Local News Articles

New SRO's Began Duties Monday

August 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
New SRO's Begin Duties

The four new School Resource Officers have completed training and began their duties Monday morning at the schools to which they have been assigned.

Sheriff Patrick Ray told WJLE Monday that the SRO officers will be working at the following schools:

Officer Terry Cowart, Jr. at Smithville Elementary School

Officer Roger Whitehead at Northside Elementary School

Officer Chris McMillen at DeKalb Middle School

Officer Kenneth Whitehead at DeKalb County High School

Officer Lewis Carrick at DeKalb West School.

SROs are new to all schools except DCHS where officer Kenneth Whitehead has worked as an SRO for several years.

"The new SRO's just completed a 40 hour intense School Resource Officer Training Seminar in Williamson County," said Sheriff Ray. "They graduated last Friday. They started Monday morning at the schools to which they were assigned. Each school resource officer and I met with their principal, some of the teachers, and some of the students. We were made to feel very welcomed in each and every school. I plan to meet with the SRO's every week to discuss what is going on at each school to keep me up to date. That way I can pass information on to the deputies and detectives or back to the SRO's if I need to," he said.

According to Sheriff Ray, a School Resource Officer is intended to be more than just an armed guard at the school. " The main goal of the school resource officer is to prevent juvenile delinquency. He does that by promoting positive relations between youth and law enforcement," said Sheriff Ray. "These five school resource officers are not just cops on the school campus. These school resource officers provide law enforcement duties but they also provide education and counseling. They educate the students by teaching law related classes and other subjects in the classroom and they also counsel both the students and the parents on various topics. The SRO's main objective is to be a positive role model in the life of a student. It's intended for the school resource officer program to bridge a gap between juveniles and law enforcement. By doing this, it is to help prevent juvenile crime," he said.

County funds have been budgeted this year to pay for the four new SRO officers. Two of the positions are funded in the county general budget and the other two by the school budget. "I would like to thank County Mayor Mike Foster, the county commission, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, and the DeKalb County Board of Education for allowing funding for the extra four school resource officers this year. We have a total of five schools in DeKalb County and now all five schools has an SRO assigned to them," said Sheriff Ray.

(Left to Right: Officers Lewis Carrick, Terry Cowart, Jr. Roger Whitehead, Chris McMillan, Kenneth Whitehead, and Sheriff Patrick Ray)

Sunday Fuel Spill at Mapco Express Keeps Cleanup Crew Busy

August 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Sunday Fuel Spill at Mapco Express
Mapco Express

A fuel spill at Mapco Express Sunday morning kept the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and the HEPACO cleanup crew busy for most of the day.

According to Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker, a hose came loose from the tanker of a fuel delivery truck which caused about 100 gallons of fuel to spill onto the ground in the parking lot of the store.

Members of the Smithville Police and Fire Departments were alerted around 10:30 a.m. and quickly came to the scene. The parking lot was blocked off to traffic and the store was closed during the cleanup of the spill.

"Some of the fuel went down a storm drain," said Chief Parker. We (firefighters) put down some absorbent booms (pads) where the storm drain empties out into the creek to soak up the fuel. We also assisted the HEPACO cleanup crew in flushing some chemicals through the storm drain to break down the fuel and then rinsing it out," he said.

The fire department cleared the scene around 5:00 p.m. No one was injured.

Local Couple Wins National Homesteading Award

August 12, 2013
Local Couple Wins National Homesteading Award

Want to raise your own food but don’t have a farming background? Desire trumps experience, according to Andrew and Suzanne Cox of Smithville.

Although they only began homesteading three years ago, the Coxes have been named runners-up on Grit’s 2013 Homesteaders of the Year list. Grit will profile the couple in its September-October issue, on newsstands Aug. 27.

The Coxes now raise most of their meat, with chickens, sheep, pigs, a steer and two milk heifers roaming their 24 acres. The family plans to add milk goats next year. They also grow fruits and three large heritage-crop gardens. Bartering helps them acquire equipment and animals without going into debt.

