Local News Articles

Nicole's Market Loses Beer Permit

October 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Attorney Frank Buck conferring with the owner of Nicoles Market
County Attorney Hilton Conger Looking over Documents at Beer Board Meeting
Concerned Citizens and Beer Board Members Looking on at Meeting

The DeKalb County Beer Board, following a hearing, voted five to nothing Thursday night to revoke the off premises permit of Nicoles Market at 7024 Short Mountain Highway.

The owner of the store, Areceli Soto has ten days to file an appeal to the Chancery Court through her attorney Frank Buck. Unless a court injunction or restraining order is sought to prevent the beer board from enforcing the revocation, no further beer sales will be permitted at Nicoles Market effective immediately.

Ms. Soto, who apparently speaks little or no English, answered questions from her attorney through her brother who served as an interpreter during the hearing. Her brother also apparently works in the store.

Ms Soto said she has spent about $5,000 upgrading the coolers in the store where the beer is kept and that she has about $5,000 worth of beer in inventory. That investment, she said, would be lost if her beer permit were revoked and she might even have to go out of business. Ms. Soto said she would like to have at least thirty days to dispose of her inventory.

Chairman Mack Harney asked County Attorney Hilton Conger whether the beer board could vote to revoke now and have it take effect November 1st. Conger said a revocation is immediate and the only way it could be postponed would be for the board to delay it's action to revoke until another meeting.

In November 2008, the beer board granted the off premises permit for Nicole's Market apparently not knowing the store is less than 2,000 feet from the Mount Pisgah Free Will Baptist Church, a violation of the county's distance regulations

DeKalb County has a rule forbidding the sale, storage and manufacture of beer and like beverages within 2,000 feet (or some lesser distance) of schools, churches, and other places of public gathering.

In making his case for the revocation, Conger said the county commission, in 1939 adopted a resolution establishing the distance requirement and that Nicole's Market is clearly in violation."The quarterly court of DeKalb County that met in regular session in October 1939 adopted regulations for the guidance of the beer committee which states that no permit shall be issued for the sale, storage, or manufacture of beer at locations which are within 2,000 feet of any church, school, or other place of public gathering. And then we have a survey of Mr. Eugene O'Neil showing that Nicoles Market is 1,439 feet from building to building (to the church). That would be the proof that the county would offer for the revocation of this permit, that it is certainly within the 2,000 foot rule."

Buck asked the board to consider the predicament in which this places Ms. Soto and her family."Gentlemen, these people didn't lie to anybody. They didn't tell any lies here. The board should have probably checked it out (distance between the store and church). We should have probably checked it out. But certainly it's not a circumstance where these people willfully tried to trick anybody. It would be my hope that the board would consider the possibility of permitting these folks to have sixty days to dispose of their inventory, thirty days, or forty five days. Had this been a fraud case, had this been somebody coming in here and not telling the truth, it would be a different matter. But that's not what happened here."

The board, apparently unwilling to wait any longer, voted to revoke the permit. Board member Harrell Tolbert made the motion, based on the proof presented by Conger. Board member Frank Thomas seconded the motion. Board members Harney, Jim Stagi, and Basil Dick Knowles joined Tolbert and Thomas in voting for the revocation. Board members Robert Rowe and Edward Frazier were absent.

Approximately twenty five people, mostly residents of the community, attended the meeting and looked on quietly during the hearing as the board delivered it's decision.

DeKalb County Jail Again Meets Standards for Certification

October 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

The DeKalb County Jail and Jail Annex have again met standards for re-certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, in a prepared statement, says "On July 28th, the Tennessee Corrections Institute did an inspection of the DeKalb County Jail and the DeKalb County Jail Annex. The report states that at the time of inspection the jail was not overcrowded, all records and logs appeared to be in order, and all medical exams were up-to-date. The report goes on to say that the kitchen was clean, the dietician letter was current, and the physical plant appeared to be in good state of repair and was clean. At the time of inspection, there were 62 males and 20 females incarcerated in the DeKalb County Jail. The inspector recommended the jail to be certified."

Sheriff Ray adds that on Thursday October 1st, he received the certification from the Tennessee Corrections Institute that says the DeKalb County Jail has complied with the Tennessee Minimum Standards for local Correctional Facilities.

