Local News Articles

Second Graders Learn Names of All U.S. Presidents and States

May 16, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Students in Janet Woodward's second grade class at Smithville Elementary School have learned the names of all the U.S. Presidents in the order in which they served.

The children recited the President's names for WJLE Tuesday morning in their classroom.

The children also learned a song naming all the states in the country.

Members of the class pictured in this video are:

SEATED LEFT TO RIGHT: Jackson Arnold, Jose Carrillo, Brayden Ferrell, Katherine Gassaway, Malcom Gora, Ruby Hernandez, Aleea Kalmar, and Cameron Miller

STANDING LEFT TO RIGHT: Halayna Newby, Lindsey Nokes, Clayton Proctor, Darrah Ramsey, Johnny Skinner, Ryan Thompson, Carlee West, Robert Wheeler, Jaylan Wright, Juan Mirafuentes, and Jase Bain

In addition to the video presentation here, you can listen to the children weekday mornings May 16-21 following the 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. morning local news on WJLE AM 1480 and FM 101.7.

Hurricane Bridge to be Closed Friday Night to Replace Bearing Pin on Bridge Pier

May 16, 2013

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contract crews will close the Hurricane Bridge on State Route 56 over the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County to all traffic on Friday, May 17 beginning at 8:00 p.m. for approximately 20 hours. The closure is necessary to allow the contractor to perform structural work (replacing a bearing pin on the bridge pier) that cannot be done with traffic driving on the bridge.

The work is weather dependent. Should inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances prevent this work from occurring as scheduled, it will be rescheduled to take place as soon as possible.

During the closure, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and flaggers will be present to assist with traffic control. Message boards will be in place to notify drivers of the closure. While the bridge is closed, all traffic will be redirected to the currently posted truck detour that utilizes I-40 at Exit 254 to SR-53. The bridge should be reopened to normal one-lane signal-controlled traffic by 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2013. The current weight postings of 10 tons for two-axle vehicles and 18 tons for vehicles with three or more axles will continue to remain in effect and will be strictly enforced.

The work is part of a $26.9 million rehabilitation project which is scheduled to be complete in October 2013.

For travel information visit the TDOT SmartWay web site at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or call 5 1 1. You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or Chattanooga area alerts @Chattanooga511.

Android and iPhone users can download TDOT’s SmartWay Mobile App to assist them in navigating Tennessee highways. The app provides up-to-the-minute customized traffic information and enables the user to access TDOT’s SmartWay cameras, messages displayed on overhead Dynamic Message Signs, and information on construction related lane closures and incidents on interstates and state routes. The TDOT SmartWay App is free and available for download in the Apple App Store and Play Store for Android.

As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go! by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination. Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.
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State Lawmakers Pay Tribute to DCHS Valedictorian and Salutatorian

May 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Lawmakers Pay Tribute to DCHS Valedictorian and Salutatorian

DCHS Class of 2013 Valedictorian Taylor Leach and Salutatorian P.J. Carroll Tuesday were treated to a luncheon and presented resolutions in their honor adopted by the State House of Representatives and State Senate.

Copies of the resolutions were presented to the students by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps also attended the luncheon.

The resolution honoring Leach is as follows:

WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should pause to pay tribute to those students who, through their natural talents and unflagging commitment to academic excellence, have distinguished themselves in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, Taylor Leach is one such exceptional student who was recently named Valedictorian of the 2013 graduating class at DeKalb County High School; and

WHEREAS, through diligent study, steady composure during examinations, and steadfast commitment of time and talent, Taylor has achieved outstanding academic success and has joined the ranks of the best and brightest students in Tennessee and our country; and

WHEREAS, in his remarkable high school career, Mr. Leach has earned an exemplary grade point average; and

WHEREAS, Taylor Leach has graciously dedicated his time and energies to numerous scholastic and extracurricular efforts, including serving as a member of the Beta Club, Health Occupations Students of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Running Club, and the tennis team; and

