Local News Articles

Smithville Receives $500,000 CDBG Grant for Water Plant Rehab Project

August 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Smithville Receives CDBG Grant from Governor

Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, and Public Works Director Kevin Robinson were in Nashville Monday to receive an official presentation of a $500,000 community development block grant from Governor Phil Bredesen and officials of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

The grant will be used to support the rehabilitation of the water treatment plant.

During Monday's city council meeting, Mayor Hendrixson informed the council of the trip.
"I went to Nashville today and received from the Governor quite a nice check. It's for the 2008 Community Development Block Grant that we applied for in 2008 but did not get. They have come back with stimulus money and we did get awarded the $500,000. There were several communities there for several different projects and I think we were one of only two that got the $500,000. We're lucky that we got this. This is part of our water plant upgrade and we're certainly glad to have it."

The aldermen, in February, voted 5 to 0 to hire the J.R. Wauford & Company Consulting Engineers, Incorporated of Lebanon for the design phase of the rehabilitation of the water treatment plant and the raw water intake location at the lake.

The plans have been completed and forwarded to the state for approval.

The total project cost is estimated to be approximately 1.7 million dollars.
(Pictured left to right: Rick Meredith, assistant commissioner of the community development division of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Kevin Robinson, Smithville Public Works Director, Governor Bredesen, Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Hunter Hendrixson, Secretary-Treasurer, and Matt Kisber, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development)

Corps changes former marina site to Habitat Restoration Area

August 20, 2009

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of changing the former Hidden Harbor Marina site in Dekalb County, Tenn. to a Habitat Restoration Area. This designation allows the Corps to restore this area while keeping public access to the water available.

In 2007, Hidden Harbor Marina relocated approximately one mile downstream to the former Holmes Creek Recreation Area, most of which was closed by the Corps in 2003. Earlier this year, the marina owners completed the demolition and removal of the marina’s facilities at the former site, and restored the area.

This new designation of this site as a Habitat Restoration Area will allow the Center Hill Lake staff to use a management strategy designed to improve wildlife habitat by returning the area to its most natural state, while allowing the launching ramp and paved parking lot to remain open for public use.

For information concerning this action, contact the Center Hill Lake Resource Manager’s office at (931) 858-3125 or (615) 548-4521.

Tigers Open the Season Friday Night at Warren County

August 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tiger Coach Steve Trapp and WJLE's John Pryor

The DeKalb County Tiger Football Team will open the season Friday night at Warren County against the Pioneers at Nunley Stadium.

Game time is set for 7:00 p.m.

WJLE's John Pryor will have LIVE play by play coverage of the game. Our broadcast begins with a recorded segment called "Tiger Talk" starting at 6:30 p.m. featuring comments from Tiger Coach Steve Trapp and Tiger Quarterback and Safety Hunter Poteete and Wide Receiver and Defensive Back Abram Edwards.

Listen LIVE on WJLE FM 101.7/AM1480 or via audio streaming at www.wjle.com.

Click here to listen to this week's Tiger Talk program.

County Commission to Consider Local Property Tax Relief Proposals

August 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission may have an alternative to giving property tax relief to eligible senior citizen property owners and others without having to adopt the property tax freeze which was overwhelmingly approved by voters at the polls in November 2006.

The commission, Monday night, may consider an alternative, as offered by Trustee Sean Driver, to give tax relief of $50 for those who meet the requirements for the state approved tax relief. This would apply to property owners 65 years of age and older and those who are deemed to be 100% disabled with income not exceeding $25,360 and disabled veterans who have qualified as being 100% disabled by the veterans administration. This would apply to 2009 taxes paid within the current year guidelines. In addition to the $50 tax relief by the county, the state will be giving a $91 tax relief to those who qualify.

Counties and cities in Tennessee can now freeze the property tax rates for eligible homeowners 65 and over. State lawmakers gave local governments the authority to enact the tax freeze

The adoption of a property tax freeze by local governments is the final step in an effort to limit the impact of rising assessments and property taxes on seniors with fixed incomes. The process began with Constitutional Amendment No. 2 which received an 83 percent "yes" vote statewide in the 2006 general election.

