Local News Articles

Randy Caplinger Named Smithville Police Chief

May 3, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

The City of Smithville has a new Police Chief.

By a vote of five to nothing, the aldermen voted Monday night to hire Randy Caplinger as the next chief. Caplinger is expected to take over within days.

A native of DeKalb County, Caplinger is a retired Lieutenant Colonel/Major of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and since October, 2006 has been Transportation/Safety Director for Kitchen Craft of Smithville. He and his wife Karen reside on Hurricane Ridge Road in Smithville. They have two grown sons, Shawn and Corey. Caplinger's parents are Doston and Ruth Caplinger of Smithville.

Caplinger, who was not present during the meeting Monday night, told WJLE by telephone later that he is grateful for the opportunity to serve the city and is looking forward to going to work. "I just want to say how grateful I am for the support of the city aldermen, the mayor, and the public. I had a lot of good support. A lot of people came to me in support and I really appreciate them putting their confidence in me to let me show them what we can do in this job. We have a great department already and I think we can make it that much better. We have a great bunch of men to work with. We have a lot of other good agencies here in DeKalb County and the State to work with and I am looking forward to it. Any time if anyone needs me all they have to do is call on me and if we can help them we'll certainly be there to do what we can."

Caplinger says he will officially take over after submitting some needed paperwork to the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission. Last week during his interview, Caplinger explained the status of his POST certification. "Before I ever applied, I checked with POST and my understanding is as long as you're not out (of law enforcement) over five years, you're eligible to go back. Of course I have to send in my psychological, physical, and training records, and if hired I just have to put those records with a letter from the city stating that I have been hired. I was told that I'm also supposed to take a week of in-service training that all officers are required to go through each year."

The Police Chief position has been open since December when the Board of Aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, upheld the city discipline board's decision in November to terminate former Police Chief Richard Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew has been serving as "Officer in Charge" of the department since November.

On December 10th Jennings and his wife June filed a federal court lawsuit against the City of Smithville claiming he was wrongfully terminated and that his constitutional rights were violated
In the lawsuit, Jennings alleges that the city never established a cause for his termination, that the city violated his constitutional due process rights, and that he was the victim of age discrimination in the dismissal.

In March, the city advertised that applications were being accepted through April 16th from persons interesting in the police chief position. According to the notice, all applicants had to be certified by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (P.O.S.T.) with a minimum of six years experience as a certified, full-time officer with a minimum of three years experience in a supervisory position.

Caplinger was one of three people to apply for the job along with Larry D. Parsley of Lenior City, a former resident of DeKalb County and a retired Lieutenant of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Kenneth D. Smith of Watertown, who is Police Chief of the Lakewood Police Department at Old Hickory.

The mayor and aldermen interviewed all three men in a workshop meeting last Monday night, April 26th at city hall.

During Monday night's city council meeting, (May 3rd) Alderman Aaron Meeks, who also serves as the city's Police Commissioner made a motion to hire Caplinger as Chief. "Gentlemen, you all have had an opportunity to review the applications, review the resumes, and hear the oral statements made by the three gentlemen who have applied for the position of chief of police. Our department is now in a position to move forward but it needs a senior officer to provide additional guidance. The officers who have been working here have been doing their jobs as police officers as well as supervision in the department. I would like to go ahead and move forward tonight and hire our next chief of police. I would move that we hire Randy Caplinger for our next chief of police."

Alderman Steve White offered a second to the motion.

Aldermen Shawn Jacobs, Cecil Burger, and W.J. (Dub) White joined both Meeks and Steve White in voting for Caplinger.