WHEREAS, active in his community, Mr. Leach has accrued more than eighty hours of community service, assisting at shut-ins and at the Lighthouse Christian Camp, and serving as a volunteer at the DeKalb County Fair; and

WHEREAS, he is also active in the youth group at Upper Helton Baptist Church; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Leach’s display of intellectual aptitude and ambition surely bodes well for his future success as a student at Tennessee Tech University, which he plans to attend; and

WHEREAS, his noteworthy achievement is a tremendous source of pride for his parents, Brad and Peggy Leach, his sister, his school, and his community; and

WHEREAS, Taylor Leach’s dedication to excellence is clearly deserving of the respect, admiration, and commendation of this legislative body; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that we hereby commend and honor the 2013 DeKalb County High School Valedictorian, Taylor Leach, on his impressive academic achievement and extend to him our best wishes for a happy, successful future.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an appropriate copy of this resolution be prepared for presentation with this final clause omitted from such copy.

The resolution honoring Carroll is as follows:

WHEREAS, it is fitting that the members of this General Assembly should pause to pay tribute to those students who, through their natural talents and unflagging commitment to academic excellence, have distinguished themselves in the classroom; and

WHEREAS, P.J. Carroll is one such exceptional student who was recently named Salutatorian of the 2013 graduating class at DeKalb County High School; and

WHEREAS, through diligent study, steady composure during examinations, and steadfast commitment of time and talent, Mr. Carroll has achieved outstanding academic success and has joined the ranks of the best and brightest students in Tennessee and our country; and

WHEREAS, in his remarkable high school career, he has earned an exemplary grade point average; and

WHEREAS, after graduation, he plans to attend Tennessee Technical University and aspires for a career in politics; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Carroll’s display of intellectual aptitude and ambition surely bodes well for his future success; and

WHEREAS, P.J.’s noteworthy achievement is a tremendous source of pride for his parents, Lori and Phillip, his school, and his community; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Carroll has achieved a great level of success thanks in part to the love and support of his family and friends; especially his mother, who he says is the most influential person in his life; and

WHEREAS, P.J. Carroll’s dedication to excellence is clearly deserving of the respect, admiration, and commendation of this legislative body; now, therefore,
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BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that we hereby commend and honor the 2013 DeKalb County High School Salutatorian, P.J. Carroll, on his impressive academic achievement and extend to him our best wishes for a happy, successful future.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an appropriate copy of this resolution be prepared for presentation with this final clause omitted from such copy.

(Pictured front row: DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps, Valedictorian Taylor Leach, Salutatorian P.J. Carroll; Back Row: State Representative Mark Pody, State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby)

Armstrong Looks to Run for Mayor of Alexandria

May 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The first candidate petition has been issued for the September 5 Alexandria Municipal Election.

Bennett Armstrong picked up a petition Tuesday to run for Mayor of the town.

Petitions can now be issued by the DeKalb County Election Commission. The qualifying deadline for candidates is NOON June 20th.

A mayor and three aldermen will be elected.

Meanwhile, the qualifying deadline for the upcoming Liberty election is NOON Thursday, May 16. A mayor and two aldermen are up for election during the August 1 voting.

Current alderman Dwight Mathis is the only person to date to pick up and return a petition for Mayor and incumbent Howard Reynolds has picked up and returned the only petition for alderman.

School Board Makes Cuts in Tentative Budget

May 15, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

In order to meet a state deadline for getting a budget in the hands of the county commission by May 15th, the DeKalb County Board of Education spent close to two hours Tuesday night before adopting a proposed tentative spending plan for the 2013-14 school year.

The plan includes spending to fund a few new positions, but it does not include a proposal suggested by Director of Schools Mark Willoughby that would have provided single health insurance coverage for all full time eligible employees, certified and support staff. Under the federal affordable health care act, employers must offer an affordable plan to eligible employees or pay a penalty.

The board also cut from the proposed budget $50,000 in new money to fund a full time athletic director and $90,000 for two extra positions which might be needed during the school year.

