Local News Articles

Aaron Tippin And Stonehaus Winery Uncork New Blackberry Wine

January 21, 2015
Aaron Tippin

In celebration of his 25th year in music, country singer Aaron Tippin is teaming with Stonehaus Winery to release his very own brand of wine. Stonehaus Winery’s "Aaron Tippin Country Jam" wine is set to make its shelf debut this Valentine’s Day. The new barrel select blackberry wine, taste-tested and approved by the "Hardest Workin' Man in Country Music" himself, is being bottled especially for Tippin as a commemorative 25th anniversary item.

On February 14, 2015, Valentine's Day, Tippin will host a special release party at the Stonehaus Winery in Crossville, Tennessee. The event is free and open to the public and will offer fans a chance to meet Tippin and have their purchased "Aaron Tippin Country Jam" bottle autographed by its namesake. During the event, Tippin will personally unveil his new wine and may even bring along his guitar. Tippin's new wine will be available for purchase at the event.

"Come out and toast to 25 years of music and wine with me!" says Tippin.

"I couldn’t be happier about our partnership with Aaron," says Stonehaus Winery Vice President, Rob Ramsey. "Besides being a world-class performer, Aaron truly knows his wine and is one of the most genuine people you could ever meet. I just have to say, 'you love his music, now taste his wine!' By happy coincidence, we at Stonehaus Winery are celebrating our 25th year in business. What a perfect pairing – 25 years of music and wine!"

The event will also offer a special Valentine’s Day dinner package which includes dinner for two at The Butcher’s Block at Stonehaus, a bottle of "Aaron Tippin Country Jam" wine, a box of Stonehaus Winery Cabernet Fudge and a long stem rose for that special someone. A limited number of tickets (75) for the Valentine’s Day dinner package are available for purchase ($125.00 - tax and gratuity included) and go on-sale today. Tickets can be purchased online at www.stonehauswinery.com or by calling 931-484-9463.

The free and open to the public meet and greet begins at 5:00 PM. Dinner for purchased package ticket holders begins at 6:30 PM. The Stonehaus Winery is located at 2444 Genesis Road #103, Crossville, TN, 38571.

Tippin's new wine will be available for purchase at Stonehaus Winery (phone: 931-484-WINE) and online (www.stonehauswinery.com) this Valentine's Day and will be available in liquor stores on February 16, 2015.

About Aaron Tippin
Aaron Tippin's fame was launched in 1990 with the release of his uncompromising single, "You've Got to Stand For Something." He followed with other major hits including "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly," "There Ain't Nothing Wrong with the Radio" and "Kiss This."

For more information on Aaron Tippin, visit www.aarontippin.com.

School Board Creates Speech Language Pathologist Position

January 20, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night voted to create a new speech language pathologist position. A contract with Bright Beginnings, which has been providing the service, will be terminated, effective March 15.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Gina Arnold, Supervisor of Special Education explained that the reason for the request was that a hired position would be less expensive than a contracted service and that the sooner the required 90 day notice of termination is given to Bright Beginnings, the quicker the school system can realize savings from the move.

But Second District School Board member Jerry Wayne Johnson asked that action be delayed until the board had more time to consider it.

Johnson was upset that the board received notice of this request two days before the Thursday night school board meeting (when a minimum five day notice is required by board policy) and that the 90 day notice of termination to Bright Beginnings had been given on December 15, a full month before the board was to consider creating a SLP position. "I'd love to see us wait until we have a workshop on it and maybe vote on it at the next board meeting. I don't think two days is enough time to consider and act on a new position. I didn't get my agenda until Tuesday and talking with some of the other board members I don't think they did neither. I just don't think two days is enough time to make up your mind," said Johnson.

Director Willoughby explained that agendas were mailed out on the Friday prior to the Thursday night meeting. "From what I understand everybody got their agendas on Tuesday. We did mail those on Friday. We always try to mail out our agendas on Friday. I don't know why they did not get there until Tuesday," he said.

