Local News Articles

Principal Calls for More School Resource Officers, Board of Education Sets Workshop

February 8, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. Gayle Redmon, Principal of NES, calls for more SRO's
Danny Parkerson, Principal of DWS, supports more SRO's
School board member Billy Miller (right)calls for workshop on school security

With a local principal calling for more School Resource Officers, the school board has scheduled a workshop for Monday, February 25 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss options for strengthening school security, including the possibility of asking the state legislature and county commission to help fund more SRO officers.

DeKalb County currently has one School Resource Officer at DCHS. The four other schools do not have an SRO.

During Thursday night's school board meeting held at DeKalb West School, Dr. Gayle Redmon, Principal at Northside Elementary School said its time for the school board to act. "While I am aware that the funding for School Resource Officers is not an item that comes out of the school budget, I would like to make an appeal to the School Board to request from our County Commissioners, a School Resource Officer in each of our schools in DeKalb County," she said.

(VIEW THE ENTIRE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING THURSDAY NIGHT BY PLAYING BOTH VIDEOS BELOW-PARTS 1 & 2)

M2U00996 from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Referring to an incident in Warren County Thursday, Dr. Redmon said "today (Thursday), we had a report of a threat made by a student in another county (Warren County) and our school (NES) was fortunate enough to have an officer assigned to our school for most of the day as we maintained a high alert status. The presence of this officer made everyone at Northside feel safer and more secure," she said.

"While it saddens me that we must make this request, I believe it is imperative that we think in terms of being proactive rather than reactive," said Dr. Redmon.

"Research does indicate that a School Resource Officer would be instrumental in protecting students and staff in the event that we were to ever to have an intruder in our school who intended to do harm to students or an adult. I am aware of only one incident in which an SRO officer was killed in a school shooting. Most of the attacks in schools occur where there is not an SRO present. In instances where there has been an SRO present during a violent attack at school, the officer has been able to signficantly limit the harm to innocent people," she said

"In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for example in 2011, a student entered a school with two pipe bombs in his backpack. He then shot and wounded the School Resource Officer. But the officer was able to stop that student before he could do any further harm," said Dr. Redmon.

"In our own state of Tennessee, in Sullivan County a 62 year old man came in and confronted a principal. He put a gun in the principal's face. The School Resource Officer intervened and was able to calm the man down at least until more officers could arrive, at which time that man did draw the gun on the SRO and he was shot by those officers," she said.

"Examples like that could go on and on."

"The one thing that really sticks out in my mind at all the school safety and security meetings I have attended in our own county or at Tennessee Tech and other places is that each of the schools reported having one thing in common and that was that they never thought that a shooting would occur at their school," she said.

"I believe an SRO is needed at every school. I believe they would be able to protect our schools. I think they could coordinate the response better for other police resources and maybe help us to address crime and disorder problems as they occur and further help prevent such crimes," according to Dr. Redmon.

"I believe an SRO would be able to take action immediately against unauthorized persons on our school property. In addition, I think they would be a deterrent to bullying in our schools," she said..

"I believe the presence of SRO's in our schools would be invaluable an immeasurable if they were able to save even one life," concluded Dr. Redmon.

"I concur with Mrs. Redmon," said Danny Parkerson, Principal at DeKalb West School. "Schools have changed. Our society has changed. An SRO Officer in the schools just has a calming affect if nothing else. I've been to ball games and had SRO Officers attend our ball games and it makes an unruly fan, ruly," said Parkerson.

First District member John David Foutch said the school board has been discussing ways to improve school security for several weeks. "The day after Sandy Hook, we started working on this," said Foutch. " We've talked to local law enforcement departments. In our own county, we've gone a long way. We've got people interested in taking those jobs (SROs). What we are lacking mainly is funding. If you will talk to your county commissioners, we'll talk to our legislators. To get this funded and off the ground, we need people at home standing behind us. This is something we're trying to make happen but we can't make it happen on our own. We need everybody's help," said Foutch.

"In the workshop prior to this meeting, we were already discussing some of these issues," said Board Chairman Johnny Lattimore. " I think Mr. (Mark) Willoughby is going to be checking into the costs and we will be making recommendations. Some of our board members will be attending the "Day on the Hill" (State Legislature) in just a few days and they will be talking to some of our legislators about such things as being able to help fund some of those (SROs) and a lot of other things we need to do to upgrade our security systems at the schools," said Lattimore.

