Local News Articles

School Board Appreciation Week Begins January 21

January 4, 2018
Dwayne Page
Danny Parkerson
Jerry Wayne Johnson
Jim Beshearse
Kate Miller
W.J. (Dub) Evins, III
Doug Stephens
Shaun Tubbs

Governor Bill Haslam has declared January 21-28, 2018 as School Board Appreciation Week in Tennessee.

"This week helps build awareness and understanding of the vital functions our locally elected boards of education play in our community," said Haslam.

The DeKalb County School System is joining public school districts from across the state to celebrate School Board Appreciation Week and honor local board members for their commitment to DeKalb County and its children.

"The school system is the backbone of our community, and these men and women devote countless hours to making sure our schools are helping every child", said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

"There is no greater honor that can be bestowed upon a citizen than membership on a local board of education. They spend countless hours studying the issues and regulations and make the tough decisions when called upon to ensure the type of accountability people expect," he said.

Director Cripps said the key work of school boards is to raise student achievement by: Creating a vision for what the community wants the school district to be and for making student achievement the top priority; Establishing standards for what students will be expected to learn and be able to do; Ensuring progress is measured to be sure the district's goals are achieved and students are learning at expected levels; Being accountable for their decisions and actions by continually tracking and reporting results; Creating a safe, orderly climate where students can learn and teachers can teach; Forming partnerships with others in the community to solve common problems; and Focusing attention on the need for continuous improvement by questioning, refining and revising issues related to student achievement.

͞"Our local school board shapes the future of education in DeKalb County by influencing the high-quality of education that our children and youth receive. The DeKalb County school board shows its commitment to educational excellence and equity and for that we are very grateful for their attitude of service," said Cripps

The members serving our district are as follow

First District: Danny Parkerson

Second District: Jerry Wayne Johnson

Third District: Jim Beshearse

Fourth District: Kate Miller

Fifth District: W.J. (Dub) Evins, III

Sixth District: Doug Stephens

Seventh District: Shaun Tubbs

Qualifying Deadline Six Weeks Away for Elections to County Offices

January 4, 2018
Dwayne Page

The qualifying deadline is six weeks away for candidates planning to run for county wide offices or positions on the county commission in 2018.

The last day candidates may qualify to run is NOON February 15, 2018. That applies to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

DeKalb County Democrats will be nominating candidates in a primary set for May 1. Republicans will nominate candidates by caucus (date not yet announced). Nominees of both parties and any independents will run in the August General Election. Winners will take office September 1 and serve for four years.

Thursday, February 1 is the deadline for sheriff candidates to file an affidavit of qualification with the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST) and for county road superintendent candidates to file an affidavit of qualification with the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board.

The following county offices are up for election in 2018: Road Supervisor, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, Sheriff, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, and Trustee and for the county commission in each of the seven districts (two per district for a total of 14).

Those positions are currently held by the following:

Road Supervisor: Butch Agee- Republican (not seeking re-election)

County Mayor: Tim Stribling-Democrat

Circuit Court Clerk: Katherine Pack- Democrat

Sheriff: Patrick Ray-Republican

Register of Deeds: Jeff McMillen-Democrat

County Clerk: James L. (Jimmy) Poss-Democrat

Trustee: Sean Driver-Republican

Current County Commissioners:

First District:
Mason Carter-Republican
Julie Young-Democrat

Second District:
Jimmy Midgett-Independent
Joe Johnson-Democrat

Third District:
Jack Barton-Democrat
Bradley Hendrix-Democrat

Fourth District:
Wayne Cantrell-Democrat
Jonathan Norris-Democrat

Fifth District:
Anita Puckett-Democrat
Jerry Adcock-Republican

Sixth District:
Jeff Barnes-Democrat
Betty Atnip—Democrat

Seventh District:
Kevin Robinson-Democrat
Larry Summers-Democrat

Those who have obtained petitions to date are as follows:

*Bobby Johnson-County Commissioner, 3rd District (petition returned and verified)

