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Ribbon Cutting Held to Dedicate "Ernest Ray Education Center"

October 7, 2016
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps with Former Superintendent of Schools Ernest Ray
Ribbon Cutting Held to Dedicate "Ernest Ray Education Center"
Ernest Ray with his family, Board of Education, and Director of Schools
Ernest Ray with several of his former co-workers in the school system

A ribbon cutting was held Thursday evening to officially rename the Board of Education building the “Ernest Ray Education Center” on the public square.

Ray was on hand for the occasion surrounded by members of his family, the Board of Education, Director of Schools, school staff, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, along with many friends and former students and co-workers of Mr. Ray.

In July, the Board of Education voted to rename the central office building in honor of Ray, who served more than 30 years as an educator, principal, and Superintendent of Schools.

“I appreciate this. I did not expect it. Director of Schools Patrick Cripps called me and told me it had happened and I told him no but he said it’s too late, it’s already happened. I certainly don’t feel worthy of this but I’m proud,” said Ray.

Mr. Ray began his teaching career 54 years ago in 1962 at Eastside School in Cannon County. He took the job because there was no opening in DeKalb County. He spent two years at Eastside where he taught seventh and eighth grade science, coached girls basketball, and became principal.

In 1964, Mr. Ray became a teacher at College Street School in Smithville where he taught seventh and eighth grade science and again was a girls basketball coach. After eight years there, he moved to Smithville Elementary School where he spent six years as principal.

Ray was transferred to DeKalb Middle School as principal in 1978 and then moved to DeKalb County High School where he served as principal from 1984 to 1992.

After taking a two year retirement, Mr. Ray entered the political arena and was elected Superintendent of Schools. He served one term from 1994-98. He was DeKalb County’s last publically elected Superintendent before the state law was changed to require county school systems to have Directors of Schools appointed by their Boards of Education. He chose not to seek the position of Director after his elected term.

Mr. Ray and his wife Elene now reside near Clarksville, only seven miles from their son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. The Ray’s still have a home in Smithville and visit family and friends here often.

Groundbreaking held for New Animal Shelter

October 6, 2016
Dwayne Page
Cindy Ward, Dwayne Ward, Alderman Gayla Hendrix, Hector Florez, Marsha Darrah, County Mayor Tim Stribling, David McDowell, Sue Puckett Jernigan, Alderman Jason Murphy, Joyce Poss, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Dr. Hugh Don Cripps, Mike Foster, Jim Wood, and Sue Wright.
Construction Begins on New Animal Shelter

A ground breaking was held Thursday morning for the future home of a new animal shelter for the City of Smithville and DeKalb County.

Members , friends, and supporters of the DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals gathered at the site located behind Tenneco Automotive and near the county’s soon to open solid waste transfer station.

“We have so many people to be thankful for who have helped with this. We especially want to thank our city mayor and our county mayor. We also want to thank our Smithville Board of Aldermen and our county commission and all the volunteers without whom we could not have done any of this,” said Marsha Darrah, President of the Coalition.

Sue Puckett Jernigan, member of the Coalition, added that while everyone is excited about the progress that has been made, more funds are needed in support of the shelter. “We are really happy about this and we’re looking forward to the finish date. We’re going to see this to the end. This is going to succeed but we still need donations and volunteers because we will be running short on funds,” she said.

Although several potential bidders expressed an interest, Mike Foster said only one bid was received to build the shelter and that was a bit more costly than expected. So the project was awarded to the bidder on a cost plus basis. “Dwayne and Cindy Ward were the only ones who had bid on it. We had seven or eight people who got papers to bid on it but they (Ward’s) were the only ones who bid. We all talked about it and thought it (bid) was high so they (Ward’s) will do it at cost plus. This way we can get the sales tax savings being that the Coalition is a 501c3 organization. Just on the concrete we have put down so far it saved us $490. By the time we pour the slab we will have realized a savings of $21,000. Hopefully, it’s going to save approximately $100,000 doing it this way,” said Foster.

The facility is situated on a four acre site and is expected to be around 4,000 square feet when completed, including outside pens. Foster said the completion date is not certain but could be within the next four months, depending upon the weather.

