Local News Articles

Auditor says Smithville in Sound Financial Condition

September 18, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is in sound financial condition according to city auditor John Poole, CPA.

Poole gave a report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday night on findings of the audit for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, which ended June 30th, and gave an historical perspective of the city's financial condition. "Going back to the 1990 audit report, in the utility fund, we had about $4.4 million in cash. However, at that time we had debt of $4.2 million, so there was really only what we would call a cushion of about $200,000. Looking at the utility system today, we've got in cash in certificates of deposit almost $3.4 million. There's only $860,000 in debt, so there is a cushion, a reserve of $2.5 million. That means as this city continues to grow and needs to make improvements in expansions to existing facilities, we're not going to ask our citizens for money. We're not going to have to borrow to make those improvements. There just aren't many cities of the size of Smithville that can say it has less than a million dollars in debt and $2.5 million in reserves."

In 1990, according to Poole, " the general fund had almost $900,000 in cash. The city had some debt, we're not exactly sure how much that was, but let's just say there was none, so let's say we had a cushion of $900,000. Today in the general fund, we have $3 million in cash and there's no debt. That's $3 million that the city has as a cushion."

"We budgeted for the city to receive $2.4 million in revenues for the year but the city actually received almost $2.5 million. I think it was $2,476,000. It tells me that we're doing a good job with our budgeting and it's nice to see that we exceeded our budgeted amounts in revenue. The City of Smithville revenue streams, historically, have been very solid."

"The final budget for the year was $1.9 million, but we only spent $1.7 million. That's $200,000 that could have been spent, but wasn't. When you have revenues exceeding your budget by $75,000, and you spend $200,000 less that what you budgeted then you kind of get the feeling where these surpluses that we can use for these nice capital projects, without borrowing, come from."

Poole added, "To me, the picture is pretty rosy with steady revenue streams, expenses have been under control, the monies have been well taken care of and those monies are being invested in safe investments, but are yielding competitive rates that we get from cd's at the banks."

Two Injured In Monday Afternoon Wreck

September 18, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two people were involved in a traffic accident Monday afternoon on Highway 56 north near Eagle Creek Road.

Sergeant Billy Prater of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 38 year old Eva Louise Pascal of Piniwinkle Road, Smithville was driving north on the Cookeville Highway in a 1993 Ford Explorer and 19 year old Patrick Franklin Counts of East 13th Street, Cookeville was traveling south in a 2006 Honda Civic.

According to Sergeant Prater, Counts crossed the centerline and struck Pascal's vehicle head-on. Counts stated that he was reaching into the floor of the car to get a pen when the crash occurred.

Both drivers were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Counts was cited for traveling on the wrong side of the roadway and violation of the drivers license law for failure to comply with the ten day address change provision.

Pascal was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance).

Sergeant Prater was assisted by Trooper Allen England, DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Roger Whitehead, and the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

City to Accept Bids on Irrigation System at Golf Course

September 18, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday night voted to accept bids on the installation of an irrigation system for the fairways at the Smithville Golf Course, once specs for the project have been provided by Jimmy Lewis, operator of the Smithville Golf and Swim Club.

The city will receive bids on the project and take half of Lewis' rent to pay for it over time. Lewis will continue to pay his monthly rent of $2,500 per month with half going to the general fund and half going to the city to pay the debt of the irrigation system.

Lewis, with his former partner Darryl Counts, was granted a five year extension of his lease agreement along with a five year renewal option several months ago as a consideration for his commitment " to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in order to dig a second well, to install a sprinkler system for the fairways, and to purchase golf carts". Lewis has completed two of the three projects he agreed to under the lease.

Under the previous agreement with the city, Lewis had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under the amended agreement, Lewis was granted an extension of his lease through 2017 at the same rate of $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option. The monthly rate can be renegotiated in 2017.

Lewis says he has already spent more than $92,000 on the golf course and swimming pool and he now needs some help from the city. Lewis made a similar request to the city council last year but was denied.

Lewis already has two sealed bids on the irrigation project, but the council felt like it was more proper for the city to advertise for bids.

The council voted 4 to 1 to advertise for bids. Alderman Steve White voted against it, saying he felt the city should stick to the terms of the current agreement with Lewis.

Meanwhile, the city council voted to accept the resignations of those city employees who announced their resignations last month and voted to hire Joey Jones and Randy King as the newest members of the Smithville Police Department. The vote was 4 to 1 on Jones and 5 to 0 on King. Alderman Willie Thomas voted against Jones. Alderman Tonya Sullivan says she has reviewed the officer's POST files and they seem to have a good record

The city board is developing a job description for the positions of secretary-treasurer and director of public utilities and will advertise, seeking applicants. The salaries will be based on qualifications and those hired for those positions must live in DeKalb County or agree to relocate here.

The position of Police Chief will also be advertised, seeking applicants. The vote was 3 to 2. Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Steve White, and Cecil Burger voted in favor while Aldermen Jerry Hutchins Sr. and Willie Thomas voted against it.