*Beth Pafford-County Commissioner, 7th District

*Wayne Cantrell-County Commissioner, 4th District, Incumbent

*Joe Johnson-County Commissioner, 2nd District, Incumbent

*Larry Summers-County Commissioner, 7th District, Incumbent

*Mike Foster-County Mayor

*Tim Stribling-County Mayor, Incumbent

*Bradley Hendrix-County Mayor

*Kevin Robinson-County Commissioner 7th District, Incumbent

*Nora Harvey-County Commissioner 2nd District

*Jack Barton-County Commissioner 3rd District, Incumbent

*Scott Little-County Commissioner 4th District

*Jeff Barnes-County Commissioner 6th District, Incumbent

*Betty Atnip-County Commissioner 6th District, Incumbent (petition returned and verified)

*James L. (Jimmy) Poss-County Clerk, Incumbent (petition returned and verified)

*Jimmy Sprague-Road Supervisor (petition returned and verified)

*Jeff McMillen-Register of Deeds, Incumbent

*Nicole Wright-Circuit Court Clerk

*Mark Milam-Circuit Court Clerk (petition returned and verified)

*Julie Young-County Commissioner 1st District, Incumbent

*Bobby R. Taylor-County Commissioner 4th District

Republicans who plan to seek their party’s nomination include:

*Trustee Sean Driver, Incumbent
*Sheriff Patrick Ray, Incumbent
*Danny Hale for Road Supervisor
*Reed Edge for Road Supervisor
*Susan Martin for Circuit Court Clerk

Candidates for August School Board, City, and State Races Can Begin Picking up Qualifying Petitions Friday

January 4, 2018
Dwayne Page
Candidates for August School Board, City, and State Races Can Begin Picking up Qualifying Petitions Friday

Petitions for five school board seats and spots in all the county’s four cities will be available beginning Friday, January 5. That’s according to Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections.

“The school board and all city office holders run as non-partisan candidates so the qualifying deadline is different than the other county offices,” Stanley said. “Those candidates will not be on the ballot until August and no primary elections are held for those seats.”

Up for election will be school board seats in Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7. Those positions are currently held by Danny Parkerson in the 1st district, Jerry Wayne Johnson in the 2nd district, Jim Beshearse in the 3rd district, Kate Miller in the 4th district, and Shaun Tubbs in the 7th district.

City seats up for grabs, pending any resignations/vacancies, are: In Smithville the Mayor and two aldermen seats currently held by Mayor Jimmy Poss and Aldermen Jason Murphy and Gayla Hendrix; in Dowelltown three aldermen seats (Brad Driver, Keith Farler, and Ron Griffith were elected to those positions in 2014); in Liberty the Mayor and five aldermen seats currently held by Mayor Dwight Mathis and Aldermen Dwayne Blair, Jason Ray, Howard Reynolds, Jr., J.D. Bratten, and Todd Dodd and in Alexandria the Mayor and three aldermen seats now held by Mayor Bennett Armstrong and Aldermen Matt Boss, Danny Parkerson, and Eddie Blair. Another alderman will be elected to fill a two year unexpired term. Mac Willoughby currently holds that position after the recent resignation of Kelly Pyburn.

Qualifying petitions for these races must be returned by Noon April 5.

In addition, candidates interested in running for the 17th Tennessee Senatorial District and State Houses 40 and 46 have the same qualifying deadline. Those positions are currently held by State Senator Mark Pody and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver in district 40. The Wilson County Commission will convene January 10 to appoint a successor to Pody as State Representative of district 46 who will serve until the general election in November.

Following is a list of key dates related to the first two elections in 2018:
DeKalb County Democratic Primary, May 1, 2018
Petition date—Available now
Qualifying deadline—Noon February 15
Voter registration deadline—April 2
Early voting period—April 11 through April 26

County General Election, Municipal Elections, and Tennessee Primary August 2, 2018
Petition date—Available January 5
Qualifying deadline—Noon April 5
Voter registration deadline—July 3
Early voting period—July 13 through July 28

Many Suffering from Flu and Other Illnesses

January 3, 2018
Dwayne Page

Health officials in DeKalb County are urging more people to get vaccinations for the flu.

