Country Singer Jared Blake Spreads Empowering “Live Above the Influence” Message After Surviving Head-On Collision

Don’t drink and drive – We’ve all heard this piece of advice, but how many of us have experienced the devastating effects firsthand when someone chooses to ignore this common-sense warning? Country music artist Jared Blake, from NBC’s season 1 of The Voice, has been sharing a “living above” approach to life to kids around the country with his Live To Be youth program. His conviction to spread this message has only grown after surviving a head-on collision with a drunk driver.

On May 9th, Jared Blake and his wife found their world turned upside down when a drunk driver was going the wrong way and crashed into them going 60mph in Nashville.

Miraculously, everyone made it out alive, but Jared’s wife, Jennifer Blake, suffered multiple injuries including a fractured spine. She shared her frightening experience with friends and family on Facebook as she began recovery.

“We were on an interstate change near downtown, on a curve, and by the time we saw headlights it was too late. We were on a bridge lucky no flips happened, but that also meant we hit almost straight on. It was terrifying and I still feel like this was all a dream. I only remember a horrible burning smell and burning throats and screaming to get out of the vehicle. Jared somehow got out and bent my door open to lay me on the ground. I couldn’t move but just stared at the stars knowing my eyes were open and I could hear so I was alive.”

She ends the post with some advice and words of encouragement,

“Our seatbelt and airbags saved us! Please use them, always! … If you want to do something, do it. Life is too short to worry about anything at all. Most of you know me well enough to know that I’m pretty good at living that way and can’t wait to get back to living.”

Jared and Jennifer Blake’s youth program, Live To Be, helps children discover their unique path, free from the use of drugs or alcohol. Jared visits schools across the US empowering kids and people of all ages by asking them who they want to be and showing them that the use of drugs or alcohol can only hinder or prevent them from achieving their goals. His appearances, public speaking, and live concerts promote a healthy, fun, cool, and self-respectful way to live.

The idea to develop this program began when it was announced on The Voice that Jared was a recovering addict. Soon after, many viewers were reaching out to him on social media, leaving messages asking for personal advice on recovery or how to help struggling friends or family members. Jared reached out to them in a limited way, fearing that he wasn’t the one they should be talking to. Everyone’s road to recovery is very different, so he referred these people to professionals that could provide the necessary help. He was also approached by several producers of different TV shows designed to help people go to recovery but was never able to fully put himself behind the projects.

Then he had an epiphany. Having six children of his own and a strong desire to support youth, he realized the best impact he could have is to reach out before there’s a problem – before they become an addict. Let children know that no one expects to become an addict; that they don’t have their first beer or go to their first party or go to college with the expectation that they are going to become an alcoholic and ruin their life.

What Jared teaches kids through his Live To Be program is that whether they’re drinking or trying recreational drugs, or really making any negative decision that prevents them from being where they want to be or being the person they want to be, that they need to stop and think – “Am I doing what’s best? Am I being the person I want to be? I know that I have the power.”

Once he tells them that they have the power, now they have to do something with it and be responsible for it. It puts the power back in their hands, making kids feel empowered to make their own choice — and to make it a good one.

If you would like Jared Blake to visit your school with Live To Be or to learn more about the program, visit livingtobe.org.

Want to help bring Jared Blake to more schools across the nation to share this powerful message? Make a donation to Live To Be.


Visit their education partner S.A.F.E. (Stopping Addiction with Family Education) for questions and information about drugs, alcohol, effects and treatment resources at http://safeprevention.net/.

Watch the video below to see Jared Blake’s 2017 Nashville Live To Be tour with S.A.F.E.

Seconds Matter! Campaign Enters Second Year

On Aug. 4, 2016, Dickson Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. and representatives of the city’s emergency services placed the first address marker at the home of Holly and Jeremy Spencer to launch the “Seconds Matter!” campaign to help save lives and property by making residences easier to identify. One year later, emergency services personnel have placed 1,000 free markers in yards throughout the city.

