Local News Articles

Resignation of Senator Mae Beavers to Trigger Special Election

August 23, 2017
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

A special election will be held to fill the unexpired term of State Senator Mae Beavers.

Beavers will be stepping down as of September 1 to devote full time to her gubernatorial campaign. She still has more than a year left in her current senate term.

“Under state law, the timing of Senator Beavers' resignation will trigger a special election because the 2018 general election is over 1 year away. In fact there will be both a primary and general election likely held this calendar year,” said DeKalb County Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley.

“The first step is for the governor to issue what is called a "writ of election" (or order) and then a primary must be held between 55 and 60 days afterward. The General Election for that seat must be held 100 to 107 days after the governor's order,” Stanley said.

“Depending on when the governor issues the 'writ', the primary could be held in late October and the general election could be held in late November or early December,” he continued.

Early voting dates would also be held for both elections.

“We will know more about the timing in the coming days,” said Stanley.

Senator Beavers represents the 17th State Senatorial District which includes Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, and Wilson counties. She was first elected to the State Senate in 2002 and is in her fourth term, which expires in 2018.

DeKalb County Experiences 5.4% Tourism Growth

August 23, 2017
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams

DeKalb County experienced a 5.4% growth in tourism in 2016 compared to the previous year. Out of the 95 TN counties, DeKalb County had the 2nd highest percentage increase.

Governor Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced Wednesday that visitors spent a total of $44.99 million in DeKalb County, an increase of 5.4% compared to the previous year, generating a total of $2.69 million in state and $6.04 million in local tax revenues, increases of 7.2% and 6.0%, respectively. A total of 320 DeKalb Countians are employed in tourism-related fields. These figures place DeKalb County third in total travel-related expenditures in the Upper Cumberland region behind the much larger Putnam and Cumberland counties.

Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time record high of $19.3 billion in 2016, up 4.7 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association.

Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams was thrilled when she received the report. Upon hearing the news, Williams said, “The economic impact of tourism on DeKalb County is huge. We are so fortunate to have Center Hill Lake, Edgar Evins State Park, Appalachian Center for Craft, and our many diverse businesses that fuel our tourism revenues including our annual events such as the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival, DeKalb County Fair, Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour, and other local music and art events. Our small town charm, friendly people, and scenic beauty make DeKalb County a desirable place to live, work, play, and raise a family and all these factors keep our visitors coming back year after year.”

State Senator Mae Beavers to Resign September 1st

August 23, 2017
State Senator Mae Beavers

Tennessee State Senator and conservative Republican candidate for Governor Mae Beavers has announced that she will resign her seat in the legislature effective Friday, September 1st at noon. Beavers also disclosed key additions to her gubernatorial campaign team.

“It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing that next Wednesday (August 30th) at noon, I plan to deliver a letter to Governor Bill Haslam and Lt. Governor Randy McNally informing them that I am resigning from the State Senate,” Beavers said. “My travels across our state to campaign for Governor should not deprive the taxpayers of the 17th Senatorial District of the devoted and consistent conservative representation they have come to expect.” By resigning now, a special election can take place later this year and ensure that the 17th District has a “fully focused representative in place the day that session begins.”

Since 2003, Beavers has represented the 17th District, composed of Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, and Wilson (and previously Sumner and Trousdale) counties. Previously, she represented Wilson County as county commissioner from 1990-1994 and then as a state representative from 1994 through 2002. Beavers has consistently been recognized as one of the most conservative and effective legislators throughout her public service. She also received the most statewide votes as delegate for President Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican presidential primary and was chosen as Tennessee Delegation Chairman by her fellow delegates to the Republican National Convention.

“It has been a honor to serve in the Tennessee Senate for almost fifteen years,” continued Beavers. “It is therefore with a heavy heart, but also with great excitement, that I resign my Senate seat and look forward to a new phase in my campaign to be Tennessee’s next Governor. I have always taken my duties in the state legislature extremely seriously, and I have concluded that it is simply not possible for anyone to run a statewide grassroots campaign while effectively serving during legislative session.”

Beavers also announced key additions to her campaign organization saying, “I’ve been blessed to be able to assemble a top-tier team of conservative talent.”

Emerging Horizon Group will helm the campaign as general consultant. The group’s principal, Mike Shirley, has worked with the National Rifle Association, the Republican National Committee, Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, and Dr. Kelli Ward’s closely watched primary challenge against John McCain in 2016. Stephen Sebastian, who most recently worked with former South Carolina Governor and now Congressman Mark Sanford, will serve as lead consultant on the race.

