Local News Articles

U.S Senate Approves Funding for Continued Safety Repairs at Center Hill Dam

August 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced Friday that the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, which passed the full Senate Thursday night, includes funding to aggressively continue the safety repairs at Wolf Creek and Center Hill Dams. The bill also provides funding for several other water infrastructure projects in middle Tennessee.

Both Center Hill and Wolf Creek Dams were designated “high risk” for failure in January of 2007. The Senators said that currently ratepayers in Middle Tennessee have to pay an additional $100 million a year in replacement power while water levels at the dams are down for the repairs.

“This bill includes several projects important to Tennesseans like repairing two dams that have been designated ‘high risk’ since 2007,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The funding in this bill will help ensure that Tennesseans across our state have safe, reliable water.”

“Maintaining Tennessee’s water-related infrastructure is particularly important given the tough economic conditions facing our citizens and our state government. Funds provided in this bill will help support the continued safe operation of major dams and locks for the communities that depend upon them,” Corker said.

Key Tennessee projects funded in the Senate version of the FY10 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act include:

$123 million for repairs to Wolf Creek Dam. Seepage has caused zones of high water pressure in the embankment next to the dam, posing a significant risk of dam failure and threatening the surrounding communities with flooding. Funding would be used to continue to build a cutoff wall to prevent seepage into the embankment. The bill also includes $7.8 million for operations and maintenance of the dam.

$56 million for repairs to Center Hill Dam. Since its construction in 1951, seepage problems have cost millions of dollars for constant upkeep. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Dam Safety Portfolio Risk Assessment ranked Center Hill Dam as a Class I dam safety project -- the highest priority of all Corps dams. The bill also includes $6.1 million for operations and maintenance of the dam.

$50,000 for the Mill Creek Watershed to complete a feasibility study to address flooding problems. Mill Creek is a major tributary of the Cumberland River in southeastern Davidson County and northwestern Williamson County.

$6.5 million for Cheatham Lock and Dam for continued operations and maintenance.

$6.8 million for Cordell Hull Dam and Reservoir for continued operations and maintenance.

$4.8 million for J. Percy Priest Dam and Reservoir for continued operations and maintenance.

$12.3 million for Old Hickory Lock and Dam for continued operations and maintenance.

$6.4 million for Dale Hollow Lake Dam for continued operations and maintenance.

Funds for Sligo Bridge Included in Federal Transportation Appropriations Bill

August 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Federal funds for Sligo Bridge are included in a federal appropriations bill making it's way to the United States Senate.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander announced Friday that the Fiscal Year 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, includes significant funding for a number of mass transit, roadway, and airport improvements across Tennessee. The bill must now be considered by the full Senate.

In a prepared news release, Senator Alexander says the bill includes" $1.5 million for DeKalb County for the replacement of the US-70 bridge. Funding will be used to repair the US-70 bridge in DeKalb County. The current bridge is structurally sound, but was built in 1947 and is in serious need of repair. It is the only bridge across Center Hill Lake on the eastern end of DeKalb County and the only way for school buses and traffic to cross from the other side of the lake.

"This legislation funds important initiatives to improve transportation and economic development in Tennessee," Alexander said. "As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to ensure that Tennessee's federal tax dollars are used wisely to create jobs, upgrade our state's roadways and enhance the quality of life in our communities."

The FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funding for the following projects:

· $6 million for the Tennessee Public Transportation Association for statewide mass transportation programs. Funding will be used to purchase and improve mass transit systems across the state of Tennessee – including busing and light rail. Improved mass transit will reduce congestion in Tennessee's cities as well as help provide hospital transportation for rural Tennesseans.

· $1.5 million for Nashville International Airport for runway reconstruction. Funding will be used to upgrade a runway at Nashville International Airport so it can better accommodate larger freight and passenger aircraft to meet the air transport demands for Nashville, one of the South's fastest growing cities.

· $200,000 for Cocke County for improvements to Waterville Road. Funding will help repair the Waterville Road in Cocke County which is heavily impacted by tourists visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which is partly within county limits.

