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Three Contenders for Director of Schools PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jessie Williams   
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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Macon County School Board members met in regular session last Thursday evening, February 13, narrowing down their search for the next Director of Schools to three contenders – Tony Boles (current Macon County commissioner and RBS High School science teacher), Shawn Carter (current Supervisor of Instruction for Macon County Schools) and Matt Eldridge (former Overton County Director of Schools).

Board members arrived at these three candidates by each naming three of the nine interviewed contenders they would like to re-interview and tallying the three most listed names.

Boles, Carter and Eldridge will go through a second round of interviews on Tuesday, February 18, before a final Director of Macon County Schools is selected by the board.

Three Macon County High students – Ryan Minchey, Michelle Smith and Rachel Underwood – and the parents of Michelle Smith, Mr. & Mrs. Jody Smith, spoke to board members concerning the way that GPA’s are calculated in order to rank the top ten students of the graduating class.

According to those students and parents, the current GPA calculations reward those students who take an easier academic path and unjustly discriminate against students choosing to take a more academically challenging path.

It was also stated that students who received at least one B during their high school career were ranked higher than students with straight A’s due to pass/fail classes (fourth block sports and teacher’s aids).

“I’m asking the board to change this policy... So that current juniors’ and sophomores’ class ranks and GPA’s are evaluated fairly,” said MCHS senior Minchey. “Unlike us. Which I personally feel like we’ve been discriminated against for choosing the more academically challenging path.”

Each of the speakers stated that while they didn’t want to take away from any of their fellow classmates’ achievements, they believe that some students should’ve had higher rankings than others.

“Even the students who benefit from this ranking system – the students in the top ten – have truly been punished because they had to choose as freshman whether they wanted to pursue academically challenging courses or whether they wanted to be ranked in the top of their class,” said MCHS senior Smith.

Smith’s mother urged board members to amend the current policy in order to prove that education matters.

The only board member to comment on the topic was Rebecca Tuttle, who stated that these students will go on to accomplish great things ‘without regard to a number or placement assigned to them right now.’ No further discussion was had.

The current formula for calculating GPA’s affects this year’s senior class, the 2014-2015 senior class and the 2015-2016 senior class. The school board voted some time ago to change the GPA policy beginning the 2016-2017 school year.

Also during last week’s meeting, Supervisor of Attendance Brenda Eller informed the board that Macon County has exhausted all of its ‘stock piled’ days up until parent/teacher conferences. In order to make up some of those days, Eller suggested that students and teachers attend school on February 17 (President’s Day) and February 26 (parent/teacher conferences). Otherwise any other missed days of school due to weather will have to be taken off of Spring Break.

Board members agreed with Eller’s suggestion, voting to approve the revision of the 13-14 SY calendar to include attendance on those two days.

If no more snow days are accumulated, or if more snow days are accumulated, the school calendar will have to be revised again to be sure students are in attendance for a total of 180 days.

In other business:

  • School board members voted to approve the consent agenda (leave requests, trip requests, minutes from previous meeting).
  • The board voted to approve a resolution honoring the Macon County High School Marching Band. The resolution applauds the band’s accomplishments for the 2013-2014 School Year under the direction of band director Joey Wilburn and assistant band director Jennifer Holmes. The MCHS Marching Band received the title of 2A State Champions during the 13-14 SY.
  • Red Boiling Springs High School principal Don Jones requested that RBS science teachers be able to design the floor plan for the school’s science lab. Board members agreed to his request.
  • The revision of Policy 6.4031 (head lice) was approved on second and final reading.
  • Board members tabled the approval to donate a metal building to the Lions Club until the March meeting so that Maintenance Supervisor Randy Robinson could be in attendance.
  • Board members voted to raise the pay for substitute bus drivers from $40 a day to $45 a day in order to try to get more hired. It was explained that many full-time bus drivers have been sick and more subs are needed. The sub positions are also offered to teachers.
  • Board members voted to drop discussion of the CTE position, leaving the position information unchanged.
  • The board voted to approve the school calendar for the 2014-2015 School Year. The approved calendar was voted on by Macon County teachers, who opted to have school on Veterans Day (175 yes, 30 no).
  • Board members voted to declare library items in the Macon County Junior High School storage to be ‘surplus’ so they can be auctioned off.
  • Am 8th grade dance fundraiser to raise funds for the MCJHS cheerleaders and tennis teams was approved by the board. The dance will be held March 1, 2014. 