Property Tax Notices in the Mail- Discounts go to Those who Pay Early

October 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Trustee Sean Driver-

The DeKalb County Trustee's office mailed out the 2009 DeKalb County property tax statements Wednesday

DeKalb County Trustee Sean Driver says tax payers have until February 27th, 2010 to pay their tax bill but if you pay in either October or November, you'll get a discount. "We have prepared tax cards, we mailed those September 30th, and today we are in collection mode. We are preparing to get ready for all you who want to come in and pay. Of course, we are collecting today but the last day to pay is February 27th, 2010. That falls on a Saturday and our office will be open all day that day until 4:30 p.m. We are offering discounts this year, as passed by resolution of the county commission. We are offering a 2% discount through the last day of October and a 1% discount if you pay in November. That resolution (establishing the discounts) was passed after the county budgets were approved so the resolution (notice about the discounts) didn't get printed on your (tax notice) card to say that discounts will be offered but we want you to take advantage of this if at all possible."

Seniors, be sure to check with the office on the state property tax relief program. The income limit is $25,360 for single or combined household incomes.

Trustee Driver says Tennessee's tax relief program is state-funded and provides a rebate of credit for all or a portion of the property taxes on residential property owned and occupied by low-income elderly, low-income disabled, and disabled veteran homeowners and their surviving spouses. "In order for the elderly to apply for tax relief, you must be age 65 on or before December 31st, 2009 to meet the elderly requirements. To be a disabled applicant, you must be 100% disabled as deemed by the Social Security Administration or some administration thereof. Disabled veterans can get a tax relief as well. They do not have to report their income but they have to be 100% disabled as deemed by the Veterans Administration. We can sign you up now through April 5th, 2010. Remember, whenever you get ready to pay your taxes, the taxes must be paid in full before we can ever submit your application to the state (for property tax relief).This year the income limit to apply, using your 2008 income including income from all owners, is $25,360. That's using all sources of income in 2008. You will be applying for 2009 tax relief using 2008 income."

Driver says the law now requires applicants to include their spouses income when seeking state property tax relief. "This is a state property tax relief program through the State of Tennessee and this year, under new legislation passed by the state, if you are legally married and your spouse's name is not on the deed, you are still required to submit your spouse's 2008 income. In the past you did not have to do that but now if your spouse's name is not on the deed, whether living with you or not living with you, you are required this year to submit your spouse's income."

Driver adds that all applicants approved for state property tax relief will get a little extra relief thanks to recent action by the county commission. "We have gone to the county commission and proposed that all applicants that are state approved will get an extra $50 off of their tax bill. This year all applicants are getting $91 off along with an extra $50 off for a total of $141. And if you pay in October or November you will get the one or two percent discount as well."

Property Tax Relief Eligibility requirements for Elderly Homeowners are as follows:

Must be 65 or older on or before December 31st, 2009
Must provide evidence of age (i.e. driver's license, birth certificate, marriage license)
Must own and use the property on which you are applying as your primary residence
Qualified applicants will receive property tax relief on the first $25,000 of their property's market value.
According to the deed of the property, Must have records of the combined 2008 income of all owners of the property not exceeding $25,360. Income (i.e. social security, SSI pension, etc)

Eligibility requirements for Disabled Homeowners are as follows:

Must have been totally and permanently disabled as rated by the Social Security Administration or any other qualified agency on or before December 31st, 2009
Must provide evidence of age (i.e. driver's license, birth certificate, marriage license)
Must own and use the property on which you are applying as your primary residence
Must have records of the combined 2008 income of all owners of the property not exceeding $25,360

Eligibility requirements for Disabled Veteran Homeowners and/or widow or widower:

Must own and use the property on which you are applying as your primary residence.
Your disability must meet one of the following categories:
A service-connected disability that resulted in (1) Paraplegia, (2) Permanent paralysis of both legs and lower part of the body resulting from traumatic injury or disease to the spinal cord or brain, (3) Loss or loss of use of, two or more limbs, and (4) Legal blindness.

A total and permanent disability rating from a service-connected disability

A 100% total and permanent disability rating from being a prisoner of war.

The Veteran's Administration Office determines eligibility from the applicant's information in the Trustee's Office forwarded to the State of Tennessee.

If you meet these requirements you may apply in the Trustee's Office as soon as you receive your property tax bill. The deadline to apply is 35 days after February 27th, 2010 or April 5th, 2010.

If you have any additional questions concerning the tax relief program, come by the Trustee's office in the courthouse or call 597-5176.

UCDD Analyst Skeptical of Report Showing Record DeKalb County Sales Tax Numbers

September 30, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

If the numbers are accurate, DeKalb County had record sales tax collections in July, up over 40% from the same month last year.

County Mayor Mike Foster said Monday that the latest report from the state shows that DeKalb County is due to receive $384-thousand 842 in local option sales tax collections. Foster says that's the largest in the history of the county.

