Local News Articles

School Enrollment Numbers Keep Changing

August 8, 2015
Dwayne Page

Enrollment numbers in the DeKalb County School System keep fluctuating.

As WJLE reported last Tuesday, enrollment was down slightly from last year as of Monday morning. But by Thursday, enrollment was up by ten students over last year.

According to Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder, a total of 2,909 students were enrolled as of Monday, August 3. But during Thursday night's Board of Education meeting, Reeder said numbers taken from the computer showed that district-wide there were 3,015 students enrolled, up from 3,005 a year ago.

"These (numbers) are pretty fluid and will be until Labor Day. We'll have people coming in and moving out," said Reeder.

As of Thursday, enrollment at each school was as follows compared to last year:

DCHS: 867 (up by 37 students)
DeKalb Middle School: 536 (down by 18 students)
Northside Elementary: 658 (up by 35 students)
Smithville Elementary: 569 ( down by 40 students)
DeKalb West School: 382 (down by seven students)

DeKalb Middle School Honors National Heroes (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

August 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Middle School Principal Randy Jennings greets Medal of Honor recipients Hal Fritz and Leo Thorsness Friday morning
Medal of Honor recipient Leo Thorsness gets enthusiastic reception at DeKalb Middle School Friday morning
Medal of Honor recipient Hal Fritz greets members of Alvin C. York family
DMS Assistant Principal Amanda Dakas greets family of Alvin C. York including his son and daughter Andrew Jackson York and Betsy Ross York Lowery and grandchildren Gerald York and Deborah Marie York

DeKalb Middle School had the honor and rare opportunity to host two Medal of Honor recipients and family members of a third in a tribute ceremony Friday morning.

83 year old Leo Thorsness, a retired colonel in the United States Air Force and 71 year old Harold (Hal) Fritz, a retired United States Army Officer both received the Medal of Honor for their actions in the Vietnam War. The two national heroes were scheduled to arrive in Smithville on a Blackhawk helicopter but inclement weather prevented it. They rode into town instead in a Chevrolet Suburban.

Members of the community and local veterans greeted the war heroes with handshakes and salutes as they entered the school and some waved flags in a show of patriotism.

Family members of the late World War I hero Sergeant Alvin C. York were also honored guests including York's son and daughter Andrew Jackson York and Betsy Ross York Lowery along with two of his grandchildren, Gerald York and Deborah Marie York, who is the executive director of the Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation. The program featured a power point tribute to Sergeant York as well as to a DeKalb County Medal of Honor recipient, the late Charles P. Cantrell, who served in the War with Spain in 1898. Plaques of appreciation were presented to the York family and to Thorness and Fritz.

Veterans in attendance sat together during the tribute program, which also featured video vignettes about Thorsness and Fritz. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department presented flags and student Bill Miller led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance with Thea Tippin singing the National Anthem.


Principal Randy Jennings helped with the introductions and reminded the students of the significant sacrifices these men made for their country. "As students you guys look up to a lot of people; basketball players, singers, actors, and all those people you put on that pedestal. We use that term hero very loosely a lot of times. Those are just famous people. They are not necessarily heroes. Here are the real heroes. We are honored to have our Medal of Honor recipients with us," said Jennings.

After making brief remarks, Thorsness and Fritz participated in a question and answer session with Tom Duggin serving as moderator. The questions were previously selected from students. Following the assembly, Thorsness and Fritz visited a few classrooms before they departed the school in the Suburban.

Thorsness was held as a prisoner of war for six years in North Vietnam and spent much of the first three years enduring torture sessions and extensive stints in solitary confinement.

He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the skies above Vietnam and is one of only 79 living medal recipients. He is a native of Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

Thorsness flew 92 successful missions in all, but he was forced to eject from his plane midway into his 93rd. He injured both of his legs in the ejection and was captured by members of the North Vietnamese military.

Thorsness was released from captivity in 1973, at which point he retired from the Air Force. He received the Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in a White House ceremony on October 15, 1973.