Fourth District member Billy Miller proposed having a workshop on school security, but to open it up to the community so that more people, including local law enforcement officers and business persons could offer up ideas. "I do think it is a community responsibility for us to look at this," said Miller. " I would make a proposal that we have a workshop to come up with solutions. It needs to be an open workshop to include the Sheriff's Department, the Police Department, First Responders, local businessmen, and the community. If we come together as a community I think we can get way ahead on this problem. If we have the community involved in this, maybe we can come up with a solution and maybe be able to put more SRO's into the school system. It's not going to solve all our problems but it's a start in the right direction. I would like to see this board step up for the community and have the community involved," said Miller.

Chris Allen, a concerned parent and owner of two local businesses addressed the school board offering an idea on how to pay for more SRO's. " I've thought about the funding for the SRO's. If every working citizen in DeKalb County who works in the county would commit to having one penny an hour deducted off of their pay, that would fund an SRO Officer for each school in the county. I don't know how difficult that would be to do but it wouldn't have to come out of anybody's budget. I don't know how it could be implemented or even if it could be a private thing instead of through the state or the county," said Allen.

Board Chairman Lattimore said the school system could not implement such a plan and that Allen would have to contact the county commission or state legislature about his proposal. "That would be something that would have to be taken up by the county commission or the state legislature," said Lattimore. "How ever the SRO's are funded, the taxpayers will have to pay for that. Right now all of our county taxes are through property taxes so if the county commission pays for it (more SRO's) then that's probably how they would do it is add to the county property taxes. I recommend that you talk to your county commissioners and maybe you can send in an email to your state representatives too and let them know about your idea. They are the ones who actually tax us so that's where that would have to come from," said Lattimore.

Tiger Coach Lynus Martin Gets 200th Career Win

February 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tiger Coach Lynus Martin

With the Tiger's 85-60 victory over the Chattanooga Patriots Thursday on Senior Night, Coach Lynus Martin reached a milestone with his 200th career coaching win.

Coach Martin's overall record is now at 200-117, dating back to when he took over during the 2002-03 season. This is his 11th season with the team. Coach Martin has a 67-59 district record. His post-season record is 12-16. He has won one Regular Season District Championship (this year), finished as District Tournament runners-up twice (2010-11 & 2011-12) and appeared in the Region Tournament five times.

Coach Martin has also been selected to coach in the Basketball Coaches Association of Tennessee All-Star Game in Murfreesboro on Saturday, March 16. Tiger seniors Braxton Atnip, Sonni Fullilove and Stephen Howell have all been selected to play.

The regular season for the DCHS basketball teams ends Saturday night. DC travels to Gabriel Christian Friday night for games starting at 6:00 p.m. and at Gordonsville Saturday night with action getting underway at 6:00 p.m. WJLE will have LIVE coverage. The District Tournament begins next week at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville

Coach Martin's year-by-year records are as follows:

2012-13: 25-4

2011-12: 26-7

2010-11: 23-8

2009-10: 16-12

2008-09: 19-12

2007-08: 14-12

2006-07: 20-11

2005-06: 14-18

2004-05: 21-7

2003-04: 12-15

2002-03: 10-11 (Coach Martin took over for former DCHS Coach Danny Bond after first three games were played)

School Calendar Set for 2013-14 Year

February 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
School Board Met Thursday night at DeKalb West School
School Board Meeting at DeKalb West School

The DeKalb County Board of Education formally adopted the school calendar for the 2013-2014 year Thursday night during the February meeting held at DeKalb West School

Registration for all students will be Thursday, August 1. That will be an abbreviated school day from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Friday, August 2 will be an administrative day for teachers only

The first full day of school for all students will be Monday, August 5

A system wide professional development day will be Monday, July 29 at DCHS from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 30 and July 31 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 2.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 14-25

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 27, 28, & 29 and for the winter break December 23 through January 3. Wednesday, December 20 will be the last day students attend before winter break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Students will return after the holidays on Monday, January 6.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20 and for President's Day, Monday, February 17.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 24-28

No school for students on Good Friday, April 18 and Memorial Day, Monday May 26.