As for the December 15 notice of termination to Bright Beginnings, Arnold explained that the move was done in an effort to save the school system money. "Our present contract with Bright Beginnings was $69,440 per year and we pay it divided into 10 monthly invoices of $6,944 per month. The salary for a Speech Language Pathologist with a Masters Degree and six years experience would be $3,366 per month. The difference in the two amounts totals $3,577 per month in savings for a Masters Degree employee with six years experience. That's roughly $11,782 in savings for the remainder of this school year, but for the upcoming school year at 12 months we would realize total savings of roughly $29,044 for the year by hiring this employee," wrote Arnold in remarks prepared for the board.

During the meeting Thursday night, Arnold further addressed the board saying that by waiting another month to act on creating an SLP position, the person being considered for the job might not be available. "What I would like to share with the board about waiting (until the next meeting) is that the prospective employee that is interested in being hired has to give a 45 day notice at their present job and I don't know that they would be inclined to do so if there was not a position for them to come to," she said.

Arnold stressed that no new money is being requested to fund this SLP position, only a transfer from one line item in the budget to another. "When we terminated the contract with Bright Beginnings we did so in an effort to have this cost savings. It is not new money and it is not a new service. It's just shifting money from one line item to another. It wasn't that we were asking for something new. What we are asking for the board to do is to allow us to transfer funds from a contract line to an employee line that would save $11,782 this school year and there would be even more substantial savings in years to come," said Arnold.

"I do agree with you Mr. Johnson and we will not be losing any money (by waiting another month). That would be one reason to look at it later (since the contract with Bright Beginnings doesn't expire until March 15) and I would be inclined to wait (until next month) but in the interest of what you (Arnold) have said about (prospective new SLP employee) maybe it is unfair to ask her to wait another month if she does have to give 45 day's notice (to her current employer). It puts her in limbo. But it's obviously going to save us money (by hiring SLP)," said Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

The board voted to approve the request to create the new position and for a budgetary line item transfer to fund it. Johnson voted against it.

In other business, the board set the date for the 2015 DCHS graduation commencement ceremony for May 22 at 7:00 p.m.

In his monthly report on personnel, Director Willoughby announced that longtime central office employee Teresa Miller has retired. Board Chairman Evins thanked Miller for her years of service to the school system. "I'd like to express my appreciation and my regrets to Ms. Teresa Miller. She has been a lot of help to the board and me over the years and I certainly hope she enjoys her retirement. She did a fantastic job," said Evins.

Harlem Wizards to bring their trick-hoops and alley-oops back to DeKalb County

January 20, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Harlem Wizards Returning to DeKalb County in February
Darrin Vincent of Dailey and Vincent takes on Harlem Wizards at 2013 event

The Harlem Wizards will bring their trick-hoops and alley-oops back to DeKalb County on Tuesday night, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. but this year the event will be held at the DeKalb Middle School gym. Gates open at 6:00 p.m.

The Wizards, a show basketball team, will play local personalities to raise funds for the DeKalb Middle School Softball Team field construction.

"The Harlem Wizards have been here twice at DCHS and both years we sold out and I expect this year to sell out as well" said DMS teacher Suzette Barnes. "Proceeds from this event will go to the DeKalb Middle School Softball Team. We started construction of a softball field on the campus of DeKalb Middle in 2011. We played our first game there in the spring of 2012 and if you have driven by and seen the field we still have a long way to go. We are still in need of a concession stand and press box area with restrooms and facilities like that. Eventually we will need lights. So this is a fundraiser for our softball team to complete the project we started," Barnes said.

At a Harlem Wizards game, fans witness amazing basketball talent combined with hilarious comedy. When you're in the stands, you're more than a spectator, you're part of the show with loads of audience participation throughout the game.

Fans will experience a magical display of tricks, coordinated ball handling, fancy passing, and aerodynamic athleticism combined with high-energy comedy and audience interaction. The experience can only be summed up in two words: Awe-Inspiring!

(SEE PROMOTIONAL VIDEO BELOW)

General admission tickets will be available in advance or at the door. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase in advance for reserved seats as well as courtside plus seating. "For this fundraiser we have 850 tickets available at DeKalb Middle School. It's a little smaller seating capacity than the high school. We're doing it a little bit different on ticket prices this year. All of our general admission tickets are $10.00 in advance or $12.00 the night of the event. General admission is first come, first served as far as seating. Something new this year is we're adding reserved seats. We only have 100 of these tickets available and they are $15.00 purchased in advance. They will not be available the night of the event. We're also offering courtside plus. With courtside plus, you get courtside seating along with a meet and greet with the Wizards players before the game and a free poster. We only have 25 of those tickets and they are $25.00 each. Tickets may be purchased from any DMS softball player or at Kilgore's Restaurant, DC Fitness beside Food Lion, or if you are an employee at Star Manufacturing contact Sonya Parsley or Jamie Cripps at SW Manufacturing. Tickets may also be purchased at DMS after 3:00 p.m." said Barnes.