In 1966, Fritz, a native of Chicago Illinois, was working toward a career in veterinary medicine when he got his draft notice. After advanced armor training, he was accepted for Officer Candidate School. In 1968, he was sent to Vietnam. While he was there, Fritz led a column of heavily armored vehicles on a dirt highway near Quan Lo. He was suddenly blown out of his armored vehicle from a huge explosion by a large force of North Vietnamese soldiers. Fritz’s force was caught in a crossfire. Fritz jumped into an armored vehicle, took a heavy toll on the attackers, and led his tiny force in a point-blank charge that temporarily drove the enemy back. He was hit several times, and one particularly heavy blow on the left side of his chest knocked him down.

Fritz had tried to call headquarters but didn’t know if the transmission had been received. As he readied his men for a last stand to protect the wounded, he saw the aerial of a U.S. tank coming down the road. It was part of a tank platoon that had overheard his call for help. Eventually, he and his wounded troopers were evacuated by helicopter.

Later that day when he returned to the battlefield, he found a battered cigarette lighter that had been given to him as a going-away present by his wife. It had been in his left breast pocket and had stopped an enemy bullet that would otherwise have killed him.

He returned to the U.S. in the spring of 1968 and learned in 1971 that he would receive the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon.

"Some of the unsung heroes, the men and women that served in the various branches of service in the United States who came back, they were not awarded the Medal of Honor but their valor and dedication are equal to anyone who has the Medal of Honor," said Fritz in his remarks during the tribute program Friday.

"The Medal of Honor is given in the name of Congress. It's not won. It's presented and awarded to a recipient. We are recipients of the Medal of Honor and we wear our ribbons proudly not for ourselves but for the men and women that have served, that are serving, and will serve in the armed forces of the United States," he said.

"War is a terrible thing. But I believe beyond my lifetime that somebody or maybe some people sitting in this audience will be the key to finding a way to peaceably settle disagreements between individuals and countries. You are going to play a role in that. You are going to be part of that solution. Your contributions are very important. The two greatest weapons in the world today are faith and education. Always extend your hand out to your fellow American to help them. They in turn will help you and others. That's what makes America so great. That's why men and women serve. Because we want to preserve freedom, not only for today but for the future," Fritz concluded.

"We are so blessed just by being born in America. We wear this medal for those who can't. We wear it for everybody who served," said Thorsness.

Only 79 Medal of Honor recipients are still living. It’s the country’s highest military honor, given for valor in combat and action that saved the lives of fellow soldiers, sailors and Marines.

A total of 45 million men and women have fought in America’s wars, but only 3,500 have received the Medal of Honor.

DeKalb Middle was one of only a few mid-state schools selected to receive a visit from Medal of Honor recipients as part of "Nashville Salutes", a three day event focusing on these heroes and what they stand for while preserving their legacy through the Medal of Honor Foundation's Character Development Program, which incorporates the ideals of courage and selfless service into the middle and high school curriculum to build character and promote responsible citizenship.

Tena Davidson, an educator at DeKalb Middle School, discovered the program and introduced it to students in her class last year. Principal Jennings thanked Davidson for her efforts in making Friday's program possible.

School Board Yet to Finalize Contract with New Director

August 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps is still serving under a 30 day contract with the Board of Education pending a final agreement.

The school board intended to finalize the contract Thursday night but decided to put it off until legal counsel, who has already reviewed the agreement, is consulted again to make sure there are no provisions which conflict with state law. "The contract is a good viable contract but there are still some mistakes in it that our attorney may have (not corrected). He condensed it some. A lot of it relates to the Tennessee Code. We want to make sure that everything we want in the contract coincides with the Tennessee Code. I will check with him (attorney) Friday. He called me today (Thursday) but it was on my way to the board meeting so we didn't have a lot of time to talk about it. He is available all day Friday so I am going to talk with him then. What we will do is work on getting the wording exactly like it needs to be. We have until August 17. If we get this information back (from legal counsel), have it emailed to you (school board members), and if everyone is agreeable with the contract and sign off on it in the form of an email making it official to us then the Director, myself, and the Vice Chairman will sign the contract and at the next board meeting we'll make it part of the minutes at that time," said Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

Board member Danny Parkerson made a motion to adopt Evins' recommendation. Board member Jim Beshearse offered a second to the motion. All members in attendance signaled their approval on a voice vote. Board member Jerry Wayne Johnson was absent due to an illness.