If you would like to volunteer or make a donation toward the shelter, contact Marsha Darrah, Sue Puckett Jernigan, or any member of the Coalition. Donations may be made by Pay Pal or at Post Office Box 354.

Jim Wood, another member of the Coalition invites you to volunteer or shop at the Coalition’s Resale Store on Walnut Street downtown Smithville on Fridays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. “Anyone can stop in and volunteer to help us out or look around and see if there is something in there they can’t live without. There are all sorts of things in there people have been donating. You’d be surprised at the number of things that are available that we’re practically giving away. I mean these are yard sale prices. Come in and see what you can find,” said Wood.

The goal of the coalition is for the county to have a permanent and safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in permanent homes.

The City of Smithville and DeKalb County have each donated $75,000 toward construction of the facility. The new shelter will take the place of a smaller one which has been in existence for years on county property but operated by the city behind the DeKalb County Highway Department Headquarters off Smith Road.

TOP PHOTO; Cindy Ward, Dwayne Ward, Alderman Gayla Hendrix, Hector Florez, Marsha Darrah, County Mayor Tim Stribling, David McDowell, Sue Puckett Jernigan, Alderman Jason Murphy, Joyce Poss, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Dr. Hugh Don Cripps, Mike Foster, Jim Wood, and Sue Wright.

DCHS Climate Crew Hosts "Tiger Boutique" for Students in Need of Clothing

October 6, 2016
Dwayne Page
DCHS Students Shopping at "Tiger Boutique"
Students at DCHS checking out the "Tiger Boutique"

Students in need of clothing at DCHS were treated Thursday during the first ever “Tiger Boutique” organized by the Climate Crew.

Members of the Climate Crew collected donations of name brand clothes and set up shop for one day only in the DCHS library for other students to take advantage of for free.

“These kids in the Climate Crew came together and donated amazing clothing and by 10:30 a.m. this morning (Thursday) we had 700 items of clothing selected by over 100 students . A total of 1,555 items of clothing were given away for the day. These are mostly name brand clothes, free of any rips, stains, tears, or odors and are really good clothes for these kids. The students are so excited. We could not believe the outpouring of love from the community in giving us clothes and how many students were actually in need,” said DCHS Librarian Lisa Craig.

“Mrs. Sara Halliburton, a Biology teacher at DCHS, saw that there was a need about a year ago for this and today her vision has become a reality,” said Craig.

“We will also be doing this again in the spring so we will be looking for prom items to be donated to the library,” she added.

The DCHS Climate Crew is made up of students who have a desire to change the school culture at DCHS. “We want to do a lot of good things for kids because there is so much negativity in this world and we just want to help change lives,” Craig concluded.

DCHS Golfer Isaac Walker Finishes 14th in State Tournament (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

October 6, 2016
Isaac Walker
Isaac with his parents Scott and Misty Walker
Isaac with DCHS Golf Coach John Pryor

DeKalb County High School Golfer Isaac Walker competed in the TSSAA Class A-AA Golf Tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday at Willowbrook Golf Club in Manchester.

Walker shot a 77 on Tuesday and a 74 on Wednesday for a two day total of 151. Out of 72 golfers competing, Isaac finished in a tie for 14th place. Walker, just a sophomore, was making his second appearance at the state tournament in as many years.

“I am so proud of Isaac and the way he prepared and competed this week and really all year. He is a such a great kid, a great student, and just a joy to be around. I wish I could take credit for his outstanding golf, but the credit all goes to him. He has tremendous support from his family including his dad, Scott Walker, mom, Misty Walker, and his sister, Hannah Walker. I feel Isaac’s best golf is in front of him, and there is no limit to how far he can go,” said DCHS Golf Coach John Pryor.

Walker earned his way into the state by finishing 3rd in the district tournament and 2nd in the region.

Kyle Cottam of Knoxville Catholic was the runaway winner with a score of -6.

“Isaac improved a lot at State from last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a run at a state championship in the next couple of years,” said Coach Pryor.

