Local News Articles

School System May Purchase Electric Bus for Handicapped Students

March 8, 2012
Dwayne Page
School System Considering Purchase of Electric Bus Similar to One Shown Here

The DeKalb County School System is looking into the possibility of purchasing an electric powered school bus for transporting handicapped students.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, during Thursday night's school board meeting, said that a representative of a company that produces electric school buses will be meeting with him and Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Sprague next week to discuss the issue further.

According to Director Willoughby if the school system were to buy an electric bus, it could be the first school system in the state to have one

The school system is apparently in need of a bus for handicapped students but they're expensive. "A handicapped bus costs over $100,000 that we're bidding out," said Willoughby. But if grant funds can be secured, the cost to the local system might be as little as $15,000. According to Willoughby, that's all some districts in California have had to shell out to get one. "California has only $15,000 in this electric bus," he said.

By going green with an electric bus, Willoughby said the school system would save on fuel costs and maintenance. "These electric buses have been very successful as handicapped buses. They will run approximately 80 miles before a recharge. There's no fuel costs, no oil, and little to no maintenance," said Willoughby.

He said the people he'll be meeting with next week have their own grant writers and would help in writing the grant for the school system.

Meanwhile, the school board Thursday night adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring Professional Services Staff including school nurses, guidance counselors, school resource officers, psychologists, speech therapists, and others.

Board chairman Charles Robinson read the following resolution:

"Whereas, the DeKalb County School System is dedicated to showing appreciation for our special services staff members that include guidance counselors, librarians, school nurses, school resource officers, school psychologists, speech and hearing specialists, and others;

Whereas, the special services staff members in DeKalb County Schools are responsible for the safety and welfare of our students;

Whereas, this group of professionals serve a very important role in providing a variety of special services to our students on a daily basis;

Whereas the DeKalb County Board of Education wishes to honor the special services staff members for their commitment and loyalty to their students and schools.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Education hereby establishes March 15 as Special Services Staff Appreciation Day in all DeKalb County Schools; and

Be it further resolved that the Board of Education expresses our appreciation to all the school employees who provide special services in our school system. We encourage each school and community to recognize these individuals for their role in the success of our school system.

In other business, the board approved articulation agreements with the Tennessee Technology Center at Murfreesboro in the areas of Industrial Electrical Maintenance Computer Information Technology, Computer Information Systems Online, Computer Operations, Automotive Technology, and Computer Aided Drafting.

Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director,in addressing the board Thursday night said that through these agreements high school students, upon successfully demonstrating competency in certain high school courses, may be awarded a specific number of contact hours at the tech center in Murfreesboro in those course offerings. "We've been working for about two years with the Tennessee Technology Center in Murfreesboro to take competencies and standards in our courses and to tie them into courses that are at the Tennessee Technology Center in Murfreesboro and these are the agreements that we've reached and signed. What this basically says is that the courses that we're teaching at the high school will be in line with the courses at the technology center and they will award us so many hours of credit in these particular courses, depending upon the courses students take in high school. It's a win win situation for the kids. It's a great thing especially for the kids going to the technology center. These are students that have graduated and are now attending the tech center," said Leach.

Stephanie Walker, School Nutrition Supervisor, said the school system is participating in a contest this month with other districts through the Fuel up to Play 60 initiative to get more students to participate in the breakfast program.

Walker said If your children eat every day for the month of March and their school wins the contest then their name will be put in a drawing for two 2012-2013 Tennessee Titans Tickets. If your child eats everyday for a week their name will be in a drawing for free items each Friday for the month of March. (PLAY VIDEO BELOW TO LEARN MORE)

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby updated the board on personnel.

