Local News Articles

State Senator Mae Beavers Legislative Update

January 22, 2010
State Senator Mae Beavers

The following is a legislative update from State Senator Mae Beavers

Three contentious topics were addressed during a special two-week “Extraordinary Session” called by the Governor, including issues concerning worker’s compensation insurance, higher education reform, and K-12 reform. Senator Mae Beavers and the General Assembly addressed a law that went into effect on January 1 of this year that required small contractors to carry worker’s compensation insurance. In addition, the General Assembly passed a higher education reform bill that attempted to allow more Tennesseans to pursue a post-secondary education that fits their academic and workplace needs. Finally, Senator Beavers was one of only three senators to vote against President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” stimulus fund bill, a bill that was rushed through the legislature and one that Sen. Beavers and others feared would heap unfunded mandates onto our local schools and teachers, all in order to apply for the possibility of stimulus dollars and stray further from Tennessee’s ‘pay-as-you-go’ economic history.

General Assembly Delays Law Requiring the Purchase of Worker’s Compensation Insurance by Small Contractors

Senator Mae Beavers helped pass a worker’s compensation law that would seek to delay the implementation of a 2008 law that required all sole proprietors to carry worker’s compensation insurance. Beavers also plans to present a bill during regular session that would outright delete the 2008 law, a law that would force the purchase of insurance on single individuals and small companies that could account for expenses high enough to put them out of business.

“We cannot expect small businesses, particularly those sole proprietors and small contracting companies, to emerge from what has been a devastating few years in the economy and housing market if the state and federal governments continue to burden them with regulations and fees,” said Sen. Beavers. “Self-employed contractors are hurting enough as it is; the state doesn’t need to help put them out of business.”

The particular law addressed was a bill passed in 2008 that required all contractors and subcontractors – even those sole proprietorships whose owner is the only employee – to carry additional workers compensation insurance.

Beavers was one of only five senators who voted against the bill on the floor last session, and the only Republican to do so. “You have to be aware of the economic climate and what effects that state mandates will have when the legislature passes bills,” said Beavers. “I believe many legislators were quite short-sighted when they passed this law.”

Beavers urges everyone to call their legislators and ask them to support the bill she will be filing to repeal the 2008 law, in particular those who voted “aye” for the 2008 bill.

General Assembly Passes Higher Education Reform

Tennessee ranks 40th in the nation in completion of college bachelor’s degrees and 45th in associate degrees. Our dismal college attendance and graduation rates are not only educational problems, but in an ever-expanding and competitive global economy, they are proving to be an economic problem as well.

The higher education bill passed this week, called the "Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010," revises the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s master planning responsibility to increase college completion, address economic development needs and differentiate institutional missions to increase collaboration and efficiency between Tennessee’s post-secondary schools. The legislation also hopes to gear state funding for colleges based more on graduation and retention rates, rather than purely based on enrollment.

The legislation also hopes to make credits earned at community colleges easily transferrable to four-year college institutions. This system will provide a clearly designated path for students to further their education after completion of an associate degree in the state’s community colleges.

Finally, the bill originally had provisions regarding transferring authority over adult education programs to another department, a move that possibly would have financial consequences. However, Sen. Beavers and other legislators expressed concern over meddling in many programs in District 17 that are quite successful and serve to provide job training and career enhancement opportunities for adults, and therefore the provision was removed from the final bill.

Senator Beavers Votes to Refuse Federal Dollars and Mandates on our Local Schools

Senator Beavers was the sole Republican alongside two Democrats to vote against Governor Phil Bredesen and President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” education bill last Friday. The bill was introduced in a special extraordinary session called by the Governor that lasted approximately three days in order to rush through Washington-mandated and open-ended legislation to compete for federal stimulus dollars.

“By not spending the necessary time debating and coming up with sound conservative education reform – reform that gives more choice to parents and students and that enables local school boards to dictate what is best for their schools – we instead wrote the governor a blank check that includes federal guidelines in order to receive money that will bring this state further away from its ‘pay-as-you-go’ history,” said Beavers. “The last thing Tennessee’s students and teachers need is to be bribed into more centralized bureaucracy that enacts what President Obama thinks is best for all American schools.”