Ticket order forms will be sent home with students at SES, NES, and DeKalb West."Those will be sent home with the students around mid-February, about a week before the event. So if parents want to order tickets, they may fill out the ticket order form and then send back to the school with their child the ticket order form and a check made to DeKalb Middle School Softball. We will pick those up and send the tickets back home with the child. We're trying to make this very easy and convenient for people to pick up tickets, " said Barnes.

The Wizards will take the court against a DeKalb Middle School team which will include DMS Principal Randy Jennings, DMS teachers Tad Webb, Justin Nokes, Josh Agee and Justin Poteete; DeKalb West Assistant Principal Joey Agee; SES teachers Leah Magness and Ashley Barnes; NES teachers January Agee and Mike Crockett, DCHS SRO Officer Keneth Whitehead, DeKalb County School Board member Shaun Tubbs, TWRA Officer Tony Cross, DeKalb County School Bus Supervisor Jimmy Sprague; NHC Administrator Clint Hall, Jason Winningham of Legacy Athletics; Casey Agee of DeKalb Community Hospital; Jonathan Norris of Southern Landscape Supply and Fourth District County Commissioner; and Helping Hands Foundation and three time Grammy nominated Bluegrass Entertainers of the Year Dailey and Vincent.

For students who can't attend the show, the Harlem Wizards will be making a personal appearance at four of the schools in DeKalb County for a gym assembly program on the day of the event. Members of the Wizards will be at Northside Elementary and Smithville Elementary Schools at 1:00 p.m. and at DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb West School at 2:00 p.m.

Sunday Fire Destroys Alexandria Home

January 19, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sunday Fire Destroys Alexandria Home (Photo provided by David Ward)
Firefighters Battle Sunday Fire at Alexandria Home(Photo provided by David Ward)

Firefighters battled a blaze Sunday afternoon at an Alexandria residence but were unable to save the home.

Central dispatch received the call at 1:47 p.m.

The 201 Church Street home, which belonged to Charles and Cathy Quarles, was being rented. Brenda Acorn and Patsy Keyes lived there and were at home when the fire started but they were unharmed.

According to Assistant Chief John Partridge of the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department, firefighters were on the scene within minutes of the call but the blaze spread quickly and the home was lost along with family belongings. Two dogs also perished.

Assistant Chief Partridge told WJLE that the fire is believed to have started from an electric heater in a bedroom, which may have caught some bedding or clothing on fire.

Alexandria firefighters were assisted in fighting the blaze by members of the Liberty and Temperance Hall stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department under the recently approved "automatic aid agreement" between the city and county. The Watertown fire department was also summoned. One Alexandria firefighter was transported to the hospital for exhaustion. Two others were treated for exhaustion at the scene.

(PHOTOS ABOVE PROVIDED AS A COURTESY OF ALEXANDRIA POLICE OFFICER DAVID WARD)

Man Takes Joy Ride in Caterpillar Front End Loader

January 19, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Gregory Wayne Elliott
Melinda Beth Murphy
Molly Sue Lawrence
Ronald Gutierrez
Royce Avon Foster
Johnny Ramos
Scottie Dewayne Linder
Mark Allen Thomas

A 21 year old McMinnville man who allegedly admitted to taking a Caterpillar front end loader for a joy ride has been arrested by the Sheriff's Department.

Gregory Wayne Elliott of McMinnville is charged with vandalism and joy riding. His bond is $6,500 and he will be in court January 29.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Elliott admitted to taking the front end loader from a business in Liberty and then abandoning it in the roadway on Highway 53 on Thursday, January 15. As Elliott drove away from the business, the front end loader caused damaged to the front gate. Elliott was later found with two other people in an automobile at the intersection of Highway 53 and Main Street in Liberty. An officer spoke with Elliott and he allegedly admitted to taking the front end loader. He was arrested and brought to the sheriff's department for booking. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective.

