Local News Articles

Smithville Man Arrested for DUI after Asking Trooper for Directions

January 27, 2017
Christopher B. Tatrow

A Smithville man allegedly driving under the influence was arrested Tuesday in Putnam County after asking a state trooper for directions and then trying to elude officers in a pursuit.

According to the Herald-Citizen, 27 year old Christopher B. Tatrow was charged with driving under the influence, evading arrest, leaving the scene of an accident, registration violation, no insurance, no driver’s license on his person, driving through the median, two counts of not properly stopping, a signal on a hill violation, a turning on a hill violation, following too closely, seatbelt violation, two counts of improper passing, having an open container and possession of drug paraphernalia after a search of his vehicle turned up three pipes used for smoking drugs.

THP Trooper Mark Miller said the incident began when Tatrow stopped him to ask for directions at a bridge crossing Interstate 40 near mile marker 295.

According to the report, Trooper Miller saw that Tatrow had a Mike’s Hard Liquor and observed that his speech was slurred and eyes were red and watery.

After Trooper Miller asked him to stand in front of the patrol car, Tatrow instead got in his vehicle and drove away. Tatrow later crashed at mile marker 294 westbound on I-40 after a tire blew out but he kept going until he ran over a spike strip on Highway 70 in Cookeville near the intersection of Old Kentucky Road and Hudgens Street.

After the vehicle finally was disabled, Tatrow got out and tried to run away behind a row of townhouses.

After a short foot pursuit, he was taken into custody.

Tatrow reportedly told Trooper Miller that he was wanted on charges in DeKalb County and that he needed to go to the hospital.

Tatrow submitted to a blood draw to determine the level of intoxicant in his system at the time of the incident.

WSMV's Rudy Kalis to Present Award to DCHS

January 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
Rudy Kalis

DeKalb County High School will receive the "Right Spirit of Sportsmanship" award presented by Rudy Kalis of WSMV on Thursday, February 9th during the final home basketball games of the regular season. DeKalb County will host Macon County that night.

“We were nominated by a referee from one of our ballgames. On February 9th, we want to fill the gym with fans. We are asking all fans to wear black and gold attire. A video of our fans will be made and aired on WSMV. Please come out and support your local Lady Tigers and Tigers. This night is also our Senior Night for all of our senior basketball players, managers, and cheerleaders,” said DCHS Principal Kathy Bryant.

“Also on Monday, February 6th, during the half-time of the boys' game with Smith County, we will be recognizing all students who are a member of our ACT 21 and up club. Those students will receive free admission to that night's games and will be awarded with a field trip and certificate,” said Bryant.

Action begins each night at 6 p.m. starting with the girls games. WJLE will have LIVE coverage.

DeKalb GOP to Elect Officers

January 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
Current DeKalb County GOP Officers shown here: Treasurer Tom Chandler, Chairman Mingy Colwell Bryant, Secretary Sharon Rhoten, Assistant Treasurer Dustin Estes, and Vice Chairman Clint Hall

The DeKalb County Republican Party will be hosting a County Convention on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at 9AM for the purpose of selecting the Officers of the Dekalb County GOP. Positions include Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice-Treasurer.

The Convention will be held in the County Commission Room at the DeKalb County Courthouse.

All Republicans are invited to attend this Convention to select the officers that will represent the county party for the next 2 years. Interested candidates can contact current Republican Party Chair Mingy Bryant at 615-597-2600 or current Vice Chair Clint Hall at 931-201-6962. For more information, go to the Facebook Page at Dekalb County Republican Party.

Current DeKalb County GOP Officers shown here: Treasurer Tom Chandler, Chairman Mingy Colwell Bryant, Secretary Sharon Rhoten, Assistant Treasurer Dustin Estes, and Vice Chairman Clint Hall

Several from DeKalb County Join "Women's March"

January 26, 2017
Jordan Wilkins
Several from DeKalb County Join "Women's March"

Several women from DeKalb County joined the millions of women and men Saturday, January 21 to participate in an international movement by marching in Washington, D. C., Nashville, Tennessee, and Denver, Colorado dedicated to advancing the principle that "women's rights are human rights" and reminding our newly installed government leaders that protection for families means healthcare, education, jobs and basic respect for individuals and families regardless of political perspective, ethnicity, social class, gender or age is the foundation for civil society.

Amanda Blair, Anna Rachel Blair, Sara Buck Doude, Melinda Buck Brown, Emaline Brown, and Ellie Brown marched in Washington, D.C., Lori Adcock marched in Denver, Colorado. Norene Puckett, Elizabeth Napier, and Donna Davis marched in Nashville, Tennessee.

