Local News Articles

Aldermen Okay New City Budget On First Reading

June 17, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Janice Plemmons Jackson, Mayor Jimmy Poss, and Hunter Hendrixson
Aldermen Tim Stribling, Josh Miller, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer

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

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen this morning (Tuesday) adopted the new 2014-15 budget on first reading. The vote was 3-1. Alderman Shawn Jacobs cast a no vote saying the budget does not meet city needs. "I appreciate the work you all have done in balancing the budget but I don't think it meets the needs of the city therefore I'm voting no," said Jacobs.

Aldermen Tim Stribling, Danny Washer, and Josh Miller voted for the budget. Alderman Jason Murphy was absent.

Second and final reading will follow a public hearing during another special meeting set for Monday, June 30 at 9:00 a.m. at city hall.

(CLICK PDF LINK BELOW TO VIEW 2014-15 CITY BUDGET)

2015 budget and amended 2014.pdf (1.12 MB)

"This is by far the most barebones budget I've worked with, "said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson. "It's a no frills budget. I'll have to commend this board. Basically all of them told me including the mayor that they wanted a balanced budget and that's what we did. We had to cut out some of the projects we were looking to do this year and they are going to be put on hold until we find ways to fund those projects. Our revenues are not going up or down. Expenditures are the only thing going up. Until we find a way to increase revenues we need to cut back as much as we can without having to use city surpluses to compensate for any revenues we're not getting," said Hendrixson in an interview with WJLE after the meeting Tuesday.

During the meeting, Alderman Jacobs said the city should begin thinking in terms of incremental property tax increases to keep up with inflation. "Unfortunately we can't make improvements in the city as a result of every year or almost every year the consumer price index goes up and we don't have any way of accounting for that. Personally, I think it would be good to take a percentage of the consumer price index and applying that to our property tax rate every year because one of these days we're going to have to raise property taxes. Instead of a small incremental increase every year it's going to be a big increase. I'd rather do an incremental increase every year. I know most people don't appreciate that logic but with government, that's the way it is and I think we are behind so many cities our size in the services we provide them," said Alderman Jacobs.

The new budget totals $6-million 504-thousand 600 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. The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District remains at $2.67 per thousand gallons. City sewer customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62.

Hourly and salaried city employees will get a 1.5% 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.

When the fiscal year started July 1, 2013, the general fund was projected to be $386,608 in the red by June 30, 2014. City officials have revised the deficit projection down to $365,112 but as of April 30, 2014, the city was in the black by $251,517 in the general fund according to the proposed budget. Projections are that the general fund will end in the black by June 30, 2015 by $4,906.

Hendrixson said the actual deficit by the end of this fiscal year 2013-14 (June 30th) should be less than the projection of $365,112. "We took out $150,000 we had put in for paving which isn't going to happen before July 1. When you take that out and a few other things we have the projections down to a little over $200,000 in the red for this fiscal year but we have a good cash surplus in the general fund and water and sewer," he said.

The water and sewer fund, at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, 2013 was expected to finish in the red by $62,280 as of June 30, 2014. The deficit projection now is expected to be $60,149. But as of April 30, 2014, the water and sewer fund was $88,510 to the good. Projections are that the water and sewer fund will end in the black June 30, 2015 by $14,882.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $1,002,000 but $904,000 of that is for airport projects, which are largely funded by grants.

Specific projects are as follows: Legislative- $5,000; Parks and Recreation- $5,000; Public Works-Buildings and Grounds (unspecified)-$10,000; City Hall Building (Unspecified) $10,000; Fire Protection (Pagers) $10,000; Street Department (Unspecified) $25,000; Police Department (Police Car)$28,000; Animal Shelter-$5,000; and Airport-Lighting Rehabilitation $427,500, Fuel Farm $330,500, Hangar Door $50,000, and Land Acquisition $96,000 for a total of $904,000.