By a unanimous vote of 7-0, the Board of Education met in special session Thursday night, July 16 and named Cripps the next Director of Schools. Cripps accepted the board's offer of a two year employment contract at a base salary of $85,000 per year. Cripps signed an initial 30 day contract which is valid until the board finalizes the deal.

In his monthly written report on personnel, Director of Schools Cripps presented a list of names of persons who have been hired, transferred, or resigned/retired since last month.

Jill Bowman, teacher at DCHS, replaces Mary Ann Puckett
Brittany Campbell, teacher at DCHS, replaces Chelsa Burch
Joel Goff, teacher at DCHS, replaces Shea Wiegle
Tonya Perry, teacher at DCHS, replaces Karla Crabtree
Tracy Luna, teacher at DCHS, replaces Derek Schatz
Nathaniel Kennard, teacher at DCHS, replaces Taylor McDaniel
Mary Ann Blair, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, replaces Lori Alexander
Cheryl Vance, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, replaces Amy Key
Candace Jones, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, replaces Beth Cantrell
Leslie Moore, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, replaces Vicky Duke
Nicki Johnson, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, replaces Jessica Styer
Julie Hale, educational assistant at DeKalb West School, replaces Shelly Gibson
Lori Chew, interim teacher SPED Resource, fills position of Betsy Walker on a leave of absence
Deborah Gentry, teacher at DeKalb West School
Lindsay Floyd, teacher at Northside Elementary School, replaces Greg Hibdon
Lauri Sweeny, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, RTI (new position)
Eddie Dillard, teacher (ESL- English as a Second Language) at Smithville Elementary School (part-time) (new position)
Emily Summers, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, replaces Carrie Lee
Katie Stutts at DeKalb West School, replaces Evann Wilson
Cheryl Vandagriff, teacher at Northside Elementary School, replaces January Agee
Suzanne Caldwell, custodian at DeKalb Middle School, replaces Pauline Braswell

Joyce Alexander, Guylene Atnip, Carolyn Caldwell, Donna Davis, Sue Driver, Betty Fisk, Debbie France, Vicki Haggard, Carol Hale, Charlene Hallum, Jimmy Hendrixson, Betty Hickey, Ester Holder, Shirley Ingram, LaTonya Kleparek, Sharon Moffett, Stephen Moore, Angela Osment, Jessica Rackley, Judy Redmon, Joyce Robertson, Virginia Rose, Bob Smith, Kim Taylor, Jan Thomas, Helga Thompson, Luanna Tollett, Brad Trapp, Jenny Trapp, Wanda Vickers, Melissa Wallace, and Kim Young.

Leave of Absence as requested:
Betsy Walker, Whitney Brelje, Felicia Warden, and Karen Jacobs

Jessica Styer from Smithville Elementary School to Northside Elementary SPED to replace Julie Styer
Amme Cantrell from DeKalb Middle School to DCHS SPED
January Agree from Northside Elementary to DeKalb Middle School SPED
Mary Ann Puckett from DCHS to DeKalb Middle School/DeKalb West School to replace Michael Littrell
Diana Moon from DeKalb West School to Northside Elementary School
Danny VanDyne from Smithville Elementary to DCHS to replace Carl Malone
George Storie from part-time cafeteria to full time custodian to replace Danny VanDyne
Beth Cantrell transferred to the Smithville Elementary School Computer Lab

Lori Alexander, resigned
Lisa Bell, resigned
Derek Schatz, resigned
Chelsa Burch, resigned
Karla Crabtree, resigned
Michael Littrell, resigned
Alyssa Conger, resigned
Taylor McDaniel, resigned
Shelly Gibson, resigned
Greg Hibdon, resigned
Katie Collins, resigned
Vicky Duke, retirement
Amy Green, retirement
Corrine Seifert, resigned
Mike Merriman, resigned
Donald Haggard, resigned
Julie Styer, resigned
Dee Anna Reynolds, resigned

Smithville Young Eagles Flight Rally Scheduled for August 8

August 6, 2015
Dwayne Page

Area young people ages 8-17 will have a chance to take to the skies on Saturday, August 8, as Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1378 hosts a Young Eagles Flight Rally at the Smithville Municipal Airport (0A3).

