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County Budget Committee Recommends New Salary Scale

June 23, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page

Most county employees would get a pay raise under a new wage scale proposed by the county commission’s budget committee.

During a five hour meeting Wednesday evening, the budget committee came up with a new pay plan for employees who work under the county general department, except for the sheriff’s department (which has its own wage scale) and the ambulance service. The plan, adopted 5 to 0 by the budget committee, will be included in the proposed 2016-17 budgets to be presented to the county commission in July. Members of the budget committee are Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Jack Barton, Jerry Adcock, and Jimmy Midgett.

Under the new plan, employees of the elected offices of Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Non Elected Clerk and Master would get step raises at a percentage of what their employer earns. For the 2016-17 fiscal year, all these elected officials (Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Non Elected Clerk and Master) will be earning a salary of $65,221 per year except for the Office of County Mayor whose salary will be $75,329. All salaries of county public officials are set by the state. Employees of county officials are established by the county.

According to the new scale, the step raises for employees of these offices would be as follows:

STEP 1: 39% of their employer’s salary -1 year of service

STEP 2: 40% of their employer’s salary-2 years of service

STEP 3: 41% of their employer’s salary- 3 years of service

STEP 4: 42% of their employer’s salary-4 years of service

STEP 5: 44% of their employer’s salary-8 years of service

Meanwhile the Library Director, Election Commission Secretary, and Soil Conservation Secretary would be on the same scale (as noted above) with their salaries being a percentage of $65,221 which is what the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master earn.

Full time library employees and the Senior Citizens Director would get a percentage of $65,221 based on the following scale for them:

STEP 1: 31% of $65,221- 1 year of service

STEP 2: 32% of $65,221-2 years of service

STEP 3: 34% of $65,221-3 years of service

STEP 4: 35% of $65,221- 4 years of service

STEP 5: 37% of $65,221-8 years of service

All part-time County General Employees would be paid $10.00 per hour excluding part time employees of the ambulance service.

Custodians would get a 2.158% increase in pay

The director of the Landfill would get a salary of $42,000 per year.

Landfill employees would get the following rates of pay:

Drivers with Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL):

$13.00 per hour for 1 year of service

$14.00 per hour for 3 years of service

$15.00 per hour for 5 years of service

$16.00 per hour for 7 years of service

Laborers would get the following rates of pay:

$12.00 per hour for 1 year of service

$13.00 per hour for 3 years of service

$14.00 per hour for 5 years of service

$15.00 per hour for 7 years of service

Convenience Center employees would get $8.50 per hour

Reappraisal Shows Drop in DeKalb County Property Assessments

June 23, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page

The latest five year reappraisal cycle has been completed in DeKalb County and it shows an overall drop in assessments (property values). As a result, the new certified property tax rate, as established by the State Board of Equalization for the 2016-17 fiscal year will be increased from $1.78 to $1.83 per $100 of assessed value. Although the rate will increase, it will generate the overall same amount of property tax revenue for the county government as it did this past year prior to the reappraisal.

If approved by the county commission in July, the new $1.83 certified rate would break down as follows:
County General: 95 cents
Schools: 61 cents
Debt Service: 12 cents
Road Department: 4 cents
Capital Projects Fund: 11 cents

Since the state is fully funding BEP (Basic Education Program) Funding for Schools in the new budget, the county government has to fund a local match, which will result in the school system getting four cents more of the property tax rate than last year.

During Thursday night’s all-committees workshop, County Mayor Tim Stribling shared with the county commissioners the new certified tax rate calculations as determined by the state. The new calculation shows that the total tax base assessment in DeKalb County is now at $468,860,473, down from the prior year assessment by the state of $482,955,266.

Under state law, counties must reappraise every four, five, or six years. DeKalb County is on a five-year reappraisal cycle.

The main purpose of reappraisal is to arrive at current market value for real property throughout the county. Reappraisal is mandated by T.C.A. code 67-5-1601. Reappraisal is used to ensure that residents and businesses are not paying too much or too little taxes based on property values.

Although the certified tax rate is increasing to $1.83, it doesn’t necessarily mean that property owners will pay more. That depends on whether their property assessments went up or down.

The new certified tax rate will be formally established by the county commission when the 2016-17 year budgets are adopted in July.

Although the county commission has the authority to raise the property tax rate above the state certified rate, it is not expected to do so this year. A reduction in the certified rate, which also is not expected to occur, would mean the county commission would have to make budget cuts. Again, the new certified tax rate of $1.83 per $100 of assessed value, established by the state, is to generate the same amount of local revenue to fund county government as the $1.78 rate did last year.

