Local News Articles

Support Project Graduation by Bidding on Opportunity to have a Quilt Top Put Together for your Senior

March 5, 2010
Quilt Made for High School Senior

You can help Project Graduation and give your high school senior the gift of a lifetime.

If you have the winning bid, you can have a quilt top put together that represents your senior's life. Using old t-shirts or other items, you will have a gift your senior will have forever that truly belongs to him or her.

You provide all of the materials for the quilt and Bessie Jones, grandmother of Layne Mathis, will put it together. Then you have it quilted to give to your senior.

The minimum bid is $110

Contact Kelly Garrett at 215-4455 to place your bid. You have until March 12th at 5:00 p.m. to place your bid.

Project Graduation Radiothon Raises $5,300

March 5, 2010
Dwayne Page
DCHS Teacher Chris Vance Interviews Senior Caroline Carter during WJLE Radiothon
DCHS Teacher Chris Vance Interviews School Board member Kenny Rhody-
DCHS Teacher Chris Vance Interviews Senior Whitney Gann
Inga Johnson Takes a Pledge during WJLE Project Graduation Radiothon
DCHS Senior Layne Mathis Takes a Pledge during WJLE Project Graduation Radiothon
Senior Class President Amanda Ours (left) and Vice President Kendra Foutch
Parents Donna Mathis, Kelly Garrett, Melinda Willoughby, and Teacher Chris Vance Organize Project Graduation Radiothon

More than $5,300 was raised during a three hour radiothon Friday morning on WJLE for the DCHS Class of 2010 Project Graduation.

DCHS teacher Chris Vance hosted the program and parents of high school seniors who serve on the Project Graduation committee answered phones, taking pledges during the drive. Several seniors were also permitted to leave school long enough to make a brief appearance on the radiothon to talk about their school activities and future plans and to answer phones.

Parents and students wish to thank everyone who supported the radiothon.

Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2010 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class.

Amanda Ours, Senior Class President, says she is pleased with the results. "I'm very proud of the radiothon. I think we did an awesome job. We didn't reach our goal but we still made an awesome profit. I'm really looking forward to project graduation. It's the last time the senior class will be together as a whole so it's very important to us and we're very glad that DeKalb County has offered their support."

Kendra Foutch, Class Vice President, says the support of the community is greatly appreciated. "It means a whole lot to us that so many have given to project graduation. It will keep all of the students who are graduating off of the streets. It will also keep us all together and have one last memory all together. Again, I want to thank everyone for supporting us today, pledging their donations, and helping us reach more than half of our goal."

Donna Mathis, one of the parents, also expressed her appreciation. "We really appreciate everyone chipping in to help our seniors. As one grandmother put it, she just wanted us to keep her baby safe. That's what our goal is, to make sure they have a safe place and a fun time while they're there."

Caroline Carter, secretary of the senior class, says the money will be put to good use. "It's our last time to get together as seniors as a class. Sometimes when seniors get excited, their judgment can be clouded by excitement and that can lead to reckless decisions but our Project Graduation is drug free and alcohol free."

" Each of our attending graduates, they're going to receive a graduation goody bag and each one of the bags has the exact same thing in it. In the bags, there will be gift cards, gas cards, gift cards from clothing stores, restaurants, etc. Last year we had 110 attend (Project Graduation). This year we have 172 graduating seniors so we hope to get that number (attendees) up a little bit."

"We'll have drawings including one for seniors who have attended Project Graduation meetings. However many times you have attended the meetings, that's how many times your name is put in the drawings."

"The seniors will gather right after the commencement the night of May 21st and we will stay there (at the high school) from 11:00 p.m. until a certain time the next morning. Our theme this year is Mardi Gras. We're going to design a tee shirt. The senior class will design it themselves and each attendee of Project Graduation will receive one."

"We've asked to get some activities such as blow up rock climbing, the blow up slides, karaoke, a LIVE band or LIVE dee jay. We'll probably have games like volley ball, basketball, and stuff that everyone likes."

"I hope we have a good turn out because this is our last time together."

President Extends Unemployment Insurance Deadline

March 4, 2010

An emergency act signed into law Tuesday night by President Obama will allow many of Tennessee's unemployed more time to receive unemployment benefits. The measure extends the eligibility period from February 28 to March 30 to transition into existing extended benefit programs. The new law; however, does not add additional weeks of benefits to any of the existing federal extensions of unemployment insurance.