The rally is part of the EAA Young Eagles Program, created to interest young people in aviation. Since the program was launched in 1992, Volunteer EAA pilots have flown more than 1.9 million young people who reside in more than 90 countries.

Following the flight, each young person, will receive a certificate making them an official Young Eagle. In addition to the Certificate the new Young Eagle will be given a Logbook with an access code for a complete free online Flight Training course offered by Sporty’s. Their name will then be entered into the “World’s Largest Logbook,” which is on permanent display at the EAA Air Adventure Museum in Oshkosh, WI. The Logbook is also accessible on the Internet at www.youngeagles.org.

Those wanting to participate in the flight rally on August 8, 2015 are asked contact Mr. Lonnie Hitchcock at lonnie.hitchcock@woodsnswings.com to pre-register. Registered participants will then come to the Smithville Municipal Airport (0A3) starting at 8:30 AM in preparation for their flight. The 20 minute flights will begin at 9:00 AM and end at 11:30 AM. Additional information about EAA and the Young Eagles program is available on the EAA’s Home Page at www.eaa.org.

Smithville Electric System to Build Another Substation

August 6, 2015
Dwayne Page
Future location of new SES substation at 1233 South College Street
John Robert Nixon

In order to provide a secondary source of power especially in times of emergencies and to ensure continued reliability for current and future demands, Smithville Electric System has acquired property to develop a new substation.

The facility, to be called the John Robert Nixon substation, will be located on just over five acres at 1233 South College Street. The name is in tribute to the man who has served as a member and Chairman of the Board of Smithville Electric since the utility was established 45 years ago. Construction is expected to begin soon with completion anticipated by late 2016 or early 2017.

While SES will continue to share the existing substation on West Main Street with TVA and Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, the new one will be solely for the use of Smithville Electric System.

"We're getting ready to build a second substation so we can have an alternate power source for the City of Smithville. This way we will be able to supply power to the entire city from either substation. We can do maintenance work on the West Main Street substation without shutting off the power to the entire city. Initially, we will transfer part of the supplied load from the West Main substation to the new one, " said Richie Knowles, Interim Manager of Smithville Electric System in an interview with WJLE Wednesday.

A secondary substation could also serve as a means of new industrial recruitment. " It will provide us a secondary feed for industries that might be looking at possibly coming to Smithville. That is usually their first question " do you have a dual feed"? At the moment we have to say no but we're working on that so in the future when they call we'll be able to say "yes we do". Hopefully that will help attract new industry and help us keep the industry we have," said Knowles.

According to Knowles, this location is ideal because it is directly beneath an existing transmission line route. Efforts will be made to keep it hidden from public view as much as possible. "It's going to be just one transformer. A small compact substation. It will set back off the road. Hopefully, it won't be unsightly to the neighborhood. We'll make it as clean as possible with fencing and landscaping. We'll try to make it as nice to the neighborhood as we possibly can," said Knowles.

TVA has already approved plans for the new substation, which will be approximately 105 feet x 192 feet in size. "TVA has approved the site. We got that approval before we purchased the property. We now have to get the substation designed, engineered, and do the grade work. Of course, we'll have to order all the materials and start assembling it. We hope to get the plans done in the next couple of months and maybe start the grade work before this winter. We hope to have it up and operational by late 2016 or early 2017," said Knowles.

DeKalb Middle School Celebrates Back to School

August 6, 2015
Dwayne Page

DeKalb Middle School held a Back to School Celebration Wednesday on the first full day of school.

Members of the school administration and faculty welcomed students as they entered the building.


