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Heroes remembered During Memorial Day Service

May 25, 2009
Dwayne Page
Doyle Smith, Edward Frazier, and Chuck Olson
Warren Johns and Edward Frazier

Members of the local American Legion POST #122 and The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7623 hosted a Memorial Day observance Monday morning at the 303 Building downtown Smithville.

Commander Edward Frazier moderated the program, Chuck Olson offered the opening prayer, and Doyle Smith led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. The group "4 the Lord" entertained with gospel and patriotic music.

Warren Johns, the guest speaker, spoke of the brave service of patriotic heroes past and present. "There's more than 150 veterans of service to their country who live in this county walking in our midst. They don't talk about their record in military service because they beat their swords into plowshares.. They marked a trail of goodness and leadership in this town. No amount of thanks, no amount of praise, no amount of words, can ever appropriately honor what they've done. But there are some things we can do. We can make sure their years after service are well cared for and that once a year at least we come to honor them and that's what we're doing today. Secondly, we can walk in their trail to try to fill the big footsteps they have left for us. And not just for us, but for our children and our grandchildren who are inspired by their example. Finally, just a week ago, one of the aldermen introduced the idea of naming our airfield "Veterans Field". I'm sure it will pass. That will honor every one of you."

At the conclusion of the program, a wreath was laid at the veterans memorial monument outside the courthouse.

Law Enforcement Agencies Work to Keep Graduation Night Safer

May 23, 2009
Dwayne Page
Richard Manuel Standridge
Jimmy R. Baker
 Lisa Faye Gibbs

Aside from a few traffic offenses, all was apparently quiet on graduation night in DeKalb County.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments conducted sobriety check points in several locations and more than 800 vehicles were stopped as they passed through. Some arrests were made.

According to Sheriff Ray, 118 vehicles were checked on the Sparta Highway and one citation was issued to a motorist because a child in the automobile was not wearing a seat belt. In another case, 40 year old Jeffery L. Taylor of Peeled Chesnut Lane, Sparta, was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence after officers detected an odor of alcohol on his person. Taylor also failed field sobriety tasks. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on June 11th.

A total of 123 vehicles were checked on Highway 53 in Alexandria

Sheriff Ray says 261 vehicles were checked on Highway 96 in Liberty and one arrest was made. 19 year old Nery Marcito Enriquez of Mercury Boulevard, Murfreesboro was charged after deputies discovered that he did not have a valid driver's license. Bond for Enriquez was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on June 11th.

A total of 231 vehicles came through the check point on McMinnville Highway and 23 were stopped on Cookeville Highway.

One arrest was made on Short Mountain Highway where 60 vehicles were checked. 20 year old Timothy (Tyler) William Patrick of Louis Drive, Goodlettsville was charged with driving under the influence. Sheriff Ray says Patrick had glassy, blood shot eyes and he failed field sobriety tasks. Patrick was also charged with driving on a revoked driver's license. Patrick's total bond was set at $3,500 and he will appear in court on June 11th.

Sheriff Ray, along with Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins and Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings wish to thank everyone for the kind words that were expressed to them and their Departments while conducting the check points. Sheriff Ray says all three departments working together tried to make this year's graduation night a safe one for the seniors and their families and friends.

Meanwhile, in other crime news, deputies responded Friday to a motor vehicle accident on Vaughn Lane, Smithville. Upon arrival, officers noticed that the vehicle had run into a barn and the driver, 27 year old Matthew Allen Baker of Pine Orchard Road Smithville, was climbing out of the automobile. Baker was unsteady on his feet. He submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed but Baker refused to take a blood alcohol test. Baker was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on June 4th.

On Monday, May 18th, deputies, while on patrol, noticed a vehicle that failed to stop on Whorton Springs Road at a stop sign. 41 year old Carlos Reyes of Skyline Drive, McMinnville was arrested for driving without a valid driver's license. Reyes' bond was set at $1,000 and he will be in court on May 28th.

Also on Monday, May 18th, deputies stopped a vehicle on Jacobs Pillar Road Smithville for violation of the light law. 25 year old Christopher W. Miles of Earl Avenue, Smithville was arrested for driving on a suspended driver's license. Miles' license was suspended due to failure to satisfy a citation in DeKalb County on June 4th, 2008. Bond for Miles was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on June 24th.