Meanwhile, a Smithville woman who allegedly passed a forged check to a bonding company has been charged with forgery. 29 year old Melinda Beth Murphy of East Broad Street, Smithville is under a $40,000 bond and she will be in court January 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, January 9 Murphy passed a forged check in the amount of $500 to a bonding company to make bail for Molly Lawrence. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective.

27 year old Molly Sue Lawrence of Highland Drive Smithville is charged with forgery. Her bond is $20,000 and she will be in court January 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 12 Lawrence was found with a check in her possession which belonged to someone else. The check was made out to Molly Lawrence in the amount of $350. According to Sheriff Ray, the victim did not give Lawrence the check nor permission to write one. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective.

Both Murphy and Lawrence were arrested on separate forgery charges earlier this month.

18 year old Ronald Gutierrez of Smith Road, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court January 19. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, January 16 Gutierrez was observed by the School Resource Officer at DCHS sitting inside a vehicle on campus during school hours. Upon speaking with him, the SRO found that Gutierrez had an odor of marijuana on his person and his eyes were glazed. Gutierrez admitted to smoking marijuana and he was placed under arrest.

44 year old Royce Avon Foster of Jacobs Pillar Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a revoked license (3rd offense), theft of property over $1,000, and burglary. His bond is $30,000 and he will be in court January 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, January 13 a deputy spotted Foster driving a vehicle on Jacobs Pillar Road. The officer had prior knowledge that Foster's drivers license were revoked and that he has active warrants against him. The deputy made a traffic stop and a computer check confirmed that Foster's license were revoked. He was brought to the jail for booking. In the burglary and theft cases, Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 12 Foster entered an outbuilding on Jacobs Pillar Road and took green wrought iron furniture, a Stihl weedeater, a weedeater blade, and a Chaise lounge all valued at approximately $1,090. The burglary and theft cases were investigated by a sheriff's department detective.

48 year old Johnny Ramos of McMinnville is charged with a fourth offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $4,500 and he will be in court February 12. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, January 12 a deputy responded to a domestic complaint in which a man was reported to have left the scene in a white Ford van. While enroute, the officer spotted Ramos who was driving a van which fit the description. He made a traffic stop and learned that Ramos' drivers license were revoked.

43 year old Scottie Dewayne Linder of Oak Drive, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while under the influence. He was further issued a citation for driving on roadways laned for traffic. His bond is $6,500 and he will be in court March 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, January 15 a deputy was dispatched to Highway 56 north for a possible impaired driver. The officer spotted a vehicle crossing over the center line and into the opposite lane of travel. He made a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Linder. After obtaining consent to search the automobile, the deputy found a Glock 21 caliber pistol. Linder submitted to and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He also took a blood test. Linder was then placed under arrest.

47 year old Mark Allen Thomas of Woodbury is charged with public intoxication. He was further issued a citation for simple possession. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court January 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, January 15 a deputy responded to Short Mountain Highway in reference to an intoxicated man who was reported to be beating on the door of a residence. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the homeowner who identified a neighbor, Thomas as the person responsible. The deputy located Thomas and advised him not to be knocking on his neighbor's doors. But before the officer left the area, Thomas started walking back toward his neighbor's homes. The deputy again confronted Thomas. According to Sheriff Ray, Thomas allegedly threatened the deputy by reaching into his coat pocket and making the statement "You're going to hate me for this". Thomas was unsteady on his feet and had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. For his safety and the safety of others, Thomas was placed under arrest. Two Klonopin pills, a schedule IV drug, were found in an unlabeled bottle in Thomas' pocket.

Hometown Hero Promoted to Rank of Chaplain Colonel in U.S. Army

January 18, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Father and son: Billy Hawkins, Sr. and U.S. Army Chaplain Colonel Bill Hawkins
U.S. Army Chaplain Colonel Brent Causey, Retired Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Will Bearden, Chaplain Colonel Bill Hawkins, Billy Hawkins, Sr., and Chaplain Captain Robert Sterling

U.S. Army Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Bill Hawkins, whose military career has carried him to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, returned home Saturday for a promotion ceremony and reception. Hawkins has been promoted to the rank of Chaplain Colonel.