“Andrew and Suzanne embody the Grit spirit: ‘stick-to-it-iveness,’ a strong sense of family and community, and a desire to be self-sufficient,” says Hank Will, editor in chief of Grit.

The magazine names Danielle Figel, Ocean County, N.J.; Lewis and Eleanore Janetos, Rollinsford, N.H.; and Eric and Wendy Slatt, Kershaw, S.C., Homesteaders of the Year. Other runners-up are Mike and Alison Buehler, Starkville, Miss., and Robert Reid and Britnee Atnip, Gastonia, N.C.

Grit sought Homesteaders of the Year nominations from its readers, online audience and through social media.

The Homesteaders of the Year kick off International Homesteading Education Month in September. Grit, Capper’s and Mother Earth News magazines sponsor this celebration of modern homesteading. Their online hub enables anyone to register tours, workshops, open houses or other events, and the titles have promoted Homesteading Education Month throughout the summer. Everyone is welcome to participate — individuals, organizations and companies offering products for self-reliant living — both by signing up to host an event and by using the online listings to find nearby events to attend. Current and would-be homesteaders can also enter the Holy Hee-Haw! Homesteader Giveaway.

To nominate a 2014 Homesteader of the Year, email information and photos, if available, to hwill@grit.com with the subject line “Homesteader of the Year.”

About Grit
Grit magazine (www.Grit.com) has celebrated rural American lifestyles since 1882. Each bimonthly issue combines practical articles, product reviews, do-it-yourself building plans, beautiful photos, reader advice, humor and a healthy dose of fresh attitude to offer a complete guide to life outside the city limits.

About Ogden Publications Inc.
Ogden Publications Inc. (www.OgdenPubs.com) is the leading information resource serving the sustainable living, rural lifestyle, farm memorabilia and classic motorcycle communities. Key brands include Mother Earth News, Mother Earth Living, Utne Reader, Capper’s and Grit. Ogden Publications also produces environmentally friendly housewares through Natural Home Products LLC, and provides insurance and financial services through its Capper’s Insurance Service division.

Payne Denman to Compete in US Amateur Championship

August 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Payne Denman

DeKalb County's own Payne Denman will have a chance to showcase his skills on the national stage this week during the 113th United States Amateur Golf Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

Denman competed last week in the 98th Tennessee State Amateur Championship in Chattanooga, where he placed 4th.

To view results of the US Amateur Championship, visit http://www.usga.org/ChampEventScore.aspx?id=17179869326&year=2013&type=p...

Elvis: Aloha 40 Performers Entertain Crowds at County Complex

August 11, 2013
Dwayne Page

Elvis would have been proud.

Crowds gathered at the DeKalb County Complex for two entertaining shows Saturday as Smithville helped kick off Elvis Week 2013 in a tribute called Elvis: Aloha 40.

The program featured an opening performance by the legendary Stamps Quartet, followed by a full on Elvis tribute show, with the group - as they did for six years with Presley - providing the back-up vocals. Smithville resident, Tom Duggin, provided the vocals for the Elvis part of the show, backed by Tim Colwell and a local group of musicians known as "TCB." Much like the Presley stage show of the 70's, Elvis: Aloha 40 featured a brass ensemble on stage as well as female back-up singers, in addition to the core musicians and the Stamps Quartet

Elvis Week is held every year with a number of festivities to honor the late singer in his hometown of Memphis.

Police Report No Serious Injuries in Three Auto Wreck

August 10, 2013
Dwayne Page
2004 Nissan Altima driven by Eureatha Cripps
 2013 Nissan Frontier driven by Kenneth Knowles
1993 Dodge Caravan driven by Jerry Madison

Three people were involved in a three auto accident Friday afternoon on Broad Street in front of DeKalb Community Bank.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that 35 year old Eureatha Cripps of Smithville was traveling west on Broad Street in a 2004 Nissan Altima when her car struck the rear of a westbound 2013 Nissan Frontier pickup, driven by 61 year old Kenneth Knowles of Smithville who was attempting to turn right into the parking lot of DeKalb Community Bank.