Osborne, Shell, & Miller Advertising, which will coordinate messaging and advertising for Beavers, has run more than one hundred political campaigns in Northeast Tennessee including Congressman Phil Roe’s historic upset victory in 2008, the first time in 58 years an incumbent congressman had been toppled in a Tennessee primary. Heavily outspent, Roe overcame a 43 point deficit in the polls in the final 5 weeks of the campaign to become the 1st District’s sole successful primary challenger since 1930 who had not previously held the seat.

The Hines Digital team will handle online fundraising, advertising, organizing, and social media. Hines’ clients have included Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, the Young Republicans National Committee, Young Americans for Liberty, and the Republican parties of California, Florida, Maryland, and Wyoming, Theresa May’s campaign for Prime Minister, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Before becoming a Republican, Hines helped develop Howard Dean’s pioneering digital strategy in the 2004 presidential race.

Capital Square Funding Group, whose team members have worked with Ron Paul, Chris McDaniel, Ted Cruz, and Roy Moore in various capacities, will be assisting Beavers with fundraising.

“Senator Beavers’ time in public service has been marked by dignity and decency and quiet but unwavering determination,” Sebastian said. “We’re confident that her concrete convictions and amazing accomplishments will cut through the avalanche of slick campaign season rhetoric and attract the kind of conservative firepower we’ll need to win.”

Beavers concluded, “We’re running a grassroots, citizen-powered campaign to hold the line for Tennessee’s future, and it’s resonating because of my record. There are more than enough conservative voters to elect a conservative Republican statewide for the first time in Tennessee’s history.”

Republican Announces Bid to Unseat State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

August 23, 2017
Dwayne Page
Chad Williams

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, a Republican, will have an opponent in the GOP Primary next August.

Smith County native and small business owner Chad Williams has announced his candidacy to unseat Weaver, the five term incumbent. He will be seeking the GOP nomination for Tennessee’s 40th District House of Representatives seat in August, 2018.

In a press release, Williams said he was raised just outside of the Lancaster community and has resided in the 40th district a majority of his life.

“Time and time again, I have been asked, ‘Why do you want to run?’ At this point, the district is very unhappy with the representation they have been receiving in Nashville. My roots are deep within the 40th district, and I find it disheartening to see and hear how unhappy the voters are with the results they are getting.”

“After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to take this major step in my life. Conservative values are the backbone of this district, and I will carry those same principles to Nashville. Additionally, some core foundations of our communities have been neglected, including infrastructure, public education and small businesses. I will take precedence to make those aspects top priority.”

Chad is the son of Keith and Julie Williams, also of the Lancaster community. Williams owns the Lebanon Antique Mall where his parents manage the day-to-day operations. He currently attends Tennessee Tech University where he studies political science with a concentration in legal studies. He plans to further his education in law school upon graduation in the spring of 2018.

Williams is an active member of the Southside Lions Club of Gordonsville – an affiliate of Lions Club International. He also holds membership in two Masonic Lodges in Smith County (New Middleton #249 and Carthage #14). Williams attends Lancaster United Methodist where he is active in leadership and serves the role of treasurer.

Williams will be touring the 40th district, which consists of Smith, Trousdale and portions of DeKalb and Sumner counties. He stated, “I am really excited to begin meeting with the people across the district. I am especially excited to speak with our civic and business leaders to discuss the issues facing our area.”

Menda Holmes to Run for State Representative Mark Pody's Seat

August 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
Menda Holmes

Menda Holmes, chairman of the Wilson County Tea Party and an avid opponent of Governor Haslam’s gas tax increase, has announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination to represent the 46th District in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

The district is currently represented by State Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), who has announced he will not run for re-election, but will instead run for the State Senate seat currently held by State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet). Beavers is not running for re-election, but instead is one of five candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

“As a self-employed business owner and the daughter Albert McCall Sr., owner of D.T. McCall and Sons, Holmes has been a resident of Wilson County for the past 28 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Trevecca University and is the mother of two grown children. Holmes lives in the southwestern part of the county with her husband, Howard, and they are both active members at New Vision Baptist Church in Murfreesboro,” the Lebanon Democrat reported.

She has served as the chairman of the Wilson County Tea Party for the past four years. During that time, the Tea Party played host to top conservative leaders who spoke on a wide variety of issues that affect Tennesseans. She also worked in the legislature to research bills for Pody and served on the executive board of the Wilson County Republican Party.

Holmes described herself as a strong supporter of the biblical values and constitutional principles that make Tennessee great. As an advocate for state’s rights, religious liberty, the right to life and the Second Amendment, she said she would work to continue to advance the conservative principles Pody stood for during his four terms in the House. Her campaign theme, “Keeping the Promise,” follows the footsteps of President Donald Trump to fulfill the promises made during the campaign with real action and not to cave in to special interests," she said.

