Local News Articles

Commission Votes to Grant Holiday Pay to EMS Staff According to Policy

April 28, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joe Johnson (Older Photo)

Full time employees of the ambulance service will be compensated for holidays under a measure adopted by the county commission Monday night.

Compensation will be for eight hours per holiday.

EMS employees who work on holidays will get their regular wages plus the eight hours of holiday pay or comp time. Those who are off duty on holidays will also get eight hours of holiday pay . The county recognizes twelve holidays per year.

Second district commissioner Joe Johnson raised the issue saying the county has been violating its own personnel policy for years in not providing holiday pay to ambulance service workers, while doing so for other county employees. The sheriff's department has its own policy under which employees get one day of comp time per month to compensate for their having to work holidays.

Since May 1, 2012, the county has operated under a revised Personnel Policy for Employees of the DeKalb County Government. Concerning "Holiday Leave", the policy states that "Holidays for employees are recognized. Holiday leave will be equivalent to a normal schedule workday consisting of the time normally worked, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (8 hours) for Full-time employees. A list of the approved (12) holidays is included in this manual."

"It (policy) says we should pay all our employees holiday pay (8 hours) which can be dollars or comp time. If you work for the ambulance service and that holiday comes and you're not scheduled to work, you don't get anything," said Johnson.

The work schedule for EMS staff is 24 hours on and 48 hours off.

After unsuccessful efforts to get the interim EMS director to act, Johnson said he decided to bring the issue directly to the county commission. According to Johnson, the interim director said he was merely following the practice of the prior director concerning the policy.

"I'm going to make the motion tonight that we direct our temporary ambulance director to pay the employees their holiday pay where they work or not. Whether it be comp time or not. And that it become retroactive to January 1, 2015 which will be for two holidays (this year). And that we direct him (interim director) to continue paying each employee their holiday pay whether they work or not the way the handbook says," said Johnson.

Seventh district member Larry Summers suggested a delay on a vote until next month in order to give the appropriate committees a chance to review it. "We have a process of working with committees. Shouldn't we direct the county executive to call (meetings) of the ambulance or finance (committees) and call anybody from the ambulance service or a spokesman that would like to address us and let us hear their feelings up front? We could bring it back at the next court meeting. That's just four weeks," said Summers.

"We're violating our own policy. We've got a policy that says they should be paid and we're not doing it. I'm wanting the policy to just be enforced," replied Johnson.

Johnson's motion was adopted on an 8-6 vote. Those voting in favor were Anita Puckett, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Betty Atnip, Bradley Hendrix, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Jimmy Midgett, and Mason Carter. Voting against were Jonathan Norris, Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, Jeff Barnes, and Jack Barton. Adcock and Barton said they preferred a committee review before a commission vote.

Board to Consult TSBA on Director Selection Process (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

April 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education will seek consultation from the Tennessee School Boards Association is establishing a procedure for selecting the next Director of Schools.

Following an hour long work session, the board held a brief special called meeting Monday evening and voted to move forward with the process. "I make a motion that we consult TSBA for their free service with guidelines on how to proceed with our director selection process," said Fourth district member Kate Miller. Seventh district member Shaun Tubbs offered a second to the motion.

The board's policy states that the board must develop a procedure for selecting a new director before it begins a search. "Prior to conducting a search to fill the position, the Board shall initially develop the following:

* A job description
* A timeline
* A process for accepting and reviewing applications
* Selection procedures

Based on the school board's action Monday night, a TSBA consultant will be asked to meet with the board of education, at no charge or obligation, to discuss options with the Board and to explain the Search Service in detail. Specific items to be covered at that time include planning a tentative timeline; defining the scope of the search; and discussing qualifications, contractual details; community/staff involvement; media relations; and confidentiality.

Election Commission Issues Four Petitions for Alexandria Election

April 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

Alexandria voters will have a chance to elect a mayor and as many as five aldermen in the town's election on September 3.

Qualifying petitions are now available from the DeKalb County Election Commission. The deadline to get in the race is noon on June 18.

In this year's Alexandria election, three aldermen are to be elected, each to serve a four year term. Meanwhile, a mayor and two other aldermen are to be elected to fill vacancies or the remaining two years of unexpired terms.

The sitting members are Mayor Tony Tarpley and Aldermen Pat Jackson, David Cripps, John Suggs, and Bennett Armstrong. All are serving as appointees except for Jackson, who was elected in 2013 and still has two years remaining in his term.