The ceremony was held at the Smithville First Baptist Church, Chaplain Colonel Hawkins' hometown place of worship. Members of Hawkins' family, many friends, and veterans were in attendance. Military officials participating in the program were U.S. Army Chaplain Colonel Brent Causey, Retired Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Will Bearden, and Chaplain Captain Robert Sterling.

Chaplain Colonel Hawkin's father, Billy Hawkins, Sr., his wife Trudy, and their daughter and son, Sarah and Ben pinned the Colonel insignias on his service dress coat during the ceremony.

"I'm just overjoyed and excited about being here in Smithville and getting to celebrate a promotion that has been long in coming but to do that with my family has been outstanding," Chaplain Colonel Hawkins told WJLE after the ceremony.

Hawkins is a graduate of DeKalb County High School and Middle Tennessee State University. He began his Army career in 1985 when he simultaneously entered the ROTC program at Middle Tennessee State University and the Tennessee Army National Guard in Smithville. He received a reserve infantry Officer Commission in 1987 upon graduating from MTSU. After serving three years in both the Tennessee and Indiana Army National Guard, he transitioned to the Chaplain Candidate Program while studying at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. After a total of eight years of commissioned service in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves, he entered Active Duty as a Chaplain at Fort Drum, New York in 1995.

Chaplain Hawkins' multiple assignments, both overseas and within the United States, include tours of duty in New York, Germany, Macedonia, Washington D.C. (2 assignments), Texas, Iraq, and Washington. The units he served include Corps Support Battalion, Air Defense Artillery, Army Medical Centers (3 tours), Field Artillery, Wounded Warrior Ministry, and his current assignment as the Garrison Chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

His awards include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Ribbon (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Accommodation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Air Assault Badge, the Combat Action Badge, and other Service, Campaign, and Superior Unit Awards.

His marriage to Trudy Hawkins spans 26 years, and they have two young adult children, 22 year old Sarah and 20 year old Benjamin.

Asked how long he plans to continue his military service, Chaplain Colonel Hawkins told WJLE he is leaving that up to God. "I am going to stay in the military until I feel called to do something else. That's God's calling. He'll let me know when it's time to leave," he said

Robin Summers Awarded as DeKalb Firefighter of the Year

January 18, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page and Donny Green
Robin Summers-DeKalb Firefighter of Year
Lieutenant Brian Williams-Officer of the Year
Jeremy Neal-Git-R-Done Award
Steven Lawrence-Rookie of the Year
Kristie Johnson-"EMS Star of Life Award"
Firefighters receiving 75% Level Incentive Awards
Firefighters receiving 100% Level Incentive Awards
Firefighters recognized and presented pins for their years of service
Joanna Pennington presented plaque for her years of support for the DeKalb Fire Department

The 2014 DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year is Robin Summers, Station Commander of the Short Mountain Highway Station.

Summers received the award Saturday night during the Department's Annual Awards Banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex.

Meanwhile,Lieutenant Brian Williams was named the DeKalb County Fire Department’s 2014 Officer of the Year and Jeremy Neal, Station Commander of the Blue Springs Station, received the Department’s 2014 “Git R Done" award. The "Rookie" award went to Firefighter Steven Lawrence of the Liberty Station. In addition to these four long standing awards, a new one has been created called the "EMS Star of Life Award" which will be presented annually to a member of the department who goes above and beyond to extend joint cooperation in improving emergency medical training and responses for members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department. This year's winner is Kristie Johnson, Station Commander of the Main Station and a DeKalb EMS Paramedic.

The Firefighter of the Year Award was presented to Summers by Captain Anthony Boyd. "Robin was nominated this year and the evaluation of his nomination considered his fire call response, training attendance, and community service participation. The fire calls and training attendance stand for themselves. He excelled in both of those areas. As far as his community service, Robin has demonstrated an outstanding community service by taking the lead in allowing our department to be effective in fire prevention and education activities throughout the year. As Station Commander, Robin has gone to great extents to make himself available to train new recruits on his station, while also providing frequent refresher training to his veteran members assigned to the Short Mountain Station. The DeKalb County Fire Department attempts to recognize firefighters who reflect a positive image of the department in the community, and there’s absolutely no doubt that Robin has earned the honor of being named DeKalb County Fire Department’s 2014 “Firefighter of the Year”.