DeKalb Health Department Offers Free Flu Vaccine

January 26, 2017

Flu season is here, with seasonal influenza cases now reported across Tennessee. The DeKalb County Health Department is working to protect the entire community by providing flu vaccinations at no charge to area residents on a first come, first served basis. A small amount of vaccines is still available and to ensure they can be used to protect health will be provided at no charge to patients until vaccine supplies are depleted. Patients may walk in to request a flu vaccine any time during regular clinic hours. OR Appointments must be made to receive flu vaccine, and are now being scheduled at the clinic.

“Anyone, even healthy people, can get the flu and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age. Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and the DeKalb County Health Department recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year,” said Michael Railling, Director of the Health Department. “It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine, so we want everyone who hasn’t had their flu shot to get one right away to help keep our community healthy.”

The flu vaccine is especially important for people at high risk for serious illness or death from influenza such as the elderly, pregnant women and young children, as well as healthcare workers and family and friends of anyone at high risk. Expectant mothers should be vaccinated during pregnancy to protect themselves and pass protection on to their unborn babies.

Flu shots will be provided at no charge to patients. Both adults and children may receive flu vaccine at the clinic. Please call the DeKalb County Health Department at 615-597-7599 today to book your appointment. OR Call the DeKalb County Health Department at 615-597-7599 for more information. The clinic is located at 254 Tiger Drive and open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Livestock Forage Program Signup Ends Monday, January 30

January 25, 2017
Dwayne Page
Donny Green

Do you have cattle, sheep, or goats? If so, you could be eligible to receive payment from the DeKalb/Cannon County Farm Service Agency. According to Donny Green, County Executive Director, signup for the Livestock Forage Program is now underway and will continue through January 30, 2017.

The Livestock Forage Assistance Program (LFP) has been approved for DeKalb and Cannon counties due to recent and extreme drought conditions that have affected livestock grazing during the 2016 normal grazing period. LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land with permanent vegetative cover, or planted specifically for grazing.

According to the U. S. Drought Monitor, DeKalb and Cannon counties were designated as D3 (Extreme Drought intensity) counties on November 22, 2016. This designation qualifies eligible livestock producers in the county for three monthly payments.

Livestock producers operating in DeKalb and Cannon counties will need to visit the FSA office in Smithville to report their livestock inventory and complete their application. Customers are encouraged to call the office at 615-597-8225, Ext. 2 to provide some preliminary information that will be needed to process the application. Signup for the 2016 LFP will end on January 30, 2017

2017 Chamber Executive Board Announced

January 25, 2017
2017 Chamber Executive Board Announced

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce elected its 2017 Executive Board at the January Board Meeting and Planning Session. The elected officers are as follows: Chamber President Isaac Gray, Vice President Rita Bell, Treasurer Sherry Harris, Board Secretary Jane Brown, and Immediate Past President Kathy Hendrixson.

New Chamber Board Members beginning a 3-year term are: Beth Adcock, Smithville Police Dept.; Jane Brown, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; Dana Scott, Tenneco; Mark Taylor, Edgar Evins State Park; and Lora Webb, The Webb House.

Two-year term board members are Rita Bell, Haven of Hope Counseling; Isaac Gray, Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church; Steve Johnson, DTC Communications; Connie Tjarks, Knot Enough Thyme; and Sherry Harris, D & S Special-Tees.

Chamber board members with one-year term left on their term are: Shannon Adkins, Calum Farm Décor; Shan Burklow, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital; Gail Gentry, Appalachian Center for Craft; Kathy Hendrixson, Justin Potter Library; and Reed Vanderpool, Smithville Review.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams says, “I am looking forward to 2017 and to working with this great group of people. They are energetic, positive, encouraging, creative, and enjoyable to work with. They really love their community!”

Pictured l-r: 2017 Chamber Executive Board Members

Row 1: Chamber Board Secretary Jane Brown, Immediate Past President Kathy Hendrixson, Treasurer Sherry Harris

Row 2: Chamber President Isaac Gray, Vice President Rita Bell, Executive Director Suzanne Williams

City to Dip into Reserve Fund to Buy New Fire Truck

January 25, 2017
Dwayne Page
City to Purchase New Fire Truck to Replace this 1992 Model

Despite a trend of stagnant revenues, the City of Smithville will dip into its reserve fund to purchase a new fire truck.

By a 3-2 vote, the Smithville Board of Aldermen Monday evening voted to spend $751,575 over a two-year period to purchase a new Pierce Impel PUC Rescue Pumper, a combination fire engine/rescue vehicle to replace the fire department’s oldest truck, a 1992 model, and a 20-year old rescue and service truck. The new vehicle will also come equipped with five air packs and other tools and equipment.