Even without the costly extra insurance benefit and other cuts, the school system looks to dig deep into its piggy bank by possibly up to $1.7 million to balance the new budget without a tax increase, unless the county commission meets the school board's request to appropriate more money from the replenishing local option sales tax or sinking fund for school operation. Had they asked for it, the school board may have needed as much as a sixty cent property tax hike to support this proposed budget.

The vote was 4 to 1 to adopt the tentative budget with the cuts. Board members John David Foutch, Kenny Rhody, W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, and Billy Miller voted for it. Chairman Johnny Lattimore voted against it. Board member Doug Stephens was absent and Board member Charles Robinson who was present for most of the meeting, apparently had to leave before the budget issue was decided.

The school system currently pays a portion of employee's health insurance coverage under plans made available through the state. Total costs comes to $1.5 million each year. Certified employees who have either a single or a family plan pay 36% and the school system picks up 64%. Support staff pay 49% of their coverage and the school system pays a 51% matching portion. While the school system apparently meets the affordable health care requirements for certified personnel, it would be subject to penalties unless it does more for support staff. Under the new federal law, "if an employer does offer health coverage but it is not affordable or it is not minimum value and a low income full time employee enrolls in health coverage on the exchange and obtains premium credit, the employer must pay an annual penalty of $3,000 for each full time employee except for the first thirty employees," said Director Willoughby. "To this day, we don't know all the guidelines. I don't know how the affordable health care act is going to work out. It may be October before we know. It may be later than that. I do think it is a good opportunity to offer our employees insurance (single coverage paid at 100%). I'd much rather pay our employees' insurance as to pay the penalty back to the government," said Willoughby.

Had the school board kept in the budget full single health insurance coverage for all eligible employees, the cost to the system would have increased by about a million dollars to $2.5 million a year.

Board members seemed uncomfortable with the spending plan. Chairman Lattimore said he could not support it, even with the proposed cuts. Lattimore said the budget still has too much fat. "I believe with all my heart that there is fat in this budget," said Lattimore. "There are things in here that we don't have to have to survive next year. We send a budget across the street (to county commission) that we know we don't have to have and we're asking the county commission to do our job. When we have sent budgets across the street in the past and we have felt like they have tried to line item things out of our budget, it has infuriated this board. And now we're asking them to do the exact thing that has infuriated us before. It's our job to trim out the fat in this budget," said Chairman Lattimore.

"As a school board member, we're in a very particular situation. We've got to do what's in the best interest of the children above everything and we've got to do what's in the best interest of the employees of the school system but we've also got to do what's in the best interest of the taxpayers of DeKalb County. When you send a budget across the street (to the county commission) and you are asking for a fifty or fifty four cent tax increase, you're asking the little old lady that's on her social security check that's having to pay her property taxes on payments because she can't afford to pay it all at one time, you're asking her to pay more. For the people with the million dollar lake homes, they won't have a problem paying that. They think we have the lowest property tax rate they ever saw in their life. But the little old lady who is just barely making it, how is she going to pay an extra fifty four cent tax increase when she can barely make it now? What medicine does she quit taking next year to pay this?," asked Lattimore.

The proposed budget does include the following new positions:

One full time assistant band director: $45,000

Two new teacher positions at DeKalb Middle School: $90,000

One new P.E. teacher at Northside Elementary School: $45,000

One federal teacher position moving to general purpose schools (local budget): $45,000

One new Middle School Soccer Coach: $2,785

One new baseball coach: $2,785

One new assistant soccer coach at DCHS: $2,785

Stipend for teachers attending inservice: $35,000

Textbooks: $120,000

Under the Gifted Education Program:

One new gifted position: $45,000

One federal teacher moving to general purpose schools (local budget): $45,000

Under Special Education Program:

A half time psychological personnel: $27,000

Fiscal services:

A part time clerical employee working hours if needed for scanning records: $5,000

The Transportation Supervisor's salary would increase by $12,440

The purchase of two new school buses is also included in the proposed budget along with a state approved 1.5% pay raise in the state funded portion of the salary of certified personnel.