Those employed since the last meeting include:

Brenda Bandy, Special Education Assistant at Smithville Elementary School
Tammy Ferrell, custodian at DeKalb Middle School
Jeremy Haas, custodian at DeKalb Middle School
Gary Caplinger, teacher at DCHS
Debra Londan, substitute bus assistant

Brenda Bandy, Special Educational Assistant from Smithville Elementary School to DCHS

J. Annette Davis, Special Education Assistant DCHS
Charles Cantrell, custodian at DeKalb Middle School

Turnout for Primary Down, New Photo ID Law Poses No Major Problems

March 8, 2012
Dennis Stanley

Despite a heavy election-day turnout, the overall vote totals for this week's Presidential Preference Primary and DeKalb Democratic Primary were well below the results for the same election in 2008.

"Turnout was down considerably in the national PPP and local Democratic Primary," said Dennis Stanley Administrator of Elections. "I'll leave it to political observers to analyze the numbers, but the fact the current president was running opposed coupled with the national media attention on the Republican side of the presidential race may have been factors in the low numbers," Stanley said.

This election was also a little bit unusual compared to very recent elections in that the number of votes cast on election-day was just over two-thirds of the total number. "Recently, the trend has been that early votes equal a third to one-half the overall number. Some of that also depends on the type of election, the offices on the ballot and the time of the year in which the election is held," Stanley added.

In 2008, 3,089 local voters cast ballots in the Democratic Presidential Primary and only 793 votes were cast locally this year. On the Republican side, the numbers were about the same. In 2008 1,349 votes were cast in the GOP Primary compared to 1,337 this year.

Meanwhile, the local administrator said there were no major problems relating to the state's new Photo ID law. "We had one voter cast a provisional ballot because he did not have a
valid ID with him at the time he arrived at the polls," Stanley explained. "In this circumstance, voters must come to the election office and show a valid ID within 2 days. This voter came back the very next morning and produced a valid ID and had no complaints about the process."
"We only received reports of two other incidents relating to the photo ID law and each time the voter simply chose not to cast a provisional ballot and walked away," he said. "The local election commission and the Secretary of State's Office began spreading the word about the Photo ID law late last summer and early fall.

Based on what I've heard from around the state and what happened locally, it appears the effort to educate voters paid off," Stanley concluded. "That effort will continue and as each subsequent election passes, the Photo ID law will become even less of a problem."

TDOT Assists with Storm Debris Removal

March 8, 2012

Tennessee Department of Transportation crews are assisting with debris removal in several Tennessee counties in the wake of last week’s severe storms. Most of the clean-up efforts are concentrated in Cumberland, Dekalb, Jackson, Overton, and Putnam Counties.

Residents in those areas are asked to separate brush and tree debris from other types of storm debris, and to place those items as close to the public right of way as possible. Storm debris should not be placed in the travel lanes of any state or local roadway. Debris will not be removed from private property.

Debris removal will continue until Monday, April 2, 2012.

One Week Left for Candidates to Qualify for Smithville Municipal Election

March 8, 2012
Dwayne Page

Anyone wanting to run for mayor or alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election has one week left to qualify with the election commission office.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 19. The seats are currently held by Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger.

The qualifying deadline for the Smithville Election is NOON March 15. The last day to register to vote in that election is May 21.

Those who have picked up and returned petitions so far are Taft Hendrixson and Jimmy Poss for mayor and Jason Judd Murphy for alderman. Scott Davis has also picked up a petition for alderman.

Meanwhile, Dowelltown and Liberty will have elections on August 2. In Dowelltown, a mayor and two aldermen will be elected. The seats are currently held by Mayor Gerald Bailiff and Aldermen Joe Bogle and Elizabeth Redmon.

The qualifying deadline for the Dowelltown election is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote is July 3.

Those who have picked up petitions so far are Gerald Bailiff for Mayor and Joe Bogle for Alderman

In Liberty, three aldermen will be elected. The seats are held by Todd Dodd, Dwight Mathis and Paul M. Neal

The qualifying deadline is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote in that election is July 3.

Both Dwight Mathis and Paul M. Neal have picked up petitions to run for alderman.