According to Hendrixson, a home near the airport is in the flight path and will eventually have to be removed. The state provides grant funds to the city to help acquire the property. "There's a house (currently being rented by the owner) on Allen's Chapel Road that is in our flight path according to the FAA. The state funds monies to municipalities to go out and acquire properties (such as this). We'll have to demolish the house once it's been acquired through the state and it will become city property. The state is in the appraisal phase and then the property has to be surveyed," said Hendrixson.

Proposed water and sewer fund capital outlay expenditures include $55,000 for a water service truck, $150,000 for sewer plant improvement design fees, $410,000 for the automatic meter readers project, which will be funded largely through a loan/grant program

Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.

43rd Fiddlers Jamboree July 4-5

June 16, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
43rd Fiddlers Jamboree July 4-5

Thousands will be flocking to Smithville for the 43rd annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival Friday and Saturday, July 4 & 5.

The musical competition kicks off on Friday morning, July 4 at 9:00 a.m.

The order of on-stage events has been altered a bit this year in that the flat top guitar competition will be on Saturday instead of Friday and Junior Fiddlers, Bluegrass Banjo, Contest Fiddle, and Flat Top Guitar will be held Saturday AFTER the Beginners Competition.

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories on Friday, July 4:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Solo); Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Old-Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event (Spoon Clacking, Jug Blowing, Washboard, Tub, Saws-Appalachian Related Only); Autoharp, Gospel Singing (Solo); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Youth Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers); Gospel Singing (Duet,Trio, and Quartet); Mandolin; and Old Time Fiddle Band.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

Smithville Fiddlers' Jamboree from Smithville Jamboree on Vimeo.

All first place winners get $125, except the Old Time Fiddle Band, which gets $525 for first place and Youth Square Dancing which is awarded $300.
Second place winners get $100 and third place winners receive $75. The Old Time Fiddle Band second place winner gets $425 and $325 for third place. The Youth Square Dance second place team is awarded $200 and $100 goes for third place.

A United States flag and a Tennessee State flag will be presented on Friday evening. The flags, which have flown over the state capitol, go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here. The flags will be presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody.

Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards will be presented during the weekend for "Best of Show", "Best Appalachian Craft", "Best Newcomer", and "Best Craft Display"

On Saturday, July 5, preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Flat Top Guitar; Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award; Bluegrass Band; Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back Saturday night to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prize money in most categories is $125 for first place; $100 for second place; and $75 for third place. Awards for Junior Fiddlers and Senior Fiddlers are $225 for first place; $175 for second place; and $150 for third place. Prizes for Bluegrass Band are $525 for first place; $425 for second place; and $325 for third place. Awards for Square Dancing are $400 for first place; $300 for second place; and $200 for third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival. The winner gets $300.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon, July 5 during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second place; and $50 for third place. One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer Trophy Award and $125 and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy and $175.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature many crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE Streaming at www.wjle.com.

To learn more visit http://smithvillejamboree.com/

Two from DeKalb honored by TTU’s College of Arts & Sciences

June 16, 2014
Jacob E. Parsley and Zachary Ryan Martin

Two students from DeKalb County were recently recognized by Tennessee Tech University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Zachary Ryan Martin, a freshman chemistry major, received the Dr. James R. and Dr. William L. Headrick pre-health sciences scholarship. He has been on the dean’s list at TTU and also received the Golden Eagle academic scholarship. After graduation, he hopes to go to pharmacy school. His parents are Stacey and Dewayne and he graduated from DeKalb County High School in 2013.

Jacob E. Parsley, a sophomore math major, received the grateful heart scholarship and the Angelo and Jennette Volpe scholarship. After graduation, he plans to go to graduate school. A 2013 graduate of DeKalb County High School, he is the son of Bruce and Leslie Parsley and Barry and Elizabeth Young.

Mullican Charged with Being Fugitive from Justice

June 16, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joshua Lynn Mullican

In his latest crime report, Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 29 year old Joshua Lynn Mullican of Keltonburg Road, Smithville is charged with being a fugitive from justice. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court June 19. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, June 11 authorities learned from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) that Mullican was wanted in Arkansas for committing a forced entry to a residence.

