Local News Articles

It'll Soon be Election Time in DeKalb County

November 8, 2009
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

It'll soon be election time again in DeKalb County.

2010 will be a big year at the ballot box in DeKalb County and across the state beginning with the local Democratic Primary on May 4th.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, says the DeKalb County Election Commission voted on Thursday, November 5th to approve a request from the local Democratic Party to hold a primary for seven county-wide offices, fourteen county commission seats, one Circuit Court Judge, and the District Attorney. Winners will take on any Independent or Republican candidates in the August General Election.

Offices eligible for the May ballot are County Mayor, County Court 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 latter two are up for election due to previous resignations and those named to fill these seats were appointed until the next scheduled election.

Stanley says qualifying petitions may be picked up beginning November 20th and the qualifying deadline for the May 4th Primary is noon on Thursday, February 18th, 2010. Stanley adds that there is another important date for potential Sheriff and Road Supervisor candidates to remember, February 4th.

Sheriff candidates must file "affidavits of qualification" with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission no later than February 4th, 2010. Road Supervisor candidates must file their affidavits of qualification with the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board no later than February 4th, 2010.

Stanley says Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th, 2010. The Republican Party, which usually selects its nominees by caucus, must certify its candidates by the same date and time.

"We've been working on a 2010 Candidate's Guide and petition packages in recent days and we'll be ready to issue petitions on the first day the law allows, November 20th," Stanley said.

"Not only do we want to remind candidates about their particular deadlines, we also want to remind voters the last day to register to vote in person for the May 4th, DeKalb County Democratic Primary will be April 5th, " he added.

In addition to the August County General Election on August 5th, 2010, nominees will be chosen for the State Representative seat currently held by Terri Lynn Weaver and the State Senate seat held by Mae Beavers, who has said she will not seek another term, but instead will run for County Mayor in Wilson County. The respective parties will also select their nominees for Governor.

The qualifying deadline for the August State Primaries is Noon, April 1, 2010 and nominating petitions can be issued as early as January 4th, 2010. State primary winners will square off in the November State General Election.

The following are other things candidates need to know:

Campaign Material- The state of Tennessee has a "Paid for By.." law which requires candidates and other parties to print on campaign items (including broadcast and print advertising) who paid for the items. Some people call this law the "Disclaimer Law".

Exceptions include bumper stickers, pins, buttons, pens, novelties, and similar items that are too small to have the disclaimer conveniently printed on them. (TCA 2-19-120)

It is unlawful for any person to place or attach any type of show-card, poster, or advertising material or device, including election campaign literature, on any kind of poles, towers, or fixtures of any public utility company, whether privately or publicly owned unless legally authorized to do so. (TCA 2-19-144)

Placement and removal of campaign signs- You are responsible for removal of signs, posters, or placards advocating your candidacy that have been placed on highways, right of ways or other publicly owned property. The removal of such materials should be accomplished within a reasonable period following the election, not to exceed three weeks. A candidate in a primary election who will be a candidate in an upcoming general election is not required to remove campaign signs until after the general election (TCA 2-1-116)

Candidate bargaining for support- It is unlawful for any candidate to expend, pay, promise, or loan or become pecuniarily liable in any way for money or other thing of value, either directly or indirectly, or to agree to enter into any contract with any person to vote for or support any particular policy or measure, in consideration of the vote or support, moral or financial, of such person (TCA 2-19-121)

Demanding candidate make promise- It is unlawful for any person to demand that any candidate shall promise or agree in advance to support any particular individual, policy or measure, in consideration of the vote or support, financial or moral, of such person, in any election. (TCA 2-19-122)

As of early November, there were 12,887 registered voters in DeKalb County including 6,866 female and 6,019 male voters.