Petitions are also being accepted for school board races in the fifth and district districts. Kevin D. Hale and W.J. (Dub) Evins III have picked up petitions for the fifth district seat. Boyd Trapp and Doug Stephens have obtained petitions for the sixth district position.

The qualifying deadline is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote in that election is July 3.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley said there are two important messages voters should remember before going to the polls on Election Day or for early voting.

"If your address has changed since the last time you voted, you should contact the local election office to begin the process of updating your records," Stanley said. "If you show up at the polls with a voter's card that has an address different than where you currently live, you will have to fill out a ‘Fail-Safe' form and you may even be sent to another location to vote."

"Also, voters are reminded that with all elections in 2012, voters will have to have a valid federal or state government issued photo i.d. to vote on the machines," he added.

Acceptable forms of photo identification, even if expired, are any of the following: a Tennessee Driver License with your photo; a United States Passport; Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security photo I.D.; a Photo I.D. issued by the federal or state government, such as an employee I.D. from the U.S. Department of Energy with your photo; United States Military photo I.D., including a Veteran Identification Card; and a state-issued handgun carry permit card with your photo.

"If you do not bring a photo I.D. to the polls, you will vote a Provisional Ballot," Stanley said. "Then you will have two business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo I.D. If not, the ballot will not be counted."

Smithville Police and Fire Departments to Host Open Meeting with the Public

March 7, 2012
Dwayne Page

In an effort to get to know the concerns of the citizens better, the Smithville Police and Fire Departments are hosting a meeting with the public Thursday night, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger said the "Night Out with the Police and Fire Departments" will give the public a chance to meet and greet members of the police and fire departments and express any concerns they have.

Refreshments and door prizes will be available.

Scott Cantrell wins Democratic nomination for Property Assessor

March 6, 2012
Scott Cantrell
Carl Lee Webb
Rick Santorum
Four of the Five  Constable Nominees (Paul Cantrell not pictured)

Political newcomer Scott E. Cantrell has unseated incumbent DeKalb County Property Assessor Timothy "Fud" Banks, and claimed the Democratic nomination for the office during Tuesday's county Democratic Primary.

Cantrell earned 763 votes to win the nomination over Banks, the four-term incumbent, who totaled 392 votes. Challenger Jonathan Bryan Keith came in a distant third in the Property Assessor race, with a total of 90 votes.

Cantrell won 12 of DeKalb County's 16 precincts and also held the edge in Early and Absentee votes, Banks carried two precincts, while Banks and Keith tied in one precinct. No votes were cast for either candidate for assessor at Edgar Evins State Park. By earning the Democratic nomination for Property Assessor, Cantrell will meet Republican nominee Mason Carter in the August General Election.

Banks will remain in office through August 31.

Cantrell carried the following precincts: Alexandria, Temperance Hall, Liberty, Dowelltown, Snow Hill, Middle School, Courthouse, County Complex, Belk, Keltonburg, Blue Springs, and Church of Christ Annex. Cantrell also had a majority of the absentee/early voting.

Banks carried Cherry Hill and Johnson's Chapel. Banks and Keith tied with one vote each at Rock Castle.

"I'd like to thank God for life itself and for my family and friends who have helped me so much during this campaign," said Cantrell. "I'd like to thank the people that I don't even know about that has been a voice for me. Helping me out during this time. I'd like to thank you who voted for me to be your democratic candidate for property assessor in the upcoming general election on August 2. I thank you DeKalb County very much for this opportunity in my life," said Cantrell.

Banks thanked the people of DeKalb County for the privilege of serving them for sixteen years. "I want to thank the people who came out and voted for me," said Banks. "I want to thank my family that's had faith in me and worked with me. I want to thank the voters for coming out and voting for me. I want to thank them for letting me be their property assessor for four terms. I have worked hard and tried to do a good job. I appreciate your vote," said Banks.

Keith also thanked his supporters. "I'd like to thank everybody for going out and supporting me in this. I appreciate everything that everybody did. Thank you," said Keith.