Those who have picked up petitions from the election commission to date are as follows:

Mayor: Tony Tarpley (4 year term)

Alderman: Bennett Armstrong, David G. Cripps, and John Suggs (all for 4 year terms)

No petitions have yet been issued for the two-2 year terms to fill vacant/unexpired terms.

Man Caught Making Meth

April 27, 2015
Dwayne Page
Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth
Anthony Joe Hamilton
Glenn Austin Rochefort
Stephanie Renae Miller
Luciano Pascual-Menchu Garcia

The Sheriff's Department apparently caught a Smithville man operating a meth lab last week.

33 year old Nicholas Alton Hollingsworth of West Main Street, Smithville is charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. His bond is $150,000 and he will be in court May 7.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, April 20 a sheriff's department detective and a deputy went to property on Possum Hollow Road where officers believed methamphetamine was being manufactured. Upon arrival, they found components used to manufacture meth stashed under a log in the woods. While there, the officers saw Hollingsworth coming through the woods. Both officers watched as he went straight to the components and began the manufacturing process. The officers approached Hollingsworth and found him holding a one pot bottle. Hollingsworth was then placed under arrest. Found in the area with Hollingsworth were acid, lighter fluid, drain opener, funnels, tubing with two bottle caps on the end, coffee filters, lithium strips, lithium batteries, empty cold packs, three bags, etc.

31 year old Anthony Joe Hamilton is charged with two counts of possession of a schedule II drug (crack cocaine) and a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone) for resale. His bond totals $40,000 and he will be in court June 4.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 24 a sheriff's department detective pulled into the parking lot of Eastside Inn on Highway 70 east and spoke with Hamilton. When the detective approached him, Hamilton threw a white baggie onto the ground. Inside the baggie was .4 grams of crack cocaine that consisted of two crack rocks. During a search of Hamilton's person, the detective found a cellophane pack in his right small pants pocket containing six Hydrocodone 10 milligram pills. In Hamilton's right large pocket were 2-five dollar bills and 2-twenty dollar bills. He also had in his wallet $151 cash. Hamilton was placed under arrest and the money was seized.

19 year old Glenn Austin Rochefort of Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court May 7. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, April 24 a deputy was dispatched to DeKalb Market where an intoxicated person was reported to be creating a disturbance. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Rochefort who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. His eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred. Rochefort could not walk on his own without falling. For his safety and that of the public, Rochefort was placed under arrest.

44 year old Stephanie Renae Miller of Dale Ridge Road, Liberty is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court May 7. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 25 a deputy was dispatched to Dale Ridge Road for a reported domestic assault. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Miller and her boyfriend who had been in an argument. The man had injuries from an assault by Miller, including a bloody nose and small scratches on the left side of his face and left arm. Video surveillance showed the man trying to avoid her hitting him. It was determined that Miller was the primary aggressor and she was placed under arrest.

Luciano Pascual-Menchu Garcia of Murfreesboro is charged with a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond is $3,000 and he will make a court appearance June 4. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 26 a deputy stopped a green Honda for crossing over the double yellow line on Highway 56 north. The driver, Garcia could not produce a drivers license. A computer check revealed that Garcia's license were suspended on December 6, 2004 for failure to show proof of insurance in Rutherford County. This is his fourth DSL offense. The prior offenses were on September 25, 2009 in Rutherford County; September 19, 2013 in Wilson County; and February 5, 2015 in Smith County. Garcia was placed under arrest.

May the G-Force Be With You: Community Races in Support of Down syndrome

April 27, 2015
Bill Conger
Pictured are all the winners in the 5K and Fun Run with Grant Brown (Photo by Bill Conger).
Grant Brown (Photo by Bill Conger)
Racers hitting the road for the RunDown 5K (Photo by Bill Conger)
Brown Family: (Left to Right) Stephen, Grant, Amanda, Lydia, and Austin Brown (Photo by Bill Conger)
Clark Oakley, one of the race organizers, announcers the race winners (Photo by Bill Conger)

Four-year-old Grant Brown holds up a peace sign with two of his fingers as he poses with the winners of the first-ever RunDown 5K & Fun Run. The young to not-so-young, kids to grandmothers, experienced runners to walkers who were challenged to tread the 3.1-mile course, laced up their shoes Saturday morning (April 25) at DeKalb West School for this fundraising event for Down syndrome awareness.

