Local News Articles

DeKalb County Fire Department Offers Holiday Season Safety Tips

December 8, 2014
Brian Williams

‘Tis the season to be jolly, as the holiday standard goes. In many homes, this means a log on the fire, a trimmed tree or a menorah glowing brightly. All these signs of the season bring feelings of comfort and joy to families. But what you may not realize is that they also bring an increased risk of fire in the home. That’s why Lt. Brian Williams, DeKalb County Fire Department’s Fire Prevention and Safety Officer, wants everyone to be aware of some simple things we can all do around our homes to prevent fires.

The winter months are the peak times for home heating, candle, decoration and Christmas tree fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Statistics show that two of every five home decoration fires are started by candles. Fireplaces or chimneys are involved in almost two out of five home heating fires. Portable or fixed space heaters are involved in four out of five home heating fire deaths. Over the years, DeKalb County has had its share of all these unfortunate and unnecessary fires.

DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s holiday wish is for all DeKalb County residents to have a merry, bright and SAFE holiday season. By recognizing holiday fire hazards and using a little extra caution, you can help keep your home full of comfort and joy while celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day.

When decking the halls, choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant and keep them away from candles or any other heat source. Not all holiday lights are made equal so be sure that you know whether yours are for indoor or outdoor use and be sure to replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

Lighting candles, whether for decorating or religious rituals, should always be done with caution. Candles should be in a sturdy holder and placed on an uncluttered surface. Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire. Never leave a lit candle unattended. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Additionally, candles placed on or near tables, altars, or shrines must be monitored by an adult.

Lastly, roasting anything on an open fire in the fireplace is not a good idea! Make sure that your fireplace has a sturdy screen and keep kids and pets three feet away. Have your chimney inspected, cleaned regularly and dispose of ashes in a metal container far away from the home.

We know that the holidays are a hectic time of year for all DeKalb County residents. Please help DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department prevent unnecessary fires in our community by slowing down a little and taking time to pay attention to these few suggestions that we have recommended.

Smithville Fire Department Seeks FEMA Grant for Rescue Equipment

December 8, 2014
Dwayne Page
Charlie Parker

The Smithville Fire Department is making application for a FEMA grant to help pay for the purchase of new hydraulic rescue equipment and accessories.

If approved, the department could get a $25,000 grant. The city's local matching portion is 5%.

Chief Charlie Parker asked for permission to make the application during last week's meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. "I would like to request permission to apply for the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). What we are actually shooting for is one of their micro grants which is a $25,000 grant that has a 5% match which would be a $1,250 match that we would have to pay if we get that. At the present time we've got that in our capital outlay budget so we do have the money to do the match if we were to get the grant. But I do need permission from the governing body to apply for it," said Chief Parker.

The alderman granted approval.

Liberty Parade Captures the Spirit of Christmas (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

December 7, 2014
Dwayne Page
Memorial Baptist Church Float Wins First Place at Liberty Parade
Memorial Baptist Church Float (Rear VIEW)
Liberty Mayor Dwight Mathis and wife Shirley serve as Grand Marshals of Liberty Parade

Main Street in Liberty was lined with Christmas lovers of all ages on Sunday for the town's annual Parade.

Liberty Mayor Dwight Mathis and wife Shirley served as the Grand Marshals.

Memorial Baptist Church received first place in the float competition. Second place went to Jeff Odle of Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners

First place in the category for kids, four wheelers, and small animals went to Faith Womack. The Pursell family received second place.

Nathan Miller and family were awarded for antique vehicles and tractors. Will Daniel received second place for his 1946 Mac fire truck.

The parade also featured other floats and vintage automobiles, tractors, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, horseback riders, the DCHS band, local law enforcement, fire departments, DeKalb EMS, DeKalb Rescue Squad and Santa Claus.

After the parade, drawings were held for cash giveaways.

