Local News Articles

Dan Evins, Founder of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Chain, Dies

January 16, 2012
Dan Evins

Dan Evins, the founder of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store chain, died Saturday in Lebanon.

Evins helped build the chain into a national brand as CEO from 1969 to 2001 and he served as chairman until he retired in 2004. Cracker Barrrel Old Country Store, Inc, headquartered in Lebanon, now operates more than 600 restaurants in 42 states.

On its website, the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has issued the following release:

"Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. today extended condolences to the family of Founder and Chairman Emeritus Dan (Danny) W. Evins and expressed sadness at the loss of the man who first conceived of a restaurant that would provide a safe and welcoming home-away-from-home for travelers. Mr. Evins was 76 when he passed away on January 14 in Lebanon, Tenn.

In remembering Danny, Cracker Barrel Executive Chairman Michael A. Woodhouse expressed his sympathy and said, "I first met Danny when I joined Cracker Barrel in 1995 and knew immediately what a rare individual he was. Danny was a straight-shooter and dedicated to authenticity. It was an honor and a responsibility that I took seriously to follow Danny as CEO, and then as Chairman when he retired." Woodhouse added, "Danny was the keeper of this special brand for so many, many years, and he left us with a strong culture that values quality and honesty. He will be missed deeply."

Cracker Barrel President & Chief Executive Officer Sandra B. Cochran said, "Cracker Barrel has remained true to Danny's vision in many ways, including the insistence on quality products at a fair price, and on genuine Southern hospitality. How Danny thought about his guests and his business from the beginning is captured in ‘Pleasing People,' our mission statement." She added, "We will continue to protect the concept and honor Danny's legacy by staying true to the brand and to the principles that were there at the beginning."

Danny was a Shell Oil "jobber" in 1969 when he decided to open up a restaurant on Highway 109 in Lebanon, Tenn., the community in which he lived. The restaurant had a small gift shop attached. Because Danny was modest and humble, he always downplayed his contributions to the business and attributed the company's success to good luck. But Danny knew that with the new interstate highway system, people would be traveling more. He built his business by treating his guests with genuine hospitality, offering good tasting country cookin' and charging a fair price, so that they would stop again when they were traveling back in the other direction. That approach to business led to the company's mission statement, "pleasing people," a mission statement which is about mutual respect, and which still guides all 67,000 employees today.

Danny named his restaurant Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® to recall the country stores of his youth in rural Tennessee where people would gather around to play checkers on top of an empty barrel that had been used to deliver crackers to the store, and catch up on the latest news in their small towns. He offered the Southern country cooking he had grown up on, using many family recipes, and decided to decorate the walls with authentic antiques. Danny never compromised on the quality of ingredients for the meals he served or on the quality of the gifts he sold in his retail shop, regardless of what corners the competition might be cutting. These traditions of quality and authenticity are carried on to this day.

Danny was often asked if he had ever thought that Cracker Barrel would grow so large and become such a favorite with guests. He would respond with a mock-serious "yes," and then smile as he added an offer to sell the Brooklyn Bridge to anyone who was naïve enough to believe that he had planned such growth in advance. But he knew that the idea of an old country store would be well-received outside of the South, in parts of the country that had as their traditions the very similar general stores and trading posts of the old days.

Danny was beloved by so many Cracker Barrel employees and built a unique culture that encouraged them to stay. Indeed, Cracker Barrel is fortunate to enjoy very low turnover rates and has a large number of employees who have been with the company for 20 and 30 years and more. He initiated the industry-leading Personal Achievement Responsibility, or PAR, training program, which provides for increased benefits for employees as they progress through the program from "Rising Star" to "PAR IV", and he insisted that Cracker Barrel develop computer-based-training programs years before it was standard in the industry.

Danny also kept his eye on the guest experience and was very concerned about maintaining the company's unique culture as the chain grew from its core markets in the South to reach the 42 states that it is in today. Among other innovations, he is credited with conceiving Cracker Barrel's popular book-on-audio program, which allows guests to purchase a book-on-audio at one location and then return it to any other location and get a new book-on-audio for only a nominal exchange fee.

