Local News Articles

Fifty Four Students Receive Scholarships on DCHS Senior Awards Night

May 20, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mallory Sullivan received the largest single scholarship award of $115,000 from Belmont University
Class of 2014 Scholarship Winners
Kelsi Glenn Receives Perfect Attendance Award

Almost $660,000 in scholarships were awarded to members of the Class of 2014 at DeKalb County High School during Monday night's annual Senior Awards program.

Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations made the presentations.

Mallory Sullivan received the largest single scholarship award of $115,000 from Belmont University where she will play golf. Kelsi Glenn received a perfect attendance award for not missing a day of school during her four years of high school.

Sullivan was among fifty four students who received scholarships.

Those students and their award amounts listed in alphabetical order according to last names are as follows:

Peter Antoniak: Tennessee Tech University-$20,000

Hannah Ball: DeKalb PTO-$250; Tennessee Tech University-$4,000

Zachary Bandy: Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial-$500

Ashley Barnes: Brandon Elder Scholarship-$4,000; Clyde Thomas Family Trust-$500: Harding University-$38,000; Tennessee Tech University-$20,000

Hudson Beltz: US Army Enlistment-$40,000

Chelsey Brannon: Cookeville Regional Medical Center and Pepsi-$1,000; David Wayne Alexander Memorial-$1,000; Tennessee Wesleyan-$58,000

Erika Brown: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club-$500

Hannah Cantrell: Fraternal Order of Police-$500; US Marine Semper Fidelis Award

James Robert Cantrell: DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship-$500

Taylor Cantrell: DeKalb County Children Service Council Clata Redmon Memorial-$500; Smithville Rotary Club-$750

Kayna Caplinger: MTSU-$8,000

Morgan Clark: Nelda Barnes Memorial-$2,000

Lauren Colwell: Anthony Duane Trapp Memorial- $500; Smithville Rotary Club-$750; Trevecca Nazarene-$40,030

Alexis Cornelius: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500

Briana Cutliff: DeKalb County Children Service Council Clata Redmon Memorial-$500

Josh Davidson: Mentors Association Scholarship-$5,000

Gatlin Dougherty: Clyde Thomas Family Trust Scholarship-$500

Hunter Eckert: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-$35,200

Sarah Edwards: Clay Edwards Memorial Tiger Pride Scholarship-$500; Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship-$500

Alli Emme: Liberty State Bank-$1,000; Smithville Women's Club-$500

Kelsey Evins: DCHS Beta Scholarship-$500; DCHS Literature Club-$500; DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; Ned McWherter Scholarship-$24,000; Smithville Rotary Math Award-$100; Vanderbilt University-$40,380

Kalab Ferrell: Class of 1966-$500; Class of 2004-$650; DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; Jolly Angels-$2,000; Smithville Rotary Vocational Award-$100

Travis Ferrell: Kenny & Kyle Robinson Memorial-$1,000; Mentors Association Scholarship-$5,000

Conner Giddens: DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$500; MTSU-$12,000; Young Farmers Association-$500

Eli Gill: Leadership DeKalb Award

Kelsi Glenn: Love-Cantrell Funeral Home-$500

Kaylee Hale: Jolly Angels-$2,000

Magan Johnson: Fortis Institute-$9,000

Nicholas Johnson: Fraternal Order of Police-$500

Kaitlynn Jones: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500

Lauren Lewis: Jolly Angels-$1,000; Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club-$500; US Marines Scholar Award

Eli Lomas: CIC Foundation (Motlow State)- $2,200; DeKalb Community Hospital-$500; US Army Athlete Award

Kelsey MacDonald: Agee Oil- $1,500

Elizabeth Mason: DeKalb PTO-$250: DeKalb Retired Teachers Association-$750; Jolly Angels-$1,000; Tennessee Tech University-$15,000

Ashley Medlin: Love-Cantrell Funeral Home-$500

Brittany Merriman: Dailey & Vincent Scholarship-$1,000

McKenzie Poteete: Central High School Alumni-$5,000; Nell Haas Driver Scholarship-$1,000; US Marines Athlete Award

Laura Reed: First Bank-$500; Smithville Rotary Club-$750; Tennessee Tech University-$8,000; Woodman of the World $50 History Award