Hutchins says the charter calls for the city to promote from within when there is an opening in the department and Thomas agreed. However Sullivan says if anyone from within the department wants to apply, they may do so. Hutchins wants former chief Richard Jennings to get the job.

Concerned citizen Walter Foster, a resident of Miller Road, came before council complaining about some horses being kept on a small lot near his home on Luttrell Avenue. Foster says there were two horses on the lot, and now there are four. He says the horses have been there so long, the lot is now bare, with little or no grass on it at all, and the animals are drawing flies to the area. The lot is also located across the street from the home of Alderman Willie Thomas, and he too is unhappy about the horses being there.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson says the owners of the property may be in violation of city codes and animal control has talked to them. The city board voted to have codes inspector Eugene O'Neal make a personal contact with the owners and follow up with a letter, giving them notice to remove the horses.

Another concerned citizen, Patsy Williams Hayes, came before the board asking that speed limit signs be erected in Short Mountain Village, where she lives to warn motorists to slow down, where children are at play. She also wants more police patrols in that area.

The city board voted to erect 15 mile per hour speed limit signs at the entrances to housing project, as well as other signs cautioning motorists to drive slowly or beware of children at play, subject to a review by city attorney John Pryor.

Citizen member Thomas Groom was appointed to the Industrial Development Board.

The city board also voted 4 to 1 to officially approve the written sales tax agreement with the county. Under the agreement, the city will continue to turn over to the county an additional 16-2/3% of it's local option sales tax collections for another 30 years. Alderman White voted against it, saying 30 years was too long. Alderman Burger felt the same way but still voted for it.

City attorney John Pryor was the acting secretary during Monday night's meeting, taking the minutes.

Sales Tax Collections Take Big Jump in DeKalb County

September 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Total state sales tax collections based on July sales took a big jump in DeKalb County compared to the same month last year. These are the first available numbers from the state since the local option sales tax increase took effect July first, going from 1.5% to 2.75%.

The latest report from the Tennessee Department of Revenue show that total sales tax collections for the month of August, based on July sales, were $304,342 compared to $151,756 a year ago.

Total collections for the month of July, based on June sales, came to $192,471.

County Mayor Mike Foster says these numbers show the economic impact tourism is having in DeKalb County this summer.

Total sales tax collections based on July sales in DeKalb County, outside the cities, were $71,645, up from $42,097 last July.

Sales tax collections in Smithville were $212,720 based on July sales, up from $95,325 last July. Alexandria's collections were $12,978 in July, up from $8,329 last July. In Dowelltown, the collections in July were $1,929 compared to $814 last July, and in Liberty the sales tax collections in July were $5,069, down from $5,189 last July.

Sales tax collections based on June sales were $44,346 in DeKalb County, outside the cities, $136,731 in Smithville, $7,782 in Alexandria, $1,343 in Dowelltown, and $2,266 in Liberty.

Under state law, the cities must turn over 50% of their local option sales tax collections to the county's local purpose fund or special school sinking fund, plus another 16 & 2/3% by agreement with the county.

Fight Investigation Leads to Charges against Three People

September 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Three people were charged by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department last week as the result of an investigation stemming from a fight.

Deputies were summoned to a fight call on New Home Road, Dowelltown last Monday.

When the officers arrived, they found 19 year old Thomas Webster of New Home Road Dowelltown in an intoxicated state. During a pat down search, deputies also found a pipe in Webster's pocket containing burnt marijuana. Deputies arrested Webster for under age consumption and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $1,000.00.

18 year old Nicholas Paul Benedict of New Home Road Dowelltown was also present. Deputies
noticed Benedict had been drinking alcohol and he was arrested for Under Age Consumption. His bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is October 4th.

Upon further investigation as to who bought the alcohol, 28 year old Damon Ray Rainey of
New Home Road, Dowelltown, was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Rainey's bond was set at $1,000 and his court date is October 4th.

Meanwhile, deputies investigated a one car accident on South College Street, Smithville last Monday. 36 year old Christopher Pack of Evins Mill Road was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident. Pack was South bound on South College Street in a 1994 GMC Jimmy when he lost control of his vehicle and struck an embankment. Pack then fled the scene. Pack was arrested later. Bond for Pack was set at $3,500 and his court date is October 4th.

34 year old Michael S. Wright of Miller Road, Smithville was charged with being a fugitive from justice. Authorities discovered that Wright was wanted in Kalamazoo Michigan for DUI and Failure to appear. Wright is being held without bond awaiting extradition back to Michigan.

On Friday, 45 year old Jeffrey Lynn Brashears of Grand Avenue, Watertown, was charged with DUI -Third Offense. A Deputy while on patrol stopped Brashears on Salem Street in Liberty. Brashears was found to be intoxicated. Bond was set at $5,000 and his court date is October 4th. Brashears has a pending DUI in Wilson County.

Dillard Defeats Watson to Win Re-election to DTC Board

September 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

James H. Dillard, Jr., incumbent Director of the Gordonsville Exchange, won re-election Saturday defeating challenger David A. Watson 489 (60.8%) to 315 (39.1%) in the DTC Communications Board of Directors Election.