Smithville Christmas Parade Adds to Holiday Excitement (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

December 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
Memorial Baptist Church Takes First Place in Smithville Christmas Parade
Smithville Volunteer Fire Department Organizes Another Successful Christmas Parade

Enthusiastic kids and grownups alike enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Smithville Christmas Parade Saturday, sponsored by the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department.

Winning first place among the float entries was the Memorial Baptist Church. Second Place went to J&B Thrift Store and the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department Float received third place.

The Spirit Award, presented by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, went to the Tiger Pride Christmas entry.

This year's parade featured other floats, horseback riders, horse and mule drawn wagons, boy and girl scouts, veterans, vintage automobiles, emergency vehicles, the DCHS band, and of course, Santa Claus.

The Liberty Christmas Parade will be Sunday, December 7 starting at 2:00 p.m.

City Employees to Give Needy Kids a Bike for Christmas

December 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
City Employees to Give Needy Kids a Bike for Christmas

City of Smithville employees are requesting your help to make a child's Christmas a little merrier this year.

Donations of new or used bicycles and toddler riding toys are being accepted by city employees to be given to needy children during the "Cops for Kids" Christmas party this month. Cash donations are also being collected which will go toward the purchase of bicycles.

City employees stress that this effort is completely being done with donations only and is not funded by the City of Smithville. The employees themselves are coming together, with your help, to make this possible.

If you would like to make a donation to ensure that every child at the party gets a bicycle stop by the Smithville City Hall during business hours or call 615-597-4745.

Two Wounded in Shooting (UPDATED)

December 5, 2014
Dwayne Page

A man and woman were wounded in a shooting Thursday night at a residence on Earl Avenue.

42 year old Darrell Brown and 34 year old Jennifer Arrington were both airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital.

WJLE has learned that Brown and Arrington had been arguing during the day and that Arrington became concerned that Brown, who had a handgun, might try to harm himself. As she tried to intervene, Brown allegedly fired one shot which wounded him in the facial area and passed through to strike Arrington in the hand.

The case remains under investigation by the Smithville Police Department

Christmas on the Square Creates Festive Mood

December 4, 2014
Dwayne Page
Community Chorus Entertains at Christmas on the Square
Shan Burklow and Suzanne Williams light the Christmas Tree

Many shared in the fun and excitement of "Christmas on the Square" Thursday evening downtown Smithville.

The Community Chorus entertained and led the crowd in singing Christmas carols. Members of Boy Scout Troop #347 participated in a Flag-Raising Ceremony as Josh Isaac sang and the program concluded with a tree lighting ceremony outside the courthouse. As the crowd counted down, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams and Shan Burklow lit the tree.

On the first floor of the courthouse, county officials and their employees greeted visitors and served refreshments during the annual open house while at Justin Potter Library, children were treated to Christmas Carols and a Story Time, followed by a visit from Santa.

More holiday fun is scheduled for this weekend with the Smithville Christmas Parade set for Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and the Liberty Christmas Parade on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Students Attend Senior Beta Convention

December 4, 2014
Students Attend Senior Beta Convention
Lydia Trail, senior, won second place in the area of English

The senior Beta Club of DeKalb County High School attended the state convention on November 30 through December 2, 2014. The event was held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN. Thirty-nine students with their sponsors, Mrs. Debi DePriest and Mrs. Melissa Ruch joined schools from across the state to compete in a wide range of academic and non-academic contests.

The club did not come home empty handed! Lydia Trail, senior, won second place in the area of English. She was invited to compete in the national convention which will be held in June. “The students were some of the best we have ever had the privilege of taking to the convention. Their behavior and character were exemplary. We were thrilled to represent DeKalb County with such a fine group of young people,” replied Debi DePriest.