In DeKalb County, the vote was 4,125 (83%) to 805(16%) in favor of the Constitutional amendment

County commissions and city councils are now authorized to freeze the property tax rates at their current levels for homeowners with combined incomes at or below a certain level.

The freeze would mean eligible homeowners would not have to pay higher taxes the next time a local government increases property tax rates.

County Mayor Mike Foster and Steve Bates, the county's financial advisor, say only a few counties in the state have adopted the property tax freeze measure, because of the complexities of the program and the cost of administration. Foster has said another employee would have to be hired in the Trustee's Office if the property tax freeze were adopted, to handle the extra workload.

Meanwhile, the county commission Monday night may also consider another proposal, offered by Trustee Driver, to give a discount for early payment of 2009 property taxes. Two alternatives will be discussed. Under the first alternative, a 2% discount on current taxes is provided if paid by October 31st. Under the second alternative, a 1% discount is granted if current taxes are paid more than 30 days but less than 60 days after October 1st between November 1st and November 30th, 2009 as provided for under state law.

In other business, the county commission agenda for Monday night's meeting includes action on a budget amendment and year end reports; discussion of a health care contract for inmate care; discussion of a three way stop at Trammel Branch/Dismal to Alexandria Road for safety issues; dicussion of a problem with the Jones Mill/Old Jones Mill-Luna Mill Road name and to consider the status on being a public or county road; approval of notaries; discussion of increasing the county litigation fee on civil cases in General Sessions and civil cases in Circuit Court to fund a court officer. Plus, any other business properly submitted. WJLE plans LIVE coverage

Blood donors critically needed at Blood Assurance

August 20, 2009

Blood Assurance is in critical need of type O negative blood and type B negative blood. Anyone who is able to give blood is asked to donate to replenish the local blood supply.

Blood Assurance will be in Smithville on Tuesday, August 25th. You may donate blood at the Family Medical Center from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. and DeKalb Community Hospital from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.

All blood donated in DeKalb County stays in DeKalb County.

This is the third time this summer that the blood supply has dropped to a critically low level this summer.

“We take every appropriate measure to ensure that our hospitals have enough blood to treat their patients. Part of that approach is to evaluate the amount of blood donations coming in versus the daily demand,” said President and CEO Rick Youngblood.

“Without issuing a critical appeal for more donors, we won’t be able to adequately supply our hospitals this week, which is why we’re trying to get the word out before that happens,” said Youngblood.

As the only regional blood center in the area, Blood Assurance is responsible for providing blood products to all hospitals and healthcare facilities in the region.

Blood Assurance locations are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 pm. on Saturdays. Donors must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. There is no maximum age restriction for donating blood. For a location near you or to locate a bloodmobile in your area, please call 1-800-962-0628 or visit www.bloodassurance.org

Habitat Seeks Third Partner Family

August 19, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's affiliate chapter of Habitat for Humanity is accepting applications for its third partner family.

Applications will be accepted through Tuesday, September 15th.

An informational meeting is set for Thursday night, August 27th starting at 6:30 p.m. in the basement of the courthouse. Families may attend this meeting to pick up an application and receive assistance in completing the form.

If interested partner families cannot attend the meeting, you may call the local Habitat chapter at 215-8111 and leave a message with your name, address, and phone number. One of the Habitat volunteers will mail an application to you.

To qualify, applicants must: (1) have lived in DeKalb County for at least one year; (2) be willing to partner with Habitat to realize dreams of home ownership; (3) currently occupy inadequate or substandard housing; (4) demonstrate the ability to pay a mortgage; and (5) fall within Habitat's income guidelines.

All applications will be reviewed and considered by Habitat's Family Selection Committee before a partner family is selected. The partner family will work with Habitat on construction of their home and to develop the skills necessary for successful home ownership. Construction labor is provided by Habitat volunteers, and some materials are donated by Habitat supporters, as well.

Once the home is completed, the partner family will be given a 20-year no interest mortgage for the purchase price, based solely on the cost of materials and related services. Under these terms, qualifying families can expect to pay from between $200 and $300 per month to be in their own home.