Grant, who was born with Down syndrome was the friendly 2015 “Face of the Race.” He is the third child of Stephen and Amanda Brown, who are the parents to Grant’s two siblings, Austin, a student at D.C.H.S., and Lydia, an 8thgrader at DeKalb West School.

“In the beginning, it’s devastating,” Grant’s mom said of his early newborn days. “You want everything to be perfect. Really, now, looking at him, he is perfect.”

Children born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. Normally, people are born with 46 chromosomes. An individual with Down’s has 47.

“That extra chromosome is okay,” Brown said. “We wouldn’t change him for a minute.”

Admittedly, raising a child with a genetic disorder took a period of adjustment, but overall, she says it has been a positive experience.

“Fortunately, we’ve not had a lot of the health issues that can come with Down’s,” she said. “He’s very stubborn, but he’s very loving too.”
“We were told a lot that they’re (D.S. children) a little more laid back and maybe not as active,” Brown said. “That’s certainly not the case here. He’s a lot of fun and very energetic.”

Grant’s DWS Pre-Kindergarten teacher Amy Pack-Young echoes his mother’s take on the little boy’s spunk.

“He is stubborn and energetic, but most of all very comical!” she said. “He loves to play in the IPad center, pretend play and dance. His favorite teacher is Holly (Bain, Educational Assistant). She has been awesome to work one-on-one with Grant within the classroom. I'm really his second favorite because I'm as stubborn as him,” Young adds with a laugh.

Grant’s genetic disorder certainly has no bearing on his acceptance at school or anywhere in the community.

“All the preschoolers have overall been great with Grant,” his teacher says. “They have taken him on as younger brother. Everyone at DWS knows Grant. He greets everyone with a hug, big smile and sometimes a kiss,” Young said.

“He’s like a rock star almost,” his mom says laughing. “He’s a celebrity. It’s the same way at church and wherever we go. It’s pretty funny.”
Down syndrome’s affect is different for each child, says Alecia Talbott, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, who was on hand race day to provide additional information about D.S.

“Typically, there will be some cognitive delays and some difficulty with working memory,” explained Talbott, whose third of three children was born with D.S. “Generally, for most kids, they’re going to do everything that their typically developing peers are going to do. They’re going to run and play, jump, ride bikes, and do other things. They’re going to learn a little bit differently, and it might take a little bit longer. They may need some additional support to see those things happen.”

Grant and his family are blessed with an abundance of support from other people including their church home at Salem Baptist Church and many members of the community.

“We’ve always had a lot of people behind us,” Brown said. “That’s why our shirts say G-force. We have such a force behind us. Seeing the community come out like this has been amazing.”

"The faculty and staff at DeKalb West School have played such a huge role in Grant's life this past year,” Brown adds. “From his teachers to the students, everyone treats him so well. All the faculty/staff have made him and us feel so special, and their love for him is evident. We want to thank each of you for everything you do for Grant."

“When you’re raising a child with special needs, you need support,” Talbott adds. “There are hard days. There are challenges. Seeing the support of the community like this makes parents like us feel good. There’s stressful days, and it’s very helpful to have other folks reach out and say we love you too.”

221 people registered for the race with 162 people participating in either the 5K or fun run, according to Clark Oakley, who helped organized the event with Andy West from Smith County who also has a child with D.S., Kelly Pyburn, Amanda Brown, and Joey Agee.

Over $6,000 was raised for Down syndrome awareness. This event would not have come about if not for the founder, Addison Oakley, an 8th grade student at DeKalb West. Oakley, who has a cousin with D.S. and is also best friends with Grant’s sister, Lydia has wanted to do something for several years now for Down syndrome awareness. With the help of her mother, Lisa and father, Clark they created RunDown 5K, a non-profit organization. This will become an annual event to help provide resources for children with DS in DeKalb and Smith County.

“We want to thank everyone who supported this race in any way,” Oakley said. “We couldn’t have done it without the volunteers who gave of their time and the sponsors who supported our cause financially.”

For more information on Down syndrome, check out www.somethingextra.org.

Hunting Privileges Revoked for Several People

April 27, 2015

Several people accused of recent wildlife hunting violations appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on Thursday, April 9.

Eight men and one woman were charged on 113 offenses and eight pled guilty to some of the charges under negotiated settlements. Six adults including Abbey Caldwell, Austin Cook, Daniel Stanley, Evan Cripps and Dustin Cook, along with three unnamed juveniles from DeKalb County and Charles Calvert of Warren County, were charged with multiple accounts including spot-lighting, hunting during a closed season, hunting from a public road and hunting from a motorized vehicle.

