Local News Articles

Director of Schools Given Contract Extension and Pay Raise

March 9, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps signs new agreement giving him one year contract extension through June 30, 2020 and a $5,000 pay raise. Pictured with school board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III (SEATED TO THE RIGHT); STANDING: Danny Parkerson, Doug Stephens, Kate Miller, and Shaun Tubbs. Secretary Jamie Vickers (SEATED TO LEFT). Not pictured: Board members Jim Beshearse and Jerry Wayne Johnson

Based on overall high marks given by the Board of Education in a recent performance evaluation, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps has been awarded a one year contract extension and given a $5,000 pay raise, effective July 1, 2018.

During Thursday night’s regular monthly meeting, the Board voted 6-0-1 to grant the extension and pay raise. Those voting in favor were Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III and members Kate Miller, Doug Stephens, Danny Parkerson, Shaun Tubbs, and Jim Beshearse. Jerry Wayne Johnson passed.

With the $5,000 pay raise, Cripps will earn $90,000 per year paid in twelve equal monthly installments in accordance with the policy.

Cripps’ contract was to run through June 30, 2019, but with the one year extension, he will now serve as Director at least through June 30, 2020. Cripps has been Director since July, 2015. His original contract in 2015 was for two years to expire on June 30, 2017 but the Board voted in June, 2016 to extend the contract by two years based on overall high marks given by the Board in a director performance evaluation.

Cripps was recently evaluated again by the Board and given overall good marks.

During a work session prior to the meeting Thursday night, Board Chairman Evins said he preferred giving Cripps a two year extension but wanted the board to be unified on a decision. “No one can meet every goal but I think he (Cripps) has done as well as we could expect out of anyone in his position,” he said.

“My thought process is first and foremost is the Director doing a good job. That is the first thing to consider as far as I am concerned. I think he is and our evaluation indicates that. There are areas of improvement like there is with everybody. I am alright with either a one or two year (extension). I would prefer a two year (extension) but I would also like the board to be unified and agree and in good conscience go forward,” said Stephens.

During the work session, Tubbs recommended the board approving a one year extension with the $5,000 pay raise.”I think we need to look at putting in writing benchmarks of certain things that we as a board want to see accomplished," he said.

“I think we need to identify some things (benchmarks) so that he (Cripps) knows exactly what the board is looking for to assimilate,” added Parkerson.

Director Cripps said during the workshop that he appreciates the opportunity to serve as Director and wants to continue to receive the full support of the school board. “Career wise, this has been the best three years of my career. I love my job but I do not want to be a stumbling block for this school system. I don’t want to be a hindrance. If we can’t all be going in the same direction and on the same page and if I don’t have your support, I don’t want the job because it cannot be accomplished without you backing me,” said Cripps.

Results of the Board of Education's annual performance evaluation of Director Cripps in February show he is meeting “most” expectations of the board.

Cripps’ overall average score is 4.23 out of a possible 6 score.

In accordance with state law, the school board is required to develop and implement an evaluation plan to be used annually for the director of schools. Board members used a four page evaluation form to rate Director Cripps (1-5) in each of 60 areas from eight categories including on his relationship with the Board, the Community, Staff and Personnel, Educational Leadership, Business and Finance, Personal Qualities, Strategic Planning Skills, and Tennessee Specific questions.

A rating of "1" meant his performance was "Consistently Below Expectations". A "5" rating signified that Cripps "Met All Expectations". A rating with an asterisk (*) symbol or 6 meant he "Exceeded Expectations".

Other ratings were:
"2"-Meets Few Expectations
"3"-Meets Some Expectations
"4"-Meets Most Expectations

Each board member scored Cripps in all areas from the categories on the form. The scores were then averaged to arrive at the grand total score. The forms were then sent to officials of the Tennessee School Boards Association where the scores were tabulated and averaged.

The Director’s strengths, based on the overall report, were his personal qualities and board relationship. Weaknesses were in strategic planning skills and community relationships.