Another primary reason for Beavers’ opposition to the bill comes from the fact that many of the ‘reforms’ are initiatives that have been in place for many years now, as well as others that could have been enacted by the legislature during regular session. The bill contained many nonspecific guidelines, using words such as ‘may’ and ‘could’ instead of ‘shall,’ making many conservatives weary of what exactly the bill hoped to accomplish that could not be accomplished by the Republican-controlled legislature later in the year. A large portion of the federal guidelines and stimulus preconditions would be contained in the Governor’s “Race to the Top” application, which was kept hidden from the legislature when voting on the bill.

“I feel like leaders across the state need to take a step back and see why the country is in the shape that it is in – and I guarantee you that the mess we are in is not because of fiscal or constitutional conservatives who refuse to leave our grandchildren in the financial hole in order to placate President Obama and his stimulus dollars,” said Beavers “I did not vote against this bill because I disagreed with some of its conservative goals – I voted against it because it was rushed policy that not even every legislator understood that required more centralized control of our school system in the hands of the Governor and Washington…all in order to possibly receive stimulus dollars that will then not be there in a few years.”

Senator Beavers is eager to work with other legislators during the regular session to examine the effects of this legislation and help pass further meaningful reforms that will not be tied to federal stimulus mandates. In addition, if the state does not receive the federal stimulus money, lawmakers will have to cope with yet another new law and program that the state will have to fund with current revenues during this economic recession.

USDA Releases Payments for Tobacco Transition Payment Program

January 22, 2010
Donny Green

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, announces that annual payments for the Tobacco Transition Payment Program,
for the 2010 payment year, were released Wednesday, January 20. DeKalb County quota holders and producers will receive $483,405.90 in 2010 program year payments. Green says that direct deposit transactions should arrive in bank accounts within 3 business days while mailed checks should arrive within 10 business days for quota holders and producers who have enrolled in the program.

The Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP), also called the "tobacco buy-out," helps tobacco quota holders and producers transition to the free market.

The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-357), signed by President Bush on Oct. 22, 2004, ended the Depression-era tobacco quota program and established the TTPP. The program provides annual transitional payments for 10 years to eligible tobacco quota holders and producers. Payments began in 2005 and continue through 2014. Payments are funded through assessments of approximately $10 billion on tobacco product manufacturers and importers. The remaining payments will be made in 4 annual installments that will be issued in January of each year.

For more information on the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, please contact the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency at 615-597-8225, extension 2.

Fire Damages Shop/Garage Building on West Broad Street

January 21, 2010
Dwayne Page
Fire Damages Shop/Garage Building
Smithville Fire Department Responds to Fire at 633 West Broad
Fire Photo by Steven Laxton

A fire Thursday night caused extensive damage to a shop/garage building at 633 West Broad Street belonging to Darrell Gill, which served as an annex for DeKalb Tire and Service. The building is located across from Gordon's Hardware.

Central Dispatch received the call at 6:51 p.m. and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and the Smithville Police Department rushed to the scene.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says Gill was working in a shed at the rear of the building when the fire started and he escaped unharmed. "He was in the back part of the building and had turned on a compressor when he heard a noise. When he came back up (through the building), he discovered the fire. When he discovered it, the flame was pretty good (intense) and the smoke was already getting heavy. He got out through the front door and just barely in time too. He was pretty lucky."

Chief Parker says the cause of the fire is undetermined but it started in a storage room at the rear of the building and spread to the ceiling and roof. "It started in the back of the building, in a room back there. The building has a double ceiling inside of it and a newer roof on top of an older roof. The fire got in between the roofs and there's block around the edges so it was not burning through. Half of the building is pretty extensively damaged. There was one vehicle belonging to a customer in the bay that was damaged and two more vehicles in the back of the building, belonging to Gill which were not damaged."