Meanwhile, a passenger with Miles, 37 year old Richard Manuel Standridge of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville, was arrested on a state warrant out of Bradley County. Standridge also had a cigarette pack that contained marijuana and a marijuana roach. Inside the vehicle, authorities found a case containing an ink pen shell, ½ pill of Suboxone and 10 Xanax pills. Strandridge was charged with possession of a schedule III drug (Suboxone), possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax), simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His total bond was set at $7,500 and he will appear in court on June 25th.

On Wednesday, May 20th, deputies stopped a vehicle on South College Street in Smithville for erratic driving. 35 year old Eric Todd Dolberry of Depot Road, Rock Island was arrested for driving on a suspended license. His bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on June 25th.

Also on Wednesday, officers arrested 38 year old Jimmy R. Baker of Pollard Road ,Walling for violation of the sexual offender law after he was found to be living in DeKalb County at the Lake Motel for approximately two weeks without registering with the DeKalb Sheriff's Department. Baker was living in the room with a 16 year old youth. Bond for Baker was set at $75,000 and he will appear in court on June 25th.

On Thursday, May 21st, DeKalb County Jail Correctional Officers were moving an inmate in the old part of the jail when the prisoner tried to escape. Arrested for attempted escape was 40 year old Lisa Faye Gibbs of North Mill Street, Dowelltown. Gibbs made it outside of the jail but was apprehended on the Public Square. Gibbs is serving a sentence for violation of probation. Bond for Gibbs was set at $25,000 and she will appear on the escape charge on May 28th.

On Friday, May 22nd, 31 year old Jackie Darrell Ervin of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown was arrested on a sealed indictment charging him with two counts of sale of a schedule II drug (Oxycontin) and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycontin) both in a drug free zone. Ervin's bond was set at $150,000

Also on Friday, 40 year old Jeanna Snow Bain of Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville was arrested on a sealed indictment charging her with two counts of sale of a schedule II drug (dilaudid) and delivery of a schedule II drug (dilaudid). Bain's bond was set at $100,000. Bain is currently incarcerated in the Tennessee Prison for Women.

On Saturday, a deputy, while on patrol on McMinnville Highway, stopped a vehicle for driving erratic. 19 year old Jose Luna Regalado of Highland Drive, McMinnville was arrested for driving under the influence. Officers found Regalado to be unsteady on his feet and he had a smell of alcohol on his person. Regalado submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. He also refused a blood alcohol test and was issued a citation for violation of implied consent. A check of Regalado’s license revealed he had none. He was charged with driving without a license. Bond for Regalado was set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on June 11th. A passenger of Regalado’s vehicle, 25 year old Juan Cruz, was also arrested for public intoxication after he was found to be intoxicated and a danger to himself. Bond for Cruz was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on June 11th.

Class of 2009 Celebrates Graduation- Bennett and West Receive White Rose Awards

May 22, 2009
Dwayne Page
Victoria Bennett Receives White Rose Award from Principal Kathy Hendrix
Thomas West Receives White Rose Award from Principal Kathy Hendrix
Luke Willoughby Receives Citizenship Award from Principal Kathy Hendrix-
Graduation Guest Speaker Dave Bennett with DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix

Sounds of celebration emanated from DeKalb County High School Friday night as members of the Class of 2009 received their diplomas during graduation ceremonies on the football field.

Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Victoria Bennett and Thomas West and while the Citizenship Award was presented to Luke Willoughy.

The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for outstanding achievement and leadership, academics, and other activities. The Citizenship Award is given to the senior who has demonstrated outstanding service, devotion and loyalty to DeKalb County High School. The honors students were also recognized during the program.

A total of 162 students received diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands with Director of Schools Mark Willoughby as their names were called by Principal Kathy Hendrix.

In remarks to the Class, Valedictorian Kesha Staley quoted Dr. Seuss in making the point to "steer yourself in the direction you choose". "

"In Dr. Seuss's book, ‘Oh, the Places You'll Go', he explains how to conquer fear and make it through all the events in your future. Dr. Seuss states, ‘you have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.' So your decisions after this point tonight are your own choices, no one else's."