But Henry Bowman, Senior analyst for the Upper Cumberland Development District doubts that DeKalb County had a 40% growth when the Upper Cumberland Region and the state continue to suffer from the economy. "DeKalb County showed a 40.2% increase this July compared to July, 2008 whereas the region, as a whole, was down 2.4% and the State of Tennessee was down 8.2%. I suspect there's some sort of one time anomaly that got worked into that. I don't have anyway of knowing what it is or what caused it, if it's a one time thing, or some sort of recurring thing. But we'll know when the next report comes out. I have results of the state sales tax only (not local option sales tax). That's the way I do it (analyze it) because the state sales tax is uniform throughout the state. Every county has the same rate. If you get into local sales tax you get into variations that make comparisons difficult. DeKalb shows $1-million 135 thousand dollars in August of this year (July collections) compared to $809 thousand dollars a year prior and that's where the 40.2% increase comes in. But if you look for the full twelve months, which is something I also do, for the twelve months ending in August, the increase for DeKalb County over the corresponding period a year ago was only 0.3% so that makes me suspect that there's something out of whack with the August monthly number. The most promising thing I see about this particular report is the fact that our regional numbers are not down as much as the state. The state's numbers are down 8.2% and ours (Upper Cumberland) are down by just 2.4% so that's sort of encouraging in a kind of back hand way. It seems to be that the numbers are getting less worse as we go on. We're going to expect the deterioration to lessen because we're working off of a lower base than we have in the past."

In May 2007, DeKalb County voters passed a referendum increasing the local option sales tax rate locally from 1.5% to 2.75%. Foster says that move alone has helped local coffers. "We started keeping up with the sales tax figures in 2006-07 and in July of that year the money we received was $173-thousand 154. The money was collected two months prior in May. The money we received last year, in July 2008, was $340-thousand 838 dollars (collected in May). This year, it was $348-thousand 993 dollars in July (collected in May). The biggest month we've ever had in the history of DeKalb County was July, 2009 at $384-thousand 842 dollars which is reflected in the August report from the state. We haven't received the money for this yet. The report has just come. I think a lot of it has to do with tourism and people are probably buying more at home, spending money here rather than taking it to another county, and the Jamboree probably contributes to it."

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for August held steady at 10.7% and while that is still too high, Bowman admits that it is better than most in the Upper Cumberland. In fact, he says the only county that had a better jobless rate in August among the fourteen county region was Putnam, at 10.4%. Still DeKalb County's rate is much higher than a year ago."When we look at a year ago, in August 2008, the DeKalb jobless rate was only 6.8%, but that is pretty typical. Every county is up dramatically in that time period. For the region as a whole, the rate was 12.2% and for the state as a whole it was 10.8%. So in that regard DeKalb County is doing rather well. Our (regions) highest unemployment rate for August was 14.5% in Jackson and White counties. You're (DeKalb) doing somewhat better. The national recession has affected all of us. It's just a matter of time before we overcome all that, I just don't know when that will be but things don't seem to be deteriorating as badly as they have been."

County Mayor Foster says while the local jobless rate remains high, he is hopeful for better days ahead for DeKalb County. "Some of the industries that we have been going around talking to are even seeing maybe a little increase. They're hiring some extra people. One of them has put in for a contract and if they get it, they may get 112 new jobs even above what they have been having. We'll probably know about that in December. We've got some factories and industries that have been here a long, long time. They were healthy going into this (recession) and maybe had some fund balances built up and still maintain quite a bit of their business. We've got some business that have been here for twenty five years and I think they are able to withstand that better with their after market products that go out but we still have some factories where their orders are down some while we have some that are picking up really well.'

Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen Take Oath of Office

September 30, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Pat Jackson, Tony Tarpley, and Ria Baker-

The Alexandria mayor and alderman-elect were sworn into office Tuesday night prior to the city council meeting at city hall.

City attorney Vester Parsley administered the oath to Mayor Ria Baker and Alderman Tony Tarpley who were elected unopposed earlier this month.

During the meeting, the aldermen appointed a new member, Pat Jackson, to fill a vacancy on the board. Jackson was also sworn into office by Parsley.

The city government leaders now include Mayor Ria Baker and Aldermen Tony Tarpley, Derrick Baker, Shelia Clayborn, Maureen Tubbs, and Pat Jackson. One alderman seat remains vacant.

(Pictured left to right: Pat Jackson, Tony Tarpley, and Ria Baker)

DeKalb 2008 Travel Related Expenditures Third Highest in Upper Cumberland

September 29, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County recorded the third highest Travel-Related Expenditures in the Upper Cumberland Region in 2008, according to recently released figures from the U.S. Travel Association.

