Local News Articles

Community Observes Veterans Day

November 12, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ronnie Goodwin

Members of the community joined the American Legion Post #122 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7623 in a Veterans Day observance Friday morning at the 303 building downtown Smithville.

The program featured performances by the Smith Family, singing gospel and patriotic music, and members of the DCHS band. Local minister Charles Olson opened with prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance led by Doyle Smith. Anthony Rosolowski led the audience in singing the Star Spangled Banner and Susan Hinton read a poem by an unknown author called "You Can't Tell a Vet Just By Looking".

"He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carrier didn't run out of fuel."

"He is the barroom loudmouth whose behavior is outweighed in the cosmic scales by four hours of unparalleled bravery near the 38th Parallel in Korea."

"She is the nurse who fought against futility in Da Nang and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years."

"He is the POW who left one person and came back another"

"He is the drill instructor who has never been in combat, but has saved countless lives by turning no-accounts into Marines."

"He is the parade-riding legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand."

"He is the white-haired guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp."

"A vet is an ordinary and extraordinary human being, someone who offered his life's vital years in the service of his country."

"He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. We will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude we owe."

Ronnie Goodwin, the featured speaker, called for unity in America again and encouraged each of us to personally thank veterans for their sacrifices. "What is it that burns so bright in people like you that you would give everything you have, that you would risk your very lives not for just this country but to go around the world countless times to fight for freedom for other people who would love to have what we have and all too often that we take for granted?"

"What can we do or say this morning that could come close to saying thank you? I don't know."

"One thing I think we can do is to start living what we say we believe as Americans. This country has been divided in recent years probably more so than at any time since the Civil War. We hear of red states and blue states. Liberal and conservative. Rich and poor. My dad (who is a World War II veteran and ex-POW) was in my office one day. When he went out I heard him talking to a man in the lobby. It was a political discussion. Dad said my young friends and I went to Europe and fought and my buddies died. They didn't die for red states or blue states. They died for the UNITED STATES."

"We need to come together and show the world again what we're about. A simple thank you wouldn't hurt either. Besides a close family member, how many of us know a veteran and take the time to walk up and say thank you with a firm handshake. Not for saving the world. Goodness knows they've done that. Not for preserving the liberties we love. That's a given. But look them in the eye and say thank you for ME. FOR ME. That I can get up and breathe the air of freedom and live in the greatest country that the good Lord as ever let stand. Its that simple," said Goodwin.

Following the program, a wreath was placed at the veterans memorial monument on the south side of the courthouse near the eternal flame. The wreath was laid by veterans Edward Frazier, Ronnie Redmon, Jimmy Sprague, and Tom Skelenka along with Captain Scott Emmons of the Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Captain Emmons conducted his first tour of duty in Iraq from July 2009 to August 2010 and his preparing to return there.

(TOP PHOTO: Left to right- Ronnie Redmon, Jimmy Sprague, Captain Scott Emmons, Edward Frazier, and Tom Skelenka)

DeKalb Awarded CDBG Grant for Water Line Extension

November 12, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty have approved more than $23 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist with infrastructure improvements in Tennessee including a $500,000 grant for the DeKalb Utility District.

County Mayor Mike Foster told WJLE Friday that the local grant will be used to install water lines to serve approximately ninety residents on Oakley Road, Dismal, Tramel Branch, Long Branch, and Givens Hollow. Foster said he received the news of the grant award from State Senator Mae Beavers.

The county applied for the grant on behalf of the DeKalb Utility District and the DUD will fund the local matching obligation.

Foster said he is very grateful that DeKalb County has been awarded this grant. "We have been really fortunate in the last several years. We have received four of these grants probably in the last eight or nine years. We try to select the areas that are in the highest need," said Foster.

"As we work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, the proper infrastructure must support existing and future businesses," Haslam said. "I am pleased the state of Tennessee is able to partner with our local communities to make these projects a reality."

The funds were allocated under a procedure authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly.

"Community development is essential in growing the economy and creating a business friendly environment," Hagerty said. "CDBG grants allow communities to take the steps needed that will ultimately encourage existing businesses to expand and future companies to relocate and invest in Tennessee."

Allocation of CDBG funds is based on priorities set at local levels where community needs are best known. The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

DCHS Building Trades Home Ready for Sale

November 11, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Building Trades Home Ready for Sale

Students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program have completed their latest home and its now ready for sale.

The Board of Education Thursday night voted to advertise the sale of the home at cost plus ten percent.

Up until this year, all homes built through this program were constructed on lots which had been purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed.