After the vote, Alderman Meeks commended the job Lieutenant Leffew has done as Officer in Charge of the department. "I would like to express my appreciation to Lieutenant Leffew and his officers for the job they have done over the past few months in getting our department organized and in good working order, doing a tremendous job in keeping our law enforcement department operating very efficiently. Lieutenant Leffew along with his officers have gotten the fleet of cars back now in safe working order. He's done many other things. There was some discussion about investigations, but sometimes that's an item you can't discuss or go too far into, but from very early on in Lieutenant Leffew's charge as Officer In Charge, he did start contacting departments and places around this area for assistance and certainly has gotten some very positive results from that. I look forward to seeing some results that we can tell you about in the not too distant future. So again, Lieutenant Leffew and officers, thank you all very much."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson also expressed his appreciation to Lieutenant Leffew. "I'd like to tell you, Lieutenant Leffew that you have done a marvelous job and I appreciate you."

Lieutenant Leffew thanked city officials and members of the police department for their cooperation. "The men and women of the Smithville Police Department have helped me tremendously. I want to thank the city council, and (Secretary-Treasurer) Hunter Hendrixson, he's helped me a lot and been very supportive. No man can do anything alone and I've had a lot of support. I'm glad to see the department moving forward. Thank you."

In other business, Mayor Hendrixson recognized and congratulated Bobby Pinegar, the operator at the Smithville Waste Water Treatment Plant for his good management " I would like to recognize our wastewater treatment plant operator, Bobby Pinegar. He always has good reports and always keeps the plant clean and in good working order."

Mayor Hendrixson read a letter to the city from the state concerning a recent inspection at the plant. "On March 3rd & 4th, personnel from the Tennessee Division of Water Pollution Control conducted a compliance sampling inspection at the Smithville Wastewater Treatment Plant. The purpose of the inspection was to evaluate compliance for the discharge of treated municipal wastewater to Fall Creek."

"On the permit and reports review, there were no reported violations of the affluent water quality limits contained in the permit for the time period reviewed."

"On the facility review, the wastewater treatment plant was found to be very well maintained. The plant operators have an on-going equipment maintenance plan and schedule."

"Laboratory review, the plant operators follow EPA approved laboratory methods for analyzing treated affluent samples. All the samples were in the permitted limits."

"We extend our thanks to the Smithville wastewater treatment plant staff for their time and cooperation during this inspection."

Governor Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration

May 3, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen has asked President Obama to declare 52 Tennessee counties, including DeKalb as federal disaster areas following the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck the state beginning Friday, April 30.

Should this initial request for assistance be granted, the following Tennessee counties would have access to varying levels of federal assistance programs: Anderson, Bedford, Benton, Cannon, Carroll, Cheatham, Chester, Clay, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, DeKalb, Dickson, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Giles, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lake, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lewis, Macon, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Morgan, Obion, Perry, Robertson, Rutherford, Shelby, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Tipton, Trousdale, Van Buren, Wayne, Weakley, White, Williamson and Wilson.

"The swift reaction from emergency first responders was exemplary during this emergency situation," said Bredesen. "I want to thank local and state agencies that responded so quickly to evacuate, perform water rescues and assess any immediate damage and danger to the roadways."

As a result of the extreme weather conditions, Tennessee suffered 14 confirmed fatalities. Numerous nursing homes, apartment complexes and residences were evacuated due to rapidly rising waters and flash flooding. In addition, several water rescues and helicopter extractions were performed as flood waters continue to rush over hundreds of roads through cities, towns and neighborhoods. Many residents lost all of their possessions as their homes were destroyed or sustained major damages. Currently, there are 24 shelters open statewide housing 1,282 people.

"As we turn toward recovery, my thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of those who lost loved ones or have been affected by this disaster," said Bredesen. "I commend Tennesseans on the resiliency of their communities and their unshakable compassion to lend a helping hand. We face many obstacles and challenges in the days to come, but I am reassured to see that we are united in our efforts to help those in need."

The state of Tennessee is requesting joint FEMA-State Preliminary Damage Assessments be conducted as soon as waters have receded enough to make reasonable determinations. The start date is projected for Monday, May 10, 2010.

