Lightning strike knocks out telephone service at Dickson City Hall since Monday morning

UPDATE:A Nixle alert at 10:27 am Tuesday reported that the phone lines at Dickson City Hall are back in service.


A lightning strike has left Dickson City Hall without telephone service since Monday morning. The outage was originally reported in a Nixle alert shortly before 10 am Monday and the city’s carrier and local phone reps have been working to restore service. City Recorder and mayor’s secretary Dianne Shelton reports AT&T, Windstream and Hiscall have been trying to trace the problem and restore service but as of 9 am Monday morning no calls could go in or out at city hall. The Dickson Central Communications Center also lost service for its non-emergency phone lines temporarily Monday. But 911 service was not interrupted. The administrative phone lines were restored in a little over an hour. Shelton said Dickson City Hall can still be reached by email, with contact information available on the city’s website at Calls to any number at Dickson City Hall are greeted with a recording saying there is “network difficulties.” Shelton said city officials hope to have service restored as soon as possible and a Nixle notice will be sent out when that happens. Meanwhile, City Hall remains open for its regular operating hours.

Early voting moves slightly ahead of 2010 pace as final week begins before Aug. 7 election

With almost 1,000 early ballots cast in the last three days, early voting for the Aug. 7 primary has pulled slightly ahead of the pace from four years ago. Early voting saw 176 ballots cast on Monday at the Dickson County Election Office in Charlotte. That pushed the overall total for early votes, nursing home votes and absentee votes so far to 2,966, which is up 6.8 percent from the same point in early voting four years ago when all of the same county and state offices were on the ballot. State election officials continue to urge Tennessee voters to take advantage of early voting before it ends Saturday because of the long ballot. The 2014 ballot includes not only all the same primaries and local races as four years ago, but adds the judicial races for the county and district as well as 23 judicial retention votes, making the time in the voting booth even longer. The early voting trend continues with 57 percent of those voting early choosing the Republican Primary, 35 percent choosing the Democratic Primary and 8 percent choosing to vote only in the county general election. Early voting continues today 8 am-4 pm at the Dickson County Election Office in Charlotte. The final day of extended voting hours will be tomorrow with polling locations open 8 am-7 pm in Charlotte, at Restoration Church in Dickson and at White Bluff Town Hall. Early voting ends Saturday.

School board amends budget to keep SRO at Dickson Middle School after city pulls funding

The Dickson County School Board amended its new budget last week to pick up the cost of a school resource officer at Dickson Middle School. School officials said the change means the school system is now funding SROs at two schools, using a grant for a third and the city of Dickson is funding one officer. For the last few years, the Dickson Police Department has fully funded SROs at Dickson County High School and Dickson Middle School, the county’s two largest schools. But in a last-minute change to the city’s new budget, the Dickson City Council approved pulling the funding for the SRO at Dickson Middle to use that money to cover the city’s share of the local cost of establishing a commuter bus service to downtown Nashville. Director of Schools Dr. Danny Weeks said the school system was notified by the city of its intention to withdraw funding for one SRO after the school board had already approved its budget and sent it to the county commission. At Thursday night’s meeting, the board unanimously approved an amendment to its new budget to reallocate $43,077.25 from its line item for teachers to the school resource officer fund. That amount will cover the salary and benefits of a Dickson Police Department officer for 185 days, to be in DMS for 180 days plus five days of training. The remainder of the officer’s salary and benefits will be funded by the police department. Weeks said he believes it is important to keep a full-time SRO in the county’s 1,200-student middle school. Director of Student Services Steve Sorrells said the change means the school system is now paying the salaries and benefits of school resource officers at Dickson Middle and Creek Wood High schools while a grant funds an SRO that splits time with New Directions Academy, Charlotte Middle School and is available to Dickson County Juvenile Court. The city of Dickson continues to fully fund an SRO at Dickson County High School. School officials have previously said the White Bluff Police Department makes an officer available to William James Middle School, but does not provide a full-time SRO.