Long-Awaited Bridge Construction Repairs to Begin

August 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
Veterans Memorial Bridge

Construction repairs are set to begin on the Veterans Memorial Bridge on South College Street in Smithville within a few days.

“The contractor plans to have the project staked by this Monday, August 28 and will begin work the day after the Labor Day holiday period,” Jennifer Flynn, TDOT Community Relations Officer told WJLE Tuesday.

In June, the Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded the contract to Mid-State Construction Company, Inc. of Livingston for $222,894.68.

The project is scheduled to be completed by October 31, 2017.

TDOT let bids for the project Friday, May 12 and Mid-State was the only bidder. In the February 10 letting, Mid-State bid $238,600.58 but there were no other bids and TDOT rejected it as too high.

The bridge has been closed since Monday, June 27, 2016 when a county landfill truck hit it causing major damage. The bridge was hit again last month by a freightliner car hauler.

DeKalb Recovery Court Invites You to Hear Rodney Williams

August 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
Rodney Williams

Sober Living Services in collaboration with the DeKalb County Recovery Court will host speaker Rodney Williams on Friday, August 25 at 6:00 p.m. in the DeKalb County Complex. This a free event and open to the public.

Williams is an ordained pastor, author of the book, Club Meth to Christ, and founder of Club Meth to Christ Ministries. His goal is to help those who struggle with the devastating bondage of addiction experience lasting freedom. Rodney lived as a drug addict and alcoholic for over twenty years of his life but that all changed the night he was set on fire in a crystal meth lab explosion. That night he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and from that point on Rodney began following Jesus. Rodney entered the Home of Grace drug rehabilitation program after months of skin grafts and burn treatments then wrote the book Club Meth to Christ. He then obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of Mobile. Rodney was pastor to a small congregation in South Mississippi for eight years before entering full time evangelism. Rodney’s story has been featured on the 700 Club, Pacific Garden Mission’s radio drama, Unshackled, and American Family Radio. He has spoken at countless evangelical and secular events using his story to warn audiences about the danger of drugs and give hope to those trapped in the bonds of addiction. Rodney and his wife, Jennifer, live in South Mississippi with their four children.

Visit http://www.clubmethtochrist.com for more information.

Star Manufacturing Adding New Jobs

August 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
 Front Row: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling, TN ECD Business Development Consultant Angela Regitko, Chamber Past President Kathy Hendrixson, Star Mfg. Director of Services Keisha Milken, Star Manufacturing President John Perruccio, Star Mfg. HR Director Kara Davis, Star Tenures employee Henretta Colwell, Manufacturing Engineering Manager Jason Norris,Back Row: TN ECD Upper Cumberland Regional Director Cody Huddleston, Director of IT Dean Parkinson, Manufacturing Engineer

Star Manufacturing in Smithville plans to hire another 35-40 people to fill engineering, technical, and customer service jobs.

The announcement was made by Star officials Monday afternoon, August 14 followed by a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting for the new office work stations built within the existing warehouse. Plans are to add an engineering lab for research purposes and a kitchen for potential customers to test cooking equipment manufactured here before making purchasing decisions.

In addition to company representatives, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams and Immediate Past President of the Chamber Kathy Hendrixson, the ribbon cutting was attended by County Mayor Tim Stribling and officials of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

“ We built inside the warehouse space that we already had which we weren’t utilizing to its fullest extent. It was the only feasible alternative we had to house this many people in an environment that would be conducive to talking to customers on the phone all the time,” said John Perruccio, Group President for Star Manufacturing in Smithville and South Bend Manufacturing in North Carolina.

“The new office space is 115’ x 50’ and another 115’ x 50’ will be immediately adjacent to it half of which will be allocated to an engineering lab for research and development and the other half for a test kitchen and training facility where customers will come in, visit with us, and test the equipment here before they actually purchase it for themselves out in the field. We have a very similar set up at Southbend where we bring in all different types of customers ranging from very large chain accounts to single unit operators who want to test our equipment prior to making purchasing decisions,” said Perruccio.

The addition of the new jobs will bring the number of employees at Star Manufacturing to 330 working two shifts.

“We will probably have about 35-40 new jobs when its all said and done. We did have about five or six people come down here from St. Louis, Missouri who actually transferred down to the area but all the other jobs are new. We have actually filled probably most of the customer service and technical service jobs but we are still looking for some more engineering team members who can do anything from varying levels of mechanical and electrical engineering,” said Perruccio.