The following is the number of registered voters by precinct:

Alexandria- 1,198 (636 female, 562 male)
Temperance Hall-366 (179 female, 187 male)
Edgar Evins State Park-101 (52 female, 49 male)
Liberty-620 (317 female, 303 male)
Dowelltown-486 (282 female, 204 male)
Snow Hill- 689 (367 female, 322 male)
Middle School- 2004 (1,095 female, 909 male)
Cherry Hill- 128 (57 female, 71 male)
Rock Castle- 226 (111 female, 115 male)
Courthouse-1547 (823 female, 724 male)
Johnsons Chapel- 461 (235 female, 226 male)
Elementary School- 1438 (783 female, 655 male)
Belk- 429 (224 female, 205 male)
Keltonburg- 738 (384 female, 354 male)
Blue Springs- 737 (372 female, 365 male)
Church of Christ Annex- 1717 (949 female, 768 male)

Tatrow Captures Fall Fest Title

November 7, 2009
Dwayne Page
2009 Fall Fest Queen Victoria Dawn Tatrow
 Fall Fest Queen and Court

The 2009 Fall Fest title goes to 15 year old Victoria Dawn Tatrow of Smithville, daughter of Vickie and Corey Funk and the late Shanna Tatrow.

She was crowned Saturday night at the conclusion of the annual pageant which featured nineteen contestants. It was held at the DeKalb County High School gym, sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.

Tatrow, who was also named Miss Congeniality of the pageant, succeeds the 2008 Fall Fest Queen, 18 year old Whitney LaRay Moss of Alexandria, daughter of Greg and Wendy Moss.

First runner-up in the pageant was 16 year old Kristen LaCole Smartt, daughter of Aaron and Paula Taylor of Dowelltown.

Laura Caroline Carter was second runner-up. She is the 17 year old daughter of John and Laura Carter of McMinnville

15 year old Katie Sue Haggard, daughter of David and Vickie Haggard of Smithville, was third runner-up.

15 year old Stephanie Carmen Rackley was the fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of William and Angie Meadows and Gordon and Jessica Rackley all of Smithville.

Others in the top ten were Zoe Elaine Whaley, 14 year old daughter of Celia and Scott Whaley of Smithville; 16 year old Cora Rhody, daughter of Kenny and Beth Rhody of Smithville; 16 year old Katelyn Louann Goodwin, daughter of Joey and Kathy Goodwin of Smithville; Ashlee Michelle Whitehead, 15 year old daughter of Kenneth and Tina Whitehead of Smithville; and 17 year old Breanna Hendrixson, daughter of Tim and Loretta Hendrixson of Smithville.

(Top Photo: Fall Fest Queen and Miss Congeniality Victoria Dawn Tatrow)
(Bottom Photo: Left to Right- 4th runner-up Stephanie Carmen Rackley, 1st runner-up Kristen LaCole Smartt, Queen Victoria Dawn Tatrow, 2nd runner-up Laura Caroline Carter, and 3rd runner-up Katie Sue Haggard)

Hedge Crowned Autumn Princess

November 7, 2009
Dwayne Page
Macy Elizabeth Hedge 2009 Autumn Princess
Autumn Princess and Court
 Autumn Princess Miss Manners Felicia Ribble (Photo by Loving Touch Portraits)

Nine year old Macy Elizabeth Hedge is the 2009 Autumn Princess.

Hedge, daughter of David and Trina Hedge of Smithville, succeeds the retiring Autumn Princess, nine year old Brooklynn Storm Estes, daughter of Chris and Shanna Bogle of Dowelltown.

The pageant, featuring twenty four girls ages 7 to 10, was sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club and held Saturday night at the DCHS gym.

First runner-up in the pageant was Kyra Agee, the nine year old daughter of April Davis of Smithville.

Second runner-up was Anna Rachel Blair, the eight year old daughter of Keith and Amanda Blair of Smithville.

Julia Grace Curtis, the eight year old daughter of Bruce and Amy Curtis of Smithville was named third runner-up.

Mya Katherine Ruch was fourth runner-up. She is the seven year old daughter of Joe and Melissa Ruch of Smithville.

Rounding out the top ten were Sarah Anne Colwell, the nine year old daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell of Smithville; Katherine Anne Malone, the seven year old daughter of Kevin and Dana Malone of Smithville; Alannah Rose Musick-Morris, the eight year old daughter of Celena Musick and Grover Morris of Smithville; Kaitlyn Brianna Bain, the eight year old daughter of Wendy Thomas and Larry Bain of Smithville; and Destiny Danielle Franklin, the ten year old daughter of Charlie and Jennifer Ware of Smithville.

Nine year old Felicia Ribble was also named Miss Manners. She is the daughter of Bridgett and Mike Ribble of Smithville.