Public Assistance will also be requested in all categories, including Individual Assistance – Individuals and Households Program (IHP); Disaster Unemployment Assistance; Crisis Counseling; Disaster Food Stamp Program; American Bar Association Young Lawyers Legal Aid; and Small Business Administration disaster loans.

"The state's current budget circumstance is severe and unprecedented," said Bredesen. "I am requesting 100 percent Federal assistance for the first 72 hours. Any aid received will assist with work and services to save lives and protect property."

The Department of Military/Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Department of Environment & Conservation, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Transportation, Department of Safety, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Civil Air Patrol responded and provided emergency protective services to supplement local efforts.

Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available.

For more updates regarding the state's response, visit the TEMA website at www.tnema.org.

Two More Persons Named in Grand Jury Sealed Indictments Arrested on Drug Charges

May 3, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Elijah Eli Arnold

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested two more people who were named in Grand Jury sealed indictments resulting from the recent undercover drug investigation.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 28 year old Elijah "Eli" B. Arnold of Bunk Lane, Elmwood is charged with two counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance and four counts of violation of the drug free zone. His bond is $60,000.

44 year old Tammy Denise Miller of Kings Court Trailer Park, Smithville is charged with one count of sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. Her bond is $70,000

Fairgrounds Damaged by Flood Waters

May 3, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fairgrounds Damaged2
Fairgrounds Damaged
Newly Built Tee Ball Field Behind Fairgrounds Damaged

The Grandpa Fair of the South kicks off in less than three months, but members of the DeKalb County Fair Association will have to do a little extra work this year in preparation for it after the flooding of the fairgrounds Saturday.

Jeff McMillen, Manager of the DeKalb County Fair, says when Hickman Creek overflowed, a large portion of the fairgrounds went underwater, causing significant damage. "All the fence around the arena in front of the grandstand as well as the fence down along the creek bank and Edgewood street was damaged. We also had about sixty gate panels along with some thirty to fifty big tires that we used for the demolition derby that washed away. We would like to ask that if anybody should come across any of these gate panels or big tires to please bring them to us or contact me or someone associated with the fair."

Since Saturday, some of the gate panels and tires have been located. It's not known yet if the flood did any damage to the grandstand.

The high water got up around the grandstand and barn as well as the large concession building near the grandstand, but did not make it to the Kenneth Sandlin Center, commercial building, Lions Club Pavilion, and other structures on the fairgrounds that are located on higher ground.

The newly built tee ball field, located behind the fairgrounds, was also damaged by the flood.

Flooding Causes Major Problems for Alexandria

May 1, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Fairgrounds Underwater (Photo by Jeff and Shelia McMillen)
Home on West Main Street in Alexandria
 Vehicles Parked Near a Residence on West Main Street in Alexandria
Edgewood Street Near Entrance to Fairgrounds
Fairgrounds Flooded (Photo by Jeff and Shelia McMillen)

Swollen creeks from heavy downpours spilled over their banks in Alexandria Saturday, flooding portions of the town, and creating problems for some residents and businesses. The high water also damaged the DeKalb County fair grounds and the newly built tee ball field in the area.

Another round of storms moved through Sunday, forcing authorities to spring into action again. Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins says the same area of West Main Street was affected Sunday by high water but the problem was not as severe as on Saturday. According to Chief Collins, several residents were asked to evacuate their homes as a precaution because Goose Creek had again overun its banks and was crossing the street, threatening homes. He says those who chose to leave their homes were taken to the Alexandria City Hall for shelter. Hickman Creek also overflowed again into the fairgrounds, but not like Saturday.

Alexandria city water customers also found themselves without service after the storm on Saturday. The problem occurred when a fire hydrant at the fairgrounds broke during the flood, causing a leak in a six inch water main, which reportedly drained the city's water tank. The water service has since been restored.