Voting for the new truck were Aldermen Jason Murphy, Gayla Hendrix, and Shawn Jacobs and voting no were Aldermen Josh Miller and Danny Washer. Although not opposed to the fire truck itself, Miller and Washer are concerned about the timing of the purchase given that the city has budgeted a lot of spending projects recently which may negatively impact the city’s surplus reserve fund.

While the city has the money to pay for it now from the surplus, the aldermen voted to spread the payments out over two years through a lease purchase financing plan offered by the manufacturer. The first payment is not due for a year and it will be up to a year before the truck is available for the city to take delivery of it.

Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor reminded the mayor and aldermen that city revenues over the last ten years have been largely stagnant while spending has increased and that large projects can have a negative impact on the city’s surplus reserves.

“In 2008 we collected $2.9 million. It has pretty much stayed at $2.7 million to $2.9 million over that time up to the highest year which was in 2016 at $3.2 million but then we budgeted $3.1 million. There has not been a lot of change in revenue. This is regular tax dollars, sales tax, property tax, etc. I backed out grants because when you get those big airport grants it distorts your revenue. We have a flat revenue stream,” said Jackson.

Because of already budgeted spending, the city could end the fiscal year in June with a large deficit, which would have to be funded from the surplus.

“In 2017’s budget we budgeted about an $880,000 deficit or loss this year. Most years we have a surplus. The years that the fire department does their big things is when we go into the deficit. This current fiscal year we’re budgeting at a huge deficit but that is a combination of things. We’re doing the sanitation truck and garbage cans. We’re doing a lot of paving in the city. We’re doing that bridge reconstruction that the state is making us do (Holmes Creek Bridge over Fall Creek) which originally we thought the city’s part would be $60,000 to $100,000 but the cost has gone way up and Hunter (Hendrixson) tells me the city’s part is going to be $200,000. We also put in $100,000 for a rescue vehicle in the fire department. If we take the additional money needed to buy this truck and put it in this year’s fiscal budget you have another $621,000,” said Jackson. (Payment will now actually be spread out over two years).

“Normally you try to balance your budget by either using some surplus that you have accumulated some of those other years or raising tax rates. At the end of the year 2015, we were at $4 million in fund balance (surplus reserves) in the general fund. In 2016 that surplus put it up to $4.6 million. If we do everything we’ve budgeted for this year we’re going back to $3.7 million (surplus) and if we added the whole cost of the fire truck in this year’s budget we would be down to $3 million (surplus). So we’re going from $4 million to $3 million very quickly but we know what that cost is. Where we have overspent is usually a capital project of some kind but the biggest things that we ever do have been related to fire,” said Jackson.

Jackson questioned why the city was not advertising for bids for this truck. “Should we not be advertising for quotes, bids or something on this and get some numbers from more than one place because if we’re spending that much money its typically that you want to look and make sure you’ve got the right equipment but the best price,” she asked?

Chief Charlie Parker said through the city’s affiliation with the HGAC program, the truck is being recommended at a good price.

Chief Parker recommended that the city plan for future expense by establishing a replacement schedule for city fire trucks and other equipment. “Of course (fire truck) is the big capital expense but we also have equipment, fire hose, air packs, and the turnout gear that goes with it which also have to be replaced after their service dates. You could end up $30,000 or $40,000 in that if you do it (replace) all at one time too. They all have set life cycles. The NFBA (National Fire Protection Association) recommendation is that first line trucks be replaced within 15 years of manufacture and 20 years for reserve trucks. We’re currently at 25 years on ours. We could probably run 20 to 25 years on what we’ve got because we’re a smaller department but once it hits the 25 year mark it is considered an antique and that really makes me nervous as chief being responsible for the lives of my men and women to put them in an antique vehicle. There is an ongoing expense. If we could put some money back each year and budget for it because we need some kind of replacement schedule for these things. Everything we have is expensive” he said.

“I don’t see how anybody could vote against you (fire department) having the equipment that you need. That’s a given. In a lot of cases it could be life or death and the same with the police department. You need what you need. I guess the timing bothers me because there has been so much spent this year. I am not against the fire truck. I am just thinking about the timing,” said Alderman Miller.

“How long before we would have to raise taxes to pay for all this,” asked Alderman Washer?

“That is always your ace in the back pocket to keep you from going broke. Somewhere I had something going down to a fund balance of about $3 million depending upon how frequently you spend for these big things. Other years we did have some surplus when we weren’t buying fire equipment. If we’re looking at $750,000 to a million dollars every time we buy one (fire truck) and that’s every five to seven years then the other years really need to be good (financially) or tight. I don’t know that I can give you a number. But we’re good for probably five to ten years ( before tax increase) but that is a guestimate,” said Jackson.