Cameron Rhea: US Marines Scholar Award

Courtney Rice: DCHS Literature Club-$500; Kenny & Kyle Robinson Memorial-$1,000; UT Knoxville- $30,280

Ethan Roller: David Wayne Alexander Memorial-$1,000

Samantha Sircy: Jolly Angels-$2,000; Smithville Rotary Club-$750

Emily Snow: Tennessee Tech University-$4,000

Mallory Sullivan: Belmont University-$115,000

Shauna Taylor: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500; DeKalb Physicians-$500

Kalynn Thompson: AmVets-$250; AmVets Auxiliary- $250; Brandon Elder Scholarship-$2,000

Jordan Alex Turner: MTSU-$500

Danielle Tyson: Jolly Angels-$4,000; Trevecca Nazarene-$23,500; US Army Athlete Award

Crystal Vickers: Comcast- $1,000; DCHS Beta Scholarship-$500; DCHS Student Council-$200; DTC McAllen Foutch Memorial-$8,000; FCCLA-$250; Jolly Angels-$1,000; Lucille Stewart Memorial-$2,000; DeKalb County Scottish Rite-$1,000; Young Farmers Association-$500

Taylor Youngblood: DeKalb Funeral Chapel-$500

Dylan Young: Arizona State-$28,000; Daily & Vincent Scholarship-$1,000

Jordan Wilkins: DCHS Student Council-$200; Allen D. Hooper Memorial-$500; Leadership DeKalb Award

Dillon Williams: US Marines Athlete Award

Justin Wiser: Tennessee Tech University-$800

DCHS Student Earns College Degree Before Graduating High School

May 19, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ashley Barnes
DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps and Director of Schools Mark Willougby with Ashley Barnes at WJLE Monday

Ashley Barnes, the Class of 2014 Salutatorian at DeKalb County High School, took part in her college graduation ceremony almost two weeks ago at Motlow State Community College and Friday she will be celebrating another educational milestone — high school graduation. While the numbers of students participating in dual enrollment has grown in recent years, a means for high school students to transition into college, Barnes is the only student in the history of the school at DCHS to ever have earned a college degree while completing high school credits.

"This has always been my dream. This has always been my goal," said Barnes in an interview with WJLE Monday.

Through dual enrollment, high school students may take one or more college courses for which they will receive both high school and college credits. On Saturday, May 10, Barnes graduated from Motlow with an Associate's Degree in General Studies. " I graduated from Motlow State Community College with an Associate's degree two weeks before my high school graduation (May 23). I am pretty excited about that. I began taking college credit courses when I was fourteen years old and that hard work has paid off. The summer after my freshman year, I just started taking a few classes here and there, doing that for four years. They have all added up. I have sixty three college credit hours. Most of the classes were on-line through Motlow but I did take a few classes through Tennessee Tech and commuted back and forth from Cookeville and the high school. It was dual enrollment, so it counted for high school credit as well," said Barnes.

DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps told WJLE Monday that he is very proud of Barnes and what she has accomplished through this program. "She exemplifies it. She is hard working. I tell my staff, effort. Give me everything you've got that day. Every day is not going to be 100% but Ashley brings it every day. She brings effort. She is a great student. She is what we want representing DeKalb County in these classes. You don't have to worry about her giving up. She is going to keep fighting through. She has taken courses at Tennessee Tech this past semester, chemistry and higher level chemistry that a lot of people would get to and shy away and maybe change their major or go home. But she hasn't done that. She has put her nose to the grindstone and has kept pushing forward," said Principal Cripps.

"What she has been able to achieve is amazing," added Director of Schools Mark Willougby in speaking with WJLE. "She is wonderful. She is intelligent. But she is also hard working. She is determined. She is a role model for all students as well as adults. To accomplish what she has, comes from inside and self determination and having a goal and seeing that through. She could have taken the easy way out but from hearing her speak, you can tell the maturity that she has. She chose to stick to it. A friend of mine, the late Edsel Floyd called it "stickability". Ashley has "stickability"," said Director Willoughby.