Shaffer Sentenced to Six Years Probation on Forgery Charges

June 23, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jessica Lauren Shaffer

A Smithville woman who allegedly stole a debit card and forged the card holder’s signature to make transactions at five local businesses received a total sentence of six years in DeKalb County Criminal Court Tuesday, June 21.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

25 year old Jessica Lauren Shaffer, originally charged with nine counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and three counts of forgery, entered a plea by criminal information to three counts of forgery. She received a two year sentence in each case to run consecutively with each other for a total of six years. Shaffer has been granted TDOC probation and she is requesting judicial diversion. Shaffer must make restitution of $247.79 to Wilson Bank and Trust. She was given jail credit from June 3-21.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Shaffer forged the card holder’s signature in order to authorize the transactions at Walmart, Save-A-Lot, and at DeKalb Market on Tuesday May 31 and made purchases with the stolen debit card in amounts of $83.73 at Walmart; $22.49 at Save-A-Lot; and $13.15 at DeKalb Market.

The nine counts of fraudulent use of a credit card were for purchases made with the stolen debit card on Tuesday, May 31 at Walmart in the amount of $85.73; Kwik-N-Ezy for $24.74; Walmart for $29.10; Walmart for $40; DeKalb Market for $9.68; DeKalb Market for $3.17; Jewel’s Market for $20; DeKalb Market for $3.15; and Save-A-Lot for $22.49.

The case was investigated by a Sheriff’s Department Detective.

34 year Jerrod Curtis Sims entered a plea to domestic assault and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation and judicial diversion. He must receive domestic violence counseling.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 Sims allegedly assaulted his wife by trying to strangle her about the neck. He further allegedly took from her a cell phone that she was using to contact law enforcement. The woman had physical marks on her neck.

42 year old Darlene Grisham entered a plea to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with her probation in a Putnam County case to be supervised by PSI in Cookeville.

33 year old Henry Turner entered a plea to vandalism over $500 and was given a two year sentence suspended to supervised probation and given credit for time served. He must make restitution of $1,100.

30 year old Clint Garrett entered a plea to worthless check and received a two year suspended sentence and must pay restitution of $1,460. He is seeking judicial diversion probation.

Morgan Vickers Receives Run Down 5K Scholarship

June 23, 2016
Morgan Vickers Receives Run Down 5K Scholarship from Clark Oakley

Clark Oakley with RunDown 5K for Down Syndrome Awareness recently presented Morgan Vickers of DeKalb County High School with a $250 Scholarship.

RunDown 5K and Fun Run was started in the Spring of 2015 by Addison Oakley, who at the time was an 8th grade student at DeKalb West Elementary in Liberty. “Addison and her family have been blessed with connections to Down Syndrome children, who are close friends and family members and wanted to bring awareness in rural areas to the need to provide resources to children with Down Syndrome and other special needs that are often missed by not living in a larger metropolitan area. We have worked with support in DeKalb & Smith County as well as the support of Down Syndrome Association of Middle TN (DSAMT) and would hope to reach out into other counties as well in the future. Through the help of friends, family, and strangers, we had over 200 participants and strong sponsors for our 2015 5K & Fun Run and were able to give $250 scholarships to DeKalb, Gordonsville, and Smith County High Schools, as well as over $1,000 to both the DeKalb County School system and the Smith County School system special needs programs for games, tools, and other educational supplies to benefit children with Down Syndrome and other special needs.

If you are interested in helping this cause, or would like to donate or become a sponsor, please contact us at rundown5k@gmail.com or Clark Oakley @ 615-548-4624. Our 2016 5K and FunRun will be October 1st taking place at DeKalb West Elementary, 101 Bulldog Ln, Liberty, TN. Mark your calendars and look for more info to come!

Smithville Fire Department Called to Shiroki North America

June 23, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Fire Department Called to Shiroki North America
Shiroki Employees Evacuated from Building

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was summoned to Shiroki North America Wednesday.

“A small fire was discovered in one of their welding machines,” said Fire Chief Charlie Parker. “It caused a little smoke. Everybody in the building was evacuated. No one was injured. The fire was contained within the machine,” he said.

DeKalb EMS and the Smithville Police Department also responded.

Smiley Gets Three Year Sentence in Meth Lab Case

June 22, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shana Nicole Smiley

A woman found with a meth lab during an April Smithville Police Department hit and run investigation appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court Tuesday, June 21.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

32 year old Shana Nicole Smiley entered a plea by criminal information to attempted initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine. She received a three year TDOC sentence which is to run consecutive to a Warren County sentence against her. Smiley was given jail credit for 70 days and she must make restitution of $2,000. Smiley was also ordered to forfeit her 1998 Gold Dodge Stratus.

