Local News Articles

Recovery Act Helps Laid Off Workers and Low-Income Adults

April 21, 2009

Governor Phil Bredesen and Commissioner James Neeley announced today the availability of training funds to dislocated workers and low-income adults in Tennessee. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides a one-time appropriation to Tennessee of $21.2 million for dislocated workers and $9.2 million to low-income adults to pay for training and support services.

“The training, particularly in emerging occupations, that will be provided with these Recovery Act funds will help prepare unemployed Tennesseans for new jobs at a time when that’s more important than ever,” said Bredesen.

ARRA funding is anticipated to increase participation of the dislocated worker program by more than 1,300 (40%) over the number of individuals who received training services last year. Adult services are expected to increase by approximately 2,000 slots, or 20 percent, over last year.

“Being out of work is especially difficult in this economic environment,” said Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development James Neeley. “Many laid-off workers and adults haven’t had to worry about updating their skills for years, and this Recovery Act funding provides an opportunity to do just that.”

Dislocated workers and low-income adults who qualify for the ARRA funds must apply for the assistance at their local Tennessee Career Center. Individuals are assessed and training opportunities are chosen from a local list of approved training providers. In addition to occupational skills training, Adult Education and literacy preparation are available for earning a GED. Those receiving approved training may also receive travel allowances and child care assistance while they are upgrading their skills.

These Recovery Act program funds will be available from April 2009 through June of 2010.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will speed economic recovery, create and save jobs, and provided needed services to Tennesseans. For more information, visit www.tnrecovery.gov or www.recovery.gov, or the Department of Labor’s Recovery Web page at: www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/EconomicFunding.html.

Children in Smithville Day School Visit WJLE

April 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Children in Smithville Day School Visit WJLE

Several children in the Smithville Day School at the Smithville Church of Christ visited WJLE on a field trip Tuesday morning.

The children were interviewed on the radio and sang "Jesus Loves Me"

The Smithville Day School is a pre-school program that meets every Tuesday and Thursday. There are five classes and children from eighteen months to pre-kindergarten are served. During this time, the primary objective is to provide an exciting and rewarding environment for your child. Some of the goals are to increase your child's language development, improve physical development, increase intellectual development, master hand/eye coordination activities, enhance fine and gross motor skills, increase awareness in interpersonal relationships, stimulate by exposure in the areas of arts and crafts, teach moral and cultural values concerning honesty, obedience, friendship, and trust.

A Bible lesson is taught every day. During this time, your child is taught the difference between right and wrong, the feelings experienced when they have done something wrong, and the values of trust, honesty, obedience, and respect for their parents. Children are taught about the many Bible characters in the Old and New Testaments and how these stories are applied to each child's life. Above all, the children are taught they we should love God.

For more information, call 615-597-6308 or Frances Hedge at 597-4975.

Pictured above left to right (seated front row) Courtney London, Lilly Ellis, Katie Colwell, and Olivia Taylor (seated back row left to right) Silas Cross, Ty Panker, Kolter Kilgore, Dawson Bandy, Avery South, and Matthew Keaton.

City Making Plans to Reactivate Water Fluoridation

April 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen voted 5-0 Monday night to re-activate fluoridation of the city's water supply, but no date certain has been set on when that will occur. It could be weeks or months.

City officials say the machine that feeds the fluoride into the water system broke down about a year and a half ago and was never repaired or replaced.

At the April 6th meeting, Smithville physician Dr. Steven Cooper and dentist Dr. Mitchell Tatum addressed the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen asking that the fluoridation be re-activated for the benefit of the citizens.

Concerned citizen Gary Durham, who first raised the issue several weeks ago, isn't happy that the city never fixed the problem when it occurred, that city leaders never notified the public when the fluoride treatment had been discontinued, and that there now may be an extended delay.

Alderman Steve White made a motion that the treatment be started again, and to let the public know when, but that the city first consult with officials of Wauford Engineering Company about whether the new fluoride machines should be installed now or included as part of the design of the rehabilitation of the Water Treatment Plant. Alderman Tonya Sullivan requested that any needed safety equipment to support the fluoride treatment procedure also be purchased before the process is begun.

In other business, Mayor Taft Hendrixson briefly mentioned that a workshop was held Thursday night to discuss the firefighter's request but that more discussion will follow on that issue during budget preparation time.