A breakdown of the scores given to Cripps in the eight areas of evaluation were:

Performance Goal Average
Board Relationship
4.45

Community Relationships
4.13

Staff and Personnel Relationships
4.21

Educational Leadership
4.27

Business and Finance
4.34

Personal Qualities
4.48

Strategic Planning Skills
3.81

Tennessee Specific Questions
4.15

Grand Total
4.23

All other terms of Cripps’ contract remain unchanged from the original agreement in 2015.

Under the contract, the Board will provide a medical insurance plan for Cripps on the same terms that it is made available to other employees. The Director will be able to participate in any other insurance program offered by the Board on the same terms as any other employee of the Board.

Cripps will also be provided with an automobile and all expenses involved in said automobile for him to carry out his official duties. He may use the automobile for personal purposes not interfering with school purposes, provided he shall pay or reimburse the cost of all fuel during such use.

The Director’s year shall consist of 240 duty days of normal office hours. Vacation time should be avoided at the beginning and end of the school year. The Director serves and is on duty during regular school session. Non duty days include 10 holidays and 12 annual leave days.

Cripps shall be granted one day of sick leave for each month of contractual employment. Sick leave days shall be cumulative and unused sick leave days may be used for retirement credit in accordance with the policies of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System.

The evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than March 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board shall review with the Director his performance, progress toward established goals, and the working relationships between the Director and Board, the staff, students, and community at large; and any other matters relative to the employment of the Director.

As part of the evaluation process, by July 30 of each year, the Director will present a Strategic Plan to the Board for the upcoming school year. The plan will incorporate the results of the Director's most recent evaluation, will identify the strengths and needs of DeKalb County Schools, and will describe the Director's Plan of Action to reach the goals adopted by the Board.

The contract may be terminated by mutual agreement of the parties or due to the retirement, disability, or death of the director. It may also be terminated by the Board for cause pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in TCA, the Teacher's Tenure Act. If the Board terminates the contract for cause, the Director would be entitled to no further benefits of compensation.

The Board reserves the right to transfer the Director to any position within the system; however compensation and insurance benefits included in this agreement shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of the contract as specified in Article 1. In the event the Director declines to accept the transfer, this contract shall be terminated and the Director would be entitled to no further benefits or compensation.

The Director retains any rights to tenure as a teacher that he has already acquired in the DeKalb County Schools. Even so, the Director understands and agrees that, upon the termination of his duties as Director, he will be placed in a position for which he is licensed and qualified by the Board or any subsequent director of schools. No rights to a particular position are retained by seniority or any other means, and the Board or any subsequent director of schools, as appropriate, has the sole right to determine placement. However after placement, he will return to the pay scale prior to his appointment as Director.

The Director will not hire immediate family members in new administrative roles. Prior job assignments are grandfathered.

Opioid Addiction and Prescribing Conference to be Held

March 8, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. Mitchell Mutter

The DeKalb and Smith County Drug Prevention Coalitions are partnering with East Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Department of Health to educate health care professionals and others about proper prescribing practices to curb the spread of opioid abuse.

The Opioid Addiction and Prescribing Conference, to be held at the DeKalb County Community Center at 712 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville, will be held on Tuesday, March 20 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. A dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Mitchell Mutter of Chattanooga, Medical Director of Special Projects for the Tennessee Department of Health.

The program is open to all levels of health care professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, dentists and others interested in solutions.

Attendees will learn about prescription opioid misuse and abuse trends, risk management tools, new laws and regulations effecting pain management specialists, current prescription related trends, the Tennessee Controlled Substance Monitoring Database, Chronic Pain Guidelines, and identifying strategies to incorporate evidence based best practice standards for safe opioid prescribing practices into team-based care.

The registration fee for the event is $50 for health care professionals and $15 for all others.