· $1 million for the City of Gallatin for improvements to Airport Road. Funding will be used to redirect the airport road to make additional space for an expanded runway to accommodate increasing commercial aircraft traffic.

· $785,000 for the City of Jackson for improvements to East Chester Street. Funding will be used to improve East Chester Street and help spur redevelopment of East Jackson. East Chester Street was devastated by a tornado in May 2003.

· $1.5 million for DeKalb County for the replacement of the US-70 bridge. Funding will be used to repair the US-70 bridge in DeKalb County. The current bridge is structurally sound, but was built in 1947 and is in serious need of repair. It is the only bridge across Center Hill Lake on the eastern end of DeKalb County and the only way for school buses and traffic to cross from the other side of the lake.

Bredesen Announces Recovery Act Funds to UCHRA

July 31, 2009

Governor Phil Bredesen announced today that Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency will receive $1.7 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for rural transportation services. UCHRA provides public transportation services for Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, Warren and White Counties.

“Many Tennesseans, particularly those with limited mobility, already rely on public transportation for their daily needs and many others would like to see expanded transit options,” said Bredesen. “The Recovery Act funds announced today will help rural transit providers in Tennessee improve service and replace aging fleets with safer, more reliable vehicles.”

A total of $17.9 million in Recovery Act funds will be provided to 12 rural transit agencies in Tennessee.

“Coming from the fourth most rural congressional district in the country I understand the importance of providing rural residents, particularly those with limited economic means and mobility, with accessible and reliable transportation,” said Congressman Lincoln Davis. “These Recovery Act funds will allow Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency to improve service by upgrading and expanding an aging fleet and provide thousands of Tennesseans with the mobility to continue being or becoming active members of their community.”

“Public transportation is a key component to attracting new businesses and spurring economic development,” said Congressman Bart Gordon. “As the economy recovers from this recession, improving public transit in our state’s rural communities will help make these areas more desirable for businesses to set up shop and create new jobs.”

UCHRA plans to use the Recovery Act dollars to add approximately 18 new ADA accessible minivans, 13 ADA accessible vans, eight new demand response vehicles, communications and GPS devices for the new vehicles to assist in locating service calls and one service vehicle. UCHRA also plans to utilize approximately $177,797 for operational costs.

“Many of the vans and buses in the rural transportation fleets have accumulated hundreds of thousands of miles over the years and have outlasted their useful life,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “Replacing these vehicles will allow transit agencies to provide safer, more dependable service to their customers and will generate manufacturing work for the companies providing the vehicles.”

Federal Recovery Act Transit funds are administered by TDOT’s Division of Multimodal Transportation Resources. Tennessee received a total of $72 million in Recovery Act transit funds. Of those funds, $42.2 million was directed by the federal government to the state’s four large urban areas, Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville.

For more information on TDOT’s Division of Multimodal Transportation Resources visit www.tn.gov/tdot. For more information on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, visit www.recovery.gov. For TDOT specific information on the Recovery Act visit www.tn.gov/tdot/recovery.

Smithville Police Answering Domestic Disturbance Call Make Drug Arrest

July 31, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Smithville man was arrested on drug charges after police answered a domestic disturbance call last Saturday at his residence.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, in his weekly press release, reports that 45 year old Paul Andrew Hall of Smithville is charged with possession of a schedule III, IV, and VI controlled substance. His bond is $4,500 and he will be in court on August 6th.

Smithville Police Officer Matt Holmes states that on July 25th at around 1:00 p.m. he was dispatched to 134 Village Place in Smithville on a domestic disturbance call. Upon arrival, Officer Holmes met with Paul and Gail Hall. Officer Holmes learned that the Halls had a verbal argument. Mr. Hall agreed to get a few personal articles and leave the residence for a while. As Hall was about to get in his vehicle to leave, Ms. Hall asked him for her cell phone. Mr. Hall reached into his pocket and pulled out the cell phone and a small bag dropped on the ground. Mr. Hall immediately scooped up the bag and ran. Officer Holmes pursued and stopped Hall. Upon examining the material in the bag, Officer Holmes placed Hall under arrest for possession of marijuana. During a search of Mr. Hall, Officer Holmes found two white pills and four green pills believed to be Hydrocodone and three round yellow pills believed to be Valium.

