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Local News Articles

More Blazes Keep Firefighters Busy

October 29, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department is investigating a suspicious fire Thursday morning at a home under construction at 124 Mountain View Drive in Lakeview Mountain Estates.

Central dispatch was notified at 9:06 a.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said neighbors spotted smoke coming from the basement of this home, which belongs to a Murfreesboro couple. The owners were not there.

When firefighters arrived, they found a campfire type blaze in the basement, with rocks placed around a wood pile which had been set on fire. A drink bottle and food wrappers were also found nearby. Chief Green said the entire house was filled with smoke, but there was no structural damage.

According to Chief Green, there was evidence of another fire in the basement, which appeared to have been set days before and had burned out.

Green said the owners of the home recently became concerned after finding a sleeping bag in the basement. They reported the discovery to the sheriff's department.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department. No one was injured.

Meanwhile, the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was summoned to a duplex at 370 Smith Road, Friday morning at 2:42 a.m., the residence of Naith Puckett.

According to Chief Charlie Parker, Puckett said when he arrived home and opened the front door he found the residence filled with smoke. The fire had started and caused extensive damage to a back bedroom, but the blaze had already burned itself out by the time firefighters arrived. The fire damage was confined to Puckett's side of the duplex and did not spread to the adjoining residence, although the woman who lives there reported smelling smoke earlier in the morning, but went back to bed after looking around and not finding any fire or smoke.

Chief Parker said city firefighters cleared the smoke, using fans to ventilate Puckett's residence. The cause of the fire is undetermined, but remains under investigation. No one was injured.

Members of the Austin Bottom and Cookeville Highway Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded to a barn fire Friday morning at 3:48 a.m. at 9440 Goff Ridge Road in the Austin Bottom community. The barn, which belonged to Dan Bradem, was destroyed. No one was injured but some rabbits in the barn perished in the blaze.

Bradem, whose home is located near the barn, told firefighters that he heard a loud boom, went to check, and discovered the fire.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 9.1% in September

October 29, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate continues to drop, sliding from 9.6% in August to 9.1% in September. That's also down from 10.3% in September 2009.

The local labor force for the month of September was 9,710. A total of 8,820 were employed and 890 were without work that month.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for the month was fourth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region. Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:

Pickett County-13%
White- 11.5%
Fentress- 10.8%
Van Buren- 10.7%
Clay- 10.7%
Warren- 10.6%
Jackson- 10.1%
Cannon- 9.5%
Cumberland-9.3%
Overton-9.2%
DeKalb-9.1%
Smith- 8.5%
Putnam- 8.4%
Macon- 8.3%

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September was 9.4 percent, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the August rate of 9.6 percent. The national unemployment rate for September was unchanged at 9.6 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for September 2010 show that the rate decreased in 85 counties, increased in seven counties and remained the same in three counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.0 percent, down from the August rate of 6.3 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.9 percent, up from 19.8 percent in the previous month, followed by Marshall County at 15.6 percent, down from the August rate of 15.9 percent.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.1 percent, down from 7.6 percent in August. Hamilton County was 7.8 percent, down from 8.7 from the previous month. Davidson County was 9.1 percent, down from 9.5 percent, and Shelby County was 9.8 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from August.

Almost 2,000 Vote Early in DeKalb County

October 28, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Voters Line Up as Polling Place Opens on Last Day of Early Voting

If early voting is an indication, more DeKalb Countians seem to be interested in the November election than either the DeKalb County Democratic Primary in May or the DeKalb County General Election and Tennessee Primaries in August.

A total of 1,989 people took advantage of early voting in DeKalb County from Wednesday, October 13th through Thursday, October 28th. The largest single day turnout in that two week period came yesterday (Thursday, October 28th) when 334 cast ballots, including 329 in person and five by absentee.

In May, a total of 1,148 DeKalb Countians voted early in the local Democratic Primary and in August 1,397 cast ballots early.

The total vote in May(early voting/absentees and election day combined) was 2,907 compared to 3,739 in August (early voting/absentee and election day combined).