" Dr. Seuss also explains how your life will be positive. "you won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed. You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best, wherever you go, you will top all the rest.' He also explains how everyone will have trials and tribulations, ‘ I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that bang ups and hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a lurch'. He explains how even though you will go through rough times, you will make it. Dr. Seuss states, ‘ somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying. You'll find the bright places.'

"Everyone here tonight has the chance starting right now to make wise decisions that will make your future bright. So as Dr. Seuss would say, ‘Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!"

Class President Whitney Moss urged the graduates to live their dreams. "With our senior year coming to an end, and the Class of '09 getting ready to go out and live out their dreams and achieve their goals, I would like to let you all know I have enjoyed the last four years with each and everyone of you, and I have made memories to last a life time. I have learned so much from you all and could not ask for a better group of students to be graduating with. I wish you all the best of luck and always remember Isaiah 58:11, The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your soul in drought and strengthen your bones. You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

"Thank you all for everything! God bless you all and know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Congratulations Seniors!"

Dave Bennett, a 1986 graduate of DCHS and now assistant mayor of Blount County in Maryville, admonished the Class of 2009 to face the future with courage and pride. "Tonight is a great night. You are taking a giant step into your future. I charge you to be proud of that first. Be proud that you are a DeKalb County High School graduate. As each of you walk across this stage and receive your diploma, I ask you to remember that the world is at your fingertips. All you have to do is reach for it and you'll be amazed at the doors that will be opened."

"I challenge you to dream big and never fear the unknown. Find your mentor and listen to them. You can learn so much more by listening and keeping your mouth shut."

"As you leave here tonight, go and be leaders. You've got a foundation unlike anyone. As much as I love being in Blount County, this will always be home. And I've got a foundation that was built right here in the halls of DeKalb County High School that have given me so many opportunities and I've been so blessed but they started right here. Everyone of you have that same foundation. You have the ability to do whatever you want."

"I've had the opportunity to travel all over the world with my job. I've been in Tokyo, Korea, England, and France. I've had the opportunity to make presentations to Governors and even had the opportunity to meet the President of the United States but there's nothing greater and nothing I'm more proud of than being a graduate of DeKalb County High School. I will always be a Tiger and you will always be a Tiger. Never forget where you're from. No matter where you end up, you will always be a DeKalb County Tiger and that's something to be proud of. Everyone of you can make a difference in this world. Take tonight as your first step graduates, your first step to greatness, and everyone of you will be great. God bless everyone of you and good luck in your path."

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

May 22, 2009
State Senator Mae Beavers

State Senator Mae Beavers, in her latest legislative report, says Tennessee lawmakers continued to make progress on Capitol Hill this week on some of the toughest issues facing the legislature in the 2009 legislative session. However, the biggest legislative hurdle before adjournment is the state’s budget, which is currently being revised by Governor Phil Bredesen to reflect the loss of another $160 to $300 million in anticipated revenues. The Funding Board, comprised of the state’s top economists, do not expect to see improvement in revenues until the first quarter of the next fiscal year and forecasted a continued decline until that time.

Bills in Brief

Abortion Resolution – The House of Representatives have passed Senate Joint Resolution 127, which aims to restore to the people of Tennessee their rightful authority to regulate abortion through their elected representatives with an overwhelming 77-21 vote. The constitutional amendment is in response to the 2001 Tennessee Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood vs Sundquist, when the court created a right to unregulated abortion. The decision also prohibited the Tennessee legislature from enacting regulations governing abortions, arguably making Tennessee the most liberal in the nation with regards to abortion laws. The resolution had passed the Senate for the last several years, but had never cleared the hurdle of passing through the House of Representatives.

Second Amendment Rights / Parks – Legislation met the final approval of the Senate this week to allow legal gun carry permit holders to posses a firearm in state or federal parks in Tennessee. The legislation, SB 976 sponsored by Chairman Mae Beavers, also allows local government bodies to maintain control of concealed carry within local parks. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Interior, there were 8 murders, 43 forcible rapes, 57 robberies and 274 instances of aggravated assault in parks nationwide in 2007. In January, the federal government lifted a regulation that banned guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Micro-stamping – The Judiciary Committee has approved SB 1908 to prohibit the sale of “micro-stamped” firearms or ammunition in Tennessee. Although micro-stamping legislation supporters claim it will help police solve crimes, many believe their real purpose is to price handguns beyond the reach of many Americans, by requiring firearms to be made with the gadgetry necessary to create the markings or to ban handguns by requiring that they "micro-stamp" more consistently than is technologically possible.

