Local News Articles

Fifty Two Students from DeKalb County Named to Dean's List at TTU

June 19, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

More than 4,000 students were named to Tennessee Tech University’s spring 2015 dean’s list including 52 from DeKalb County.

The list is made up of the university’s top students, based on grade point average. To be included on the list, students must have at least a 3.1 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

This semester’s list includes students from 88 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

The state’s only public technological university, Tennessee Tech University offers more than 40 bachelor’s and 20 graduate programs to more than 11,000 students on its 282-acre campus. TTU students include outstanding high-school graduates, accomplished military veterans and students from around the world, many of whom graduate debt free. With more than 200 student organizations, community service projects and intramural sports, TTU offers a full campus experience.

Students from DeKalb County on the Dean's List are as follows:

Joseph L Angaran
Peter Z Antoniak
Michael C Arms
Christian J Atnip
Hannah M Ball
Ashley M Barnes
Matthew Wayne Boss
Benjamin F Brandt
Robert Wesley Burchfield
Britney M Campbell
Caleb Blake Cantrell
Joshua Ray Cantrell
Talisa Marie Cantrell
Taylor B Cantrell
Katrina A Collier
Ethan B Duke
Whitney N England
Brady S Evans
Christina B Ferguson
Morgan Sloane Garrett
Jessica Brooke Garrison
Callie A Gash
William G Graham
Katie S Haggard
Alexander D Hayes
Abigail E Hendrix
Angela Denise Jones
Elizabeth Catherine Lasser
Taylor C Leach
Samantha K Lewis
Mary A Little
Kristen M Lynch
Zachary R Martin
Laura E Martinez
Elizabeth J Mason
Alexandria B Meadows
Katie L Merriman
Olivia C Norton
Jacob Ethan Parsley
Laura L Reed
Breanna Jo Russell
Aaron Jordan Shirah
Emily A Snow
Lindsay B Snyder
Emily Kaye Summers
Jonathan Hunter Tramel
Dalton H Vaughn
Tracy A Walls
Martha Alan Webb
Brittany N Wilkerson
Justin Brady Wiser
Christopher Riley Young

Students at Northside Elementary Perform Skits and Play on Last Day of Summer School

June 18, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Students at Northside Elementary School concluded three weeks of Summer School Wednesday by performing Reader's Theater skits and plays for their parents and friends.

"We had about 40 students participating in our summer school program. It lasted three weeks and we focused heavily on reading but also they worked on math and some health education," said Beth Pafford, Assistant NES Prinicipal. "Each day they had thirty minutes of enrichment time. The teachers decided to do Reader's Theater with skits and plays this year. Doing things like Reader's Theater helps students become better readers. It increases their vocabulary. It helps them build fluency which means they are reading like they would talk and that helps with comprehension. The students helped create a power point with visuals for the play along with costumes and sets and they practiced. Today their families came to watch their performance. They have worked hard and we are real proud of them," said Pafford.

"The second and third graders did not do a full blown play. They did skits. One group did a reading of the poem "Pop Poppity Pop" about popcorn and the other group did "Duck for President". Teachers Sandy Willingham and Jessica Hale worked with our second and third grade students", Pafford said.

"Teachers Alisha Day and Amanda Griffith worked with our fourth and fifth grade students on the play "The Sword in the Stone", she added.

"We had huge parent participation and we were so tickled to see all the families come out", Pafford concluded.

Alexandria Mayor Race to be Contested

June 18, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two men will be vying to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired mayor's term in the Alexandria Municipal Election on September 3

All the aldermen candidates will be unopposed.

Noon today (Thursday, June 18) was the qualifying deadline

According to the election commission Bennett Armstrong and Tony Tarpley are seeking the mayor's office. Armstrong is currently an alderman appointee. Tarpley was appointed mayor in 2013 after Jim York was elected mayor and resigned three days after taking office. Tarpley has served the first two years of York's unexpired term as mayor.

Meanwhile three aldermen are to be elected, each to serve a four year term. Two other aldermen are to be elected to fill vacancies or the remaining two years of unexpired terms.

Kelly Pyburn, David Cripps, and John F. Suggs are each running unopposed for the four year alderman terms. Cripps and Suggs are incumbent aldermen, appointees serving out unexpired or vacant terms

Matthew Boss and Danny Parkerson will each be running unopposed for the two year alderman terms.