 
Two Fires in Willette Last Week PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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Members of the Willette Volunteer Fire Department were exhausted last week after fighting two raging fires on Monday and Wednesday, February 10 & 12. Chief Danny Dozier was in charge of both fire scenes.

Chief Danny Dozier spoke with the Macon County Chronicle over the weekend and said the first fire was at the residence of Jean West at 7299 Union Camp Road, which originally came in at 6:40 p.m. Monday night, as a car explosion. “Evidently a 1999 Cadillac blew up in the garage and two buildings were destroyed and one heavily damaged,” said Chief Dozier. “The fire was about 25 feet from the house and we were able to keep it from spreading that far, ultimately saving the home.”

The cause was undetermined. The 13 firefighters utilized two engines and a tanker, leaving the scene a little after 9:00 p.m.

At 12:38 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Willette firefighters were dispatched to the home of Rocky Wright located at 621 Willette Road. “When we arrived the house was a fully involved blazing inferno and part of the roof had already fallen in,” said the Chief. “We have determined that the cause of the fire was the old flue that went through the roof which had broke and fell in the house.”

The home was a total loss. Ten members of the fire department were at the site along with two engines and a tanker.

Chief Danny Dozier would like to thank all his men for a job well done in saving Jean West’s home. “I would also like to thank my squad for the hard work at the second fire where we battled cold temperatures as well as the blaze.”

Also responding to both scenes were the Macon County Sheriffs Office, Macon County EMS, and Tri Count Electric.

 
Macon Teenagers Hurt in Wreck PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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Four young people, three from Macon County, were hurt in a wreck last Monday night, February 3, on Union Hill Road in Clay County, and the impact of the crash was so severe it knocked the engine out of the car.

According to the report filed by Trooper Mark Mahan, 21-year-old Spencer Holden, of Nashville, was driving a 2004 Nissan Maxima west bound on Union Hill Road. The vehicle topped a hill causing the vehicle to go airborne, indicating speed was a contributing factor. Once the vehicle made contact back on the roadway the vehicle crossed the center of the road. The vehicle then exited the roadway where it struck an embankment and tree. The impact was so severe that the engine was knocked out of the car. The vehicle also rolled numerous times where it came to rest on its left side.

Spencer Holden was transported to Cookeville Regional Medical Center by ground ambulance and was later transferred to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. He was discharged on Sunday, February 9.

Passengers included 19-year-old Christopher Blackburn and 18-year-old Cierra Sullivan, both of Lafayette, who were transported to Cookeville Regional; and a juvenile from Red Boiling Springs was also carried to Cookeville for treatment.

Charges are pending against Spencer Holden. Trooper Mark Mahan was the investigating officer.

 

 

 
Multiple Charges After Gas Drive Off PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Allen Gee

Charges stacked up against Allen Michael Gee, including driving a stolen vehicle, after Macon County Sheriffs Office Sgt. Michael Veatch, stopped him in Macon County on Saturday morning, February 8, following a gas drive off in Gamaliel, Kentucky. He is 28 years old and lives on Dogwood Lane in Red Boiling Springs.

Last Saturday morning, Macon County law officers were notified to be on the look out for a white 4-door F250 Ford with yellow caution lights on top that was involved in a gas drive off from Pitcock’s Market in Gamaliel. “The owner had followed the guy, who was later identified as Gee, into Macon County,” said Sgt. Veatch, “He immediately notified us that the vehicle was in our jurisdiction and I came into contact with the truck on the east side of the county.”

After Sgt. Veatch pulled the vehicle over, there was a strong odor of alcohol coming from Allen Michael Gee and he did admit stealing the diesel fuel from the market in Gamaliel. The suspect exited the vehicle but refused a field soberity test, at which time enough evidence had been obtained to place him under arrest.