Real ID – The State Senate voted this week to make Tennessee the 12th state in the U.S. prohibiting the issuance of a REAL ID card. The bill, SB 1934, directs the Tennessee Department of Safety not to implement the provisions of the federal REAL ID program. The REAL ID Act was signed into law in 2005. The federal initiative forces states to standardize driver’s licenses cards across the nation into a single national identity card and database. It does this by stipulating that state driver’s licenses and state ID cards will not be accepted for “federal purposes” unless they are in compliance with the Act. If implemented, it would cost the state $30 million.

Government transparency – Legislation to provide oversight for Tennessee’s government transparency website advanced in the Senate Finance Committee this week. The bill, SB 149, would make the website subject to audit by the State Comptroller’s office. Ketron and other Republicans have pushed for years to implement an open government website where citizens can see how tax revenues are spent. The website was finally implemented earlier this year. This legislation will simply make sure there is oversight of the website.

Rules of the Road – Legislation adding two dangerous traffic violations to the list of current violations which are penalized under a Class A and Class B misdemeanors has been approved by the full Senate this week. The violations include crossing a double yellow line to hit another vehicle head-on and cutting off a vehicle while passing. The penalty would be a Class A misdemeanor if another person is killed and a Class B misdemeanor if they are seriously injured. The bill, SB 289, is sponsored by Senator Beavers.

Immigration Enforcement – The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation, SB 1141, calling for Tennessee jails to send information to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE) regarding prisoners who do not have documentation that they are in the U.S. legally. The bill requires the jail keeper to fax, email or send a copy of the booking information within three business days of the person’s arrest.

Opposition to housing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in Tennessee – Members of the Senate Finance Committee voted this week to express Tennessee’s opposition to the utilization of any local, state, federal or private jail, prison or detention facility in the state to confine prisoners from the United States detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Small Businesses – Legislation to establish “The Tennessee Small Business Investment Company Credit Act (TSBIA)” overcame its first hurdle with passage by the Senate Commerce Committee this week. The bill, SB 1203, is an effort to provide benefits to small, medium-sized, and start-up businesses that do not enjoy the same economic development incentives that have been provided to the larger companies that invest capital in Tennessee.

Liberty Election to be Uncontested

May 21, 2009
Dwayne Page

The Liberty Municipal Election will be uncontested this year.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected in Liberty on Thursday, August 6th.

The qualifying deadline was noon on Thursday, May 21st

The positions are currently held by Mayor J. Edward Hale, Jr. and Aldermen Jarrett Pistol and Howard Reynolds, Jr.

All three men qualified to seek re-election and all three will be unopposed

Cope Named New DCHS Lady Tiger Basketball Coach

May 21, 2009
Dwayne Page
Coach Joe Pat Cope

A new coach has been named to head the DeKalb County High School Lady Tiger Basketball program.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has signed a contract with Joe Pat Cope of Lebanon.

Cope, originally from White County, is currently a Wellness and Physical Education Teacher at Lebanon High School, a position he has held since 2007. He is also a Varsity Boys Basketball Assistant, Head Coach of the Boys Freshman Basketball Program, and Head Coach of Boys and Girls Tennis at Lebanon High School.

From 2006-07, Cope was a Physical Education Teacher at Unity Middle School at Lincoln County where he served as head coach of boys and girls basketball, assistant football coach, and head golf coach.

He earned a B.A., MDS in 2004 and a Master of Arts, Health, and Physical Education in 2006 from Tennessee Tech University.

Cope says he is looking forward to coaching in DeKalb County. "I live in Lebanon but actually I grew up in White County. I'm from Sparta. I went to high school in Sparta and lived there my entire life until I took the job at Lebanon."

"I went to Tennessee Tech and got my undergraduate degree. My parents opened a grocery store in Sparta so when I got out of school I ran that (store) for a few years. When my mom got sick, we ended up selling the store so I went back to school and got my teaching certificate and my Masters from Tennessee Tech. I started coaching about five years ago."