Smiley and a co-defendant, 35 year old Marlin Ray Pinkard were arrested by Smithville Police on charges of initiation of methamphetamine during a hit and run investigation on April 11.

After obtaining a description of the car involved in the hit-and-run, officers tracked it down at Mapco Express. "After officers arrived at Mapco, they spotted Mr. Pinkard coming out of the store. When Pinkard saw them, he went back in the store and tried to empty his pockets. Officers confronted Pinkard and found pills in his possession believed to be Suboxone. Pinkard was then placed under arrest," said Police Chief Mark Collins.

Upon checking out Pinkard's car at Mapco, Chief Collins said police found a meth lab. "When we went to his car we found Shana Nicole Smiley sitting in the passenger seat. After she was asked to get out of the car we saw in plain view a plastic bottle containing a sludge like material consistent with the manufacture of meth. The substance was later identified as a one pot meth lab by the Tennessee Meth Task Force who came to the scene to assist in the investigation. Also found in the car was an opened cold pack, lithium batteries, and a glass pipe with residue. Smiley was then placed under arrest," he said.

Pinkard's case remains pending in court.

Beshearse Opposes More Pay for School Board Members

June 22, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jim Beshearse

During Monday’s night’ s special called meeting, members of the Board of Education made cuts totaling more than $480,000 from the proposed school budget as requested by the county commission’s budget committee. The vote was 4-1-1 to make the cuts and approve the revised budget to be re-submitted to the county budget committee. One proposal which was not cut is an increase in the per diem or pay school board members receive for attending regular meetings and work sessions.

Third District Board member Jim Beshearse told WJLE Wednesday in a text message that while he did vote for the overall revised budget with the cuts, he does not support the proposed increase in pay left in the budget for school board members. “I am not for it at all and if it does get approved by the county commission I will not accept mine (pay increase). We need the money spent on the classrooms,”said Beshearse.

Currently, board members get $50 per regular meeting and $15 per work session. The proposed increase would put their pay more in line with the county commission, members of which receive $150 per regular meeting and $75 per committee meeting/workshop. This budgetary line item in the school spending plan would increase from $6,000 to $18,900 for the year.

The county budget committee will review the revised school budget and others during a meeting Wednesday, June 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Danny Bond Retires as Tigerette Coach, Gets New Position in School System

June 21, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Danny Bond

Although he will remain employed by the school system in a new position this fall, longtime educator Danny Bond has announced his retirement as the DCHS Tigerette Softball Coach, a position he has held for 31 years since the program began in 1985. His successor has not yet been named.

DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant announced Tuesday that Bond will succeed Marshall Ferrell as the Alternative Learning Center Director. Ferrell recently retired from the position.

In the letter announcing his retirement as coach to Director of Schools Patrick Cripps, Principal Bryant, and to members of the School Board, Bond expressed his appreciation for the support shown him and pledged his continued support to the program. “I have given my heart, mind, and soul to the student athletes and softball program. My blood runs black and gold as deep as anyone. I will continue to be a strong supporter of the Tigerette Softball program, its athletes, and the school system. My loyalty and dedication to DeKalb County High School will remain relentless. I retire from this position with no ill feelings toward anyone. I hope to receive your support and respect in this decision,” wrote Coach Bond.

Bond has been an educator for more than 35 years having taught Physical Education, Health, Lifetime Wellness, and Personal Fitness. His career began as a P.E. teacher at DeKalb West School in 1980. He started the school’s first P.E. program and also served as an assistant coach to DCHS Tiger Basketball Coach Harold Luna until 1984. In 1985 Bond left DeKalb West School for the high school where he became P.E. teacher developing what he described as a “quality” physical education program for the school. He also took over from Mike Braswell as head coach of the Tiger basketball program that year and later became coach of the Tigerette fast pitch softball team in its inaugural season. Bond resigned as boys basketball coach in 2002 having recorded an overall win-loss record of 256-220 in 17 seasons. He stayed on as girls softball coach.