Smithville firefighters want their all volunteer unit to become a combination department with a few full time firefighters as well as volunteers. They are also asking that some extra funds be designated in the budget for training and that the firefighters pay scale be changed.
In the proposal, the firefighters want the city to fund two full time firefighter positions per 24 hour shift, for a total of six positions along with an administrative person.

Concerned citizen Faye Sandosky addressed the mayor with some questions about how members are appointed to the Industrial Development Board and Smithville Electric System Board. "At the last meeting, at the city attorney's advice, the previous appointments to the Smithville Electric Board and the Industrial Board were set aside. I don't know either of the gentlemen personally. My concern is that at no time have the requirements of the job or the selection criteria been mentioned here. I have a few very simple questions before any further actions are taken on the appointments. I would like the mayor to respond since he makes the appointments."

"What does the job require? What is the criteria? Is diversity a consideration? Does the manager of Smithville Electric and or the Smithville Board provide input? What benefits go along with the appointment? What do eligible residents/citizens of the city need to do to have their names considered and is it too late for that?"

Mayor Hendrixson responded " I don't have to answer these questions. These are my appointments and I make the decisions. The board either approves them or disapproves them.

" The Job requirements? They make decisions on these boards that they are appointed to."
" What is the criteria? I have contacted both of these boards and they both recommend those two people that I appointed."

"Diversity? I know I have appointed some women on some boards since I have been here."
"Does the manager of Smithville Electric and the Industrial Board provide input? Yes ma'am they do."

"What benefits go along with the appointment of an industrial board? To my knowledge they get one meal every quarter, if they meet every quarter. Most of the time they don't meet that often. On the Smithville Electric Board, I don't know what they get paid, if anything. They do have some fringe benefits to go along with those appointments such as insurance."

"What do they do to have their names considered? Well, again that's my appointments to make and the board of each one of these places have recommended that I appoint the ones I did."

At the April 6th meeting, the aldermen voted 4-0 to set aside the appointments of Tim Stribling to the Industrial Development Board and Walter Burton to the Smithville Electric System Board after City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. issued an opinion that the mayor should have first notified the aldermen in writing of his intentions before making the appointments, according to the city charter.

The mayor has not yet re-submitted the names for consideration and those positions remain vacant.

Murfreesboro Man Charged with Burglary and Thefts

April 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Ricky Ashford
James Allen Hesson

A Murfreesboro man, arrested during a traffic stop last week, was later charged with burglary and thefts after county officers found stolen goods in his truck.

30 year old James Ricky Ashford of Burnwood Trailer Court, Murfreesboro is charged with two counts of theft of property under $500 and one count of burglary. His bond is set at $7,000 and his court date is April 30th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Ashford was arrested on Sunday, April 12th after a traffic stop on Highway 96 in Liberty. "County deputies were on patrol in the Snows Hill and Dowelltown area when they made the traffic stop and noticed a leaf blower and a tool box in the back of the vehicle that Ashford was driving. After an in-depth investigation, officers discovered that Ashford and two other persons had been riding around looking for items to steal here in DeKalb County. They even went to a store in Smithville and purchased a pry bar to use as a tool to gain entry into locked buildings, vehicles, and trailers. Officers learned that the three men went to a residence on Dry Creek Road in Smithville and broke the lock off an enclosed trailer and stole a leaf blower valued less than $500. The men then went to a location on West Main Street, Smithville and removed from the owner's vehicle, a tool box containing various tools.

Deputies made the owners aware of the thefts after making this discovery.

The other two suspects in the case, who live in another county, have not yet been picked up.

Meanwhile, 31 year old James Allen Hesson of Big Hurricane Road, Smithville was charged Wednesday, April 15th with violation of the sexual offender registry. Hesson was arrested after he failed to report to the DeKalb County Jail, re-register his address, and pay his fines. Hesson also moved and did not report it. Hesson's bond is $10,000 and he will appear in court on April 30th.

37 year old Tina Beth Young was stopped on Highway 56 South Thursday, April 16th for a traffic violation. Officers noticed Young's speech to be very slurred. She was given field sobriety tasks which she failed. Young was arrested for driving under the influence and was issued written citations for violation of registration and driving without any insurance on the vehicle. Her bond was set at $1,000 and will she will appear in court on April 30th.

