Local News Articles

Free Fishing Day is Saturday

June 6, 2014

Tennessee’s annual Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 7 when anyone may fish free without a license in the state’s public waters.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in fishing. The day allows anyone the opportunity to try this great outdoor sport, especially children. In addition, children ages 15 and younger may fish without a license beginning on Free Fishing Day through the following Friday (June 13).

The annual Pea Ridge Kids Fishing Rodeo at the big pond in the Pea Ridge Wildlife Management Area will be Saturday, June 7 from 7:00 a.m. until noon. Kids through age sixteen may participate. Lunch, soft drinks, and prizes will be available for the kids.

The day and week are annual events in Tennessee and are great opportunities to introduce children to the enjoyment and excitement of a day on the water catching fish. The TWRA is among several organizations planning special fishing events, primarily for youngsters. The TWRA annually stocks several thousand pounds of fish for various events.

Free Fishing Day and Week apply to Tennessee’s public waters, TWRA owned and operated lakes, and state park facilities. Some privately owned pay lakes continue to charge during this special day and week. Anglers may consult with lake operators if there are any questions about a particular facility.

National Get Outdoors Day Coming to Downtown Smithville

June 6, 2014
National Get Outdoors Day Coming to Downtown Smithville

Did you know children in the United States average 45 hours a week exposed to electronic media, and only 30 minutes a week to time outdoors?

National Get Outdoors Day is an annual event across the country working to introduce our youth to recreational activities and the wonders of our Nation's landscapes. Experiencing our Nation's natural splendor contributes to healthier lives for our citizens and a deeper appreciation for the great outdoors.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Healthier Beginnings have teamed up to bring the first National Get Outdoors Day to DeKalb County. Join them and other community members at the Smithville Public Square for this free event on Saturday, June 14 from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. There will be games, live music, food, and exhibits for all ages.

Activities include:

Wildlife Displays
Relay Races
Gardening Demos
Story Time
Campsite Fun
Hula Hooping Class

Remember to bring your lawn chair/blankets to listen to LIVE music featuring: Brandon Maddox-Nashville Recording Artist & Lucas Oil Monster Truck's Artist of 2014 and local talent: The Martins and Tom Duggin.

The Smithville Golf Club and Swimming Pool will be priced at discounted rates from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on June 14.

Visit the National Get Outdoors Day facebook page for more information.

Bid Letting for DUD Water Plant Construction Expected by August

June 6, 2014
Dwayne Page

Bid letting is expected this summer for the construction of the DeKalb Utility District water treatment plant.

During Thursday's regular monthly meeting of the DUD Board of Commissioners, Bryant Griffin, Project Manager for the engineering firm of Goodwyn Mills and Cawood said bids could be opened for the project by the middle of August. "I called the folks at the State Revolving Fund today to talk to the fellow reviewing the plans. I did not get him but Buddy (Koonce) and I have both talked to him. We anticipate that everything should be approved on their end by July 15. We probably need about four weeks to advertise for bids and let people look at it. So we're thinking August 15 would be about the time we would open bids. It could move up a couple of weeks depending upon what we have to deal with in the funding agencies and the state. But around August 15 is what we're thinking," said Griffin.

Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced last month that DeKalb Utility District has been approved to receive $5.25 million in low interest loans for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

The funding paves the way for DeKalb Utility District to complete the proposed water treatment plant. In a letter to DUD Chairman Roger Turney dated May 5, 2014, Sherwin N. Smith, Director of the State Revolving Fund Loan Program wrote that the DUD’s Facilities Plan for the project has been approved.

The facilities plan provides recommendations to construct a new 2.0 million gallon per day water treatment plant and upgrade the existing water treatment system serving the DeKalb Utility District (DeKalb, Cannon, Smith, and Wilson Counties). The total estimated project cost is $12,000,000. The DeKalb Utility District will receive two Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loans totaling $5,250,000 to fund this project. The first loan is for $2,500,000 with a $2,000,000 loan and $500,000 in principle forgiveness that will not have to be repaid by the DeKalb Utility District. The second DWSRF loan is for $2,750,000. Additional funding includes a Rural Utilities Service loan for $5,000,000, a Rural Utilities Service grant for $1,250,000, and an Appalachian Regional Commission grant for $500,000".