Click here to view more Alexandria flood photos

http://www.wjle.com/node/10386

As for the Saturday storm itself, Chief Collins says it came quickly and the rising waters from Hickman and Goose creeks caused several people to have to be evacuated from their homes in the Locust Street/West Main Street area. "It hit quickly. It was raining hard here. We had a substantial amount of water fall, upstream of our town creek and then when that water hit us, with our rainfall it was just more than our system could hold."

"We went to approximately 45 houses trying to get some people evacuated. The West Main/Locust Street area was hit the hardest. We went to every house out through there and evacuated everybody out on West Main. There are several houses out in the new annex of Alexandria that got hit hard. We opened up the West Main Baptist Church as a shelter. They were so kind to do that for us and we sent some of the families there until the waters receded. There's been no injuries. We were able to get everybody in harms way out in time."

Approximately 12 to 15 families were actually displaced.

Chief Collins says the flood caused a lot of damage."There's been several homes flooded and several businesses flooded here on the public square. The water was higher than I have ever seen it. The fairgrounds was completely underwater. There is substantial damage to the fairgrounds. There are several houses on Edgewood Street where the water came in. We had to set up barricades. We had several citizens who came out to assist us. We set up the barricades to keep these people from driving off into the water. Charlie Parker (Emergency Management Agency Coordinator) came down. The DeKalb County Rescue Squad, they were down this way on another call and they offered assistance. The Sheriff's Department offered their assistance. We all pulled together to get these people out and transported to our shelter."

Chief Collins added that his department, the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department, Water and Street Department employees and others all joined in the effort to help these people.

Jeff McMillen, Manager of the DeKalb County Fair, says when Hickman Creek overflowed, a large portion of the fairgrounds went underwater, causing significant damage. "All the fence around the arena in front of the grandstand as well as the fence down along the creek bank and Edgewood street is gone. We also had about sixty gate panels along with some thirty to fifty big tires that we used for the demolition derby that washed away. We would like to ask that if anybody should come across any of these gate panels or big tires to please bring them to us or contact me or someone associated with the fair."

The high water got up around the grandstand and barn as well as the large concession building near the grandstand, but did not make it to the Kenneth Sandlin Center, commercial building, Lions Club Pavilion, and other structures on the fairgrounds that are located on higher ground.

Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator says while there was flooding and wind damage in other parts of DeKalb County, Alexandria suffered the most.
"Alexandria was hit hardest. They had several streets underwater and several houses were in danger so a few people were evacuated as the water was rising. They did set up temporary shelter there in Alexandria for the people who were displaced. The West Main Baptist Church is one of our designated areas for a temporary shelter down there. Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins made the contact and went ahead and got that set up. Most of the water was coming from the creeks in the area. So much rain fell so fast that the creeks just went completely out of their banks. It was even rising close to Highway 70 at one point. The water was across the road (near Goose Creek) but it was still passable. But if it had kept raining for very much longer it would have been even worse than what we had."

Parker says rising creek waters also caused some problems for people in the Dowelltown and Temperance Hall areas. "There was also water in the streets in Dowelltown. The creeks were rising down there. An outbuilding floated down the creek and lodged up against the bridge there in Dowelltown. Also around Temperance Hall and Oakley Hollow, there were reports of water over the roadways and it was getting close to some houses although no one there had to be evacuated."

A few places in Smithville experienced some street flooding due to the storms and high winds also caused some damage, according to Parker. "I think there were three trees, at least part of them that fell on a residence at the bottom of Holmes Creek Hill. There was also some trees that fell on Golf Course Drive and I think it knocked some power lines down."

Parker added, "Through all of this, nobody has been injured. We're just really lucky."

Julie Vincent Named DeKalb County Teacher of the Year

May 1, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Julie Vincent
Julie Vincent Receives DeKalb Teacher of Year Award and Check from Liberty State Bank
Teachers of the Year at Each School

An educator from Northside Elementary School was named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" Friday night during the third annual Teacher of the Year banquet at DCHS.

Julie Vincent received the honor and a check for $150 from Liberty State Bank, the sponsor of the banquet. The presentation was made by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank.

