Local News Articles

Kate Miller Sworn Into Office as Newest School Board Member (VIEW VIDEO)

November 20, 2014
Dwayne Page

Fourth district member Kate Miller met with her colleagues on the Board of Education for the first time Thursday night during the regular monthly session.

Prior to the meeting, Miller was sworn into office by County Mayor Tim Stribling at the Board of Education Building.

Miller was appointed by the county commission last month to serve a portion of her husband Billy Miller's unexpired term on the school board. Billy Miller had to resign due to job obligations.

Kate Miller will serve as an appointee until the August 2016 County General Election. The election will be held to fill the remaining two years of Billy Miller's unexpired term which ends August 31, 2018.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented Billy Miller a School Bell Award in appreciation for his four years of service on the Board of Education.

Meanwhile, Director Willoughby presented his monthly update on personnel moves.

Alison O'Conner,teacher at Smithville Elementary School
Danny VanDyne, custodian at SES
Heather Billings, substitute cafeteria worker
James Storie, cafeteria worker at SES
Martha Wheeler, substitute cafeteria worker
Donna McManus, substitute cafeteria worker
Danny Jenkins, as a full time bus driver
Vickey Atnip, Special Education Assistant SES
Sharon Hunter, Special Education Assistant SES

Substitute Teachers:
Deana Hale, Shirley Ingram, Chris Chapman, Vickie Burton, Walter Burton, Darcie Cripps, Betty Fisk, Carol Hale, LaTonya Kleparek, Layne Mathis, Michelle Overstreet, Helga Thompson and Gabriella Vanatta.

Debora Cunningham, Special Education Assistant transferred from DCHS to SES
B.J. Thomason, transferred from full time to substitute bus driver
Stephanie Reeder, transferred from substitute cafeteria to full time Title I Assistant SES
Jennifer Roller, transferred from Title Assistant to Special Education Assistant
Teresa Billings, substitute cafeteria worker to full time
Peggy Sutton, substitute cafeteria worker to full time
Marsha Martin, substitute cafeteria worker to full time

Ana Guzman, custodian at SES
Chelsea Grissom, teacher at SES
Myra Fox, Special Education Assistant at SES
Kenneth Gordon, Special Education Assistant at SES
Stephanie Walker-Dyer, Food Nutrition Supervisor

Leave of Absence:
Amy Fox, Special Education Teacher leave as requested
Jamie Wright, Site Coordinator at DCHS, leave as requested
Tiffany Cowart, SES teacher leave as requested
Rebecca Whimpey, Special Education teacher at DeKalb Middle School leave as requested

DeKalb Health Department to Host Flu Clinic

November 19, 2014
Dwayne Page

Have you had your flu shot?

The DeKalb County Health Department will host a Flu Clinic on Thursday, December 11 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

Flu vaccines are also available at the Family Medical Center and the Good Health Family Clinic.

Certain people are at especially high risk of serious illness or death from influenza, especially the elderly and the very young. People who live with or care for those at high risk for serious illness also should be vaccinated to prevent exposing them to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals in the following groups receive the vaccine unless their health care provider has told them otherwise:

Children aged 6 months through 59 months (up to the 5th birthday); pregnant women (or those who will be pregnant during flu season); adults aged 50 years and older (especially those 65 and older); residents of long term care facilities; people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes); all healthcare workers; and household members and caregivers of people in these high risk groups.

Christmas Parades to Help Usher In Holiday Season

November 18, 2014
Dwayne Page
Santa Soon to Arrive

The holiday season is near and DeKalb County will soon be celebrating.

The Alexandria Christmas Parade is set for Sunday, November 30 at 2:00 p.m. with the line-up forming at 1:00 p.m. To enter or for more information, call Bennett Armstrong at 954-999-3828.

The Smithville Christmas Parade will be Saturday, December 6th starting at 1:00 p.m. at Smithville Elementary. To enter call or leave a message with Jeff Wright at 597-6750 or John Poss 597-1135. Antique cars and Horse riders do not have to pre-register. All others need to call by December 4th to make sure you are included in the lineup.

The Liberty Christmas Parade is scheduled for Sunday, December 7 starting at 2:00 p.m. The lineup begins at 1:00 p.m. Prizes will be given away. Come meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. For more information call Charlotte Bratten at 464-8085.

Bullard Charged with Fraudulent Use of Credit Card

November 17, 2014
Dwayne Page
Jennifer Lynn Bullard
Lance Russell Miller
Dustin Lee Moss
Gregory Mark Guidry

A Smithville woman has been charged with two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card.