The proposed budget now goes to County Mayor Mike Foster and the county commission's budget committee. If it does not meet with their approval, the proposed budget will come back to the school board for further revisions. All county budgets must be approved and sent to the state by August 15.

Booth Structure Updated for the 2013 Jamboree

May 14, 2013
Fiddlers Jamboree Coordinator Jack Barton

The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree is making some changes for the 2013 festival in terms of food booth as well as exhibitor booth regulations. This year, three options are available for anyone operating a food booth. 1) A nonprofit organization may operate a booth entirely on its own for a booth fee of $350. 2) A nonprofit organization may contract with a commercial vendor to operate all or a portion of its booth provided that some representatives of the organization are present at the front of the booth. Booths with this arrangement are available for a $700 booth fee. 3) A commercial vendor with no nonprofit ties may procure booth space for a fee of $1,200. Fourteen booth spaces are available during the event. Food booth space is available to nonprofit organizations first, and if the spaces fill up with nonprofit booths, no independent commercial vendors will be allowed. However, if food booth space is still available after Monday, May 20, spaces will open to independent commercial vendors. To find out more about this three-tiered structure, rules and regulations, or to reserve a booth space, email jbarton@smithvillejamboree.com or call 615-597-8500.

Exhibitor booths will also be available on a three-tiered basis and some incentives for first time and multiple booth vendors. First time vendors will be allowed a first year rate of $75 for one booth and if that first time vendors wants multiple booths the additional one would be $50 each. For any vendor who has attended before but wants multiple booths, the additional booths beyond the first will be $75 each. Our new standard rates are as follows and apply for vendors who are returning. 1) Government/non-profit/education or information-only booths are available for $100 per booth. 2) The traditional handmade arts and crafts booth is still available for $125 per booth. In addition, agricultural and homemade edible goods may be sold at these booths as of this year. The homemade edible items may not be packaged for on-site consumption in an effort not to compete with food booths. Also, vendors must be licensed within Tennessee or their home states to be eligible to sell homemade edible items such as canned goods, jams and jellies, or baked goods. Examples of agricultural items that may be sold are honey, cider, or plants. Any booth at this tier is $125. 3) Booths selling unique cultural or regional non-handmade items approved by the Jamboree board will be available for a booth fee of $200. These booths will be separate from the handmade arts and crafts booths and will be ineligible for any booth awards. For more specific rules, deadlines and recommendations for exhibitor booths, visit www.smithvillejamboree.com or e-mail eadkins@smithvillejamboree.com.

Prisoner's Recorded Phone Conversation From Jail Leads Sheriff's Dept to his Meth Lab

May 14, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Matthew Allen Baker
Crystal Michelle Baker

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department found a meth lab at the residence of a prisoner after hearing him talking about it with his wife in a recorded telephone conversation between the two of them from the jail last week.

31 year old Matthew Allen Baker and his wife 30 year old Crystal Michelle Baker of Pine Orchard Road are each charged in the case and will appear in General Sessions Court on Thursday, May 16.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Matthew Baker was picked up at his home on Thursday, May 9 on an outstanding state warrant against him for a violation of probation. Baker was found in his bedroom along with a bowl which contained a powdery substance believed to be meth and a plate with a powdery substance thought to be hydrocodone. Three straws, two knives, and aluminum foil containing a residue from a powdery substance were also recovered.

Meanwhile on Friday, May 10, authorities listened to a recorded telephone conversation from the jail between Matthew and Crystal Baker and heard them talking about having hidden meth lab components in their house and barn. A drug detective later received consent from Crystal Baker to search her home and there he found drain cleaner, muriatic acid, Coleman fuel, acitone, propane tanks, coffee filters, cold packs, ammonium nitrate, and several other items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine along with some finished product. Inside a child's bedroom, the detective found about a half gram of methamphetamine in a child's coat pocket. Crystal Baker admitted to knowing the items were on the property and that she tried to hide them. Matthew Baker told investigators that these items belonged to him.

Matthew Baker is charged with promotion of methamphetamine. He was also issued two citations for simple possession of a schedule II drug and another for possession of drug paraphernalia. Crystal Baker is charged with possession of a schedule II drug for resale and promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.