Chief Donny Green presented the "Officer of the Year" award and highlighted Lt. Williams’ achievement in training attendance, incident response, and community service. "Brian demonstrated an outstanding level of community service by taking the lead in allowing our department to partner with the Tennessee Fire Marshall’s Office in the “Get Alarmed Tennessee” Smoke Alarm Program. Starting in April 2013 and up to December 31, 2014, Brian has sacrificed his personal time and expense to travel to every community in DeKalb County while delivering and installing just over 1,000 smoke alarms in homes with no alarms, or in homes with deficient alarms. The degree of safety for our DeKalb County residents has been dramatically improved with Brian’s efforts in this program. A responsibility that he voluntarily accepted. “This type of community service so clearly demonstrates exceptional community service, while going above and beyond normal training and emergency response duties, and is exactly why Lt. Brian Williams was selected and recognized with the prestigious 2014 “Officer of the Year” Award, said Chief Green.

Neal's "Git R Done" award was presented by Lieutenant Jay Cantrell. "This award is given to a firefighter who demonstrates exceptional sacrifices by attending work sessions, additional instructor-led fire related training, and working to enhance the department’s fundraising successes. Jeremy willingly took on a leading role in planning and redesigning the department’s Jamboree food booth. The food booth is used each year at the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival and is the department’s major fundraising event. Jeremy headed up the booth renovation project that doubled the size of the food booth and helped make our 2014 food booth fundraiser the most successful year ever. Jeremy’s commitment to sacrifice his personal time, while leading the numerous work sessions involved in this project, clearly shows why he is being recognized as the 2014 recipient of the DeKalb County Fire Department’s “Git R Done” Award."

The "Rookie of the Year" award is exclusively based on hours of training and goes to a firefighter that completed his/her basic recruit training during 2014, according to Assistant Chief/Training Officer David Agee who made this year's presentation. "The department feels that the most important thing we can do for our new recruits is to give them basic training and reinforce the importance of training. Consequently, training is the sole criteria used in the “Rookie of the Year” selection. From January through December 2014, Steven had 168.75 hours of training, including completion of the 64 hour Basic Firefighter Training. In addition to his Basic Recruit training, he has completed extra training to improve his firefighting abilities. We certainly want to recognize recruits who demonstrate an outstanding level of commitment to training. Our department is fortunate to have an excellent group of recruits who have excelled in training in 2014. We are proud of all of them and we are honored to name Firefighter Steven Lawrence as our “Rookie of the Year” for 2014,” said Asst. Chief Agee.

Johnson's award, presented by Chief Green, is for her achievement in coordinating an Emergency Medical Responder course that was hosted in DeKalb County and which allowed many of the Department’s members to participate and complete the training. Kristie also conducted multiple CPR courses in the county. Because of her efforts, members of the Department have benefited by having better access to medical training opportunities. Chief Green commended Acting EMS Director Hoyte Hale for the cooperation and assistance extended to the department.

10 firefighters were recognized and presented pins for their years of service including the following:

5 years of service: Nelson Davis (Station Commander of the Cookeville Hwy. Station),
Bill Fowler (Station Commander of the Temperance Hall Station),
Robin Summers (Station Commander of the Short Mtn. Station), and
Gary King (Austin Bottom Station)

10 years of service: Jeremy Neal (Station Commander of the Blue Springs Station),
Tim Pedigo (Blue Springs Station), and
Calvin Tramel (Station Commander of the Midway Station)

15 years of service: Captain Michael Lawrence
25 years of service: Danny Parker (Johnson’s Chapel Station)
40 years of service: Wilson Williams (Liberty Station)

Assistant Chief David Agee was awarded the Department’s Honorary Lifetime Membership. David Agee, a former Captain, Lieutenant, and a member for 19 years is currently serving his second term as the Department’s Assistant Chief. He has made significant contributions to continued progress of the Department.

Thirty seven members of the department were also presented incentive awards for their “above and beyond” efforts in regards to training attendance and fire call response. Award incentives are provided to firefighters who made 100% of their monthly training and at least 35% of their assigned station calls, or at least 75% of their monthly training and at least 35% of their assigned station calls. Chief Green says the goal is to use these incentives as a tool to help encourage volunteer firefighters to stay engaged and involved with the training and operation in the department. Firefighters who met the 100% attendance criteria in 2014, each received $400 (or a prorated amount if they have been active for less than the full year). Firefighters who met the 75% attendance criteria in 2014, each received $200 (or a prorated amount if they have been active for less than the full year).