Meanwhile, 26 year old Michael David Teachout of 1915 Midway Road, Smithville was arrested by Smithville Police Officer Scott Davis on July 26th on a violation of probation warrant.

20 year old Jeremy Shelton of 326 Jacobs Pillar Road is charged with violating an order of protection. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court August 27th.

Smithville K-9 Officer Brad Tatrow reports that on July 28th at around 5:05 a.m. he was traveling on East Broad Street when he witnessed Shelton in violation of the order of protection taken out by Latroya Bain. Officer Tatrow placed him under arrest.

24 year old Wallace Marlon Rackley of 515 North Congress Boulevard, Smithville is charged with felony vandalism, domestic violence assault, and aggravated burglary. His bond totals $20,000 and his court date is August 6th.

Smithville Police Officer Matt Holmes reports that on July 26th at around 1:00 p.m., he met with 28 year old Kimberly Ward of 632 Estes Street, Smithville at the DeKalb County Jail. She advised Officer Holmes that at around 2:30 a.m. that morning her ex-boyfriend, Rackley, broke into her residence and attacked her. Ward said she was beaten repeatedly by Rackley and that he took all the telephones in the residence. According to Ward, Rackley later fell asleep but she was too afraid to try and contact the police at that time. After he awoke, Ward told him she had to go to Wal-mart and that she would drop him off at his residence on the way. After taking Rackley home, Ward went to the police department. Warrants were then issued for Rackley and he was arrested on July 29th.

20 year old Ross Matthew Peterson of 1597 Midway Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property under $500. His bond is $3,500 and his court date is July 23rd.

Smithville Police Department Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. reports that on July 7th some auto parts and tools were taken from O'Reilly's Auto Parts store at 664 West Broad Street. An investigation into the theft led to the arrest of Peterson on July 14th.

Meanwhile, Chief Jennings is asking for your help in solving several recent criminal offenses.

On July 25th, Brad Cotter of 142 North Second Avenue, Smithville noticed that someone had tried to break into his residence and his workshop. The damage to the doors was approximately $100.

At around 2:00 p.m. on July 25th, 62 year old George Divine of 20 North Butler Street, Sparta allegedly took a 2006 Toyota Tacoma from Florence & White Ford in Smithville without their permission. The vehicle is valued at $11,850.

Someone tried to break into Terry Satterfield's residence at 612 South College Street in Smithville on July 26th at around 10:00 p.m. The suspect tried to gain entry through two different windows.

Michelle Burklow came to the Smithville Police Department on July 27th at about 5:41 p.m. to report that someone had taken her purse from the DeKalb County Board of Education Building on the public square. The purse contained personal identification, check book, keys, Wal-mart gift card, and cash.

Also on July 27th at around 9:00 p.m., Smithville Police Officer Brad Tatrow was dispatched to 732 Dry Creek Road in Smithville to investigate a vandalism complaint. Upon arrival, Officer Tatrow talked to Lori E. Page, who stated that someone had vandalized her 1997 Nissan automobile. The vehicle had been scratched in numerous places and someone attempted to pry open a window. The approximate damage to the vehicle is $1,000.

Chief Jennings says if anyone has any information on any of these criminal offenses to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 615-597-8210. Any information received will be kept confidential.

DeKalb County Celebrates First Day of School

July 30, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Booth one of many giving away Free school supplies

Parents and students joined educators and other supporters downtown Thursday evening for the Fourth Annual First Day of School Education Celebration in DeKalb County.