(Top Photo: 2009 Autumn Princess Macy Elizabeth Hedge)
(Middle Photo: Left to Right: 3rd runner-up Julia Grace Curtis, 1st runner-up Kyra Agee, Autumn Princess Macy Elizabeth Hedge, 2nd runner-up Anna Rachel Blair, and 4th runner-up Mya Katherine Ruch
Bottom Photo: Miss Manners Felicia Ribble (This photo provided by Loving Touch Portraits)

Smithville Police Charge Man with Setting Fire in his Mother's Home

November 7, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged a 19 year old man with domestic assault and aggravated arson for starting a fire in his mother's home.

Detective Jerry Hutchins made the arrest of Michael J Lee of 114 Village Place on Thursday. According to the warrants, Lee set fire to the bed of his mother, Wyonna Lee, while she and a neighbor were in the home. Ms. Lee stated that her son had become very violent before the fire occurred and had destroyed furniture and other items. He also told her he was going to burn her alive and she stated she was afraid of her son. The Smithville Fire Department was called to the scene to put out the bed. His bond was set at $60,000 and his court date in General Session Court is November 19th.

Meanwhile, 21 year old Jessie Edward Randolph of 224 Sun Valley Road, Sparta and 21 year old Joey Dewayne Kirby of 391 Disneyland Road Sparta were arrested on Wednesday, November 4th for theft of property. According to the report, Officer Matt Holmes was at Wal-Mart issuing a citation for shoplifting when two Wal-Mart employees flagged down Holmes and Officer Bryant at the entrance to the store. There they pointed to two male subjects who had just left Wal-Mart. A security officer at the store said he saw the two men leave the building carrying stolen merchandise. Officer Holmes asked one of the suspects, Kirby, if he had taken any stolen merchandise from the store. Kirby replied that he had and then returned the stolen goods he had in his possession. But the store manager told Officer Holmes that while he saw the men steal two fish take filters, Kirby had only returned one of them. Holmes asked the other suspect, Randolph if he had taken any merchandise from the store to which he replied "no". During a pat down search, Officer Holmes felt a box in Randolph's jacket pocket that seemed to be like the box recovered off of Kirby. The manager then told Officer Holmes that the store only prosecuted for stolen merchandise valued at over $25.00 and these items taken were only valued at $12.37 each. Officer Holmes told Randolph that if he would return the merchandise to Wal-Mart there would be no prosecution. Randolph replied that he did not have any stolen merchandise on him. At that point, Officer Holmes placed Randolph under arrest for theft of property and retrieved the stolen merchandise from his right jacket pocket. All restitution was made at the store. The other suspect, Kirby was arrested on active warrants including two for failure to appear in Putnam County. He was also cited for theft under $500.00.

Also on Wednesday, 20 year old Clinton Lane Cope of 1294 Midway Road was cited by Detective Jerry Hutchins to appear in General Sessions Court on December 17th for shoplifting as he attempted to leave Wal-Mart with shoes that he had not paid for.

31 year old James Fredrick Summers of 457 Hodges Road was cited by Officer Matt Holmes on Wednesday to appear in General Sessions Court on November 9th for shoplifting as he attempted to leave Wal-Mart with five DVD's that he had not paid for.

34 year old Karen Lynn Welsh of 136 Bobby Hayes Road, Dowelltown was cited by Officer Holmes on Wednesday to appear in General Sessions Court on November 9th for shoplifting as she was seen putting numerous items in her purse in an attempt to not pay for them.

42 year old Melissa Kay Walther of 854 Parkway Drive was arrested by Officer Scott Davis on Wednesday for a second offense of driving under the influence. According to the report, Officer Davis was dispatched to the Exxon in reference to a possible DUI. He made contact with the defendant's vehicle at the intersection of Highway 56 & Highway 70. The defendant, Walther was observed by a witness backing over a curb in the parking lot of Exxon. The complainant stated that Walther's speech was slurred and she appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. Officer Davis followed the vehicle until he made the traffic stop at North Side Elementary. Walther performed poorly on the field sobriety tasks. She had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath and her eyes were watery and bloodshot. She admitted to consuming a small shot of wine earlier in the day. Walther has a prior DUI conviction in Clay County. She was cited for refusing to submit to a breath test. Her bond was set at $3,000 and her court date in General Sessions Court is November 19th.