31 year old Jennifer Lynn Bullard of Midway Road, Smithville is under a $3,000 bond and she will be in court November 20. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Saturday, November 1 Bullard used someone else's debit card twice at a local bank where she withdrew $103 on each occasion. Bullard could be seen at the bank on video surveillance making the transactions. Bullard was arrested on Thursday, November 13.

39 year old Lance Russell Miller of Steeplechase Drive, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court December 18. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, November 13 a deputy received a call from a resident on Briarwood Court reporting that a man had come to the home late that night and was beating on the door, alarming the family inside the residence. When confronted by the resident who lived there, Miller took off running down the street. The officer later found Miller and he admitted to having taken cocaine earlier in the day. According to the deputy, Miller was unaware of his surroundings and he was dazed and fidgety. Miller was placed under arrest.

29 year old Dustin Lee Moss of Old Casey Cove Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was further cited for failure to maintain his lane of travel and simple possession of marijuana .25 ounces. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court December 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, November 16 a deputy initiated a traffic stop on a white Ford Crown Victoria for failing to maintain lane of travel. Moss was the driver. Upon approaching the automobile, the officer detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from inside. The deputy asked Moss if he had been drinking tonight and Moss replied "yes I have". Moss submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. As Moss was getting out of the vehicle, the officer noticed a small bag of marijuana in plain view next to the driver seat. Moss was placed under arrest for DUI and taken to the hospital for a blood test. He was then transported to the Sheriff's Department for booking.

30 year old Gregory Mark Guidry of Puckett Point Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault, violation of an order of protection, and violation of an order granting bail. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court November 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, November 16 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Puckett Point Road in answer to a domestic complaint. Guidry was living there with his mother, sister, and his sister's boyfriend. Upon arrival, the officer learned that Guidry was trying to attack his sister, who already had an active order of protection against him. When her boyfriend tried to intervene, Guidry pushed him into the wall, scratched his left shoulder and the left side of his neck and hit him in the ribs with his knee. Guidry was placed under arrest. A computer check confirmed that Guidry has an active order against him granting bail from a domestic assault on September 21. He was charged with violating the order granting bail.

42 year old Steven Blake Goad of Main Street, Liberty is cited for driving on a suspended license and simple possession of a quarter ounce of marijuana. 38 year old Amy Jo Scott of Rosewood Lane, Smithville is also cited for simple possession. They will be in court on December 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, November 15 a deputy observed a 2004 yellow Dodge Neon setting at the Holmes Creek Boat Ramp. Goad was the driver and Scott was a passenger. The officer stopped to investigate and a computer check revealed that Goad's license were revoked for a previous driving under the influence offense in 2013. After receiving consent to search, the officer found the marijuana in Goad's vehicle along with one and a half Hydrocodone pills and eight Alprazolam pills in Scott's purse. The pills were in a small white container.

Emergency Responders Test Readiness During Mock Storm

November 17, 2014
Dwayne Page
Storm Victim Escorted to Ambulance during Mock Tornado
Emergency Responders stage mock tornado touchdown at MTUD'S subdivision training location

Local emergency responders tested their readiness during a mock disaster Friday afternoon .

Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, told WJLE that the exercise involved tornado touchdowns causing damage in the area of Mount Herman Baptist Church and at a subdivision training field belonging to Middle Tennessee Natural Gas off Main Street. "We simulated a tornado touchdown in two or three different spots in the city and the county. We then called the appropriate agencies to respond to see how our flow of communication worked and to make sure we called all the right agencies. We observed how the agencies worked together on the scene and how they communicated in getting the patients transported so the hospital could practice their part in having several patients at one time. We also checked with surrounding counties to see how many ambulances, helicopters, and police officers could come to help us if we were to have a major incident. We had a total of nine patients who were picked up and transported to the hospital. The exercise went very well. We practiced every aspect of it from the rescue crews finding the patients and then EMS getting them loaded onto the ambulances and taken to the hospital. It all seemed to work very well," said Parker.

The exercise was staged by members of the DeKalb County Local Emergency Planning Committee. Among the organizations and agencies participating in the drill were the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, DeKalb County Fire Department, DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb EMS, DeKalb County E911 Center, DeKalb Emergency Management, Smithville Police Department, Smithville Fire Department, Public works/utilities, DeKalb/Cannon County Amateur Radio Club, DeKalb Community Hospital, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and the DeKalb County School System.

Sex Offender Arrested

November 14, 2014
Dwayne Page
Charles Henry Ward
James Allen Hesson
Autumn Danielle White
David Melvin Speake

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department recently arrested a convicted sex offender.