“With the two loans from the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, the savings for DUD customers has improved dramatically. The $12 million project will be funded with a $2.25 million grant including a forgivable loan, $4.75 million with a 20 year loan at .60% and the final $5 million with a 40 year loan from Rural Utilities Services at 2.75%. Because of the low interest rate on this completed financial package, issuing bonds with a higher interest rate will not be necessary” stated DUD manager Jon Foutch.

The project provides for the construction of a new raw water intake structure and raw water pump station on the Holmes Creek Embayment of Center Hill Reservoir (Caney Fork River); an 18-inch diameter raw water transmission line from the raw water pump station to the new 2.0 million gallon per day water treatment plant located along Holmes Creek Road; an 18-inch diameter finished water transmission line along Holmes Creek Road, Allen’s Ferry Road, and U.S. Highway 70; and new 8-inch diameter water distribution lines along Big Rock Road, Dry Creek Road, Game Ridge Road, Turner Road, Tittsworth Road, and Walker Lane. A finished water pumping station will be constructed to deliver water from the Snow’s Hill Water Tank to the Short Mountain Water Tank. The new water treatment plant will also include clarification, mixed media filtration and backwash systems, and a 250,000 gallon clear well

Jennings Named Gatorade Tennessee Softball Player of Year

June 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
Cori Jennings

Gordonsville High School's Cori Jennings has been named the 2013-14 Gatorade Tennessee softball player of the year.

The 5-foot-7 senior left-handed pitcher led the Tigerettes to a 32-10 record and the Class A championship this past season, allowing no runs during the state tournament.

She was 32-3 with a 0.62 ERA and 245 strikeouts, issuing just 14 walks in 190 innings.

She also hit .486 with 31 extra-base hits, 39 runs scored and 51 RBIs.

Jennings has signed to play at the next level with the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. She is the daughter of Randy and Jill Jennings, and has a brother Stephen.

DUD Board Seeks Reappointment of Two Members

June 5, 2014
Dwayne Page
DUD Board of Commissioners

The terms of two members of the DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners are expiring this year. During its regular monthly meeting Thursday, the DUD board certified a list of nominees to the county mayors of DeKalb and Cannon County to fill those positions.

The term of Roger Turney, serving Cannon County on the DUD's board will expire on August 31, 2014. Jimmy Womack's term will expire on October 31, 2014. Womack is one of three members on the board who serves DeKalb County. Each term is for four years.

By law, the DUD board must submit the names of three nominees to fill each position, listed in order of preference. During Thursday's meeting, the board voted to submit the names of Turney, Chris Blackburn, and Winfred Gaither in that order to the Cannon County Mayor. The DUD board also voted to submit the names of Womack, Jimmy Herndon, and Paul Blair in that order to the DeKalb County Mayor.

Under the law, a customer could have also submitted names for consideration by the DUD board for the list of nominees. A public notice was published last month but no names were offered by DUD customers.

The general provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated (State Law) TCA § 7-82-307 provide that the utility board members must submit three nominees, listed in order of preference, to the county mayor (where the vacancy exists). The county mayor has the authority to appoint one of the nominees to the vacant position on the board or reject all of the nominees. If the county mayor rejects all three nominees, then the board of (utility) commissioners has to submit three additional nominees to the county mayor for consideration. If the county mayor rejects these nominees, then the process would continue until the position is filled. There are, however, exceptions to these general provisions in the statute. Any order either appointing or rejecting a list of nominees shall be entered of record on the minutes of the county legislative body and a certified copy of the order shall be furnished to the board of (utility) commissioners and to the appointee; provided, that upon the rejection of any entire list of nominees by the county mayor, the board of (utility) commissioners shall continue to submit new nonidentical lists of three (3) nominees to the county mayor within sixty (60) days after each such rejection until such procedure shall result in the vacancy being filled for the remainder of the term or for the new term, as provided in this section.