Danny served as Chief Executive Officer from 1969 to 2001, and as Chairman of the Board until he retired in 2004, at which time he became Chairman Emeritus and a member of the Cracker Barrel Founders Board."

Infinity Athletics Allstars Win at TTU Spring Fling Championship

January 16, 2012
Infinity Athletics Allstars Win at TTU Spring Fling Championship

Infinity Athletics Allstars won 1st Place at the Tennessee Tech University Spring Fling Championship in Cookeville on Saturday, January 7th. They are coached by Jennifer Sykes and Sonja House.

Front Row L-R: Madison Colwell, Chloe Sykes, Mascot Kenna Sykes, Shaunta Koegler, Katherine Clendenen, Callie Mulloy, and Kenzie France
Bottom Row: Shelby Sprague, Alley Sykes, Emme Colwell

Chloe Sykes won 3rd Place in the 11 & up age group in the Jump Contest.
Alley Sykes won 1st Place in the 10 & under age group.

County Firefighters Respond to Structure Fire

January 16, 2012
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighters were called to a structure fire on Belk Road Saturday night.

Central dispatch received the call at around 7:00 p.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said that "the Belk Station, Keltonburg Station, Blue Springs Station, Short Mountain Station, and tanker truck from the Main Station responded to the fire at 9850 Belk Road. Upon our arrival, we found a two-story residence filled with heavy smoke. The fire had occurred in the garage area and the residents had used a garden hose and buckets of water to extinguish it. The location of the fire was determined to be on the garage floor, but the exact cause of the fire is still undetermined," said Chief Green.

"The residents had originally thought that the fire had penetrated the garage ceiling and had spread into an upstairs bedroom. However, firefighters were able to make entry and confirm that the garage fire had been extinguished and that the fire had not extended into any other portions of the structure. Crews set up ventilation fans to remove the smoke from the house. The fire damage was contained to a small area in the middle of the garage, but the entire garage suffered heat and smoke damage. Additionally, the living quarters of the residence suffered moderate smoke damage," said Chief Green.

No one was injured in the blaze. DeKalb County Emergency Medical Services and DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was also on the scene to render assistance.

Fire at City Walk Apartments

January 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Photo provided by Stephanie Wright

A fire Saturday night at City Walk Apartments caused extensive damage to one of the buildings in the complex on East Bryant Street but no one was injured.

Central dispatch received a call at 8:28 p.m. that a fire had started in apartment 6.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene and found flames coming from one of the upstairs apartments, according to Fire Chief Charlie Parker. "When we arrived we found flames coming from the roof and the window of an upstairs apartment. We tried to get into it as quick as we could to try and make a stop on it to keep it from going any further. The fire got up into the attic area and there's some roof additions on the side of the building that made the fire difficult to reach," said Chief Parker.

"The fire started in one of the upstairs apartments and then it moved over into the one beside of it. One apartment, where the fire started, is totally destroyed and the other is pretty extensively damaged with no ceiling or roof. There is also some water damage in a couple of apartments below on the first floor. There are eight apartments altogether in this building, four on each side. Four of them have been affected. The other four have not been damaged by fire or water but could have some smoke," said Chief Parker.

Smithville Police were among the first to arrive on the scene and made sure the apartments were evacuated. "The police department got here before we did and evacuated three of the four apartments in this building and made sure everybody got out," said Chief Parker.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, according to Chief Parker. "We do know it started in an upstairs apartment but we're still looking into it," he said.

Although the ceiling fell through in one of the apartments while firefighters were in there making the attack, no one was hurt.

Because the fire was difficult to reach in some places, Chief Parker said firefighters made use of a Smithville Electric System bucket truck which was on the scene."The way the roof is straight up on the sides, Smithville Electric was here with their bucket truck so we used them to get over in the top so we could get to where the fire was on the roof. It had already burned through in a couple of spots so we used them so we could get in there to it," said Chief Parker.