According to a prepared TWRA media release, "The case started when TWRA Warren County Officer, Pete Geesling, received a tip regarding illegal spotlighting in late December. He and fellow Warren County TWRA Officer, Jason Ramsey started the investigation. TWRA DeKalb county Officers, Joe Fortner and Tony Cross, joined the case when tips indicating illegal activity in DeKalb County came in from social media around the first of January. After collecting further evidence, TWRA Officers interviewed eight suspects the first weekend in February. Three suspects were interviewed multiple times."

"Those indicted admitted to driving a 20 mile stretch of road and illegally taking 11 deer on different nights. The men surrendered five deer racks, three rifles and one bow. The men also consented to the search of a vehicle. TWRA Officers removed the carpet in the trunk of the vehicle for DNA testing of blood and hair, used to prove the number of deer transported. Officers also found a spotlight, empty cartridges and a knife. The men surrendered and consented to the search of an I Phone, which revealed several incriminating photos."

"Officers worked with the DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney, Greg Strong, to determine 113 charges for the six adults and three juveniles. After determining charges, all suspects involved in the case met with Officers. Officers cited warrants but did not physically arrest any of the men. All pled guilty. Four of the men were offered pretrial diversions from the Assistant District Attorney General. Three pled guilty but were not offered pretrial diversions. Eight of the nine were sentenced. The ninth, an unnamed juvenile is also facing several unrelated violations and that case has not yet been settled in court.

The eight defendants who appeared in court on April 9th were fined a total of $10,329.00, received a combined 22 years of revoked hunting privileges, 16 years of suspended probation and all eight must retake the hunter education course.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 7.2% in March

April 27, 2015
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for March was 7.2%, down from 7.7% in February and below 8.2% recorded in March, 2014.

The local labor force for March, 2015 was 7,130. A total of 6,610 were employed and 520 were without work.

DeKalb County's Jobless Rate for March was seventh lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region.

Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:
Clay: 10.6%
Van Buren: 8.9%
Pickett: 8.6%
DeKalb: 7.2%
White: 6.8%
Putnam: 6%

County unemployment rates for March 2015 show the rates decreased in 88 counties, increased in five counties, and remained the same in two counties.

Davidson County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate in March at 4.4 percent, down from 4.8 percent in February. Knox County was 4.7 percent in March, down from 5.1 the previous month. The Hamilton County March rate was 5.4 percent, down from 5.9 in February. Shelby County was 6.7 percent in March, down from 7.2 percent the previous month.

Tennessee’s preliminary unemployment rate for March was 6.3 percent, three-tenths of one percentage point lower than the February revised rate of 6.6 percent. The U.S. preliminary rate for March was 5.5 percent, unchanged from the prior month.

The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Eight DeKalb County Fire Department Recruits Complete “Live Burn” Training

April 27, 2015
Donny Green
Pictured left to right: Cody Wagner (Keltonburg Station), Brayde Baker (Belk Station), Jade Cade (Keltonburg Station), Chris Mulford (Short Mtn. Station), Mark Johnson (Short Mtn. Station), Brittany Lattimore (Short Mtn. Station), Jody Lattimore (Short Mtn. Station), and Matt Adcock (Belk Station).

Eight DeKalb County Fire Department (DCFD) recruits have completed the 16-hour Firefighter Live Burn Training Course at the Tennessee Fire and Codes Enforcement Training Academy in Bellbuckle, Tennessee.

These recruits are Cody Wagner (Keltonburg Station), Brayde Baker (Belk Station), Jade Cade (Keltonburg Station), Chris Mulford (Short Mtn. Station), Mark Johnson (Short Mtn. Station), Brittany Lattimore (Short Mtn. Station), Jody Lattimore (Short Mtn. Station), and Matt Adcock (Belk Station).

Assistant Chief and Training Officer David Agee says the department is extremely proud of this group of firefighters who committed themselves to further their education in the fire service by completing this physically demanding course that teaches firefighter recruits how to apply the skills they learned in their previously completed 64-hour Basic Firefighter Training Course. “Live Burn Training gives recruits practical and hands-on experiences with evolutions as required in NFPA 1403. Specifically, firefighters are required to participate and successfully complete a variety of practical training drills and scenarios including search and rescue, structural fire attack and exterior fires,” says Assistant Chief Agee.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green commended the department’s new recruits and Assistant Chief Agee for making DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s training program responsive to the training needs of new recruits. “It is amazing to see the level of commitment that we are getting from our volunteer firefighters who work hard and train hard to make sure our citizens have good fire protection here in DeKalb County. This is a testament to why DeKalb County Fire Department is recognized across the state and country as being one of the top ranking training departments. Without training, even the best equipment is useless. We emphasize to our members that being a professional firefighter has nothing to do with your status as ‘career’ or ‘volunteer’, it's entirely defined by how you perform.” says Chief Green.