Aldermen Gayla Hendrix and Jason Murphy had initially favored a five year financing plan to pay for the new fire truck with payments spread out over a longer period of time. But Jackson recommended going with the two year plan to save interest payments.

“I looked at what are you paying in interest. What are you earning in interest. My recommendation would be don’t do five years. I would do two years. The lease is set up such that you don’t make a payment on the front end. You make a payment a year after you sign the contract. In January 2018 you would make your first payment which is in next year’s budget, $377,000. In January, 2019 you would make a payment, which is the following year’s budget but then you would be done and would no longer have that cost in your budget. When you take the amortization of those payments the interest rate on those two payments is not even three tenths of a percent. It comes out to 0.268% interest so the money we keep in our bank account that year and the next year we are currently earning a half percent on our checking account. We’ll earn more than we are paying in interest so it would be like we didn’t really pay interest on it at all. If we do the five year payments it comes out to 1.758% interest so you’re paying 1.2 or 1.3% more interest than what we were earning if we kept the money. For five years you would pay $40,087 of interest. For the two years you pay $3,000 of interest and you earn $5,600. The other one, you come out net of $28,000 compared to making $2,600,” said Jackson.

Once a new fire truck is in the fleet, the city plans to sell the 1992 truck along with the rescue truck and service truck.

The fire department has three fire trucks, a 1992 and 2001 model along with a 2012 ladder truck.

County Contracts With McMinnville Company to Operate Solid Waste Transfer Station

January 25, 2017
Dwayne Page
Solid Waste Transfer Station Location (Photo prior to paving)

The county is turning a portion of the solid waste operation over to a private company.

During Monday night’s monthly meeting, the county commission voted to enter into a three year contract with Southern Central Waste Services, LLC. of McMinnville to operate the new soon to open solid waste transfer station located behind Tenneco Automotive.

The SCWS bid proposal, one of two submitted, was recommended to the county commission by the solid waste committee.

SCWS will provide operation of the transfer station, hauling, and disposal of DeKalb County’s household garbage at the Rhea County Landfill in Dayton, Tennessee, which is operated by Santec Environmental Inc.

“The bid was for SCWS to operate the transfer station; to provide two employees; a scale operator; an equipment operator; to furnish the equipment to load the trucks; to pay all utilities at the transfer station; and to do the transfer station billing. The county will receive all proceeds from tipping fees of other vendors who use the transfer station," said County Mayor Tim Stribling.

The county will pay the following rates to SCWS based on incoming weights:

*Up to 1,000 tons per month: $55 per ton

*1001 to 1250 tons per month: $54 per ton

*1251 to 1500 tons per month: $53 per ton

1501 or more tons per month: $51 per ton.

Original plans were for the county to operate the transfer station itself and to ship the garbage to Smith County for disposal at $29 per ton but County Mayor Stribling said he and others found that it was cheaper to contract the service to a private company.

“Back in August we asked for two different types of bids. One was for shipping the waste and the other was for operating the transfer station as a whole including loading, shipping, and tipping. We didn’t receive any bids at that time. A few weeks after a couple of companies showed some interest. We rebid it with the intention of one company operating the transfer station, loading the trucks, shipping it, and tipping it,” said County Mayor Stribling.

Two companies submitted bids including SCWS.

Since SCWS will be assuming all operation of the transfer station, the county no longer needs to maintain its disposal contract with Smith County and is expected to exercise its 120 day notice of termination clause in the agreement.

Second District Commissioner Joe Johnson asked County Mayor Stribling when the transfer station will begin operation since the landfill is at or near capacity.

“They could start sometime in February but what we need to do is send notices out to people (vendors) who use our landfill to let them know there is going to be a rate increase. That’s really no surprise. We knew there would be a rate increase when we went to a transfer station because once you dump it you have to handle it again. You have to load it, ship it, and tip it. You can’t operate a transfer station as cheap as a landfill,” said County Mayor Stribling.

The county still has to decide whether or not to open a new Class III landfill for the disposal of construction material, household furniture, and other non-household garbage. “We will still look at the possibility of opening up a Class III Landfill but they (SCWS) will take anything that goes into a Class III cell. They will take mattresses, couches, or anything we put in our landfill. Of course like us they will not accept household hazardous waste, sludge, etc.,” added County Mayor Stribling.