"When I first got my degree I went to Chattanooga and worked at Chattanooga Notre Dame for two seasons. I coached boys and girls basketball there. I was the boys assistant and girls assistant there and I was the head coach of track."

"I then went to Unity Middle School in Fayetteville at Lincoln County. I was there for one season."

"I really missed the high school game so when the opportunity came up at Lebanon I decided to go there and that was two seasons ago. I enjoy being at Lebanon. I love the people and the community but my heart has always been to be a head coach so I applied for the DeKalb County job and I'm very excited about getting the position."

Coach Cope says he believes the DCHS girls basketball program can be winner. "We've got to change the attitudes and let these girls know that they can win. I know it's a tough district but school wise, DeKalb County is the second biggest high school in the district. If the girls come in and give me 110% and will work, then we will turn this program around. These girls have to realize that they can win. The mentality just has to change. I always try to keep things very positive. We had tryouts today (Wednesday) and I saw enough in the first two hours to know that we have some very talented young ladies here and their attitudes were great. They were upbeat. I just really think we can turn this around. We're going to start practice on Tuesday, then we've got to get ready for camp at Tennessee Tech June 13th-17th"

Coach Cope says he will be living with his father in White County until he finds a home in Smithville. Cope is divorced and has one daughter, four year old Reagan.

TWRA Emphasizes Safety as Summer Boating Season Begins

May 20, 2009
Tony Cross

Memorial Day weekend is regarded as the unofficial start to the summer boating season and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to emphasize the use of life jackets while boating in a safe and responsible manner.

Memorial Day is one of the year's busiest boating weekends. The 2008 Memorial holiday period had 13 reported accidents with one fatality and four injuries across the state. Officers arrested 26 for boating under the influence (BUI).

This year, as the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches, there has been 16 reported accidents and five fatalities on state waters in 2009.

Along with the use of life jackets, TWRA wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating. It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, consuming one beer is equivalent to drinking three beers on land because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun. Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross says for many Tennesseans, this weekend will be the first time to have the boat on the water this year.

TWRA officials say taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe day. Merely performing a simple maintenance check before getting on the water may save heartache and trouble. Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Check spark plugs and be sure to use UL marine grade plugs. Make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.

In addition, TWRA urges all boaters to remember the basics:
*have a wearable life jacket for every person onboard
*if your boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a Type IV throwable device onboard
*have onboard a fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins
*anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway – drifting is considered underway
*any boat operator born after January 1, 1989 must have onboard the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate
*keep alcohol to a minimum–choose a designated boat operator
*make sure there is a current boat registration
Boat Operation Basics:
*keep a proper lookout at all times
*maintain a safe speed
*practice good seasmanship
*cut the engine while boarding from the water or entering the water from the boat
*be aware of the carbon monoxide hazards that exist and keep fresh air flowing
*no wake means idle speed
*take a boating safety course – log onto www.tnwildlife.org for information.

Bibble Charged with Assault and Attempted Arson

May 20, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged a 23 year old man with holding a woman against her will, trying to set fire to a garage, and assaulting two officers while they were trying to arrest him.

Anthony R. Bibble is charged with two counts of assault, domestic assault, attempted arson, and resisting arrest. His bond totals $35,000 and he will be in court on the charges May 28th.

Police say that on Sunday, May 17th Officers Travis Bryant and Matt Holmes were called to 223 Hayes Court on a domestic complaint. Bibble was at the residence where he allegedly assaulted his sister by holding her in the house against her will and threatening to kill her. Police also discovered that he allegedly tried to burn the residence by pouring gasoline on the walls of the garage with his sister and himself still inside. Police say as Bibble was being arrested, he refused to do what the officers told him and he had to be taken to the floor by Officers Bryant and Holmes where he was cuffed.

Bibble allegedly hit both Officers Bryant and Holmes several times while they were trying to make the arrest. No one was injured.

Meanwhile, 18 year old Michaela Lynn Bilbrey, an employee of Save-A-Lot, was charged with theft of property under $500 after stealing from other employees there.

Officer Scott Davis reports that Bilbrey took money from two pocketbooks at Save-A-Lot without consent and with the intent to deprive the owners of their property. Bilbrey allegedly took twenty dollars from one purse and sixty dollars from the other purse.