37 year old Crystal Shandale Deck of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with a third offense of driving on a suspended license. Her bond is $3,000 and she will be in court June 19. She was also issued citations for driving on roadways laned for traffic, no insurance, and failure to carry registration. Her license plate expired April, 2013. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, June 11 a deputy spotted a Toyota Camry traveling west on the Nashville Highway and noticed that the vehicle left its lane of travel and had an expired license plate. After stopping the vehicle, the deputy spoke with the driver, Deck. She could not produce a valid driver's license. A computer check revealed that her license were suspended on April 30, 2012 for failure to provide insurance. Her first driving on suspended offense was June 11, 2013. The second offense was November 21, 2013.

40 year old Sharon Joyce Malone of Dry Creek Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court July 10. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, June 13 a deputy observed Malone driving a motor vehicle. Having prior knowledge that Malone had a warrant against her, the officer conducted a traffic stop. A computer check revealed her license were suspended for failure to satisfy a citation. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Ribbon Cutting Held for New Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad Building

June 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
City officials join Rescue Squad members for Ribbon Cutting
New Rescue Squad Building with the existing headquarters in background

A ribbon cutting was held Saturday for the new 2,160 square foot Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad building which is located next to the existing facility near Green Brook Park.

Joe Johnson, Treasurer and Technician for the Rescue Squad, told WJLE that while the new building is now functional, there is still some work yet to be done to complete it. "We started out with an idea of redoing our Rescue Squad operation where we would have better response time so we came up with an idea for this building. We contacted the city and the county and got their okay. We made up some money and put $8,700 into an account. The county also gave us $8,700 so we had a total of $17,400. We started building from that with the plans and all the Rescue Squad (members) putting all the labor in. We had another fundraiser and built up some more money and as of today, we have actually spent roughly $21,000. That's approximately ten dollars per square foot. That includes doors, site work, utilities, and everything," he said.

Between the new building and the existing facility, Johnson said the Rescue Squad will be able to house all of its vehicles and equipment. "The new building is over 2,100 square feet. It's 60 feet long and 36 feet wide and we have three bays and each is 60 feet long and twelve feet wide. We have four Rescue Squad vehicles. One is a box truck. It is similar to an ambulance. It carries equipment. It can carry a patient. We have a heavy duty four wheel drive pickup truck that pulls the boats and goes in bad locations. We have an original 1969 carryall type vehicle that's very old but still functional. We have like an SUV that pulls the boats. We have a Gator for going in back locations. That's most of the large equipment. We'll keep two vehicles in here with boats hooked to them so that in an emergency, say if somebody has a boat wreck and they are bleeding and on the other side of the lake and ambulance personnel can't get to them, we can immediately leave, go to the lake, put in, and go across to get to them. We also have some paramedics and EMTs on our staff to provide temporary medical help until we can get them (victims) across to meet an ambulance so they can be taken to wherever they need to go," he continued.

The Rescue Squad still has to come up with another five to six thousand dollars to finish the new building according to Johnson. "It wouldn't take us but a couple of months to finish it if we had the money. It's a functional building and we can use it now but we still need to do the guttering. The ramps are graveled. We don't have any electrical wiring other than three lights and one plug but that's just to get us by until we can do better," Johnson concluded.

(TOP PHOTO: City Alderman Danny Washer, Rescue Squad Captain Dustin Johnson, City Alderman Tim Stribling, Rescue Squad Treasurer Joe Johnson, and Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss. Other Rescue Squad members pictured in the background)

School System to Offer Free Breakfast to All Students

June 15, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Stephanie Dyer

The DeKalb County School System will be offering free breakfast to all students throughout the next school year.

The Board of Education Thursday night gave its approval for "Universal Breakfast".

"The School Nutrition Department asks permission to implement what's called the Universal Free Breakfast. It is a program where all DeKalb County school students will receive a free breakfast for all of the 2014-15 school year. We'll pilot for a year. It has been successful in other school systems so I feel like it will be here as well. We at least want to do it for this year and see how it goes. It's really on a year to year basis," said Stephanie Dyer, School Nutrition Supervisor.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby stressed that the program is on a year to year basis and might not last forever. "I think it is great that we are doing this but in the future if things change it doesn't mean this will last forever. If requirements change then this will change also. If the (current) mandates and requirements stay the same then we think we'll be able to do this for several years. But it is not a promise," said Director Willoughby.