The local Habitat chapter has constructed homes for two partner families in DeKalb County, Denise Perry and her children and Felicia Gibbs and her children. Both homes are located on Adams Street

Defendants Enter Pleas in Criminal Court

August 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Many of those indicted by the grand jury earlier this month appeared for arraignment in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday.

Most pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and will be back in court in October.

Some entered pleas under negotiated settlements.

The following defendants were sentenced by Judge David Patterson.

37 year old Patsy McCoy pleaded guilty to theft under $500, aggravated burglary, and burglary. She received a total of seven years combined, including a four year sentence on the burglary charge all suspended to time served, a three year sentence on the aggravated burglary charge, all suspended except for sixty days to serve, and 11 months and 29 days on the theft charge, all suspended to sixty days. The theft and aggravated burglary sentences will run concurrently, but consecutively with the burglary case. McCoy was given jail credit from April 26th to August 17th.
She must make any restitution and pay seventy five dollars to the economic crime fund.

31 year old James Hesson pleaded guilty to violation of the sex offender registry. He received a two year sentence, all suspended except for 90 days to serve. He was given jail credit from April 15th to August 17th.

38 year old Jimmy Baker pleaded guilty to violation of the sex offender registry and received a two year sentence, all suspended to probation, except for 90 days to serve. He was given jail credit from May 20th to August 17th.

24 year old Stephen Pugh pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended. Other counts against him will be dismissed. The sentence is to run concurrently with a DUI case against him. Pugh must pay seventy five dollars to the economic crime fund. He was given jail credit from July 1st to August 10th.

34 year old James Leduc pleaded guilty to two counts of worthless check. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days with 30 days to serve in each case to run concurrently. The sentence is also to run concurrently with a previous case in which he was given seven years probation. Leduc must pay seventy five dollars to the economic crime fund.

32 year old Lisa M. Porterfield pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license and received two days and a $250 fine. The case is to run concurrently with a sentence against her in Warren County. She will be on six months of supervised probation.

26 year old Joseph M. Edge pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence at 305 to serve 60 days with the balance on probation. The sentence may be served on consecutive weekends. Edge must pay seventy five dollars to the economic crime fund.

26 year old Tristan Layne was granted pre-trial diversion for a period of two years under a memorandum of understanding. Layne was indicted on charges of attempted auto burglary, attempted theft over $1,000, and theft under $500. Under terms of the probation, Layne must make restitution of $5,000 to be paid jointly and severally to the victims.

Heather Irvine was granted pre-trial diversion for 11 months and 29 days under a memorandum of understanding. She was indicted on misdemeanor charges of possession of a schedule II and VI controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia.

26 year old Dennis Allan Wright pleaded guilty by criminal information to reckless endangerment and violation of the open container law. He received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days, was fined $400, and must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and attend an alcohol safety school.

Meanwhile, last week, 43 year old Shannon Newby pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary, theft under $500, and theft over $500. The sentences in all the cases are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to a TDOC sentence against him. In these cases, Newby was sentenced to a total of five years, to serve 11 months and 29 days. He must pay $475 to the economic crime fund and make restitution. Newby was given jail credit from July 10th, 2008 to August 11th, 2009.

More Students Getting Back to School

August 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Clay Farler

Although absenteeism is still higher than normal, attendance is improving in the school system this week, as more students are getting back in the classrooms after a bout with sickness.

Attendance Supervisor Clay Farler told WJLE Tuesday morning that system-wide, 288 students were out of school Tuesday (today), down from 327 students who were out of school Monday, 472 on Friday and 360 on Thursday.

Farler says on a typical school day, about 5% of the student population or approximately 148 students would be absent. He says the goal is to have at least a 95% attendance rate every day. As of Tuesday, it's at 90.25%

The following are the numbers of students absent at each school on Friday compared to Monday and Tuesday.

