Local News Articles

Two Jail Escapees Caught

October 18, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two of the four prisoners who escaped from the DeKalb County Jail early Wednesday morning are now back in custody.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE early Thursday morning that 21 year old Brandon Bias of High Street, Alexandria was arrested Wednesday at a residence on Allen Bend Road, Smithville. Four others have been charged with aiding and abetting Bias by helping him hide from authorities.

30 year old Ernest Hill was picked up at a residence Wednesday evening on Chumbly Hollow Road in Watertown where he is from.

The other two prisoners, 19 year old Jeffrey Hendrix of East 10th Street, Cookeville and 34 year old Larry George of Georgia Street, Romulus, Michigan are still at large.

According to Sheriff Ray, these four men escaped from the DeKalb County Jail Annex between 2:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Wednesday by going through a skylight.

After their escape, Sheriff Ray says at least two of the prisoners, Hendrix and possibly George broke into a home on Toad Road, through a window, where some cash and jewelry were stolen along with a 1991 2-door Jeep Wrangler bearing a DeKalb County license tag number of 635-PTR.. No one was at home at the time of the break-in. Sheriff Ray says authorities know Hendrix had been there because he made some telephone calls from the residence before he left.

Clothing worn by one of the prisoners was also found behind a barn at the Toad Road residence, including parts of the orange and white striped pants, and a white thermal shirt. Sheriff Ray says it appears that the prisoner may have made shorts out of the pants by cutting off the lower part of the pant legs and discarding the cut off material behind the barn.

Whether on foot or by someone giving them a ride, authorities don't yet know how the prisoners got to the Toad Road residence, and why they went there, but officers got a break in the case Wednesday afternoon.

Sheriff Ray says " After receiving a tip about Brandon Bias' whereabouts, DeKalb County Officers picked Bias up at a residence on Allen Bend Road, Smithville. Bias tried to outrun the officers, but was caught without incident. Bias was charged with escape and his bond set at $100,000."

Four others were helping Bias hide from authorities. 20 year old Randi Renee Atnip of Adcock Cemetery Road, Smithville was charged with aiding and abetting. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is November 8th.

According to Sheriff Ray, " Early in the morning of the escape, Atnip, a friend of Bias', was contacted by Bias. Atnip met Bias and gave him a ride to the Allen Bend address.

20 year old Julie Diane Ray of Allen Bend Road, Smithville was charged with aiding and abetting and her bond was set at $5,000. Ray's court date is also November 8th. Sheriff Ray says she was charged because she had knowledge of Bias' escape and gave him a place to hide out.

22 year old Nicky Eudene Reece Jr. of Miller Road, Smithville and 20 year old Gary Christopher Ponder of Old Man Hill Road, Dowelltown were charged with aiding and abetting. According to Sheriff Ray, these two men were at the residence on Allen Bend Road and had knowledge of Bias' escape, but failed to report it to law enforcement officers. Bond for both is set at $1,000 each and their court dates are November 8th. Bias was returned to the DeKalb County Jail at approximately 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Wednesday evening, Wilson County Dispatch received a tip that Ernest Hill was at a residence on Chumbly Hollow Road Watertown. Sheriff Ray says when Wilson County officers arrived they found Hill at the residence. Hill was then arrested and transported back to the DeKalb County Jail at approximately 8:30 p.m. He is charged with escape and his bond is set at $100,000. Hill's court date is November 8th.

Hill is in jail on burglary and theft charges and Bias is incarcerated for violation of probation.

Hendrix is charged with burglary and theft. He is a white male, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, and weighs 130 pounds. He has brown hair and green eyes.

George is charged with evading arrest. He is a white male, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and weighs 170 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes.

Sheriff Ray says if you have any information as to the whereabouts of Hendrix and George, please call the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 597-4935. Please do not send e-mails.

Mayor says Portable Pump May Be Needed to Support Water Supply

October 17, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson is concerned about the falling level of Center Hill Lake, due to the drought, and how that could affect the city's water supply.

During Monday night's council meeting, Hendrixson told the aldermen that if the lake level continues to fall, the city may need to purchase and install a portable pump to help support the water supply intake at the lake. "As you know, we are in an extreme drought. We've had very little rain in the last year. Center Hill Dam is leaking. They're (Corps of Engineers) going to spend $240-million dollars to repair the dam and one of the hillsides before you get to the dam, that the water is going through. They're pulling the lake down drastically. They've been operating what they call the sluice gates under the dam, 24 hours a day. They have now stopped that (24 hours) and are now doing it seven hours a day. There is no water going into Center Hill Lake from any run off anywhere because there is no rain."