Vincent was among five local educators who were recognized during the banquet for being chosen by peers as "Teacher of the Year" at their schools. The others were Beth Pafford from Smithville Elementary School, Mike Lewis from DeKalb Middle School, Vicki Wilson from DeKalb West School, and Chris Vance from DeKalb County High School.

Three of the educators, Vincent, Lewis, and Vance, earlier this year were selected "Teachers of the Year" locally and competed for regional honors in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program.

Willoughby congratulated Vincent for being named "DeKalb County Teacher of the Year" as well as the other teachers. "In my opinion all of our teachers are teachers of the year, but the peers of each school selected their teacher of the year. We sent information on each teacher of the year to the state department of education, where their credentials were reviewed. There, they considered what the teachers had done in their careers thus far and made a selection for teacher of the year in DeKalb County. Based on that, we took this occasion tonight to present the award to Mrs. Vincent. We're very proud of her. She has done an amazing job as a teacher and she is a super person. She is a great role model for our children."

(Top Photo: Julie Vincent, DeKalb Teacher of the Year)

(Middle Photo: left to right- Roy Nelson Pugh of Liberty State Bank; Gayle Redmon, Principal of Northside Elementary School; Julie Vincent, DeKalb Teacher of the Year; and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby)

(Bottom Photo: left to right: Mike Lewis, Vicki Wilson, Beth Pafford, Julie Vincent, and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. Not pictured, Chris Vance)

Smithville Police Issue Citations and Make Arrests

May 1, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has issued citations and made several arrests in recent days, mostly for drug offenses.

Police say 63 year old Chloe Glenda Staley of 1222 South College Street and 22 year old Kasey Lynn Estes of 1588 Banks Pisgah Road were cited on Sunday, April 25th for simple possession of a schedule II drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and received verbal consent to search Ms. Staley's purse where he recovered a used hypodermic needle. Estes was a passenger of the vehicle and she willingly produced a used hypodermic needle and gave the officer verbal consent to search her purse. Officer Tatrow recovered ½ of a yellow pill believed to be dilaudid. Both Staley and Estes will appear in General Sessions Court on June 17th.

22 year old Francisco Max Domenguez of 111 Hayes Street was arrested on Sunday, April 25th for DUI. Officer Nathan Estes responded to a complaint of a possible drunk driver going north bound on Highway 56 south who had almost hit a utility pole. Officer Estes got behind the vehicle on South College Street and saw the vehicle run into a ditch and return to the roadway. Officer Estes activated his lights and sirens and the vehicle in front of him proceeded to 111 Hayes Street where it stopped in the yard. Officer Estes approached the vehicle, but the driver, Domenguez refused to get out. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person, slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. Due to the language barrier, no field sobriety task or blood alcohol test was given. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is May 20th.

20 year old Christopher Alan Medlin of 224 Peyton Lane, Woodbury and 19 year old Justin Dale Estes of 318 Bell Street, Smithville were cited on Tuesday, April 27th for simple possession. On that day, officers received a call of multiple suspects smoking marijuana on Bell Street. Upon arrival, Officer Matt Holmes and Corporal Travis Bryant made contact with Medlin and Estes. Corporal Bryant saw Estes put something in his pocket. Estes was told to take his hands out of his pockets. Estes replied that all he had was a little marijuana and then gave the baggie containing a small amount of a green leafy substance to Corporal Bryant. A joint was also found on the ground and both Medlin and Estes admitted to having smoked the marijuana. Both men will appear in court on May 13th.

28 year old Tammy Jean Simpson of 202 Village Place was arrested on Thursday, April 29th for domestic assault and simple possession. K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow and Detective Jerry Hutchins responded to a call concerning domestic violence. When the officers arrived at the residence, they heard Simpson making threats to her husband. Mrs. Simpson was arrested and taken to the Smithville Police Department where upon inventory of her purse, officers found in a bottle, a pill believed to be percocet. Mrs. Simpson did not have a prescription bottle for this pill. Her bond was set at $4,000 and her court date is May 20th.