The sitting members are Mayor Tony Tarpley and Aldermen Pat Jackson, David Cripps, John Suggs, and Bennett Armstrong. All are serving as appointees except for Jackson, who was elected in 2013 and still has two years remaining in his term.

County Fire Department Looks to Retain and Recruit Members with Incentive Plan

June 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Donny Green

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department may soon be starting an incentive plan based on a points system hoping to retain members and recruit new ones.

Funding for the proposal was approved Tuesday night by the county budget committee as part of the department's 2015-16 spending plan.

Under the incentive approach, County Fire Chief Donny Green said firefighters may accumulate points for performing duties or services within the department. The more points accumulated, the greater the reward.

"All across the country volunteerism has been something that has been a challenge, specifically here because we do take a lot of pride in having a volunteer fire department. We want to be able to shore up our staffing of volunteers. That has been on the decline for several years so we're looking at ways to beef that up and provide incentives, not only to recruit new volunteers but to be able to retain those we already have on board," said Chief Green in an interview with WJLE.

The fire department plans to abolish two long time incentive efforts to launch this new and more comprehensive initiative. The cost is $50,000 but only $15,000 in new money will be needed to fund the program. "We've had a couple of programs for about five years now. One of them is a (grant funded) training incentive that we have given at the end of the year that rewarded firefighters (money) for excelling in training attendance. The other program we had was the fuel reimbursement. It has paid firefighters ten dollars per call for all their fire response calls they go on. We will be taking the money from those two programs, which comes to $35,000 and applying it to this $50,000 (incentive plan) which would mean we would only need an additional $15,000 to fully fund the points system. So we're basically deleting the training incentive program and the fuel reimbursement program and putting it all toward the points system as a more comprehensive approach to provide different incentives to volunteers," Chief Green continued.

Firefighters may accumulate points in a variety of ways. "We'll set up a committee to designate how to award points. We'll use this money through the points system to reward firefighters for training, fire call response, work sessions, fundraisers, and even for those who might have other obligations. If they want to hang out at the station, they could get a certain number of points for being available. While there they could do things like wash trucks, clean the station, and do general maintenance. It's a two pronged approach to get people to hang out at the station and yet give them some kind of reward without having to get into hiring firefighters. If we can provide incentives to encourage volunteerism and keep our department staffed with volunteers we can save a lot of money in the long run by providing these incentives to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters," said Chief Green.

Meanwhile, the budget committee has also approved $33,000 in funding to repair three fire trucks in the fleet which have failed pump tests. "Our oldest vehicle (in the fleet) is forty one years old. It's a 1974 model. We've done a lot of work on it in the past and now have it in decent shape. But we have three of our fire engines this time including our reserve pumper, the pumper on Cookeville Highway, and the pumper at the Austin Bottom Station that all failed our annual pump test which is a requirement of the Insurance Services Office (ISO) that dictates our fire protection rating in the community," said Chief Green. We have to annually pump test these (fire engines) and if they don't pass then we lose those points and could potentially lose our fire protection rating for insurance purposes. We really don't have much of a choice but to replace those (trucks) or to repair them. This year it looks like the county budget committee has chosen to try and get those repaired. I think the total cost of repairing them is around $33,000. Some pretty major repairs are going to have to be done on them but we really don't have a choice because two of them are front line pumpers and the other is a reserve pumper which means if we have one of the pumpers in our eleven stations that goes down then we have to use the reserve pumper to fill in while the other truck is in the shop. It's going to cost about $33,000 to get these three pumpers repaired to where they are back in shape and can actually pass the pump test," he said.

The fire department had hoped to establish a new fire station in the Four Seasons community later this year but the budget committee has not yet given its approval for the project to move forward. "We have been talking about adding a fire station in the Four Seasons Community for a few years now. One of the main reasons is because there are a lot of homes in that area, especially a lot of expensive homes down by the lake and the entire area is outside of the five mile road distance of one of our fire stations so they (residents) don't get any fire protection coverage down there as far as insurance considers it. Of course we do respond down there (to fire calls) but if you (residents) are not within five road miles insurance basically doesn't consider you to have fire protection and that reflects in your insurance premiums. You have to pay really high insurance premiums when you are more than five miles away from one of our stations. We've been working to address that. Last year the county commission purchased a small lot at the corner of Young Green Road and Four Seasons Road. Hopefully in the future we can build a station there and get it equipped with a pumper so that we can provide adequate fire protection in that area. Again this year I presented the projected cost to build a fire station and to equip it. The budget committee has considered that. We have met a couple of times and we've talked about it and from my understanding it is still under consideration but no decision has been made on it at this time," Chief Green concluded.