The impact of the crash forced the Knowles truck into a 1993 Dodge Caravan, driven by 29 year old Jerry Madison of Smithville, who was waiting for traffic to clear so he could pull onto the highway from the parking lot of the bank.

According to Captain Leffew, there were no serious injuries and no one was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene to assist

4-H Members Receive Awards at State 4-H Roundup

August 9, 2013
Michael Barry
Cassie Cain of Dowelltown
Kayley Green of Dowelltown (Right)
Kayley Green, William Cain, Cassie Cain, and Lydia Trail.
Cassie Cain of Dowelltown (Seated right)

DeKalb County 4-H members recently attended the 90th Tennessee 4-H Roundup and All Star Conference at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Since 1924, Tennessee 4-H’ers have gathered annually on a campus of the University of Tennessee for 4-H Roundup. The event serves to recognize 4-H members for their outstanding project work and leadership accomplishments. State All Star Conference is a part of the Roundup program. All Stars conduct service-learning projects and recognize outstanding service projects. DeKalb County 4-H members who attended 4-H Roundup, included Kayley Green as a State 4-H council member, Lydia Trail who participated in the Photography project, William Cain who participated in the Nutrition, Health, & Fitness project, and Cassie Cain who participated in the Personal Development project. Angela Tripp, Volunteer Leader and Michael Barry, Extension Director accompanied the group to Knoxville. Cassie Cain was named the State winner in the Personal Development project and will receive $500 college scholarship and a trip to the National 4-H Congress later this year. In addition, Cassie received the Vol State award and was elected as a representative to the State 4-H council. Kayley Green was awarded the Tennessee Rural Health Improvement Association Scholarship valued at $1250, which she will utilize as a student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The 4-H program is a part of the University of Tennessee Extension and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, sex, national origin, or disability.

Photo captions:

Cassie Cain of Dowelltown was recently recognized at Tennessee 4-H Roundup in Knoxville with the Vol State award, the highest level of recognition a Tennessee 4-H member may achieve. Vol State is presented to high school juniors and seniors in recognition of excellence in all phases of 4-H work, as well as service and leadership rendered in their communities.

Kayley Green of Dowelltown received the Tennessee Rural Health Nursing Scholarship at the Tennessee 4-H Roundup held at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Kayley received the $1250 college scholarship based on her 4-H accomplishments, academic achievements and financial need. The scholarship is given by the Tennessee Rural Health Improvement Association. Pictured with Kayley is Ben Sanders, representing Tennessee Rural Health.

4-H members from DeKalb County who attended 4-H Roundup include: (Left to right): Kayley Green, William Cain, Cassie Cain, and Lydia Trail.

Cassie Cain of Dowelltown was recently recognized as Level II (11th and 12th grade) state winner in the personal development project at the Tennessee 4-H Roundup held at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Seated from left to right are Claire Garrell, Level I winner from Petersburg; and Cassie Cain, Level II winner from Dowelltown. Standing are Matt Devereaux, UT Extension specialist; Martha Jo Tolley (donor); and Walter Malone, Eastern Region Tennessee Association of Extension 4-H Workers (silver bowl donor). Cassie received a $500 college scholarship and trip to National 4-H Congress in Atlanta.

Willoughby Announces Personnel Moves

August 9, 2013
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby Thursday night presented his written report on the latest personnel moves to the Board of Education.

