Local News Articles

Disaster Food Stamps Available for Tornado Victims in DeKalb County

March 29, 2012

On Thursday, March 29, the Tennessee Department of Human Services, with USDA approval, will begin issuing D-SNAP (Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to eligible residents of ten tornado-ravaged counties that have been federally declared disaster areas following the storms that occurred earlier in March. The D-SNAP program is the Food Stamp Disaster program approved via a waiver from the USDA, Food and Nutrition Service. The program allows households that are not otherwise eligible for the standard SNAP program to receive supplemental food assistance during a time of financial hardship caused by tornado damage.

The benefits are ONLY for eligible residents of Bradley, Hamilton, McMinn, Polk, Monroe, Claiborne, Cumberland, Overton, Jackson and DeKalb counties. Applications for D-SNAP benefits can be submitted Thursday, March 29, 2012 through Thursday, April 5, 2012, including Saturday, March 31.

Only residents of these counties, who sustained tornado loss or damages and wish to apply for the D- SNAP benefits, can apply. Residents who are currently receiving standard SNAP benefits can also apply for the D-SNAP program. All eligible residents are asked to bring photo identification, address information, Social Security verification, statements of income or resources, and estimated disaster expenses to one of the DHS offices in their county. Staff on-site will make eligibility determinations, and benefits in the form of EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards will be distributed the same day. The benefits will represent up to a one-month allotment of food stamps for the appropriate household size, and can be used for up to 90 days in any authorized SNAP grocery retailer.

The following locations are DHS offices in each of the ten effected counties. They will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, local time to process applications for disaster SNAP benefits:

DeKalb County

715 Walker Drive
Smithville, TN 37166-2028

For more information, including a list of key questions and answers about the assistance program, please visit the DHS website at www.tn.gov/humanserv or contact your local DHS office.

One Week Left for Candidates to Qualify for August Elections

March 28, 2012
Dwayne Page
Kevin D. Hale
W.J. (Dub) Evins III

Anyone wanting to run for the School Board in the fifth or sixth district, State Representative, or in the Dowelltown or Liberty Municipal Elections has one week left to qualify with the election commission office.

Kevin D. Hale and W.J. (Dub) Evins III have picked up petitions for the fifth district school board seat. Boyd Trapp and Doug Stephens have obtained petitions for the sixth district position. Hale is the only one who has returned his petition to the election commission office, as of Wednesday. The qualifying deadline is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote in that election is July 3. The school board elections will be held on Thursday, August 2.

Dowelltown and Liberty will also have elections on August 2. In Dowelltown, a mayor and two aldermen will be elected. The seats are currently held by Mayor Gerald Bailiff and Aldermen Joe Bogle and Elizabeth Redmon. The qualifying deadline for the Dowelltown election is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote is July 3. Those who have picked up petitions so far are Gerald Bailiff for Mayor and Joe Bogle for Alderman.

In Liberty, three aldermen will be elected. The seats are held by Todd Dodd, Dwight Mathis and Paul M. Neal. The qualifying deadline is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote in that election is July 3. Dwight Mathis, Paul M. Neal and Jason Ray have all picked up and returned their petitions to the election commission office to run for alderman.

The election commission has also received petitions from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Representative Mark Pody to seek re-election in the August 2 Tennessee Republican Primary. No other Republican or Democrat has yet submitted a petition to run for State Representative. The qualifying deadline is NOON April 5 and the last day to register to vote in that election is July 3.

Congressman Diane Black and U.S. Senator Bob Corker are also up for re-election this fall.

Stephens Thanks County Commission

March 28, 2012
Dwayne Page

Sixth district school board member Doug Stephens has issued a statement thanking the county commission for appointing him to the position Monday night.

"I am very thankful for the consideration of the commission and look forward to serving the county to the best of my ability," said Stephens.

"I pray for wisdom to make the right decisions and represent the sixth district in an honorable fashion," he said.