According to Dyer, the School Nutrition Department meets all criteria and is in good financial standing to fund this program.

Hurricane Marina Certified as Clean Marina

June 14, 2014
by: 
By Mark Rankin, Nashville District
Hurricane Marina Certified as Clean Marina
Clean Marina

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District designated Hurricane Creek Marina at Center Hill Lake as a “Clean Marina” today during a ceremony recognizing the marina’s voluntary efforts to reduce water pollution and erosion in the Cumberland River watershed, and for promoting environmentally responsible marina and boating practices.

Maj. Brad Morgan, Nashville District deputy commander, helped raise a “Clean Marina” flag during the event that will fly and symbolize the commitment the marina is demonstrating in meeting the requirements of the program.

During the ceremony, Morgan briefly explained the seven major priorities and implementation aspects of the Clean Marina Program.

“This program is voluntary which promotes environmentally responsible marina and boating practices and your dedication to clean water and environmental stewardship in making this marina clean is appreciative and commendable,” said Morgan. “We are celebrating the designation of ‘Clean Marina’ status of this marina, and extend a special thanks to Hurricane Creek Marina Owner Alan Seilbeck and Marina Manager Bill Sloan for making the marina a world class facility.”

Tennessee State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver from nearby Lancaster, Tenn., lives close to Center Hill Lake and often frequents the marina with her family. She sang the National Anthem and also praised the work of the staff to make the marina a state-of-the-art facility.

“Today is an important day for Hurricane Creek Marina because it signifies clean marina status and I commend you on this accomplishment,” said Weaver. “It is important that we as a team continue and educate the public about our preserving our water and environment.”

During the process of achieving “Clean Marina” status, Hurricane Creek’s Marina owner signed a pledge card committing to the ideals of controlling pollution and erosion. Then the facility managers had to complete a clean marina checklist and develop an action plan to meet the program’s goals.

The checklist is extensive, and contains specific requirements for sewage management; fuel management; solid waste and petroleum recycling and disposal; vessel operation, maintenance and repair; marina siting, design and maintenance; storm water management and erosion control; and public education and water safety.

According to Kevin Salvilla, Center Hill Lake Natural Resource manager, the marina accomplished all checklist items and demonstrated a willingness to protect and preserve the water and environment at Dale Hollow Lake.

“This is a great day and I want to thank Mr. Seilback and his staff,” said Salvilla. “Hurricane Creek Marina has now completed all the necessary requirements and excelled in proactive clean boating outreach with marina patrons and visitors and that is a great accomplishment.”

After raising the “Clean Marina” flag, Seilbeck said it has been a group effort and they are proud of the effort of their entire staff to get the work done over the past few months to be certified and honored during the ceremony.

“I know we have done a lot of work out here at Hurricane Creek Marina,” Seilbeck said. “We have come a long ways from when we purchased the place in 2005. A lot of you in the group today can probably remember the marina… what it was a few years ago… and the things we have done to make it what it is today.”

Seilbeck said he is grateful to the public and community for patronizing the marina. He said earning the coveted white flag is a “win-win” situation for the team because everyone benefits from having a great place to enjoy.

Hurricane Creek Marina is the second marina at Center Hill Lake to achieve this designation. Edgar Evins Marina is also a “Clean Marina.”

Eight marinas in the Nashville District have achieved this status that include Willow Grove, Sunset and Mitchell Creek at Dale Hollow Lake, Anchor High and Drakes Creek at Old Hickory Lake, and Buzzard Rock Resort and Marina at Lake Barkley.

Hurricane Creek Marina can be reached at 931-858-4084 or via e-mail at hurricane@twlakes.net.

Franklin Man Involved in Wreck

June 14, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Photo by Kim Johnson

A 28 year old Franklin man escaped serious injury when he lost control of a Cadillac Escalade Saturday morning on Cookeville Highway.

