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Dandridge, Tennessee

August 20, 2012


First Lady Crissy Haslam Speaks About Parent Engagement In Education

Staff Photo / Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam, Mayor Alan Palmieri
Raising Awareness of Reading on Grade Level by 3rd Grade

The First Lady of Tennessee, Crissy Haslam, visited Jefferson County on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 to promote the Books from Birth program. Books from Birth is a philanthropic initiative to provide Tennessee’s children with quality, age appropriate books as an early introduction to reading. First Lady Haslam addressed a group of citizens, officials and business leaders at the Jefferson County Historic Courthouse about the strides that Tennessee is hoping to make in reading. She stated that reading competency is tied to numerous other things such as economic prosperity and crime rates. First Lady Haslam and a team of dedicated individuals are busy traveling the State to bring the spotlight to the Books from Birth program. In her address, the First Lady stated that competent reading skills are critical by the third grade, however the ground work for reading begins much earlier. Pre Kindergarten children should be regularly introduced to books and words. Making reading a priority in every family is the goal and Books from Birth is one step in facilitating that goal. Books from Birth has partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide books for Tennessee children. Books from Birth provides the books for children until age five in hopes of building a foundation of reading. The program relies on parental and caregiver support to read the books to young children and help them establish a comfortable relationship with words. Tennessee currently falls well short of National Benchmarks in education and is making strides to improve scores statewide. First Lady Haslam stated that economic development and education go hand in hand and that industry seeks an educated work force. Poor reading skills are linked to the High School drop out rate. Tennessee has begun a push toward higher education and good reading skills are necessary for high academic achievement. Jefferson County began participating in the Imagination Library in 2004 and 40-45% of Jefferson County children receive books from the Imagination Library. Books from Birth is targeting parents to engage in 20 minutes of reading each day with their young, pre school children. The First Lady said that other initiatives are underway that will complement the Books from Birth and Imagination Library programs.

Subscription Based
Fire Department Service

Dandridge considering subscription fee Fire Department Service


The Town of Dandridge is investigating the possibility of instigating a subscription or fee Fire Service for Jefferson County residents that are serviced by the Dandridge Fire Department but are outside the city limits. Recent funding issues at the County level and a high County fire call volume have left the Town of Dandridge seeking options to adequately fund their Volunteer Fire Department. Dandridge Fire Chief Andy Riley and the Dandridge Fire Fighters will take the point in gathering information necessary to develop a subscription service. After information on property and coverage area is assimilated, the decision will be made regarding the details of the proposal that will be submitted to the Dandridge Board of Mayor and Aldermen for approval.

The operating budget for the Dandridge Volunteer Fire Department is in the general range of $207,000-$220,000 annually. Jefferson County provides $55,000 in funding and there is a small amount of insurance recovery that stems from Fire Service to the interstate. The bulk of the funding for the Fire Department comes from the Town of Dandridge and fundraisers. From January 2012 until June 30, 2012 the Dandridge Volunteer Fire Department answered 276 calls. During that time period, 217 calls were outside the city limits of Dandridge. The ratio of County to City calls annually is roughly 3 to 1. Subscription or fee fire service is not unusual in Tennessee. According to information provided by CTAS, 11% of Fire Departments in Tennessee are subscription or fee services. This is particularly true in areas that share City and County fire service and the service is volunteer. 

Town officials have stated that they plan to keep the service cost affordable and hope that the concept is embraced by those that receive service in the greater Dandridge area. The concern is that citizens in the City proper cannot afford to fund fire service for those outside the City limits. Chief Riley is currently stretching to provide the necessary equipment to keep his department safe and functional. The Dandridge Volunteer Fire Department is highly trained and Chief Riley is diligent regarding the safety equipment and training needs of the department. Town Administrator Bryan McCarter and Chief Riley would welcome the addition of a substation at Swannslyviana and that community has been actively supportive of substation. The Jefferson County Commission has not to date approved funding of the substation. McCarter stated that the substation would be a welcome addition to that community, however it was unlikely that $25,000 commitment from the County would cover the costs associated with manning another station. Those in the Swannslvania community generally have a much higher ISO, or insurance, rating than their Town counterparts.

A subscription or fee fire service could result in a must better ISO raking for individual subscribers, as there is guaranteed fired service.  I t is possible that, in some cases, the cost decrease of insurance would off set or over set the cost of a fee for fire service. McCarter and Chief Riley stated that there is a possibility that the County could cut in half or totally withhold County funding. The Town of Dandridge will have to access the County contribution in regard to total funds required to currently provide service and projected cost increases. McCarter stated that it is a goal of the Town to have a portion of its Fire Department as career firefighters for the Town. The Dandridge Volunteer Fire Department will proceed with the information phase of the project proposal and will be assisted by Town of Dandridge Administration.

Douglas Lake
Both Missing Boater's Bodies Recovered Saturday


After an exhausting three day search, rescuers recovered the bodies of two men who had been missing following a tubing accident Thursday on Douglas Lake in Dandridge. James Brannan of Illinois and John Perez from Indiana, went missing on Thursday evening after being slung from a tube being pulled by a rented boat with a female driver. According to information provided by rescuers at the scene, the female driver pulled around to pick the men up and found one at the surface of the water. She threw three life jackets into the water and dove in to assist the men. Though she was able to reach one man with the lifejacket, it was not properly attached and the man slipped under the surface. The woman attempted to dive for the men, however was unsuccessful. The rescue call came in around 6:30 pm and responders headed in force to the McGuire Creek area of Douglas Lake. Rescue crews had no luck in recovery operations despite a heavy response from Jefferson County and Sevier Count rescue squads and multiple other surrounding counties, as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, until Saturday afternoon. According TWRA Officer Rich, around a dozen counties had boats on the water to assist in the search. Four cadaver dogs were brought in and assisted from the Blount County boat. The dogs did get an identification hit near the location of the first body. Divers were on stand by to help in the recovery.  Strong storms in the area hampered the recovery efforts in the hours shortly after the accident. Though the initial operation was a rescue operation, it was later classified as a recovery operation. The body of Brannan was recovered around 3pm on Saturday and the body of Perez was recovered about an hour later.  The investigation into the accident is still ongoing and it has not been determined if alcohol was a factor, though there was evidence of alcohol on the boat. TWRA is awaiting the results of a blood alcohol test before making any determination regarding criminal charges. No charges are pending at this time.  Autopsies are being performed on both bodies and TWRA will continue to head the investigation.



By Jake Depew, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

The United Nations’ Observer Mission in Syria ended on Sunday, August 20, 2012. Violence in Syria has hardly been affected since the mission began four months ago. The U.N. will still maintain a presence after the 300 observers leave, and will be opening a new liaison office to push support for the ending of violence in Syria. Amidst the violence, a Eid prayer meeting was broadcast on a state-run TV channel. Notably absent from this prayer was Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa. There are numerous unconfirmed reports that al-Sharaa is the latest defector from the Syrian government, which would make the vice president the highest ranking defector to date. The violence in Syria has continued with as many as 135 deaths occurring across the state on this past Sunday alone. The Local Coordination Committee reports indicate that the average number of deaths per day this past month is 150. Among those deaths are 47 deaths in the Damascus area caused by “indiscriminate mortar shelling” and 14 executions in the Daraa province. The LCC has stated that they expect more defections from the military and civilian sectors in the next few days and weeks.

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