DeKalb County's E-911 Dispatchers Recognized

April 20, 2009
DeKalb E911 Dispatchers

April 12-18 2009 was designated as National Public Safety Telecommunicator's week.

This second week in April event is recognized to commend 911 call takers and dispatchers on a national level and show appreciation for the work they do. 911 dispatch has been classified as the third most stressful job in America. On an average dispatchers in DeKalb County answer 40,000 calls each year. It takes a special type person to answer the calls of some of the most troubling and stressful situations imaginable. Each year during National Public Safety Telecommunicator week, efforts are made to let 911 dispatchers in DeKalb County know how much their service to our county is appreciated.

On Friday afternoon a cookout was conducted for the employees of the agency to show appreciation to DeKalb County's E-911 dispatchers. A special thanks is extended to the following agencies for their donations and participation in making this year's PST week as huge success: DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray, Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins, DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green and the other members of DeKalb County Fire Department who assisted with the cooking of the meal.

Pictured are: Back Row L-R: Supervisor Tony Thomas, Dispacther Misty Green, Dispatcher Kim Ray, Dispatcher Janice Higham, Supervisor Anthony Boyd. Front Row L-R: Dispatcher Terry Cowart, Dispatcher Darcie Cripps, 911 Director Bradley Mullinax, Dispatcher Stephanee Wrigfht, and Dispacther Kristina McMillen. Dispacthers not pictured are: Maranda Allen, Leslie Lytle, Lonnie Laxton, and Heidi Johnson

Family Escapes Burning Home

April 19, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Greg Overbey Family Home Destroyed
Greg Overbey Home Destroyed

A fire early Sunday morning destroyed the two story home of Greg and Kelley Overbey at 4477 Four Seasons Road.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says firefighters received the call at 2:36 a.m.

The Overbey family awoke to a house full of smoke and saw flames coming from the basement. Overbey's wife and children escaped unharmed but Mr. Overbey suffered some minor abrasions as he jumped through a bedroom window to get out of the house.

The home apparently had no working smoke alarms.

Chief Green says a neighbor spotted the fire and reported it.

Members of the Midway, Keltonburg, and Cookeville Highway Stations responded along with the tanker truck, DeKalb EMS, and the Sheriff's Department., but the house was too far gone and could not be saved. The family lost nearly all their belongings and a dog in the fire.

The cause is officially undetermined but it apparently started in the basement.

Sullivan Released from Hospital

April 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Scene of Saturday Morning Shooting on Mountain View Drive

24 year old Matthew Sullivan, who was wounded in an early morning shooting Saturday at his residence on Mountain View Road, is recovering and has been released from the hospital.

The shooting was reported to 911 at 3:24 a.m. Saturday

Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department was contacted and upon arrival, officers found Sullivan in a wooded area behind the residence.

DeKalb EMS arrived on the scene and a Life Force Helicopter was summoned to airlift Sullivan to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. A helicopter landing zone was set up on Highway 56 north in the Buckner's Chapel Church area.

Sheriff Ray says through interviews and evidence that has been collected at the crime scene, the shooting appears to be justified. Through interviews with the victim and witnesses at the scene, it appears that Sullivan assaulted one man at the residence and then kicked a bedroom
door open where another male, female and two small children were present.

The male in the bedroom was then approached by Sullivan, who was holding a large knife, and witnesses state that Sullivan began to try and assault the male with the knife. The male, in fear of his life and the safety of the other people in the room, shot at least one round which hit Sullivan's arm and chest area. Sullivan then left the residence and went out side.

Sheriff's Department Detective's have been in contact with the District Attorney's Office about the case. At this time, no charges has been filed on anyone.

The case is still under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office.

ARRA Helps Disadvantaged Youth Obtain Summer Jobs

April 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Eligible youth are already signing up for the Summer Youth Jobs Program in Tennessee. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is providing $25 million to help provide 12,000 jobs for disadvantaged youth. Summer work will begin in June and end in September for most participants.

"The money provided by the ARRA is helping re-instate a valuable program that will help train, educate and enrich our youth," said Governor Phil Bredesen. "We want the participants in this program to walk away with actual workplace experience that will help to better their future."