More than 440 people have been tested for the flu at the Family Medical Center and over one hundred cases have been confirmed, according to Office Manager Michiko Martin in a statement released to WJLE (Today) Wednesday. "Since November 1st, we have performed 442 flu tests. Eighty-nine have been positive for Type A and 17 have been positive for Type B. But, there have been others who have tested negative, yet had all of the symptoms of the flu, and they were treated accordingly," said Martin.

If you think you have the flu, Martin urges you to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. "Most insurances require a positive flu test before they will pay for Tamiflu and it (Tamiflu) is only effective if given within 48 hours of onset of symptoms," she said.

Martin offers some tips to help you guard against the flu virus. "The best thing you can do to prevent the flu is to: (1) Get a flu vaccine when available (it takes up to 2 weeks to get into your system); (2) have good hand washing practices; (3) cover coughs and sneezes (use tissues or masks, if available); and (4) avoid crowded situations".

"We highly advocate getting the flu vaccine," said Martin. "People die from the flu not the vaccine. You cannot get sick from the vaccine; it is a dead virus. If someone gets sick after having the vaccine, then they have already been exposed to the flu (it takes 2 weeks to get into your system).

There are vaccines designed for the very young (6 months) and the elderly (65+). There are traditional vaccines which cover 3 strains of the flu virus and the newer quadrivalent vaccine which covers 4 strains. There is also an intradermal version that is given much like a TB skin test (right under the skin). We have given over 4200 flu vaccines this year. We started giving them as soon as we received them in August, but were not able to give them to Medicare patients until October 1 because Medicare would not pay for the vaccine until then. Most insurances will cover the vaccine, but people may have to check their individual coverages to know for sure," said Martin.

The predominant flu virus in circulation this year is H1N1, which first emerged in 2009. In Tennessee, 15 deaths among people younger than 18 occurred during the 2009-10 season, which compares with two or three deaths during a typical flu season, state health officials have said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months or older, with rare exceptions, should get vaccinated for the flu.

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

•Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
•Sore throat
•Runny or stuffy nose
•Muscle or body aches
•Fatigue (tiredness)
•Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:

•what flu viruses are spreading,

•how much flu vaccine is available,

•when vaccine is available,

•how many people get vaccinated, and

•how well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.

•Person to Person

•People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

•To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.

•Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.

UCHRA Commodities Recertification Begins Monday

January 3, 2018
Dwayne Page

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency would like to remind those who receive assistance through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, known as Commodities; it is time for recertification of their commodities card. With 2018 deliveries right around the corner, it is very important for recipients to recertify their commodity card with their local county offices prior to the first pick-up date.

Recertification date starts January 8th. First Distribution is February 8th.

If you think you or someone you know qualifies for this program, please contact the UCHRA office in your county for more information.
The UCHRA County telephone: DeKalb County 615-597-4504

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, color, national origin, religion, or disability in admission to, access to, or operations of its programs, services or activities.

“This project is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee.”

Using Hand Held Cell Phones in School Zones Now Illegal

January 3, 2018
Dwayne Page
Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System


With schools set to re-open on Monday, January 8th, motorists in school zones should be aware that talking on a cell phone with the device in hand is now illegal in an active school zone.

That not only includes talking on a phone, but texting or reading texts

The law states that it’s an offense — Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $50 — for a person to knowingly operate a motor vehicle in any marked school zone in this state, when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, and talk on a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion.

However, the offense is not committed if the telephone is equipped with a hands-free device, for drivers 18 years of age and older.

A driver under age 18 is breaking the law talking either using a hands-free or handheld while driving through an active school zone.

Also as school starts again, motorists should also remember that the most dangerous part of a school bus ride is getting on and off and if they don't stop for buses when they're supposed to the potential for a tragic accident increases.

Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System and the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) remind motorists of the importance of school bus safety awareness and education.