In the Presidential election two years ago, a total of 7,190 DeKalb County voters turned out including 4008 early voters and absentees combined and 3,182 on election day.

On Tuesday, November 2nd DeKalb County voters will make their choices for State Representative, State Senator, Congressman, and Governor. Voters will either vote "yes" or "no" on whether the Tennessee Constitution should be amended guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish in this state.

Polls at all sixteen precincts in the county will be open Tuesday, November 2nd from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. WJLE will have LIVE election return coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. on AM 1480/FM 101.7 and at www.wjle.com.

Cantrell Airlifted After Wednesday night Crash

October 28, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 21 year old woman was airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga after a one car crash Wednesday night around 7:49 p.m. on Highway 146 near the old Kilgore's store location.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said that Porsche Cantrell of Smithville was driving north in a 2005 Pontiac Grand AM when she left the roadway on the right (east side) and hit a mailbox. She overcorrected and went back across the highway, struck the end of a driveway culvert and overturned, rolling over sideways several times. Cantrell was ejected.

Cantrell was airlifted from the scene by a helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital

Members of the Short Mountain Highway Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were on site to set up the helicopter landing zone. DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department were also there.

Trooper England said the accident remains under investigation and charges are pending.

DeKalb Property Owners May Now Pay Taxes On-Line

October 27, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sean Driver

DeKalb County property owners may now pay their taxes by debit or credit card either in the Trustee's office or on-line at www.tennesseetrustee.com.

Trustee Sean Driver said many taxpayers have requested the service and he is happy to be able to offer it as an extra convenience. "I was watching as people would come in to the office and it was getting to be one in five people wanting to use that debit or credit card. I knew we would eventually have to go to it so for the 2010 tax year we're up and running. We are now offering credit and debit card processing through the Business Information Systems for the property owners of DeKalb County. You may pay your property taxes using a VISA, MASTERCARD, or DISCOVER card. It can be handled on-line, in the Trustee's Office, or by phone."

Driver explained that a 2.75% convenience fee will be added to your tax bill, if you take advantage of on-line payment, but the county does not collect it. "In no way is that 2.75% fee collected through the county. The Business Information Systems sets this up for us as Trustees throughout the state. Sixty four of the state's ninety five counties take advantage of this. So the convenience fee of 2.75% is added to your bill and collected by the Business Information Systems. You can pay your bill on-line but you can also go on there and select "DEKALB COUNTY" and look up your tax bill and your appraisal values."

"If you want to do those payments on line, it is fast, easy, and secure. On-line payments may be made at www.tennesseetrustee.com. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also pay your taxes in our office at 1 public square, room 206 in the DeKalb County Courthouse. Our phone number is 615-597-5176. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m."

Driver said 2010 DeKalb County property tax notices were mailed out on October 19th and taxes may now be paid without penalty through February 28th, 2011. "We mailed them out on the 19th. We received the cards on September 29th but it takes about two and a half weeks to work those so we mailed them out on the 19th and we have been working steady since."

Seniors, be sure to check with the office on the state property tax relief program. The income limit is $26,830 for single or combined household incomes.

Trustee Driver said 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, 2010 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, 2011. 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 2009 income including income from all owners, is $26,830. That's using all sources of income in 2009. You will be applying for 2010 tax relief using 2009 income."

According to Driver, 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 2009 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 added that all applicants previously approved for state property tax relief will get a little extra relief thanks to the county commission. "All applicants that are state approved will get a $50 county match off of their tax bill. This year all applicants are getting $91 off along with an extra $50 off for a total of $141. "

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

Must be 65 or older on or before December 31st, 2010
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 2009 income of all owners of the property not exceeding $26,830. 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, 2010
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 2009 income of all owners of the property not exceeding $26,830

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 28th, 2011 or April 5th, 2011.

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

Fire Destroys Bobby's Auto Sales Shop

October 27, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters at Bobby's Auto Sales (Photo by Callie Matthews)
Smoke Billowing from Bobby's Auto Sales (Photo by Callie Matthews)

A fire Wednesday afternoon gutted an auto body shop belonging to Bobby Johnson at 117 Yolanda Hills Road, known as Bobby's Auto Sales.