39 year old Christine Ann Miller of 265 V L Wilson Loop was cited on Thursday, April 29th for two counts of simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow pulled over Miller for not maintaining proper lane of travel. When he asked her if she had any illegal weapons, narcotics or alcohol, Miller said she had some pills in her purse and that she did not have a prescription for them. Also found was a pen barrel and a razor blade she admitted to using when doing drugs. Her court date is June 17th.

30 year old Callie Lisette Howell of 285 Miller Road was arrested on Thursday, April 29th for domestic assault. According to the warrant, Detective Jerry Hutchins responded to a residence on Juniper Lane where he spoke with all parties involved and determined that Ms. Howell had gotten into an argument with her stepfather and slapped him on his left cheek and spit on him. Bond for Howell is $1,000 and her court date is May 20th.

On Friday, April 30th, Detective Jerry Hutchins served an attachment on 30 year old Heather Starr Trapp of 500 South College Street for failing to appear in court for child support.

Meanwhile, anyone having information on the following offenses is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

On Saturday, April 24th, Abigail Laprad reported that someone had taken the wallet out of her car around April 9th at 675 Miller Road.

On Thursday, April 29th, Larry Redmon reported that someone had stripped and stolen some copper wire from underneath his house.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential

Lieutenant Steven Leffew would like to congratulate Sergeants Joey Jones and Randy King for their recent successful completion of First Line Supervision for law enforcement officers that was conducted by the University of Tennessee. Lieutenant Leffew says "Both Sergeants Jones and King have worked several years in law enforcement and I feel fortunate to have both of them as a part of the administration of the Smithville Police Department."

Hurricane Bridge Rehab Included in Proposed State Budget through TDOT's Better Bridge Bonding Program

April 30, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
TDOT Inspects Hurricane Bridge Last Week

The rehabilitation of Hurricane Bridge in DeKalb County is among the projects to be funded through TDOT's Better Bridge bonding program in the proposed fiscal year 2010-11 state budget.

Governor Phil Bredsen made the announcement in a news release Friday.

State Senator Mae Beavers, who was in Smithville Friday, said this is good news for the people of DeKalb County. She added that TDOT plans to address funding for the replacement of Sligo bridge next year. "We have the Hurricane bridge that is going to be in the budget this year and the Sligo bridge is up for (bid) letting next year (2011-2012). Actually Hurricane bridge hasn't been in the works as long as Sligo has but they had to prioritize them and with the condition of Hurricane, that had to take top priority. They're going to have to remove some of the decking that was put on a few years back because it's put too much weight on the bridge so that will be a rehab and you'll probably continue to see some of the lanes closed at least going one way or the other. So that is in the budget this year and they should be able to let a contract on that in July 2011. That is good for the people of DeKalb County. There's a commitment from TDOT to finish both of these bridges."

Paul Degges, Chief Engineer for TDOT said during a January meeting at Smithville City Hall that the price tag for the Hurricane bridge rehab project is estimated to be between $12 to $15 million.

Unlike Sligo, the state will be looking to do a rehab on Hurricane bridge, not a replacement. And while both bridges remain safe to travel under posted weight limits, Degges says TDOT will give Hurricane bridge priority over Sligo bridge. "This bridge (Hurricane) was built in 1944 and in the late 1970's the department came in and put a new bridge deck on it. We actually widened it. We met the design specifications at the time. Since that time, the design specifications for bridges have changed, particularly in the aftermath of the failure (of a bridge) in Minneapolis. Truss bridges in particular have been looked at a whole lot harder in the last couple of years. So we're having to go back in and based on these new design criteria, look at this bridge. This will be a rehab. We'll do a lot of work on the concrete deck. We need to narrow the shoulders a little bit and then strengthen some of the truss members underneath the bridge."