"Riding the school bus is one of the safest modes of transportation; it's when children get on or off the bus that causes concern," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "That is why it is critical for parents, teachers, and school administrators to stress the importance of crossing in view of the school bus driver, and to instruct children on other safety tips that will keep them out of harm's way."

Each day, some 480,000 school buses transport more than 26 million children to and from school and school related activities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. An average of 19 school-age children die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year – five occupants of school buses and 14 pedestrians. Most of those killed are children five to seven years old.

Sprague reminds motorists to make sure to stop when school bus lights and stop signs are deployed as students get off and on buses in school parking lot loading zones and on roads, including four lane highways. " Highway 70 is considered a driveable median and when that bus accuates its stop sign and red lights, all four lanes east bound and west bound do have to stop. They don't proceed on until the stop sign is pulled in and the lights are off and the bus is proceeding on. When that happens, vehicles can move along also," said Sprague

The "danger zone" for a school bus is the area 10 feet around the vehicle; the two most dangerous places are the front and the right rear tire area of the bus. Children must take care when boarding or leaving the school bus by following these simple rules:

•Always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver;

•Be alert to traffic. Check both ways before stepping off the bus;

•Make eye contact with the bus driver, and wait for the bus driver's signal before crossing the street;

•Walk in front of the bus; never walk behind the bus to cross the street;

•Never go under the bus to retrieve something you've dropped;

•Get to the bus stop in plenty of time.

"Educating children on school bus safety is a top priority, but we also want to remind drivers to slow down in school zones and obey the stop arm," said THP Colonel Trott. "Our troopers work diligently to enforce traffic laws in the school zone, and will penalize those who blatantly disregard laws designed to protect children."

In Tennessee and in every state, drivers must stop when the stop arm is extended and red lights are flashing.

All school bus drivers in Tennessee must attend an annual training course in order to receive and maintain the school bus endorsement on their Driver License.

Social Security Beneficiaries Getting 2% Increase

January 3, 2018
Dwayne Page

Social Security Beneficiaries will receive a 2 Percent Increase in 2018

Social Security recipients are getting their largest cost of living increase in benefits since 2012, but the additional income will likely be largely eaten up by higher Medicare Part B premiums.

Cost of living increases are tied to the consumer price index, and an upturn in inflation rates and gas prices means recipients get a small boost in 2018, amounting to $27 a month for the typical retiree. The 2 percent increase is higher than last year’s .3 percent rise and the lack of any increase at all in 2016. The cost of living change also affects the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, which will grow from $127,200 to $128,700.

The increase in benefits will likely be consumed by higher Medicare premiums, however. Most elderly and disabled people have their Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security checks. For these individuals, if Social Security benefits don't rise, Medicare premiums can't either. This “hold harmless” provision does not apply to about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries: those enrolled in Medicare but who are not yet receiving Social Security, new Medicare beneficiaries, seniors earning more than $85,000 a year, and "dual eligibles" who get both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. In the past few years, Medicare beneficiaries not subject to the hold harmless provision have been paying higher Medicare premiums while Medicare premiums for those in the hold harmless group remained more or less the same. Now that seniors will be getting an increase in Social Security payments, Medicare will likely hike premiums for the seniors in the hold harmless group. And that increase may eat up the entire raise, at least for some beneficiaries.

For 2018, the monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment standard will be $750 for an individual and $1,125 for a couple.

Free Classes Available to Those Seeking High School Equivalency Diploma

January 2, 2018
Dwayne Page

If you never completed high school and would like to obtain an equivalency diploma you have that opportunity.

Free High School Equivalency (Hi-Set) Classes are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the County Complex at 722 South Congress Boulevard. Enter through the UT Extension/Motlow College Corridor, Room 119. Mary Anne Carpenter is the class instructor. On-line classes are also available.

Student registration is conducted on Mondays, beginning at 3:30 pm and then again on Tuesdays starting at 8:30 am – 12:00pm. The Toll Free phone number is: 855-516-0160.