Smithville Man Arrested in Rash of Forgeries

August 5, 2015
Dwayne Page
Enrique (Ricky) Adelaido Lomas
Lynda Erika Brown
 David Colby Johnson
William Andrew Cantrell
James Danny Troglen
Jonathon Charles Hall
Kimberly Ann Patterson
Larry James Pedigo Jr.
Rebecca Jade Andrews
David Earl Hickman, Jr
Jennifer Nicole Miller
Christopher James Sherfield

A Smithville man has been arrested in a rash of recent forgeries for passing stolen checks to an individual and at three local businesses.

22 year old Enrique (Ricky) Adelaido Lomas of Bright Hill Road, Smithville is charged with eight counts of forgery and one count of theft of property under $500. His bond totals $121,500 .He will be in court on August 6. The cases were investigated by a Sheriff's Department Detective.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, July 6 Lomas stole a check from the glove box of a truck. He was charged with theft in that case.

Lomas then passed forged checks to another individual for $150 on Tuesday, July 7 and for $130 on Friday, July 10. In at least one case, white out was used as Lomas changed the amount of the check.

Meanwhile on Thursday, July 16, Lomas passed forged checks in amounts of $120 and $80 at Kwik N Ezy.

Five days later on Tuesday, July 21 Lomas passed forged checks in amounts of $100 & $65 to Disco Tienda Latina, $100 to Kwik N Ezy and $100 to Mercadito Chabelita

In some cases the checks were flagged as stolen and returned to the merchants.

31 year old Lynda Erika Brown of Punta Gorda, Florida and 28 year old David Colby Johnson of North Fort Myers, Florida are each charged with being a fugitive from justice. Bond for each was $50,000. Both had a failure to appear warrant against them in Florida for possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) over 20 grams. Since their arrests, the two have been extradited back to Florida.

46 year old William Andrew Cantrell is charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license. He is under a $5,000 bond and will be in court on September 24. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, July 22 a deputy saw Cantrell driving a vehicle on Braswell Lane. Knowing that Cantrell's license were revoked, he stopped the automobile. Cantrell could not produce a valid driver license. A computer check confirmed that his license were revoked on September 25, 1992 for DUI. His previous DRL offenses were on September 2 & 8 2005.

49 year old James Danny Troglen of Doyle is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued a citation for driving on roadways laned for traffic. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on September 24. Sheriff Ray said that Wednesday, July 22 a deputy spotted a white car crossing the white dotted line and white emergency line of the road. He made a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Troglen whose speech was slurred. When asked if he had been drinking or taking medication, Troglen said he had just left the hospital. Troglen said he had been given some medication including a pill intended to make him sleep. When asked what day it was, Troglen said July 16 when it was actually July 22. He also did not seem to know where he was at the time. He submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also took a blood test and was placed under arrest.

28 year old Jonathon Charles Hall of Magnolia Lane, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court August 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 23 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Magnolia Lane due to a domestic complaint. Upon arrival, the officer determined that Hall had assaulted his brother by punching him in the face during a fight. The victim's right eye was swollen from the blow. According to the deputy, Hall got off the couch and went into the kitchen where he got into an argument with his brother which resulted in a fight. Hall was placed under arrest.

47 year old Kimberly Ann Patterson of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with possession of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid) for resale. Her bond is $25,000 and she will be in court on August 27. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, July 24 a sheriff's department detective went to Patterson's residence on Toad Road and spoke with her. During a discussion about a search, Patterson produced money and a silver container from her bra. The cash totaled $200. Inside the container were four and a half pills believed to be Dilaudid. She was placed under arrest.

39 year old Larry James Pedigo Jr. of Luttrell Avenue is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law and driving on roadways laned for travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on September 24. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, July 28 a deputy saw a red Mustang driving 25 miles an hour in a 40 mile per hour speed zone. The car crossed into the turning lane multiple times. The officer stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Pedigo who had a difficult time retrieving his wallet. His speech was also slurred. Pedigo performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.

