Local News Articles

Chamber’s “Project Welcome Mat” Winners

June 29, 2012
DeKalb Community Bank Winner of “People’s Choice Award” Sign
Liberty State Bank – Winner of "Best Worded" Signs
Liberty State Bank – Winner of "Best Worded" Signs  (OTHER SIDE)
Bumpers Drive-In Winner of Most Original Sign

The Smithville-DeKalb Co. Chamber of Commerce wants to thank all the businesses and churches that used their message signs to welcome Jamboree visitors. Chamber Director Suzanne Williams says, “The Jamboree visitors make such a huge, positive impact on our local economy. It’s extremely important to make sure that our guests know how appreciated and important they are.” The Chamber appreciates the local participation in ensuring our tourists feel welcome.

The 2012 Project Welcome Mat winners are as follows: “People’s Choice” – DeKalb Community Bank; “Most Original” – Bumpers Drive-In; and “Best Worded” on 2 Signs – Liberty State Bank.

DeKalb Community Bank – Winner of “People’s Choice Award” Sign (1 pic)

The Chamber of Commerce presented the Project Welcome Mat’s “People's Choice” award to DeKalb Community Bank for their creatively written message by DCB Employee, June Keith, that will most certainly bring a smile to our Jamboree visitors.

Pictured from left:
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, DCB Employees Jennifer Dunn, Dava Pedigo, Pam Bauman, June Keith, & Chad Colwell

Liberty State Bank – Winner of "Best Worded" Signs (2 pics)

Liberty State Bank received the Chamber’s “Best Worded” award for participating in the Jamboree Project Welcome Mat contest and providing messages on both sides of their sign. These imaginative messages were written by LSB Employee Nell Raymond and deliver friendly messages for our tourists whether they are driving north or south.

LSB Picture – Sign 1
Pictured from left:
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Liberty State Bank Vice-President Ronnie Goodwin, LSB Employees Nell Raymond, Lisa Garrison, Annette Jackoby, Amanda Green, Trina Graham, Rhonda Caplinger, & Gail Bailiff

LSB Picture - Sign 2
Pictured from left:
LSB Employees Gail Bailiff, Rhonda Caplinger, Trina Graham, Amanda Green, Annette Jackoby, Lisa Garrison, Nell Raymond, Liberty State Bank Vice-President Ronnie Goodwin, & Chamber Director Suzanne Williams.

Bumpers Drive-In – Winner of "Most Original" Sign (1 pic)
The Chamber of Commerce presented the Jamboree Project Welcome Mat award for “Most Original” to Bumpers Drive-In. The winning message promising fun for the whole family was written by Bumpers Drive-In Manager Rose Brown.

Pictured from left:
Bumpers Drive-In Manager Rose Brown, Marketing Director Carol South, Employee Leslie Hale, & Chamber Director Suzanne Williams.

Hot, Dry Conditions Lead to fire advisory

June 29, 2012

State officials are urging citizens to take fire precautions for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry is asking the public to refrain from debris burning until significant precipitation is received and to avoid other activities that could cause fire.

“Most areas of the state are experiencing very hot and dry conditions with low humidity,” State Forester Steven Scott said. “While permits are not currently required for open, outdoor burning, as a precaution we’re urging citizens to avoid debris burning until conditions improve.”

Burning permits are required by the state Division of Forestry only during official fire season, Oct. 15 through May 15. However, the number of fires statewide has increased since mid-June due to the unusually hot, dry conditions.

“Most of the fires have been smaller, accidental grass fires that have been responded to with the help of local and volunteer fire departments, but we also have had some larger, smoldering woods fires that could be dangerous if not contained,” said Scott.

Forestry officials say that in addition to escaped debris fires, major causes include sparks from field equipment and vehicles, discarded cigarettes, lightening, campfires, arson and fireworks. Citizens can help support their local fire departments by checking for and following local burn restrictions and quickly reporting any wildfire.

State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak encourages Tennesseans to have a fire-safe Fourth by leaving the fireworks to the professionals. "To avoid the risk of injury and property damage associated with consumer fireworks, join other community members in attending a public display put on by trained and licensed professionals,” McPeak said.