DeKalb EMS was also on the scene.

Smithville Woman Charged with "Doctor Shopping" in Joint Investigation by OIG and Sheriff's Department

January 14, 2012
Krista Mahaney

A Smithville woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), in a joint investigation with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, announced the arrest of Krista Mahaney, 26, of Smithville. She is charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by “doctor shopping.”

The charges accuse Mahaney of seeing more than one physician within a 30-day period for the purpose of getting prescriptions for Suboxone, a drug used to treat heroin addiction by mimicking the effects of the drug without the addictive qualities. The physician office visits and the medications were paid for by TennCare.

“The unauthorized use and abuse of prescription drugs is a serious crime, and it’s compounded when TennCare is used to subsidize the activity,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We’re committed to ensuring that TennCare benefits are not used for the purchase and eventual distribution of these drugs to people they weren’t prescribed for.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General Randall A. York is prosecuting.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $3.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $173 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, nearly 1,500 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or log on to www.tn.gov/tnoig and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."

Missing Elderly Man Found Dead

January 13, 2012
Dwayne Page
Charles E. Lefler

An elderly DeKalb County man, who family members say suffered from Dementia/Alzheimer disease, was found dead Friday night about a quarter of a mile from his home.

80 year old Charles E. Lefler, who lived alone at 224 Cooper Lane off of Holmes Creek Road, apparently had not been heard from since Monday night. His meds tray at home indicated that the last time he took his medications was sometime Tuesday.

He was reported missing Friday evening and members of the sheriff's department, rescue squad, county fire department, and TWRA began searching for him.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said reverse 911 calls were placed from central dispatch to residents in the area near Lefler's home asking them to keep an eye out for him. After receiving the call, a resident on Shady Place off Holmes Creek Road went looking and found Lefler's body on his property around 9:30 p.m. According to Sheriff Ray, Lefler was fully clothed when found but it appeared he had been dead for some time. No foul play is suspected but an autopsy will be performed.

Architect Updates School Board on Proposed FEMA Safe Room Construction Project

January 13, 2012
Dwayne Page

A proposed construction project to build eight "safe rooms" in a classroom addition at DeKalb West School qualifies for federal funding under the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, according to an architect for Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects of Mount Juliet.

Alan Troy of KBJM Architects, Inc. updated the Director of Schools and members of the Board of Education on the project during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting. "DeKalb West is eligible for the FEMA Hazard grant. There were a couple of requirements for that which are being taken care of. It is eligible for the grant but one of the requirements is that there needs to be a FEMA approved Hazard Mitigation Plan which you do not have. But I understand that someone with the Tennessee Emergency Management Association and those representatives have set up a meeting with the county to get that plan and to get it approved. The other requirement is that the county participate in the National Flood Insurance Program and its been confirmed that this county does participate in that so it meets the requirements," said Troy.

Millions of dollars are available to eligible applicants under the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for building safe rooms to withstand winds in the event of a tornado. In this case, not only would the new safe rooms provide a place for students and school staff to take shelter in the event of a tornado, it would also ease overcrowding at the school by providing more classroom space.

During a special called meeting in December, the Board of Education voted to pay KBJM Architects, Inc. a total of $7,500 to prepare a design for the project and to pay Lashlee-Rich, Inc. of Humbolt $7,500 to prepare cost estimates and for the grant writing.

Under this FEMA grant program, the school system could apply for up to three million dollars for this project with the federal government paying 75% of the cost, if approved. The state would pay 12.5% leaving the local share at 12.5%. Any further costs related to construction not covered by the FEMA grant, including furnishing classrooms, would be funded locally.