The following are designated as Early Release dates: Friday, October 4; Friday, February 14; Friday, March 7, and Friday, March 21

Students will not attend on Tuesday, May 27. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Wednesday, May 28. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 8 and Tuesday, March 11 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 10 and Thursday, March 13 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 7 and at all other schools on Tuesday, October 8. Report cards to be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, January 7. DCHS report cards to be sent home Monday, March 10 and at all other schools Tuesday, March 11.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 4

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3-7.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 28 through May 9

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel.

The following were employed since last month:
Tabitha Farmer, Maranda Moore, and Judy Redmon as substitute teachers
Rebecca Parker, Education Assistant at Smithville Elementary School replacing Bonnie Rigsby
Holly Espinosa, Special Education Teacher at DeKalb West School
Regina Campbell, Special Education Teacher replacing Rickey Cross at Northside Elementary School

Leave of Absence:
Donna Knowles, Educational Assistant at Northside Elementary School, leave as requested
Shelly Jennings, teacher at Northside Elementary School, leave as requested
Taleen Lambert, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, leave as requested
Amanda Mullinax, teacher at DeKalb West School, leave as requested

Resignation:
Rickey Cross, Special Education Teacher at Northside Elementary School

In other business, the board adopted a resolution of appreciation in honor of principals and assistant principals.

The resolutions is as follows:

"Whereas, principals and assistant principals have a great amount of responsibilities including leading, observing, evaluating, mentoring and much more; and

Whereas, principals and assistant principals are exceptional leaders who provide support and guidance to students, teachers, and other school employees in our district; and

Whereas, our principals keep the focus clearly on established goals for the school and its students; and

Whereas, our principals create strategies for making their schools the very best they can be; and

Whereas, principals seek support from parents and community so their students get the very best education possible; and

Whereas, principals strive to enhance the learning and working environment for everyone in the school;

Now, therefore be it resolved that the DeKalb County Board of Education hereby adopts February 14, 2013 as Principal Appreciation Day in all of our schools; and

Be it further resolved that the Board expresses deep appreciation to principals and assistant principals in our system and encourages the students and staff to join us in expressing appreciation to the leaders of DeKalb County Schools.

The board gave permission for the Beta Club of DCHS to attend the National Beta Club State Convention to be held at Gaylord Opryland Hotel on April 1-3. The purpose of the convention is for the student members to compete with other high schools in the state in various academic and non-academic events.

The school board voted to accept sealed bids to sell declared surplus property including folding mobile cafeteria tables- bench seats, wood construction, with laminated finish and metal base (72 x 30 each section). The property is to be sold as is with no guarantee of usefulness or warranty. Bids will be accepted until March 14 to be opened during the regular monthly school board meeting that night. The board reserves the right to reject all bids should it be more profitable to sell as scrap.

Postal Service to Cut Saturday Mail Delivery to Trim Costs

February 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Post Office

Unless Congress intervenes, the United States Postal Service plans to stop delivering and collecting letters and other first-class mail on Saturdays beginning August 5, although packages will continue to be delivered.

The Postal Service expects to generate cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually, once the plan is fully implemented.

David Walton, spokesman for the Tennessee District of the United States Postal Service, in a telephone interview with WJLE Thursday, said once implemented, mail delivery to street addresses will occur Monday through Friday. Packages will continue to be delivered six days per week. Mail addressed to PO Boxes will continue to be delivered on Saturdays. Post Offices currently open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays so that customers can drop off mail or packages, buy postage stamps or access their post office boxes. "What this means is, customers who are getting mail now to their homes delivered six days a week Monday through Saturday, that is going to change," said Walton. " They will now get their mail delivered Monday through Friday. What we're doing is taking away the letter mail. We're not going to be delivering letter mail anymore six days a week. Now we are going to keep delivering packages. I know medicines are usually sent by priority mail. They are considered packages. We know that is a big concern to customers. So nothing will change as far as medications. They will still be delivered six days a week. If you've got a P.O Box, there won't be any changes for you. You will still get your mail six days a week. For post offices, there is going to be no changes to those as well. If you've got a post office that you use that is open on Saturdays, it will still be open on Saturdays," said Walton

"The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO in a prepared news release. "We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings."