Meanwhile, Carl Lee Webb defeated Richard Bullard in the only contested Constable race in the county, which was held in the Sixth District. Webb tallied 128 total votes in the three precincts as well as Early Voting and Absentee ballots, while Bullard had 45 total votes. Webb carried all three precincts - Belk, Blue Springs and Keltonburg - as well as Early Voting and the Absentee ballots.

In the Republican Presidential Primary, Rick Santorum carried seven DeKalb County precincts along with Early Voting and Absentees and led the GOP ticket with 487 votes, followed closely by Newt Gingrich with 407 votes. Gingrich carried five precincts, while he and Santorum tied for the most votes in one county precinct. Mitt Romney carried the remaining three precincts and placed third in the Republican Primary with 316 votes, while Ron Paul was a distant fourth with 107 votes.

Incumbent Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama earned 579 complimentary votes in DeKalb County.

In the remaining uncontested County Constable races, Wayne Vanderpool received 149 complimentary votes in the Third District, Paul Cantrell received 133 complimentary votes in the Fourth District, Mark Milam received 127 complimentary votes in the Fifth District, while Johnny King received 112 complimentary votes in the Seventh District. All four candidates - along with Carl Lee Webb in the Sixth District - will be unopposed in the August General Election.

According to figures released by the DeKalb County Election Commission Office, a total of 2,598 voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election. A total of 1,879 voters turned out on Election Day, while 719 DeKalb County voters cast ballots during Early Voting or by absentee ballot.

(Pictured below: Constable nominees Carl Lee Webb, Mark Milam, Wayne Vanderpool, and Johnny King. Not pictured- Paul Cantrell)


Public Forum Scheduled on Fire Department Ladder Truck

March 6, 2012
Dwayne Page

To help sell the public on the need for a ladder truck, the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department has called for a meeting with the public to discuss the issue.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker made the request during Monday night's city council meeting. Parker said the city needs a ladder truck, still some people have misconceptions about the proposal.

The aldermen have set the meeting for Tuesday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall. Anyone both for or against the city purchasing a ladder truck or those with questions or concerns are urged to attend.

Last year, the city applied for a FEMA grant to help fund the purchase of a ladder truck, but the grant was not approved. Members of the fire department would like the city to include funding for the truck, possibly in the new city budget this summer.

Ordinance Calls for BZA Review of Future Residential Development in Downtown Business District

March 6, 2012
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is establishing oversite regulations for any future development of residential dwellings within the downtown business district (B-3 Commercial Zone)

The aldermen Monday night adopted on first reading an ordinance that provides for the construction or renovation of downtown buildings into residential dwellings or for mixed residential/commercial uses

Under the proposal, downtown property owners would have to apply for a building permit and seek approval for their project by the city board of zoning appeals.

The proposed ordinance amendment provides that "After public notice and hearing, subject to appropriate safeguards and conditions, the Smithville Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) may permit construction of a new building or rehabilitation of an existing building in the Central Business District for Residential or Mixed Commercial-Residential Use. Prior to the review by the Board of Zoning Appeals, an applicant seeking to rehabilitate/convert a commercial building into a residential use shall first obtain an approved application for a building permit. In reviewing applications for such uses or conversions of buildings, the Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the overall effect of the proposal to the area and surrounding properties so that there will not be a detrimental effect to the stability and viability of the Central Business District. In making this determination, this board must evaluate the availability of utilities, number of units proposed, city's capacity to respond effectively to emergencies, and availability of off-street parking."

Second and final reading action on the ordinance will follow a public hearing at the next meeting on March 19 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

SR-56 Hurricane Bridge over Caney Fork River in DeKalb County to Close for One Night

March 6, 2012

Tennessee Department of Transportation contract crews will close the Hurricane Bridge on State Route 56 over the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County to all traffic on Wednesday, March 7 beginning at 8:00 p.m. and ending at 6:00 a.m. CST on Thursday, March 8. The closure is necessary to allow the contractor to pour a portion of the new concrete deck. The work is part of a $26.9 million rehabilitation project which is scheduled to be complete in October 2013.