35 year old Grady Murphy of Andrew Street, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 30 Murphy allegedly took several steel pipes and several feet of barn lumber, valued at more than $1,000, from property on Indian Creek Road. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the sheriff's department.

39 year old Chrissy Michelle Evans of West Main Street, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 6 Evans allegedly got into a confrontation with her husband at their residence. According to Sheriff Ray, Evans allegedly got physical with him, scratching his face causing him to bleed. She also allegedly grabbed and tore his shirt. Evans was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

41 year old Tania Pegeen Sewell of Hurricane Ridge Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 9, Sewell allegedly assaulted her 19 year old daughter by pushing her down, leaving red marks on the right side of her back. Sewell was transported to the sheriff's department for booking.

44 year old Everette Charles South, Jr. is charged with criminal trespassing. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on Thursday, May 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 10, a correctional officer at the jail saw South come onto the jail property and throw a pack of cigarettes over a fence where inmates were exercising.

Woman Dies After Apparently Driving Chevy Blazer into Center Hill Lake

May 13, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 40 year old Putnam County woman lost her life after she allegedly drove her Chevy Blazer down a boat ramp and into the lake at Johnson Chapel Monday afternoon.

Dead is Nancy Randolph.

Two others were in the Blazer with Randolph, reportedly her daughter Sara and her daughter's boyfriend Houston Bussell, but they made it out safely.

Family members allege that Randolph intentionally drove the SUV into the water.

Nancy's daughter Sara was in the front seat and Sara's boyfriend Houston Bussell was a backseat passenger, according to reports. After they got out, Bussell allegedly went back to get Nancy out but she pushed him away.

(Video below shows TWRA Officers and Darrell Gill of DeKalb Tire and Service hooking the submerged Chevy Blazer to a roll back tow truck. Victims were already out of the Blazer by this time)

Investigators have not confirmed those details.

In a prepared statement, Sheriff Patrick Ray said the incident was reported at 12:25 p.m. at the Johnson Chapel Boat Ramp. According to Sheriff Ray, The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to the boat ramp where a car had run off into the lake. A sheriff's deputy who was close to the area arrived on the scene within seven minutes and spoke to two adults who said that the vehicle they were in had run into the lake and that the driver, a female, was still inside the automobile. Deputy Brian Williams and Detectives Mike Billings and Jeremy Taylor of the sheriff's department went into the water and pulled the body of the woman from the submerged vehicle. The water was believed to be ten to fifteen feet deep. DeKalb EMS was on the scene and started CPR on the woman. She was then taken to DeKalb Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The other two adults were treated at the scene but refused further medical treatment.

Sheriff Ray commended Deputy Williams and Detectives Billings and Taylor saying "They went into the cold water and risked their own lives" to try and save Randolph

The investigation is ongoing by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. No other information will be released at this time, according to Sheriff Ray.

Smithville Resident Selected to Participate in Advanced Placement Program Reading

May 13, 2013
William Freddy Curtis

Mr. William Freddy Curtis – AP US Government & Politics Teacher at Cannon County High School was selected to participate in the College Board’s Annual AP Reading in Advanced Placement US Government & Politics. Each June, AP teachers and college faculty members from around the world gather in the United States to evaluate and score the free-response sections of the AP Exams.

AP Readers are high school and college educators who represent many of the finest academic institutions in the world. The AP Reading is a unique forum in which an academic dialogue between educators is both fostered and encouraged. “The Reading draws upon the talents of some of the finest teachers and professors that the world has to offer,” said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, AP and College Readiness at the College Board. “It fosters professionalism, allows for the exchange of ideas, and strengthens the commitment to students and to teaching. We are very grateful for the contributions of talented educators like Mr. Curtis.”

The Advanced Placement Program®(AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies – with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both – while still in high school. Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue – skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students. In 2012, more than 11,000 AP Readers evaluated more than 3.7 million AP Exams.