Click the following link

https://cmetracker.net/ETSUCME/Login?FormName=RegLoginLive&Eventid=122550

Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for March 17

March 8, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for March 17
Vehicles Lined up on College Street as far back as Greenbrook Park for previous Mobile Food Pantry

As part of its community outreach ministry, the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church is again sponsoring a drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning, March 17 rain or shine.

In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, the church plans to prepare enough food boxes to serve up to 300 families regardless of their income status, on a first come, first served basis. Families will receive enough food to last them for a full week. Second Harvest will bring in pallets of food on trucks. The food will then be off loaded and organized in preparation for the distribution.

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the food will be delivered from 9:00 a.m. until noon. Unlike most food distributions, those being served by the mobile pantry will not have to get out of their automobiles. They will drive thru in a pickup line and volunteers will deliver the food directly to their vehicles, placing the food boxes either in the back seat or trunk. Cars will line up facing north on College Street across from the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

"It's a mobile food pantry but it's also a drive thru. The recipients will stay in their cars. They will line up starting at 8:00 a.m. on College Street and when we have everything prepared and organized we'll start the line moving, hopefully around 9:00 a.m. Recipients will drive through. As they enter in we'll have a team there to put a box of food in their cars, either in their back seat or trunk," said spokesperson Teresa Trapp Brown.

"We will line up right across from the church (Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church) on College Street. We'll start registration at 8:00 a.m. We'll need the name of the recipients and how many families are being served. We're limited to two families per vehicle to make sure we have enough food," added Isaac Gray, Minister of the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Others who wish to volunteer may show up Saturday, March 17 or call for more information at 615-464-7896 or 615-597-4197.

DeKalb Farm Bureau Announces Poster Contest and Essay Winners

March 7, 2018
DeKalb Farm Bureau Announces Poster Contest and Essay Winners

DeKalb County Farm Bureau announces the 2018 Fourth Grade Poster Contest and Seventh Grade Essay Winners. Pictured from left to right are Cathy Officer, Farm Bureau Women’s Chair, Yvette Chivers, 1st place winner of Poster Contest - $50.00, Olivia Gilley, 2nd place winner of Poster Contest - $25.00, Cooper Brown, 1st place winner of Essay Contest- $50.00, and Stephen Officer, President, DeKalb County Farm Bureau.- Also, Mrs. Shelly Jennings was awarded $50.00 for the most entries from her classroom in the Poster Contest and Mrs. Amy Fletcher was awarded $50.00 for the most entries in the Essay Contest. The posters were based on “Farm to Fork” and the essays were titled “Why is Agriculture Important?” (Not pictured-Nolan Gottlied-2nd place winner of Essay Contest-$25.00 recipient). The first place winners will be submitted to the state contest.

Parent-Teacher Conferences Upcoming, No More Snow Days Left

March 7, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

They were used this year for snow, flooding, sickness, stockpile , and even for the solar eclipse, but the thirteen days built into the school calendar for inclement weather have all been used up and if more days should be missed between now and May 24, they will have to be made up.

The remainder of the school calendar for this year is as follows:

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Thursday, March 8 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School and on Tuesday, March 13 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Spring break will be March 26-30.

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

The commencement for the DCHS Class of 2018 will be on Friday, May 18 on the football field.

City to Take Sealed Bids for Sale of 1992 Fire Truck

March 7, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
City to Take Bids for Sale of 1992 Fire Truck

With the arrival of the new fire truck, the City of Smithville plans to sell the oldest fire engine in the fleet.

During Monday night’s meeting, the aldermen voted to accept sealed bids for the sale of the 1992 fire truck. Bids will be taken through 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 29 at city hall. The aldermen will take action to award the bid at the following regular monthly meeting on Monday, April 2 at 6 p.m. at city hall.

“We would like to advertise to take bids on the truck. We have looked at websites to check prices of comparable trucks and found them in the price range from $15,000 to $35,000. We would like to set a minimum bid or reserve on the truck and take sealed bids so that it could be open to anybody either private individual or government. The truck we have is in good shape. It has less than 20,000 highway miles on it but it has more hours where we have set and pumped. The rear tires are the original,” said Fire Chief Charlie Parker.