47 year old Tina K Stephens of 816 Parkway Drive was arrested Wednesday by Officer Scott Davis for Public Intoxication. According to the report, Stephens was a passenger of a Melissa Kay Walther's vehicle which was stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. She admitted to consuming several beers and was obviously under the influence. She was advised on several occasions to stay in the vehicle but she got out of the vehicle on two separate occasions. Stephens was placed under arrest for public intoxication. Her bond was set at $1,000 and her court date in General Sessions Court is November 19th

Also on Wednesday, 26 year old Jason Lynn Knowles of 846 Anthony Avenue was pulled over by Sergeant Joey Jones where it was discovered that Knowles' driver license was suspended. His bond was set at $1,000 and his court date in City Court is November 18th..

Meanwhile, anyone having information on the following offenses should please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210

On Sunday October 25th at 520 Miller Road, a truck belonging to Eddie Royce Colwell was vandalized by someone using a sharp object to scratch the paint on every section of the vehicle

On Sunday October 26th, someone broke into Curtis Builders Supply. Nothing was taken in the break in but several hundreds of dollars of damage was done to the building.

On Monday October 27th, someone broke into Pamela Sosa's vehicle and took her CD player while she was in Wal-Mart shopping.

Tigers Win 41-35 at Greenbrier in State Play-Offs

November 6, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigers will advance to the second round of the TSSAA football play-offs next week after defeating the Greenbrier Bobcats 41-35 Friday night on the road.

The Tigers got on the board early after recovering a Greenbrier fumble at the Bobcat 40 yard line and a few plays later, Quarterback Hunter Poteete threw a touchdown pass to Sonni Young covering 32 yards for the score. The P.A.T. by Zach Taylor was good and DeKalb County led 7-0 with 8:47 left in the first period. That was the only score in the first period.

Greenbrier pulled to within one with 6:50 left in the second period on a five yard touchdown run by Trevor Thaxton. The P.A.T. kick by Tyler West was no good and the Tigers clung to a 7-6 lead..

DeKalb County extended the lead with 6:11 left in the second period on a 46 yard touchdown run by Quarterback Hunter Poteete. The P.A.T. by Zach Taylor was good and the Tigers led 14-6.

The Bobcats evened the score at 14-14 with 3:38 left in the second quarter on a 30 yard touchdown run by Aaron Shelton and a two point conversion run by Quarterback Mason Head. That was the half time score.

After recovering a Greenbrier fumble at the Bobcat five yard line, the Tigers jumped back out front early in the third period on a three yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Hunter Poteete to Kevin Kijanski. The P.A.T. by Zach Taylor was good and DeKalb County led 21-14.

Greenbrier Quarterback Mason Head rambled 38 yards for a touchdown later in the third period and after the P.A.T., the Bobcats tied the score at 21-21

After recovering a Tiger fumble, the Bobcats took their first lead of the game with 3:34 left in the third period on a seven yard touchdown run by Hunter Eden. The P.A.T. was good and Greenbrier led 28-21.

The Tigers scored on a 23 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Hunter Poteete to Abram Edwards with 27 seconds left in the third period. Kicker Zach Taylor was carted off the field with an injury in the third quarter so Hunter Poteete attempted the kick but failed to connect on the P.A.T and DeKalb County trailed 28-27 as the third period came to a close.

Greenbrier Quarterback Mason Head broke free on a 56 yard touchdown run with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter. The P.A.T. kick was good and the Bobcats led 35 to 27.

DeKalb County pulled to within two on a 77 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Poteete to Abram Edwards. The two point conversion pass attempt was incomplete and the Tigers trailed 35 to 33.

The Tigers struck again late in the fourth quarter on a 35 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Poteete to Abram Edwards. The two point conversion was good and DeKalb County took a 41 to 35 lead.

Greenbrier, threatening to score inside the Tiger 10 yard line, turned the ball over as Abram Edwards intercepted a pass with 18 seconds left in the game. From there, the Tigers ran out the clock for the 41-35 win.

DeKalb West School Junior Beta Club Officers and Members Inducted

November 6, 2009
DeKalb West Junior Beta Club Officers
DeKalb West New Junior Beta Club Members

Twenty-eight members of the student body at DeKalb West School were inducted officially into the Junior Beta Club Tuesday, Nov. 3. The Beta club is a service organization that is guided by the motto, “Let us Lead by Serving Others.” Students are selected based on their academic achievements and outstanding character.