The budget committee's recommendation on the county fire department budget will go to the entire county commission for final approval later this summer.

State Coordinator for Clinton Presidential Campaign to Speak at Rally

June 17, 2015
Lenda Sherrell

The Tennessee State Grassroots Coordinator for the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign , Lenda Sherrell, will be the speaker at a DeKalb County Hillary for America election rally Saturday, June 27 at 10 a.m. at the courthouse in the ground level courtroom.

According to Jordan Wilkins, DeKalb County Democratic Party Chair, “everyone is looking forward to hearing from Lenda about plans for
grassroots organization to elect Hillary and other Democrats in 2016 .”

"The Hillary for America campaign is focusing on building the economy, strengthening families, defending America and our core values, and revitalizing our democracy," said Wilkins.

DCHS Tigerettes and Coach Receive TSCA Recognition

June 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dani Meadows, Coach Danny Bond, and Kayley Caplinger

Two DCHS Tigerette standouts have received special recognition by the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association.

Dani Meadows and Kayley Caplinger were recently named to the TSCA's All State Class AA team.

Coach Danny Bond was also selected as an All-Star Coach for the TSCA Middle Tennessee All Stars in games played against the West and East Tennessee All Stars at Columbia State Community College on Monday, June 15. In the first game, the Middle Tennessee All-Stars lost to the West 3 to 1 but won 4 to 3 in a battle with the East All-Stars later in the day.

The TSCA All-Star Teams are made up only of high school seniors from schools in the various divisions throughout the state. Caplinger and Meadows could not compete. Caplinger will be a Junior next year and Meadows is a rising Senior.

Both Caplinger and Meadows along with their Tigerette teammates just completed another successful high school season last month under Coach Bond. The 2015 Tigerettes finished at 27-8 overall. They won championships for the regular season district, district tournament, region tournament, and sub-state before advancing to the state tournament for the second year in a row.

City Budget Adopted on First Reading

June 17, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

It appears Smithville property taxes and water and sewer rates will remain the same for another year.

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday afternoon met in a workshop and then a special session to adopt the new 2015-16 budget on first reading.

A workshop will be held next Tuesday to give the aldermen a chance to make changes before second and final reading passage at a special meeting yet to be scheduled.

The new budget totals $7-million 625-thousand 323 dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at .6490 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Water and sewer rates are to remain the same. City water customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are $7.50 per thousand gallons.City sewer customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62.

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District will remain at $2.67 per thousand gallons. City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said initial plans were to increase that to $3.00 per thousand but because of a Chancery Court order setting the rate at $2.67 it cannot be changed at this time.

Hourly city employees are budgeted to get a 2% cost of living pay raise except for police officers who are due to get a raise under the eight step wage scale for all hourly employees in the department. Pay for the city administrator and police chief position will increase significantly in order to keep their salaries above the highest paid employee in the police department, the Captain, whose salary including overtime and bonus pay is budgeted at more than $60,000 this year.

Aldermen are concerned about the disparity in pay between some department supervisors. Alderman Shawn Jacobs pointed out that the Fire Chief and Airport Manager are paid well below other city department heads and suggested that they each should get a larger pay hike this year. Alderman Gayla Hendrix agreed and said she would speak with the city's financial advisor Janice Plemmons-Jackson concerning wage issues. Jackson helps prepare the city's budget each year.

Capital outlay projects include:

*Street paving- $200,000. That's about double what is normally budgeted. Hendrixson said plans are to mill and repave the downtown square area and to replace any old worn out water and sewer lines ($30,000) in the process.

*New sanitation truck and trash containers- $350,000

*New extrication "Jaws of Life" equipment ($25,000) and a new thermal imaging camera ($9,600) for the Fire Department.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker also requested a new rescue vehicle as well as funding for another paid firefighter and money to pay volunteers more for doing extra duties through an incentive program. The city has put those requests on hold for now but may revisit the purchase of a new rescue vehicle later in the budget year.