"I went to a meeting two weeks ago. The Corps of Engineers was fairly confident that they weren't going to pull the lake any lower than a 623 level elevation above sea level, and we're fine at that level. I went to another meeting Friday at the dam, and they are now saying there's a great possibility of pulling it to 618 and that is the absolute lowest we can pump water. The pumps that run 2,900 gallons a minute create a swirl and at 618 they're probably going to get air which will cavitate the pumps, or stop them from working until they can get the air out of them."

"We certainly hope it doesn't get to that point, but if it does, we will have to take immediate action before it gets there, or the City of Smithville and 90% of the households in DeKalb County will be without water."

Mayor Hendrixson says he will check with the city's engineers to see if any grants are available to help fund a portable pump. The council took no action Monday night.

DeKalb County Could Receive $30.6 in State Appropriations

October 17, 2007

State Senator Mae Beavers (R – Mt. Juliet) announced that during fiscal year 2007-2008 DeKalb County will receive approximately $30.6 million of state appropriations. Also, DeKalb County will receive a portion of the $9.5 billion of federal funds included in Tennessee's $27.8 billion budget as adopted by the 105th General Assembly.

Senator Beavers listed budgeted state appropriations benefiting DeKalb County in the following general categories: $12.3 million for education (kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education); $2.6 million in state shared tax collections; $10.4 million for health and social services; $2.1 million for justice and public safety; $1.2 million for recreation and resources development; and $1.1 million for state highway projects. The remaining $540,230 is for miscellaneous items.

"The Legislature provided $290 million in new funding to address a significant portion of the amended funding formula called the Basic Education Program. The Basic Education Program formula was redesigned to better address funding for at-risk students, enrollment growth, English language learners, teacher salaries and state contribution levels. The plan will also redesign the way Tennessee allocates money to school systems by replacing the current formula with a new calculation that is simple, fair and transparent. The county's share of the Basic Education Program is estimated to be $11.6 million in the current fiscal year," Senator Beavers said.

Senator Beavers further stated that health and social services' appropriations benefiting DeKalb County residents include: $4.7 million for Human Services' programs; $131,746 for Community Mental Retardation; $248,200 for Children's Services; and $9.5 million for Health services, with $9 million of the Health funds for TennCare.

Senator Beavers said, "I think DeKalb County fared well in this budget considering the available resources. These figures represent the best estimates at this time and will materialize if state revenues are collected as estimated."

Golf Course to Get Irrigation System

October 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Aldermen Monday night voted 3 to 2 to award a bid on the installation of an irrigation system for the fairways at the Smithville Golf Course to Oasis Irrigation for $213,716, the lowest of the four bids submitted.

Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. voted in favor but Aldermen Cecil Burger and Steve White voted against it.

Burger says "I'm not against golf. It's necessary for the community, but are we going to do something for the rest of the community for recreation? Are we going to spend that much money for our people that don't play golf? We've got people all over the city and county that begs for recreation of other kinds."

White said he felt like the city was breaking the terms of it's own lease agreement with the tenant of the golf course, Jimmy Lewis, by funding this project. " I feel like this would be a breach of the contract on the city's part because we entered into a contract with Jimmy and he's supposed to be installing it (irrigation system) himself"

Alderman Sullivan said "I think he's provided enough information that shows that he has spent the amount of money that was agreed upon in his contract."

Last month, the city voted 4 to 1 to accept bids on the irrigation system and take half of Lewis' rent to pay for it over time. Lewis will continue to pay his monthly rent of $2,500 per month with half going to the general fund and half going to the city to pay the debt of the irrigation system. Alderman White voted against it, saying he felt like the city should stick to the terms of the current agreement with Lewis.

Lewis, with his former partner Darryl Counts, was granted a five year extension of his lease agreement along with a five year renewal option several months ago as a consideration for his commitment " to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in order to dig a second well, to install a sprinkler system for the fairways, and to purchase golf carts". Lewis has completed two of the three projects he agreed to under the lease.

Under the previous agreement with the city, Lewis had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under the amended agreement, Lewis was granted an extension of his lease through 2017 at the same rate of $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option. The monthly rate can be renegotiated in 2017.