Students Attending Beta Convention

Chase Bryant
Ashli Chew
Haden Cripps
Tyra Graham
Hannah James
Hannah Lasser
Anna Malone
Keeley McKay
Eli Oliver
Max Pafford
Noah Parsley
Alex Rhody
Kyra Slager
Kirkland Smallwood
Morgan Vickers
Hailey Walker
Hannah Walker
Carlee White
Seth Wright

Rachel Adcock
Kathryn Blair
Leah Burchfield
Michael Caplinger
Loren Cripps
Lenzi Dickens
Savannah Driver
Taylor Ellis
Bailey Hayes
Kelsey Hedge
Destiney McCardell
Jackie Overbey
Brooke Reffue
Zach Roberts
Makalee Ruch
Lydia Trail
Darrian Turner
Jacob Washer
Bruce Wilson
Charlie Young

Schools Preparing for SACS Re-Accreditation

December 3, 2014
Lisa Cripps

DeKalb High School was successfully awarded re-accreditation last school year by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The other four schools in the county are now going through the renewal process preparing for re-accreditation, which is required every five years.

The mission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is the improvement of education in the South through accreditation. The accreditation process for any school that participates allows an inward look at shared values and practices that assures the educational quality and effectiveness of each school. Accreditation by the SACS Committee is a statement of the school’s continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.

The SACS Committee is a non-profit, non-partisan group of educators that conducts rigorous, on-site reviews of PreK-12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential. The SACS Committee’s mission is to help schools improve the remediation process with a balanced, systemic approach combining standards, stakeholder feedback and student performance to measure quality programs, relationships and results. It helps schools make the most of their talents and resources. The process aligns accreditation with accountability, emphasizing learner outcomes when evaluating the school’s quality; however, it is not the outcome but the course taken over time that yields the greatest return on investment.

The journey to accreditation is a long one. Five school committees made up of teachers, stakeholders, parents and students are set up within the schools up for renewal of accreditation. These school committees focus their work on five standards of what makes up a quality school. To gain or maintain accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, an institution must comply with the standards contained in the Principles of Accreditation. The standards are: Purpose and Direction, Governance and Leadership, Teaching and Assessing for Learning, Resources and Support Systems, and Using Results for Continuous Improvement. Each standard is reviewed thoroughly by the school’s committee members and a written report of their findings is presented to the SACS Committee during the site visit. The SACS Committee will review each school’s committee’s work and in turn will provide recommendations for accreditation renewal. The SACS Committee will provide each school with a committee final report of the schools evaluation rating on a given rubrics scale. This allows each school to see their strengths that can be built on and their weaknesses to improve.

School administrators and teachers say they look forward to sharing the final performance rating with our community after the SACS Committee’s visits.

Car Crash with Semi Results in Injuries

December 2, 2014
Dwayne Page
2004 Mercury Sable Driven by Rhonda Goff
1999 International Tractor Trailer Truck Driven by Christian Wanner
Rig Damaged in Wreck

A Smithville woman was transported to Vanderbilt Hospital Monday night after her car crashed into a Semi on Highway 146 near the intersection of Big Hickory Court.

Sergeant Eric McCormick of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Rhonda Goff was traveling south in a 2004 Mercury Sable when she crossed the center line while trying to negotiate a curve and struck a northbound 1999 International Tractor Trailer truck, driven by 59 year old Christian Wanner of Woodbury. Wanner's wife, 59 year old Regina was in the truck with him.

According to Sergeant McCormick Wanner swerved trying to avoid the collision. His truck went off the road after impact and overturned on its side. Goff's car made an angle impact with the truck with the front left corner hitting the front left corner of the truck. The car then hit the truck's fuel tank, causing a diesel leak, and went off the southbound side of the highway. The Sable came rest up against a fence facing north.

Goff was transported to DeKalb Community Hospital and later taken by ground ambulance to Vanderbilt Hospital for further treatment.

Wanner was not hurt. His wife suffered minor injuries but she refused treatment.

Sergeant McCormick said alcohol was involved in the crash and that charges are pending.

The Wanner's, hauling wooden pallets, were enroute to Federal Mogul when the accident occurred.

In addition to Sergeant McCormick, DeKalb EMS and members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene along with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.


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