Sheriff Says Scammers Preying on Elderly

March 6, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

Scammers are preying on the elderly of DeKalb County in a new way and Sheriff Patrick Ray urges you guard against becoming a victim.

According to Sheriff Ray, would be victims have reported receiving calls in recent weeks from someone telling them that their grandchild has been injured in a wreck and needs money for an attorney because they have been arrested.

The caller asks the victim to put money on a Walmart or Google card and then to read off the card’s numbers and access code to them. The scammer then instantly withdraws the money from the card.

Most have figured out it’s a scam but one person has fallen victim to it and lost several thousands of dollars.

Sheriff Ray urges you to just hang up if you get such a call. If you should become a victim report it to the sheriff’s department but don’t expect to recover your cash. “Once those cards are cleared they go into a bank account and then they go outside the United States so there is no way to get the victim’s money back,” said Sheriff Ray.

Mother Needs Help Locating Missing Daughter

March 6, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Hannah Marie Grisham
16 year old Hannah Marie Grisham

The mother of a missing DeKalb County teenage girl needs your help in locating her.

16 year old Hannah Marie Grisham went missing from her home in Liberty on February 11 according to her mother, Darlene Grisham.

No one has seen or heard from her and police have no leads as to her whereabouts.

If you should see or speak to Hannah or know where she is please contact Central Dispatch at 615-215-3000 or her mother at 615-318-3040 or 615-580-9064.

Aldermen Want City Administration to Keep them Better Informed

March 5, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen: Seated Mayor Jimmy Poss and Alderman Gayla Hendrix. STANDING: Aldermen Danny Washer, Jason Murphy, Josh Miller, and Shawn Jacobs

Smithville Aldermen, concerned that they are too often being left in the dark by the administration about things going on in city government, want to be better informed.

During Monday night’s meeting, members of the council expressed their frustrations saying they have learned from the public or been asked about certain things of which they were unaware and should have known about pointing to two examples in particular. One involved the hiring of the mayor’s son, Tony Poss without board approval to work part time at the golf course and swimming pool last September after Poss surrendered his lease of the facilities in August. Shortly after Poss gave up the lease, the city entered into a one year contract with Riverwatch Golf & Resort to upgrade and maintain the golf course at a cost to the city of $74,115, most of which is coming from the city’s general fund surplus . Poss’ employment with the city ended Monday (March 5) before the issue was brought up Monday night. From September 1 to March 2, Poss’ gross amount of pay was $300 per week for a total of $8,100.

The other issue involves the city paying a part time employee at the animal shelter since January for working over 40 hours a week without board approval, which is a violation of the city’s agreement with the DeKalb Animal Coalition. Under that agreement, the city is to fund only one full time and one part time position at the animal shelter. Members of the Coalition addressed the mayor and aldermen last month asking that the city make the part time position full time but no action was taken by the board.

"I don't like coming up here and finding out stuff I should know before I get here that they (public) hear on the street. If they know it on the street, why don't we know it?" asked Alderman Danny Washer.

"Maybe we need to have ground rules on what we need to know. We all work full time jobs and I don't want to be called every time somebody wants to do something. I think the leaders we have hired should have discretion up to a certain point and maybe we need to decide where that line is," said Alderman Jason Murphy.

Alderman Josh Miller raised the issue about Tony Poss asking why he was hired.

“This has been something that has been brought to me and I think to others. I would like to know why we have been paying somebody to mow the golf course when we have it subbed out to Riverwatch?

“Who are we paying to mow the golf course?” asked Mayor Jimmy Poss

“I got numbers today and we have been paying somebody (Tony Poss) from September 1, 2017 through March 2, 2018 apparently to mow the golf course,” said Alderman Miller.

“No” responded Mayor Poss.

“So that’s not true?” asked Alderman Miller.

“Not to mow the golf course, no," replied Mayor Poss.