Lewis says he has already spent more than $92,000 on the golf course and swimming pool. Lewis made a similar request to the city council last year but was denied.

After the vote to award the bid Monday night, Mayor Taft Hendrixson asked the council how the city was going to pay for it. "This project is not in our budget. I need to know where the money is going to come from to pay for this."

Sullivan responded, "I don't think we've spent anything on parks and recreation in a while. There's lots of areas it can be taken from. I believe there's some money in the golf course fund. I suggest we get with our auditors and figure that out."

Later in the meeting, one man, apparently an irrigation product distributor, took issue with the city's bid specs on this project and said he wanted to file a formal protest. The man was apparently concerned that the specs called for a certain brand product and should have included others of equal value. City attorney John Pryor is expected to be made aware of the man's concern.

The city's 2007-2008 budget shows that the municipality receives $30,000 per year from Lewis for his rental of the golf course and swimming pool.

The spending plan includes unspecified capital outlay expenditures in the parks department of $15,000 for the year ending, June 30th, 2008.. Total city park expenses comes to $97,876 broken down as follows:

Park Salaries- $40,239
Payroll Taxes- $3,622
Employee Insurance- $7,400
Retirement Expense- $365
Utilities- $4,000
Repairs & Maintenance- $8,000
Miscellaneous- $500
Supplies- $6,500
Uniforms- $250
Vehicle Operations- $4,000
Insurance- $8,000
Capital Outlay- $15,000

Under Recreation Centers, the budget shows total expenditures of $14,100 including $2,500 for repairs and maintenance to the pool, $1,600 for insurance, and $10,000 for capital outlay.

Alderman Willie Thomas asked who was over the city's parks. Mayor Hendrixson says unlike other city departments, there is no alderman/commissioner over parks and recreation, but for many years the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club has overseen Greenbrook Park, booking events, etc. The city also has security officers in the park. Thomas agreed with Burger that the city should do more in providing recreation opportunities. Hendrixson says he has spoken with County Mayor Mike Foster who is interested in having a committee look into the possibilities for the city and county.

In other business, the board failed to act on local businessman Jewel Redmon's request to allow sales of fireworks in the city limits.

At the last meeting, Redmon, owner and operator of Jewel's Market, requested that people be allowed to have the same opportunity to sell fireworks inside the city, as those have outside the city, especially around the Fourth of July.

Since December 13th, 1982, the city has had an ordinance that prohibits the sale of fireworks in the city, but allows them to be ignited, except in the downtown central business district.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker, without taking sides on the issue, stated during the last meeting that if the council were to allow the sale of fireworks in the city, some regulations would have to be adopted.

City attorney John Pryor was to look into the matter further, but he was not at the meeting Monday night to comment on it.

Alderman Sullivan stated that she believes the existing ordinance should remain in place, " I think the ordinance that we have should stand. Chief Parker indicated that were some safety issues that we might not want to get into at this time."

Redmon responded that "Chief Parker told me that there would be no problem with the sale of fireworks as long as we abide by the rules."

No vote was taken on Redmon's request.

The city board approved an ordinance on first reading making the new Secretary/Treasurer, Hunter Hendrixson the purchasing agent for the city. Second reading action is expected during a special meeting on October 29th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

First reading action was postponed on a proposed ordinance to rezone 1.2 acres of James E. Cantrell's property on South College Street from B-1 to B-2 commercial.

Cantrell's request came before the planning commission on October 4th, but the rezoning application was not completed until October 5th, and according to city regulations, the application must be turned in at least fifteen days before the planning commission meets and votes on it. Therefore, City Attorney Pryor has advised that the planning commission take up the request again on November 1st and that letters be sent to adjoining property owners making them aware of the proposed rezoning, as per city requirements. If approved by the planning commission, the proposed ordinance can be brought up for passage on first reading by the city council on November 5th and second and final reading following a public hearing on November 19th.

Alderman Sullivan expressed her concern about the recent transfer of a sewer treatment plant employee, Roger Schaffnit, to the water treatment plant, without board approval.

According to Sullivan, the city administration advertised a job opening for a full time water treatment plant trainee on August 1st and that the job description specified technical certification as a pre-requisite for the appointment. Twenty five persons applied for the position.

Sullivan says the board was never presented with the job applications nor told the position had been filled and that the city code requires formal action by the full board of aldermen to transfer an employee to another department. She says the transferred employee was not certified.