Those employed include the following:

Kelly Hulling, teacher at Smithville Elementary School
Whitney Brelje, teacher at Smithville Elementary School
Jane Rice, teacher at DCHS
Tracy Slone, teacher at DCHS
Brittany Dixon, teacher at DCHS
Danny Fish, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Tabatha Farmer, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Greg Hibdon, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Mary Ann Blair, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Justin Poteete, teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Samantha Murphy, teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Alicia Wittenberg, teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Natasha Vaughn, teacher at DeKalb West School
Maggie Coyle, part-time teacher at DeKalb Middle School speech pathologist
Audra Stangenberg, teacher at Smithville Elementary School
Kerry Gibson, county-wide school psychologist
Amy Key, teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Rebecca Whimpey, teacher at DeKalb Middle School special education
Rebecca Baugh, part-time gifted (new position)
Tommy Clark, full time maintenance
Milinda League, educational assistant at Smithville Elementary School
Mary Margaret Tripp, Federal Special Education hourly worker full time


Jessica Antoniak, Guylene Atnip, Martina Bias, Jennifer Braswell, Carolyn Caldwell, Brenda Colwell, Julie Cook, Donna Davis, Linda Dean, Sue Driver, Suzanne Dunn, Katie Frazier, Robbie Joan Frazier, Wayne Fuson, Sherrie Giles, Johnna Goff, Natalie Green, Vicki Haggard, Bobbie Hale, Glenda Hall, Charlene Hallum, Kristen Hankal, Chad Hendrixson, Jimmy Hendrixson, Betty Hickey, Ester Holder, Michelle Hoyle, Shirley Ingram, Rita Leichtfuss, Linda Luna, Sharon Moffett, Angela Osment, Paul Parker, Pat Parkerson, Angelai Pedigo, Jessica Rackley, Ivadell Randolph, Judy Redmon, Virginia Rose, Bob Smith, Michelle Snipes, Jan Thomas, Luanna Tollett, Brad Trapp, Stephanie Turner, Vickey Vickers, Wanda Vickers, Audrey Welch, Mack White, Michelle Willoughby, and Kim Young.


Joey Reeder, from DCHS to the Central Office as Attendance Supervisor
Leah Magness, teacher from DeKalb Middle School to Smithville Elementary School
Bethany Rigsby, teacher from Northside Elementary to Smithville Elementary School
Wendy Colvert, teacher from Smithville Elementary special education to Northside Elementary regular classroom
Teresa Sullivan, educational assistant to teacher at DeKalb West School
Ashley Barnes, guidance from DeKalb Middle School to Smithville Elementary School
Kathy Jacobs, from substitute bus driver to a full time route
Dwight Knowles, from regular bus route to special education route
Linda Arnold, part time to full time cafeteria position at DeKalb Middle School
Katherine Ballard, moved from Federally funded position to General Purpose (locally funded) position, part time.
Jennifer Benton, part time to a full time cafeteria position at DeKalb Middle School
Amie Buchanan, substitute to a full time cafeteria position at Northside Elementary School
Janet England, moved from a classroom position to a Response to Intervention (RTI) position funded by General Purpose (locally funded)
Holly Espinosa, transferred from DeKalb West School to DeKalb Middle School
Tina Gash, moved from General Purpose (locally funded) to Federal Title I
Katie Goolsby, moved from Federal (funded position) to General Purpose (locally funded)
Mary Henny, moved from Kindergarten to a Pre-School position
Lisa Hill, moved from Northside Elementary to Smithville Elementary
Karen Jacobs, moved from General Purpose (locally funded) to Federal Title I
Angela Johnson, moved from Federal (funded position) to General Purpose (locally funded)
Leah Magness, moved from DeKalb Middle School 7th grade position to Smithville Elementary School first grade position
Mary Mathis, substitute to full time cafeteria position at Smithville Elementary School
Tammy Maynard, substitute to full time Cafeteria Manager at DeKalb Middle School
Adrienne McCormick, moved from Kindergarten to Pre-K position
Martha Melching, moved from classroom to Guidance position at DeKalb Middle School
Debra Moore, moved from General Purpose (locally funded) to Federal (funded position)
Allison Rigsby, moved from Pre-K to second grade position at Smithville Elementary School
Audrey Russell, moved from Federal (funded) to General Purpose (locally funded position)
Carol Sampley, moved from Smithville Elementary special education to Northside Elementary
Ruby Thomason, substitute to full time cafeteria position at Northside Elementary
Sherian Waggoner, moved from General Purpose (locally funded) second grade to Federal Response to Intervention (RTI) Title I position
Jared West, moved to gifted position at DeKalb Middle School
Tiffany Wheatley, moved to Federal Special Education Pre-K position