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages. However, recent strong growth in package delivery (14 percent volume increase since 2010) and projections of continued strong package growth throughout the coming decade led to the revised approach to maintain package delivery six days per week.

"Our customers see strong value in the national delivery platform we provide and maintaining a six-day delivery schedule for packages is an important part of that platform," said Donahoe. "As consumers increasingly use and rely on delivery services — especially due to the rise of e-commerce — we can play an increasingly vital role as a delivery provider of choice, and as a driver of growth opportunities for America's businesses."

Facebook Threat in Warren County Heightens School Safety Awareness in DeKalb County

February 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

Although there have been no reports of threats against anyone in the DeKalb County School System, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said extra precautions have been taken today because of what is being reported in Warren County.

According to Nashville media reports, Warren County Director of Schools Bobby Cox said they were alerted about a Facebook post Wednesday evening regarding someone who said he had access to his father's guns and was planning something at Warren County High in McMinnville. Cox said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is working to identify who posted the message. He said there will be extra patrols at all 11 schools in the district and there will be limited access to the buildings.

Again, no such threats have been made in DeKalb County today, still Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said the incident in neighboring Warren County has heightened awareness here. "We're taking extra precautions today just because of some of the threats we have heard at some neighboring school systems. We haven't received any direct threats in DeKalb County as far as I know but our schools are probably a little bit more secure today. You may see the sheriff's department and city police department on the schools around the property a little more today. But this is just stemming from the threats in a neighboring county. I understand some things in the neighboring county have come over Facebook which has caused them concern. But we have not received any direct threats to any of our schools in DeKalb County but we are taking extra precautions. Safety is our number one priority,"said Willoughby.

Its FREE MOVIE NIGHT at the DeKalb County Complex

February 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
ParaNorman

The DeKalb County Complex is hosting a FREE MOVIE NIGHT tonight (Thursday, February 7).

ParaNorman, a 2012 American 3D stop-motion animated comedy horror film, will be featured starting at 6:00 p.m. at the county complex auditorium. No admission charge for either children or adults. Concessions will be available for purchase.

County Mayor Mike Foster said movies and other special events will be scheduled on a regular basis at the county complex to attract more people. "We've been trying to think of things to involve more kids so the staff there have decided they are going to show a movie called "ParaNorman" which is an animated movie. It lasts about an hour and a half. Its rated PG and was picked as one of the top movies of the year. People who have seen it say it's a cute little film. We're just trying to establish some things on Thursday night. We're probably going to try to do a movie night at least once a month. We hope to have an open mic night, a band, and karaoke. We want to try to have something each Thursday night," said Foster.

The movie ParaNorman is about the little town of Blithe Hollow where a boy named Norman Babcock can speak to the dead, but no one besides his eccentric new friend, Neil, believes his ability is real. One day, Norman's estranged eccentric uncle tells him of an important annual ritual he must take up to protect the town from a curse cast by a witch it condemned centuries ago. Eventually, Norman decides to cooperate, but things don't go according to plan. Now, a magic storm of the witch threatens Blithe Hollow as the accursed dead rise. Together with unexpected new companions, Norman struggles to save his town, only to discover the horrific truth of the curse. With that insight, Norman must resolve the crisis for good as only he can.

Downtown Revitalization Gets Donation from Project Hometown Help

February 6, 2013
Downtown Revitalization Gets Donation from Project Hometown Help

The Smithville Downtown Revitalization Project was a recent recipient of funds from the Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Project Hometown Help program. These funds will be used to assist with the construction of a new open-air stage located at the Anne S. and Joe L. Evins Park across from the Smithville Post Office and used for outdoor concerts, performances, and other community events for the public to enjoy and use.

Project Hometown Help is funded by the customers of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas who allow the utility to round their bill up to the next dollar. The money collected in this fashion is distributed to local organizations and charities. These customers have given more than $1,500,000 to their communities since 2005.

Presenting the check from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas is (center) W. Michael Corley, Vice President - Human Resources and General. Accepting the check for the Tennessee Downtowns Program Steering Committee is from left to right, Mark Ashburn, Wade Smith, Corley, Steve White and Suzanne Williams.

Administrative Law Judge Says City May Participate in DUD Rate Review Hearing

February 6, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

When the State's Utility Management Review Board comes to Smithville on April 4 for a DeKalb Utility District rate review hearing, the City of Smithville will apparently get to intervene along with DUD ratepayers.