Renaissance Center celebrates 15th anniversary with free shows, demonstrations, food, more

The Renaissance Center will celebrate its 15th anniversary with demonstrations, performances and the re-opening of the CyberSphere Digital Theater on Saturday. Now owned by Freed-Hardeman University, The Renaissance Center continues to offer many of the community-based art, music and theater programs that made it a regional cultural center for the last 15 years. While Freed-Hardeman will be launching its first semester of degree programs next month along with Nashville State Community College, officials at The Renaissance Center say they want the public to know that many of the community programs they have enjoyed since 1999 will continue. Director of Events LeAnn Polk and Community Engagement Coordinator Anna Flowers announced on Friday’s Power Lunch program a schedule of free activities for Saturday’s 15th anniversary celebration that will highlight the art, music and theater programs as well as the first planetarium and laser shows in the CyberSphere since FHU took over the center in November. Saturday’s activities will be 11 am-3 pm with free parking and free admission. Free shows in the CyberSphere will be presented at 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm and 2 pm. The Renaissance Players, the community theater group born at the center, will present skits in the Performance Hall at 11:30, 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 and will be promoting their upcoming productions of “The Fantasticks” in October and “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” in December. Local actor Greg Frey, who has appeared in numerous community and professional productions at the center, will be bringing back shows in the Gaslight Dinner Theatre with scheduled productions of “Ripe Conditions” in October and “Three Men and a Christmas Tree” for the holidays. At Saturday’s celebration, a local music group composed of Laura Irene Littleton, Riley Dotson, Wes Bowker and Billy Duke Littleton will be performing throughout the day. Many of the center’s art and music teachers will be on hand with information about classes for the fall semester. Vendors selling food at the celebration will include Ronnie’s Q, Snow Biz, Sweet CeCe’s and a bake sale by the FHU Associates. The Tennessee Artisan Market will feature artist demonstrations and many items will be 30 percent off during the anniversary and there will be several drawings for prizes. For more information on Saturday’s 15th anniversary celebration at The Renaissance Center on Highway 46, visit or call (615) 740-5600.

Greenhouse expansion will allow DCHS FFA Chapter to add hydroponics and aquaponics

The agriculture education program at Dickson County High School could soon step it up a level with the addition of hydroponic and aquaponic facilities at its greenhouse. Jason Wallace, ag instructor and adviser for the DCHS Chapter of the Future Farmers of America, presented the Dickson County School Board last week with a proposal for a 24X24-foot addition to the existing greenhouse that will allow the program to add a fish tank and beds for raising produce without soil. “It’s going to house a thousand-gallon fish tank plus some hydroponic beds so that we can raise vegetables hydroponically. We just don’t have the room for it in our original greenhouse,” Wallace said. Wallace presented the board with a proposed budget of $5,830.42 for the addition, with an anticipated donation of $5,000 from Farm Credit Services, meaning the FFA program will cover the remaining $830 and much of the work on the project is being donated or performed by students. Wallace said it is important to separate any produce that is raised from bedding plants in the greenhouse because of diseases and pests. For the project, Wallace has located a used 24X24 greenhouse frame from the McEwen FFA program and has gotten pledges of assistance for construction from electricians, the Greater Dickson Gas Authority and others to help reduce costs. Wallace said the expansion will include about 30 sites to grow hydroponic tomatoes or lettuce, about 30 strawberry bed sites and a 1,000-gallon tank in which the program can raise about 200 pounds of koi or catfish each year. Wallace said no decision has been made on what to do with the produce and fish that are raised. “There may be a market to sell some of these fish as kind of a fund-raiser. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the purely scientific knowledge that will be gained. The end product I’m not so worried about. We’ll cook ‘em up and feed everybody if we need to,” Wallace said. Board member Rick Chandler said far too often the emphasis in education on preparing for college and meeting achievement goals means practical programs such as agriculture and building trades get overlooked as he made the motion to authorize the greenhouse expansion, which was unanimously approved by the board.