Governor Bredesen Friday released the final three-year transportation program of his administration which includes completion of several major strategic corridor projects and the state's Better Bridges bonding program. The three-tiered program includes $1.5 billion for highways and bridges to fund more than 175 individual project phases in 70 counties in Tennessee. Included in the proposal, which has been presented to the Legislature, are 26 highway and bridge projects in TDOT's Region Two alone.

"TDOT's three-year multimodal work program for 2010 to 2013 represents a responsible, balanced approach to transportation that includes a number of projects identified as top priorities by the state's planning organizations," said Governor Bredesen. "One of the priorities I set when I became Governor was to see TDOT become a more open and responsive agency. There have been many changes since then, including the shift to multi-modal planning and creation of a new 25-year multi-modal transportation plan, new programs to better protect the environment, and a renewed focus on listening to the citizens of the state. I'm pleased this final three-year program accomplishes many of the goals I set forth for this administration."

TDOT's Region Two includes Bledsoe, Bradley, Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Jackson, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Rhea, Sequatchie, Van Buren, Warren and White counties.

"Through this three-year multimodal program, the department will complete the Better Bridges bonding program in three years rather than the four originally planned, will address a number of strategic corridors identified in the 10-year program and includes several projects to address congestion in both urban and rural areas," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "Years of planning and study have gone into each of the projects funded for construction."

26 projects in TDOT's Region Two will be funded through TDOT's regular program. The program funds projects to relieve congestion in Chattanooga and surrounding areas including, the widening of U.S. 27 (State Route-29) in Hamilton County from north of the Tennessee River Bridge to SR-8 (U.S. 127) in Fiscal Year 2010/11 and FY 2011/12 and widening of the Olgiati Brige over the Tennessee River on U.S. 27 (FY2012/13). A new interchange on State Route 311 (APD 40) in Bradley County between I-75 (exit 20) and SR-2 (U.S. 11) in Cleveland (FY-2010/11) is also funded through the program as well as a widening on U.S. 70 in Cannon and Warren Counties from near SR-281 to Centertown (FY 2010/11). The program also includes funds to appraise and acquire right-of-way for the county seat connector project on U.S. 127 (SR-28) in Cumberland and Fentress Counties from near Lowe Road to SR-62 in Clarkrange (FY 2010/11).

In addition to the highway projects listed above, in DeKalb County the rehabilitation of the Hurricane Bridge on SR-56 (Cookeville Hwy.) over the Caney Fork River (FY 2010/11) is funded through TDOT's Better Bridge bonding program. A total of six bridge repair or replacement projects in Region Two in this three-year multimodal program are funded through the Better Bridges bond program.

The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

April 30, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Greetings! The Ignition interlock proposal championed by myself and my colleagues for a number of years cleared a major hurdle this week as the Budget Subcommittee, commonly known as the ‘black hole’ committee of the legislature, overwhelmingly approved the measure.

The bill requires anyone convicted of a DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .15 or higher to use the ignition interlock device (IID). Ignition interlock devices have been implemented around the country, and tests the driver’s BAC level. If it is above the set limit, the car will not start.

I firmly believe this legislation will save lives on our Tennessee Highways and I am honored to be a prime co-sponsor of HB2768. Having now passed the Budget Subcommittee, the legislation will be heard next week in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

The Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee discussed the workers’ compensation insurance issue at length this week, hammering out a proposal that advanced to the House Government Operations Committee. Under the legislation, anyone engaged in the construction industry must carry workers’ compensation insurance on any employee, as well as any subcontractor not otherwise covered by a policy. Sole proprietors, partners, officers of corporations and members of limited liability companies will be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance on themselves.