Alderman White says the city currently has two certified operators at the water treatment plant, and Mayor Hendrixson added that this trainee (Shaffnit) is working toward his certification. Hendrixson also explained that when there is an opening within a department, a city employee desiring to transfer has usually been given preference in filling the position.

Sullivan says she wants to know for certain when this trainee will become certified. Mayor Hendrixson says he will have a follow up report at the next meeting.

FSA Cost-Share Assistance Available for Livestock Water

October 14, 2007

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, announces that due to the extreme drought situation that has been ongoing since January 1, 2007, DeKalb County FSA has been authorized to implement the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). Green stresses, "although we have been authorized to accept applications for cost-share assistance, there is no guarantee that funding will become available. However, if you would like to be considered for cost-share approval, you should immediately complete an application for ECP cost-share assistance in hopes of anticipated program funding.

DeKalb County's ECP signup period will begin October 15 and will continue through 4:30 p.m. on November 4, 2007. This program will provide a maximum of 50% cost share if funding becomes available. Applicants must incur at least $1,000 in cost before cost-share can be approved. Eligible expenses for cost-share under this program include: installing pipelines to another water source, water storage facilities, including above ground tanks and troughs, constructing or deepening wells, permanently installed submersible pumps of adequate size to address livestock water needs, solar panels to provide pump power, contractor costs for hauling water to livestock, portable or permanent holding/storage tanks, truck rental for delivering water to livestock, personal or hired labor for delivering livestock water, and pipelines for livestock watering facilities. All expenses must be documented and must be limited to direct costs incurred as a result of the drought and beyond the normal operation of the farm.

Livestock producers who wish to apply for USDA cost-share assistance should immediately visit the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency office to file an application. Green reminds all applicants that, although his office is accepting the requests, this does not imply that cost share assistance will be made available. If funds become available, the applications processed will receive funding if all eligibility requirements are met. Applications received after 4:30 p.m. on November 4, 2007 will not be approved.

Local Student Receives White Coat at Southern College of Optometry Convocation Ceremony

October 14, 2007

Laura England of Smithville recently participated in the “white coat” ceremony and pledged her commitment to the profession of optometry during the 22nd annual convocation ceremony held at Southern College of Optometry (SCO) in Memphis.

First-year students received their first “white coat” and recited the optometric oath signifying their entrance into the profession of optometry.

A first-year student at SCO, Laura England earned her undergraduate degree from Tennessee Tech. In biochemistry and graduated from DeKalb County High School in 2003. She is the daughter of Brian and Janet England.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2007, Southern College of Optometry was established in Memphis, Tennessee in 1932. SCO is an independent, not-for-profit institution of higher education with a mission to educate men and women in the art and science of optometry.

Students to Get Day off on February 5th for Primary

October 12, 2007
Dwayne Page

For student safety reasons, DeKalb County Schools will be closed Tuesday, February 5th for the DeKalb County Democratic Primary and the Tennessee Presidential Preference Primary.

The Board of Education Thursday night voted to close schools that day since the election commission normally uses DeKalb Middle School and Smithville Elementary School as polling places.

Students, who were scheduled to be out of school on May 9th, will now attend that day. Teachers, who were scheduled to attend school for a professional development/instruction day on May 9th, will now attend February 5th

Officials say when school is open on election day, it compromises the safety of the children. The activity in the polling place could allow a non-custodial parent access to a child or allow child predators to roam the halls, and could even be the way for a violent act to be committed against the children and staff.

Perkins Indicted on Federal Gun Charges

October 12, 2007
Dwayne Page

A DeKalb County man has been indicted on Federal gun charges.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 33 year old Troy Perkins of Mountain View Drive ,Smithville was indicted on October 3rd for being a convicted felon in possession of a fire arm.

The indictment states that "On or about April 19th, 2007, in the Middle District of Tennessee, Troy Perkins, having previously been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, did knowingly possess in and affecting commerce, a firearm, to wit, a : Mossberg model 500A 12 gauge shotgun, Marlin model 60 .22 caliber rifle, Marlin model Glenfield 60 .22 caliber rifle, Winchester model 1200 12 gauge shotgun, Marlin model 336 30-30 caliber rifle, Stevens model 110 30-06 caliber rifle, Taurus model PT92 .9 mm pistol, Smith and Wesson model 66 .357 caliber revolver, Smith and Wesson model 40ve .40 caliber pistol. In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g) (1) and 924.

