Local News Articles

County Commission May Name New EMS Director Monday Night

November 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Commission

The county commission Monday night may name a new director of the DeKalb County ambulance service.

Members of the County's Emergency Services Committee met Tuesday night, November 10 at the courthouse to interview the five applicants and voted to recommend Hoyte Hale for the job to the commission.

The county commission will convene in regular monthly session Monday night, November 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Hale has been serving as interim director for two and a half years since the departure of Chip Cook, the former director. Prior to being named interim, Hale served as assistant EMS director for seven years.

In addition to Hale, those wanting the job are Jeremy Young of Dearman Street, Smithville; Charles Nokes of Short Mountain Road, Smithville; Allen Mason of Lancaster; and Jeff Cole of Spencer.

The committee brought in each applicant one at a time for the interviews. The same set of questions was put to each applicant and they were scored numerically from zero through five based on their responses to each question. Hale scored highest among the five applicants.

In other business, the commission will get a sales tax report, consider approval of budget amendments, discuss a litter contract for state roads between TDOT and DeKalb County, discuss Three Star program requirements, discuss Sheriff and Trustee bonds, discuss Sunset Drive, get an update on the Cookeville Boat Dock case, approve notaries, and consider any other business properly presented.

Deer gun hunting season opens November 21

November 20, 2015
Deer gun hunting season opens November 21

One of Tennessee’s long-standing annual outdoors traditions begins Saturday, Nov. 21 with the opening of the 2015-16 gun hunting season for deer. Deer gun season has the permanent opening date of the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving.

The biggest change for hunters in 2015-16 is the statewide bag limit for antlered deer is now two. The number includes those taken during the archery only, muzzleloader, and gun seasons.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency divides the state into three deer hunting units, A, B and & L. No more than one antlered deer may be taken per day toward the bag limit.

For antlerless deer hunting in Units A and B during this season, refer to the list of hunts on page 26 of TWRA’s 2015-16. The bag limit for antlerless deer in Unit L is three per day. An antlerless deer is defined as those deer with no antlers or deer with both antlers less than three inches in length.

A Type 94 permit is required to harvest antlerless deer during this season on all non-quota hunts in Units A, B, & L, except for holders of an Annual Sportsman, Lifetime Sportsman, Senior Citizen License Type 167 Permit, or landowners hunting under the landowner exemption. A Type 94 permit is required for all ages.

TWRA personnel will be collecting data at selected check-in stations and deer processors across the state on opening day. Antlered bucks will be measured and aged for management purposes.

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1969 is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the Apprentice Hunting License (along with other required licenses) while hunting any species in Tennessee.

Crooks Posing as IRS Officials Targeting Local Residents

November 19, 2015
Dwayne Page

Crooks posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials are contacting people by phone in this area threatening to arrest them because they owe taxes. Officials warn not to be taken in by this scam.

One would be victim told WJLE Wednesday that he was contacted this week. This Smithville man and former public official, who asked not to be identified, said he was called early in the morning by a man purporting to be from the IRS. The man said agents were on their way to his home to take him into custody. The caller said his tax accountant had made a mistake and that he (would be victim) owed the IRS money which had not been paid. However the caller told the would be victim that he could go to the bank, get the money, and do a wire transfer to avoid arrest. The would be victim said the caller was very aggressive and intimidating in his threats which gave him cause for concern. But he sent no money.

The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) warns that in most cases the caller will demand a prepaid debit card, wire transfer or a credit card number for payment. If the person doesn’t comply, the caller will threaten to arrest the target, or take away their driver’s license or business.

Thousands of victims nationwide have lost money to these tax scam artists. But there are ways to recognize them and foil their attempts to steal your money.

These scammers often:

•call you. But when the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they do it by postal mail, not by phone

•use common names and fake IRS badge numbers

•know the last four digits of your Social Security number

•demand payment via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS doesn’t ask for either of these payment methods, nor will they ask for credit card numbers.

•rig caller ID information to appear as if the IRS really is calling

•send fake emails that look like legitimate IRS correspondence

•make a second call claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, rigging the caller ID information

To protect yourself from imposters who call, claiming to be from the IRS:

•don’t provide any account or other personal information. Hang up the phone.

•never wire money to a person or company you don’t know. Once you wire money, you can’t get it back.

•if you owe - or think you owe - federal taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions. You also can visit the IRS website at irs.gov.