City Braces for Huge Water Rate Increase Due to Departure of DUD (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

January 24, 2017
Dwayne Page
Buddy Petty of Rate Studies Incorporated of Nashville
Greg Davenport of the J.R. Wauford Engineering Company

The City of Smithville will have to raise water rates by 45% over the next five years once it loses its largest customer, the DeKalb Utility District. The DUD has built its own treatment plant and plans to start producing water soon.

In addition, Smithville residents will be hit with a sewer rate hike of 40% over the next four years in order to fund depreciation due to renovations underway at the waste water treatment plant.

A 45% hike would increase customers water rates from $5.00 per thousand gallons to $7.69 per thousand over five years. A 40% increase in sewer rates over four years would result in an increase from the current rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons to $7.33 per thousand.

Greg Davenport of the J.R. Wauford Engineering Company and Buddy Petty of Rate Studies Incorporated of Nashville shared with the mayor and aldermen Monday night the results of the latest water and sewer rate study.

“Everybody knows a big water rate increase is coming. You cannot lose your largest water customer by far without a massive increase. I think you are selling more water to them (DUD) than you use inside the city. We also looked at your sewer system,” said Davenport.

Aldermen Josh Miller and Gayla Hendrix asked why the loss of revenue from DUD would not be offset by less expense to the city. “They only thing you’re getting an advantage on here is less power and less chemicals. You still have the plant infrastructure that you are paying depreciation on. We did not assume anybody being laid off (in this water rate study). It’s basically just as you are now except you’re just losing a big customer,” said Petty.

“You have a lot of fixed costs. You can’t take a three million gallon a day water plant and operate it at two million gallons a day and cut the labor staff by 50%. You still need a certain number of people there just to keep it going and run tests everyday whether you produce one gallon or three million gallons a day. All those fixed costs are divided into fewer sales gallons. Your variable costs like chemicals and power will go down but they will not go down in corresponding fashion with your income,” added Davenport.

Petty said his company did a cash flow analysis over five years and concluded a rate hike is inevitable.

“By fiscal year 2021 we’re anticipating total income (water fund) of $933,000 but expenses will be over $1 million so you will be losing cash by that point. We’re showing some possible cash expenses that year so you will have a cash loss of about $200,000 just pure cash. When we look at it on net position the biggest thing is you have depreciation. You have a negative change in net position of $406,000 (water fund). That is what is driving it (loss). It looks like over the next five years you are going to need an overall 45% increase in the water (rates). In sewer you’ve got a negative change in net position of $341,000 and a 40% increase (rates) will be needed over the next four years,” said Petty.

Petty recommended that the city raise water rates by 10% each year over the next four years and 5% in the fifth year. Petty further suggested increasing sewer rates by 10% each year over the next four years. “What that does for you is to bring your cash back up where your revenue will be well above your expenses. It’s going to put you back in really good shape financially,” said Petty.

The proposed water and sewer rate increases under this plan would not put the city back in the black for four to five years so Petty and Davenport suggested that city officials review this option with the state comptroller before any action is taken since the state requires that utilities not operate in the red for more than two consecutive years.

“A water system fund is not just managed off of cash. It’s not like your home budget where as long as your bills are less than your income you’re still okay. With a water system you have what they refer to as a net position. In Tennessee there’s a law that says you can’t have more than two years of net position negative in the red. What that means is your cash could be floating along fine. Your books could show a negative number because depreciation is pulling you down. Depreciation is a non cash expense. Really if you have any depreciation your cash balance should be going up all the time and you have to raise those rates not just to finance your bills but also to fund your depreciation and everything else and that’s a state law. If you have two years or more of net position in the red then the state water and waste water financing board is going to come down and say you raise your rates or we’re going to raise them for you and they are not going to care about your citizens like you do because they are not here,” said Davenport.

“The state law in Tennessee says you must have a depreciation charge on your water and sewer fund. The purpose of that law is that if you buy something new they want you to depreciate that over whatever useful years that is. For example, a vehicle may be seven years. A wastewater plant may be 40 years. It’s a non cash expense. In other words you are not actually spending that money. It just shows up on the books. The purpose of the law is that the state wants you to save up that money over time so that when you have your next plant (the money to build it) is sitting there in bank,” Davenport continued.

Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial consultant recommended that the city consider making the water increase 20% the first year, 15% the second year, and then 5% the following two years.

“You look at the numbers and you’re in the red about four years before you’re starting to get better. I think for the water rates we need to put in 20% for the first year, 15% the second year, and then 5% and 5% (following two years). That gets to 45% but it gets money in here quicker to get the problem fixed (quicker) rather than going four years before you get out of the red. If the comptroller doesn’t like that option (smaller rate increases over five years) then we’re in trouble,” said Jackson.

No action is expected until the new budget is up for passage this summer.


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