Nearly 500,000 Tennesseans between the ages of 18 to 64 are without a high school diploma, according to the American Community Survey 5 year average. 31,015 of those reside in the Upper Cumberland region, and approximately 2,000 reside in DeKalb County alone. By 2022 the Tennessee Department of Labor estimates 32% of existing jobs and 39% of all new jobs will require some post-secondary education.

According to Paraprofessional Carol Pritchard, a focus on Adult Education saves money by reducing public assistance, health care and incarceration costs. Most importantly, adults are given the opportunity to improve their lives and better support their families. The Adult Education opportunities provided right here in Smithville are absolutely free and are designed to prepare students to successfully pass the HiSET®, general equivalency exam.

The General Educational Development (GED®) testing program was developed to give U.S. and Canadian citizens who have not graduated from high school the opportunity to demonstrate the level of achievement normally acquired through the completion of a traditional U.S./Canadian high school course of study. The current High School equivalency test, known as the HiSET®, covers five subject areas: Writing, social studies, science, reading, and math.

Benefits of Adult Education:
•Adult Education empowers individuals to become self-sufficient by providing the basic skills and knowledge necessary to complete a secondary education credential and works with individuals to help them meet their educational and career goals.

•Adult Education in Tennessee prepares students to be college and career ready, while earning a High School Equivalency Diploma. With a strong commitment to quality and efficient instruction that meets the needs of students, programs across the state help these students gain academic skills and credentials to transition to postsecondary education, be successful in the workplace, and contribute to their communities.

•Currently, a person with a high school credential earns about $10,000 annually more than a high school dropout. Individuals without a high school credential are more likely to be unemployed, three times as likely to live in poverty and eight times as likely to be incarcerated.

•Classes are available in every county across the state to enhance future employment opportunities and personal growth.

In order to enroll, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

•Must be 18 years of age.

•Not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school

•Do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent

To begin, individuals will take the CASAS® (Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems) assessment to evaluate their reading, math, and language arts abilities. This will provide both the instructor and the student with an idea of where to best start the instructional process and insure that no valuable time is wasted between enrollment and successful completion of the program.

After completing some classroom instruction hours, students take another short CASAS® test to demonstrate academic gains and to allow the instructor and student to then work together in order to refine the learning process in order to prepare the student for the official practice test, or OPT. The goal is to assist the student to reach his/her goal in the shortest amount of time possible.

The Official Practice Test (OPT) has the same look and feel as the real High School Equivalency Test (HiSET®). The OPT allows the student to obtain firsthand experience answering questions written and developed by the HiSET® test creators. The results of the OPT indicate whether or not an individual is prepared for the HiSET®.

Finally, Governor Haslam and TN General Assembly have allocated funds to cover the cost of the official HiSET® exam. Individuals throughout the State of Tennessee can now enroll in classes and take the HiSET® in order to receive a high school equivalency diploma at no cost.

16 new Tennessee laws come with the New Year

January 1, 2018
Dwayne Page

Sixteen new Tennessee State laws go into effect January 1, 2018.



Here are some that could impact you.

*Barbers will be allowed to cut your hair at home, as long as they have the right paperwork allowing them to. Until now, only sick customers could get at-home services under Tennessee law.

*You won't be allowed to use your phone while driving through an active school zone. You could get slapped with a $50 fine if it's not hands-free.

*New school bus drivers will be forced to take a training program before getting behind the wheel and must be at least 25-years-old.

*Homeowners can cancel alarm system contracts that are at least 2-years long if they give 30 days notice.

*The Alcoholic Beverage Commission won't have permission to monitor marijuana, but will regulate serving alcohol in restaurants. They once had jurisdiction to enforce criminal offences involving marijuana.

*Your car headlights will have to be white, or amber. Other colors will be illegal.

*Members of the United States Armed Forces also won't have to go though firing range training to get a handgun carry permit as long as they passed combat training.

*Disabled adults can pay personal aides to perform health maintenance tasks for them.

*The Board of Pharmacy can create a voluntary prescription drug donation repository. Drugs must be in its original packaging and must be inspected before they are dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.


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