State Education Commissioner Visits DCHS

October 5, 2016
Dwayne Page
State Representative Mark Pody, DeKalb Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen, DCHS Senior Class President Madison Butler, Miss DCHS Rachel Fuson, Mr. DCHS Eli Cross, Supervisor of Instruction for 7th through 12th grade Lisa Cripps, and Donna Emmons, RTI2 coordinator and Instructional Coach at DCHS.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen speaks with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen visited DeKalb County High School Wednesday as part of her “Classroom Chronicles” tour across the state.

The focus of the tour is to meet with students to gather their perspectives on education. “This year our focus is on students and student voices and hearing from them around their readiness for post secondary, for career, and learning from them about what can we do better as a state to make sure we’re supporting our schools and our local districts better in post secondary readiness, advanced courses, and making sure they have the rigor that they need and that the cultures in our high schools are moving toward those high expectations,” Commissioner McQueen told WJLE.

“DeKalb County is part of my opportunity today to hear from students and tour guides as they walked us into classrooms and they talked to me about their dreams and goals and where they are going to go and how DeKalb County has prepared them in that direction,” Commissioner McQueen added.

“Commissioner McQueen is someone who is always willing to listen to counties and schools. I believe she has truly at heart a concern for our students and for our school districts and I believe she wants to hear what our concerns are to help better prepare our students,” said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

“I love the way she interacted with students when she went into the classroom. She asked them questions and asked about what they were doing. She was very complimentary of all the hands on activities and problem solving we were doing in the classrooms. We’re proud of that and she is welcome anytime,” said DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant.

Commissioner McQueen visited the dual enrollment students in the Distance Learning Lab, the AP Calculus Class of Andrew Dixon, the STEM/Building Trades Class of Gary Caplinger and Brad Leach, the Culinary Arts Class of Linda Parris, and the Biology Class of Mary Anne Carpenter.

TOP Photo: State Representative Mark Pody, DeKalb Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen, DCHS Senior Class President Madison Butler, Miss DCHS Rachel Fuson, Mr. DCHS Eli Cross, Supervisor of Instruction for 7th through 12th grade Lisa Cripps, and Donna Emmons, RTI2 coordinator and Instructional Coach at DCHS.

Child Safety Seat Checks Scheduled Wednesday, October 5

October 4, 2016
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew with child at previous Safety Seat Check Event

The DeKalb County Health Department and the City of Smithville Police Department are partnering together for a Child Restraint Checkpoint Event at the DeKalb County Complex on Wednesday, October 5 from 2-5 p.m.

Come by the DeKalb County Complex to have your child's car seat checked for proper installation. You may also ask questions about your child's restraint device. They would love to see you and your children. Their goal is the safety of your child.

For more information contact Ashby Woodward of the DeKalb County Health Department at 615-597-7599 or Patrolman Will Judkins of the Smithville Police Department at 615-597-4089.

Work Beginning on Bridge Replacement Project

October 4, 2016
Dwayne Page
Contractor Clears Area Around Holmes Creek Road Bridge

Almost a year after being closed, work is beginning to replace the Holmes Creek Road Bridge over Fall Creek.

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Jimmy Poss said the contractor has cleared the site and construction should start by next week. “They’ve got all the trees cut and the way I understand it probably next week they will be taking that bridge out,” he said.

Twin K. Construction of Helenwood, Tennessee was awarded the bid last month to build the new bridge. City officials are hoping the project will be completed over the winter or by spring.

Twin K’s bid of $687,791 was the lowest of the five bids submitted and was recommended for approval by the city’s engineer for the project, Professional Engineering Services in Sparta. In addition to the construction bid, other added costs including engineering, design, and inspection fees, geotechnical exploration, right of way, temporary construction easement, asbestos study, and permits, put the total costs at $778,655.

The project is being funded under the state's Bridge Grant Program. The matching cost to the city is going to be $196,625

The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, has been closed since October 30, 2015

The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe.