Sheriff Ray says authorities went to Perkins' residence located at Mountain View Drive Smithville on April 19th and found 62 pills believed to be Xanax in an unmarked bottle, over one and one-half pounds of marijuana and three jars of moonshine. In addition, pipes, rolling papers, scales, marijuana cigarettes, three handguns and six long guns were found and confiscated. Officers also seized $515, believed to be proceeds from drug sales. He was charged with possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance (Xanax) for resale, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (marijuana) for resale, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of un-taxed alcoholic beverages (moonshine) in DeKalb County. The Tennessee Department of Revenue was contacted and assessed Perkins a $3,000 tax, which he has paid. The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency was also notified since Perkins is a convicted felon and not allowed to possess a firearm. Perkins is currently under a $90,000 bond and is still incarcerated in the DeKalb County Jail awaiting a trial.

Meanwhile, on Monday, October 8th, 30 year old Ernest Edward Hill of Chumley Road Watertown and 24 year old Warren Brandon Glasby of Poss Road Smithville were arrested for Burglary and Theft of property over $1,000.00.

Sheriff Ray says the two allegedly entered an outbuilding on Popular Road in the Silver Point area of DeKalb County. Roofing tin and a 1965 flatbed ton truck were stolen. The truck has been recovered. More arrests are pending. Bond for both was set at $30,000 each and their court date is October 18th.

On Wednesday, October 10th, 24 year old Ashley Nichole Owen of Twilla Lane Smithville was charged with theft of property over $1,000. Sheriff Ray says Owen allegedly took 5 long guns and a video camera from a residence on Twilla Lane. Some of the rifles have been recovered. Owens bond was set at $25,000 and her court date is October 18th.

Also on Wednesday, 45 year old Linda Barrett West of Highway 70 East, Lake Motel was arrested on several drug charges. Detectives arrested West after they found various drugs and drug paraphernalia in her room. West was charged with possession of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid) for sale and delivery, possession of a schedule III drug (Hydocodone) for sale and delivery, possession of a schedule IV drug (Darvocet) for sale and delivery, simple possession of a legend Drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia (hypodermic needles and straws). West was also charged with possession of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid) after she threw down a small container which contained one dilaudid pill that she had hidden in her pants. West's bond was set at $78,500 and her court date is November 1st.

Board of Education Making Plans for Future School Building Program

October 11, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education is making plans for a school building program to meet existing and future space and curriculum needs.

Under consideration is a proposal to build a new high school for grades 9 to 12, renovate the existing high school making it into the new location for DeKalb Middle school for grades 5-8, make renovations and additions to DeKalb West School, make Northside Elementary a school for grades 2 to 4, and make Smithville Elementary a school for Pre-K and first grade. The total project cost is between $34-million and $40-million dollars.

Members of the school board met in a workshop session Thursday night, prior to the regular meeting, with Mike Brock, David Brown, and Pam Huddleston of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones, and Morris Architects, Incorporated. The company has two locations, one in Mount Juliet and another in Knoxville.

This firm has prepared, at no cost to the county or school system, a facility study which shows the classroom capacity, the actual student population, and the core capacity of each school. Brown says the purpose of the study is to "gather enough information from the director, teachers, administrators,and the community, and then put it all together from our architectural and school design perspective to give you some ideas as to what the status of your schools are right now and what your options are for handling growth and overcrowding and how to address issues should you decide to build new or add on to existing schools."

Brown explained that the classroom capacity, on the elementary school level, is based on the BEP student/teacher ratio formula. The core capacity is the number of students for which the school was designed and built to accommodate.

According to the survey, DeKalb West School has a classroom capacity of 470, a student population of 428, and a core capacity of 320. Since the core capacity number should be larger than the classroom capacity and student population, Brown says this means that DeKalb West School is "growing by more students than they have school to handle".

Brown says the core capacity is also exceeded by the student population at Smithville Elementary School. According to the survey, the classroom capacity at SES is 740, the student population is 645, and the core capacity is 528.

The study shows that student overcrowding is currently not a major concern at Northside Elementary and DeKalb Middle School as far as infrastructure, but Brown says "that doesn't mean there are not other issues there. One of the most critical issues you can face is overcrowding or exceeding the infrastructure of the school. There are some issues on that front at DeKalb West and Smithville Elementary, but not quite as bad at Northside and DeKalb Middle School."

According to the study, the classroom capacity at Northside Elementary School is 575, the student population is 526, and the core capacity is 750.