Firefighters receiving 100% Level Incentive Awards are as follows:
Asst. Chief David Agee, Matt Boss, Bill Fowler, Chief Donny Green, Donnie Johnson, Dusty Johnson, Jerry Wayne Johnson, Kristie Johnson, Wayne Johnson, Vert Komoroski, Ronald Merriman, Jeremy Neal, Andy Pack, Shawn Puckett, Brent Reed, Steve Repasy, Robert Sartin, Robin Summers, Calvin Tramel, and Lt. Brian Williams.

Firefighters receiving 75% Level Incentive Awards are as follows:
Matt Adcock, Josh Arnold, Brayde Baker, Seth Braseel, Lt. Kyle Casper, Gelasio “Marco” Chacon, Nelson Davis, Anthony Johnson, Mark Johnson, Gary King, Harley Lawrence, Steven Lawrence, Bob Myracle, Jason Neal, Danny Parker, Hugh Washer, and Lt. Chris Wyke.

Belk Station Commander Andy Pack presented a special Award of Appreciation to Joanna Pennington of the Belk Community. Mrs. Pennington has continuously helped secure financial support for the Belk Station.

To conclude the ceremony, Chief Green officially announced recent officer selections. Lieutenant Jay Cantrell has been promoted to the rank of Captain and Firefighter Jeff Williams has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

The Annual Awards Banquet began with a delicious meal and excellent entertainment from Steve Brogan, a comedian and ventriloquist who mixes stand-up comedy, puppetry, audience participation, and improvisation, along with his astonishing voice manipulations. Approximately 175 people were in attendance at the Awards Banquet, including firefighters, their families, local and state officials, graduates of the 2014 Citizens’ Fire Academies (Spring and Fall session), and community partners. County Fire Chief Donny Green presided over the ceremony.

DeKalb School Buses Pass Inspection, Drivers Recertified

January 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
THP Trooper Darryl Winningham inspects air pressure in school bus stop sign. Looking on are THP Sergeant Kent Norris (left) and School Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague (right)
THP Trooper Darryl Winningham, School Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague, and THP Sergeant Kent Norris

DeKalb County School buses have passed state inspection. Bus drivers were also tested and have been recertified.

State Trooper Darryl Winningham of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, inspector for this district, completed his evaluation this week (January 13-16) of all the buses in the fleet including the substitute buses.

"We've got 37 buses on route and four sub buses and everything has passed inspection with the state that is in service. It's been a long four days but they inspected all buses from front to rear including every switch, every air line, every fan motor, every light, and I'm proud to say that DeKalb County's buses are safe. We passed 100%. There were some simple things found that were wrong such as light bulbs and we had one exhaust leak but all of that was fixed on the spot and there were no reinspections. The state passed them. Again, we have 42 buses in the fleet counting our band bus that hauls the band equipment and we have a shuttle bus we use. Thirty seven buses are on route and we have four buses that are used as sub buses, two handicapped buses and two class-D regular route 90 passenger buses that are substitute status," said School Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague in an interview with WJLE Friday.

"I do a level one inspection. I go from the front to the back and top to bottom from checking the tire tread depth to checking brakes, pads, rotors, and drums. I check the seats to make sure they are secure. I check the air pressure on the brakes to make sure it holds pressure and that there are no air leaks. I check every light inside and outside the bus. Anything that has to do with the safety of the bus, we check it. We've been here for four days this week and I usually inspect eight to ten buses a day. When we leave everything will be up and in service, running well," Trooper Winningham told WJLE

"In this inspection, we found minor headlight, brake light, running light (deficiencies). They could have happened on their way in here today. Most things were a simple fix. Everything was fixed as we went. We didn't find anything that runs the route that should be out of service. Our job is to maintain a level of inspection on the bus to keep it safe for all the children. We're not here to put them out (of service) we're here to keep them up. That's our whole purpose here to inspect them to make sure they are safe and ready to pick up a child," said Trooper Winningham.

On Friday, the bus drivers tested for recertification. "We did recertification of our drivers and I'm proud to say that all of our drivers are recertified with an endorsement through the state. Nobody failed," Sprague concluded.