“About 80% of our new jobs across the whole state of Tennessee come from existing industries so we’re very thankful to have a presence like Star Manufacturing here in DeKalb County. We appreciate them being able to expand and grow right here in really what we would call rural Tennessee. We’re very appreciative of the jobs they provide for the hundreds of families here in this operation,” said Cody Huddleston, Regional Director of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

“I want to say thank you to Star Manufacturing for the investment they made years ago in this county and for maintaining jobs and adding new jobs here today. This company has been here long enough that they have provided jobs for people in DeKalb County who have now retired. That means a lot that you have served the people of DeKalb County well and hopefully the people of DeKalb County have served Star well,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling.

Company Overview
With entry level to Heavy Duty gas and electric Griddle, Charbroiler and Hotplates categories, as well as their world¬class toasting, sandwich grill (Panini) and hot¬dog product solutions, Star is among the largest manufacturers of Heavy Duty and Medium Duty commercial cooking equipment in the world.

Star Manufacturing was founded in 1921 in St. Louis, Missouri and quickly became a leading supplier of a wide range of restaurant equipment – the name became synonymous with hot dogs (“red hots”) machines, fryers, popcorn makers and toasters. Over time Star outgrew its manufacturing plant in St. Louis, and opened its current factory in Smithville, Tennessee in 1982, eventually expanding it in 1990.

With the acquisition of Toastwell in 1997, Star added a range of new products to its catalog, including twosided grills (aka – panini’s), drawer warmers, popup toasters and waffle bakers. In 2000 Star acquired the Holman brand, adding conveyor ovens and conveyor toasters to its growing product line The Lang brand was acquired by Star in 2006, adding convection ovens, ranges and a robust Marine equipment line.

In December 2007, the Star Group was acquired by the Middleby Corporation, making them a proud part of the world’s largest family of food equipment manufacturers.

The Star Operation Center, Customer, Technical and Engineering services are still out of the office in St. Louis, Missouri. Still proudly Made in the U.S.A., the plant in Smithville, Tennessee is home to all the Star Group brands, including Star, Wells, Lang and Toastmaster.

Front Row: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling, TN ECD Business Development Consultant Angela Regitko, Chamber Past President Kathy Hendrixson, Star Mfg. Director of Services Keisha Milken, Star Manufacturing President John Perruccio, Star Mfg. HR Director Kara Davis, Star Tenures employee Henretta Colwell, Manufacturing Engineering Manager Jason Norris

Back Row: TN ECD Upper Cumberland Regional Director Cody Huddleston, Director of IT Dean Parkinson, Manufacturing Engineer Daniel Hullett, VP of Engineering Todd Fenton, Plant Manager Anthony Brewer, Plant Controller Carrie Cantrell, Star Tenured employee Oscar Hendrix

DeKalb County Fire Department Receives Elite Award

August 22, 2017
Donny Green

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, for the ninth consecutive year, has been recognized as one of Tennessee’s elite fire departments for outstanding training achievement.

Of the 732 fire departments in Tennessee, both volunteer and paid, the DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 17 for 2016-17 training achievement by the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Considering the ranking among departments that operate with 100% volunteer staff in the state, the DeKalb County Fire Department ranks # 2; only 13 hours short of the # 1 spot.

Last year, the department was the #4 volunteer fire department in Tennessee for training hours. This year, the department logged 2,908 training hours at the state fire academy and was recognized as a Gold Level fire department in Tennessee for 2016-17. The Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy presented the department with a Certificate of Training Achievement.

DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling commended the department’s members and leaders for continuing to make the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s training program a legacy of excellence. “Our county takes great pride in the level of commitment and service that we continue to see year after year from our volunteer firefighters who work hard and train hard to make sure our citizens have good fire protection here in DeKalb County.

Getting this kind of statewide recognition for the ninth consecutive year makes it very clear that we have an excellent group of committed men and women who sacrifice many hours to be prepared to respond to the emergency needs of our citizens,” says Mayor Stribling. Chief Donny Green says he wants to personally commend Captain Brian Williams, the department's Training Officer, for his leadership in planning and coordinating the
department's training activities in a manner that consistently spotlights our training program as one of top in the state; volunteer or career. In addition to the 2,908 hours at the Academy, Captain Williams coordinated over 3,000 man hours of in "in-house" training.

Chief Green says that without the support of County Mayor Tim Stribling, the County Commission, the families of our volunteer firefighters, and the citizens of DeKalb County, the department could not have achieved such prestigious recognition. “Properly trained firefighters are the best tools available to any fire department. Without proper training, the best and most expensive equipment is useless. However, good training coupled with good equipment is priceless,” says Chief Green. Training performance and documentation are core elements in the Insurance Services Office's (ISO) property protection that determine how much property owner's have to pay in homeowners insurance premiums. The DeKalb County Fire Department's proven commitment to training and emergency response has resulted in a dramatic improvement to DeKalb County’s Public Protection Classification Rating of Class 6 for all areas of DeKalb County located within 5 road miles of one of the department’s 11 stations.