Joyce Alexander, teacher at Northside Elementary, retired
Jeanette Allen, teacher at DCHS, resigned
Barbara Hibdon, cafeteria worker, retired
Ricky Holcomb, mechanic, resigned
Joyce Jack, cafeteria, resigned
Sabrina Kirksey, teacher, resigned
Taleen Lambert, teacher, resigned
Daniel Lawson, special education bus driver, resigned
Brittany Lockard, Smithville Elementary School educational assistant, resigned
Kim Martin, Smithville Elementary School guidance, resigned
Christina Ontiveros, Smithville Elementary Pre-K teacher, resigned
Susan Robinson, teacher at DeKalb West School, retired
Jan Thomas, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, retired
Eldon Vanatta, DeKalb Middle School Cafeteria Manager, retired
Judy Malone, School Psychologist, retired

School System Partnering with Health Department to Offer Flu Vaccines for Students

August 9, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dee Anna Reynolds

The DeKalb County School system is partnering with the local health department to offer flu vaccines to students this fall.

" We want parents to be looking for those papers to come home September 9 and we're going to start those flu clinics in the schools on the second of October," said Dee Anna Reynolds, Coordinated School Health Coordinator during Thursday night's school board meeting. "The health department will provide us with all the necessary forms and all the paperwork that the parents will have to fill out. It's completely optional. The parents choose whether or not they want the paperwork for those kids to have the flu vaccine. For most of those kids, it'll be the flu mist, which is a little better for the kids," she said.

Meanwhile, Optometry services will be available to students beginning this fall through Coordinated School Health and WellChild Screening Inc.

"Those forms are out with the parents. A lot of those have started coming in. That's our new program this year through Well Child, who in the past have done the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSD&T) exams. They're going to be offering vision services this year," said Reynolds. "The parents can pick and choose if they want to do the exams as well as the vision services or one or the other. For the children who qualify for that, they will be getting two pairs of glasses. One to keep at school and one to take home. We'll take up those (eye glasses) at the end of the year. Repair those and then those kids will have those again next year. It's a great service, but again that's optional for the parents. It's for kids that have TennCare or who are under insured," she said.

Reynolds explained during a school board meeting earlier this year that optometry is an expansion of a service that began in 2008 for DeKalb County Schools. "In the 2008-09 school year, Coordinated School Health began services with WellChild Inc to do Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) exams for students. Parents who were interested in the service and whose children qualified received WellChild exams on site at school through WellChild's mobile clinic. We have continued service with WellChild every year since then," said Reynolds.

WellChild Health Screening Inc. (WCHS) performs health screenings of students at school including vision, hearing, mental health, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, scoliosis, motor skills, etc.

Reynolds said these physicals have served hundreds of children in DeKalb County. " In the first year, 142 physicals were completed. For 2012-13, over 400 exams have been completed." she said. "In the five years we have implemented this service, one thing has remained constant and that is the number of vision referrals. Approximately 20-33 percent of students receive vision referrals every year either through WellChild services or Coordinated School Health screenings," said Reynolds.

"WellChild has offered mobile optometry services in Memphis only for the last few years and it has been a very successful service there so WellChild began looking at adding this service to the middle Tennessee area. Through a several month long process, WellChild has been able to secure the resources and optometrists who are willing to aid with this service. So, Coordinated School Health is pleased to announce WellChild will be adding the optometry service for DeKalb County beginning this fall," she said.