8th grade students who earned several service points serving the community were eligible to run in the club’s election. Peers voted for Cassie Cain as President, McKenzie Poteete as Vice-President, Crystal Vickers as Secretary, Kayna Caplinger as Treasurer, and Austin Frazier as Chaplain. Selected to serve on a school member advisory board were Bailey Hayes, Dakoda Eaton, and Bruce Wilson from the 7th grade and Anna Malone, Morgan Vickers, and William Cain from the 6th grade.

Top Picture caption: Meet the new officers of the DWS Junior Beta Club for 2009-2010. Pictured left to right are Cassie Cain, President; McKenzie Poteete, Vice President; Crystal Vickers, Secretary; Kayna Caplinger, Treasurer; Austin Frazier, Chaplain; Bailey Hayes, Member Representative.

Bottom Picture caption: The newest members of the DeKalb West School Junior Beta Club were officially inducted Tuesday, Nov. 3. Pictured 1st row from left to right are Bailey Redmon, Jayra Plattenburg, Cheyenne Favaro, Destinie Edge, Tyra Owens, Tori Young, Paige Snyder, and Bryanna Watson. 2nd row from left to right are Nate Sherwood, Myranda Bailiff, Bailey Perry, Kaylee Braswell, Briana Mockoski, Caitlyn Lawrence, Alex King, Haleigh Bass, and Casey Vickers. 3rd row from left to right are Cole Perry, Ashley Grater, Peyton Frazier, Alex Foutch, Kayley Caplinger, Brooke Martin, and Reagan Taylor.

Hutchins Federal Court Lawsuit Against City and Mayor over Pay Dispute Dismissed

November 5, 2009
Dwayne Page

A federal court lawsuit, brought by Smithville Police Investigator Jerry D. Hutchins, Jr. against Mayor Taft Hendrixson and the Municipal Government of the City of Smithville over a pay dispute, has been dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Robert Echols recently granted the defendant's motion for a summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice because the plaintiff, Hutchins, did not provide any affidavits, deposition transcripts, or other documentary evidence in support of his opposition to the motion for summary judgement.

Hutchins claimed he should have been compensated at $17.19 per hour, as approved by the aldermen in 2007, and that Mayor Hendrixson had no authority to cast a veto in this matter, since only the aldermen can hire and set the rate of pay for employees as part of the hiring process under city laws.

Hutchins was represented by Lebanon Attorney Adam Parrish

According to the complaint, Hutchins, son of then Smithville Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr., was employed as a deputy in the Wilson County Sheriff's Department and had four years of law enforcement experience.

The complaint further states that "On December 12th, 2007, the City of Smithville advertised the position of police investigator. No salary for the position was set in the published job posting. Hutchins alleged in his complaint, however, that the job was advertised to fill the position vacated by Officer Steven Deffendoll, who was paid at the rate of $17.19 per hour. Hutchins alleged that he applied for the position and that the defendants represented to him that he would be hired for the job and compensated at the same rate of pay as Officer Deffendoll. Hutchins then resigned from his position with the Wilson County Sheriff's Department."

"On January 29th, 2008, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 3-1 to hire Hutchins as police investigator, but no hourly wage or salary for Hutchins was set at that time. Hutchins' father, Alderman Jerry Hutchins', Sr. voted in favor of his son's employment after consulting with the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service and determining that he could properly cast a vote after disclosing his personal interest in the matter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen."

"On February 18th, 2008, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen addressed the issue of how much Hutchins should be paid for his work in the police investigator position. The minutes of the meeting reflect that ‘after much debate by the Mayor and the Board', a motion was made and seconded to start the police investigator's pay at $15.95 per hour and increase it to $17.19 per hour after sixty days. Three aldermen, Willie Thomas, Tonya Sullivan, and Hutchins' father, voted in favor of the motion. Two aldermen, Cecil Burger and Stephen White voted against the motion. Thus, the motion passed on a 3-2 vote. Immediately thereafter, Mayor Hendrixson passed out copies of a letter he had signed vetoing the action of the Aldermen. In the letter, Mayor Hendrixson stated he made inquiries to nearby police departments and learned they pay their police investigators comparable to a police sergeant. He explained his belief that police investigator pay should not exceed that of a sergeant, and sergeant pay started at $11.89 per hour and increased to $13.13 per hour after sixty days. He noted that the investigator would top out at $15.95 after four years of service, as stated in the 2007 Smithville Wage Chart for the fiscal year budget."