Alcohol was present in the vehicle, both full and empty containers.

Sgt. Veatch then checked for active warrants and he also checked on the status of the vehicle, later to find out that the truck had been stolen from a company in Cookeville, Tenn. two days prior on February 6.

The vehicle was towed from the scene and Gee was transported to the Macon County Sheriffs Office for booking. Sgt. Veatch charged him with driving under the influence, violation of seat belt law, driving on a suspended license, violation of implied consent, open container violation, buy/sell/rec/poss stolen property and habitual offender.

Bond is set at $27,000 and a General Sessions Court date is set for Feb. 12.

The case is still under investigation and possible leads concerning other area thefts in Macon and surrounding counties.

 

 

 
Six Years After the Tornado... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debbie Gregory   
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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It was a long road to recovery after a tornado shook Macon County on February 5, 2008, and the only way to truly understand the magnitude of what happened is to start from the very beginning.

E-911 Director Steve Jones stopped by the Macon County Chronicle last Saturday afternoon and six years after a massive twister touched down in our county we discussed that fateful day and how it changed our lives forever. Macon County had to rebuild lives and bury their dead.

“It was a different kind of February day – unusually warm for that time of the year and breezy,” said E-911 Director Steve Jones. “Like everybody else we were at home that night on Akersville Road, and Hunter, Latise and I were just fixing to go to bed.”

Jones said he had just sat down on the edge of the bed when he heard this roaring sound and went to the window and looked out. “I saw the glow in the sky and I was stunned. Trees were bending in the wind and it sounded like a train coming through.”

“When I realized it was a twister we started looking for the safest place in the house which was a closet, but by the time we got inside it was gone,” he said. “Although we could feel the vibrations, it was actually gone as fast as it came.”

Frantic, as soon as the winds subsided Jones rushed next door to check on his parents, who were safe. “When I looked up the road, I saw major TVA power lines laying on the ground and I got on my cell phone (which was still working at that time) and called dispatch. I told them they needed to get Tri County in route but of course at that time nobody could get up and down the road.”

After the funnel cloud barreled on down the road, Nicky and Paula Roark, who lived on the Williams Road called Steve on his cell phone and said their home had been destroyed and they were hurt. “She thought her husband’s back was broke and her and their children were also injured,” he continued. “They wanted to know if I could come and get them and I said we’d head that way.”

Jones got his Kawasaki Mule ATV and him and Latise started down that way. “I didn’t see a lot of damage around my house, but when we traveled down Akersville Road toward Tuck Road we started seeing all the damage.”
The director said trees were snatched from the ground, power lines were down, homes were lifted then tossed in the air and the tattered landscape looked like a war zone. “That’s when we started seeing injured people coming out of what was left of their homes as we made our way to where the New Zion Baptist Church had once stood.”
Steve said when they got to the Roark’s they found Nicky, Paula and their three children, the youngest was only 9 months old. “They were all scared to death and after they were all loaded in the back of the Kawasaki, I brought the family back out to a waiting ambulance, that couldn’t get down there because of the power lines across the road.”

Tri County Electric was overwhelmed with everything going on, but they had one of their large trucks to pick up those lines so the ambulances and other emergency traffic could get through. “Latise went to work at the hospital and I went back into what was later termed “Ground Zero” and brought four more people to waiting ambulances.”

By this time a house to house search had begun and Jones said it was the first time in his life (he had been trained in triage and mass casualties) that he actually triaged, looked at somebody and said ‘these are your injuries, you are going to be okay, somebody else will be here to take care of you’ and went on to the next person. “I was still on the Akersville/Williams Road area and we checked every house, ditch, field, barn and shed in the storm’s path, however by day break multiple volunteers became involved and the search was broadened to areas harder to reach. I went to the ambulance service where our office where our E-911 Office was and started setting up.”
”TEMA got there and I talked with an official and I told him to set up in the EMS rooms,” said Jones. “I contacted NCTC and they started setting up phone lines and just in a short period of time we had a ECO (Emergency Operation Center) up and operating. Other departments were working at their locations. EMA Director Keith Scruggs (also Lafayette Fire Chief) came over, set up and started operating there at the ambulance service building. Therefore, the EMS became the operating center.”