"Parents who fill out the paper work and want their child to receive a WellChild exam will now have an option to fill out an additional form for optometry services. Students who receive vision referrals will have further vision testing. If that child needs glasses, they will receive two pairs of glasses, one for school and one pair to take home and keep at home. At the end of the school year, Coordinated School Health will take the school pair of glasses and return to WellChild," said Reynolds. "WellChild will send those glasses to be checked for needed repairs and cleaning. The glasses will be returned to the student for the next school year. In addition to offering this optometry service through EPSDT exams, WellChild will be working with Coordinated School Health through their vision screening results to further test students who may need it," she said.

Board to Consider Contract Renewal for Director of Schools

August 9, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education will hold a workshop in October to begin discussions on whether or not to renew or extend the employment contract of Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

Director Willoughby's current contract runs through June 30th, 2014.

"Mr. Willoughby's contract goes through June of next year and we have to let him know by January whether we intend to
renew his contract or not," said Chairman Johnny Lattimore during Thursday night's monthly school board meeting. "If not, that's given notice that he won't be renewed so we need to schedule a workshop on discussion of renewal or extension of his contract," said Lattimore.

A renewal or extension of Willoughby's contract must be in place by March 31, 2014.

Willoughby has served as Director of Schools since July 1, 2006.

Under the current contract, which was renewed in 2011, Willoughby's base salary was set at $93,067 per year but he also gets any raises that the state or local government provides for educators.

The current agreement states that Willoughby is to be evaluated annually. He will be provided with an automobile and all expenses involved in the automobile for him to carry out his official duties. He may use the automobile for personal purposes not interfering with school purposes, provided he shall pay or reimburse the cost of all fuel during such use.

The board shall provide, during the term of this contract, such medical insurance for the director, spouse, and dependents as the school system provides for other licensed staff as long as the director maintains enrollment in the insurance program. As additional compensation, the board shall also pay the employee's matching share of the insurance plan the director chooses. Should the director elect no coverage under the school system insurance plan, no other benefit or salary shall be paid in lieu thereof..

The director shall be granted one day of sick leave for each month of contractual employment. Sick leave days shall be cumulative and unused sick leave days may be for retirement credit in accordance with the policies of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System.

The Director's work year shall consist of 240 duty days. Non-duty days include 10 holidays and 20 annual leave days. In accordance with state law, the director shall be allowed to transfer up to two days of any unused leave days to his accumulated sick leave at the end of the year; otherwise, unused annual leave days shall not accumulate from year to year.

The performance evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than January 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board will review with the Director his performance, progress towards goals established by the board and the director; and the working relationship of the director with the board of education, the staff, the students, and the community at large; and any other matters relative to the employment of the director.

The board may extend the term of the contract at any time with concurrence of the director.

The contract may be terminated by mutual agreement of the parties or due to the retirement, disability, death of the director; for removal from office; or for willful cause upon sufficient proof of improper conduct, inefficient service (including but not limited to performance evaluation scores), neglect of duty or failure to follow board policies and directives. If the board terminates the contract for cause, he would be entitled to no further benefits or compensation.

The board may also terminate the contract without cause, at its option, provided that the board provides the director 60 days written notice of such termination.

The Board reserves the right to transfer the Director to any position within the system; however, the compensation and insurance benefits included within this agreement shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of the contract. In the event the director declines to accept transfer, this contract shall be terminated and the director would be entitled to no further benefits or compensation. Transferring the director shall require a majority vote of all members of the board of education.

The Director may also terminate the contract at any time, at his sole discretion, by giving the Board 30 days written notice of his resignation.

The Board may extend the term of this contract at any time with concurrence of the Director. However, unless the Board acts on or before the 31st day of March, 2014, or three months before the expiration date of the contract to extend the contract, such failure to act shall serve as notice to the Director that the Board does not intend to renew the contract.


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