Forestry officials also recommend other fire prevention tips which include:

§ Taking precautions when using farm and other equipment (bush hogs, balers, lawn mowers, ATVs, etc.) or anything with an exhaust system, including parked cars, that could create a spark near dry vegetation.

§ Checking first for local burn and firework ordnances. Citizens are encouraged to avoid shooting fireworks in dry areas and attend public fireworks displays instead.

§ Reporting fire activity immediately to your local fire department.

§ Delaying debris burning until significant precipitation is received. Even when conditions are safe, notify your fire department and neighbors, don’t burn on windy days, establish a wide control line down to mineral soil, keep fire containment equipment and water on hand, and stay with the fire until it is completely out.

Woods arson is a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

Additional fire safety tips, as well as up-to-date wildfire information, can be found on the TDA Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention website at www.burnsafetn.org.

Neal Kight to Speak at First Assembly July 1st

June 29, 2012
Neal Kight

Neal Kight to Speak at First Assembly July 1st

Neal was the founder of the local Assembly of God in 1982. The work began as a prayer meeting in his home and grew to a store front on Broad Street. Later property was purchased on Murphy Street and a church was built there. Recently the new sanctuary was built on the Cookeville Highway.

Brother Neal lives in Silar City, NC where he and his wife Sharon have pastored the Church of God Ministries there for many years. This will be their first visit to the new facility here in Smithville. He will review how the work began and then bring the morning message.

After establishing the work here, Neal later went to Gallup New Mexico to serve as a missionary to the Indians for about ten years and built several churches there as well. He and Sharon met at a camp meeting and her passion at the time was to become a missionary as well. After they married, Sharon joined him on the mission field. They now have two children Danae and Sean.

Ann Stevens, Neal’s mom also visited the Assembly recently and commented on how far the work had come since a handful of friends began to get together for prayer. Sunday morning attendance is now running about 140 to 180 with a record crowd of 250 on Easter morning.

Come join us for an exciting service Sunday July 1st at 10:45 A.M. at 1650 Cookeville Highway.

DeKalb Fire Department Encourages Fireworks Safety

June 28, 2012
Dwayne Page
Chief Donny Green

Fireworks are a tradition of summer activities. Unfortunately, they cause thousands of injuries and emergency room visits each year; more of these injuries occur during Fourth of July festivities. As this year's Independence Day approaches, the DeKalb County Fire Department urges citizens to practice safe and responsible use of fireworks to avoid injuries and property losses.

"Although fireworks can be exciting and fun, it is important to remember that improperly handled fireworks can quickly turn a celebration into tragedy," said Chief Donny Green. "We remind DeKalb County citizens to use common sense and act responsibly to prevent serious injuries this Fourth of July."

Each year in Tennessee, there are over 200 emergency room visits and over 200 people discharged from the hospital due to fireworks related injuries. Fireworks accidents can cause long term effects such as blindness, hearing loss and permanent scarring if used incorrectly.

To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the DeKalb County Fire Department makes the following safety suggestions for those who choose to deal with fireworks at home:

• Always read and follow all warnings and label instructions.
• Never allow children to play with, ignite fireworks, or watch a display without adult supervision. • Wear eye protection and never have any part of your body over the fireworks.
• Use fireworks only outdoors and in a safe area.
• Be sure other people are safely out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Always have water handy--a garden hose, wet towels and a bucket.
• Never throw or point fireworks at other people or animals.
• Never re-light a "dud" firework. Wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
• Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then placing them in your trash can.

In addition to being prepared to avoid firework mishaps, residents should also be prepared to handle any accidents that may occur. Materials such as gauze, hydrogen peroxide and other first aid supplies should be readily available. In the event of serious injury, seek immediate medical attention . Quick response to injuries may prevent further and more permanent damage.

"We want all DeKalb County citizens and visitors to remain safe this holiday and enjoy their holiday accident-free," says Green. "The best way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. We have several public fireworks displays scheduled at local marinas on Center Hill Lake. It's less expensive, more enjoyable, and much safer to just make plans to attend one of these local fireworks displays."

