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80 Years Ago

Archives 04-11-2001




School Board Meeting Held, Leslie Smith Hired At LA
Newspaper Libel Suit Settled
School Construction Making Progress


School Board Meeting Held, Leslie Smith Hired At LA
By Dewain E. Peek, OCN staff

The Overton County Board of Education held the regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 3.

In executive action, a change order was approved for Living-ston Middle School for a roof change in the amount of $6,966.75.

Director of Schools Bill Needham said, "There are several things, especially at Livingston Middle School, that were probably unknowns going in. Everybody did as best they could as far as what was there.

"But, on the roof system that's there, it turned out that some of the things that were in the original specifications and plans when the original building was erected were different from what was finally put into the building, and one of those things had to do with the roof.

"There are two parts to the roof change that are covered here. The first of those is something we did know and weren't sure how we wanted to approach it until we got up there and checked a little further. That's on top of the gym that's there. That roof is basically a flat roof, but it does have a little slope to the center.

"There's one roof drain that drains all the water from that one large expanse of roof. That's probably been the cause of numerous leaks over the years, that tends to be pretty much in the center."

The roof will be reconfigured to make the water run off the roof, according to Director Needham.

The other part is over the classrooms where it has wood blocking around the perimeter of the roof, stacked up three boards high.

"That was the thing that was not known from the original plan. Those weren't shown to be there," Needham said.

The top two boards will have to be removed, according to Director Needham.

"I feel like those are good design changes, because we don't want to have any flat roofs, Director Needham said.

In new business, Shawn Hughes letter of resignation was accepted. He has taken a job with Standing Stone State Park.

Brenda S. Reeder's request for medical leave from April 12 to June 4 was granted.

Local Amendment #18, Safe & Drug Free, carry-over Budget 00-21 was approved, as was Local Amendment #19, 2000-01 Education Edge, Amendment #1.

Rickman Elementary School was given permission for the seventh and eighth grade accelerated reading students to take a trip to Six Flags Over Georgia on April 28.

Rickman Elementary was also given permission for the eighth grade class to take a trip to Pigeon Forge on May 7 and 8.

The Board approved selling surplus property. Director Needham was given authority to set a date for the sale.

Director Needham issued the Director's Report to the School Board. Actions taken by the school director are as follows:

Brad Simmons and Bill Phipps were hired as non-certified substitute teachers.

Anita Phillips was hired as a teacher assistant and library assistant at Wilson Elementary School.

Wanda Buchner was hired as a replacement custodian for the remainder of the 2000-2001 school year.

All tenured teachers were hired for the 2001-2001 school year.

Billy Heady and Megan McMehan were hired as teachers at Wilson Elementary for the 2001-2001 school year.

Barbara Allen was hired as a replacement Special Education aide at Wilson Elementary to replace Jennifer Harris who is out on medical leave.

Tammy Vaughn was hired as an educational assistant to be placed in the Behavior Class per IEP.

Terry Webb was hired as vocational and maintenance director for the 2001-2002 school year.

Shirley Myers was hired as the K-6 supervisor of instruction and technology coordinator for the 2001-2002 school year.

Leslie Smith was hired as a math teacher at Livingston Academy for the 2001-2002 school year. She will also be the girls basketball coach for LA.

Board member Larry Looper commended Director Needham on hiring Smith, saying he believes she will continue to keep the Lady Wildcats at the top of high school basketball.

Director Needham said, "Mr. Ledbetter and I interviewed her, and she probably talked as much about the math program as she did the basketball program, and I was impressed with that. I feel fortunate that we are getting someone with a degree in mathematics from Vander-bilt, and with some experience in that."

He said colleagues of hers where she has worked said she was a top-notch math teacher.

Director Needham said, "I feel like she is committed to the full program, both basketball and the academic program. I think that's something we've been looking for."

Director Needham informed the Board that A.H. Roberts Elementary School has been awarded a Fundamentals In Reading Skills using Technology (FIRST) grant in the amount of $82,160. No matching funds will be required. The Goals 2000 grant money will be available July 1.

The meeting adjourned.

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Newspaper Libel Suit Settled

A libel suit filed against the Livingston Enterprise, a local newspaper, has reportedly been settled out of court.

A judicial settlement conference was held at Putnam County Courthouse Monday, April 9, with Judge John Turnbull as mediator. The meeting began at 1 p.m. and the settlement was reportedly completed about three hours later.

An out-of-court settlement does not necessarily indicate guilt or innocence of the parties involved. Many out of court settlements are made because the agreement reached is in the best interests of the parties involved. The complaint centered on an advertisement.

The complaint filed February 22 by Donna Beaty asserted that on May 9, 1999, the Livingston Enterprise negligently and maliciously published a paid advertisement by Jackie Trapp concerning Donna Beaty that was false, slanderous, and libelous.

The advertisement contained four excerpts or questions from an alleged polygraph test taken by Trapp. The suit alleged that the full polygraph report was never reviewed by the Livingston Enterprise prior to publication and no efforts were made to determine accuracy or the reason for publication.

The suit stated, "Plaintiff alleges that Defendant knew or should have known that the "advertisement" was not an advertisement but slanderous accusations and was false. Defendant acted negligently and maliciously towards Plaintiff by publishing this matter."

Beaty's suit alleged that her attorney, Lana Lennington, contacted the newspaper's publisher, Richard Knight, and informed him of ongoing litigation in the matter and told him the advertisement was false.

After the advertisement ran in the Enterprise, Beaty's attorney allegedly sent a proposed retraction to the Enterprise on July 12, 1999. The attorney then allegedly sent a proposed retraction to the Enterprise on July 22, 1999 asking that a retraction and apology to Beaty be placed on the newspaper's front page.

The suit asked for compensatory damages of $250,000 and another $250,000 or more for punitive and special damages, plus other related costs.

The suit was filed shortly after Mitchell Media, Incorporated, founded by Andy and Vanessa Mitchell, purchased Enterprise Printing Company, Incorporated, publisher of Livingston Enterprise and Jackson County Sentinel newspapers, from Richard and Louise Knight and Austin and Carmine Jennings.

Overton County News was approached to run the advertisement in question at about the same time the ad was placed in the Enterprise. OCN declined it.

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School Construction Making Progress

Construction underway at Wilson Elementary is indicative of the construction going on at all Overton County Schools.


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