Smithville Man Charged with Vehicular Homicide in Double Fatality

March 28, 2012
Kayla Biddy and Brian Walton (Herald-Citizen Photo)

A Smithville man has been charged with vehicular homicide in a Jackson County accident last month that killed a Cookeville man and his girlfriend.

29 year old Randy B. Johnson is charged with two counts of vehicular homicide in the death of 21 year old Brian C. Walton of Cookeville and 22 year old Kayla C. Biddy of Cleveland. Johnson was also charged with driving on a suspended license.

According to the Herald Citizen, Johnson was driving a 2005 Dodge Ram pickup and had three passengers, Kandle R. Bethcher of Cookeville in the front seat and the young couple in the back seat. He lost control of the vehicle on a curve, and the truck ran off the road, went airborne, struck a tree and landed on its top. The accident happened on Saturday, February 25, on Highway 135 near Spring Creek in Jackson County.

Walton and Biddy, who had just recently become engaged to be married, were killed instantly, according to the report. Investigators said the four occupants of the truck had been at a gathering of four-wheeler enthusiasts.

THP Trooper Darren Butler said the charges against Johnson were for allegedly being "unable to operate the vehicle safely" thus causing the deaths of Walton and Biddy. Johnson is under a $250,000 bond and he will be in court April 6.

UCHRA Delays Action on Future of Lakeside Resort

March 27, 2012
Dwayne Page
UCHRA to make decision on Lakeside Resort April 17
Lakeside Resort
Lakeside Resort Boat Slips

The UCHRA has delayed a decision on the future of Lakeside Resort in DeKalb County until April 17.

Members of the UCHRA Policy Council, chaired by DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster, met Monday morning in Cookeville to review proposals from four groups wanting to either buy, lease, or manage the facility. But members of the council wanted to find out more about these groups, so they have postponed action until April 17. In the meantime, those submitting proposals will be asked to provide references, financial statements, and if chosen, to put up a $750,000 insurance policy against any damages to the facility. The groups have until April 9 to comply with the council's request. Another committee will review the proposals and make a selection recommendation to the full policy council.

Robin Driver of Center Hill Chalets, Inc is among those who have submitted a proposal to manage Lakeside Resort, and to "purchase the facility once it is profitable".

Others who have offered bids include Donnie Davidson of the Davidson Investment Group and Deanna Ebert Pierson of PeopleBuildersUSA, both of whom want to purchase Lakeside, and Bob Sortis who wants to initially lease the facility to be used as a Christian Retreat.

Lakeside Resort, consisting of 139 acres on the banks of Center Hill Lake off of the Cookeville Highway, has created problems for UCHRA financially, apparently being unable to support itself or to service the debt on the $1.6 million note owed on property there.

UCHRA acquired Lakeside Resort several years ago, securing a 25 year lease at a dollar a year from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who owns the property. According to UCHRA officials, the lease included provisions that the property be used for area recreation and an educational facility. Whoever the UCHRA sells or leases the property to will most likely have to continue to agree to those same provisions.

UCHRA currently partners with Tennessee Tech to offer a Professional Resort and Quantity Food Management course, which was formerly taught through Pellissippi Community College. But the funding for that class will no longer be available once the current students graduate the program in June.

Lakeside offers guest cottages and apartments along with the lakeside lodge, featuring 26 units, 18 lake front and eight pool front, classrooms, and boat slips.

The lodge was built using funds from Rural Development, who offered UCHRA a $1.5 million low-interest loan, aimed at helping with job and educational development in rural counties.

Last October, 10 Lakeside employees, including full and part time, workers were laid off, reportedly saving approximately $165,000 for the 2012 fiscal year.

Robin Driver's plan calls for Center Hill Chalets, Inc to "manage Lakeside Resort and all facilities associated with it, as well as weddings, banquets, corporate and business gatherings while at all times promoting the best interests of UCHRA".

Under the proposal, Center Hill Chalets would charge a management fee of 40% on all revenue generated by the lease management and rental of the facilities. UCHRA would retain ownership of the Lakeside Complex and keep the remaining 60% of the revenue, most of which would be used to service the debt still owed on the facility.