This program is available to youth ages 14 to 24 who are low income and have one or more of the following barriers: deficient in basic literacy skills, school dropout, homeless, runaway or foster child, pregnant or parenting, offender, or an individual (including a youth with a disability) who requires additional assistance to complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment.

The total stimulus allocation of $1-million,162-thousand,019 is being awarded in the Local Workforce Investment Area of Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, White Counties. The contact persons are Faye Iverlett and
Linda Schuiten at 931-528-1127.

"We feel this program will be a vital tool in putting youth to work and ultimately stimulating the economy," said Commissioner James Neeley. "We also anticipate the program to be beneficial to employers who need the additional workers during the summer months, but due to the tough economic situation cannot afford to hire them."

The current economic downturn is making the possibility of summer employment very difficult for disadvantaged youth. Statistics from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development show the number of unemployed youth since 2007 has more than doubled resulting in more than 45,000 unemployed youth in 2009.

Applications for youth can be picked up at local Tennessee Career Centers or by contacting the Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) Youth Leads. Participants will be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour. The deadline to submit youth applications is Friday, May 15, 2009.

All employers are eligible to participate in this program except those involved with gambling, swimming pools, aquariums and golf courses.

The funding for the Summer Youth Jobs Program is part of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's proposed FY 2009-2010 budget, which is currently being considered by the Tennessee General Assembly.

For more information on the Summer Youth Program and the ARRA please call the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development at 800-255-5872 or go to http://tn.gov/labor-wfd/EconomicFunding.html.

Man Charged with DUI after Accident

April 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Two involved in Truck Accident on Holmes Creek Road (Photo Provided by Kevin Adcock)

Smithville Police charged a 34 year old man with a second offense of driving under the influence Friday morning after being involved in a pickup truck accident on Holmes Creek Road (Town Hill).

Jeremy A. Bilbrey is under a $2,000 bond and he will be in court April 23rd.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew reports that at around 1:00 a.m. April 17th on Holmes Creek Road, Bilbrey was operating a motor vehicle and was involved in a personal injury accident. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and did take a blood test. A passenger, Jamie Bullard, was transported to the emergency room of the hospital.

Meanwhile, 30 year old Charlotte A. Myers of Smithville is charged simple possession of a schedule IV and VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officer Bradley C. Tatrow reports that on Thursday, April 16th at 716 Gentry Avenue in DeKalb County, the Smithville Police Department was at the residence checking on the welfare of two twin boys because of suspected substance abuse by the mother. When asked about drug use in the residence, she (Myers) did admit to using drugs and led the officer to her bedroom, and handed him a silver box with two small marijuana roaches, seven small blue pills believed to be xanax in a plastic wrapper, a marijuana crusher, rolling papers, and a pipe with marijuana residue

She will be in court on May 21st.

Smithville Firefighters Make Request for Seven Full Time Paid Positions

April 16, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker Addresses Mayor and Aldermen at Workshop
Mayor, Aldermen, and Secretary-Treasurer Listen to Firefighters Request
Some City Firefighters and Others Attend Workshop-

Smithville firefighters want their all volunteer unit to become a combination department with a few full time firefighters as well as volunteers.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker and other members of the department met with the mayor and aldermen in a workshop Thursday evening in the training room of the new fire hall to formally make the request.

Chief Parker, on behalf of the department, also asked that some extra funds be designated in the budget for training and that the firefighters pay scale be changed.

In the proposal, the firefighters want the city to fund two full time firefighter positions per 24 hour shift, for a total of six positions along with an administrative person.

Chief Parker says the city would be better served by having a combination department. "We're still going to need volunteers for the structure fires and all the big stuff, but we'd like to add a couple of full time people (per shift) to take care of some of the smaller stuff, the alarm calls, the wash downs, and some of the investigation calls which they could do to take some of the pressure off of the volunteers so they could have a little more free time."

"There is a lot of work that goes into making a fire department work. Our firefighters have meetings and equipment checks. They do building maintenance by cleaning, sweeping, moping, waxing, and buffing the floors. They change the filters and light bulbs, clean the toilets, and even paint the building when it needs it. They also put in several hours writing, sorting, entering, and sending reports to state and federal agencies. Then we have fire education and fire prevention programs at the schools, and some civic programs, community events, the Christmas parade, Friday night ball games, and days in the park. We have fire investigations, burn permits, building inspections, and research on fire codes. We have to wash and polish the trucks to make sure they look their best. All this, in addition to fighting fires. Of course, we all have homes and families and real jobs somewhere else."