Beyond the first 26 weeks of Tennessee Unemployment Compensation, a claimant must complete each tier of extended benefits before moving on to the next. There were five extensions of benefits, and the deadline to transition into any new tier expired at the end of February. If the deadline delay had not been approved, approximately 14,000 claimants would have only been able to complete their current tier of benefits. All Federal extensions, including Emergency Unemployment Compensation (Tier 1-4) and the state Extended Benefits Program are paid by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“This is very good news for a great number of claimants who were approaching the end of their benefit period,” said Labor Commissioner James Neeley. “These individuals should know they’ll continue to receive their weekly checks without a break, and they won’t have to apply for anything to continue receiving benefits. The bottom line is this gives Tennesseans more time to ramp up their job search.”

Claimants drawing unemployment will continue to certify to the Tennessee Department of Labor and will receive a letter when their benefits are transitioning from one tier to the next. Claimants exhausting their benefits before March 30 will automatically transition and will not need to contact the Tennessee Department of Labor to apply for new tiers of unemployment benefits.

In addition to extending the transition deadline for all tiers of benefits, the deadline to apply for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Federal Additional Compensation program (FAC) was also extended to March 30. This program adds $25 per week to all unemployment benefits. Beneficiaries who enroll prior to March 30 will continue to receive the FAC payments until October 9, 2010.

Grant for DeKalb County Fire Department Will Help Lower Local Homeowner Insurance Rates

March 3, 2010
Congressman Bart Gordon

Congressman Bart Gordon announced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program will award $100,000 to the DeKalb County Fire Department for new firefighting equipment, which will help improve the county’s fire safety ratings and lower homeowner insurance premiums.

The grant totals $107,188 funded 95% ($101,829) in federal and 5% ($5,359) in local monies.

“Every day, countless lives are saved by the courageous efforts of Tennessee’s firefighters,” Gordon said. “Programs like the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program ensure our first responders have the equipment to work as quickly and safely as possible.”

The DeKalb County Fire Department will put the funds toward the purchase of new fire hose that will allow each truck to carry the required 1,000 feet of supply hose to improve the department’s ability to reach houses set far back from hydrants. The funding will also allow the department to purchase new nozzles, hand tools and an automatic hose washer to better maintain fire hoses.

The new package of equipment will help the county move toward lowering homeowner insurance premiums for DeKalb residents by improving its grade with the Insurance Services Office, which evaluates fire protection levels, according to County Fire Chief Donny Green.

“We’re very appreciative of Congressman Gordon’s help. He’s visited us at our department and come to our functions, and his support over the years has meant a lot,” Green said. “Without this funding, we wouldn’t be able to make these improvements and lower premiums for DeKalb County homeowners. With the economy being like it is, every little bit helps.”

Gordon has been a strong supporter of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, which has awarded more than 1,300 grants to Tennessee first responders since 2000, totaling more than $108 million. In November, Gordon, chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, helped to pass the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act, which strengthens the AFG program and makes it more accessible to stations and departments suffering economic hardship.

State Department of Health to Change Immunization Requirements for School Entry

March 3, 2010
Dwayne Page
Cindy Childers

The Tennessee Department of Health has changed and updated its immunization requirements for child care, pre-school, and school entry.

Cindy Childers, Assistant School Health Coordinator, says the effective date of most changes is July 2010. "For the first time in ten years the state has required different immunizations for children entering school plus the seventh grade. They're going to be on one form that is required by all schools by the state of Tennessee. The only place you can obtain that form is from your personal physician or the health department. We're not allowed to accept anything else but that specific form. Those forms will not be ordered or available to be ordered until April 1st and should be available at all health departments and our physicians offices by the first of July."

"During our registration for Pre-K and Kindergarten, we normally ask that parents bring those immunization records. This year, and for this year only, we are asking them not to bring them (records) then, and we will ask them to bring them (records)on the first day of school, because all of those forms should be obtainable by that time."

"The changes that we're seeing with the children are, the children in preschool and Pre-K, along with their ones that we already require, we are asking for an additional Hepatitis B, a Haemophilus type B or (Hib), which is actually for meningitis, and additional Pneumococcal, and an additional Hepatitis A. And those will be required for them to get into preschool, or any kind of daycare, basically. For Kindergarten, along with those that I have just mentioned, a new one that is going to have to be required is the second Varicella, which is actually the chicken pox shot. That, or you're going to have to show proof of somehow that your child has had an active case of chicken pox. Also, we're going to have to have another polio, and what's going to happen is, we're going to stretch the polio out. We used to have four doses by the time that they were three. Now, we would like that fourth dose on or after their fourth birthday if possible. And also, an additional Hepatitis A, that will bring them to two doses."