Democratic election commissioner calls Haslam and Rial ‘crooks’ in comments on Facebook page

Melba Isom

Melba Isom

One of the people responsible for making sure Dickson County’s elections are conducted fairly and legally has accused Gov. Bill Haslam and Dickson County Mayor Bob Rial of being “crooks” in comments on social media. Melba Isom, a member of the five-member Dickson County Election Commission, made the accusations on her Facebook page July 17 in posting a link to a survey that named Tennessee as one of the nation’s most politically corrupt states based on criminal prosecutions of public officials. “I’d like to say I’m shocked but after living here the full 61+ years if (sic) my life I’m not at all surprised that Tennessee made the list. Our governor is a crook and so is our county mayor. When we (sic) ever learn to vote for honest people over the glitter and hype?” Isom posted in public comments on her page. In comments on other social media forums, Isom has endorsed the candidacy of Matthew Cunningham, a Dickson County Democratic Party-backed challenger to Rial for county mayor in the Aug. 7 election. “Something is very wrong in Dickson county (sic), it is not the good place I’ve lived all my life anymore and I’m really tired of bad leadership, nepotism, and fuzzy math budgets,” Isom posted Saturday on a group page on Facebook. Isom is one of two Democratic members of the five-member commission that oversees elections in Dickson County. She is the longest-tenured member of the commission, having been appointed by the State Election Commission in March 2010. Tennessee’s 95 county election commissions are currently comprised of three members recommended by local Republican Party leaders and two members recommended by local Democratic Party leaders. The Republican Party gained majority control of the election commissions in 2009 after winning a majority of the seats in the Tennessee General Assembly. Republican Haslam is considered a lock for a second term as governor in the Nov. 4 general election. A former officer of the Dickson County Republican Party, Rial is seeking his second four-year term as county mayor. In addition to Isom, the Dickson County Election Commission includes Democrat Allen Johnson (appointed April 2013) and Republicans Jack Garton (appointed June 2012), Tim White (appointed April 2013) and Tammy Kilgore (appointed February, 2014).

Open houses, orientations set as Dickson County schools prepare to welcome students back Friday

Dickson County schools and their staffs are preparing for the arrival of students to start a new year Friday. Most schools have posted their classroom assignments on their websites or at their buildings. Supply lists are available on the websites, at open houses or in various retail stores as well. Director of Elementary Education Ernestine Adams told the school board last week that elementary classes will continue to focus on reading skills, especially in kindergarten through third grade. Teacher orientations were held Friday and the county’s eight elementary schools began holding open houses Sunday. During the open houses, incoming kindergarteners will schedule their Brigance preschool assessment tests with kindergarten classes scheduled to begin Aug. 11. Adams said pre-K students will be assessed in their homes with those classes to begin Aug. 14, including a new pre-K class at Oakmont Elementary School. At the open houses, students can meet their teachers, see their classrooms, begin paperwork, learn pick-up and drop-off procedures, sign up for extended care, prepay for breakfasts and lunches and more. Director of Secondary Education Josh Mason said freshman and new student orientations are scheduled at the high schools. Mason said the secondary teachers’ goals for 2014-15 are to meet or exceed all academic growth and gap reduction goals and there also will be an emphasis on best practices for college and career readiness preparation. Open houses began Sunday at Centennial and Charlotte elementary schools. Open houses are scheduled this week 6-7 pm Monday at Stuart-Burns Elementary, 5-7 pm Tuesday at Oakmont Elementary, 6-7:30 pm Tuesday at White Bluff Elementary, 6-8 pm Tuesday at Vanleer Elementary, 4-6 pm Thursday at The Discovery School and 4:30-6:30 pm Thursday at Dickson Elementary. New student orientation is 8 am-3 pm today at Creek Wood High School and 6-8 pm Tuesday at Dickson County High School. More information such as supply lists and dress codes is available on each school’s website through under the Our District tab. To welcome students back and help them get off to a good start, the school nutrition program is offering a free breakfast for all students on Friday.