The DUD Board is made up of five members, three from DeKalb County (Jimmy Womack, Joe Foutch, and Hugh Washer), one from Cannon (Roger Turney), and one from Smith County (Danny Bass). The terms are staggered. Bass was absent during Thursday's meeting.

Three Injured in Wreck on Smith Road

June 5, 2014
Dwayne Page
Three Injured when Chevy Cruze Snaps Utility Pole
Chevy Cruze Snaps Utility Pole on Smith Road

Three people were injured when their 2011 Chevy Cruze crashed into a utility pole on Smith Road Thursday afternoon.

Officer Lance Dillard of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that 49 year old Regina Stone of Smithville stated she was driving north on Smith Road when an oncoming car crossed into her path. Stone swerved trying to avoid a collision but her vehicle went off the road and snapped a utility pole.

Stone and passengers of her vehicle, 37 year old James Hesson and 37 year old Michelle Taylor, both of Smithville were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Other Smithville Police officers were also on the scene along with members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department. A crew from Smithville Electric System was called out to replace the broken pole, which brought down utility lines.

Jamboree Pageants Set for Saturday

June 5, 2014
Dwayne Page
Jamboree Pageants Set for Saturday

The Miss/Mrs. Jamboree Pageants will be Saturday, June 7th starting at noon at the County Complex auditorium for ALL TN Girls ages 4-29. Register at the door or online NOW at www.studiosixlimited.com.

Over 60 awards and titles will be given away! The crowned winners will also have an opportunity to be an awards presenter during the televised 2014 Jamboree.


Jamboree_Pageant_RegistrationForm_FRONT.pdf (2.46 MB)

The Miss/Mrs. Jamboree Pageant is sponsored by DeKalb Community Hospital, a proud supporter of the Smithville Fiddlers' Jamboree.

*For Ages 4-6 / 7-10 / 11-13
Sat. June 7 - sign in by 11:30am

*For Ages 14-17 / 18-20 / 21-29
Sat. June 7 - sign in by 12:30

Optional Rehearsal for all age categories, Friday @ 6pm / DeKalb Co. Complex Stage.

Questions? Text or email Shan Burklow @ 615-594-2792 or sburklow@dchtn.com

"Baby and Me Tobacco Free" Program Helps Pregnant Women Quit Smoking

June 4, 2014

DeKalb County is starting a three-year tobacco prevention program with funds from the tobacco settlement lawsuit. DeKalb County received funding for this year and part of those funds will be used for the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program to help all women quit smoking during and after pregnancy. Baby and Me has a 60 percent success rate in helping pregnant women quit smoking and stay tobacco-free. Baby and Me will be available at the DeKalb County Health Department.

"Quitting smoking when you are pregnant is the most important thing you can do to protect your health and the health of your baby. We are committed to helping all pregnant women quit smoking," Monica Turner, RN with the DeKalb County Health Department.

Research suggests a mother is never more motivated to quit than when she becomes pregnant, and Baby and Me hopes to capitalize on that motivation by offering four brief counseling sessions on how to quit smoking during pregnancy. After the birth of the baby, the mother returns monthly for a quick carbon monoxide breath test. If she stays smoke-free, she receives a $25 voucher for diapers from Wal-Mart for each month she is smoke-free. Vouchers can be received for the first 12 months of the child's life. The $25 diaper vouchers, along with having no more cigarette expenses, will help new parents save money as well as protect the health of their family. While this savings could be particularly helpful for low income households, this program is available to all pregnant smokers, regardless of income.

When pregnant women smoke, the chemicals in cigarettes reach the baby and can keep it from getting the food and oxygen it needs to grow. The risk of miscarriage is much higher for women who smoke while pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy often leads to low birth-weight and premature birth. Smaller babies typically get sick more often and have a higher risk of death within their first year. After the baby is born, second-hand smoke exposure increases the likelihood of colds, bronchitis, ear infections, allergies, and asthma.

According to Monica Turner, RN, "Approximately 28.4% of pregnant women in DeKalb County smoke. We want to help these women break the tobacco habit and keep their babies healthy."