"A roll call vote was taken to override the veto, but the vote failed. After further discussion, Alderman White made a motion to start the police investigator's pay at $11.89 per hour with an increase to $13.13 after sixty days. Although the motion received a second, it failed to pass on a 3-2 vote.'

"The Board of Mayor and Aldermen continued discussing the subject and asked for input from the City Attorney and the Chief of Police. Alderman Sullivan then made a motion to pay Hutchins at the Mayor's proposed $11.89 per hour start pay, increase it to $13.13 per hour, and at the next meeting have a police investigator pay scale set in place adjusting the current pay for Hutchins if necessary. The motion was seconded and all members voted in favor. Alderman Hutchins stated that he was ‘voting his conscience before casting his vote'."

"Hutchins started work in the police investigator position the next day, February 19th, 2008, earning $11.89 per hour, to be increased to $13.13 after sixty days. He has remained employed in the position."

"The budget ordinance for 2007-08 did not include a slot for Hutchins' position. On June 16th, 2008, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed the budget ordinance for 2008-09. In that budget ordinance, Hutchins' wage was set at $13.70 per hour. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to adopt the budget ordinance, which set Hutchins' hourly wage."

"Defendant Hendrixson attests that Hutchins was not a city employee until be commenced work on February 19th, 2008. He also avers that the Aldermen did not challenge his right to veto their action in setting Hutchins' hourly wage at the time he issued the veto on February 18th, 2008. He also avers that he was acting in his legislative capacity as Mayor of the City of Smithville when he registered the veto, and that he and the Aldermen acted within the Charter of the City of Smithville in hiring Hutchins and setting his rate of pay.'

"Hutchins contends that the Aldermen approved a higher rate of pay for him, but Mayor Hendrixson vetoed that action without lawful authority. Hutchins alleges in his supporting brief that, while Defendant Hendrixson and Hutchins' father were once friends, ‘ an intense rivalry and acrimony' developed between them over the years, and this explained Defendant Hendrixson's motive in vetoing the action to pay Hutchins more money."

"Hutchins asserts an equal protection claim against the Defendants, which actually appears to be a claim that Defendants retaliated against Hutchins due to his association with Alderman Hutchins, Sr. in violation of the First Amendment. Hutchins also asserted state-law claims for misrepresentation and detrimental reliance."

In granting the motion, U.S. District Judge Robert Echols wrote, in the analysis, that the Defendants supported their summary judgment motion with evidence. Faced with the properly supported summary judgment motion, Hutchins could not merely rely on the allegations and details of his complaint; rather, he was required to provide affidavits or other admissible evidence to set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial."

"The Court has no evidence before it from which it can take Plaintiff Hutchins' asserted position as true and assess whether a reasonable jury could find that Defendant Hendrixson acted unlawfully or unconstitutionally when he vetoed the Aldermen's initial decision to pay Hutchins over $17.00 per hour. Plaintiff Hutchins has presented nothing but his own self-serving allegations, and this is not enough. Because, Hutchins provided no evidence, even his own affidavit, to support his position, summary judgment, if appropriate, must be entered in favor of the Defendants."

" The Court concludes that summary judgment in favor of the Defendants is appropriate. By failing to produce any evidence in opposition to the summary judgment motion, Hutchins cannot show that there are any genuine issues of material fact for trial on these elements of his constitutional claim. Moreover, Hutchins has not produced any evidence of an unconstitutional policy or custom in order to hold the City of Smithville liable."

"Defendant Hendrixson is also entitled to qualified immunity on the constitutional claim brought against him in his individual capacity. Hutchins did not produce any evidence showing that he was subjected to unlawful First Amendment retaliation. Hutchins having failed to make out a violation of a constitutional right, qualified immunity protects Defendant Hendrixson from suit.'

"Because Plaintiff Hutchins did not make a proper evidentiary record in opposition to the summary judgment motion, he has not shown there are any genuine issues of material fact for trial on his state-law claims for misrepresentation and detrimental reliance."