Weiss and local emergency services officials say they are committed to continuing the campaign to reach all of the more than 6,000 residences inside the City of Dickson.

“The inspiration behind the Seconds Matter! campaign remains as important today as it was when we placed that first marker on Murrell Street a year ago,” said Weiss. “When the Dickson City Council endorsed this campaign in July 2016, we committed ourselves to providing a uniform system for identifying houses that could cut precious seconds off the response time for our police, fire and emergency medical services personnel, which can mean the difference between life and death.”

Over the last year, personnel from the Dickson Police Department, Dickson Fire Department and Emergency Communications Department have gone door to door through Dickson neighborhoods, asking residents for permission to place a black metal post with reflective numbers at a visible location near the street in front of their homes. The program is not mandatory and residents must give permission. While there, the emergency personnel also hand out materials on fire safety, crime prevention, neighborhood watch programs and steps to make the home safer as well as other informational material. At residences where nobody is home, the personnel leave a door hanger with information on how to obtain an address marker.

Dickson Police Department Chief Jeff Lewis said progress on placing the markers picked up over the summer when more people were home while school was out.

“During the summer break, we were able to assign our School Resource Officers part of the time to assist in the door-to-door campaign,” Lewis said. “Crime Prevention Officer David Cole and Dickson Fire Department Public Safety Educator Julia Holt have been primarily responsible for distributing the markers, with assistance from other officers, firefighters and dispatchers as personnel are available.”

Dickson Fire Department Chief Richard Greer said the Seconds Matter! campaign has a side benefit that could result in a reduction of insurance premiums for residents in the city.

“The City of Dickson is currently undergoing an audit by the Insurance Service Organization, which sets a rating that insurance companies use in determining premiums for homeowners,” Greer said. “Not only does reducing response time have a favorable impact on that rating, but the contact we have with residents when it comes to promoting fire safety in the home also is a consideration that could lower our rating.”

A committee consisting of Greer, Holt, Cole, Communications Director Rosalind Sowell, then-Police Chief Ricky Chandler and Dickson County 911 Director Paul McCallister came up with the proposal to cut down on the time it takes emergency services to locate a home. The Dickson City Council endorsed the campaign and the City of Dickson pays for the markers and reflective letters that are offered to residents at no charge. Emergency services personnel determine the best location for the marker to provide the most visibility and because of the uniform appearance emergency responders know what to look for in identifying a location.

While the door-to-door campaign has covered less than half the city in the first year, Sowell said residents who know they want a marker don’t have to wait for personnel to reach their neighborhoods.

“People can call the police department at 615-446-5403 and put their name on a list for a marker and set up a time for someone to come to their homes,” Sowell said. “We can’t just put it in the yard because we do require a signature for permission. That’s why we leave the door hangers, so you will know we came by and you can call to arrange for us to come back.”

Weiss, who said he has a marker at his home, said he remains committed to making sure every resident of the City of Dickson who wants a marker will get one.

“As long as it takes, we will make every effort to visit every home in the city as well as respond to requests for markers,” Weiss said. “We might never know how much of a difference having a marker has made, but our police officers, firefighters, communications and emergency medical staff can tell you horror stories about the difficulty not having a marker has made.”

City Administrator Rydell Wesson told the council last year he estimates it will cost $25,000-$30,000 and take 4-5 years to cover the entire city. Aside from Holt and Cole, fire, police and communications personnel are assigned to the door-to-door campaign as they are available without neglecting their normal duties or creating more costs through overtime. The campaign also has tried to vary the times of day officers go door to door in order to reach more people.

 

PHOTO CUTLINE

 

On Aug. 4, 2016, Dickson Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. officially kicked off the Seconds Matter! campaign by placing the first address marker. Participating in the ceremony were (left to right) then-Police Chief Ricky Chandler, Fire Chief Richard Greer, homeowner Jeremy Spencer, 911 Director Paul McCallister, Emergency Communications Director Rosalind Sowell, Weiss, Fire Safety Educator Julia Holt and Crime Prevention Officer David Cole.