The THP also came in set up and said they were there to help.

When a disaster happens, Keith Scruggs makes the calls asking for help. “He is very knowledgeable and stays up to date on everything including the different agencies,” Jones said. “The EMA Director and Mayor Shelvy Linville became the two contact people. Once the mayor declared a state of emergency, EMA Director Scruggs began asking for help. He then involved TEMA and they contacted FEMA.”

They started setting up everything that had to be done. “The first thing was to make sure that all the injured people had been taken care of, and then came the grim task of recovering the bodies of the people who died in the storm. Shortly after we had a map put together and we came up with the swath that was seen across the tornado map. We flew the route with a THP pilot and the National Guard.”

Director Jones said the thing that was so great was how everybody worked together. “It was a community that came together.”

During the next few weeks agencies were setting up short term recovery, long term recovery and everything they did had to be documented so the county and agencies could be reimbursed through federal funds. “Keith Scruggs and I worked together very well during the disaster. “My department is a support department of all the agencies.”

Steve said he experienced massive injuries and mass casualties and although he had extensive training, you are never really prepared for something of this magnitude. “We all think it can’t happen to us, but it can,” he added. “I have always said in my career that people don’t realize that in a split second life can change forever, either with an injury or illness. IT doesn’t matter how much money you have, how rich you are, it can all change and people need to appreciate their lives.”
”When the cyclone went through it didn’t matter if you lived in the strongest brick structure or a mobile home, they were both destroyed. Mother Nature doesn’t pick and choose.”

“The disaster has made me think a lot more,” Steve said. “Through the years I have seen a lot of tragedy, but that is part of what you have to deal with in the emergency service field.”

“Today, people are much more cautious of the weather,” he said. “We are getting grants now to help build our emergency services. We are in the process of redesigning our communication by installing 14 outdoor warning sirens across the county. So, when you are inside you have your TV or weather radio and when you are outside you have emergency warning sirens. We are also building a staging area/morgue as well.”
”I want to commend our EMS, legislative leaders, mayors, city councilmen, county commissioners, and all the utilities who worked for hours on end trying to get everything back up and operational. It was just amazing how quickly everything was fixed.”

“When all was said and done the citizens of this county should be proud of their leadership and emergency service that came together and worked through this,” commented Jones. “The people should be proud of themselves, helping each other and working together.”

“At the time of the twister Macon County didn’t have an official E-911 Emergency Operation Center. We received a CDBG Grant and the new E-911 building located next to the Justice Center was completed in 2012 at a cost of $1,000,000 including equipment. This was a 100% grant and we consolidated the 911 dispatch, Sheriff’s Office and the ambulance services and it is called 911 Central Dispatch, which all resulted from the tornado disaster.”

The E-911 building is equipped with two overhead projectors, three large screen TV’s that can be on multiple news channels at a time and they are also connected to computers. “We have a 70 inch touch screen that can have an overlay over it. We are setting up to have video sent to us and during a disaster all department heads will coordinate from the 911 Center. You are never truly prepared for a disaster, but you can make sure you have everything ready.

“Be proud to live in a community where people can come together as quick as they did after the tornado. “I’m proud of the people of Macon County. Mother Nature didn’t defeat us, she made us stronger by giving us an insight to what can happen, to be better prepared next time. We can’t control her, can’t control the weather and unfortunately we have slipped into the tornado belt. We know what she is capable of and now we

 have all had a taste of a disaster is all about.”

It’s been a long road to recovery for Macon County and a lot of time and effort has been put forth and sacrifices made to rebuild our community, along with the three churches that were destroyed. It was amazing how everyone pulled together and if you drive through the areas that were affected six years ago, you will see that the rebuilding process was remarkably and definitely worth the effort as our community has moved toward brighter days.

 

 

  

 

 

 
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