This Education Celebration is nationally known as First Day of School America and is held annually in a lot of the bigger cities in the United States. Since 1997 the First Day Foundation organization has been assisting schools, families and communities to come together for a celebration on the First Day of each new school year to support education and begin a year-long partnership to promote student success. This is also a time when parents and students become more familiar with the faculty, staff and PTO of the school that they are entering.

All five schools in DeKalb County and their Parent Teacher Organizations were represented at the celebration and several local businesses, public officials, individuals, and community based organizations provided free school supplies, refreshments, and other materials and resources to parents and students

Click here to view pictures from the DeKalb Education Celebration http://www.wjle.com/node/8305

The DeKalb County Education Celebration committee would like to THANK the following churches, community members, and businesses for donating to the 2009 celebration.

The DeKalb County Education Celebration committee would like to THANK the following churches, community members, and businesses for donating to the 2009 celebration.

Churches
Church of the Nazerene
New Hope Baptist Church/ Alexandria
Smithville Church of Christ
Jacobs Pillar United Methodist Church
Peoples Missionary Baptist Church
Salem Baptist Church
Liberty Methodist Church
Snow Hill Methodist Church
Bright Hill Methodist Church
Grace Bible Church
Keltonburg Church of Christ
Whorton Springs Baptist Church
Covenant Baptist Church
New Home Baptist Church
Indian Creek Baptist Church
Lighthouse In Home Ministries
New Union Baptist Church
Mt Zion Baptist Church
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Smithville Church of God
Johnson’s Chapel Free Will Baptist
Calvary Baptist Church
Smithville First Free Will Baptist
Dowelltown Methodist Church
Laurel Hill Church
Walker’s Chapel Church
Temple Baptist Church
First Methodist Church
Laurel Hill Baptist Church
First United Methodist
New West Point Free Will Baptist Church
The Baptist Tabernacle
Smithville First Baptist
Keltonburg United Methodist Church
Banks Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Businesses
DeKalb County Farm Bureau
Janney and Associates
Dr.David Foutch O D
Dr. Cliff Duke, DDS
T. Koen Orthodontics
Griffin’s Fruit Market
DeKalb County Elected Officials
Regions Bank
DeKalb Community Bank
First Bank
Judge Bratten Cook
DeKalb Co. Tee Ball Coach Pitch
Bumpers Drive In
Hendrix Financial
DTC Wireless
Infinity Athletics
Liberty State Bank
DeKalb County Public Libraries

Thank you to the County and City mayors for working with the committee to have the event on the square and assisting in the closing of the streets to protect our children.

Motorists Urged to be Extra Careful Around School Buses

July 30, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

It's back to school time!

School buses are running today as students register for a new school year.

Local and state law enforcement agencies urge motorists to be a little extra cautious and keep an eye out for the kids.

The THP and other local law enforcement officers often monitor school zones and watch for violators of speeding laws, as well as aggressive drivers and anyone who passes a stopped school bus.

Officials say it's important that children learn school bus safety tips. They include:

Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early.
Stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.
Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says it's okay before stepping onto the bus.
Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps or dangling objects do not get caught in the handrail or door when exiting the bus.
Check both ways before stepping off the bus. Walk in front of the bus-never behind it.
Be alert to traffic. When you get on or off the bus, look left, right, then left again before exiting the bus or crossing the street.
The bus driver and others cannot see you if you are standing closer than 10 feet to the bus. Stay out of the danger zone

There are also important safety tips for drivers to remember, including:

Always stop for a stopped school bus.
Never pass a school bus.
Never speed in school zones, or in residential areas where children may be present.
The "Danger Zone" is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of not being seen by drivers.
Pedestrian fatalities (while loading and unloading school buses) account for approximately three times as many school bus-related fatalities when compared to school bus occupant fatalities.
The most dangerous part of the school bus ride is getting on and off the bus.

DeKalb County Fair Hugely Successful

July 29, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jeff McMillen

The 2009 Grandpa Fair of the South may have been the granddaddy of them all in DeKalb County in terms of attendance.