School officials had hoped to include construction of a new kitchen/cafeteria area for DeKalb West under this FEMA grant program, but Troy said that aspect of the plan will not qualify. "The design team met with the grant writer on January 5 to discuss the addition. There are some changes in the way the project will be approach. The plan was initially to include the kitchen and cafeteria work but its based on the area that this (construction project) will serve. You won't be eligible to include that much area (in this grant application). The kitchen and cafeteria will be standard construction but the classroom addition will be designed to meet the FEMA guidelines," said Troy

According to Troy, a specific budget for this project is not yet available, but it compares to a similar project at another school district. "A proposed budget has been submitted. Its not specific to this project but its similar in a possible dollar amount and what's eligible. In short, this project was a total preliminary construction budget of just over two million dollars and the net cost to the school district with the FEMA grant was $688,000," said Troy.

Director Willoughby said he is hopeful the kitchen concerns at DeKalb West can still be addressed and that any new cafeteria can be built under FEMA guidelines to make it a safe room for the community during severe weather. "We really need a cafeteria/lunchroom expansion down there. We really need it badly. We surveyed a half mile radius of the school and because of the fact that the population is not very dense within a half mile radius of that school, that's one of the reasons that it doesn't qualify for us to do the cafeteria in this grant. Because this is FEMA and it (safe rooms) would be used in case of emergencies, the complete school (students and staff) could go in those eight classrooms that we're hoping to build for tornado drills, tornadoes, and things like that. Those eight rooms would take care of faculty, staff, students, and everybody in the school. They would have a safe place to be. We were hoping we could get the cafeteria and the kitchen in with this (grant application) if the population had been high enough there. That way we could have also opened it (cafeteria safe room) to the community if we had an emergency situation. If we included the cafeteria in with this grant, since the population around that school is not very dense, it would decrease our chances of getting any of that grant. I would suggest that if or when we do the cafeteria and lunchroom that we build it to FEMA specifications and still have it for the community to come in. It wouldn't be a lot more expensive. But as far as being able to build the cafeteria at this time with FEMA money, that is probably not going to be in the package," said Willoughby.

Asked why DeKalb West School was considered first for the project, over the other schools, Willoughby said DeKalb West would be the most likely school to qualify for the FEMA grant, but he added that the other schools in the county could be considered in future proposals if grant funds are still available. "If these grants continue, we will be looking toward doing this at other places. But because of the population of that school, with a little bit over 400 students and the eight classrooms that it would take care of, it could get everyone in that school. So I think that's probably going to be a plus factor (in the grant evaluation process). Plus, it would take us longer (from Smithville) to get to that area (DeKalb West School) in an emergency situation.

DeKalb West has a student enrollment of around 450 students.

The deadline for submitting the grant application is March 1st.

The board of education has scheduled a workshop for Saturday, February 18 at 9:00 a.m. to meet with the architects to discuss the project further.

School Board Adopts Calendar for 2012-13

January 12, 2012
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education formally adopted the school calendar for the 2012-2013 year Thursday night.

Registration for all students will be Thursday, August 2. That will be an abbreviated school day from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Friday, August 3 will be an administrative day for teachers only

The first full day of school for all students will be Monday, August 6

Professional development is scheduled for two days in June/July (on your own)

A system wide professional development day will be Monday, July 30 at DCHS from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 31 and August 1 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 3.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 15-26

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 21, 22, & 23 and for the winter break December 20 through January 1. Wednesday, December 19 will be the last day students attend before winter break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Students will return after the holidays on Thursday, January 3.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 21 and for President's Day, Monday, February 18.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 25-29

Students will not attend on Thursday, May 23. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Friday, May 24. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 9 and Tuesday, March 12 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 11 and Thursday, March 14 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 8 and at all other schools on Tuesday, October 9. Report cards to be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, January 8. DCHS report cards to be sent home Monday, March 11 and at all other schools Tuesday, March 12.

AYP-EOC/Gateway Testing at DCHS will be Tuesday through Thursday, December 4-6 and May 7-9 and a make-up AYP-EOC/Gateway Test will be Friday, December 7 and May 10.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 19

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be Tuesday, February 5. Writing Assessment make-up will be Wednesday, February 6.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 22 through May 3

(Stockpile Days) Professional Development/Instructional Days will be held for all teachers and all paraprofessionals from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 12 and Wednesday, January 2. Students will not attend on those days.