Lieutenant Joe Agee of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Jonathan Glover was south on Highway 56 north when he failed to negotiate a curve, left the road, hit a ditch, and came to a stop in the yard of a residence near a tree.

DeKalb EMS responded along with the Cookeville Highway Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department. Glover did not have to be transported to the hospital.

Signs Available to Help Promote "Read 20" Initiative

June 14, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby with Central Office Staff

Have you read with a child today?

It's the most important twenty minutes of your day.

Just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with young children strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation. These skills are essential for success in school and in life.

The DeKalb County School System seeks to heighten awareness of the importance of reading with a young child over the summer break so they will be better prepared for the start of school in the fall.

Signs are now available for businesses to help spread the word.

"A few work sessions ago we introduced the "Read 20" Initiative and we have had a couple of partnership community meetings. We have had such a good response. We're so excited to see an effort from our community support education and reading. We did write a Hometown Help Grant to help fund our kick-off. We now have signs for businesses to put throughout the community. We would also like to remind businesses that have access to a marquee to please put "Read 20" on their marquee or put them on their billing statements in order to help us spread the word that "Read 20" is so important each and every day. If you would like a sign, give us a call," said Dr. Danielle Collins, Federal Programs Supervisor during Thursday night's school board meeting.

Summer Reading Days have been scheduled at Northside and Smithville Elementary Schools. During the following dates and times, the schools will be open for parents to bring their children to school and read with them:

Northside Elementary School:
Monday, June 16: 9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 17: 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Smithville Elementary School:
Monday, June 16: 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 17: 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, June 18: 8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

"Every year 40% of children walk into kindergarten one to three years behind. But there is something you can do about it," said Gina Arnold, Special Education Supervisor. "We do honor parents as a child's most influential and most loved teacher so for this reason we want to call your awareness to some statistics about early literacy. Students who are not prepared for school usually struggle for years to catch up and many never do. In fact, 50% eventually drop out. However, the single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. This is especially so during the pre-school years. How young boys and girls spend their time at home predicts success in school. Not your income or your family's background. Effective parents talk and read with their children. They spend time daily sharing learning activities and they limit television and computer games," said Arnold.

It's also a good idea to communicate with the child about what you're reading. "As you read with your child, talk about the characters and what they are doing," said Dr. Collins. "Nudge comprehension skills by asking simple who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Emphasize the meaning of a story. This is a good age to use books about numbers, colors, geometric shapes, and classifications. Your child will comprehend these concepts more easily when encountering them again," said Collins.
Vocabulary matters too.

"Five year olds typically understand about five thousand words. Yet some children know only a thousand words when they start school," said Arnold. "Vocabulary is an essential pre-reading skill because it links directly with a child's comprehension. Reading many short stories and talking about them helps young children build strong vocabularies," she said.

"Make books a part of your daily routine. The more that books are woven into the children's everyday lives, the more likely they will be to see reading as a pleasure and a gift. This can be incorporated at meal times, in a car, at the child care drop off, at the doctor's office, at a grocery store, at nap time, at the day's end, at bath time, and at bed time," Collins said.

"Read with your child. It's the most important twenty minutes of your day," said Arnold. "Studies show that children must hear and share in hundreds of stories before they are ready to learn to read in school. It is also important for them to talk about what they see every day and to say the sounds of letters that they are learning. For read aloud tips, visit www.readingfoundation.org\parents. Also we will have a link on our www.deKalbschools.net website for summer activities that you can share with your child for reading improvement," Arnold continued.

"Parents you do make the difference. Imagine a kid who practices batting and pitching a ball for an hour every day all summer from the time the child is three until he is eight. Imagine a second child. No practice. No training. He or she has never slipped his or her hand in a baseball glove. Has never ran the bases. Has never swung a bat. Has almost never seen a full game played. Imagine that they turn out the same day for Little League tryouts. The skill level between these two young ball players is like the skill level in reading readiness for our incoming kindergarteners," said Dr. Collins.