However, sole proprietors, partners, officers of corporations and members of limited liability companies engaged as contractors may exempt themselves from workers' compensation coverage if they:

Own at least 30 percent of the business; and serve in a supervisory role while attending the worksite without engaging in any of the sub-classifications for the building construction categories listed in rules set by the Tennessee board for licensing contractors.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development gave the House Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee a snapshot of where the state’s unemployment compensation fund currently stands. A representative from the department said the fund currently has a balance of approximately $8 million, but is in the process of receiving first quarter taxes from employers and should have about $221.4 million by the second quarter of this year. The state had taken in 58,569 claims by the end of January, a decrease of about 36 percent from January of 2009.

Tennessee has a $120 million line of credit with the U.S. Department of Labor, and to date has only tapped $20 million of those funds. On March 3rd, the governor requested a loan from the U.S. Secretary of Labor due to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s promise that the $20 million will be paid back in the next couple of weeks.

We voted last year to save Tennessee’s Unemployment Trust Fund from federal intervention, saying that the move was necessary to keep the federal government from completely taking over the nearly insolvent fund. The fund was approaching insolvency after the state unemployment rate jumped to 10 percent in 2009, and with the continuously rising percentage of Tennesseans out of work, the fund is being drained of resources. Many legislators supported the move, on the condition that a series of triggers allow unemployment taxes to decrease if the fund’s balance reaches a certain threshold.

The Tennessee Department of Health issued a warning this week about a potential scam that is making the rounds in Tennessee. Reports have been turned in to the department that someone claiming to be a Health Department Vital Records employee is calling households seeking citizens to confirm important personal information such as birth certificate information.

The Commissioner of Health said the Office of Vital Records does not send employees to homes and issued the following tips to help protect against scammers:

Be wary of anyone who shows up at your home or calls you claiming to be with the government and asking for identifying information. Although U.S. Census workers may visit your home or call within the next few months to obtain information for the 2010 Census, employees from other federal agencies usually will not. Medicare staffers will not visit your home or call unless you request it.

Don't give out personal information — including your date of birth, bank account number, Social Security number or your Medicare number — to strangers.

If you believe you have been the target of a bogus attempt to get personal information, call your local police department. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.

As always it is an honor to serve you the 40th District. Please, do not hesitate to call my office at 615-741-2192 if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to visit.

Danny Bond Gets 500th Career Win as DCHS Tigerette Softball Coach

April 29, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Tigerette Coach Danny Bond Gets 500th Career Win (Photo by Tim Woodward)

DeKalb County High School Tigerette Coach Danny Bond got his 500th career victory as head softball coach Thursday and his team completed a perfect season in district play at 10 and 0 with a 3 to 1 win over Livingston Academy in Smithville.

Bond, the only coach the Tigerette program has had since it began in 1986, says this milestone is not just his alone. "I think it's the program's 500. I just happened to be at the helm, We've had some really good teams and really good girls, parents, administration, assistant coaches, and a good following from the community. If you get all those things together then you're going to be successful at something. I guess I'm kinda lucky, fortunate, and blessed to be able to get that many (wins). I told the girls, we've gone 10 and 0 in the district and that you have 30 wins this season and really that's the biggest thing about today. The 500 (observance), it will come and go but we still have a team that has won the regular season championship, won 30 games, and we're expecting to win some more."

In the game Thursday, the Tigerettes scored two runs in the second inning and one run in the fourth. Livingston Academy scored one run in the first.

Morgan Page, the winning pitcher, went the distance in the seven inning game. She gave up the one run on six hits. She struck out five and walked two.

Page also had a single and a solo homerun.

Cynthia Woodward, Jaylen Garrett, Hannah Green, and Brooke Hutchings each had a single and Alex Meadows doubled.

With the win, the Tigerettes are now 30-6 overall, 10 and 0 in the district.

DeKalb County will also participate in the Coffee County Tournament Friday and Saturday with pool play times being Friday at 4:00 p.m. vs Hendersonville and 5:30 p.m. vs. St. Benedict. On Saturday, the Tigerettes will play at 9:00 a.m. vs. Hume Fogg.

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