Since its beginnings more than a decade ago, DCHS has seen steady growth in the dual enrollment program.. "Ms Helen Lee (former guidance counselor) brought it in probably around 2001 or 2002. We started out with two English courses. That started out with twelve to fifteen students in those classes and we've seen our program grow. Students have the opportunity to gain college credit in over thirty different classes now here at the high school. Our numbers as far as students taking those classes have grown as each year has gone by. In 2011-12 we had 124 students. In 2012-13 we had 190 students and this year we had 196 students taking dual enrollment classes," said Principal Cripps.

Most of the students in the program at DCHS earn their dual credits through Motlow State Community College. "We generally go through Motlow", explained Principal Cripps. They have worked really well with us. To pat DeKalb County on the back, they (Motlow) call us their model school. We've also had some students to go through Chattanooga State and maybe Vol State Community College. We're proud of all the hard work that our students do, because they are the backbone of our school, but we're also proud of the work that Ms Lori Myrick, Ms.Shelly Painter, Ms Kenderly Cripps, Ms Jamie Wright, and Ms Rhonda and all those folks do to get our students in those classes to succeed," he said.

While Barnes has no regrets for pursuing the dual enrollment path, she did have to sacrifice her high school basketball play for most of this past season in order to accomplish her academic goals. " I played basketball until December of my senior year. It came down to the deciding point, do I want to continue to play basketball and theoretically miss this goal by two classes or do I want to give up a sport that I have played for seventeen years and go ahead and take a few more classes and actually achieve this goal, this dream of graduating college before high school?. I love basketball. I love the girls. They are all great. But I had to look at it from this standpoint. In twenty years, when I look back, what is going to help me the most?. Was it going to be academically or sports? From my prospective, that semester of school was more important than a few more weeks of basketball," said Barnes.

As a member of the Class of 2014, Barnes is among students in the "Top Academic Ranking" and she has earned the distinction of being the Class Salutatorian with a 4.0 grade point average. Beginning with the Class of 2014, students must have completed more challenging honors and advanced placement courses in order to be eligible for Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and the top academic ranking. Barnes said she favors the changes. " I like the weighted GPA now. They changed it with our class. It's a lot more beneficial. Granted, it is a lot more difficult but it is rewarding to take the higher level classes and be rewarded for that," Barnes said.

Now that her high school days are almost over, Barnes said she plans to further her education at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. "My Associate's (degree) is in general studies. I took the core classes. I didn't really focus on anything. But when I am technically living on campus, I will be double majoring in Biochemistry and Leadership in Bible at Harding University. I hope to get my Bachelor of Science and then I want to go to pharmacy school and become a clinical pharmacist," she said.

Having reached this important milestone in her life, Barnes encourages other students to do the same. "Anybody can do it. It just takes time and hard work. For anybody who is thinking about dual enrollment, do it. It's worth it. Push yourself. Take the hardest courses. Challenge yourself because it will be worth it in the end," Barnes concluded.

During Monday night's Senior Awards Program at DCHS, Barnes was awarded $62,500 in scholarships including $38,000 from Harding University; $20,000 from Tennessee Tech University; a $4,000 Brandon Elder Scholarship; and $500 from the Clyde Thomas Family Trust Scholarship.

Barnes is the daughter of David and Suzette Barnes of Smithville. Barnes' mother is a seventh grade science teacher at DeKalb Middle School. Ashley also has a ten year old brother who is a fifth grader at Northside Elementary School.

Man Who Fled from Officers in December Now Arrested in the Case

May 19, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Kevin Glenn Smith
Joseph Scott Parsley
Carlos Soledad Perez
Stephen Hunter Pugh
Jose Manuel Muzaurieta

A man who evaded arrest last December endangering the lives of two DeKalb County Sheriff's Department detectives in making his getaway has now been charged in the case.

36 year old Kevin Glenn Smith of Beech Grove, Tennessee was arrested on Wednesday, May 14 charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and evading arrest in a motor vehicle. His bond is $15,000. Smith has been incarcerated elsewhere in recent months.

Smith has a criminal history of drug offenses, burglaries, thefts, and an escape. At the time of the incident in DeKalb County in December, Smith also had warrants against him in Warren, Coffee, and Cannon County.