Smithville Police officers diverted traffic while firefighters were on the scene. No one was injured.

(Bottom Photo provided by Steven Laxton)

Habitat for Humanity Announces Board Members

January 21, 2010
Dwayne Page
Habitat Board Members and Officers

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County held its annual meeting on Tuesday, January 19th. The meeting was held at The Inn at Evins Mill. Board members for January 2010-2011 are: Mike Antoniak, Michael Carpenter, Glenda Davis, Robin Driver, Sharon Evans, Lisa Garrison, Larry Green, Gayla Hendrix, Tom Janney, Nancy Lewis, Adela McGeehin, Hearon Puckett, Pam Restrepo, Laura Stone and Kim Wheeler.

Pictured in photo are officers and new board members (L-R): Co-Treasurer Kim Wheeler, Vice President Sharon Evans, President Tom Janney, and new board members Gayla Hendrix and Nancy Lewis, who is also serving as Secretary. Not pictured is Co-Treasurer Glenda Davis.

Five School Board Members to be Elected this Year

January 21, 2010
Dwayne Page

If you want to run for a position on the school board, you have until April 1st to qualify.

Five of the seven seats on the Board of Education will be filled in the August 5th DeKalb County General Election.

The positions are currently held by John David Foutch in the first district, Charles Robinson in the second district, Kenny Rhody in the third district, Joan Draper in the fourth district, and Johnny Lattimore in the seventh district. Each term is for four years.

The DeKalb County Election Commission reports that the following school board candidates have picked up petitions:

First District
John David Foutch (picked up petition)

Second District
Charlie Robinson (picked up petition)

Third District:
Kenny Rhody

The fifth and sixth district school board seats are not available this year. W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the fifth district and Bruce Parsley in the sixth district were elected two years ago. Their terms will expire in 2012.

School board candidates run as non-partisan candidates

Meanwhile on the state level, candidates for state representative, state senator, governor and U.S. Congress can run for their respective party nominations in the August 5th State Democratic and Republican Primaries, with the winners and any independent candidates squaring off in November.

The qualifying deadline is noon, April 1.

State Representative:
James Hale (picked up petition) DeKalb County
Jamie Winkler (picked up petition) Smith County
Sarah Marie Smith (picked up petition) Smith County

Tommy Hay of DeKalb County has qualified to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Sixth District

Smithville Municipal Election set for June 15th

January 20, 2010
Dwayne Page

Candidates interested in running for mayor or alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election this summer may now pick up qualifying petitions at the DeKalb County Election Commission Office in the courthouse.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, says candidates have until Thursday, March 18th to qualify.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 15th. The positions are currently held by Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Stephen White and Cecil Burger. Each term is two years.

The election commission reports that the following candidates have picked up petitions:

Steve White (picked up petition)

Cecil Burger (picked up petition)

Taft Hendrixson (picked up petition)

Bruce Medley (picked up petition)

Election Administrator Reminds Potential Candidates of Qualifying Deadlines

January 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

The DeKalb County Election Commission reminds potential candidates for local offices of the approaching qualifying deadlines.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections says noon on Thursday, February 18th is the qualifying deadline for the May 4th DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

Offices eligible for the May ballot are County Mayor, County Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk, Trustee, Register of Deeds, Road Supervisor, and Sheriff, county commissioners in districts one through seven, 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Part 1 and District Attorney. The judge and D.A. elections are to fill unexpired terms.

Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th..

The following persons have picked up and or returned petitions to run for local public offices in the May DeKalb County Democratic Primary

County Clerk:
Mike Clayborn
Glynn Merriman
Chris Smithson

Road Supervisor:
Jimmy Sprague

County Mayor:
Mike Foster
David C. Redmon (picked up petition)
Robert (Bob) Snyder

Register of Deeds:
Jeff McMillen
Clarence R. Trapp

Circuit Court Clerk:
Katherine Pack

Candidates for county offices running as Republicans or Independents in the August General Election:

Patrick Ray (Republican)

Sean Driver(Republican)

Road Supervisor:
Kenny Edge (Republican)

County Commission Candidates in May Democratic Primary (two can be nominated from each district to run in August)
First District:
Elmer Ellis, Jr.