Jeff McMillen, Manager of the DeKalb County Fair, says this year's fair was a huge success. "The 2009 Fair was the best that we have had, attendance wise. We have tentative numbers and there's a big range, but it looks like somewhere between 21,000 and 25,000. The reason there is such a wide range is because of passes that we haven't counted."

"Our events went well and what we liked about it is that under the economy we have today, we were still able to provide something for a family to come out to and not break the bank in doing it".

McMillen says new attractions this year added to the excitement and at least one, that was rained out, may be rescheduled.. "The rodeo on Thursday night was a great event and they did a good job with it. The attendance was good. In fact attendance was good every night. It rained on Wednesday night and rained out our four wheeler event. I'm not making a promise, but we'll try to work that four wheeler race in at a later date on a Saturday night. If we do we sure hope the people will come out for that."

According to McMillen fairgoers ate plenty and spent a fair amount of money on the carnival rides. "It's unbelievable how much food is consumed at a fair. We talked to the food vendors and they did great. The Lions Club booth did great and the one (booth) that the fair association owns did great. The carnival people did well. He had told me that everywhere he had been in the last six months since the first of the year, it was off eight to ten percent compared to the prior year, but at the DeKalb County Fair, he was up this year. That says a lot for the people around here. They do support what we put out there."

The fair association appreciates the support of the public and the sponsors and McMillen says efforts will be made to make this event better each year. "We really don't have any complaints except we know there are some things that we need to address like seating. We need more seating. We need more bathrooms. But that's problems that's great to have, growth problems. We're very pleased and we just can't say enough about our sponsors and all those people who came through the gates because if it wasn't for them we couldn't have it."

McMillen says if you would like to become a volunteer, your help is welcome, even now for next year. "We sure would like to have more volunteers. Those we have do a great job but we just don't have enough of them. Some of us are getting older and we need a little extra help. We're ready for people now to volunteer because plans for the 2010 fair are being made right now. So volunteer, get involved, and be there in the planning of this event. We'd love to have you."

County Seeks to Lease Soccer Field from Shiroki

July 29, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

In an effort to help the Youth Soccer League, the DeKalb County Commission Monday night voted to have a committee approach officials of Shiroki North America about the county leasing the industry's soccer field for the fall season.

County Mayor Mike Foster says if a deal can be worked out with Shiroki for perhaps one year, then the Youth Soccer League could have more time to prepare their own fields for the following season. "Youth Soccer League is trying to build new fields at Northside Elementary School. They have them disked but as everybody who farms knows, you've got to sow grass in the fall to have grass later. If they were to sow this fall and play on it, it would destroy that grass."

"We would like to approach Shiroki North America and ask about us, as a county, leasing their soccer field. The big thing they (Shiroki) were concerned about is the liability insurance. If we have it under lease, I think we would be able to insure it under our liability policy. I would like for you (county commission) to authorize a committee to talk to them about maybe entering into a one year lease to give the new property (Northside) time to grow."

In recent years, Shiroki has allowed the league to use the field, but as Second District Commissioner Jack Barton explained, current economic conditions intervened this year. "Due to economic conditions, mowing, liability, and having to have a guard there during the games, they (Shiroki) chose to not allow them (Youth Soccer League) to use the fields during the spring season and if somebody doesn't step up because of the field not being ready next to Northside, they're going to lose their fall season too. There's nearly 300 children who play in that league every spring and every fall. That's a lot of parents and a lot of kids."

"If we could come up with some agreement to try and take the liability off of it, the youth league, just like tee ball and little league (on their fields), would have to maintain that field during the time the county allowed them to use it, but this all needs to be approved through Shiroki."

Barton made a motion that a small committee be appointed " to see what it would take to make this happen. I don't think it would be a lot of dollar amount as long as we're not committing to a long term thing. I think Shiroki wants to help us over the hump."

The county will seek a one year lease or whatever term they can agree too with Shiroki. Under the agreement, the county would agree to cover the liability on that field, rather than Shiroki and an agreement would be sought with the Youth Soccer League board to have them keep the property mowed and possibly have a security guard there.