The story unfolded Monday evening, December 16, 2013 when detectives of the Sheriff's Department went to a residence on Pea Ridge Road, Liberty to attempt to serve a Failure to Appear warrant on Smith’s girlfriend, 26 year old Lydia Renee Judkins of Jefferson Road, Smithville.

When detectives made contact with Smith, who was in a Nissan Pathfinder, Smith started the engine and sped away, almost hitting the officers. Smith drove down a logging road where the officers could not follow in their patrol car and got away.

A couple of hours later, someone reported finding an overturned and abandoned Nissan Pathfinder on the Alexandria to Dismal Road. It was believed to be the same vehicle that Smith had been driving when he was last seen by Detectives on Pea Ridge Road. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that the Pathfinder was stolen from another county. The tag on the vehicle was also stolen from a different county.

Sheriff Ray said after the Pathfinder was found, other law enforcement agencies were summoned to join the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in the search for Smith. "When we found the vehicle, we alerted Putnam County's K-9 unit and they came over with their track dog. We also called for a THP helicopter to fly over with their fleer system which is a heat sensing device," said Sheriff Ray.

As help arrived, the sheriff's department got a tip that Smith had already left the area. "We received information that Smith had already been picked up and taken to a residence in the city limits of Dowelltown. We left the scene on the Alexandria to Dismal Road where the Pathfinder was found and went to Dowelltown where we learned that somebody had taken Smith from there to meet someone around Statesville Road off Highway 96 in Wilson County. We got Wilson County officers to go with us over there to do some saturated patrols to see if we could find this vehicle but we never could locate it," said Sheriff Ray.

On the way back before daybreak Tuesday morning, December 17 sheriff's department detectives spotted a suspicious pickup truck in Dowelltown. But when they tried to stop it to investigate, the truck took off and a pursuit ensued. "On our way back when we were driving between Liberty and Dowelltown, detectives saw a white Toyota Tacoma that was suspicious. The truck was on Main Street in Dowelltown but turned onto Highway 70. When the detectives turned around on the vehicle, it began to flee. There were two people in the truck and by the direction of travel that the truck went, we believe Kevin Smith was one of the persons in that vehicle. The pursuit went from Highway 70 to Highway 53 in Liberty, then to Sycamore Road, Hawkins Hill Road, Highway 96, to Statesville Road and then to various roads off Statesville Road near where Smith had been dropped off earlier. During the pursuit, one of the persons in the truck fired a weapon numerous times at the lead patrol car. The detectives did not return fire. For safety of the officers and the public, the detectives backed off the pursuit. Wilson County Sheriff's Department and Watertown Police Department officers were trying to get in position to get the truck stopped, but the driver kept taking roads left and right and finally got away," said Sheriff Ray.

The Tacoma pickup was also believed to have been stolen because the tag on it was illegally taken in Wilson County three days before on Saturday, December 14.

Meanwhile, in other recent crime news, 44 year old Joseph Scott Parsley of Cookeville Highway, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 5 a deputy responded to a reported domestic in progress at a residence on Cookeville Highway. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Parsley and his wife and son. The woman said that Parsley had a pot of soup on the stove that was on fire when she arrived home. Parsley was in another room asleep. The woman woke him and realized he was intoxicated. While trying to speak with him, Parsley allegedly chest bumped his wife and pressed her up against a kitchen counter. Their sixteen year old son tried to stop the argument and Parsley hit him in the face. Parsley's son had a swollen right cheek. His wife had a swollen lip from the altercation. Parsley was determined to have been the primary aggressor and he was placed under arrest for domestic assault.

23 year old Carlos Soledad Perez of Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and driving while his license were suspended or revoked. Perez was further issued a citation for failing to give immediate notice of an accident, violation of the open container law, no insurance, violation of the implied consent law, and failure to drive on the right lane of travel. His bond is $4,500. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, May 10 a deputy was dispatched to Jacobs Pillar Road to investigate a report of a one car accident involving a green Ford Mustang. While on Jacobs Pillar Road, the officer spotted the car without a front bumper traveling north. At one point, the car crossed into the deputy's lane of travel. The officer conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle and spoke with the driver, Perez. He had a strong odor of alcohol on his person and his eyes were glazed over. Perez submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to submit to a blood test. Perez was arrested for DUI and a search warrant was executed to obtain a blood draw due to him having a prior DUI charge on his driving record. A computer check revealed that Perez's license had been suspended for driving while impaired aged 16-20. The date of the suspension was October 13, 2011.

