnold, Dr. Danielle Collins, Lisa Bell, and Clay Farler. The day continued with a tour through DeKalb County High School led by Principal Kathy Hendrix. Interviews followed with four focus groups: Teachers, Principals, Students, and Community/Parents.

Director Willoughby, during his meeting with the Aspen group, addressed the issue of rural districts funding and concerns that they receive equal treatment by the state regarding Race to the Top monies

Willoughby said "our rural school system has 2,844 students. Are rural school districts receiving equal treatment by the state? No," he said. " Our rural school system received $243.00 per student from Race to the Top (RTTT) funds. Our urban counter part received $414.58 per student from RTTT funds. We should have received $171.58 more per student. If we were receiving equal treatment we should have received $487,973.52 additional money.
Is that equal? No," said Willloughby

"The state average of funding per student is $9,084.00. Metro Nashville's average is $11,080.00 per student. In DeKalb County, its $7666.00 per student," said Willoughby

"Our students are funded $1,418.00 less per student than the state average." he said.
"Should our rural school district be funded the same as the state average we would receive $4,032,792.00 more dollars to benefit our students," said Willloughby

"Should our rural school district be funded the same as Metro Nashville we would receive $9,709,416.00 more dollars," he added.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues.

The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways:

Seminars, which help participants reflect on what they think makes a good society, thereby deepening knowledge, broadening perspectives and enhancing their capacity to solve the problems leaders face.

Young-leader fellowships around the globe, which bring a selected class of proven leaders together for an intense multi-year program and commitment. The fellows become better leaders and apply their skills to significant challenges.

Policy programs, which serve as nonpartisan forums for analysis, consensus building, and problem solving on a wide variety of issues.

Public conferences and events, which provide a commons for people to share ideas.

The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners.

May Charged with Theft of Road Signs

January 23, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Robert Karl May
James Edward Gilles
Charles Christopher Bates
Brady Gordon Cunningham
Theodore William Faulkner

An 18 year old Smithville man has been charged with theft of several road signs belonging to the county and the cities of Smithville, Alexandria, and Dowelltown.

Robert Karl May of Allen Ferry Road is charged with theft of property under $500 ( four counts). His bond totals $4,000 and he will be in court February 9.

Following an investigation of stolen road signs from the county, City of Alexandria, City of Smithville, and City of Dowelltown, Sheriff Patrick Ray said that detectives of his department found signs in an outbuilding belonging to May on Allen Ferry Road. The discovery was made on Monday, January 9. May was in possession of the following signs: Indian Mound Road, Big Woods Road, Sink Creek Road, Lowery Road, Cordell Love Road, McGinnis Road, Herman Road, Creek Road, Peeled Chestnut Road, and Davis Road belonging to DeKalb County; a Skyline Drive sign taken from the City of Alexandria; Morgan Drive, Holmes Creek Road, Miller Road, and Golf Club Drive signs from the City of Smithville; and a Bank Street sign from the City of Dowelltown. The signs are valued at $75.00 each.

Meanwhile, 24 year old James Edward Gilles of Bell Street Apartments, Smithville is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court on February 9

Sheriff Ray states that an officer responded to a fight on Nashville Highway near Dale Ridge Road on Tuesday, January 17. Upon arrival, the deputy was met by Gilles and Nathaniel Tippins. According to Tippins, he stayed at Gilles' house the night before and that Gilles got mad accusing Tippins of taking his girlfriend's medications. Tippins also reported that Gilles had told him to remove his clothes so he could search him. When Tippins refused, Gilles became more upset and tried to strangle him, which was apparent by the marks on Tippins' neck. Tippins reported that he got away from Gilles and into a vehicle. The two met up again at the location on Nashville Highway where the fight occurred.

41 year old Charles Christopher Bates of Washington Street, Sparta is charged with a third offense of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident with property damage. His bond is $7,000 and he will be in court on February 9.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy went to the Cookeville Highway area on Saturday January 21 in response to a complaint of a reckless driver who had struck a guardrail near a bridge. The officer spotted a vehicle matching the description and caught up with it at Mapco Express. The deputy saw the driver get out of the automobile at the store and noticed that he was very unsteady on his feet. The officer approached and began speaking with the man, Bates, who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Bates admitted that he had been drinking and that he had hit the guardrail while driving, which apparently caused the bumper to come off the vehicle. Bates placed the bumper in the automobile with him and then left the scene. Bates submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood alcohol test. His prior DUI convictions were in Putnam and White counties.

34 year old Brady Gordon Cunningham is charged with introduction of a controlled substance into a penal institution where prisoners are quartered. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on February 2.

Sheriff Ray said that Cunningham was arrested by the Smithville Police Department on Saturday, January 21 and brought to the sheriff's department. While correctional officers were searching Cunningham, they found on him a prescription bottle that contained three yellow pills believed to be Hydrocodone with Ibuprofen. These pills were in a bottle that did not belong to Cunningham.

43 year old Theodore William Faulkner of Indiana is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on February 2.

According to Sheriff Ray, deputies responded to a physical domestic at Floating Mill Campground on Saturday, January 21. The officers spoke with a female who said that her husband, Faulkner, became violent and assaulted her by throwing dishes and a fruit cup at her. He also allegedly chest bumped her. The officers spoke with Faulkner, who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Faulkner admitted to having been drinking and that he and his wife had been arguing. It was determined that Faulkner was the primary aggressor.

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