"Now, the big one is the seventh grade. Normally, children at the age of twelve are due another Tetanus shot, or (DTaP). That has not been required up until now. This year, it will be required in order to enter seventh grade. Also, along with that, you'll have to have verification of that second Varicella, which is the chicken pox shot. So that means that they will have two doses by the time they're in seventh grade. And actually, this will be their fifth Tetanus by the time they're in seventh grade. And both of those will be required upon entering seventh grade this year."

"As I've mentioned, kinda be patient with your physicians. I know that a lot of moms and dads get those physicals done early so that they don't have to wait until the last minute. Check with your health care provider, whether it be your personal physician or the health department. See when those forms are going to be available, and get those appointments that are going to be able to help you. Like I said, they're not going to be required at registration, but they will be required the first day that they come to school."

IRS Has $19.8 Million for Tennesseans Who Have Not Filed a 2006 Tax Return

March 3, 2010

Unclaimed refunds totaling nearly $19.8 million are awaiting more than 22,000 Tennesseans who did not file a federal income tax return for 2006, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. However, to collect the money, a return for 2006 must be filed with the IRS no later than Thursday, April 15, 2010.

The IRS estimates that the median unclaimed refund for tax year 2006 is $598 for Tennesseans.

Some people may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments. In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim the refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.

For 2006 returns, the window closes on April 15, 2010. The law requires that the return be properly addressed, mailed and postmarked by that date. There is no penalty for filing a late return qualifying for a refund. Though back-year tax returns cannot be filed electronically, taxpayers can still speed up their refunds by choosing to have them deposited directly into a checking or savings account.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2006 refund that their checks will be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2007 or 2008. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS and may be used to satisfy unpaid child support or past due federal debts such as student loans.

By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than refunds of taxes withheld or paid during 2006. For example, most telephone customers, including most cell-phone users, qualify for the one-time telephone excise tax refund. Available only on the 2006 return, this special payment applies to long-distance excise taxes paid on phone service billed from March 2003 through July 2006. The government offers a standard refund amount of $30 to $60, or taxpayers can base their refund request on the actual amount of tax paid. For details, see the Telephone Excise Tax Refund page on IRS.gov.

In addition, many low-and-moderate income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds, which in 2006 were $38,348 for those with two or more children, $34,001 for people with one child and $14,120 for those with no children. For more information, visit the EITC Home Page.

Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of IRS.gov or by calling toll-free 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for 2006, 2007 or 2008 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer. If these efforts are unsuccessful, taxpayers can get a free transcript showing information from these year-end documents by calling 1-800-829-1040, or by filing Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, with the IRS.

School System Seeks Support for Spring Break BackPack Program

March 2, 2010
Dwayne Page
 Dee Anna Persinger

The DeKalb County School System is seeking donations of food and funds for another Back Pack program to make sure children who receive free or reduced priced meals at school have plenty to eat during the Spring Break while they are at home.

Dee Anna Persinger, School Health Coordinator, says through the"BackPack" program, children receive food they can take home.

"BackPack" was started locally as a pilot program during the winter break for students at Smithville Elementary, but Persinger says this "BackPack" program will include all schools if donations permit. "We started a food BackPack program this year with winter break and it was such a huge success that we would like to do that again for spring break. We are again looking for volunteers, monetary donations, and food donations. The program is not going to be successful unless we can find those volunteers and donations. Spring break starts March 29th and we are scrambling to get that together so if anyone is interested, we welcome them to help us."

Persinger says almost 400 students from Smithville Elementary School were served during the winter break but in order to expand the program to serve students from all schools more donations of funds and food are needed along with volunteers to help bag, box, and label the food bags.

Suggested individually packaged food to donate for the BackPack program include: 100% juice in single serving unbreakable bottles, boxes, or pouches; small boxes or bags of nutritious cereals; nutritious snack/breakfast bars; fruit cups; small boxes of raisins or dried fruit; microwave popcorn; non-perishable single serve microwave kids meals; and individually packaged crackers (peanut butter and crackers), and packaged nuts.