Early voting enters final week still behind the pace of voter turnout set before August 2010 election

As the 14-day early voting period enters its final week, the turnout of voters was behind the pace set in 2010, the last time the same county and state offices were on the ballot. Friday marked the halfway point for the early voting period and the 452 voters who cast ballots in Dickson and Charlotte pushed the voter total to 2,502. Four years ago Dickson County set the early voting mark with 5,163 prior to the August election, meaning this year’s turnout so far is 48.5 percent of the 2010 total at the halfway point. With early voting open Saturday in Charlotte, Dickson and White Bluff, another 288 ballots were cast, pushing turnout to 2,790. Early voting ends Saturday. Dickson County voters can cast early ballots at the election office in Charlotte 8 am-4 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8 am-7 pm Wednesday and 9 am-noon Saturday. The Dickson satellite location at Restoration Church on Henslee Drive will be open 8 am-7 pm Wednesday, 8 am-4 pm Friday and 9 am-noon Saturday. The new satellite location in White Bluff Town Hall will be open 8 am-7 pm Wednesday and 9 am-noon Saturday. The Dickson County Election Commission will review the overall early voting turnout numbers as well as turnout at the new satellite in White Bluff to determine whether there will continue to be early voting offered in a second satellite location in the November general and municipal elections as well as future elections.

Creek Wood grad becomes Father Michael Fye during Nashville ordination ceremony Saturday

Father Michael Fye

Father Michael Fye

A Creek Wood High School graduate was one of nine men ordained into priesthood by the Catholic Church Saturday in Nashville. 26-year-old Father Michael Fye celebrated his first mass as a priest Sunday afternoon in his home parish of St. Christopher Church in Dickson. Fye was part of a record class of new priests ordained by Bishop David Choby in a special ceremony Saturday at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville. The nine men represent the largest class of new priests ordained at once since the Diocese of Nashville was formed to represent Middle Tennessee. Fye has been studying for the past four years in Italy and will return to Rome to continue his studies before returning next year to be assigned to his first parish in Middle Tennessee. Fye and his family moved from California to Dickson County when he was in the fourth grade. He attended St. Patrick’s School in McEwen then graduated from Creek Wood High School in Charlotte. His family became members of St. Christopher where Fye was an altar server. In an interview in the Tennessee Register, the newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville, Fye says he didn’t really consider the priesthood as a career option until he was preparing to graduate from high school. He spoke with Father Stephen Gideon, then the priest at St. Christopher, and Bishop Choby about the choice and went to seminary right out of high school. He graduated from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and went to the North American College of Rome to study at the College of Santa Croce. Fye spent four years studying in Rome where all his classes were conducted in Italian and earned a baccalaureate in sacred theology. He is returning to Rome to finish his licentiate in morality at the Pontifical College of St. Thomas Aquinas. He will return to Middle Tennessee next summer for his first assignment as a priest. “I’m very much looking forward to being in the parish,” Fye said in the Tennessee Register interview. “That’s the whole purpose, sanctifying people in their lives.” Fye is the first man from the St. Christopher parish to be ordained into the priesthood. He was the only Middle Tennessee resident among the nine men ordained Saturday.

Help Center, 2nd Harvest hosting mobile pantry with perishable items at fairgrounds Tuesday

help center logoThe Dickson County Help Center and Second Harvest Food Bank will be hosting a perishable Mobile Food Pantry at 9 am Tuesday in the Chandler Building at the Dickson County Fairgrounds. This event is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis and no vouchers are required. Participants must bring their own boxes. There will not be grocery carts and there will be a limited number of volunteers so come prepared to carry your own items. The parking lot opens at 8:30 am. A perishable food pantry offers free fresh produce, cakes, dairy products and other miscellaneous items, according to Renee Boehm, executive director of the Dickson County Help Center. For more information, call the help center’s assistance office at (615) 441-0076.