35 year old Rebecca Jade Andrews of Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on August 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 30 a deputy responded to Cookeville Highway after receiving a report that a woman had fallen by the road. Upon arrival, the officer spoke to a man who said that he and Andrews had been in an argument but that she had left. The man said Andrews was very intoxicated and had asked him for $250. When he refused to give her money, Andrews became irate. He claims Andrews began calling him names, spat on him, threw a beer can at him, and slapped him in the face. When he pushed her away from him, Andrews ran toward the road where she fell and busted her mouth. He said a man in a red truck stopped and picked her up. She was apparently dropped off at the sheriff's department. The officer came back to the jail and spoke with her there. She was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was placed under arrest.

43 year old David Earl Hickman, Jr. of Pea Ridge Road, Elmwood, Tennessee is charged with failure to appear. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court August 13. Sheriff Ray said that on March 28 through April 4 Hickman failed to report to the DeKalb County Jail to serve a weekend sentence as part of a 30 day term due to failure to pay child support.

29 year old Jennifer Nicole Miller of McMinnville Highway, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court August 13. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 1 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on McMinnville Highway due to a domestic complaint. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with a man and his wife, Miller who said they had gotten into an argument which escalated into a fight resulting in the man suffering a bloody nose. The deputy found no marks or injuries to Miller. She was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was placed under arrest.

39 year old Christopher James Sherfield of Pine Grove Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court September 24. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 1 a deputy was dispatched to 186 Page Drive due to a report of an unresponsive man in a truck. Upon arrival, the officer found Sherfield asleep in the driver's seat with his foot on the brake and the keys in the ignition. Beside of Sherfield in the truck was a glass bottle of liquor, a bottle of juice, and some beer. The deputy detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from the truck. After waking him, the officer noticed that Sherfield's eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred. He was also very unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on field sobriety tasks and he submitted to a blood test.

TDOT to Host Public Meeting on Highway 56 Project (VIEW MAP HERE)

August 5, 2015
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has scheduled a public information meeting on a project to reconstruct State Route 56 from south of the Warren County line to Magness Road in DeKalb County.

Dekalb 56 Location Map (EPD).pdf (307.76 KB)

Bids are to be opened in December.

The public meeting will be Thursday, August 20 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the DeKalb County Complex at 712 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville. The meeting will consist of a presentation of the project followed by a question and answer session. The public is invited to ask questions and make comments during the meeting. Representatives of TDOT will be present to answer questions on any aspect of the project.

Funding for the construction, $6.8 million, is included in the state's 2015-16 budget under the general Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) category of the 2015-17 three year work program. However, the new stretch of highway to be built will look different from TDOT's original, more costly plan.

Instead of building a four lane divided and five lane road, TDOT now proposes to build a two lane undivided section containing two 12 foot travel lanes and two 12 foot shoulders (10 feet paved). This proposed project will maintain corridor preservation and allow for future expansion. The project is 3.25 miles in length.

Meanwhile plans are available for public inspection at the offices of Robert Rodgers, 4005 Cromwell Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421. Phone 423-510-1138.

Change of Plea Hearing Scheduled in Federal Case Against Larry Webb

August 4, 2015
Larry Webb

Larry Webb, the former deputy director of the Upper Cumberland Development District, is expected to be in U.S. District Court this month for a change of plea hearing.

According to an order entered on Wednesday, July 29, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger has set this change of plea hearing for Monday, August 17 at 3:00 p.m.

The Herald-Citizen reports that Webb, along with former UCDD director Wendy Askins, pled not guilty in September 2014 to a variety of federal charges, including conspiring to commit various federal offenses, as well as six counts of theft and conversion of government property in excess of $1,000; four counts of bank fraud; three counts of money laundering; and a single count of concealing a material fact within the jurisdiction of the United States.

The indictment alleges that Askins, who was the executive director of the UCDD, and Webb, who was the deputy director of UCDD, perpetrated a scheme from February 2010 through February 2012 to convert over $670,000 of government funds intended for UCDD and its related agencies to the use of the “Living the Dream” property, which was owned by Askins and Webb.

Askins and Webb allegedly incorporated Living the Dream in their own names and caused money to be transferred from UCDD to Living the Dream without seeking the approval of the UCDD board of directors.