But for the first time, a home has been built on campus at DeKalb County High School and now that its finished, the house is to be sold and the owner will be responsible for the costs and liability of moving it to his or her own lot. Since the home will have to be moved, some finishing work will be required by the owner once its relocated. "Its roughed in on the inside. There's no sheet rock inside. Its roughed in for plumbing. There's no siding on the outside. It does have the windows and doors in it and the roof is covered. It's a shingled roof. Its just a basic house. The reason it's a basic house is because when you go to move that and you've done a lot of interior work you could have some problems inside so its just a basic shell. I would call it a dried in house with the rough ins done," said Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director, who addressed the board Thursday night.

Class instructor Melvin Young told WJLE in September that work on the home, a 1,456 square foot structure, began in August. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Money from the sale of the home will go back into the building trades program to start another house.

Leach said that a total of $14,964 has been invested in this house. He recommended that a contract be drawn up specifying that the buyer assume the costs and liability of moving the home and establishing a time limit of sixty days for the house to be off the school property.

Leach also announced that the DCHS buildings trades class will be building a new ticket booth at the football field. "It will have access to both sides where you can run (pedestrian) traffic through and get people in a lot quicker. Sometimes the line is back almost to the gym for football games so that will alleviate people having to stand and wait and get them through a lot quicker," he said.

In other business, the board adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

The resolution states that "Whereas, Mr. Mark Willoughby has held the position of Director since July 1, 2006, and continues to inspire and motivate the administrators, faculty and staff of our school system to continually grow in their positions and to be the very best they can be; and

Whereas, our Director insures the safety and welfare of all our students, and makes decisions based on honesty and integrity; and

Whereas, he is a leader who builds community support for the public school system by attending school functions, getting involved in the inner-workings of our schools and speaking out for the needs of our schools; and

Whereas, he works with our board of education to create a vision of excellence for our school system and strives to make that vision become reality.

Therefore, be it resolved, that the DeKalb County Board of Education hereby establishes November 17, 2011 as Director of Schools Appreciation Day in our school system; and

Be it further resolved that the board encourages students, parents and staff to join us in expressing appreciation to Mr. Willoughby for all he does.

Meanwhile, Director Willoughby presented the board his monthly update on personnel.

Those employed include substitute teachers: Kevin Agee, Sue Close, Courtney Cope, Bethany Davis, Chelsea Grissom, Charlene Hallum, Rebecca Hamilton, Joyce Hendrixson, Leitita Henry, Wilma Hope, Jessica Patrick, Angelia Pedigo, Jessica Rackley, Doreen Reynolds, Brad Trapp, and Mack White.

Resignations: Suzanne Williams, Special Education Assistant DCHS, resigned.

Smithville Elementary School Observes Veterans Appreciation Day

November 10, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
SES Student shaking hands with Marine Veteran John Hummer
SES Students preparing to mail letters to local veterans
SES students at Veterans Appreciation Day
SES Principal Dr. Bill Tanner

A Veterans Appreciation assembly program was held Thursday morning at Smithville Elementary School in recognition of Veteran's Day Friday, November 11th.

Patriotic music was played as students from pre-kindergarten to the second grade filed into the gymnasium for the assembly program. Scouts presented the colors. Students, teachers, and guests stood for the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Principal Dr. Bill Tanner introduced the honored guests including local veterans Paul Robinson (Navy), Carlton Miller(Army), James Dean (Army), Daniel Flynn (Navy), John Hummer(Marines), Ronnie Redmon (Air Force), Clyde Medley (Army), Larry Green (Air Force), Jimmy Sprague (Army), Edward Frazier (Army), Edsel Frazier(Army), Walter Johnson (Army), and Charles Olson(Army & Air Force)

Dr. Tanner also mentioned the names of three other young men who are currently serving in Afghanistan from this area including David Hinton (Navy), Troy Hinton(Navy), and Nick Lester (Army) who left on a plane today (Thursday) to return to Afghanistan.

Adrienne McCormick read the following "Veterans Day" poem by Cheryl Dyson:

"On Veterans Day we honor all,
Who answered to a service call,
Soldiers young, and soldiers old,
Fought for freedom, brave and bold

Some have lived, while others died,
And all of them deserve our pride,
We're proud of all the soldiers who,
Kept thinking of red, white, and blue,

They fought for us and all our rights,
They fought through many days and nights,
And though we may not know each name,
We thank ALL veterans just the same."

Each class at the school has written letters which were collected Thursday morning to be mailed to local veterans.

Kelly Birmingham led the students in singing "God Bless the USA"

After the program, many of the students filed by each veteran shaking their hand in a show of respect and appreciation for their service to our country.

The purpose of the assembly was to honor veterans and try to instill in these children at an early
age the importance of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country.