•if you’ve already paid your taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.

•forward emails from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.

•file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Include “IRS Telephone Scam" in your complaint.

Curtis Family Donates Communications Equipment to DeKalb EMA

November 19, 2015
Dwayne Page
Curtis Family Donates Communications Equipment to DeKalb EMA in Memory of Trena Curtis

The DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency has expressed appreciation to Freddy Curtis and the Curtis family for the recent donation of radio and communications equipment given in memory of Trena W. Curtis.

DeKalb EMA Coordinator Charlie Parker said this equipment will be used to enhance auxiliary communications in DeKalb and surrounding counties in the event of emergency or disaster situations.

Trena Curtis, Freddy's wife, passed away earlier this year.

Hannah James Attends National FBLA Fall Leadership

November 19, 2015
Hannah James

Hannah James, Tennessee FBLA’s 2015-2016 State Secretary attended the National Fall Leadership in Charleston, South Carolina this weekend.

James attended workshops on the topics of Competing, Public Speaking, and Teamwork. The State Secretary also attended a state officer track, where she met and mingled with state officers from across the United States, talking about what they have planned for their state conference.

In addition to attending workshops, the state officers got to tour the city of Charleston and also start planning for their state conference. They are excited up the upcoming year and they think it will be great.

Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections Underway

November 18, 2015
Donny Green

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency, announces that the 2015 FSA county committee elections are underway as ballots were mailed to eligible voters in Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 1 of DeKalb County and Local Administrative Area # 5 of Cannon County on November 9th.

In LAA # 1 (DeKalb Co.), Stephen (Steve) Officer and Randall West have been certified as eligible candidates. In LAA # 5 (Cannon Co.), Robert (Bob) Melton has been certified as an eligible candidate. One candidate will be elected to fill each of the LAA’s.

"The FSA county committee system is unique among government agencies, because it allows producers to make important decisions concerning the local administration of federal farm programs," said Green. "I urge all eligible farmers and ranchers, especially minorities and women, to get involved and make a real difference in their communities by voting in this year's elections."

Committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on disaster and conservation payments, establishment of allotments and yields, producer appeals, employing FSA county executive directors and other local issues. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in FSA programs. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm, can also vote. Agricultural producers in each country submitted candidate names during the nomination period held last summer.

Eligible voters in DeKalb County LAA # 1 or Cannon County LAA # 5 who did not receive a ballot can obtain a ballot at their local USDA Service Center. December 7, 2015 is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than December 7, 2015. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office January 1st, 2016.

Sergeant Chris Russell Named Interim Alexandria Police Chief

November 18, 2015
Dwayne Page
Mark Collins' last day as Alexandria Police Chief will be Friday, November 20. Sergeant Chris Russell (left) has been named Interim Alexandria Police Chief by the Board of Aldermen.

Sergeant Chris Russell has been named Interim Chief of the Alexandria Police Department.

The action was taken during Tuesday night's regular monthly meeting of the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Sergeant Russell, who has worked in the department for nine years, will be filling the position being left vacant by Chief Mark Collins whose last day is Friday, November 20.

Collins has been hired as Smithville Police Chief and will be taking that job as of Monday, November 23.

While Sergeant Russell will be interim chief for the time being, he is expected to get the job but not until after the mayor and aldermen have a meeting with Russell in a workshop to let him know what they expect of him and the police department. That workshop is set for next Tuesday, November 24 at 6:00 p.m. at city hall. A special meeting may then be scheduled for a later date to name a new chief.

During Tuesday night's meeting, Alderman John Suggs praised Sergeant Russell for his job performance with the department and recommended him to become the next police chief. "It's my opinion that Chris should be our new police chief. He knows what's going on around here. He knows where the bad spots are at. He knows everybody in town and just about everybody knows him. I sat down with Mark (Collins) about a week ago and he told me that Chris is more than qualified for this and he has already handled a lot of stuff for Mark. He knows how to do it and what's going on. Just a little food for thought because we're going to need a new police chief," said Alderman Suggs.

Alderman Matt Boss later made a motion to name Russell Chief. The motion received a second.