Steve R. Darnell, an Administrative Law Judge, has granted a motion by the city to be a participant in the hearing, along with DUD ratepayers, to address the UMRB on how the proposed plans for a DUD water treatment plant could impact city water ratepayers.

Attorneys for the DeKalb Utility District are opposed to the city's intervention in the hearing.

Darnell's order, which came down Tuesday, stated "This is an action initiated by the petitioners (DUD rate payers) which grants the Board (Utility Management Review Board) the authority to review rates charged and services provided by public utility districts."

"Smithville's motion demonstrates the disposition of this case may, as a practical matter, affect Smithville's interests. The factual issues asserted by Smithville are intertwined with the petitioners (DUD ratepayer's) assertions. Finally, Smithville's participation will not render the hearing unmanageable or interfere with the interests of justice and the orderly and prompt conduct of the proceeding. Accordingly, Smithville's motion to intervene should be granted without restriction," wrote Darnell.

"We had filed a motion to intervene in the hearing with DUD to set out what the position for the City of Smithville would be if we lost the contract with DUD and how that would affect our rate payers as well as their ratepayers," said City Attorney Vester Parsley. "The administrative law judge filed an order this afternoon (Tuesday) allowing the city to intervene in that matter and be there on April 4 when we have a hearing here in Smithville to put on anything that we have to show that the ratepayers of DUD would certainly be materially affected and so would the city rate payers. Its good news for the city because the opposing counsel, Mr.(Dewey) Branstetter had opposed the intervention of the City of Smithville on the grounds that we didn't have any basis to argue about what the rates are for DUD. We (city) filed a motion to intervene. Mr. Branstetter had filed a motion objecting to our intervention and the administrative law judge has made his decision and said we (city) are allowed to intervene and be a part of this hearing and have a right to participate in the hearing without restrictions. Mr. Branstetter was wanting to restrict it some if we were allowed to intervene. But the order clearly sets out that there are no restrictions (on the city)," said Parsley.

The DUD is represented by its own attorney Keith Blair and by Dewey Branstetter, a Nashville attorney recently hired by the DUD to help represent them before the UMRB.

Attorney Jason Holleman of Jones, Hawkins & Farmer, PLC of Nashville represents the City of Smithville in this matter along with City Attorney Vester Parsley.

Meanwhile an issue was raised as to whether Branstetter's firm could represent DUD in this proceeding due to a potential conflict of interest. But the Administrative Law Judge said that issue was not proper for him to consider.

Darnell's order states that "It appears the issue of a conflict of interest has been raised concerning the Branstetter firm's representation of Respondent (DUD) in this proceeding, and also, the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts of which Smithville is a member. This issue is not a proper consideration in determining whether to grant Smithville's motion to intervene. No motion to disqualify the Branstetter firm is pending before the undersigned (Darnell). It is noted that if there is a conflict it may exist regardless of whether Smithville is permitted to intervene. The parties are referred to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility for guidance on this issue. If either party believes this to be a legitimate issue, guidance should be sought immediately to avoid delay of this hearing."

"It is therefore ordered that Smithville's motion is granted and Smithville shall have the right to participate in this hearing without restriction," wrote Darnell.

City Going to New Automated Water Meter Reading System

February 6, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is taking advantage of a USDA Rural Development Grant/Loan for the purchase and installation of a new automated water meter reading project.

Under the program, the city has been approved for a total of $410,000 in funding including a $95,000 grant and a $315,000 loan for the project. The city will have to repay the loan. The aldermen, Monday night, adopted a bond resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds up to $315,000 at an interest rate not to exceed 2.75% per annum. The bonds shall be payable over a term not to exceed twenty years. The bonds shall be revenue and tax deficiency general obligation bonds of the City of Smithville and will be payable from revenues derived from the City's water and sewer system.

The new equipment will be installed on the existing water system but will replace the current manual read meters and include leak detecting encoding and a radio frequency transmitter. The new equipment will send a radio signal that can be read from outside by simply driving along the streets within the service area. The project will allow the city to make meter reading more efficient and billing more accurate.