The Veterans Appreciation Day program was organized by teachers Jan Thomas, Janet Woodward, Beth Cantrell, and Margaret Nichols.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson Involved in Minor Traffic Accident

November 9, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Damage to 1997 Chevy Blazer driven by Mayor Taft Hendrixson

Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson was involved in a minor two vehicle traffic accident Wednesday morning on West Broad Street.

Trooper Al Seitner of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 82 year old Jelaski Denise Close of Smithville, driving a 1989 Ford Taurus pulled out of a parking lot on West Broad Street and crossed the path of a 1997 Chevy Blazer, driven by 68 year old Taft Hendrixson, who was west on Broad Street.

No one was injured in the accident. The Blazer the mayor was driving is a city owned vehicle.

There were no charges or citations issued.

Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Seeks Christmas Cards for Members of U.S. Military

November 9, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Red Cross Rep. Kathy Nesmith and Liberty Sr. Citizens Director Nancy Goad

The holiday season is just around the corner and it's time again to start thinking about being part of the 2011 American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes. For a fifth year, American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are partnering to ensure all Americans have an opportunity to send a touch of home this holiday season to members of our U.S. military, veterans and their families, many of whom will be far away from home this holiday season.

Starting this fall and throughout the holiday season, the Red Cross is working with Pitney Bowes, a mail stream technology company, to collect and distribute holiday cards to American service members, veterans and their families in the United States and around the world.

The process is very simple and takes no time at all - All you need is a pen and piece of paper to share your appreciation for the sacrifices members of the U.S. Armed Forces make to protect our freedoms The Holiday Mail for Heroes mail box is open and ready to receive for your cards.

Kathy Nesmith, executive director of the Warren County Chapter for the American Red Cross serving Warren and DeKalb County, said you can drop off your cards at the Smithville, Liberty, and Alexandria Senior Citizen Centers. "We want to ask everyone to write a Christmas card. Either make it or buy a Christmas card and sign a special message to soldiers thanking them for their service that they provide for us everyday. We also want to thank our veterans. We can't forget the veterans who have served in past years. We want to make sure these cards go out to all the military hospitals and military installations. We want to make sure they are going overseas and here locally as well. We want to show our support and what better time to start than during the week of Veterans Day. Everyone is asked to sign a card so we can get them sent out by Christmas. Just general cards cannot go out to these hospitals unless they are scanned for anthrax and different things like that. They will not let just general cards go out into these facilities. They have to be scanned. They have to be read for hate mail as awful as that sounds. Unfortunately that has to be done. The American Red Cross will facilitate getting the cards to the place where they need to be scanned and then distributed to the different places," said Nesmith.

The three senior citizens centers in DeKalb County will serve as the drop off points for the cards, according to Nesmith. "We have three drop off points, which are our three senior citizen centers here in DeKalb County at Alexandria, Liberty, and Smithville. You have until Monday, November 28 to have those cards at those centers. There are a few guidelines. A few do's and don'ts. Each of those centers will have information available concerning what you can and can't do. For example, you can't put glitter on cards. So get your church group and your school involved," said Nesmith.

Sending a "touch of home" to American men and women who serve our country is the perfect way to express your appreciation and support during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross will soon be opening an office in Smithville according to Nesmith. "The Red Cross is going to have an office here and we're going to be seeking disaster volunteers. That will be top priority," she said. The location for the office has not yet been determined.

Ben Chapman to Speak at Chamber Prayer Breakfast

November 9, 2011
Ermeda and Ben Chapman

The Chamber Prayer Breakfast will be held on Tuesday, November 22nd at 7 AM at the 303 North Public Square Building, Smithville. The theme this year is “Building Community Character.” Lighthouse Christian Camp founder, Ben Chapman, will be the keynote speaker. With wife Ermeda, Ben founded the Lighthouse Christian Camp in 1982, where he serves as the president of the ministerial team that provides camps and special programs for disadvantaged children in DeKalb County and throughout Tennessee. Thousands of lives have been touched through Lighthouse’s summer camps, after- school- programs, special Christmas events, the “Sing for Joy” widows’ ministry and the newest program at Lighthouse - the Pastors’ Respite.

Special music will be performed by pianist Tomomi McDowell and Suzanne Slager and Chris Summers. Local Boy Scouts will present the flags. Prayers for our community, our leaders, and our children will make this a meaningful and memorable experience. A delicious breakfast will be catered by Jason Evans, head chef at The Inn at Evins Mill. Leadership Director Jen Sherwood and the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2012 will serve the beverages. Doors open at 6:30 AM.

Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased at the Chamber office or from the Chamber Board of Directors.