Central Dispatch received the call at 1:19 p.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said Johnson had been in the shop cutting holes in a piece of angle iron with a torch, but had stopped to go into the house to get something. When Johnson came back out, he discovered the fire coming from the area in the shop where he had a stack of papers.

Green said since the bay doors were open at the time, Johnson speculated that high winds blew the hot metal residue or slag from the torch cutting into the papers, igniting the blaze.

The fire spread quickly, destroying the shop and most of the contents including a golf cart, lawnmower, four wheeler, tools, and body shop equipment.

According to Chief Green, Johnson was able to get out a few things including a small four wheeler and a dirt bike.

Members of the Main Station, Short Mountain Highway, Midway and Liberty stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with a tanker truck and the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS. No one was injured.

Chief Green said firefighters consider the shop to be a total loss.

County Commission Honors Girl Scout Troop 1146

October 27, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Girl Scout Troop 1146

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution to honor Girl Scout Troop 1146.

County Mayor Mike Foster read the resolution which states that "Whereas, it is fitting that the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor should announce their pride, respect, and honor in the young people of our community who so capably fulfill their requirements and duties to reach lofty goals and levels of achievement."

"Whereas, the Girl Scout Bronze Award is the biggest award a Junior Girl Scout (4th and 5th grade girls) can earn. Requirements that Troop 1146 completed for the Bronze award were:

Caring for Children Badge
Choice is Yours Jr. Badge
Sign of the Star Patch
Jr. Aid Patch
Jr. Leadership Pin
Completed a 15 hour service project they named "Kiddie Kases" which consisted of collecting, sorting, and filling 50 tote bags full of basic supplies and comfort items for Foster children that are removed from their homes."

"Whereas, the DeKalb County Commission and the DeKalb County Mayor wish to thank Troop 1146, their families, and others who helped and their leaders for the honors they have brought to themselves and DeKalb County. Members of Troop 1146 are":

Chloe Cantrell
Neely Evans
Peyton Hensley
Makira Johnson
Sara Beth LaFever
Hailey Rowland
Lexy Spry
Emily Wallace

"Now, therefore, be it resolved by the DeKalb County Commission that October 25th, 2010 be officially named Girl Scout Troop 1146 Day."

"Be it further resolved that this accomplishment be spread across the records of the meeting and preserved as a lasting part of our appreciation to the Girl Scout Troop 1146"

Autumn Princess and Fall Fest Pageant Entries Accepted through Saturday

October 27, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Victoria Dawn Tatrow
Macy Elizabeth Hedge

Entries are being accepted through Saturday, October 30th for the Third-Annual Autumn Princess Pageant and 56th Annual Fall Fest Pageant to be held Saturday, November 6th at DeKalb County High School.

The Autumn Princess Pageant will be first at 5:00 p.m. featuring girls ages 7-10.
Click here to listen to Dessa Ray's public service announcement about the pageant.

The Fall Fest Pageant will immediately follow at 7:00 p.m.

The retiring Fall Fest Queen is Victoria Dawn Tatrow, the 16 year old daughter of Vickie and Corey Funk and the late Shanna Tatrow.

Macy Elizabeth Hedge, the reigning Autumn Princess, will also crown her successor. She is the 10 year old daughter of David and Trina Hedge of Smithville.

Entry fee is $20 for each pageant. Applications have been distributed to each school and are also available at the Smithville Review. Deadline for entry is Oct. 30. The pageants are sponsored by the Smithville Business & Professional Women¹s Club.

Off The Beaten Path Artists Open Studios for 10th Anniversary Tour

October 26, 2010
by: 
Mike Antoniak
Pulp Painting by artist Cherry Cratty to be given away
William Kooienga

Art lovers from across Tennessee and throughout the Southeast will be in DeKalb County this weekend, October 29 - 31, as the Off The Beaten Path Artists Studio Tour marks its 10th Anniversary.

This free three-day event draws thousands of visitors each year for the opportunity to experience the beautiful fall colors of our area and the Center Hill Lake region and tour the studios of some of the region’s leading professionals in fine art and craft.