For more information on the Baby and Me program or to sign up, call the DeKalb County Health Department at 615-597-7599

Smithville Electric Announces Another Planned City-Wide Power Outage

June 4, 2014
Dwayne Page

Smithville Electric System will have another planned city-wide power outage at midnight Saturday, June 7 until around 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning, June 8 in order to replace a circuit switcher at the Sub-Station. The power interruption will be for approximately two hours and will affect only Smithville Electric System customers but it will be city-wide.

Teacher Files Federal Discrimination Lawsuit Against School Board and Director

June 3, 2014
Dwayne Page
Bradley Hendrix

A physical education teacher at Smithville Elementary School and a third district county commissioner has filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against the DeKalb County Board of Education and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

Attorneys for Bradley Hendrix filed the lawsuit last Thursday, May 29 in U.S. District Court in Nashville. He is represented by the Hendersonville law firm of Andy L. Allman and Associates.

In the lawsuit, Hendrix alleges that he has been "subjected to a continuous and ongoing pattern of harassment and retaliation for his votes as a county commissioner on matters pertaining to the school system", particularly his vote against purchasing land to build a new high school. According to the lawsuit, "On or about March 2011, the issue of the land purchase and school construction came before the county commission for approval. Hendrix voted against the measure. From that point on, Hendrix was subjected to harassment and retaliation by Mr. Willoughby in his employment".

Hendrix is suing the Board of Education and Director of Schools, both jointly and severally, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He also wants a jury to try the case.

More than three years ago, the school board sought to purchase fifty two acres of property on the Allen Ferry Road for the future home of a new school. But in April, 2011 the county commission, on a 7 to 7 tie vote, denied the school board's request for approval of a budget amendment in the amount of $374,000 from the school system's Basic Education Program Reserve (BEP) Funds to buy the property. Eight yes votes were needed for passage. Hendrix was one of the seven county commissioners who voted no.

Later that year, Hendrix got into trouble with his school supervisors over a field trip incident. Director Willoughby suspended Hendrix for one day for "neglect of duty" and "insubordination" after Hendrix left early from a student field trip in Murfreesboro in December, 2011 without getting the permission of his supervisor, Dr. Bill Tanner, who at the time was principal at Smithville Elementary School. Hendrix appealed Willoughby's decision and a hearing officer took up the matter in February, 2012. A month later, the hearing officer issued a written report on his "Finding of Facts and Conclusions of Law" upholding Director Willoughby's suspension. Hendrix then filed an appeal with the Board of Education.

During a special meeting in April, 2012, the school board voted 5 to 0 to sustain the one day suspension of Hendrix imposed by Director Willoughby. But taking the position that the one day suspension was not enough, the board then voted 4 to 1 to suspend Hendrix for two more days without pay, making his total suspension three days.

The "facts" of Hendrix's lawsuit are alleged as follows:

"In the spring of 2010, Plaintiff (Hendrix) began campaigning for the office of County Commissioner of the 3rd district. Hendrix was duly elected by vote of the people on the 2nd day of August 2010."

"On or about January 2011, Hendrix as a county commissioner, was called to a meeting held by the Defendant, Board of Education, to discuss the purchase of land and construction of a new school within the District. Prior to the meeting Hendrix had requested of Defendant, Mark Willoughby, a five to ten year plan to determine how the County was going to pay for this land purchase and new school. At the meeting the requested plan was not presented nor was there any discussion about the land purchase and school construction. Hendrix brought the subject up to the Board Members and informed them that discussion should be had because at that point he was not going to vote for the project."

"Hendrix's duties and obligations as a county commissioner include voting on matters of funding for the DeKalb County School System of which Willoughby is the Director."

"Subsequent to the January meeting, Principal Tanner approached Hendrix in the hallway of Smithville Elementary and inquired how Hendrix was going to vote when the issue of land purchase and new school construction came before the county commission. At all times relevant hereto, Hendrix was a teacher at Smithville Elementary School and Principal Tanner was his supervisor."