Also on Monday night, the county commission voted to seek approval from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to install caution lights at the intersection of Highway 83 and U.S. 70 (near Kilgore's Restaurant) because that area is considered to be a dangerous intersection.

County Mayor Foster says the plan will also include putting down rippled strips on the north and south side of Highway 83 to slow traffic approaching the intersection with U.S. 70 and the installation of street lights at the intersections of Highway 70 and Hurricane Ridge Road and Highway 70 and Dry Creek Road at Dowelltown. "We've got to get a plan together and send it to TDOT for approval and depending upon what the cost is, we may have to bid the project. We've talked about just putting some signs (caution lights) on the side of the road. We can do that on any two lane road but if it's three or more lanes it's got to be an overhead (light). We can't put caution lights on Highway 70 because it's five lanes. Those would have to be overhead. But the ones (lights) on Highway 83 could be on a pole on the side of the road. We could run an underground service to them."

"Those little ripples come in two foot sections and they are $10.85 per section. They can be glued down with epoxy. About six runs of those strips could be put down which makes that rippling sound as you cross it. That's not a major cost and I don't think the lights on the poles will be a lot of cost but if they go overhead then there's more expense and we may have to bid it. "

"This also has to be approved by TDOT but we want to put a security light at Hurricane Ridge Road at Highway 70 just to light the entrance because it's dark and also at Dry Creek Road and Highway 70 near Dowelltown. We have to present a plan. The only plan there is to put in security lights to light the intersections. That five lane road really makes it dark in those areas."

The county commission voted to authorize a plan to submit to TDOT for approval.

Meanwhile, Foster talked about how the rainy weather we've had this year has affected the amount of leachate being created at the landfill, especially where the new cell is being developed. Truck loads of leachate are hauled away from the landfill each week and disposed of after being treated by the city, under an agreement with the county. "This is probably the wettest year we've had in fifteen years. You look at the rainfall and it parallels the amount of leachate that they're hauling. It is one of the additional expenses of building a (landfill) cell. Before, some months we wouldn't haul but three loads or ten loads. Now we've got four extra acres with a hole in the ground and there's no possible way, when it (rain water) hits in there, it's got to go out. Some people around town think it's something out of the ordinary, but I've talked to White County, Clay County, Cumberland, and Smith and all of them are in the same boat. It's a lot of loads and until that cell is full of garbage, it (leachate) will probably continue, but once the garbage gets in there, it soaks it up and makes it come through a lot slower. Until that cell is done, we may have to dig another pond with an overflow. The water that's coming out of there, according to the sample, is almost good enough to spray on fields for irrigation. But it's got just a little bit of organic matter in it."

The county borrowed money on a three year note to develop the new landfill cell and Foster says that will be paid off soon. "The money that we borrowed when we first applied for this expansion was three years ago and by law that has to be spent in three years. The first two years we didn't have a (landfill) permit approved so that money was staying in there and since we had borrowed it at considerably less than we were getting, we were making money on it being in the bank. All of it but about $236,000 has been spent and it has been transferred to fund balance and whenever all the bills come in for that cell that's being built, you'll (county commission) will be asked to transfer that. We had to put it in fund balance, by law. It will be brought back in later to pay for the finish of that cell."

Foster says landfills, because of all the liability and regulations, are difficult for counties to deal with and he would like to see the county take another approach in disposing of it's garbage in the future." We would like, at some point in time, to see that landfill changed into a transfer station, simply because of the long term liability, because they (landfills) have to be maintained for 30 years (even after they're closed). That would be up to you (commission) to approve but ideally four or five years from now, which is the life of this cell that just opened, I would like to see us go into a transfer station where we bring the garbage in and transfer it onto a trailer and send it to another county that wants to be in the landfill business. Because exposure to liability in maintaining that for 30 years seems to me to be too great."