58 year old Charles Henry Ward of Shady Drive, Smithville is charged with a violation of the sex offender registry. He made his first General Sessions Court appearance on Thursday November 6 and Judge Bratten Cook, II revoked Ward's bond. He will be in court again on December 4.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, October 27 Ward was found to be living in his vehicle in the parking lot of a church on Old Snow Hill Road, within one thousand feet of a child's athletic recreation center in violation of the sex offender registry law. According to Sheriff Ray, Ward committed the offense of second degree sexual assault in Texas on December 1, 1994 which resulted in him having to be included on the sex offender registry. Ward registered in DeKalb County on March 28, 2014.

37 year old James Allen Hesson of Big Hurricane Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court December 11. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, November 5 a deputy was traveling on Highway 56 south when he saw Hesson operating a vehicle. Having prior knowledge that Hesson's license were revoked, the officer conducted a traffic stop. A computer check confirmed that Hesson's license were revoked for failure to satisfy a citation in 2010. Hesson also had a prior driving on revoked charge in 2013. He was placed under arrest.

40 year old Autumn Danielle White of Page Drive, Smithville is charged with driving while license suspended and evading arrest. Sheriff Ray said that on May 30 a deputy saw a white four door car, driven by White. The car was setting at the intersection of Smith Fork Road and the Alexandria to Dismal Road. Having prior knowledge that White's license were suspended, the deputy tried to pull over the vehicle to speak with White but she drove away. The officer followed her for several miles but then terminated the pursuit at Hurricane Creek Road in Cannon County. A computer check confirmed that White's license had been suspended for violation of the implied consent law. White also has outstanding warrants against her from Rutherford County. She was found and arrested Thursday, November 6 on these charges along with a Circuit Court violation of probation and three failure to appear offenses against her. White's bond totals $22,500 but she is being held without bond for the violation of probation. She will be in court again on December 4.

20 year old David Melvin Speake of East Bryant Street, Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court December 4. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, November 9 an officer confronted Speake with active warrants against him from another county. Speake identified himself as 18 year old David Serrano. The name was proven to be false.

Two Men Caught with Meth Lab

November 13, 2014
Dwayne Page
Terry Ray Barnes
Christopher Sam White

Two men have been arrested by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department after having been found in a barn with a meth lab.

26 year old Terry Ray Barnes of Red Road, McMinnville and 32 year old Christopher Sam White of Young Green Road, Smithville are each charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Bond for each is $100,000 and they will be in court on December 11.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, November 7 a sheriff's department deputy received a call from a resident on Jefferson Road that two men had been seen in a barn and that an odd smell was coming from there. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with a woman, apparently the owner of the barn, who said she had seen the two men and that the odor coming from the barn was making her sick. The officer asked for and received permission to search the barn and there he found the two men, Barnes and White sleeping. He also found a meth lab consisting of five plastic funnels, a Coleman cook top stove, Coleman butane fuel, digital scales, Coleman fuel, plastic tubing, a Pyrex dish, large Mason jar, 50 coffee filters, Crystal Drano, lithium batteries, ph test strips, and an electric pill grinder, a metal plate containing a white powdery substance, and a bottle containing four ounces of muriatic acid. Barnes and White were awakened and placed under arrest. A computer check revealed White had been convicted earlier this year in a separate meth case.

Couple Uses Child to Smuggle Pill into the Jail

November 13, 2014
Dwayne Page
Justin Dale Estes
Ashley Nicole Estes

A prisoner at the DeKalb County Jail and his wife have been charged with having contraband in a penal institution and child abuse and neglect after trying to use their eight year old child to smuggle a pill into the jail.

24 year old Justin Dale Estes and 30 year old Ashley Nicole Estes of Wade Street, Smithville are each under a $20,000 bond and will be in court December 11.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, November 6 Justin Estes, serving a sentence in the DeKalb County Jail, was visited by his wife Ashley Estes and their children. Before the visitation, a Sheriff's Department Detective found a pill in the coat pocket of the Estes' eight year old daughter and learned that it was placed in the coat by Mrs. Estes. According to Sheriff Ray, Justin Estes admitted that he had told his wife to put a pill in the child's coat pocket. The pill was believed to be an eight milligram suboxone. If ingested, Sheriff Ray said the pill could have caused the child to suffer serious sickness or death. Mrs. Estes told the detective that she had previously brought drugs into the jail for her husband on different occasions by putting them in the clothing of her children, according to Sheriff Ray.