In other business, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby gave his monthly report on personnel.

The following were employed:
Rhonda Pilgram as a full time cafeteria worker
Brenda Bandy as a Special Education Assistant at Smithville Elementary School
Carol Swope as a Special Education Assistant at DCHS

Michael Kingsbury, school bus driver has resigned

Audrey Russell, Speech Language teacher, has been granted a leave of absence as requested.

The school board also adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring food service personnel.

The resolution states that "Whereas, food service employees are responsible for providing healthy and delicious meals for the students and staff each day; and

Whereas, food service employees dedicate themselves to arriving early to the school to prepare breakfast and lunch; and

Whereas, food service employees provide smiles and encouragement to the students and staff of their school, and

Whereas, the Board of Education and the Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, view the work of the food service staff extremely important to the success of the school;

Now Therefore, Be It Resolved that this Board acknowledges and expresses its appreciation to each food service staff member in our school district; and

Be It Further Resolved that January 19, 2012 is hereby established as Food Service Staff Appreciation Day in all DeKalb County schools.

Be It Further Resolved that the Board encourages each principal, each school and each community to participate in the celebration of these important school employees."

Evins Seeks Re-Election to School Board

January 12, 2012
Dwayne Page

Incumbent fifth district school board member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III has picked up a petition to seek re-election in the August DeKalb County General Election.

Evins apparently will have an opponent.

Kevin D. Hale of Dearman Street also plans to seek election to the school board seat in the fifth district

Petitions for the fifth and sixth district school board races can now be picked up at the DeKalb County Election Commission office.

School board members, who run as non-partisan candidates, are elected in even-numbered years in August with the membership being staggered. In August 2012, members in Districts 5 and 6 are to be elected. The qualifying deadline for this election is NOON, April 5.

Food Lion Closing 25 Tennessee Stores, Smithville Store to Remain Open

January 12, 2012
Dwayne Page
Smithville Food Lion

Food Lion is closing twenty five "underperforming" stores in Tennessee, but the Smithville store will remain open.

According to a news release, underperforming Food Lion stores will be shut down in a total of nine states including Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, "primarily in markets in which the company has the least store density".

Food Lion stores in Tennessee which will be closing are located in Athens, six stores in Chattanooga, Cleveland, Hixson, Clinton, Crossville, Knoxville, Maryville, Morristown, Sevierville, Clarksville, Hendersonville, Lewisburg, two stores in Murfreesboro, Old Hickory, Smyrna, Sparta, Greeneville, and Johnson City.

All affected stores will close within 30 days.

"Food Lion is focused on repositioning our business for future growth," said Cathy Green Burns, president of Food Lion. "By closing underperforming stores, we will continue to position Food Lion for success, especially in light of our brand strategy results. We are very pleased with the reaction from our customers on the implementation of our new brand strategy work, which includes being recognized as a price leader, making our stores easier to shop, offering the greatest value in private brands and providing fresh produce. However, we also determined the most successful markets for these investments are areas where we have strong store density or high market share. As we move forward with implementing our strategy this year, Food Lion will launch its next market this quarter and expects to be substantially complete by year-end. We look forward to accelerating the Food Lion strategy and bringing the strategy to life in an additional 600 to 700 stores."

Food Lion's parent company is Delhaize America.

Delhaize America is a leading supermarket operator with more than 1,600 stores in 16 states in the eastern United States. Delhaize America operates under the banners Bottom Dollar Food, Food Lion, Harveys, Hannaford Supermarkets, Reid's and Sweetbay, each of which has a distinct strategy and a well-established brand image. Through its multiple banners, Delhaize America is able to target the needs and requirements of specific markets, customize its product and service offerings and maintain strong brand recognition with its local customers. Delhaize America employs approximately 107,000 full-time and part-time associates.


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