If you are interested in learning more about the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, or would like information on how to be a member of our team, you can visit the Department’s website at: www.dekalbfire.com, or call 615-464-7176. You can also visit the Department’s FaceBook group page.

Elite Club 2016-2017

Johnson City Fire Department 11,062
Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue 10,126
Bartlett Fire Department 7,552
Franklin Fire Department 6,118
Cleveland Fire Department 5,110
Memphis Fire Department 4,172
Gallatin Fire Department 4,157
Dyersburg Fire Department 4,100

Hendersonville Fire Department 3,998
Lebanon Fire Department 3,788
Brentwood Fire & Rescue 3,719
Kingsport Fire Department 3,684
Smyrna Fire Department 3,526
Wilson County EMA 3,388
Clarksville Fire & Rescue 3,078
Seymour Volunteer Fire Department 2,921
DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department 2,908
Elizabethton Fire Department 2,864
Crossville Fire Department 2,860
Rural/Metro Fire Department 2,758
Hardin County Fire Department 2,694
Williamson County Fire & Rescue 2,690
McMinnville Fire Department 2,668
Maury County Fire Department 2,641
Pigeon Forge Fire Department 2,529
Williamson County Rescue Squad 2,509
Blount County Fire Department 2,488
Lawrenceburg Fire Department 2,455
Columbia Fire Department 2,414
Sevierville Fire Department 2,349
Jefferson City Fire Department 2,196
Germantown Fire Department 2,195
Knoxville Fire Department 2,126
Martin Fire Department 2,090

Tullahoma Fire Department 1,920
Rutherford County Fire & Rescue 1,878
Putnam County Fire Department 1,825
Manchester Fire Department 1,604
Fairview Fire Department 1,557
Cookeville Fire Department 1,544
Signal Mountain Fire Department 1,535
Fire Department of Mt. Juliet 1,520
Cumberland Gap Volunteer Fire Department 1,489
Goodlettsville Fire Department 1,477
Jackson Fire Department 1,412
Shelbyville Fire Department 1,403
Karns Volunteer Fire Department 1,401
Decatur County Fire Department 1,352
Gatlinburg Fire Department 1,317
Madison County Fire Department 1,304
Sevier County Volunteer Fire Department 1,283
Morristown Fire Department 1,274
White House Community Volunteer Fire Dept. 1,272
Rhea County Fire Department 1,265
LaVergne Fire Department 1,236
Bristol Fire Department 1,235
Cumberland County Fire Department 1,208
Loudon Fire Department 1,202
Henderson County Fire Department 1,199
Millington Fire Department 1,180
Oak Ridge Fire Department 1,171
Greeneville Fire Department 1,143
Lincoln County Volunteer Fire Department 1,139
Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department 1,064
Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Dept. 1,048
City of Athens Fire Department 1,039
Sullivan County Volunteer Fire Department 1,020

Opal Parker celebrates 20 Years as CNA at NHC Smithville

August 22, 2017
Dwayne Page
Mark Pody, Opal Parker, and Greg Bidwell

NHC Smithville recently held a celebration for Opal Parker on the anniversary of 20 years as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at NHC Smithville. A reception was held on Friday, August 18 at NHC where Mrs. Parker received some special gifts and a service pin celebrating her 20 years. As an additional honor, Mrs. Parker was presented with a Proclamation from State Representative Mark Pody. The Proclamation congratulated Mrs. Parker on her years of devoted care to her patients as well as her service to NHC. The Proclamation was also signed by State Senator Mae Beavers and Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell. Mrs. Parker began working as a CNA in 1997.

“It was an honor to come and celebrate this occasion with Opal,” Rep. Pody said. “My wife Barbara was a CNA, so caregivers have a special place in my heart. Opal represents the best of the best and her commitment to her patients is evident.”

“Opal has long been an important part of the NHC team and we are so grateful for her selfless service to the patients, families, and partners of NHC Smithville,” NHC Senior Vice President Greg Bidwell said.

Administrator Clint Hall added, “She is a very caring, compassionate, and reliable person. Her dedication to patients and her fellow partners are second to none and serves as an example to others. We are fortunate to have her as a part of the NHC family.”

Opal Parker is a native of DeKalb County and is married to Danny Parker. They have 3 children and attend Hensley Chapel Free Will Baptist Church.


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