*Police Car-$28,000

*New Animal Shelter- $75,000.That money will only be spent if the county appropriates $75,000 to match the cost of the project

* Airport: Land acquisition and other improvements (Mostly funded by grants)

*Water service truck (water and sewer department)- $50,000

Total general fund revenues are projected to be $3,689,250, not enough to cover total estimated expenditures of $4,370,393. The city plans to appropriate $681,143 from the general fund surplus to balance the budget. The water and sewer fund is expected to show a surplus of $8,155 by year's end with total revenues at $2,628,600 and expenditures of $2,620,445

Six Seek to Become Next Director of Schools

June 16, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Patrick Cripps
Gina Arnold
Anthony D. Pack
Michael James Steele
Greg Rockhold
Richard Ronald Rundhaug

Six persons have submitted applications and or resumes seeking the Director of Schools position in DeKalb County.

The Board of Education voted on May 14 to post a notice on the school system's website seeking applications for the position from May 15 through June 15. The deadline for filing applications was the close of business Monday.

Two of the six applicants are local and currently employed by the school system including DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps and Gina Arnold, who is the Supervisor of Special Education. The other four are Anthony D. Pack of Macon, Georgia; Michael James Steele of Spring Hill, Tennessee; Greg Rockhold of Hobbs, New Mexico; and Richard Ronald Rundhaug of Willcox, Arizona.

The Board must now decide the next step to take in the selection process. According to the policy, the board must develop selection procedures which shall include, but not be limited to the following:

Resumes of persons interviewed by the Board shall be available in the central office for public inspection.

The interview process for each finalist shall include meetings with various staff and community groups and an interview with the entire board.

Candidates shall be interviewed by the Board in an open session. Only board members will be allowed to ask questions during the interview.

The Board will attempt to select a director by unanimous vote, but a majority of the membership of the Board shall be required for the appointment of a director of schools.

In the event of an emergency vacancy in the office of the director, the Board may expedite this process.

The following is a brief summary of each applicant's educational background and experience as an educator

*Patrick Cripps received a BS degree from Tennessee Tech University in the fall of 1995 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. In the fall of 1999, Cripps earned an MA in Educational Psychology and Counselor Education at Tennessee Tech. During the summer of 2004, Cripps received his Ed.S degree in Instructional Leadership at Tennessee Tech.

Cripps has served as Principal at DCHS since 2012. He began his education career in DeKalb County as a Safe Schools Counselor in 1997. Two years later, Cripps was named a School Counselor at DCHS. In 2005, Cripps moved up to becoming an Assistant Principal at DCHS, a position he held until being named Principal.

*Gina Arnold obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education at Tennessee Tech University in August, 1992. In May 2000 Arnold earned her Master of Arts degree from Tennessee Tech with a major in Curriculum and Instruction and a minor in Early Childhood Special Education PreK-2. Arnold then received her Education Specialist degree in Instructional Leadership in August 2005 at Tennessee Tech.

Arnold became a Special Education Teacher at Smithville Elementary School in 1992 and was transferred to Northside Elementary School in 2000 where she served as a Special Education CDC Teacher. In 2005, Arnold was promoted to Special Education Supervisor, a position she still holds.

* Anthony D. Pack received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990 from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in Middle Grades Education with Concentrations in Language Arts, Math, and Science. Pack received his Master of Education in Administration and Supervision of Schools from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 1996. He earned his Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Argosy University in Sarasota, Florida in 2005.

Pack currently serves as Superintendent of Schools for the Monroe County Board of Education in Forsyth, Georgia, a position he has held since 2008. Prior to that, Pack served two years as Superintendent of Schools for the Kent County Board of Education in Rock Hall, Maryland.

*Michael James Steele received his B.A. degree in Psychology at Columbia College in 1996. Two years later, Steele earned an M.S. degree in Psychology/Counseling at Troy University. In 2014, he obtained his Ed.D. in Education at Lipscomb University.

Since 2010 Steele has held the position of Executive Principal for Stratford STEM High School. He began his career in 2006 as a Guidance Counselor in Madison, Florida. A year later Steele was named Assistant Principal at Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2008, Steele became a Middle School Principal before taking the job he currently holds.

*Greg Rockhold received his Bachelor of Science degree with minors in Business Administration and Marketing from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico. He later earned his Masters of Education in General Education at Eastern New Mexico University. Rockhold then obtained a Ph.D with an emphasis in Educational Leadership at Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Rockhold currently serves as Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Heizer Middle School in Hobbs, New Mexico, a position he has held for one year. He was founding Principal at Humes Preparatory Academy Elementary School at Memphis in 2013. Prior to that, Rockhold was Principal at a Middle School in Shiprock, New Mexico for one year in 2012.