"The grant/loan will free up our two meter readers that currently spend six to seven days reading meters and allow them to spend more time helping with other public works needs," said City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson. "With the new automated system our entire water meter system can be read within one days time and without getting out of the vehicle which increases safety as well. Although it's a 20 year loan I believe the city should be able to repay the entire sum within three to five years. Plus the city will receive $95,000 towards this project as a grant that does not have to be repaid," said Hendrixson.

During a city council meeting in February 2010, Will Taylor of the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, addressed the mayor and aldermen on this issue. According to Taylor, benefits to the city by having an automated meter reading system are that it would reduce water loss by an estimated seven to fifteen percent and cut costs associated with the current manner of reading meters.

Many utilities are now using Automated Meter Readers as a way of improving customer service while reducing the cost of reading meters. With this process, one driver in a vehicle is able to read more meters in one day. At the end of the day, the meter reader unloads the information to the city's billing system.

City and DUD at Odds Over Water Cost Study

February 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen (older photo)

The City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District are at odds again. This issue is over which company should conduct a cost study of the city's water system.

City officials have already contracted with Warren & Associates of Lebanon but the DeKalb Utility District wants the Jackson Thornton firm to perform the study.

(LISTEN TO ENTIRE CITY COUNCIL MEETING BY CLICKING AUDIO PLAY BUTTON BELOW)

During Monday night's council meeting, city officials said they are disappointed because DUD officials had said, in a contract proposal, that DUD would share in the cost of the study with the city.

In a letter to Mayor Jimmy Poss, the aldermen, and City Attorney Vester Parsley, DUD manager Jon Foutch wrote on January 29 that "DeKalb Utility is not agreeable with sharing the expense of a cost study performed by Warren & Associates as you had proposed. We have been provided no information as to the qualifications, experience, or background of this entity especially in the area of a cost study such as this. I am sure both DUD and Smithville want an accurate and qualified cost study especially when Smithville has never had one performed before," wrote Foutch

"In an effort to get this process initiated, I would propose using the Jackson Thornton firm who has a very solid reputation and experience in performing this type of study. DUD would be agreeable in sharing the expense of a study performed by them. I look forward to hearing from you as to whether that is agreeable. We can discuss other possible entities to perform the study if necessary," wrote Foutch.

City secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, during Monday night's meeting, said the study is already underway. "They (Warren & Associates) are already probably three weeks into it (cost study) and we hope to have the results within the next three to four weeks by the end of February," said Hendrixson.

"The two gentlemen who are actually doing this rate study for Warren & Associates are Jerry Warren and David Pine. I have given you a list of their experience and education. They have done rate studies before. They have done one for the Smith Utility District, which has about 2,500 customers roughly about the same as the City of Smithville. They have also done a rate review for the Cordell Hull Utility District. They are civil engineers. They do all kinds of water line extensions and other water and sewer projects. They did a water line extension for the Town of Alexandria and a water rate analysis as well. Mr. Warren, who owns the company, has twenty nine years of engineering experience for site planning and design, water and sewer design, water booster pump, and sewer lift stations. I see no problem with their experience. We have already got them on (the job). The total cost is going to be $7,500 which I assumed DUD would pay half of but they don't approve of who we are using to figure out what it costs to make our water," said Hendrixson.

City officials said an effort was made to contact Jackson Thornton before the decision to go with Warren & Associates. "We tried to contact that company," said Mayor Jimmy Poss. "They never did return our calls," he said

Hendrixson added, "well they (Jackson Thorton) finally did (return our calls) but we had already (chosen Warren & Associates)".

City Attorney Vester Parsley said DUD officials, in saying they would share in a cost study with the city, never put conditions on who was to do the study."They never asked for nor did we provide them the credentials of anyone. They (DUD) had no preference until we chose someone," he said.

"In the writing where they (DUD) agreed to pay half the costs, they didn't stipulate it was depending on who did the cost study," said Alderman Gayla Hendrix.

"They absolutely did not," answered City attorney Parsley."No mention was made of giving prior approval of whoever we chose to hire," he said.

"I think enough publicity was made of this that we certainly had a gentleman's agreement," said Alderman Shawn Jacobs. " It may not have been a contract per se but it was certainly in black and white and this board was under the full faith of believing they (DUD) would do what they said. We had no knowledge to the contrary that there were any other stipulations. I am very disappointed," said Alderman Jacobs.