Liquor Not New to DeKalb County

November 12, 2014
Dwayne Page
Liquor Not New to DeKalb County

It's been just over a week since Smithville residents and property rights voters decided through a referendum to make the city "wet" by allowing alcohol sales in retail package (liquor) stores. But legal liquor sales is really not new to DeKalb County. In recent years several dining establishments outside the city but in the county have been selling liquor by the drink, licensed by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, after being designated by the state as "Premiere Tourist Resort" properties.

Premier Resort status can be granted by the state to allow businesses in specific locations to obtain an "On Premises Consumption" or Liquor by the Drink license regardless of local restrictions.

Under certain conditions, businesses may qualify to apply for a liquor license with passage of an amendment to the "Premiere Tourist Resort Act" by the state legislature making them eligible. Once businesses have that authority from the state, they may seek a liquor license from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. If approved, the license is renewable annually.

The DeKalb County Beer Board, which grants local beer permits, has no authority over the issuance of liquor licenses by the state.

DeKalb County businesses that currently sell liquor by the drink are the Inn at Evins Mill, the Blue Water Grille at Hurricane Marina, the Fish Lipz restaurant at Pates Ford Marina, Turtles Bar and Grill on the Sparta Highway, and the Wheelhouse Restaurant at Sligo Marina

William Cochran, owner of the Inn at Evins Mill, said his establishment first obtained a license to sell beer from the DeKalb County Beer board several years ago and he later decided to seek authority from the state to receive a liquor license. In an interview with WJLE Tuesday, Cochran said the decision to obtain a liquor license at the Inn at Evins Mill has proven to have been a good one for the business

"From my perspective it has worked out extremely well for all stakeholders. One of the stakeholders being the business. Obviously, it has helped the business generate a stream of revenue that it would not otherwise be able to generate and it's not an insignificant stream of revenue. It has also benefitted the business because it tangibly enhances the experience of our guests when they are able to enjoy a glass of wine at dinner when they were not able to before this. It's helped with the guest experience. It's helped with the bottom line. It's certainly helped with the guest experience in terms of them not having to bring their own wine with them which I think a lot of our guests appreciate. I think it provides a lovely, safe, and responsible environment for our guests to enjoy a glass of wine at dinner without having to get in their car and go somewhere. I think that's a particular nice aspect of it," said Cochran.

"Certainly it's able to generate a not insignificant amount of revenue for the county that would not otherwise have been generated over the past seven years. We just expanded our facility from twelve to twenty rooms so our business is about to head into a whole new period of growth and the ability to sell alcohol builds upon that," he said

"Probably ninety five to ninety seven percent of our revenues on an annual basis come from tourists, travelers, vacationers, or groups that are traveling to Evins Mill from outside the county whether it's to host an off-site meeting or whether it's to host a wedding or whether it's just a couple that's coming to celebrate an anniversary or a honeymoon. Certainly most of our business is from middle Tennessee, Davidson County, Williamson County, Sumner County, etc. That's not to say we don't appreciate the folks that patronize our dining room from Smithville, but it just doesn't happen to be a whole lot of our business right now," said Cochran.

While city voters narrowly approved alcohol sales in retail package stores in Smithville last week, they defeated a referendum to allow restaurants in the city to obtain a license to sell alcohol for on premises consumption ( liquor by the drink).

State Releases Report Card on DeKalb County Schools

November 12, 2014
Dwayne Page
Lisa Bell

The state's 2014 Report Card for DeKalb County Schools reveals that the system received A's and B's in the areas of achievement and value added growth in grades 3-8.

Students take the TCAP tests in the spring. The report card released last week represents data collected from the spring of 2014 for the state, school districts and individual schools. As in its past version, the report card also includes end-of-course exam percentages, ACT results, graduation percentages and other school-related profile information.

The DeKalb County School System earned B's in Math, Reading, and Science while Social Studies received an A. Even though a letter grade is the same as last year, the actual scores were up for Math and Social Studies. "Achievement is a measure of how well students performed on the TCAP tests in 2014. How high did they score? Were they proficient? “There are many areas to celebrate that showed an improvement over 2013,” remarked Data Analyst Lisa Bell.

(Value Added) Growth is measured by comparing test performance over the previous years of testing," said Bell. Value Added or (Growth) grades were as follows: A in Math; B in Reading, Science and Social Studies. These are the same letters grade as the 2013 Report Card from the State. Social Studies did show an increase in growth over 2013.

The DCHS graduation rate was 94.9% for 2014 which is well above the state average of 87.2%.