32 year old Joshua Leslie Johnson of Hendrixson Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court June 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 16 a sheriff's department drug detective observed Johnson driving a motor vehicle on West Broad Street in Smithville. The drug detective stopped Johnson's vehicle on East Broad Street, having prior knowledge that Johnson's driver license were suspended. He had stopped Johnson on other occasions, the most recent of which was within the last month. Johnson's license are currently suspended for failure to pay child support. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

28 year old Stephen Hunter Pugh of Liberty, a prisoner at the jail, is charged with assault for allegedly fighting with another inmate . His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on June 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 15 correctional officers of the Sheriff's Department observed on video surveillance a fight taking place in a jail cell. After breaking up the fight and reviewing the video recording, officers determined that Pugh had been the primary aggressor.

36 year old Jose Manuel Muzaurieta of Asheville, North Carolina is charged with being a fugitive from justice. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court June 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, May 18 Muzaurieta was arrested locally on two unrelated charges. A computer check revealed that he is wanted in Alabama for two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card. Alabama authorities have said they will extradite him.

Local Family Involved in One Auto Accident

May 19, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Whitson family involved in one auto accident
2004 Chevy Tracker Hits Utility Pole

A local family was involved in a one auto traffic accident Sunday night on the Old Nashville Highway (Snow Hill Road) near the intersection with Possum Hollow Road.

Trooper Gerald Carter of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 28 year old Tosha L. Whitson of Winter Drive, Smithville was traveling east in a 2004 Chevy Tracker when the SUV went out of control, skidded sideways, and left the road, striking a utility pole. Whitson's husband, 27 year old Michael Whitson and their two children, eight year old Candace Whitson and three year old Michael Whitson, Jr. were also in the vehicle. None were seriously hurt but all went by private vehicle to DeKalb Community Hospital for treatment.

According to Trooper Carter, Ms. Whitson claims she was about out of gas so she put the vehicle in neutral as she was traveling down the road. As the SUV was coasting to a stop, she tried to put it back in drive, but instead accidentally shifted to reverse, causing the vehicle to lose control.

Ms. Whitson was cited for failure to exercise due care and for not having her eight year old child in a booster seat.

Members of the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

Groundbreaking Held for Fifth Habitat Home (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

May 18, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tia Adcock, daughter Caitlin Adcock, and son Caven Ponder
Groundbreaking Held for Fifth Habitat Home

A ground breaking celebration was held Sunday afternoon for the fifth Habitat for Humanity home in DeKalb County.

Committee and Board members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County and the new partner family, Tia Adcock , her son Caven Ponder, and daughter Caitlin Adcock gathered for the brief ceremony at the future site of the home at 202 Hayes Street in Smithville.

Larry Green, President of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, said construction will soon begin and may be completed by late summer. The home will be a 1,050 square foot house plus the porch. It will have three bedrooms and a bath and a half.

During Sunday's ground breaking ceremony, Green made opening remarks and led the attendees in the Responsive Reading following prayer by local minister Larry Steffee. After the groundbreaking, Green, who is also a local minister closed the ceremony with prayer.

This is the fifth Habitat home in DeKalb County. Two of them are on Adams Street. The other two are on Hayes Street.

To qualify, applicants must: (1) have lived in DeKalb County for at least one year; (2) be willing to partner with Habitat to realize dreams of home ownership; (3) currently occupy inadequate or substandard housing; (4) demonstrate the ability to pay a mortgage; and (5) fall within Habitat's income guidelines.

All applications will be reviewed and considered by Habitat's Family Selection Committee before a partner family is selected. The partner family will work with Habitat on construction of their home and to develop the skills necessary for successful home ownership. Construction labor is provided by Habitat volunteers, and some materials are donated by Habitat supporters, as well.

Tigerettes State Tournament Bound

May 17, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tigerettes State Tournament Bound

The DeKalb County High School Tigerettes are headed for the State Softball Tournament after winning at Chattanooga Central in the Sub-State on Friday 2 to 0.