Meanwhile, City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson reported Monday night that the manhole replacement project on West Main Street was recently completed and that the actual cost was under budget. “We originally awarded the contract to Flow- Line for $227,000 but it came in at $62,000 under budget. It will only cost the city about $165,000. They didn’t have to do as much excavating as they had anticipated,” said Hendrixson.

Street paving in the area of the manhole work on West Main should begin soon. “According to the engineers we have to allow time for settlement with those manholes where it went in but it will be paved,” added Hendrixson.

Paving and striping is also completed around the public square. The city still has funds budgeted this year to pave several other city streets.

Police Chief Mark Collins reported to the Mayor and Aldermen that the department has been approved for a Governors Highway Safety Office Grant. “Sergeant Travis Bryant has been working hard. We were approved for another GHSO grant. Last year it was for $5,000 and this year it is for $10,000. This grant money will be used for equipment and overtime during the summer months when we need it the most,” said Chief Collins.

The aldermen also approved Chief Collins’ request to allocate funds to purchase a patrol car to replace a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria with 130,000 miles which has been taken out of service due to transmission problems.

McMinnville Driver Services Center to Re-Open

October 4, 2016

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announces the McMinnville Driver Services Center will re-open Monday, October 17 in the original location.

The driver services center is located at 594 Vervilla Road in McMinnville.

State and local officials cooperated to re-open the center. After much discussion, city and county officials agreed to pay the rental building space cost for the center that had been removed from the department’s state budget.

The state has agreed to provide personnel and the equipment to operate the center.

Driver Services Assistant Commissioner Lori Bullard expressed her thanks and appreciation to both state and local leaders for collaborating to re-open the center.

McMinnville is a full service driver services center open from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (CDT), Monday through Friday.

This center offers driver licenses, identification card issuance, motor vehicle records, vision testing, knowledge and skills testing, and handgun permits.

DeKalb Recovery Court Celebrates 10 years of Success

October 4, 2016
Norene Puckett
Judge Bratten Cook, II, Lisa Dillon (graduate), Recovery Court Coordinator Norene Puckett, Christina Murphy (graduate), Case Manager Rhonda Harpole
Smithville Alderman Gayla Hendrix, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Juvenile Case Manager Kristy Longmire, State Rep. Terri Weaver, TBI Director Mark Gwyn, Asst. Public Defender Allison West, John Quintero Haven of Hope Counseling, Probation Officer Holly Baugh, Counselor Kay Patton Quintero, Recovery Court Coordinator Norene Puckett, Adult Case Manager Rhonda Harpole, Recovery Court Judge Bratten Butch Cook, Sheriff Patrick Ray, DCS Probation Officer Sara Hoenstine, DCS Probation Officer Tish Mccloud, Chamber
TBI Director Mark Gwyn
Nathan Payne

A celebration was held last week to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the DeKalb County Drug Court Program now renamed the “DeKalb County Recovery Court” and to recognize the latest persons to graduate from the program, Lisa Dillon and Christina Murphy.

The celebration banquet ceremony and ribbon cutting were held at the New Life Connection Center in Smithville on Monday, September 26.

Not only was the event held to commemorate 10 years of restoring lives, reuniting families, and helping participants begin their journeys into recovery through the program, but also to raise awareness for the disease of addiction.

Norene Puckett, Program Coordinator welcomed the crowd of over 90 people, and stated “The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors. September is National Recovery Month and that is why we chose to have our event tonight, in honor of this. The national slogan for recovery month is ‘Prevention Works, Treatment is Effective, People Recover.’ Our program and drug courts like ours across the country target non-violent, high risk, high need offenders and give them the treatment they need, rather than punishment through incarceration. Lives are transformed through judicial monitoring, random and frequent drug testing, evidenced-based treatment, support of the drug court team, and holding our participants accountable for their actions. Addiction is a treatable disease!”

Puckett went on to say, “Tennessee is in the top 3 in the country for prescription drug abuse. And our leaders across the state have recognized this and are acting on it. The TN Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has selected drug courts across the state to take part in a vivitrol pilot program. We are one of 4 drug courts in the Middle TN region and 1 of 11 in the state to have been selected to be in the pilot program. Vivitrol is a once a month injection used in treating alcohol dependence and opiod use disorder. In my opinion, this is lifesaving medication and I am so thankful to be able to give our participants access to it.”