Chamber Executive Director, Suzanne Williams says, “I would like to invite everyone to join with us at this special event in giving thanks to God for the abundant blessings He has given us in our county. The Prayer Breakfast is a wonderful way to begin the holiday season.” For tickets or additional information, call the Chamber at 597-4163.

Six County Firefighters Attend Training

November 9, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters Attend Training

Six firefighters from the DeKalb County Fire Department attended the Tennessee River Weekend Training November 4-6, 2011 in Savannah, Tennessee.

Chief Donny Green, Steve Repasy, and David Agee completed the Thermal Imaging Camera 15-hour course and Lt. Michael Lawrence, Lt. Jay Cantrell, and Bradley Johnson completed the Pump Maintenance 15-hour course.

Two Arrested for Possession of Cocaine and Xanax for Resale

November 8, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
William Wayne Graham
Kimberly Jo Donnelly

Two people were arrested for possession of cocaine and xanax for resale during a drug bust by the sheriff's department Monday night.

31 year old William Wayne Graham and 30 year old Kimberly Jo Donnelly of Bright Hill Road Smithville are charged with possession of a schedule II controlled substance for resale (cocaine) and possession of a schedule IV controlled substance for resale (xanax).

Bond for each is $10,000 and they will be in court on December 1.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said "the drug detective along with other detectives from the sheriff's department, who have been investigating the illegal sale of drugs from the home of Graham, were able to establish probable cause to obtain a search warrant. General Sessions Judge Bratten H. Cook II issued a search warrant for us to go in and search Graham's home. We executed that search warrant on Monday night, November 7 and found in the home individually packaged white powder believed to be cocaine, three used syringes, and two sets of digital scales. We also seized a couple of cell phones and pleated sandwich bags. We seized $587 in cash from Graham. We also found various types of pills," said Sheriff Ray.

The warrants allege that on Monday November 7, the sheriff's office executed a search warrant at Graham's home at 737 Bright Hill Road and found in a living room drawer six baggies of cocaine. They were all packaged and ready for resale. The six baggies weighed over six grams combined. Also found in the living room was a bottle containing fifteen xanax pills and two halves.

Three small children who were in the home at the time were placed with other family members by the Department of Children Services.

Sheriff Ray added that the investigation continues and more arrests may be forthcoming.

Poss Seeks Improvements at City Golf Course and Swimming Pool

November 8, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tony Poss (earlier photo)

Tony Poss, operator of the Smithville Golf Course and Swimming Pool, wants to make some improvements at the city golf course and swimming pool.

He addressed the mayor and aldermen with his requests Monday night during the city council meeting.

Poss asked for permission to install sand bunkers to make the golf course more challenging and to install a T-Box driving range."What we're wanting to do is to add a sand bunker to the #9 green. It'd be the right side and also to the #6. It'd be the right front of it. We're looking at ways to draw more people to come to our course. A lot of out of town courses do have sand. It just makes it a little more difficult. We're willing to put in the man hours and the work to do it. It's not going to cost the city a dime. The other thing we want to do is to possibly construct a T-Box between the # 7 and #9 fairways and have a driving range. A lot of golfers, especially high school golfers are going out of town just so they can use a driving range rather than having to pick the balls up. We've had several requests this summer from people wanting to use a driving range. Its more of a courtesy to your golfers. Again, it won't cost the city a dime to do it. We're willing to put in the man hours. We're fixing to be in our down time during the winter so we've got time to do it if we can get your blessing to do that. We've started a swim team, a tennis team, and our youth golf league so we're dedicated to doing things for the community, trying to get as much interest over there as we can," said Poss.

The aldermen gave approval for the T-Box but asked Poss to provide more specifics of his plans for the sand bunkers before taking action. Poss said he would check with other golf courses, see what they recommend, and report back to the board.

Meanwhile, Poss asked that the city begin thinking about making the swimming pool compliant under the Americans with Disabilities Act, something he said that must be done by next spring before the pool opens. "I think by March 15 we have to have it certified to be handicapped accessible. We want to get the ball rolling on that to see which way you want to go. We could do a zero entry to the pool. Take out the kiddie pool and do that or do a lift. Its completely up to you. I know it could cost more money but my personal opinion is to do the zero entry . Its just something you will have to decide but I think you'll benefit more with your elderly people and children if you'll do the zero entry. I don't know what the cost is but I think it would benefit more than just one or two and you'll have problems solved for years to come," said Poss.

No action was taken on the pool issue Monday night.