The Tigerettes scored one run in the first inning and one run in the fifth.

DeKalb County scored two runs on two hits and made one error. Chattanooga Central was held scoreless on one hit and made three errors.

Kayley Caplinger was the winning pitcher.

Danielle Tyson had a single and Kayley Caplinger doubled

The Tigerettes, 40-6 overall, are scheduled to take on Greenbrier in the TSSAA Class AA State Girls' Softball Tournament in Murfreesboro at McKnight Field on Tuesday, May 20. Game time will be at approximately 5:30 p.m.

DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court Program Holds Special Celebration Ceremony

May 16, 2014
by: 
Norene Puckett
DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program held a special celebration for three of its participants

On May 14, 2014 the DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program held a special celebration for three of its participants. The celebration was in honor of each participant having maintained one year of sobriety. Crystal Baker, John Pedigo and Tawanna Petty were each presented with a framed certificate noting their period of continuous sobriety and also received a gift certificate. The DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court program utilizes individualized treatment plans based on the participants’ needs, which include, but are not limited to residential inpatient treatment, a 6 week Lifeskills course, a 12 week relapse prevention program, Moral Reconation Therapy, individual and group counseling as well as all participants being required to attend 12-step meetings (Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous). These programs and treatment, in conjunction with frequent monitoring, weekly random drug testing and judicial supervision are what make the program so successful.

Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner E. Douglas Varney said in his Spring 2014 Update in regards to Tennessee’s Drug/Recovery Courts that, “We are facing a major prescription drug problem in our state. We need to focus all of our resources in the most efficient, effective, and collaborative way to maximize our impact on this issue and drug abuse overall. And because so many people who are dealing with a substance abuse issue also have a mental health issue—a situation referred to as a co-occurring disorder—these Recovery Courts (“Drug Court”) will be able to help them get all the help that they need at one time and in one location.” The DeKalb County Drug/DUI Court is funded by multiple sources which include the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, court fees and fines of individuals charged with drug or alcohol related charges, additional funding appropriated through the County Commission and through donations of time from the Honorable Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, the Office of the District Attorney General, the Office of the District Public Defender , Sheriff Patrick Ray, Haven of Hope Counseling and Community Probation Services.

(Pictured above left to right: John Quintero (Treatment Provider at Haven of Hope), Crystal Baker (Drug Court Participant), Kristy Longmire (Drug Court Case Manager), Judge Bratten H. (Butch) Cook, II, Tawanna Petty (Drug Court participant), John Pedigo (Drug Court participant), Norene Puckett (Drug Court Coordinator), Ryan Sullivan (Alumni), Ashley Lasser (Probation Officer), Kay Quintero (Treatment Provider at Haven of Hope). Not pictured: Sheriff Patrick Ray, Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong, and Assistant Public Defender Allison West

TDOT Unveils New Proposal for Highway 56

May 16, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
TDOT unveils new proposal for Highway 56 (blue lines show where passing lanes would be constructed)
Map shows existing road (above) and same location (below) built with two lanes and passing lanes

Several years after first announcing plans to widen and improve Highway 56, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has a new proposal that is expected to save the state money.

Instead of building a four lane divided and five lane road from south of the Warren County line (in Warren County) to near Magness Road in DeKalb County, TDOT now proposes to build a new two lane road (typical section) with twelve foot lanes and ten foot paved shoulders and passing lanes along the 3.30 mile existing alignment. The plans also include adding extra safety features on the new road, such as guardrails, better road signage, pavement markings, and center line rumble stripes. The total projected cost is $7,611,000. That would be a savings to the state of $12,800,000 from TDOT's original plans for this portion of Highway 56, which would have cost $20,411,000.

The highway from near Magness Road to just south of the Warren County line is currently a two lane road with eleven to twelve foot lanes and two to eleven foot shoulder widths. According to TDOT officials, the rate of severe crashes on this portion of Highway 56 is (0.250) double the state average (0.128) for rural two lane routes.

County Mayor Mike Foster and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss learned of the new proposal during a meeting with TDOT officials Thursday.