"For all of the reasons stated, the Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by Defendants Taft Hendrixson and the Municipal Government of the City of Smithville, will be granted. This case will be dismissed with prejudice."

Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections Begin

November 5, 2009

Donny Green, County Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency in DeKalb County announced that the 2009 FSA county committee elections start today as ballots are being mailed to eligible voters. Dec. 7, 2009, is the deadline for eligible voters to return ballots to their local FSA offices.

"The FSA county committee system is unique among government agencies, because it allows producers to make important decisions concerning the local administration of federal farm programs," said Green. "I urge all eligible farmers and ranchers, especially minorities and women, to get involved and make a real difference in their communities by voting in this year's elections."

Committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on disaster and conservation payments, establishment of allotments and yields, producer appeals, employing FSA county executive directors and other local issues. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in FSA programs. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm, can also vote. Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate names during the nomination period held last summer.

Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can obtain ballots at their local USDA Service Center. Dec. 7, 2009, is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 7th. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office Jan. 1, 2010.

Close to 8,000 FSA county committee members meet monthly at more than 2,300 FSA offices nationwide. Each committee consists of three to five members who serve three-year terms. Approximately one-third of county committee seats are up for election annually.

For more information about FSA county committees and FSA programs, visit: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.

Holiday shoppers should remember tips when buying gift cards

November 5, 2009
Dwayne Page

Gift cards are handy presents – especially for people who seem to have at least one of everything. During the winter shopping season, a gift card can be ideal.

But for all the conveniences of gift cards, they often come with fine print that can make them less than perfect. Here’s how consumers can keep that gift card policies from dumping snow on their gift-giving this winter:

1.Check expiration dates and fees. In the state of Tennessee, expiration dates, fees and other terms must be clearly disclosed at the time of purchase. The expiration date and fee must be legibly printed on the gift card.

2. Ask about restrictions. Some card issuers deduct a monthly fee from the card or apply inactivity fees, if a card has not been used for a period of time. These fees will reduce the value of the card. Some gift cards do not allow cash refunds for a remaining balance on a card. You will have to either forfeit the balance or buy additional items.

3.Know what it will cost. Major shopping mall operators charge fees for gift cards. Gift cards issued by banks and credit card companies often expire and tend to add fees. Fees – including activation fees, transaction fees, maintenance fees and inactivity fees – can lessen a card’s value.

4.Ask what to do if the card is stolen. Always keep a receipt. Since gift cards are not usually registered to an individual purchaser, they can be easily stolen. Some stores urge customers to access their website and register cards in case they’re stolen.

5.Check on purchase exemptions. Ask if the card may be used at both a store’s physical location and the store’s website. Also ask if the card may be used at other locations, not just the specific store where the card was purchased.

6.Get as much information as possible for the card’s recipient. Ask for a toll-free phone number, in case there are problems with the gift card. Ask if a website that provides gift card details is available.

Consumer Affairs (1-800-342-8385 or www.tn.gov/consumer/) is part of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce.

Tennessee Senators Vote to Extend Federal Unemployment Benefits

November 5, 2009
Dwayne Page

U.S. Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander Wednesday voted to extend federal unemployment benefits. The Senate passed the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009, by a vote of 98 to 0.

"I supported this legislation – which is paid for and doesn't add one penny to the federal deficit – to help Tennessee families and small businesses struggling to make ends meet in a tough economy. I've visited 60 counties and held more than 30 town hall meetings throughout our state this year, and I know communities large and small are hurting due to high unemployment. I hope this bill will provide those out of work with some additional reassurance as they try to get back on their feet. I know the ‘net loss carry back' provisions in the bill will mean the difference between survival and not for a number of Tennessee businesses," Corker said.

Alexander adds "This legislation provides up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits for Tennesseans at a time when Tennessee's unemployment rate has been at its highest levels in more than a quarter century. This bill also extends and expands the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, which will continue to provide a much-needed boost to the housing market and the economy."

The bill will extend federal jobless benefits by 14 weeks for unemployed workers in all 50 states, and in states where the unemployment rate is above 8.5 percent, including Tennessee, unemployed workers would be eligible for an additional six weeks of federal benefits. The bill also permits businesses to write off losses suffered during the recession against profits made over the past five years (known as net loss carry back) and receive a tax refund.


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