For more information, call Dee Anna Persinger at 215-2118 or Cindy Childers at 215-2161

The BackPack Program concept was developed at the Arkansas Rice Depot, after a school nurse asked for help because hungry students were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the school children with groceries in non-descript backpacks to carry home.

In addition to providing nutritious food to school children in need, some BackPack Programs provide extra food for younger siblings at home and others operate during the summer months when children are out of school and have limited access to free or reduced-priced meals.

The BackPack Program became a pilot program in 1995. The National Council of Feeding America approved the BackPack Program as an official national program of the Network in July 2006.

More than 140 Feeding America members operated more than 3,600 BackPack Programs and served more than 190,000 children in FY2009.

Local Scholarship Applications Due Soon

March 1, 2010
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Guidance Department is urging parents to encourage their high school seniors to submit scholarship applications by the deadlines.

Almost all local scholarship applications are due at the DCHS Guidance Office by March 23rd.

Applications for the DTC Scholarship in memory of McAllen Foutch are due at the DTC office by the close of business on March 15th. This scholarship is for students whose parents or guardians are active DTC members.

The following scholarships are available:

Kyle & Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship

DeKalb Community Hospital- for students going into the healthcare field

DeKalb Retired Teachers Award for students who will major in education.

Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club Award for female students only.

The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship for future MTSU students only

The DeKalb Farmers Coop Award for students going into an agriculture or related field.

The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award for basketball players or basketball cheerleaders going into teaching.

DeKalb Republican Women's Club Scholarship. Male or female students may apply

AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship for a male and female student who are children or grandchildren of a veteran.

The DeKalb County Soil Conservation District Scholarship is for students majoring in agriculture.

The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship is for students who have a parent or grandparent who is a current member of the DeKalb Firefighter's Association.

And the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Alan Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, the Jeff Garrett Memorial Scholarship, the PTO, Jolly Angels Scholarship and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

Local Scholarship Applications are now available in the Guidance Office or
on the DCHS website: http://www.teacherweb.com/tn/dekalbcountyhighschool/guidance/

Man Believed to be Responsible for Death of Child

March 1, 2010
Dwayne Page
Esteban Palomo Morales
Joshua Dean Turner
Terry Ray Barnes
Tommy Lynn Parsley

A 25 year old man, charged with aggravated child abuse, could be facing more serious charges now that the four month old baby he is accused of abusing has died.

However, Sheriff Patrick Ray says Esteban Palomo Morales of West Green Hill Road, Smithville has fled the county and hasn't been seen since his arrest on Wednesday, February 24th.

Palomo was charged in the case by county detectives after an investigation into an injury that occurred to the child on August 6th 2009.

The infant had a terminal illness and was being fed with a feeding tube. According to Sheriff Ray, Morales was mad when he entered the residence on Cecil Hale Road in Smithville and threw the baby face down on the couch. The child suffered injury from the abuse and the feeding tube came out. The baby was sent to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville and has died.

Detectives have been in contact with the District Attorney General about the case and will decide if Morales can be charged with the death of the child. Bond for Morales was set at $50,000 and he is scheduled to appear in court on March 4th.

Meanwhile, in another case, Sheriff Ray says 19 year old Joshua Dean Turner of Northwood Lane, McMinnville, 21 year old Terry Ray Barnes of Fun Branch Road, Gainesboro, and a 17 year old female were all charged Friday, February 26th with attempted manufacture of a schedule II drug methamphetamine. Bond for Turner and Barnes was set at $25,000 each. The juvenile was sent to the juvenile detention center in Cookeville. All will appear in court on March 25th. A deputy, while on patrol, spotted a vehicle pulling into the parking lot of Mt. Pisgah Church on Short Mountain Highway. The officer stopped to investigate and took the K-9 dog around the vehicle. The dog alerted on the automobile. The occupants told the deputy that they had smoked marijuana while in the vehicle, but all gave conflicting stories of when it happened. The officer conducted a search and found a methamphetamine lab including ammonium nitrate, lithium batteries, hose, funnel, aluminum foil, Drano, empty pseudoephedrine blister packs, water, acid, and bags of ephedrine.