Mayor Recognizes Robert Durham

 

Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. and the Dickson City Council recognized Robert Durham for his more than 48 years of service in the natural gas industry with a proclamation and plaque Monday night.

Durham retired as general manager of the Greater Dickson Gas Authority on June 30.

Weiss pointed out that Durham began his career with the City of Dickson’s Gas Department when he started working as a welder on Dec. 9, 1968. In 1975, Durham was named manager of the utility while it was still a department of the City of Dickson.

Under a private act passed by the Tennessee General Assembly, the City of Dickson Gas Department merged with the Sam Houston Utility District to form the Greater Dickson Gas Authority in July 1989 and Durham was named the first general manager of the new entity, serving until his recent retirement.

After being first elected to the Dickson City Council in 1987, Weiss said he was appointed to the city’s Gas Committee for the last 20 months before the merger. As mayor for the last 24 years, Weiss has served on the gas authority’s five-member board of directors. Weiss is the last city elected official still in office from when Dickson operated the gas department.

During the almost 49 years he has worked in the natural gas industry, Durham guided the utility’s growth from the city’s 67 miles of main lines and 448 service lines to the authority’s current 796 miles of main lines and 17,692 services lines in five counties serving 11 municipalities. In 1995, the authority expanded with the purchase of the Town of Erin’s gas department in Houston County.

The proclamation recognizes Durham’s leadership in the natural gas industry, having served as president of the Tennessee Gas Authority, on numerous boards and committees with the TGA and American Public Gas Association and as chairman of the board for the Tennessee Energy Acquisition Corporation.

Durham received the M.M. Bullard Award from the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts for financial and operational excellence and The Silver Flame Award from the TGA for excellence in service to the natural gas industry.

With several family and friends in the audience, Durham thanked the mayor and council for the recognition.

“I enjoyed working for the city and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity as being general manager and CEO of the authority since 1975, as Mayor Weiss said,” Durham said. “We as a city were basically hemmed in and couldn’t grow. Of course the city has grown and the population of the city has grown and of course we have grown with that. But we were allowed to obtain a lot more territory and able to expand the services to a large part of Dickson County as well as other surrounding counties. I appreciate the opportunity and thank you very much.”

Upon Durham’s retirement, the board of directors selected Mark O’Neal as the second general manager of the Greater Dickson Gas Authority effective July 1.

 

PHOTO CUTLINE

 

Dickson Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. (left) congratulates Robert Durham (right) in recognition of his more than 48 years of service with the City of Dickson Gas Department and the Greater Dickson Gas Authority.

City’s Statement on Officer Involved Shooting

On Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, officers of the Dickson Police Department were involved in the pursuit of a vehicle that had been reported stolen. That pursuit ended in Hickman County where one officer was involved in a physical altercation that resulted in a suspect being shot and killed.

 

Within minutes of the shooting, Dickson Police Department Chief Jeff Lewis notified District Attorney Ray Crouch Jr., whose 23rd Judicial District includes Dickson County. District Attorney Kim Helper, whose 21st Judicial District includes Hickman County, also was notified of the shooting. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called to the scene to investigate the shooting and will present its report to Helper’s office.

 

Lewis said the officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the conclusion of the investigation. Neither that officer nor another Dickson Police Department officer who was involved in the pursuit was injured during the incident.

 

The names of the officers involved in the pursuit and incident are not being released due to the ongoing investigation by the TBI and pending review by the District Attorney’s Office for the 21st Judicial District.

 

Dickson City Administrator Rydell Wesson referred all questions to the TBI and District Attorney Kim Helper.

 

Notice of Public Meeting – Education Board

The Dickson County Board of Education has called a SPECIAL SESSION to be held 6:00 P.M. ON THURSDAY, JULY 13, 2017 For the purpose of taking any action on the 2017-2018 Proposed School Budget. This meeting is held in conjunction with the Board’s July Planning Session. For any questions or additional information please contact the Director of Schools’ Office 615-446-7571 or email dweeks@dcbe.org.