Parents are asked to involve your children in summer reading programs at local libraries. Local businesses are also urged to help spread the Read 20 message on their signs and marquees. "As parents are caregivers, you want your children to be happy and successful in school," said Arnold. We ask the community to consider on your marquee for your business or your news letter, please encourage parents and remind volunteers to Read 20. When you see Read 20 throughout our community, that is going to remind you how important it is for young children to talk and to read books and to spend time with an adult. We ask that you would consider to read 20 minutes to your child on your business memo. Perhaps on the memo section of your billing. Anything that you can do to help us raise awareness. If you would like to have a yard sign for Read 20 or a chart to hang in your business, please contact the DeKalb Board of Education. Remember, Stop, Drop, and Read to a Child," Arnold concluded.

Sheriff Pleased with Expanded SRO Program

June 14, 2014
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Sheriff Ray with SRO Officers

Having completed the first year of the expanded School Resource Officer Program, Sheriff Patrick Ray is pleased with the results and believes it has been a positive influence among students

"It has been a busy year for the School Resource Officers. The SROs have met with many students and parents this past school year. From what I have seen this school year, I believe the SROs are a positive example for our children. In the past, I witnessed children, especially children at the elementary school level who had a fear of law enforcement officers. During this school year, I have visited with all of the schools and watched the children interacting with the SROs. This is a great thing when children can talk with law enforcement officers and feel protected while they are attending school. I am proud the DeKalb County Commission, the DeKalb County School System, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department can all see the importance of the School Resource Officer Program and what benefits it can obtain from having it in our school system," said Sheriff Ray in a prepared statement emailed to WJLE.

Prior to the 2013-14 fiscal year, the county had been funding only one School Resource Officer and that was for the high school. The other four schools in the county had never had an SRO.

Last July when the county commission adopted the budget for 2013-14, funding was included in the county general spending plan for two of the new School Resource Officers (salaries and benefits) while the other two new SRO's (salaries and benefits) were to be paid for out of the school budget. Money to equip and train all four new SRO officers was added to the county general budget and the four extra used patrol cars for the officers were paid for out of the county general's capital projects fund. The officers were hired by the sheriff and work out of his department.

The SRO officers assigned at the beginning of the school year were 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, and Officer Lewis Carrick at DeKalb West School. The SROs were new to all schools except DCHS where officer Kenneth Whitehead has worked as an SRO for several years.

The following is a list of some of the SRO's activities this school year:

DeKalb West:
Assist Deputies-8
Advisory Sessions with Students-35
Advisory Sessions with Parents-12
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff-12
Classroom Lectures-10
Special School Events (Ballgames, meetings, etc)-140
Meetings attended-2
Offense Reports-3
Juvenile Activity Reports-4
Vandalism Incidents-1
Conflict Reslutions-15
Court Appearances-1

Smithville Elementary:
Assist Deputies-14
Advisory Sessions with Students-420
Advisory Sessions with Parents-59
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff-167
Meetings attended-14
Offense Reports-1
Classroom Lectures-98
Medical Assists-11
Motorist Assists-35
Special School Events (Ballgames, meetings, etc)-167

Northside Elementary:
Juvenile Petitions and Citations-7
Court Appearances-5
Assist Deputies-20
Advisory Sessions with Students-455
Advisory Sessions with Parents-19
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff-500
Classroom Lectures-45
Special School Events (Ballgames, meetings, etc.)-51
Medical Assists-2
Motorist Assists-6

DeKalb Middle School:
Juvenile Petitions and Citations-12
Assist Deputies-14
Advisory Sessions with Students-291
Advisory Sessions with Parents-55
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff-78
Advisory Sessions with Public-6
Classroom Lectures-12
Special School Events (Ballgames, meetings, etc.)-53
Meetings attended-2
Offense Reports-3
Juvenile Activity Reports-4
Vandalism Incidents-1

DeKalb County High School:
Juvenile Petitions and Citations-35
Assist Deputies-56
Advisory Sessions with Students-515
Advisory Sessions with Parents-95
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff-228
Advisory Sessions with Public-21
Classroom Lectures-40
Special School Events (Ballgames, meetings, etc.)-61
Medical Assists-3
Motorist Assists-25

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

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