*Richard Ronald Rundhaug earned his BA in Elementary Education at Hope International University in 1990. Seven years later, he obtained his M.Ed in School Administration at Northern Arizona University. In 1999, Rundhaug received an MBA in Business Administration at Webster University. He then earned his Ph.D in Leadership for K-12 at Capella University.

Rundhaug served as Superintendent of the Willcox Unified School District in Willcox, Arizona from 2008 to 2014. Prior to that, he held the position of Assistant Superintendent of the Coolidge Unified Schools District in Coolidge, Arizona.

The Board of Education will meet Thursday, June 18 at 6:30 p.m. in a work session at the Board of Education Building.

NHC Smithville Honors CNA’s of the Year

June 16, 2015
L to R: (Standing) Fonda Cantrell, Clint Hall (Administrator), Maria Amaya, Opal Parker, Amanda Savage, and Melinda Wilson (Director of Nursing). (Sitting) Dekota Watson, Susie White, and Lexie Barnwell. NOT PICTURED: Pam Sims)

Certified Nurse Aides (CNA) provide essential care in healthcare settings by assisting patients with activities of daily living. Eight area residents were recently recognized as CNA’s of the Year at NHC Smithville. Amanda Savage, Dekota Watson, Lexi Barnwell, Fonda Cantrell, Maria Amaya, Opal Parker, and Susie White of Smithville, and Pam Sims of Sparta, were honored at a banquet at Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro, TN to celebrate with other honored CNA’s from NHC HealthCare Centers throughout Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. The keynote speaker this year was Mr. Ralph Vaughn, well known native of Smithville and President of the Tennessee Christian Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Vaughn shared a wonderful message of gratitude and service with all honorees.

The honorees were evaluated on knowledge and performance of their duties, among other key factors. Mrs. Pam Sims was further recognized as NHC Smithville’s nominee for CNA of the Year for all NHC centers in the Central Region. NHC Smithville Director of Nursing, Melinda Wilson, said, “Each of these CNA’s are hard-working, professional, compassionate, caring, honest, understanding, and highly skilled. They are a tremendous asset to NHC Smithville and we are truly fortunate to have them as valued partners.”

NHC Smithville offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative care and accepts Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, workers compensation, managed care, and private funds. The inpatient healthcare center offers skilled nursing and rehabilitation services to adults of all ages on a short-term and long-term basis. NHC Smithville’s outpatient clinic offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy services to infants, children and adults of all ages. For more information about NHC Smithville, visit www.nhcsmithville.com or call (615) 597-4284.

(PHOTO ABOVE) L to R: (Standing) Fonda Cantrell, Clint Hall (Administrator), Maria Amaya, Opal Parker, Amanda Savage, and Melinda Wilson (Director of Nursing). (Sitting) Dekota Watson, Susie White, and Lexie Barnwell. NOT PICTURED: Pam Sims)

Third Annual "Giggin' for Grads" Tournament Set for Friday Night

June 16, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Third Annual "Giggin' for Grads" Tournament Set for Friday Night

Animal Rights groups may be hopping mad about it but the third annual DeKalb County Young Farmers & Ranchers "Giggin' for Grads" frog gigging tournament is set for Friday, June 19

Proceeds benefit the agricultural scholarship fund. Registration will be held from 5:30 pm to 7pm, June 19th, in the DeKalb County Community Complex parking lot. Cash payouts will be awarded to the top 3 teams with door prizes drawn during weigh-in. Valid hunting license is required and TN state hunting laws do apply.

While groups such as "Friends of Animals" recognize that gigging frogs is legal, they claim it is a cruel killing of wild frogs. For the last two years, animal rights activists have come to Smithville to conduct peaceful protests of the frog gigging tournament. In a prepared news release in May, "Friends of Animals" said they were willing to offer $500 for the Young Farmer's agricultural scholarship if the students would cancel the tournament.

Meanwhile for those who can't participate in the frog gigging tournament, a country fried dinner is planned for Saturday, June 20 in the parking lot of Tractor Supply starting at 11 a.m. and everyone is invited. For a $10 donation you will receive a country dinner including frog legs, sides, and drink. For more information please find them on Facebook at “DeKalb County Young Farmers & Ranchers” or call the Dekalb County Farm Bureau office at 615-597-7751.

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