The DCHS Junior and Senior Classes ACT Composite three year average was 18.3. This falls short of the predicted ACT score of 19.3. The state’s average was 19.3. Officials say ACT study online courses have been implemented at DCHS for students to help improve ACT results.

DeKalb County High School End of Course Valued Added Growth for Algebra I and II, English I, English II, and English III, Biology I, Chemistry, and US History are also shown on the Report Card. Instead of letters grades, the high school subjects receive a status of “Above”, “NDD”, or” Below”. Above indicates that the test averages for that subject were above the predicted scores. The “NDD” status indicates those End Of Course subjects are meeting the predicted scores. The “Below” status indicates students did not score at the level predicted for that subject. Algebra I, II, English I, and US History moved from a “Below” status in 2013 to “NDD” for 2014 which means all of those subjects are meeting value added expectations. English II and III continued to receive the “Below” status. “Biology had above average growth again last year," said Bell. “This is the first year to release Chemistry results for End Of Course testing in Tennessee,” stated Bell. Chemistry also met the standard for growth.

"I'm very proud of the Report Card. The growth that has been made and the accomplishments that have happened," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. "When I look at some of our other school systems surrounding us, I am pleased with how DeKalb County Schools are doing compared to those schools. What would really be wonderful is if parents would send a note to the teachers telling them that you appreciate their hard work. More has been put on the plates of teachers in Tennessee and in my opinion; they have been less appreciated by the state department of education in the last few years than they ever have been. They are doing more and working harder than they ever have. I think we owe our teachers in DeKalb County and across the state of Tennessee more than we could ever pay them for what they do in shaping the lives of our children. I think we should show our appreciation to them more and more every day," said Willoughby.

For the 2013-14 school year, DeKalb Middle School’s achievement improved in Science and Social Studies from “B’s” to “A’s”. The scores increased from 54 to 56 for both Science and Social Studies. Math and Reading maintained “B’s”.

Growth for DeKalb Middle School’s State Report for Social Studies was a “B’” this year. Both
Math and Science fell from “A’s” in 2013 to “B’s for 2014. Reading maintained a “D” and continues to be
an area of focus in the county.

Northside’s State Report Card for achievement shows a slight score increase in Math and Science over the previous year. Reading achievement fell from a 52 to a 50, and Social Studies maintained a score of 52.
“B’s” were earned for all academic subjects for achievement in the 2013-2014 school year.

Growth for Northside’s State Report Card improved over the previous year. Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies earned all “A’s” for the 2013-2014 school year. Math improved from a 4.6 to a 5.7. Reading fell from a 5.3 to a 2.9. Science increased from a 1.5 to a 2.9. Social Studies increased from a 2.2 to 2.6.

DeKalb West School’s State Report Card for achievement shows that Math maintained a ”B” while Reading, Science and Social Studies all maintained “A’s” for the 2013-2014 school year. While achievement scores maintained for Reading at 56, Math, Science and Social Studies fell slightly.

Growth for DeKalb West School’s State Report Card shows that Math and Social Studies maintained “B’s”. Science growth decreased from a “C” to a “D”, and Reading growth maintained an “A”.

Results at Smithville Elementary mirror Northside Elementary because it is considered a feeder school.

Accountability answers the question (Did the district meet the proficiency goals set by the state?)
DeKalb County met 9 out of 11 of these goals. This exceeded the state's requirement of 6 out of 11 to meet accountability. Reward schools are also a part of Tennessee's accountability system.

The state recognizes the top 5% of schools across Tennessee each year based on achievement and/or progress which is growth. Northside Elementary has been identified as a Reward School for progress (growth) this year.

The 2014 state Report Card offers the ability for the public to view detailed breakdowns for each school and district across the state. The new design was released with the 2013 Report Card and offers users the ability to create personalized comparisons between state, school, and districts on the following measures: achievement, ACT scores, graduation rate, student enrollment and ethnicity, and value-added composite scores. As an example, parents and community members can now compare individual schools or districts to see how well they are preparing students for college and careers, or to see which has a higher percentage of students on grade level in a specific subject area The Report Card site also features a new College and Career Readiness tab. This tab includes data on graduation rates, ACT scores, college readiness benchmarks, and the percentage of students who are eligible to receive the HOPE Scholarship.

“We think it’s important for parents and students, as well as school and district leaders, to know how well their schools are doing each year,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

As the state strives to advance outcomes for all Tennessee students, these results allow educators to identify areas that need the most improvement. Through its regional offices, the department provides resources, support, and expert analysis to help districts and schools with data-driven interventions.


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