But Alderman Danny Parkerson asked that a workshop be held first. "We need to have a workshop before we do anything permanently and decide the future of our police department. I have a lot of people complaining about not having anybody (police officer) on duty during the night. I think we need to have an outline of what (we expect) and I'm perfectly willing for Chris to be it (Police Chief). But I don't want him to accept something and then we do something that he is dead set against. I think we need to give him some parameters of what we expect in our police department and how we're going to take care of the people of Alexandria. I think we may even ought to have a public hearing to give the people of Alexandria a chance to voice their concerns. We just need to make sure we have an understanding of what we want and then we can bring in whoever to talk to before the whole council and ask him if he will accept that (job) with this outline of what we expect," said Alderman Parkerson.

Alderman Boss later withdrew his motion and made a new one for Russell to become interim chief until after the workshop. Boss' motion was seconded and approved by the aldermen.

Fair Board Seeks Grant to Help Fund Rehab of Grandstand

November 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Fair Association Board
Fairgrounds Flooded in May 2010
Grandstand as it appeared many years ago
Grandstand in previous years
View of Grandstand from Yesteryear
Grandstand at Fairgrounds

Members of the DeKalb County Fair Association want to give the Grandstand a makeover and to preserve and keep it safe for future patrons to the Grandpa Fair of the South.

During the October meeting of the Alexandria Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the Fair Board received authorization to apply for a grant through the Tennessee Historical Commission to rehabilitate the old grandstand which is listed on the National Register of Historic places. The city owns the fairgrounds and leases the property to the DeKalb County Fair Association.

"We want to preserve it and make sure it continues to be safe to put people on. We've had two or three thousand people on it at one time during fair events in the past.
We're going to be applying for a grant in the 2016 grant year to rehabilitate the structure. We received a grant from the Historical Society several years ago to do some work on part of the grandstand," said Matt Boss, an Alexandria Alderman and a member of the Fair Board.

The grant application will be made in the name of the city but the fair board will fund the grant match if approved.

"Being city owned property, we're going to apply through the city to do this but the fair board is going to take care of the expense of fixing the grandstand back," said Boss.

But as a designated National Historic landmark, the grandstand rehabilitation project will have to meet certain guidelines.

"Because it is on the Historical Registry there are certain criteria. We can't just go over there and put new screws or nails in it. We can't put pressure treated lumber in it. We're required to use rough cut lumber in the renovation. It has to be made up of the same or similar material as it was years ago in keeping with the history of it. While it will cost several thousand dollars, we are hoping to get this grant money and we've also set aside some money toward this project. Hopefully we can do at least a portion of the work that we want to do," said Jeff McMillen, a member of the Fair Board.

"We've had an engineer come out and look and once we have a lot of these fixes done it'll probably put 20 more years to the lifespan of it," Boss added.

McMillen said once the project is completed the fair association hopes to add more fair events at the grandstand in the future

"The grandstand is still a usable structure. Its just not what it once was. Its just like your house. It has to be maintained and its time to do some maintenance. The main objective is to keep the grandstand structurally sound where I don't care to put my family or your family on it. As of now, we feel good about it but we know there is some work that needs to be done that is very important for the safety of everybody," said McMillen

The DeKalb County Fairgrounds were established on approximately seven acres along Hickman Creek in Alexandria on April 15, 1856. Today twenty four acres make up the fairgrounds. The individual grandstand and supporting buildings have also changed at different times, sometimes in responses to fires,tornado, and floods, other times in response to changing trends in agriculture and outdoor recreation and entertainment. Located in the center of the fairgrounds is the large V-shaped grandstand (C), which dates to 1920. It is the oldest surviving county fair grandstand yet identified in Tennessee and received a state highway historical marker from the Tennessee Historical Commission in 1989. Covered by an original hip tincovered roof, the frame-constructed grandstand has nine rows of benches for seating. The rear of the grandstand originally was used to house animals and other agricultural exhibits.

Articles from the Smith County publications indicate that the grandstand was purchased from the Rome Fair (Smith County) after an accident involving a bull that gored a woman to death who was standing in the crowd. Because of the accident, the Rome fair was closed. The grandstand was dismantled and moved to Alexandria where it was rebuilt the same year.

Aside from the grandstand renovation project, McMillen said plans are to have new restroom facilities constructed on the grounds in time for the 2016 edition of the fair.

Concerns Raised About 7th Grade Islam Studies

November 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
Craig Honeycutt
"My World" textbook by Pearson is currently being used in DeKalb County 7th grade

A middle school curriculum mandating the study of Islam in Tennessee classrooms is raising concern among many parents across the state including here at home. Up to this point education officials have given few details on the topic, and one east Tennessee parent who has researched the issue is asking why is there “so much mystery into this curriculum.”