"On or about March 2011, the issue of the land purchase and school construction came before the county commission for approval. Hendrix voted against the measure. From that point on, Hendrix was subjected to harassment and retaliation by Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Tanner in his employment."

"Up until his vote, Hendrix had been allowed to continue volunteering for the "early morning drop off duty". This was a job responsibility he had been doing for approximately nine years. This responsibility was removed from Hendrix."

"On or about December 2011, Hendrix attended a field trip with students, including his son, to a fun center. Hendrix left at approximately 11:00 a.m. to attend his daughter's basketball game. Prior to this day, Hendrix communicated his schedule with Tanner. Mr. Tanner admitted to Hendrix that he had in fact discussed this scheduling issue with him. However, Tanner brought Hendrix into his office and began chastising Hendrix for leaving the field trip. Tanner instructed Hendrix to note on his timesheet that he had taken half of a personal day. The following morning Tanner called Hendrix back into his office and suspended him one day without pay. Tanner told Hendrix that Willoughby wanted him suspended one week without pay. It was common that teachers would leave early to attend special functions of their own children, and none had been suspended without pay."

"On or about January 2012, Hendrix asked the assistant principal if he could leave the campus while on his lunch break to run an errand. The assistant principal informed Hendrix that only Tanner could give him permission to leave campus even if it were on his lunch break. On or about February 13, 2012, Tanner informed Hendrix that anytime he left school ground he would be charged with a personal day. Just two weeks later this same assistant principal, without hesitation, gave another teacher permission to leave school grounds to run an errand even though she was not on break."

"On or about February 8, 2012, Hendrix received a written reprimand for saying something that allegedly embarrassed a student in physical education class."

"On or about February 21, 2012, Hendrix received another written reprimand for not following school policy when obtaining a substitute teacher for his classes from February 15 through the 17. Hendrix scheduled a substitute teacher on his own for those days he knew he would be out on leave recommended by his doctor. This is the same procedure Hendrix and other teachers had been using in the past when they knew in advance of any absences. In fact, another teacher used sick time to take a vacation and suffered no disciplinary action."

"Upon information and belief, Willoughby was actually seen at Hendrix's doctor's office inquiring as to whether Hendrix had actually been seen by the doctor on specific days. In addition, Willoughby presented himself at the home of Hendrix's friend with the intent to interrogate him about Hendrix's whereabouts. This person refused to talk to Willoughby."

"On another occasion in March 2012, Willoughby singled Hendrix out at a teachers' meeting. Willoughby was addressing the teachers at Smithville Elementary about teacher absences from school for personal reasons. In front of the entire meeting, Willoughby specifically pointed out Hendrix by name, using him as an example on the issue of absences from school, including the instances listed above for which Hendrix had been wrongfully disciplined."

"As part of Hendrix's job duties and responsibilities, he is required to attend different conferences dealing with subject matter relevant to his everyday duties. On April 18 and 19 of 2012, Hendrix attended a "Related Arts Workshop" presented by the Tennessee Department of Education in Nashville. Hendrix did not request to attend this workshop but was informed by his assistant principal that he had been signed up. When Hendrix was originally informed of this workshop he was told that his attendance was due to the size of the class and available slots. Hendrix was only informed a week and a half prior to the workshop that he would definitely be able to attend."

"Hendrix was also scheduled to attend a Parks and Recreation Committee meeting on April 18 in the courthouse in Smithville as part of his county commissioner responsibilities. This committee meeting was scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. and was for the purpose of interviewing and hiring an individual to supervise and oversee a new civic center that had recently been built."

"Upon arrival at the workshop, Hendrix approached the workshop coordinator and explained that he would need to leave early on this day to attend the Parks and Recreation Committee meeting. According to the syllabus, the workshop concluded at 3:30 p.m. Hendrix left the workshop at 2:30 p.m. in order to travel back to Smithville for the committee meeting. Hendrix attended the entire second day of the workshop."