Mr. Curtis is a 27 year veteran of the Cannon County School System serving as a teacher and principal at West Side Elementary School from 1986 to 2008, and currently serving as US Government, Sociology, and AP US Government & Politics Teacher at Cannon County High School. He is married to Trena Braswell Curtis – 2nd Grade Teacher at Smithville Elementary School and has four sons – Matt, Trent, Casey, and Evan Curtis.

Alexander Tells Corps He Won’t Approve Funding Requests if Corps Won’t Listen to the Senate on Fishing Beneath Cumberland River Dams

May 12, 2013
Lamar Alexander

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told a top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official at a budget hearing on Wednesday, May 8 that he would restrict the Corps’ ability to transfer new funds to projects if it doesn’t abandon “unreasonable” fishing restrictions that amount to “thumbing your nose at elected officials,” saying, “It sounds to me like we have a life jacket problem – not a water problem.” (Video HERE.)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is beginning to implement permanent full-time water access restrictions around Center Hill Dam and the other nine dams on the Cumberland River and their tributaries.

The restricted areas will be the minimum area allowed per Corps regulations upstream and downstream of locks, dams, and power plant facilities. All forms of water access within the restricted areas will be prohibited including boating, swimming and wading. The Corps continues to promote bank fishing in all areas that were previously approved, including areas adjacent to some restricted areas.

The Restricted Area Boundary Lengths around Center Hill Dam will be:

Upstream Restricted Area Length.....400 feet

Downstream Restricted Area Length.....750 feet

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the subcommittee chairman whose approval the Corps would also need, called Alexander reasonable “99.9 percent of the time” and told the Corps officials, “My strong advice would be to try to work something out with him.”

“We don’t need Big Brother in Washington holding our hands while we’re fishing down in Tennessee or Kentucky or any other place,” Alexander said to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. “If you’re not going to pay attention to the elected representatives of Tennessee and Kentucky and other states, I’m not going to pay attention to your judgment. You have nine major accounts, 918 project accounts, and in order to move that, you need the permission of the chairman and me to . … You’re going to find it very hard to get my approval for any reprogramming request – anywhere in the country – until I get the Corps’ attention, and if that doesn’t get your attention, I’m going to work with my colleagues to reduce the reprogramming requests to $1,000 so that any reprogramming you want to do, you’ll have to come back to me and Senator Feinstein and the chairman and ranking member in the House.”

Referring to the order in which the legislative and executive branch duties are laid out in the Constitution – Article I and Article II, respectively – Alexander said, “We’re Article I, you’re Article II – you ought to be paying attention to our judgment on this, especially when so many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have made themselves clear on this. We don’t need a government that’s big enough to interfere with us when we have enough sense to … get out of the water the 20 percent of the time when it’s spilling through the dam.”

Alexander, the lead Republican or Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development that was holding the hearing, has introduced the “Freedom to Fish Act” to prohibit the Corps from restricting fishing beneath 10 dams on the Cumberland River. On March 23, the U.S. Senate unanimously supported his amendment to the Senate budget resolution allowing Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the Corps plans.

On April 30, the Corps announced that it would move forward with full-time, permanently restricted access to tailwaters areas below the dams, through buoys and signage. Today, Alexander said the Corps would “find it very hard” to get the approval it needs from him as Ranking Member of the subcommittee for “reprogramming” required to move money among the Corps’ more than 900 project accounts.

Alexander pointed to the Corps’ own statistics showing that water only spills through the dams 20 percent of the time, on average. Alexander said, “Closing off the tailwaters 100 percent of the time would be like putting the gate down over the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time – the tracks aren’t dangerous when the train’s not coming, and the water isn’t dangerous when the water isn’t spilling through the dam.”

Former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin, an appointee of President Obama who until stepping down recently would have been responsible for defending the Corps in court, has said the Corps’ restrictions are unreasonable “in light of the tremendous protection from liability enjoyed by the Corps.” The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has also said it will not enforce the Corps’ restrictions, and Alexander has repeatedly encouraged the Corps to work out a compromise with state agencies to address safety concerns.

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