Close to 100 people filled a meeting room of the county complex in Smithville Friday night to hear Craig Honeycutt of Bristol, who for the last fifteen months has been traveling the state speaking on behalf of Parents Against Islamic Religion in Schools. Friday night's audience in Smithville included concerned local residents, ministers, and teachers in our school system.


The state's standards for 7th Grade Social Studies require every student on that grade level to learn about Islam. They are then tested on it during standardized exams. Christianity is taught in the sixth grade.

Honeycutt, whose daughter is a 7th-grade student in the Bristol City Schools system, said he grew concerned over the standards when he learned she would spend four weeks studying the Islamic world. “Why do we need to give Islam four weeks?,” Honeycutt said. “If you want to teach a few days of Islam in a historic aspect, I’m fine with that. What you’re going to find ... is anything but historic. It’s indoctrination, it’s religion, it’s theology, it’s philosophy, (and) it’s how to convert.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Education website, during those four weeks — which are included in the literacy in social studies subsection of the Tennessee state standards — “students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the (Islamic) civilizations.”

In his daughter's middle school, Honeycutt said students have made the digital conversion from textbooks to laptops. "Every keystroke, everything they do is chronologically logged and that information at the end of the year is extracted. Where the children went (online). What website they searched. Everything. They know everything about our children. And it's password protected," he said.

"I have a great relationship with my daughter and I told her I wanted her user ID and password. She gave it to me and I logged in to learn more about her studies," said Honeycutt.

Based on that curriculum, Honeycutt said he learned the textbooks and the supplemental material teach every one of the following as "True":

"Christians and Muslins serve the same GOD"

"Islam teaches equality"

"Islam emphasizes fairness and justice in human affairs for all believers"

"Islam is tolerant and embraces the Jew and Christian belief and practices"

"Mohammed and Jesus were only prophets and teachers with no direct relationship to GOD"

"Sharia law is only made up of the following: Do not gamble, eat pork, and drink alcohol"

"Allah is the only God to worship. The True GOD"

"Sharia law is good for women and gives them equal religious rights"

"Islam is a peaceful religion"

"Mohammed was a good man who brought people together and protected women and children"

The problem is not with the teachers, said Honeycutt. The issue is with the standards and materials mandated by the state.

“We do not object to Islam being taught,” he told WJLE. “It just needs to be taught fairly. I think the theology and indoctrination part goes a little deeper than it should. It’s half truths and some of it even details lies. We just want the truth told to our children.”

Honeycutt elaborated further on examples of educational materials that concerned him.

“In the supplemental material it says that Islam teaches equality,” he said. “In some of the supplemental material that was given to my daughter, it says that we serve the same God as the Muslim God. As a Christian, that’s just not true.”

“In some of the textbooks it talks about how tolerant the Islamic religion is towards Jews and Christians,” he continued. “It talks about how positive Shariah law is for women. It talks about how they allowed Christians and Jews to practice their faiths and how they believed and respected their ability to worship their God. We know that’s not true. If you know the true tenants of Islam, you know there is no truth in that, but unfortunately, that is what the curriculum is teaching in both of the books that have been approved by the state” board of education.

Those two books he referred to are the Pearson My World and the other is known simply as the McGraw Hill book with a King on the front of it. DeKalb Schools use the Pearson book.

Local education officials were asked to respond and gave no details, but pointed to state standards in the following statement issued by the Central Office: “Public education in this state is governed in accordance with the laws enacted by the general assembly and under state policies, standards and guidelines adopted by the state board of education that are necessary for the proper operation of public education in kindergarten through grade twelve.”

The statement went on to say, “The policies, standards and guidelines shall be formulated by the state board of education, with such assistance from the commissioner of education as the state board may request.”

Some educators point out Christianity is taught in the 6th grade, but Honeycutt said Friday night the religious balance is misleading.

“What they do is cover the origins of Christianity,” he explained. “Let’s say you taught four weeks of Christianity and four weeks of Islam. Let’s say it balanced out. Here’s the problem. The Islamic portion is not true. Its half history. Its revisionist history. They don’t tell the truth about Islam.”