"Willoughby interrogated Hendrix about leaving the workshop early on April 18 and accused Hendrix of telling the workshop coordinator that he had a meeting with the Director of Schools. This was a false accusation as Hendrix had informed the coordinator of his Parks and Recreation Committee meeting. On April 24, Hendrix was called into Mr. Tanner's office by Mr. Willoughby. Willoughby began interrogating Hendrix about three sick days he had used. Hendrix had provided Defendants with a note from his medical doctor verifying his absences."

"In this meeting, Hendrix was given an "official written and final notice" to refrain from this unprofessional and insubordinate behavior" and threatened with termination. Again these were false accusations by Defendants."

"On May 11, 2012, Hendrix reported to work at Smithville Elementary. This day at school was "Carnival Day" wherein the children are allowed to celebrate the end of the school year. Hendrix's three children were also attending this "Carnival Day". At approximately 10:45 a.m., Hendrix was called away from supervising his students to attend a meeting with Willoughby, Tanner, and the assistant principal, (Karen) Knowles."

"On or about December 2012, then Attendance Supervisor, (Clay) Farler made known to the Defendant and its employees his intent to retire from his position."

"Defendant (Willoughby) formally posted this vacancy on or about April 2013. Upon posting, Defendant (Willoughby) was to create a list of applicants who met the qualifications for the position and begin interviews in making the final decision as to who should receive the position."

"Hendrix applied for the position within approximately one week from the job posting by going to the Central Office acquiring an application and returning the same."

"Approximately one week thereafter, Hendrix was informed by his supervisor, (Julie) Vincent, that he was to have an interview with Willoughby for the Attendance Supervisor position. That same day, Hendrix had his interview with Willoughby."

"Candidates for this position were to have an Endorsement 094. Without an Educational Specialist Degree, a candidate must have successfully completed course work. To obtain this endorsement, a candidate must attend an eight hour course and then submit documentation to the State of Tennessee, Department of Education Licensing Division."

"Hendrix was exempt from the course work because he already possessed an Educational Specialist Degree ("EDS"). Hendrix simply needed to submit his "EDS" to the Department of Education and receive the endorsement."

"Defendant (Willoughby) chose candidate (Joey) Reeder for the position. Reeder did not have the requisite endorsement, nor did he have an EDS or Masters Degree."

"Defendant (Willoughby) sent Reeder to a conference to become certified so that he could receive the requisite endorsement. Hendrix had a Masters Degree in Instructional Leadership and an "EDS". Hendrix was not provided the same opportunities by Defendant to take classes which would further enhance his qualifications."

"Hendrix was as qualified, if not more qualified, than Reeder for the position of Attendance Supervisor but was not selected as yet another act of retaliation and harassment of his previous voting as county commissioner and his complaints of treatment."

"Since Hendrix's vote, and while Tanner was principal, he has been subjected to retaliatory harassment in the workplace."

"Hendrix has been subjected to a continuous and ongoing pattern of harassment and retaliation for his votes as a county commissioner on matters pertaining to the school system. In addition, Hendrix has received the "cold shoulder" treatment from Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Tanner, and even the assistant principal."

Attorneys for Hendrix allege that the defendants actions were motivated by ill-will, malice, and spite towards Hendrix which has resulted in him being singled out for harsher treatment than other employees in violation of his constitutional rights.

Hendrix's attorneys further allege that "The DeKalb County Board of Education adopted, permitted, encouraged, tolerated, and knowingly acquiesced to an official pattern, practice or custom of its officials, including the individual defendant (Willoughby), violating the constitutional rights of the public at large, including Hendrix."

"Defendant (School Board) is directly liable for the constitutional violations committed against Hendrix because these violations were committed by the official policy makers for the school district and Defendant Willoughby."

"Further, Defendant (School Board), is liable for the actions of the individual Defendant (Willoughby) and employees of the school district because the Board, by and through Defendant Willoughby, instituted an official policy, practice, custom, and campaign of harassment and intimidation against Hendrix."

"As a direct and proximate result of the foregoing policies, practices, and customs of the Board of Education, Hendrix's constitutional rights were violated".

"Defendants' conduct alleged herein were willful, intentional, reckless, malicious, and fraudulent entitling Hendrix to a substantial award of punitive damages."


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