In 2013, the TN Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, which funds and monitors drug courts across the state, wanted to be more inclusive of all the types of treatment courts throughout the state (i.e. veterans court, drug court, DUI court, juvenile drug court, etc.) and to show the positive aspects of the programs, so they changed the name to Tennessee Recovery Courts. Following Puckett’s speech a ribbon cutting ceremony was done with the Smithville-DeKalb Chamber of Commerce to unveil the new name of the drug court program, the DeKalb County Recovery Court.

Speakers that night were Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, who gave an overview of the program and the 10 year history, along with the history of drug courts throughout the country. Nathan Payne, Region Coordinator for Lifeline of Tennessee spoke on his personal story of addiction and spoke about the need to reduce stigma for persons suffering from addictive disease. The keynote speaker was the Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Mark Gwyn, who praised the work of recovery courts across the state and nation. He addressed the perception that he himself along with many officers he has worked with once had towards drugs. "We will lock-up everyone and get us out of this problem!” He told the audience his views did not change toward the drug problem until he was hired with the TBI and worked with a drug court program in Davidson County. During his time with that program (during a methamphetamine pilot program) his mind was made up. When he saw how people’s lives can be transformed through treatment and accountability, he has been a firm supporter of recovery courts ever since.

The evening also celebrated two more graduates of the program, Lisa Dillon and Christina Murphy. Each woman was presented with a plaque recognizing them for successfully completing the requirements of the DeKalb County Recovery Court program.

DeKalb County Recovery Court would like to thank the sponsors for the evening: Bradford Health Services, Buffalo Valley Treatment Centers, Community Probation Services, DeKalb Community Advisory Board, DeKalb Florist, DeKalb Prevention Coalition, Gayla Hendrix Law, Haven of Hope Counseling, Health Connect America, Power of Putnam, Smithville Church of Christ, Smithville Church of God, Sober Living Services (Omega House), Turn Key Bail Bonding, & Volunteer Behavioral Health. The DeKalb County Recovery Court program is funded by multiple sources which include State funded grants through the TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, court fees and fines of individuals charged with drug or alcohol related charges, additional funding appropriated through the County Commission and through donations of time from the Honorable Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, the Office of the District Attorney General, the Office of the District Public Defender , Sheriff Patrick Ray, Haven of Hope Counseling and Community Probation Services.

City to Weigh Impact of Losing DUD as Water Customer

October 4, 2016
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

What impact will losing the DeKalb Utility District as a water customer have on the City of Smithville?

Will the city have to eventually raise water rates to its own customers because of it?

During Monday night’s meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen, City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said a new rate study is being conducted to determine the city’s actual cost of producing water. “Through J.R. Wauford (city’s utility engineer), they have recommended a gentleman to us. He is out of Hermitage and he does water and sewer rate studies. He has been working with us, going through our data. We’re trying to figure out where we are at and where we are going. DUD is probably going to be leaving us in the next few months. They are getting ready to start up their plant. We’re trying to get a plan together as far as how that is going to impact the city. They are our biggest customer but they are also our biggest expense. This is unknown territory. Hopefully by the next meeting, I’ll have him here and he can give a report. We need to see what it’s costing us and see what we may need to do in the future as far as our water and sewer rates. Hopefully we won’t have to do anything. I just want you to know we’re working on it. The number we have (from previous water rate study) $2.67 per thousand gallons to produce water is now five or six years old. A lot has changed since then,” said Hendrixson.

City water customers currently pay $5.00 per thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are $7.50 per thousand gallons. City sewer customers pay $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62. The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District is $2.67 per thousand gallons.

In this year’s budget, the city reduced projected revenues from the sale of water to the DUD from $765,000 for the year ended June 30, 2016 down to $400,000 for half the year 2016-17. City officials said earlier this year that such a loss of income may eventually force the city to look at ways of cutting spending or raising new revenues to make up the difference.

DeKalb Utility District is nearing completion of its own water plant but the DUD has not yet announced a launch date.


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