“It’s a different tour every year as we keep it exciting with addition of new artists, new studios and our own work continues to evolve,” says Louie Colombarini, one of the founding members of Off The Beaten Path and member of it’s executive committee.

“People who take the tour are always pleasantly surprised to see what we do tucked away in the hills and hollows. It’s like a treasure hunt.”

The 2010 tour features 11 stops and ten working studios with more than 25 participating artists. Their varied work encompasses a full range of traditional and contemporary craft in wood, ceramics, fiber, painting, metal and jewelry making.

New stops include the studio/gallery of master woodcarver David Sharp, and the nearby Red Bow Studio of Cherry Cratty, pioneer in her patent-pending pulp painting technique. All visitors will have an opportunity to enter a drawing for this year’s art prize, the painting “Off the Beaten Path” donated by Cratty.

At each studio, guests can meet and converse with the artists and learn about the methods, material and environment which inspires their creativity. Visitors will also have an opportunity to purchase or commission original works by all participants.

Demonstrations of a variety of crafts are planned at several stops throughout the weekend: glass blowing at BareGlass Studio; wood and pumpkin carving by David Sharp; Raku firing of clay at From the Earth and Sea Originals; paper making at Liberty Paper Mill; weaving at Cosmic Clay studio; spinning and weaving at Beech Hollow Studios; and demonstrations of a wood fired kiln, blacksmithing and felt making at Creek Bend Pottery. Other participating studios include Fresh Chairs and Made by deMay in Smithville.

Although tour stops are numbered, the event is intended to be entirely self-guided, giving visitors the opportunity to drive from studio to studio in any order. Bright black and yellow signs will be placed throughout the county to direct them to each stop.

Stella Luna Gallery in Smithville is this year’s official tour hospitality center and also a showcase for the work of Off The Beaten Path members and other leading artists of Tennessee. There, visitors can pick up a copy of this year’s tour guide, plan the day’s or weekend’s itineracy and enjoy light refreshments.

“Our tour is a great reason to get out and see the work of all these different artists when our area is ablaze with color,” says Colombarini. “People who take the tour have never been disappointed.”

For more information, or to download a copy of this year’s tour map and guide, please visit the group’s website, www.offthebeatenpathtour.com.

DeKalb Angel Tree, Inc. Accepting Applications

October 26, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Angel Tree, Inc is accepting applications for the 15th Annual Angel Tree Project through Friday, October 29th.

Spokesperson Laura Stone said changes have been made to the application process for this year." Applications can be picked up October 25th through October 29th. You will still pick up your applications at the Department of Human Services, but one of the changes will be that the application must be returned in person the following week to the 303 Building."

"Completed applications will have to be returned to the 303 Building in downtown Smithville (the old Lavelle's Building) on one of the following days; Tuesday, November 2nd from 5 until 8, Wednesday, November 3rd from noon until 6 or Thursday, November 4th from 5 until 8. Applications not returned to the 303 Building on one of these three dates WILL NOT be accepted. There are no exceptions to the requirements of the application process", said Stone.

"Applications can only be picked up at the Department of Human Services on October 25th through October 29th and can only be returned to the 303 Building on the dates listed. In addition to bringing the completed application, applicants must provide photo identification of the person applying and social security cards and birth certificates for ALL children listed on the application. We will only be keeping the application; all other documents will be returned to the applicant. If an applicant cannot appear in person, their application can be submitted by a family member as long as all of the required information is presented."

"Eligible children must live in DeKalb County and be no older than age 12 by December 25, 2010. The Department of Human Services will only be passing out the applications. Nothing will be returned to them and any questions should be directed to Laura Stone at 615.597.5060"

Stone adds that "the Angel Tree has been such a tremendous success in the past and with economic times extremely tough for many in our area, we want this years Angel Tree to be no exception. The Angel Tree helps so many families who are struggling to make ends meet. It is sad to think about, but many of these children would not otherwise have a single present for Christmas. With the economy still struggling, we are expecting demand to be high."

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