The report shows that travel-related expenditures in DeKalb County were $35.46 million in 2008.
This reflects a $1.1 million (3.2%) increase over the previous year's figure of $34.36 million.

DeKalb County also experienced an increase in each of the report's other four categories; travel related employment 280, up by 1.1% over 2007; payroll $7.2 million, up by 1.2%; local taxes $4.6 million, a 4% increase; and state taxes collected in DeKalb County $1.9 million, up by 2.5% over 2007. The tax relief per household in DeKalb County due to tourism is $747, determined by dividing the total sales tax figure by the number of households.

Henry Bowman, Senior Analyst for the Upper Cumberland Development District says these numbers reflect the economic impact that Center Hill Lake has on DeKalb County. " Within the fourteen county region, DeKalb County is number three. It was surpassed only by Cumberland (with travel-related expenditures of $94.17 million) and Putnam ($99.78) which are much larger counties and who have the benefit of having the Interstate go through them. This high showing in DeKalb County is undoubtedly directly related to the presence of Center Hill Lake and all the tourist businesses associated with those developments here. They estimate a payroll in excess of seven million dollars and almost three hundred jobs associated with the tourism industry in DeKalb County so it's quite a significant impact.'

Bowman says these statistics are compiled by the U.S. Travel Data Center. "They do it on a contract basis with the folks at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. The department contracts with these people to generate these numbers. They start with a national kind of aggregate number and sort of step that down to the state level, and then down to a local level. They use things like retail sales at restaurants, hotel-motel expenditures, and various things they build into the model. They gather the basic data from the state and local level and at the Tennessee Department of Revenue based on the sales tax collections."

2008 Travel-Related Expenditures for the other counties in the Upper Cumberland Region are as follows;

Warren- $22.18 million
White- $17.19 million
Fentress- $11.30 million
Smith- $8.91 million
Van Buren- $7.99 million
Overton- $7.23 million
Pickett- $6.68 million
Clay- $6.69 million
Macon- $6.27 million
Cannon- $3.54 million
Jackson- $2.07 million

Man Charged with Possession of Explosive Device

September 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Darrell L. Pack

A 49 year old Smithville man was arrested Saturday, September 26th after officers of the Sheriff's Department found an explosive device in an outbuilding at his residence.

Darrell L. Pack of Rolling Acres Road is charged with possession of a prohibited weapon (explosive device) and his bond was set at $10,000. He will appear in court on October 15th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says officers were called to the Pack home on Saturday and made the discovery during an investigation. The Tennessee Bomb Squad and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Agencies were summoned to the scene to take custody and dispose of the device. Also found in the Pack home was a stolen gun out of White County. Detectives there were notified that the weapon has been recovered.

Meanwhile, in other cases Sheriff Ray says19 year old Misty Gingerich of West Main Street, Smithville was arrested Wednesday, September 23rd for criminal trespassing after she was found behind the DeKalb County Jail. Gingerich had walked on the property at night and was trying to smuggle contraband into the jail annex where inmates were being housed. Gingerich tried to put items though the rear outside door of the annex. Her bond was set at $2,500 and she will appear in court on October 22nd

30 year old Kenny Wayne Bly of Midway Road Smithville was charged Friday, September 25th with criminal littering and evading arrest. Bly tried to smuggle contraband into the DeKalb County Jail by throwing down contraband on the ground behind the jail annex. When officers approached Bly, he took off running and was caught on West Main Street in Smithville. Bly's bond was set at $2,000 and he will appear in court on October 15th

36 year old Gregory Wayne Cripps of Cripps Lane, Smithville was charged Friday, September 25th with a first offense of driving under the influence after an officer stopped him on Highway 56 South for weaving from one side of the roadway to the other. Cripps was unsteady on his feet and had very slow motor skills. Cripps submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Cripps' bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on October 15th.

24 year old Johnna Maynard of Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville was arrested on Friday, September 25th for aggravated burglary and theft of property under $500. Detectives allege that Maynard went to a home on Banks Pisgah Road Smithville and entered the residence without the owner's consent. While there she allegedly took a weed eater valued at $100. Bond for Maynard was set at $15,000 and she will appear in court on October 15th. Also arrested at Maynard's home was 35 year old James Hershell Patton of Oak Place Drive, Smithville. Detectives had knowledge that Patton was staying at the Banks Pisgah Road home and they also knew that Patton was wanted on a violation of parole warrant in DeKalb County. When detectives went to the door of the home, Patton tried to elude them by crawling into the attic. Patton was found buried under the insulation in the attic area. Patton was also charged with evading arrest and his bond was set at $3,500. He will appear in court on October 15th.