Second District:
Jack E. Barton, III

Third District:
Jerry Scott
Roy Merriman
Bradley Hendrix
Johnathan W. Willoughby (picked up petition)

Fourth District:
Wayne Cantrell
Ronald H. Rogers
David L. McDowell
Jesse Baker

Fifth District:
Johnny Ringo Colwell
Randy Braswell
Bobby R.Taylor
John D. Green

Sixth District:
Jeff Barnes
Marshall Ferrell

Seventh District:
Larry A. Summers
Jimmy W. Poss

County Commission candidates running either as Republicans or Independents in the August General Election (Two to be elected from each district in August)

First District:
Mason Carter(Republican)

Second District:
Bobby Joines (Republican)

Fifth District:
Jerry Adcock (Republican)

Fifth District:
Lloyd Emmons (Independent)

Seventh District:
Richard Kinsey (Independent)

School Board:

First District:
John David Foutch (picked up petition)

Second District:
Charlie Robinson

Third District:
Kenny Rhody

Seventh District:
Johnny Lattimore (picked up petition)

Smithville Alderman:
Steve White (picked up petition)

Smithville Alderman:
Cecil Burger (picked up petition)

Smithville Mayor:
Taft Hendrixson (picked up petition)

Smithville Mayor:
Bruce Medley (picked up petition)

State Representative:
James Hale (picked up petition) DeKalb County
Jamie Winkler (picked up petition) Smith County
Sarah Marie Smith (picked up petition) Smith County

Tommy Hay of DeKalb County has qualified to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Sixth District

County to Consider Helping Control Weight Loads over Hurricane Bridge

January 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Mike Foster
 Hurricane Bridge

The county has apparently reached an agreement with officials of the Tennessee Department of Transportation to help enforce weight limits on Hurricane bridge by escorting across large trucks, fire engines, school buses, and other vehicles carrying heavy loads.

County Mayor Mike Foster, during an all-committees meeting with members of the county commission Tuesday night at the courthouse, said this issue would be discussed during Monday night's regular monthly meeting of the commission and he will ask that the plan be approved.

Under the proposal, Foster says the county would appropriate around $20,000 to hire at least a couple of people with experience in law enforcement or traffic control who would work a forty hour week, monitoring traffic across Hurricane bridge. These officers would be responsible for making sure that no more than one large truck passes over the bridge at a time.

Foster says this would ease concerns about public safety and keep industries from having to detour through Alexandria or Dale Ridge Road to access the Interstate.

According to Foster, he met with officials of TDOT and the Tennessee Highway Patrol earlier this month at his office to discuss the plan and he says they have given their approval. If accepted by the county commission, Foster says the proposal could be implemented as early as next month, subject to a few more details being worked out with TDOT.

"TDOT has told us in the meeting we had a week ago Friday that if we will escort the trucks across and make sure that there's no more than one big truck on the bridge at a time, the factories can haul up to 72,000 pounds. That will be a big help and save them from having to go around (detour). It will save them a couple a hundred dollars a load. Their (TDOT) engineering report says that the bridge doesn't need to have more than 72,000 pounds on it at a time. They've got it restricted to 18 tons, but that's only if a truck is crossing from each direction. As long as we keep only one truck on it then they feel like it's safe to go up to 72,000 pounds."

Foster says TDOT officials liked the escort idea better than posting traffic lights on either end of the bridge. "They felt like the lights were not as safe as this and would cause more problems."

The escorts would not be provided around the clock, but Foster says arrangements could be made for after hours if needed. "It won't be twenty four hours a day. Right now it'll be 40 hours a week and if there is a special need then we can do that. We'll try to work out something with law enforcement so that kids going on school bus trips (such as basketball tournaments) can be escorted across the bridge for the safety of them going and coming."