It's been almost twenty years since the volunteer firefighters pay scale has been changed and Chief Parker says the department would like to see that addressed as well. "For over 19 years, Smithville Firefighters have received $15.00 per call, whether it's one hour or ten hours (on a call). We would like to change our volunteer pay scale to where after two hours (per call), the firefighter would get paid by the hour. We would also like to be able to pay them for some of the additional jobs they perform like factory pre-plans, inspections, and testing equipment."

"We would also like to propose an extra amount in the budget for training. We already have some money (for training), but we need a little more so we can send some people to training classes and also to purchase videos, DVD's, and books to help us meet our ISO rating."

In order to fund this proposal. Chief Parker says the department estimates an expenditure of around $300,000. "We need to match up salaries and make sure everything is in sync with what the City of Smithville already pays other employees. There's benefits and insurance that has to be figured into this that may not necessarily be part of the payroll but it is an expense to the city. So we're trying to get all that figured so that we can actually get a dollar amount to present to the citizens of Smithville. We're proposing roughly $300,000 for all of it to take care of the personnel and also we would have some increased costs in them doing jobs around the city in performance of their duties."

Chief Parker says firefighters believe any possible increase in city property tax rates to fund this request would be offset somewhat by lower homeowners insurance premiums due to better ISO ratings." We went through an evaluation in November from ISO and during this evaluation we were able to lower our class from a seven to a class six rating. Insurance companies use this rating to determine what your premiums are going to be. We were about three tenths of a point from going to a class five. We've already made some improvements and hopefully this fall we'll drop from a class six to a class five. But we really don't want to stop there, we want to continue to go on and see if we can go down to a class four. In doing that, we're going to have to implement a few changes. We're going to have to get some more volunteers or hire some full time personnel. There's a few different ways to go about that (reducing class rating)."

Members of the department, in a prepared statement regarding the ISO evaluation, state that "The ISO evaluation we received (in November) showed us two major areas that we can improve in. One area is under the fire department heading and this involves the number of firefighters we have, their training, and their attendance on structure fires."

"In order for Smithville to get the most credit from ISO, we need to be able to staff two engine companies and one service or ladder company. Engine companies consist of six volunteers or two full time personnel. One full time firefighter equals three volunteers. On our last evaluation our average was 11.4 firefighters per structure fire and this is just short of two engine companies."

"The next area we have to work on is training. ISO requires each firefighter volunteer or full time firefighter to have 20 hours of training per month, 240 hours per year in firefighter skills and this does not include driver training, which is an extra 40 hours per year. Officer training is an extra 12 hours. We also need to provide a library of books, DVD's, and training materials in house for the firefighters to use."

"The evaluation recommends that we do pre-plans and inspections twice a year for all major businesses and industries in town. We should also have a plan of action for a fire. This involves going out to the business, gathering all information, maps, chemical lists, building size and layout, and sorting the information to put it in books or computers so we can access the information at any time."

"The other area we need to work on is water supply. We are in fair shape in this area, but we need to add some fire hydrants in a few key locations and repair or upgrade others. There are also water lines in the city that need to be upgraded or we will need additional fire equipment to take care of those locations. The hydrants are also supposed to be flushed out and pressure readings taken twice per year.'

"The other improvement is a ladder company. Because of three story buildings and the size of some of our factories, a ladder company is recommended. (A new ladder truck is estimated to cost up to $900,000).

"I think we can and should continue to improve our rating. By lowering our class, it will benefit the City of Smithville, our businesses, and industries, as well as the citizens with lower insurance premiums. It may also help attract new industry to our city bringing more jobs."

Speaking for the department, Chief Parker concluded "I know we are in tough times and there is not a lot of extra money, and that us why I am asking the help of the city council to make this work. You can say the only way we can hire these firefighters is to raise taxes, and that will kill the proposal quickly. No one wants to raise taxes, but if we must, then lets show the people the benefits of lower insurance premiums and better fire protection. We need to inform the public and let them decide what is best for them."

The mayor and aldermen indicated that the proposal will be considered as the new budget is prepared but gave no assurances whether it would be funded.

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