DCHS: Tuesday (today) 100 absent; Monday 117 absent; Friday 244 absent
DeKalb Middle School: Tuesday (today) 53; Monday 60 absent; Friday 81 absent
Northside Elementary: Tuesday (today) 59; Monday 63 absent; Friday 66 absent
Smithville Elementary School: Tuesday (today) 42; Monday 43 absent; Friday 55 absent
DeKalb West School: Tuesday (today) 34; Monday 44 absent; Friday 24 absent

Meanwhile Farler reports that enrollment in the DeKalb County School system is 2,954 as of today (Tuesday)

The enrollment breaks down as follows:
DCHS- 826 students
DeKalb Middle School- 514
Northside Elementary School- 595
Smithville Elementary School-592
DeKalb West School- 427

Concerned Citizens Want Someone to Direct School Traffic at Northside Elementary

August 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Should someone be assigned to direct traffic in the school zone at Northside Elementary on North Congress Boulevard? If so, who should be responsible for the cost and liability, the City of Smithville, the County, or Board of Education?

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen discussed this issue Monday night after two concerned citizens, Erlene Howard and Bruce Curtis addressed the city board about the traffic congestion at the school as parents drop off their children in the mornings and pick them up in the afternoons.

Curtis warned that wrecks are bound to occur in that school zone, unless the problem is addressed. "We're looking at having a major accident there. Parents are lining up, coming to drop their kids off in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. They're lining up off the road all the way down as far as the medical center. But when the parents are trying to come out, you can't see around the cars that are trying to come in. No one is able to stop the traffic. It's takes as long as five to ten minutes or longer sometimes to get out because of that traffic area. It's going to cause a wreck right there."

Howard asked who would be responsible if there were a wreck there, the city or the county." It's a county school in the city, who would be responsible?"

City attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. responded that it would not necessarily be either the city or county, but "the person who's negligence caused the accident. There are speed zones posted there."

Chief Richard Jennings explained that the police department once assigned officers to direct traffic in the school zones, but problems arose when those officers would often have to leave the school zones or not show up at all in order to answer other calls. To address that problem, the city hired two civilians to direct school traffic, but those positions were eliminated in budget cuts last year. "Years ago the city did provide the officers to direct traffic out there as a courtesy. But our calls for service got so heavy that when the officer would go in the morning (to school zone), a lot of times he didn't get there because our priority is we have to answer the calls of service as they come in. So he either didn't get there at all or would have to leave early. We addressed that problem by hiring two civilian personnel to direct traffic out there. One of them happened to be a constable. They took care of Northside and the High School. But in last year's budget the economic downturn required the City of Smithville to cut the police department's budget and those two positions were removed from the budget. Prior to doing that I met with the school superintendent to discuss the fact that the police department was going to have to discontinue this service. The school superintendent agreed that it was the school board's responsibility to furnish people to direct traffic out there and he said they were going to put the money in the budget to do that. But for some reason they were unable to get it in the budget that year. I thought it would be in their budget this year but for some reason it's not. I think the mayor did write a letter to the school board and the principals stating far in advance that we were going to discontinue this because of budget cuts. The only way we could do it is if we reinstated those two part time positions and hired civilian people to get out there and direct traffic. That would be cheaper than paying off duty police officers overtime."

Alderman Shawn Jacobs said this is an issue for many citizens and believes the city should try to resolve it. "I've had probably eight parents bring the subject up to me. I fully agree with what Chief Jennings is doing now. I've always thought that it's not efficient to have on duty police officers out of their cars directing traffic when they are actually subject to being called somewhere else. I also agree that in all probability it's a county responsibility, but in light of the fact that the city has done this for so long and because the school year is already underway and to keep this from getting pushed away and delayed more often, I would like to see us get an off duty officer or a constable or somebody out there to direct traffic at Northside for a couple of hours a day. I've estimated (the cost) around $3,000 to $3,500 for a year. I think that's the school (Northside) that has the worst problem. I've not heard any complaints about the other schools and I think the (other) school zones are working fairly smoothly. Even last year I heard complaints about Northside, that it was really becoming a bad situation. Regardless of whose responsibility it is, I would hate to see an accident. We're here to serve the public's interest and the fact that folks are having to wait five to ten minutes to get back on the road is an inconvenience. A lot of these folks are trying to get to work. I just think it would be wise for us to consider trying to handle this one school zone. I wouldn't recommend that we do the others at this moment."