“If you look at the weight of the standard here’s the problem,” he said. “In the sixth grade they cover a little bit of Christianity and say it’s the origins of Christianity. If you go to the seventh grade there’s a three-and-a-half to four-weeks study of Islam. If you go over to the African and European chapters that are also being taught in the seventh grade, it is African and European culture study and how it relates to Islam. Then at the end of the seventh grade curriculum they do cover a little bit of Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism. But do you know what they are comparing those religions to? They’re comparing them back to Islam. If you weigh it all up it is three-to-one. So not only are you getting more Islamic teaching than Christianity, it’s a revisionist history. It’s a non-truth. Therein lies the problem.”

The Central Office statement also included a comment from B. Fielding Rolston, Chairman of the State Board of Education, who addressed the World History curriculum.

He said “World History is taught in the sixth and seventh grade, and high school. All major religions are covered in historical context starting with early civilizations through the decline of the Roman Empire in the sixth grade. It continues through the Middle Ages and the exploration of the Americans in the seventh grade. This includes religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism. The focus on each religion depends on the context and influence of the relevant time period.”

As for now, State Board of Education Rules and Regulations regarding curriculum says “The Tennessee Board of Education shall adopt curriculum standards for each subject area, grades K-12. The standards shall specify learning expectations and include performance indicators. The approved standards shall be the basis for planning instructional programs in each local school system.” And, “adopted textbooks shall be aligned with state curriculum standards.”

However, state officials have said because of feedback from educators and stakeholders, they will review the social studies standards earlier than usual. They are normally reviewed every six years, but the state will take a new look starting in January.

The local statement issued by the Central Office encouraged public input.

“The social studies standards review website will be launched in January 2016 and we encourage all Tennesseans to utilize this to provide critical feedback,” the statement said.

And Honeycutt said “parents have to wake up.”

“The first thing is you can ask for the changing of the textbook,” he said. “There are forms you can fill out to have those textbooks pulled because the truth is not in them.”

“Overton County has pulled the book. Fentress County has pulled the book,” he reported Friday night. “We know there are some issues going on with some lawsuits in White County. That’s all we can do is try and wake the people up.”

Secondly, he said “is reach out to your state representatives and let them know” about your concerns.

He expressed some hope an earlier than planned review will lead to changes.

“One thing you must understand is this was a six year standard and it was implemented last year. I've been traveling the state for almost fifteen months and almost 40 dates all across the state of Tennessee,” he explained. “It has gained so much attention this year in its second year that they are actually going to revisit the social studies standard that was supposed to be continued for four more years. So we've already got the momentum on our side. They are going to bring it back into session in January and they are going to look at these standards and find out what the truth is.”
However, he said there are obstacles to changing the curriculum.

“If there is nothing wrong with the curriculum then why are lawyers trying to block the request for what’s being taught?” he asked. “If there is nothing wrong with this curriculum then why is C.A.I.R. (Council on American-Islamic Relations) trying to block House Bill 1418 by Rep. Shelia Butt. (The state board of education shall not include religious doctrine in any curriculum standards for grades prior to grades ten through twelve.) Every time we try to so something there is a roadblock thrown up. If it is just simple curriculm and it is just what’s being taught in school then why so many roadblocks?”


HB1418.pdf (92.07 KB)

Honeycutt also realizes both educators and parents want good test scores.

“At the end of the year they (students) are going to be tested on this material,” he said. “A lot of it will be either in the TCAP tests or what is called a Pilot test that is administered by Pearson which produces one of those two books. So if you teach supplemental material or curriculum that doesn’t follow what the Tennessee standards say to teach, when you test on it you may get low test scores. So nobody wants that. So you have to come up with a curriculum that shows Islam in a positive light. Nobody is objecting to teaching Islam. Just teach the truth.”

State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody and State Senator Mae Beavers have said they oppose the state's standards.

Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award

November 16, 2015
Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce presented a Community Improvement Award to property owner, Garey Evans, for the significant enhancements made to his building located at 105 West Webb Street right off the Smithville square. Improvements include a new roof and the exterior of the building has a beautiful new two-tone paint scheme. Businesses located in Garey's building include Lack's Muscle Shack Fitness Center, Hootie and Tootie's Treasures/Thrift Store, a batting cage, and Real Life Community Church.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Bobbie Wilson, Owner Garey Evans, Chamber Board Member Kathy Hendrixson, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss


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