FSA County Committee Elections Held

January 17, 2015
Donny Green

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency, says the DeKalb/Cannon FSA County Committee met in regular session on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 to canvass and tabulate the ballots received in the 2014 Local Administrative Area (LAA) # 2 (DeKalb County) and LAA # 4 (Cannon County) County Committee Elections.

In the LAA # 2 election, Jack Campbell was elected to serve as Committee Member, and Thomas Chandler was elected to serve as 1st. Alternate. In the LAA # 4 election, Javin Fann was elected to serve as Committee Member, and Steve Foster was elected to serve as 1st. Alternate. All elected members began their terms on January 1, 2015.

The DeKalb/Cannon FSA County Committee met on January 6, 2015 to conduct its Organizational Meeting. The Committee selected Jack Campbell as the Chairperson, and Javin Fann as the Vice-Chairperson for 2015. Mary Sanders, R.V. Billings, Jr, and Charles Brown serve as members of the Committee. The Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. at the DeKalb/Cannon County USDA Service Center located at 647 Bright Hill Rd.

Green says that the DeKalb/Cannon FSA County Committee and office staff wishes to express their appreciation to voters in LAA’s # 2 and # 4 who participated in the elections by voting and returning their ballots. "The local County Committees are a very important part of Farm Service Agency's program delivery and administrative processes," added Green.

For more information about FSA's County Committees or other program inquiries, call 597-8225 (extension 2) or come by the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency office at 647 Bright Hill Street in Smithville. You can also visit the agency’s web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

STEMmobile Making Return Visit to DeKalb West School

January 15, 2015
STEMmobile Making Return Visit to DeKalb West School

Getting children excited about science, technology, engineering and math can be a challenge for any teacher.

Yet some of the teachers at DeKalb West School will have a new tool for four days next week to ignite their students’ interest, the STEMmobile.

The STEMmobile is scheduled to arrive Friday and will be there for teachers and students to make use of during the four days of school next week, January 20-23. "Next week, the four days of school our third through eighth grade will be able to go there and do some science, technology, and math activities with our science teachers. We're going to incorporate that with our third through eighth grades along with some of our after school programs" said DeKalb West School Principal Sabrina Farler during Thursday night's Board of Education meeting.

The STEMmobile is a mobile learning laboratory that provides a unique, on-site educational experience for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school children. The mobile classroom brings technology to the doorsteps of schools, and the students have access to state-of-the-art equipment to help them to learn about STEM topics in creative and hands-on ways.

This is the second STEMmobile visit to DeKalb West School and it will be open to the public on Sunday, January 25 from 2-3 p.m.

The STEMmobile is a one-of-a-kind product of the Oakley STEM Center and Tennessee Tech University as part of the Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative, a grant project funded by Tennessee’s First to the Top program. UCRSI is part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, where the mission is to enhance student participation and interest in STEM subjects.

The UCRSI project includes STEM platform schools in Putnam County and a hub school selected by each participating county or school district to become more focused on STEM learning. UCRSI also has a STEM Hub, the Oakley STEM Center at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. The
UCRSI Hub represents a partnership between the 21 school districts, three post-secondary institutions and 11 STEM-related or innovative businesses and non-profit organizations committed to supporting STEM education.

UCRSI’s goal is to tackle the unique challenges of enhancing STEM education for younger learners in mostly rural areas, and to create innovative and collaborative solutions to these challenges.

Housed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer with self-contained power, the STEMmobile has its own heating and cooling system, a satellite uplink for Internet connectivity and workstations to accommodate about 24 students at a time. The classroom on wheels is stocked with equipment from the Oakley STEM Center and includes equipment and supplies for activities for each grade level.

The Oakley STEM Center also has a lending library of STEM instructional materials to partially equip the STEMmobile and classroom kits for STEM subjects are on board, ready to go. The trailer is moved from site to site by Averitt Express, Inc., which has sponsored a significant portion of the transportation costs for the school year.

The STEMmobile is designed to help students learn more about three core STEM themes particularly relevant to rural students: water, with a focus on its importance, usage and conservation; energy, which highlights how power is generated, ways to lower consumption, green energy and long-term energy needs; and my food, my body, my health, which helps students learn more about agriculture, health, nutrition and physical fitness.

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