He added that fire trucks might also need an occasional escort. " On Christmas eve, there was a fire on the other side of the lake. They (fire fighters) went all the way around (detoured). We've got it worked out now so they can escort that truck across by blocking the ends (of the bridge) to keep more than one truck from getting on the bridge at a time. That way they can cross it and it will be legal."

Foster says the persons hired to do the escorts would not necessarily have to be active law enforcement officers "They could probably be non-commissioned officers, not necessarily post certified, but someone with a law enforcement background or experience in traffic control. It could be like a constable or someone possibly supervised by the sheriff's department."

According to Foster, this is probably the best solution to the problem until TDOT begins rehab work on Hurricane bridge, and no date has yet been set for that. "It will help our industries, provide for the safety of our school buses, and help fire firefighters and ambulances. It's a small price for us to pay."

At a public meeting hosted by State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Senator Mae Beavers in November, Ed Wasserman, TDOT Director of Structures, addressed the safety issue regarding Hurricane bridge and the timetable for getting it repaired. "With regard to the Hurricane bridge, if you observe the postings that are on it, then the bridge is perfectly safe. As to the scheduling of things, these are very expensive structures, we have a limited overall amount of money to deal with statewide. While you have every right to be concerned and feel that your bridge is the top priority in the state, there are people in other areas in the state with a bridge in similar condition and they feel theirs needs to be top priority. We are going to keep your bridges safe until such time as they get repaired or replaced on whatever schedule that works out to be. If the revenue stream continues, then we're going to be able to get to your bridge. But with the Hurricane bridge, it will be repaired because there's not any chance that we can afford to replace that bridge."

Wasserman said that Hurricane bridge had not deteriorated to the point that it would have to be closed and added that the state would spend funds to do emergency repairs to keep it open if need be.

Lady Tigers Snap Ten Year District Losing Streak

January 19, 2010
Dwayne Page
 Lady Tigers Snap Long District Losing Streak-

The streak is over!

After more than ten years, the DeKalb County Lady Tigers snapped their 128 game district losing skid with a victory Tuesday night over the Smith County Owlettes in Smithville. The final score was 57 to 35.

The last time the Lady Tigers won a district game was on January 6th, 2000 against the Smith County Owlettes at Carthage under coach Jerry Foster.

DeKalb County dominated the game from the beginning leading 17 to 2 after the first period, 34 to 10 at the half, and 48 to 20 after the third quarter before winning 57 to 35.

Martha Webb led the team in scoring with 21 points. Cynthia Woodward had 14, Kristina Stephens and Alex Meadows each had 9 points, and Morgan Page and Nikki Bass each scored 2 points.

With the win the Lady Tigers improve to 11-7 on the season and 1-4 in district play.

Meanwhile in the nightcap, the Tigers and the Owls played into overtime before the issue was settled, but DeKalb County prevailed, winning 69 to 61.

DeKalb County led 17 to 14 after the first period, 32 to 24 at halftime, and 47 to 41 after the third period. In the fourth quarter, the Owls outscored the Tigers 12 to 6 to tie the game at 53 by the end of regulation. In the overtime, DeKalb County outpaced the Owls 16 to 8 and won 69 to 61.

Sonni Young had high scoring honors for the Tigers with 20 points. Payne Denman scored 15. Seth Willoughby 13, Hunter Poteete 7, Abram Edwards 5, Zach Neal 4, Destry Wiggins 3, and Cody Puckett with 2 points.

The Tigers improve to 11-7 overall and go to 2-3 in district play.

DeKalb County will host Monterey Friday night starting with the girls game at 6:00 p.m. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

DeKalb Rescue Squad Helps Save Cow and Horse

January 18, 2010
Cow Rescued (Photo provided)

The Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad was called to an area close to the Center Hill Dam on the Dale Ridge Road to rescue a cow that was stuck in the lake.

The cow was rescued sucessfully and was not injured.

This is the second incident within the week. Early Monday morning, (last week) the rescue squad was called to Evins Mill Road for a horse that was stuck in a pond. The horse was also successfully rescued , without injury.

(Story and photo by Dustin Johnson)


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