The project could be let for bids by the fall of 2015.

TDOT has not yet announced a timetable for construction of the proposed project to four lane Highway 56 from Magness Road to the city limits of Smithville.

DCHS Partners with Local Banks in Personal Finance Education

May 15, 2014

DeKalb County High School has teamed up with the local banks to add resources to the Personal Finance class. Personal Finance is now a state required class for graduation. The teachers of this class pull in many resources to help the students understand that this is something they will deal with everyday throughout their lives, and that they have control over their own financial futures.

DeKalb Community Bank, an office of Wilson Bank and Trust, has been a great resource for DCHS and the Personal Finance Class. For the past several years, the students in Personal Finance have been using a checkbook simulation provided by Wilson Bank and Trust. In this simulation, students work through eight months of writing checks, paying bills, keeping a check register and reconciling their bank statements. In this activity, students get a feel of being on their own and being responsible for their finances, along with learning the techniques and procedures of handling a bank account. The simulation doesn’t only stress check writing, but also introduces other ways of making payments such as Debit cards, EFT, ATM, Online payments, and over-the-phone payments, which all incorporate technology. This simulation is updated to keep up with the changes in the banking industry. DeKalb Community Bank has also provided many speakers over the years.

DCHS has partnered with Liberty State Bank, an office of Citizens Bank, this year in educating our students in Personal Finance using the online program EVERFI. This program is sponsored by Citizen’s Bank and Liberty State Bank in a partnership to make sure that our students have the best possible resources available. Once students have completed the EVERFI program, they are “Certified in Personal Finance”. In the program, students work through modules covering a variety of topics, including: Financing Higher Education; Banking; Savings; Investing; Credit and Credit Scores; Insurance and Taxes; and Renting vs. Owning. The students watch videos, play games, take quizzes and tests over the covered information. They are graded on the items completed and those grades are used as a grade in the regular class.

Douglas Haehl, Marketing Coordinator for Citizens Bank, was on hand Tuesday, May 13 to present the students with their certificates. Students who are “Certified in Personal Finance” are:

Miranda Dyer
Noah Byford
Emerald McClanahan
Jennifer Caplinger
Sy Gohs
Chasity Garrett
Megan Strayn
Nathaniel Theriaque
Matthew Wright
Hannah Walker
Samara Williams
Carlee White
Zackery Underhill
Chloe White
Tara Bockoven
Hailey Summers
Amber Montgomery
Deveen Johnson
Angel Mathews
Ashley Beacham
Lauren Lewis
Bailey Bly
Noah Parsley

Regions Bank has also played a role in helping to educate the students on Personal Finance. Speakers from the Smithville Branch, as well as McMinnville, have come in to share ideas, information and experiences. Jeff Crips and Alex Woodward, have been representatives of Regions. Both are former DCHS students and value the opportunity to come in to speak and see students sitting where they once sat. They both shared experiences from high school, gave some advice on clubs and school involvement, how to approach their courses, as well as information on being a successful adult.

The Personal Finance Teachers of DeKalb County High School, and the students, want to say THANK YOU to the banks for everything they help us do and everything they provide. We appreciate the time, financial resources, and anything you have done to help better educate the students concerning their financial futures. We look forward to a continuing partnership with each.

Second Graders Learn Names of All U.S. Presidents and States

May 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page

Students in Janet Woodward's second grade class at Smithville Elementary School have learned the names of all the U.S. Presidents in the order in which they served.

The children recited the President's names for WJLE Thursday afternoon in their classroom.

The children also learned a song naming all the states in the country.

Members of the class pictured in this video are:

SEATED LEFT TO RIGHT: Kerri Vandyne, Alia Hawkins, Madison Dawson, Suzzeth Martinez, Maleah Ruch, and Kandice Whitson

STANDING LEFT TO RIGHT: Braxton Walden, Aaron Hatfield, Cameron Caballero, Samuel Gaspar, Ian Colwell, Briz Trapp, Brayden Summers, Cooper Love, and Kholton Melton. (Not pictured-absent: Toni Atnip)

In addition to the video presentation here, you can listen to the children weekday mornings May 19-23 following the 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. morning local news on WJLE AM 1480 and FM 101.7.

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