Alderman Steve White suggested a meeting between city and county or school officials." It's a safety hazard and a problem that needs to be addressed. Maybe we should address the school board or county and see why they haven't funded it and whether they are going to later. I think we should talk to the county and school board"

Both Alderman W.J. (Dub) White and Mayor Taft Hendrixson mentioned that perhaps the city and county or school board could share the expense.

Alderman and Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks said he would contact the Director of Schools about a meeting to discuss the issue.

Sheriff Asks for Public Assistance in Solving Theft Ring

August 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
James Steven Leduc
Daniel Luke Brock
Rex James Garza
Teresa Kay Beasley
Randall Johnson

Sheriff Patrick Ray is asking for your help in solving a theft ring which has been occurring in DeKalb and surrounding counties.

According to Sheriff Ray, most of these thefts have been taking place at night. "We have been working with the surrounding counties on theft cases where someone has been stealing riding lawn mowers, bumper trailers, gooseneck trailers, boat trailers, and camper trailers. In some of the thefts, the thief will take the vehicle that is attached to the trailer and carry them into one of our surrounding counties and burn them. Authorities in all of the counties agree that this is the same theft ring they have been experiencing. In DeKalb County, we have seen a few of these thefts in the western part of the county with the last one being a travel trailer taken from the Smith Fork area in which a truck was attached to the travel trailer and the thief drove it into the creek and took the trailer. We are asking everyone to keep an eye out for anyone driving up and down the road or anyone that looks suspicious. We ask you to get a good description of the vehicle then call the central dispatch and relay the information to them where a deputy can be dispatched to that area. You may also call the Sheriff's Department at 597-4935 or the crime tip line at 464-6400 if you have any information on someone trying to sell these items.

Meanwhile in other crime news, Sheriff Ray reports that Sheriff's Department detectives arrested 33 year old James Steven Leduc of Gin Alley Apartments in Alexandria for theft of property on August 11th. The victim, who resides on Tramel Branch Road in Alexandria, reported the theft of a G.E. clothes dryer, a compound bow, a refrigerator, and three electric floor heaters. Detectives found that Leduc had sold the stolen items to a business in Alexandria. When they picked up Leduc, he admitted to selling the stolen items. Leduc's bond was set at $40,000 and he will appear in court on August 20th.

22 year old Daniel Luke Brock and 20 year old Rex James Garza were picked up on sealed indictments for theft of property and burglary on August 11th. Sheriff Ray says on December 30th, 2007, DeKalb County detectives and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation worked a break-in on Johnson's Chapel Road where items such as cases of beer, computers, a surround sound system, and two large screen televisions were taken from a business without the owners consent. Bond for both men was set at $25,000 and they will appear in court on September 21st.

Deputies responded to an accident on Sparta Highway on August 11th. Upon arrival, officers talked with the driver, 60 year old James Brown Metcalf of West Bockman Way Sparta, and noticed that he was unsteady on his feet and had a smell of alcohol on his person. Metcalf submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. He admitted to drinking vodka earlier. Metcalf ‘s bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on August 20th.

43 year old Teresa Kay Beasley of McMinnville Highway was arrested August 15th on a sealed indictment for sale of a schedule II drug, delivery of a schedule II drug, possession of a schedule II drug for resale, delivery of a schedule II drug for resale, sale of a legend drug, attempt to sell a schedule II drug, and attempt to deliver a schedule II drug. Her bond was set at $6,000 and she will appear in court on September 21st.

Also on August 15th, deputies went to the residence of 46 year old Randall Johnson who lives on LaFever Ridge Road Silver Point, to serve a state warrant on him. When Deputies tried to cuff Johnson, he told them "No I'm not going!" The officers were able to subdue Johnson and place him into custody without incident. Upon coming into the DeKalb County Jail, Johnson was found to have a plastic bag on his person that contained a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. Johnson was charged with resisting arrest and introduction of drugs into a penal institution. His bond was set at $7,000 and will appear in court on August 20th.

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