Bilbrey is also charged with theft of property under $500 in a shoplifting case at Walmart. Lieutenant Steven Leffew reports that Bilbrey allegedly took several items, put them in her purse, and left the store without paying for them. All items were valued at less than $500.

21 year old Molly S. Lawrence is also charged with theft of property under $500 in another shoplifting incident there. Lieutenant Leffew reports that Lawrence took several items, put them in her purse, and left the store without paying for them. The items were valued at under $500.

39 year old Donna S. Blankenship is charged with simple possession of a schedule II and III controlled substance. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court July 9th.

Officer Scott Davis reports that on Friday, May 15th, at Morgan Drive and Gentry Avenue, Blankenship was pulled over for violation of the light law and seat belt law. She was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Rutherford County for violation of probation. Upon a search incident to arrest, a green pill bottle was found inside a Kleenex box containing a pill, believed to be Dilaudid and another pill, believed to be Suboxone.

City Swimming Pool Set to Open Friday

May 19, 2009
Dwayne Page
City Swimming Pool to Open Friday-

The Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool is scheduled to open for the season on Friday, May 22nd

Hours are Mondays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is $3.00

Monday, June 1st will be Report Card Day. All students presenting their report cards will get to swim free that day.

Jimmy Lewis says a lot of work has been done on the pool and it looks brand new. The pool area has been freshly repainted, a new fence has been added, sidewalk work has been done, and there's a new entrance to the pool.

County Offers Financial Assistance to EMS Employees Training to Become Paramedics

May 19, 2009
Dwayne Page

EMT's working for DeKalb EMS wanting to become paramedics will get some financial assistance from the county, if they agree to continue working for the county operated ambulance service for at least three years.

Anyone who accepts the funding and doesn't work for at least three years will have to reimburse the county.

EMS director Chip Cook made the request of the county commission Monday night and it was approved.

Cook says paramedics are needed in order for the ambulance service to maintain it's "A" rating."DeKalb EMS is a Class-A service. The state classifies us through the Department of Health as a Class A service. In other words, we provide ALS care, advanced life support, to our patients. In order for us to maintain that Class A rating, we have got to have paramedics on staff. Basically, what the state rules say is that every ambulance that goes on an emergency call needs to have a paramedic on it. Out of all the calls that we run every year, the state only allows us 5% (calls) to not have a paramedic on."

" One of our goals with the ambulance service is to get our EMT's trained up to the paramedic level. In order for us to do that, we need to, if we can, finance their training at Tennessee Tech. This cost is about $4,000. That's what it's estimated to be this year. That includes the tuition, books, and the other testing fees that they have to go through. In exchange for us paying for their training over the next year, the employee signs a three year contract to stay employed at DeKalb EMS and there are certain stipulations in that contract. If they resign then they pay back the county all the money that was spent, pro-rated based on the amount of time they worked."

"We have an employee that is very well qualified and I would like to send him to paramedic school. Part of doing that is paying him while he's in school on the days that he is scheduled to work. He'll go to class two days a week. This works out to three days a month, which is a total of 24 hours per month that we'll be paying him his regular pay rate to go to school."

"It won't affect our full time pay status in the budget. It's already in the budget. We've also budgeted in-service training to pay for the school. We did that in this current budget that we're operating on now."

"During that 24 hour shift that they are scheduled to work and have to be in class, they will come straight to work to finish out their shift, after the class is over. While they're gone, I'll be covering their shifts for them so there won't be any additional costs as far as having any extra people coming in and covering for them. There may be a case where I have to be at a meeting or something like that I can't change. In that case, we would use part time people like we do now."

I ran some figures on it to give you an idea. It'll be 24 hours a month and over a year when you calculate the amount of time, we're looking at 9% of their salary is what we're paying them. Out of their total salary, it's only 9% and it's not increased from what's already in the budget. In other words, It's just like they would be at work."

Meanwhile, the county commission also granted Cook's request to write-off more than $4,000 in uncollectible debts. "On these write-offs, all these patients are deceased, and all their insurance benefits have paid all they're going to pay. We also have copies of their death certificates or obituaries on file for the auditor. We have checked with the probate court as to whether they have filed an estate and whether they own any property in DeKalb or surrounding areas."


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