At DeKalb Middle School, the classroom capacity is 620, the student population is 527, and the core capacity is 800.

Brown explained that there is a different set of design criteria for high schools. While elementary schools are designed around classroom BEP student/teacher ratios, high schools are designed around curriculums and courses offered.

The student population at DeKalb County High School is 821 and the core capacity is 1000. Brown explained that while the typical size of a high school is 175 to 200 square feet per student, DeKalb County High School is at 145 square feet per student, and the reason the core capacity number is larger than the student population is primarily due to the addition of the cafeteria a few years ago, which created more square footage, but didn't fully address other curriculum issues. Brown says new or more modern elementary schools are now usually designed for 125 square feet per student and 150 square feet per student for newer middle schools.

The architects have proposed that a new high school be built for grades 9 to 12. This facility would not only address the space and curriculum needs at the high school level but would also avoid large addition/renovation projects at the middle school and elementary schools. The approximate student population would be 850 with a core capacity of 1,200 for a core utilization of 70% and an average of 212 students per grade. A new 1,200 student high school facility (with athletic fields) would cost $28-million to $32-million dollars.

The plan calls for renovation of the existing high school into a grade 5-8 DeKalb Middle School with an approximate population of 675 and a core capacity of 1,000 with a core utilization of 68% and an average of 168 students per grade.

According to the study, DeKalb West would remain a Pre-K to eighth grade school but there would be additions and renovations to increase the core capacity of the school. The plan calls for the kitchen/cafeteria to either be expanded or replaced as well as the addition of four classrooms. The approximate population would be 428 with a core capacity of 600, a core utilization of 71%, and an average of 48 students per grade. The proposed addition would increase the core capacity. The estimated cost of making the addition to DeKalb West including a new kitchen/cafeteria, classrooms, and administration would be $1.5 million to $2- million dollars.

Northside Elementary would become a school for grades 2 to 4. The second grade would be moved from Smithville Elementary and the fifth grade would go from Northside to DeKalb Middle School. This would relieve the pressure on SES without requiring an addition at Northside. The approximate population at Northside would be 508 with a core capacity of 750, core utilization of 67%, and an average of 170 students per grade. The renovation at Smithville Elementary, Northside, and DeKalb Middle Schools is projected to be $750,000 to $1.5 million dollars.

By moving the second grade to Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary's student population would be back within the natural core capacity of the school without an addition, although some minor renovation would still be needed. The approximate student population at SES would be 477, the core capacity 528 and the core utilization would be at 90%.

The study further finds that since there is not a need for another elementary school in this configuration, the existing DeKalb Middle School could be re-tasked as an Adult Learning Center, Alternative School, offices, etc.

Again, the preliminary budget to fund this project comes to $34-million to $40-million which includes, in addition to the construction costs, $650,000 to $750,000 for furniture and equipment; $500,000 to $600,000 for technology; $1.8 million to $2.2 million in fees for site survey, geotechnical, civil engineering, environmental, fire marshal, legal, design, printing and a 3% contingency of $900,000 to $1 million dollars.

The budget figures do not include additional code required upgrades to existing facilities and do not include land acquisition costs. The figures may change based on site survey, environmental and geotechnical information not yet provided. These budget figures should be valid for 12 to 18 months.

This facility study was only presented to the board for review during the workshop and was not discussed during the regular meeting Thursday night. The board has taken no action on it.

MTUD's Enoch says Expect Lower Natural Gas Prices this Winter

October 11, 2007
Dwayne Page

Natural gas customers could see lower home heating costs this winter

Les Enoch, CEO of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, told WJLE Thursday that prices have stabilized. "There is good news for winter heating bills. Natural gas prices have stabilized and if the weather is about the same as last year, gas bills should be about 4% lower."

"The District has made a concerted effort to stabilize prices for our customers benefit and we believe we've been successful. The District's cost of gas has stabilized as a result of several factors, including favorable purchasing strategies, abundant storage, and increased production activity. A significant portion of our winter supply is already in storage. We are currently 95% full and the price is lower than last year. This helps all of us and of course we're passing the savings along to our customers."

Enoch urges consumers to conserve as much energy as possible to save even more money this winter."Now is a good time to winterize your home. Improving insulation levels, weatherstripping, changing the filters, and keeping thermostats at the lowest possible comfort level will all save energy and reduce gas bills. For example, during the winter, for every degree you lower your thermostat, you save about 3% on your heating bill"


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