Alderman Miller then produced a city employee payroll data document for Tony Poss bearing the mayor’s signature with a hand written note that reads “part time seasonal salary $300 to mow golf course”.

After Aldermen Miller passed the document to him during the meeting, the mayor admitted that Tony was hired to do other things and not to mow the grass.

“We had a problem and what he (Tony) has done, he has taken care of that golf course with what Riverwatch wasn’t doing. He (Tony) has protected us from freezing up. The pool was running low with no water being put in it. It wasn’t being maintained by the city and that wasn’t Ken’s deal (Ken Lacy of Riverwatch). This is what Tony did. He took care of the city’s property. Now it wasn’t mowing. That’s an error there,” explained Mayor Poss.

Alderman Washer asked City Attorney Vester Parsley if the city can hire a new part time employee without board approval.

“I would really have to look and see. I wouldn’t want to make a comment either way right now,” answered Parsley.

“So is he (Tony) still part time?" asked Alderman Miller

“No, he is not anymore,” answered Mayor Poss

“When did that happen?”, asked Alderman Miller

“Today," replied Mayor Poss

Alderman Shawn Jacobs said he was under the impression that “Riverwatch was supposed to be taking care of everything over there (golf course). I thought that is why we hired them. That was quite a bit of expense to the city,” he said.

The things they (Riverwatch) weren’t going to do we were having Kevin Robinson’s department (Public Works) to do which were already city employees handling those issues,” added Alderman Gayla Hendrix.

"My suggestion is that any issue with an employee whether part time or full time it should come before the board (for approval) so at least we know who our employees are because we are ultimately liable for these people," Alderman Hendrix continued.

Concerning the part time employee at the animal shelter, Alderman Washer said the city is paying him more than it should be. “I averaged it out and from the time he hired in to the end of our last meeting (February) he was paid for 41.8 hours (per week)”.

Janice Plemmons Jackson, the city’s financial advisor, confirmed that the city has been paying more for that part time position than the aldermen agreed to pay. “What we budgeted for the animal (shelter) employees 'salaries was for one full time person, 40 hours and one part time person, 25 hours. That was set in contract with them (Animal Coalition) but we are exceeding the budget tremendously with what they are turning in and the city has been paying for extra things that are not in that contract. It is my opinion that with a contract you either stay with it or you have to modify it,” she said.

As for paying the part timer at the animal shelter, Jackson asked the aldermen what the city should do?

"Go back to what we agreed on. We can't keep spending money that we hadn't put out there (budgeted). If you do little by little its going to catch up to you and bite you," said Alderman Washer.

Community Bids Farewell to Officer Joseph Bowen (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

March 5, 2018
by: 
Dwayne Page

Family, friends, and other mourners including uniformed police officers from a number of county and city law enforcement agencies, firefighters, and other emergency service providers bid farewell to Joseph Bowen Monday.

The memorial service with full police honors was held in Lebanon followed by a procession to his final resting place at Salem Cemetery in Liberty.

The 28 year old Lebanon Police Officer, husband, and father of two lost his life in a crash last Thursday on Highway 70 at Dowelltown while returning home from work.

Firefighters, law enforcement officers, and other emergency services responders stood side by side on Highway 70 and saluted as the hearse bearing Officer Bowen’s body arrived in Liberty.

He is survived by wife Kim Bowen; children Katy Jo and Wesley Brock Bowen; parents Dwayne and Lisa Bogle Bowen; brother Jacob (Kayla) Bowen; uncle Mike Bowen; nephew Knox Bowen; in-laws Steven and Kathy Deffendoll; brothers and sisters-in law Brandon Deffendoll, Chris and Kristina McMillen; niece and nephew Lacey and Cole McMillen. He is preceded in death by grandparents Frank and Helen Bowen and Lemuel and Betty Bogle.

Memorial Donations will be accepted at Wilson Bank and Trust for the children’s scholarship fund. Sellars Funeral Home, Lebanon was in charge of the arrangements.

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