According to the company's background information, "Center Hill Chalets, Inc has been managing vacation rental property on Center Hill Lake since 2002 and is the only state licensed company on Center Hill Lake, managing over forty individual properties in the Center Hill Lake and Rock Island areas. Having managed resort property the past ten years, Center Hill Chalets, Inc has a vast knowledge of the market and how to maximize the revenue from the property while keeping the overhead in check. Center Hill Chalets has been profitable every year and has had increased revenue for the past three years in a row."

Bob Sortis wants to convert Lakeside Lodge into a Christian Retreat. Sortis currently serves as the Resort, Food, and Hospitality Management teacher at Lakeside and operates catering for Lakeside Resort. He is also a licensed realtor and is a property manager for several different rentals in Cookeville.

In his proposal, Sortis wrote that "Lakeside Lodge would continue to be the prime alternative corporate meeting spot and a gorgeous wedding location. In addition, Lakeside Lodge would become the premier event locale by hosting events such as Marriage Enrichment Seminars, Church Retreats, Pastor's Getaways, Music/Fine Art Festivals, Car Shows, and educational seminars."

Sortis wants to add a prayer room, fitness room, spa services, recreation room including original fine artworks in cabins/rooms, horseback riding, teach art, photography, cooking, and canoeing classes, expand the gift shop, create a fishing and a swimming area in the lake, and open hiking trails.

Sortis proposes to lease Lakeside Resort with the intention to purchase under certain conditions.
The lessee (Sortis) agrees to pay UCHRA a monthly rental fee of $5,000 per month.

In 2011, Lakeside sales were $608,000 at a 24% occupancy rate. Based on a 50% occupancy rate, anticipated 2012 sales will be $1.2 million. If sales reach or exceed $1 million, lessee (Sortis) will pay UCHRA a yearly bonus of $60,000.

Sortis proposes ten, one year contracts to be signed upon acceptance of the proposal.
Contracts would be automatically renewed yearly unless UCHRA is notified by the lessee (Sortis), thirty days prior to the renewal date. In the first five years, lessee (Sortis) will assume the loan from Rural Development.

Donnie Davidson of the Davidson Investment Group wants to purchase assets of Lakeside Resort and has proposed a cash offer of $500,000, contingent upon the Corps of Engineers extending the lease of the Lakeside Resort operation through the year 2042. All assets and property improvements would become the ownership of Davidson Investment Group upon payment to UCHRA.

Deanna Ebert Pierson, of PeopleBuildersUSA, proposes to purchase and create a true resort atmosphere at Lakeside Resort. PeopleBuildersUSA, founded in 2006, is a faith-based 501(c) 3 organization.

Pierson proposes to establish Lakeside as a year round, full service lodging and educational facility for corporate retreats, small meetings, and church groups.

She is offering a purchase price of $1.8 million for the entire holdings of Lakeside Resort and to enter into a lease management contract pending approval of the loan and any and all other necessary documents. Yearly payments of $130,000 would be made to USDA to service the debt on the existing loan.

County Seeks to Name Dry Creek Bridge in Honor of the Late PFC Billy Gene Anderson

March 27, 2012
Dwayne Page
PFC Billy Gene Anderson
Dry Creek Bridge on Highway 70 near Dowelltown

The county commission Monday night adopted a resolution asking the Tennessee General Assembly to name the bridge over Dry Creek on Highway 70 in honor of the late Private First Class Billy Gene Anderson, United States Army.

The resolution states "Whereas, it is fitting that the DeKalb County Commission honor residents of DeKalb County who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Whereas, the late Private First Class Billy Gene Anderson, United State Army, made that sacrifice for his country on May 17, 2010 while serving in Afghanistan and

Whereas, PFC Billy Gene Anderson served with courage, giving his life for his country and the beliefs he held. He deserves proper recognition for his service as a proud representative of the United States Army, and the greatest sacrifice anyone can make.