The work is weather dependent. If the contractor is unable to perform the work on Wednesday evening, it will be rescheduled to take place on the evening of Thursday, March 8 during the same time period.

Message boards will be in place to notify drivers of the closure. While the bridge is closed, all traffic will be redirected to the currently posted truck detour that utilizes I-40 at Exit 254 to SR-53. The bridge will be reopened to normal one-lane signal-controlled traffic by 6:00 a.m. the following morning. The current weight postings of 10 tons for two-axle vehicles and 18 tons for vehicles with three or more axles will continue to remain in effect and will be strictly enforced.

For travel and TDOT construction information visit the TDOT SmartWay web site at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or call 511 from any land-line or cellular phone. You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or Chattanooga area alerts @Chattanooga511. Smart phone users can use the TDOT SmartWay Mobile website at http://m.tdot.tn.gov/SmartWay/ to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes.

As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go! by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination. Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

Voters to Pick Democratic Nominees Today

March 5, 2012
Dwayne Page
Timothy (Fud) Banks
Scott Cantrell
Bryan Keith

DeKalb County voters today (Tuesday) will choose the Democratic nominees for Assessor of Property and Constable and pick their preferences in the Tennessee Presidential Primaries.

The candidates for Assessor are Incumbent Timothy (Fud) Banks and challengers Scott Cantrell and Bryan Keith. The winner in today's primary will face Republican nominee Mason Carter in the August 2 DeKalb County General Election.

Constable nominees will be selected in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh districts. The only contested race is in the sixth district between Richard Bullard and Carl Lee Webb. There are no constable candidates in the first and second districts. Constable nominees will run unopposed in the August General Election.

Polls at all sixteen precincts in the county will be open today from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. WJLE will have LIVE election return coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. on AM 1480/FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com. You may also view the precinct results by clicking on the following link http://www.wjle.com/node/11684

Voters are required to produce a government issued photo I.D. before they will be allowed to vote on the voting machine. If no photo identification is provided, the voter will vote a provisional ballot and the voter will have two business days to return to the election commission office and show a valid photo I.D. or the ballot will be rejected.

The voter can sign an oath stating he/she is indigent or an oath stating a religious objection to being photographed. After signing the oath, the voter will vote on the machines.

A valid photo I.D. includes a Tennessee driver's license, U.S. passport, Department of Safety photo I.D. card, state or federal employee photo identification card, a photo I.D. card issued by the federal government or other state and a U.S. military photo I.D.

Remember, as a voter you must declare which primary you intend to vote. For example, if you declare your intention to vote in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary, you cannot vote in either the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary or the DeKalb County Democratic Primary (for Assessor of Property and Constable). Likewise, if you choose to vote in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary and the DeKalb County Democratic Primary (for Assessor of Property and Constable), you cannot vote in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary

If you choose to vote in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary you may vote for one of the following candidates:

Michele Bachman
Newt Gingrich
Jon Huntsman
Gary Johnson
Ron Paul
Rick Perry
Charles "Buddy" Roemer
Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum

The Republican ballot also lists the names of Delegates At Large for Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney (Committed and Uncommitted) as well as Delegates in the 6th Congressional District for Gingrich, Paul, Perry, and Romney (Committed and Uncommitted).

If you choose to vote in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, the only name listed is Barack Obama and Uncommitted.

The DeKalb County Democratic Primary ballot features the Assessor of Property race. The candidates are listed as follows:

Timothy "Fud" Banks
Scott E. Cantrell
Bryan Keith

Constable candidates are on the ballot in the following districts:

3rd District:
Wayne Vanderpool

4th District:
Paul Cantrell

5th District:
Mark Milam

6th District:
Richard Bullard
Carl Lee Webb

7th District
Johnny King


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