In his 31 seasons as softball coach, Bond compiled an overall win-loss record of 680-258-1 (.725). His District win-loss record was 293-56 (.840)

Other Achievements:

*17 Regular Season District Titles

*15 District Tournament Titles

*24 Region Tournament Appearances

*6 Region Tournament Titles

*12 Sub-State Appearances

*8 Sub-State Titles

*8 State Tournament Appearances

*1 State Final Four Appearance

*11 District Coach of the Year Honors

*1 Mid-State Coach of the Year Honor

*1 T.A.C.A. Coach of the Year Honor

*District 8-AA Softball Hall of Fame (2006)

*DCHS Softball Field Named in Honor (2014)

“I want to give my appreciation to the past and present Directors of Schools, School Board members, Administrations, and fellow Coaches that have given me the opportunity to coach softball. I offer my deepest gratitude to the personnel, the many players, and their families for allowing me to be a part of their lives. I sincerely thank my family and friends for their support and encouragement over the years. I leave the softball program with a solid foundation and a bright, promising future,” wrote Coach Bond.

Teachers, Support Staff, and Board of Education to Get More Pay Under Proposed School Budget

June 21, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Photo taken at Regular School Board Meeting in May at DeKalb West School

The DeKalb County Board of Education adopted a revised tentative budget for the 2016-17 year during a special meeting following a work session Monday evening at the Board of Education Building.

The new school budget includes $258,000 from the state to cover pay raises for certified staff. That amounts to about a $1,000 increase per employee. Plans are to give a local $500 pay raise to members of the support staff/non certified personnel.

The Board of Education has also budgeted an increase for themselves in the per diem each member receives for attending regular meetings and work sessions. Currently, board members get $50 per regular meeting and $15 per work session. The proposed increase would put their pay more in line with the county commission, members of which receive $150 per regular meeting and $75 per committee meeting/workshop. This budgetary line item in the school spending plan would increase from $6,000 to $18,900 for the year.

The proposed school budget is almost a half million dollars less than the original plan previously adopted and submitted to the county commission’s budget committee earlier this month.

The vote was 4-1-1. Board members Shaun Tubbs, Kate Miller, Doug Stephens, and Jim Beshearse voted to make the cuts in adopting the revised budget. Board member Jerry Wayne Johnson voted no and Board member Danny Parkerson passed. Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III was absent.

The school board also voted to move $5,000 within categories of the proposed budget to begin the process of addressing coaching supplement pay inequities particularly for the football, basketball, and cheer coaches at the high school, whose supplements rank below coaches in other counties in the district and across the state. A pay plan to help rectify the inequities has not yet been approved. The vote to make the $5,000 transfer was adopted 4-2. Board members Jerry Wayne Johnson and Danny Parkerson voted against it.

Fearing that proposed expenditures might put the school budget too deeply in the red next year, the county budget committee recently rejected the original spending plan and sent it back to the Board of Education asking that cuts of at least $480,000 be made.

During Monday night’s special meeting, the school board complied, cutting a total of $480,712 including $100,000 for the cost of purchasing one new school bus and $7,500 in supplement pay for a new athletic director position. But the largest cut was $373,212 in projected increased costs for employee medical insurance. School officials originally budgeted a six percent increase for the upcoming year but have not yet been given a confirmation on actually how much the increase will be. Funds remain in the revised budget to cover some increase in costs for medical insurance and school officials hope it will be enough.

Other proposed new spending in the school budget includes:

*Funding for two and a half new positions including a new Math and RTI (Response to Intervention) teacher at DCHS and an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

*Funding for an additional Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School

*Funding to address inequities in supplement pay particularly for football, basketball, and cheer coaches at DCHS (pay plan yet to be determined)

*Funding to purchase one new school bus (instead of two buses)

*Funding for a new Soccer Field at DCHS

The county’s budget committee will meet Wednesday, June 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the courthouse to consider the revised school budget.

Local Student Attends National Leadership Forum

June 21, 2016
Casey Vickers

Casey Vickers from DeKalb County attended Harding University’s 60th Annual National Leadership Forum in Searcy, Arkansas June 5-10. Casey was sponsored by DeKalb County Farm Bureau as a delegate to the Forum, which is presented by the University’s American Studies Institute.

Area Farm Bureaus and civic clubs selected the delegates, who were instructed in the values and qualities of leadership and learned how our country has developed its leaders.

Young people attending the Forum were taught about comparative economic systems and ways to defend our society and its freedoms. They heard presentations by such leaders as Dean Sikes, Spirit of America Foundation, who addressed “Discover Your Destiny”; John Foppe, motivational speaker on “Life is an Attitude”; and Pat Socia, who encouraged the delegates to be leaders in sexual morality.

More than 200 people from five states attended this year’s National Leadership Forum. Harding University, with an enrollment of over 7,000, is the largest private university in Arkansas.

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