Stringer Gets Probation in Sex Case

July 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 35 year old man was sentenced in a sex crime Friday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Freddy S. Stringer, Jr appeared before Judge Leon Burns, Jr. and pleaded guilty, under a negotiated settlement with prosecutors to two counts of attempted aggravated sexual battery. Stringer received a ten year sentence in each case to run concurrent with each other. He was given jail credit of 352 days from August 6th, 2008 to July 24th, 2009 and he will be on probation for the balance of the sentence and under community supervision pursuant to the sexual offender statute. Stringer is to have no contact with the victim or the family. He may have contact with his son if the boy initiates contact. Stringer cannot have a computer with Internet capabilities and he can't use the Internet. Stringer was originally charged with two counts of rape of a child, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, and two counts of incest.

Meanwhile, in other cases 40 year old Jeanna Snow Bain pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of a schedule II controlled substance. She received a three year sentence in each case to run concurrently. She will serve six months and then be on TDOC probation. The term is to run consecutive to a violation of probation sentence against her that she is currently serving. Bain was given jail credit from May 22nd to July 24th, 2009

36 year old Arthur Dawson pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a six year sentence, all suspended to 180 days to serve. He will then be on probation. The sentence is to run consecutive to other cases against him. Dawson will be on community corrections the first year in the probation violation cases. He was given jail credit from May 13th to July 24th, 2009.

26 year old Jeremy D. Loader pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and received a four year sentence all suspended to probation. The term is to run consecutive to another sentence he is currently serving. Loader was given jail credit from January 14th to July 24th, 2009.

47 year old Jackie Mullican pleaded guilty to sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. He received a three year sentence, suspended to TDOC probation supervised by community corrections. The term is to run consecutive to a violation of probation sentence he is currently serving. Mullican must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. His $2,000 fine was waived.

37 year old Mitchell Layne Merriman pleaded guilty to a worthless check. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to probation by CPS. He must perform 20 hours of community service, make restitution of $398 to the victim, Kwik-N-Ezy, and pay seventy five dollars to the economic crime fund.

34 year old Billy P. Mooneyham pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to two days in jail. Mooneyham will be on CPS probation, must perform 20 hours of community service work, pay seventy five dollars to the economic crime fund, and make restitution of $100 to the victim Walmart. He must also keep away from Walmart.

County Commission Adopts Budgets-Keeps Property Tax Rate at $1.46

July 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission adopted the budgets and set the property tax rate for the 2009-2010 fiscal year during Monday night's meeting at the courthouse.

Total appropriations come to $32-million 058-thousand 719 dollars.

The local property tax rate will remain the same, without an increase, at $1.46 per $100 of assessed value. The tax rate breaks down as follows:

County General 67 cents, up by 12 cents from 55 cents last year
Highway/Public Works- 3 cents
General Capital Projects- 7 cents
Debt Service-20 cents
General Purpose Schools- 49 cents

One cent of the tax rate generates $42,192 in local money with a 6.6% delinquency rate figured into the equation. Here's how much each fund is expected to collect from local property tax dollars:

County General- $2,826,866
General Purpose Schools- $2,067,409
Debt Service- $843,841
Highways/Public Works- $126,576
General Capital Projects- $295,344
Total Tax Levy- $6,160,036

Last year a portion of the property tax rate (19 cents), funded Solid Waste. County Mayor Mike Foster says this year, some fees will be swapped. The 19 cents will now go to support the County General (12 cents) and the General Capital Projects fund (7 cents) while other fees such as wholesale beer taxes, excise taxes, and TVA in lieu of taxes will be used for Solid Waste. "Capital Projects (last year) was funded from in-lieu of taxes, part of the wholesale beer tax, and bank excise tax but this year it will have some pennies(tax rate) to it."

Foster says the General Capital Projects Fund was set up a few years ago to make emergency purchases and other capital outlay expenditures without having to borrow money. "It (Capital Projects Fund) can only be used for capital projects, basically things that cost in excess of $10,000, such as vehicles, ambulances, and the air conditioning system for the courthouse, things like that."