The other three Directors up for re-election won without opposition including Roy Nelson Pugh of the Auburntown Exchange with 467 votes, Robert Don Malone of the Temperance Hall Exchange with 439 votes, and David Parker of the Woodland Exchange, with 410 votes.

A total of 823 members voted in the DTC Directors Election including 542 early voters and 281 on election day (Saturday).

All four 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:

James H. Dillard, Jr: Smithville- 65, Alexandria- 41, Woodbury- 72, Gordonsville- 159, Election Day- 152

David A. Watson: Smithville- 42, Alexandria- 47, Woodbury- 12, Gordonsville- 96, Election Day- 118

Roy Nelson Pugh: Smithville- 75, Alexandria- 55, Woodbury- 78, Gordonsville- 47, Election Day- 212

Robert Don Malone: Smithville, 75, Alexandria- 61, Woodbury- 63, Gordonsville-43, Election Day- 197

David Parker: Smithville, 69, Alexandria- 46, Woodbury-77, Gordonsville-39, Election Day- 179

The DTC Communications Board of Directors, in addition to Dillard, Pugh, Malone, and Parker include Ronnie Garrison of Smithville, Randy Campbell of Liberty, Bennie Curtis of Alexandria, Terry McPeak of Norene, Charles Dwight Vinson of Milton, and Greg Rogers of Woodbury.

DeKalb County to Receive Federal Grants

September 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

State Senator Mae Beavers has announced that DeKalb County will be receiving two grants to help fund various public safety and law enforcement initiatives. Senator Beavers stated her appreciation for the work of United States Senator Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker to make these federal funds possible in Tennessee. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding for the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO).

“DeKalb County law enforcement officials have worked diligently to ensure that the safety of the citizens remains their utmost priority. I believe that one of the government’s most important functions is to keep its citizens safe; and these grants will assist the Alexandria Police Department and Smithville Police Department in accomplishing their objectives,” stated Beavers.

In order for agencies to receive a grant award, they must successfully apply for funding based on problem and statistical need. The GHSO notified agencies across the state that applications were being accepted for highway safety grants. Applications were reviewed and scored by the GHSO and external highway safety advocates. The agencies that met the criteria for funding received awards.

The grants will be distributed as follows:

DeKalb County- Alexandria Police Department- High Visibility Law $5,000 Enforcement Campaign.

DeKalb County-Smithville Police Department- High Visibility Law $5,000 Enforcement Campaign

The grants are awarded annually and serve to advance the commitment to save lives and reduce injuries on Tennessee roadways.

Dental Records Needed to Identify Fire Death Victim

September 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Dental records will be needed to identify the body found in the charred rubble of a home burned to the ground Thursday on Tranquility Way near Center Hill Lake.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the state medical examiner conducted an autopsy but the body was burned beyond recognition so dental records will be used to make a positive identity.

According to Sheriff Ray, the autopsy revealed evidence of smoke inhalation, which may have caused or contributed to the victim's death.

Sheriff Ray is now releasing the name of the person who lived at the residence, Cliff Thornley of 625 Tranquility Way, but can't say for certain yet if the body found is that of Thornley.

The investigation continues, but Sheriff Ray says the preliminary findings indicate no sign of foul play. He says this appears to have been an accidental fire, the cause of which is officially undetermined. It appears the fire may have started in the front portion of the home.

The Thornley residence was completely destroyed in the blaze.

Hilham Woman Receives Minor Injuries In Friday Morning Wreck

September 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 50 year old woman received minor injuries in a one vehicle accident Friday morning on Highway 56 North at Hurricane Bridge.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Jane Hall of Hilham, Tennessee was driving south on Highway 56 in a 1998 Ford Explorer around 8:51 a.m. when she lost control while negotiating a curve on the north side of the bridge and overturned one time. The vehicle came to rest on it wheels.

Hall was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Autopsy to Determine Identity of Fire Death Victim

September 13, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

A body found in the charred rubble of a home burned to the ground Thursday has been sent to Nashville for an autopsy by the State Medical Examiner to determine the identity and the cause of death.

In the meantime, Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department has set up the Critical Incident Response Mobile Command Trailer at the location until the on scene investigation has been completed. Investigators from the Sheriff's Department, State Fire Marshal's Office, TBI, and State Bomb and Arson Squad began sifting through the debris Thursday until dark and will resume the task Friday morning looking for clues as to what started the fire, and to determine if there was any foul play associated with it.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green says the fire was reported around 7:43 a.m. Thursday morning by neighbors who spotted the blaze coming from the residence of 625 Tranquility Way, located near Center Hill Lake, off Holiday Haven Drive.

Officials fear that the body found in the rubble is that of a disabled man who lived alone at that residence, but authorities will not reveal his name until identification of the body has been established.

Green says the home was fully engulfed in flames by the time it was discovered and firefighters were unable to save it. The garage next to the house was also destroyed in the blaze along with a pickup truck parked inside.

Members of the Cookeville Highway Station, the Main Station at King Ridge Road, the Midway Station, and Tanker truck all responded to the fire along with DeKalb EMS, the Sheriff's Department, and the Tennessee Forestry Division.

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