Also on Saturday, September 26th, deputies responded to a complaint call at the intersection of Highway 70 and Highway 96 in Liberty. Deputies found 29 year old Carlos J. Perez of Kipling Drive, Nashville to be in control of a motor vehicle. Perez had a strong odor of alcohol on his person, slurred speech, and he was unsteady on his feet. Perez submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Perez was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on October 15th.

A passenger of Perez's vehicle, 27 year old Joseph P. Reasons of Ashland City Road, Clarksville was charged with public intoxication after he was found to be passed out on the side of the road. Deputies found Reasons to be under the influence having blood shot eyes, he was unsteady on his feet, and was very confused. Reasons' bond was set a $1,000 and he will appear in court on October 15th.

Local Firefighters Compete in TUFF Challenge

September 28, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Local Firefighters Compete in TUFF Challenge-

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department recently competed in TUFF Challenge ( Tennessee Ultimate Fire Fighter ).

Assistant Chief Roy Merriman say's this was the local department's first time to compete in this challenge and plans are already being made to compete next year. "We had a five man relay team of firefighters from across the county. DeKalb finished 6th with a relay time of two minutes and twenty six seconds, Every portion of the relay represented some type of normal firefighter activity."

Merriman added " I would also like to say how proud the department and I are of of these guys and their commitment to training."

(Pictured: Kneeling from left to right-Thomas Hale and Jimmy Martin
Standing left to right- Billy Fuson , Jeremy Neal , Kevin Cripps and Team Coach Roy Merriman)

Garrison, Curtis, & Campbell Win Re-Election to DTC Board of Directors

September 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
 DTC Directors Bennie Buck Curtis, Ronnie Garrison, and Randy Campbell-

Incumbents Ronald "Ronnie" Garrison, Bennie "Buck" Curtis, and Randy Campbell were all re-elected to the DTC Communications Board of Directors.

The results of the election were announced Saturday during the annual meeting of DTC Communications at the fairgrounds in Alexandria

Garrison, Smithville Exchange member, received a total of 766 votes (77.37%) defeating challenger Paul Cantrell who had 224 votes (22.63%).

Curtis, who represents the Alexandria Exchange, garnered 492 votes (50.88%), beating challengers Wayne "Elmer" Fitts who had 264 votes (27.30%) and Robbie "Donnie" Rowland who received 211 votes (21.82%)

Randy Campbell of the Liberty Exchange, who ran unopposed, had 741 complimentary votes.

A total of 1,049 members voted in this year's DTC Election of Directors including 757 early voters and 292 on election day (Saturday).

All three directors elected Saturday will serve for three years.

Here's how the votes break down for each candidate at the four early voting locations and on election day:

Ronald Garrison: Smithville- 267, Alexandria- 162, Woodbury- 79, Gordonsville- 32, Election Day-226

Paul Cantrell: Smithville-128, Alexandria- 16, Woodbury- 14, Gordonsville- 12, Election Day-54

Bennie "Buck" Curtis: Smithville-189, Alexandria-85, Woodbury-52, Gordonsville-27, Election Day- 139

Wayne "Elmer" Fitts: Smithville-79, Alexandria-50, Woodbury-27, Gordonsville-21, Election Day- 87

Robbie "Donnie" Rowland: Smithville-79, Alexandria-63, Woodbury-15, Gordonsville-5, Election Day-49

Randy Campbell: Smithville-285, Alexandria-138, Woodbury-70, Gordonsville-44; Election Day-221

The DTC Communications Board of Directors, in addition to Garrison, Campbell, and Curtis, include Terry McPeak of Norene, Charles Dwight Vinson of Milton, Robert Don Malone of Temperance Hall, Greg Rogers of Woodbury, Roy Nelson Pugh of Auburntown, David Parker of Woodland, and James Dillard, Jr. of Gordonsville.

Water Boil Notice Lifted for Dowelltown-Liberty Customers

September 26, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Dowelltown and Liberty water customers no longer have to boil their drinking water.

Officials say the water boil notice has been lifted. Test results show that the water is safe to consume.

A break was discovered in an eight inch water line on Highway 70 just east of the water tank around 12:30 a.m. Saturday. The repair was completed around 9:00 a.m.

However officials say due to the water line leak, there was reason to suspect that the water distributed to the customers of the Dowelltown-Liberty Water System might have been contaminated.

Water customers were advised to boil water prior to using it for drinking or food preparation until the boil notice was lifted.

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