This year's proposed Capital Projects Fund expenses include :
"Motor Vehicles Ambulance- $95,000 (partly funded by a grant)
"Motor Vehicles for patrol cars- $65,000
"Building Construction (Jail Roof)- $70,000
"Heating and AC Equipment (Courthouse)- $90,000
"Solid Waste Equipment (Roll-Off Truck)- $135,000

Pay raises for County General employees will have to wait. The budget includes no pay raises but Foster says that could change during the year, if the economy improves. "There's no raises in here, but depending upon sales tax revenues, in December the county commission may consider giving a one time bonus and make it retroactive back to July. We'll have to see how the economy is."

Foster says the county already has a longevity pay plan in place and he would like to see that incorporated with a step pay scale. "Right now, if you've been here for over five continuous years, you get a $50 per year increase. We want to get on a step system. Right now, if you go to work today, you make the same as somebody who has been here ten years and that's just not fair. We want to combine that with the longevity plan and set a starting salary for each position and then at the end of two years you get this much money, three years this much, five years this much, and so on."

Total appropriations for each fund are as follows:
County General- $5,824,477
Highways- $2,114,271
Debt Service- $1,301,670
General Purpose Schools- $17,565,005
Central Cafeteria- $1,362,500
General Capital Projects- $472,243
Local Purpose Fund- $2,150,545
Drug Control- $56,960
Courthouse/Jail Maintenance- $57,001
Solid Waste- $1,154,047
Total- $32,058,719

The beginning Fund Balance for all funds combined to start the fiscal year July 1st, 2009 was $8,465,442. The ending fund balance by June 30th, 2010 is estimated to be $6,893,167.

The ambulance service budget estimates expenditures to be $1,131,591 for the year and projected patient charges at $765,000. That's a difference of $366,595. Foster says had the state not cut $150,000 in TennCare funds to the county this past year, then the expense of operating the ambulance service would not have been a lot greater than when the county contracted the service with Sumner Regional a few years ago.

More than $13-million of the school system's budget is from state funds, mostly BEP allocations, along with federal revenues. In addition to the $2-million for schools generated by the 49 cent tax rate, the county commission is transferring $1.5 million from the $2.1-million local option sales tax fund to help operate schools this year along with $588,000 to fund the school debt service.

The commission Monday night adopted the school budget as presented by the Board of Education in May. At that May school board meeting, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby called the spending plan a "bare bones" budget since the school system will have to use BEP reserves and federal stimulus money to balance it. There are no local pay raises for employees in the school budget, except for the step increases under the pay scale. The budget does includes a one percent increase in health insurance matching for all employees participating in the program. A few "positions" are being eliminated under the general purpose school budget, but those jobs will be saved thanks to the school system's allocation of federal stimulus dollars, which will be used to fund them.

Except for three cents of the property tax rate and a mineral severance tax, Foster says all of the county road department's budget is funded by state allocations, primarily state gas tax revenues. "Last year we bought a new front end loader for the highway department. It will be funded out of debt service. He (Road Supervisor Kenny Edge) was going to pay $13,000 toward that (from his budget). But we've agreed with him, if he will take that money and spend it a little more on oil and chip road work, then we'll go ahead and pay that this year."

Meanwhile, the commission also adopted a resolution making appropriations of more than $108,000 to the following non-profit organizations:

DeKalb Sparks Softball- $150
Upper Cumberland Development District- $3,411
Tennessee Division of Forestry-$1,500
DeKalb County Rescue Squad- $11,500
Plateau Mental Health-$7,180
Families First-$750
Senior Citizens Program-$22,281
DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$24,046
DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce-$10,000
Genesis House- $1,500
Other Child Welfare Services-$3,000
Prospect Incorporated-$12,500
Upper Cumberland Human Resources-$1,200
UCHRA Assessment-Homemaker Aide, etc-$8,985

In addition, the county commission voted to appropriate $1,500 to the DeKalb County Fair, $2,000 to the Imagination Library, and $5,000 to the Dowelltown Park fund.

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