Poss also asked for the city to give a little more financial support to lifeguards, either to raise their pay or to reimburse them for certification training. Poss said the lifeguards currently have to pay for the own certification, which is expensive, and the city only pays minimum wage. "We started out our lifeguard wages at minimum wage. That's what the board voted to pay our lifeguards. We're glad you did that. But the only thing we're running into is that its getting harder and harder to get these young kids to come in and work for minimum wage when they have to go and pay anywhere from $170 to $300 to get certified. We had several who wanted to do it last year but they just had a hard time paying that fee to get them certified to be a lifeguard," said Poss

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said the lifeguard's wages are currently set in this year's budget at minimum wage. This current budget year runs through June 30, 2012. No action was taken on Poss' request Monday night. Mayor Hendrixson said its an issue that can still be discussed at a later time.

Employees of the City of Smithville may get the day after Thanksgiving off with pay in the future.

Alderman Danny Washer, during Monday night's city council meeting, made a motion to give city employees the day off with pay. Employees who have to work that day, such as in the police department, will get another day off. Mayor Hendrixson said he had already been giving employees the day off by allowing them to use a vacation day.

Mayor Hendrixson said Washer's request would require passage of an ordinance on first and second reading following a public hearing. An ordinance will be prepared for first reading action at the next meeting on Monday, November 21 at 7:00 p.m.. Second and final reading passage will follow a public hearing on Monday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m

In other business, the aldermen hired Eddie McGuire as a permanent employee in the sanitation department. He has successfully completed his 60 day probationary period and his pay will increase from $9.94 per hour to $11.03 per hour. McGuire also has his Commercial Drivers License.

Alderman Washer made a motion that Jimmy Taylor be promoted to general supervisor in the public works department, working directly under Public Works Director Kevin Robinson. Washer said Taylor could step in any time Robinson is out of town or he could supervise a city project in one part of town should Robinson be tied up on another job.

The aldermen passed a resolution adopting a state mandated drought management plan. Under the plan, the city must authorize and set forth guidelines to impose certain restrictions on non essential utility use because of shortages, outages, or other service cutbacks and interruptions during emergency drought conditions. Penalties could be imposed for non-compliance.

Bobby Pinegar of the Wastwater Treatment Plant reported that "last month we treated 31 million gallons. We used 560 pounds of chlorine and 350 pounds of sulphur dioxide. We hauled off 42 loads of sludge. The new pump for flushing water is now in and they're going to try and install it this week weather permitting".

Todd Bowman from the water plant reported that "the total amount of finished water that left the plant was 47.6 million gallons in September. The water the city sold was 40.8 million gallons which left the total unaccounted for at 6.7 million gallons which comes out to be a 14% water loss, which is rather good."

"We're about 98% complete on the water plant," said Bowman." We're having a problem with the floor. We've already rejected it three times so they (contractor) have called in some other people trying to get the floor right to make it look nice. We've got one more valve to be installed at the intake. They had problems with one when they put it in and they had to send it off to get it repaired."

"We've had to send off to the state and apply for the permits so we can start fluoridating water . I'm just waiting to hear back from them to give us the okay to start feeding the fluoride and then we will start feeding fluoride," said Bowman

Public Works Director Kevin Robinson reported that "Highways Incorporated is supposed to start paving probably Wednesday morning, weather permitting. We lack one section on the sidewalk to Walmart but it will probably be done this week, weather permitting. The pool has also been winterized."

Police Chief Randy Caplinger reported that "we were told our Governor's Highway Safety Office grant was going to be about $5,000 but I went to a meeting about three weeks ago and found that it was up to $26,000. That grant is already here. It is a reimbursement grant. We laid out the guidelines for what we needed. We'll have new cameras for the cars and one more radar. This year the emphasis is going to be on DUI's. We were very thankful to get that grant. There's going to be a lot of overtime (payment for overtime) but most of it will be for equipment. It won't cost the city anything. We'll buy it and they'll pay us back for it," said Chief Caplinger.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker reported that " for last month we had one structure fire, two alarm calls, one landing zone, two grass fires, an EMS assist call, two motor vehicle accidents, one trash fire, and two vehicle extrications. October was fire prevention month and I want to say a special thanks to Hoyte Hale, Jeff Wright, and Ronald Whitaker. They did an outstanding job with our fire prevention activities this year. They did demonstrations and passed out literature to Smithville Elementary School, the LBJ & C Head Start, Smithville United Methodist Day School, the Smithville Church of Christ Day School, and Rainbow Day Care."

Parker added that the grant application has been filed for funding of a ladder truck. "They're speculating that the first round of letters will come out during the latter part of December or in January. They will do that in several different rounds. They will put out so many names who will receive grants and they will also start sending out denial letters too. We probably won't know anything until close to the end of the year or the first of next year," said Chief Parker.

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