If you are interested in learning more about the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, or would like information on how to be on our team and become a volunteer firefighter, you can visit the Department’s website at: www.dekalbfire.com, or call 615-464-7176. You can also visit the Department’s FaceBook group page.

Pictured left to right: Cody Wagner (Keltonburg Station), Brayde Baker (Belk Station), Jade Cade (Keltonburg Station), Chris Mulford (Short Mtn. Station), Mark Johnson (Short Mtn. Station), Brittany Lattimore (Short Mtn. Station), Jody Lattimore (Short Mtn. Station), and Matt Adcock (Belk Station).

New York Based Group Makes Offer for Lakeside Resort

April 25, 2015
Lakeside Resort

A New York non-profit group, which operates a residential facility for youth, has reportedly made an offer for a lease/purchase of Lakeside Resort, which is under the control of UCHRA.

According to the Herald-Citizen, the formal offer by Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch for Lakeside Resort was recently presented to the UCHRA's real estate committee during a meeting in Cookeville. No specifics were given but the letter stated that they would like to purchase from UCHRA the buildings, machinery and chattels of the resort on Center Hill Lake, with the offer contingent upon UCHRA renegotating the lease with the Corps to at least 2050.

According to the group’s website, a number of programs are offered at the current location in Long Island, N.Y. — including a residential program — on the 70-acre farmstyle campus. The Ranch opened in November of 1980 and offers a safe haven for children who have been neglected, abused or in a time of crisis. Referrals come from the court system and private agencies.

The offer includes an initial payment of $50,000 and subsequent payments of $5,000 each calendar month for 13 years, beginning in June of 2015.
The total purchase price would be $830,000, which is below the reduced asking price of $999,999.

However, restrictions currently in place by the Corps of Engineers could prevent such a facility at Lakeside Resort.

Kevin Salvilla, natural resource manager at Center Hill Lake, reportedly informed the real estate committee that while Lakeside is an asset for DeKalb County there are conditions for its use and one is that it cannot be used for residential purposes, except for security. The intent of the location is for recreation. It's a parks and recreation lease, he said.

But, according to the current lease with UCHRA, the leaseholder must have an educational component to the operations.

If a deal were to be approved as offered, UCHRA would still have to pay off its loan debt through Rural Development. According to Luke Collins, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency executive director, the agency still owes $1.4 million on the property and the purchase price would not cover it. Collins said he has been told the lienholder will not release the lien without full payment of the debt but there could be an option for refinancing.

According to the Herald-Citizen, the real estate committee is set to meet again May 19 at 9 a.m. in Cookeville to look at submitted proposals and make a decision. In the meantime, representatives of the Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch board may meet with Salvilla and other employees of the Corps of Engineers, to discuss specifics of the proposal.

DeKalb County students win at Cumberland Plateau science fair

April 24, 2015
Dwayne Page
Front row, left to right: fair director Kelly Ramey, Callie Crips, Sahara LaFever and Taylor Spare. Back row, left to right: Austin Johnson, Trey Jones and Marshal Evins.

Seven students from DeKalb County High School won this year at the Cumberland Plateau Science and Engineering Fair at Tennessee Tech University.

Callie Crips and Sahara LaFever worked together on a project that won each of the students a scholarship to TTU’s College of Engineering. They also won third place in the senior engineering category.

Taylor Spare won the U.S. Metric Association Award, the ASM Materials Education Foundation Award and second place in the senior physical sciences category.

Marshal Evins won third place in the senior biology category.

Trey Jones, Austin Johnson and Hunter Jennings worked together on a project that won third place in the senior math category.

This was the 61st year of the fair. Prizes were given to students across several age groups in physical and biological science, math and engineering.

Photo ID:
Front row, left to right: fair directory Kelly Ramey, Callie Crips, Sahara LaFever and Taylor Spare. Back row, left to right: Austin Johnson, Trey Jones and Marshal Evins.


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