Whereas, PFC Billy Gene Anderson selfishly gave his life while serving his country and it is appropriate that we ask the Tennessee General Assembly to honor his memory by naming the Bridge over Dry Creek on Highway 70 as a lasting monument to him.

Now therefore Be it enacted by DeKalb County Commission that the Tennessee General Assembly be asked to name the Dry Creek Bridge the PFC Billy Gene Anderson Memorial Bridge and signs be erected and maintained to permanently honor the memory of PFC Billy Gene Anderson"

Doug Stephens Appointed to the School Board

March 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Doug Stephens

Doug Stephens was appointed by the county commission Monday night to fill a vacancy on the school board in the sixth district.

By a vote of 7-6-1, Stephens got the nod over Boyd Trapp to serve out the unexpired term of Bruce Parsley, who resigned effective December 31.

Members of the commission voting for Stephens were Jack Barton from the second district, Bradley Hendrix from the third district, Wayne Cantrell and David McDowell from the fourth district, Jerry Adcock from the fifth district, Jeff Barnes from the sixth district and Larry Summers from the seventh district.

Those voting for Trapp were Elmer Ellis, Jr from the first district, Bobby Joines from the second district, Jerry Scott from the third district, John Green from the fifth district, Marshall Ferrell from the sixth district, and Jimmy Poss from the seventh district.

Mason Carter from the first district passed.

During the February 27 meeting, neither Stephens or Trapp received enough votes to get the appointment. Two roll call votes were taken and in each case, it was a six to six tie. Two members of the commission, John Green and Mason Carter were absent that night and County Mayor Mike Foster chose not to break the tie.

Jeff Barnes, who had voted for Trapp last month, switched his vote to Stephens this time.

Stephens will serve in this appointed position until August 31.

Disaster Recovery Center Now Open in DeKalb County

March 26, 2012
Dwayne Page

A Disaster Recovery Center to help survivors of the February 29 to March 2 storms is now open in DeKalb County.

Gene Kauffman, FEMA Public Information Officer, said If you were affected in any way, visit the Recovery Center at the County Administrative Building, 724 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville. Hours are 8:00 a.m until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Specialists can answer questions about FEMA assistance, the SBA Disaster Loan Program and the status of your FEMA application.

Register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or register online at disasterassistance.gov.

Smithville Man Found Stabbed to Death in Kentucky

March 26, 2012

A Smithville man was reportedly found stabbed to death in Kentucky on Saturday.

Dead is 52 year old Patrick L. Dunlap

Nashville media are reporting that police responded to the call at 380 Hatcher Valley Road in Horse Cave, Kentucky of a person being stabbed Saturday around 5 p.m.

When police arrived they found Dunlap lying motionless on the ground with knife wounds to his body.

Police arrested Douglas Miller and charged him with murder.

Police also arrested Deborah Thistlewaite and placed her in the Hart County Jail on unrelated warrants.

Kentucky State Police are continuing their investigation into the death.

Two Charged with Burglary and Theft of Property at Local Business

March 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Matthew Malachi Lawson
Willie Ray Murphy
Bobby Wright Washer

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested two men in the recent burglary of a local business on Highway 70 east.

28 year old Matthew Malachi Lawson of Haley Road, Smithville and 29 year old Willie Ray Murphy of West Bryant Street, Smithville are charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000 on Saturday, March 17. They were arrested on Friday, March 23. Bond for each is $10,000 and they will be in court on April 5.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, "Murphy went around to the side of the building (a business) and busted out a glass door. He then entered the business. While Murphy was in there, he took out some power tools for concrete work. Lawson, who brought Murphy to the business, sat in the vehicle and served as the lookout person. Lawson then left and later returned to pick up Murphy and the stolen equipment".

59 year old Bobby Wright Washer of Gay Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 5.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Sunday, March 25 a deputy was dispatched to a vehicle which had run off the roadway on Highway 56. The officer arrived and saw that Washer's truck was in the ditch. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. His speech was also very slurred. Washer performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and he submitted to a blood test. Sheriff Ray said Washer admitted to drinking more than a six pack of beer.


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