"In my opinion, this is the city's water plant and the city's water that's being sold so I don't know why we would need a customer telling us who we need to use," said Hendrixson.

"Especially when they didn't specify any prerequisites or any lists of individuals or companies that they wanted us to consider," added City Attorney Parsley.

Alderman Hendrix asked "upon providing DUD with these credentials (of Warren & Associates) do you think they will change (their position)"?

"I haven't responded to (Foutch's) letter because I wanted to meet with you (Aldermen) first. I can respond by saying here are the credentials and we feel like they are sufficient to meet the criteria of doing a rate study," said City Attorney Parsley.

"I am very pleased that we have begun the study and are moving forward to find out what it's going to cost to make our water so we'll know what the rates will be in the future. If you (Parsley) as our attorney could write a letter (to DUD) to see if they would be willing to pay half," said Alderman Tim Stribling. "Send them (DUD) these credentials that you have provided us tonight," he added.

"I'll get a letter out tomorrow," said City Attorney Parsley.

However, a proposed unsigned contract presented to the city by DUD recently indicates that the parties would need to agree on an unbiased entity to perform the study.

The proposed contract states. "The initial rate for water furnished by the seller (city) to the purchaser (DUD) shall be subject to and in accordance with a Cost of Service Study. The parties shall have prepared and jointly fund a Cost of Service Study that shall serve as the basis for seller's allocated revenue requirement on a per thousand gallons of water basis to the purchaser."

The proposed contract further states that "The parties shall agree on an entity to perform the Cost of Service Study so as to be unbiased as reasonably possible," Again, city and DUD officials have not yet approved this or any other water contract between the two parties.

Last month, city officials received a letter from Roger Turney, Chairman of the DUD board of directors addressing the city's request for a face to face meeting on proposed contract discussions for a long term water purchase agreement and he mentioned that DUD would be interested in sharing the cost of a study if an "independent" entity is selected.

Turney wrote "As we have earlier stated, DUD is interested in entering into a long term water purchase agreement with the City of Smithville. We have earlier provided to you a rather standard agreement for your review and consideration and have heard no response as to whether the terms set forth therein are agreeable or not or of any proposed changes to the agreement. As we had earlier set out, DUD is willing to share one-half of the cost of an independent entity to conduct a cost study of the city's water production operation but have received no input as to whether that offer is acceptable and if there is any action currently being taken to accomplish such a study. It would seem that there can be no meaningful discussion until such a study is performed since that would address the rate that would be included in any such contract for the purchase of water by DUD. We understand that cost studies are commonly recognized in this industry to establish an appropriate rate."

"Please be advised that DUD still intends on proceeding with the construction of a water treatment plant but will no doubt still need to purchase water or have the ability to purchase water from the City of Smithville. Therefore, we await word on the progression of a cost study so that we can then meaningfully sit down and further discuss the completion of an agreement between the DUD and the city," wrote Turney.

The City of Smithville currently sells water to the DeKalb Utility District for $2.05 per thousand gallons and under terms of the contract, the rate increases by five cents per thousand gallons in January of each year. The two parties entered into the contract in 2004 and it expires in 2014.

Meanwhile, the state's Utility Management Review Board has scheduled a meeting for April 4 in Smithville to conduct a DeKalb Utility District rate review.

In other business, Public Works Director Kevin Robinson said the city's rate of water loss has been increasing lately going from 25% per month to 31%. A search began for a water leak and one was found near Juniper Lane. The city's existing leak detector was not sufficient to locate the leak at Juniper Lane so someone had to be brought in with a more modern device to find it. Robinson said the city needs a new updated leak detector.

Glen Nichols, Jr. was named to replace Sandra Wall on the Smithville Planning Commission and the board of zoning appeals. Wall recently resigned.

The alderman also approved the list of officers and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department for the year 2013, as presented by Chief Charlie Parker. The officers for the year are Chief Parker, Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale, Captain Jeff Wright, and Lieutenants Danny Poss, John Poss, Donnie Cantrell, and Anthony Wright. Other members are Cody Jenkins, Kevin Adcock, Cory Killian, Ronald Whitaker, Glen Lattimore, Stephanie Wright, James R. Hunt, Gary Johnson, Wallace Caldwell, Charles Young, William Brown, and Photographer Greg Bess,

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