Askins and Webb also allegedly obtained bank loans and lines of credit in excess of $1,000,000 to renovate the Living the Dream property by using UCDD bank accounts and property as collateral for the loans, according to the indictment.

In order to cover up the illegal activity, Askins and Webb allegedly directed other individuals to alter the official minutes of the UCDD board meeting that occurred on Feb. 16, 2010, and to delete audio recordings of all UCDD meetings, according to the indictment.

If convicted on those federal charges, Askins faces up to 225 years in prison and a $6,750,000 fine as well as forfeiture of property derived from or used in the bank fraud and money laundering offenses charged. Webb faces up to 220 years in prison and a $6,500,000 fine, as well as forfeiture of property derived from or used in the bank fraud and money laundering offenses charged.

The case is set to go to jury trial Sept. 22 in Nashville.

Student Enrollment Down Slightly from Last Year

August 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

Enrollment in the DeKalb County School System is down slightly from last year at this time.

According to Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder, a total of 2,909 students were enrolled as of Monday, August 3.

"These (numbers) are pretty fluid and will be until Labor Day. We'll have people coming in and moving out but as of this morning (Tuesday, August 4) we're at 2,909 which is a few down from where we were last year. As of Monday, August 3 we had 849 students at the high school; 521 at DeKalb Middle School; 647 at Northside Elementary; 533 at Smithville Elementary; and 356 at DeKalb West School for a total of 2,909. I think we'll be somewhere close to where we were last year by the time it is all said and done," said Reeder.

Attendance is important and Reeder encourages students to be in school on time every day when classes are in session. "According to Tennessee state law, once you miss five unexcused days in a school year you are considered truant. Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook, II has been a big friend to education. He realizes the importance of education and he wants all our students in school. He has been a big help. Court is often a last resort. We try to intervene using various other tactics before we take them to court. First, we'd like our teachers to be in contact with parents and let them know if a child is not attending school or as much as they should. The law says it's the parent's responsibility to see that the child is in school. Once you (students) reach that threshold of five unexcused days, you are considered truant. Of course you will not be in court for five unexcused absences but we will be in contact with you. It's very important that your child is in school as many days as they possibly can be," said Reeder.

"We have a real large problem with tardies in our school system and it's probably a bigger issue at the lower grades than the upper grades. Certainly, if you have a child in the first or second grade and they are late to school, it is not the student's fault because it's the parent who brings them to school. Remember if you bring your child to school it's important that you have them there at 7:45 a.m. and don't drag in at eight o'clock because that causes more work for everyone and they (students) miss a little bit of instruction. If you can't get up and get your kids to school on time, put them on the school bus. The bus will get them there on time. Very seldom do we have buses late for school unless there are mechanical difficulties. It would be a big help if more people used our bus system. We have a tremendous amount of kids that are brought to school by the parents which is fine but just try to get them there on time," said Reeder.

Meanwhile, Reeder said parents and students are urged to take advantage of the "Skyward" student information system. "This is our second year using the program. It was a tremendous asset to us last year and it will be an asset to parents and students if they choose to use it. It's an online tool where you can get registered and check your child's attendance. You can check a child's grade up to date. It's real time information. For example, if you have a child in the third grade and you want to log on and look this afternoon, you can see what their grade is in science. It's a tremendous tool and we've had a lot of people take advantage of it. If you are a parent or guardian of a student in DeKalb County and would like to keep track of important information like attendance, grades, discipline, and many more areas, please contact our student information system manager, April Odom by email. We have found this is the easiest way to activate your parent/guardian account. Please contact her at aodom@k12tn.net. If you will email her and say I'd like some more information on "Skyward" she will get you set up. She has to email you back with a password and log in information. It's a good feature. If I had a child in school I would certainly get signed up where I could keep track of them. This year our high school students were able to log on to "Skyward" a week or ten days before school started and see their class schedule. It allows you to communicate with your teachers via email. It'll enhance your child's education if it's used correctly," said Reeder.


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2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

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