27 year old Tommy Lynn Parsley of Broad Street Smithville was arrested on Sunday, February 28th and charged with a fifth offense of driving on a suspended license, criminal impersonation, evading arrest, possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana) for resale, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Parsley was also wanted for criminal trespassing and a general session's court capias has been issued for his arrest. Parsley's total bond was set at $64,500 and he will appear in court on March 11th. A deputy spotted Parsley on Highway 70 East at a motel and knew that he was wanted in DeKalb County on outstanding warrants. The officer turned his patrol car around and when he entered the parking lot he noticed Parsley run into a room. The deputy went to the door and knocked. Parsley answered. The officer asked Parsley for his identification. Parsley provided him with an I.D. of Timothy Murphy. When the deputy told Parsley that the I.D. didn't belong to him, Parsley then ran out the door in an attempt to flee. Parsley was caught about 150 yards away and began resisting arrest. Officers found in Parsley's vehicle over ½ oz. of marijuana, marijuana scales, a pill crusher, baggies, and a marijuana shredder.

40 year old Donna Sue Blankenship of West Green Hill Road, Smithville was arrested Tuesday, February 23rd for driving on a suspended license on Bright Hill Road. This was Blankenship's second offense. Bond was set at $2,000 and she will appear in court on March 10th

18 year old Colby M. Kelnhofer of Rodonna Drive, Smithville was charged Tuesday, February 23rd with driving under the influence and possession of a schedule II drug. Bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on March 18th. Sheriff Ray says deputies were dispatched to an automobile accident on Sparta Highway. An officer noticed that Kelnhofer, the driver, had a smell of marijuana about him. There was also an odor of marijuana inside his vehicle. Kelnhofer submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Deputies asked Kelnhofer about the marijuana smell. He replied that he had smoked a marijuana cigarette and then wrecked. Officers also found a small portion of a pill in Kelnhofer's pocket believed to be oxymorphone.

28 year old Alicia L. Fish of Midway Road, Smithville was arrested on Tuesday, February 23rd and charged with disorderly conduct, assault on an officer, and resisting arrest. Her bond was set at $7,500 and she will appear in court on March 18th. Deputies responded to a complaint on Midway Road. While talking to another person there, Fish came out of the residence yelling and screaming at both the officers and the person to whom they were talking. Fish was told several times to go back into the residence. She initially complied but later came out again yelling and screaming. This happened seven or eight times. After the officer told her she was under arrest, Fish took off running back into the house and slammed the door on the deputy's arm. Fish also fought the officer as he was trying to cuff her.

26 year old Matthew Malachi Lawson of Haley Road Smithville was arrested on Thursday, February 25th and charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 after an investigation into a break-in on South College Street in Smithville. Lawson allegedly entered the home and took a pistol, money, knives, a cedar dresser drawer, and blank checks. Bond for Lawson was set at $40,000 and he will appear in court on March 11th.

42 year old Thomas Wayne Coats of Malone Hollow Road was arrested on Thursday, February 25th for public intoxication. Bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 18th. Deputies responded to a domestic call on Malone Hollow Road in Alexandria and upon arrival found Coats in an intoxicated state. Coats had a smell of alcohol on his person and his speech was slurred.

19 year old Ray Darnell Underwood of Short Mountain Highway was arrested on Friday, February 26th and charged with driving on a suspended license after he was involved in a motor vehicle accident on Short Mountain Highway. Bond for Underwood was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on March 18th.

Senator Jim Tracy Announces DeKalb County Chairman in His Race for Congress

March 1, 2010

State Senator Jim Tracy announced today that former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, John Rose will chair his efforts in DeKalb County in his race for Congress.

“As an entrepreneur and successful business owner, John Rose has created jobs across Middle Tennessee and understands how our economy works. His commitment to our community and generosity make John Rose a well respected addition to our team,” said Tracy.

John Rose is a summa cum laude graduate from Tennessee Tech University, holds a masters in agricultural economics from Purdue University and a law degree from Vanderbilt University. John is the co-founder of Transcender Corp., an award winning provider of information technology certification training. John served as Tennessee’s 33rd Commissioner of Agriculture. As Commissioner, John served on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the University Of Tennessee Board Of Trustees. In 2005 and again in 2008, John was appointed to the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund Board. In 2007, John was recipient of the TBR Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy. Currently, John serves as the chairman of the Tennessee FFA Foundation and the TTU Foundation.

Jim Tracy is small business owner, former teacher and coach, and former TSSAA & NCAA basketball referee. He has been married to his wife, Trena, for 33 years, and they have three sons. Jim and Trena live in Shelbyville and attend Fairlane Church of Christ, where Jim is an active member and Deacon. Jim is a 1978 graduate of The University of Tennessee at Martin with a degree in Agriculture Education.


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