For more information about fireworks safety, visit the CDC Fireworks Injuries website at http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Fireworks/. Additional Information can also be found on the National Council on Fireworks Safety website at http://www.fireworkssafety.org/.

Smithville Police Solve Burglary and Thefts at Chad's Auto Sales

June 28, 2012
Dwayne Page
Ryan Felts
Jack Mullican

The Smithville Police Department has apparently solved two separate thefts at Chad's Auto Sales with the arrests of two men and a petition taken against a juvenile.

18 year old Ryan Felts of Wade Street is charged with vandalism, burglary, two counts of theft of a vehicle, and theft of property over $10,000. His bond totals $27,500. 33 year old Jack Mullican of the Johnson's Chapel Community is charged with theft over $1,000 and possession of stolen property. His bond is $3,500. Both men will be in court on the charges July 19.

Chief Randy Caplinger said that on Saturday, June 23, an officer was dispatched to 317 West Broad Street, Chad's Auto Sales to take a report about a theft. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with Glynn Merriman and Chad Hale, owners and operators of the business, who said that someone had broken into the office. Items taken included a Dell laptop, a Hewlett Packard desk top CPU, a filing cabinet containing car titles, $1,220 in cash, and a 2005 GMC Yukon was stolen from the car lot. There was no tag on the vehicle at the time of the theft. The electric meter to the office was also stolen. Entry had been made by cutting a padlock off the front door. At that time there were no suspects.

The next day, Sunday June 24, Chief Caplinger said an officer was again called to Chad's Auto Sales to take a report of another theft. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the owner, Mr. Hale who said someone had taken a 2004 Volvo. Keys to the vehicle had apparently been taken during the previous break-in

After identifying Felts as a suspect, Chief Caplinger and detectives of the Smithville Police Department, accompanied by sheriff's deputies, went to a residence in Dowelltown where Felts was believed to be staying. After questioning Felts, who initially denied knowing anything about the burglary and theft, Chief Caplinger said he caught a glimpse of something in the woods on the old road between Liberty and Dowelltown, as he leaving, which turned out to be one of the vehicles and other items taken in the thefts "After the detectives left, I was still on the scene, as I was leaving the area, I happened to see something in the woods. I went back and walked down in the woods and there was the 2005 Yukon, the filing cabinet and most of the paperwork from Chad's Auto Sales. Felts was brought in and he confessed to the crime and led us to other stolen items," said Chief Caplinger.

Officers then went to Mullican's residence in the Johnson's Chapel community and found the stolen 2004 Volvo. "He was at his residence on Johnson's Chapel and found to be in possession of the Volvo belonging to Chad's Auto Sales. It was stolen and taken to Mullican's residence to hide. Mullican was aware the vehicle was stolen and he agreed to hide it," said Chief Caplinger

As a result of the investigation, Chief Caplinger said everything in the break-in was recovered except the cash.

Meanwhile, 20 year old Terry Lee Jones, III is charged with five counts of forgery. His bond is $7,500.

Chief Caplinger said that Jones was at the entrance of Smithville Elementary School when he was spotted by a DeKalb County deputy, while enroute to a call. When Jones was brought in on an existing warrant for failure to appear, he was questioned about a possible forgery of checks on his father's account. Jones admitted to forging the checks. He also provided information as to where a family member's saddle had been stolen and hidden. He allegedly forged checks on his father's account, took them to a local bank, and cashed them. He admitted to taking the checks and getting the money. In one of the cases, Jones admitted to making out a check on his father's account to another person, who tried to cash this check at the bank. The check was turned down. Jones admitted to forging the check to get his friend to cash it so he could have the money.

35 year old Wesley Chandler is charged with driving under the influence. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on August 2. Chief Caplinger said that on Saturday, June 23 police were called to the parking lot of DeKalb Community Hospital where someone had passed out in a vehicle. The officer arrived and found Chandler passed out at the steering wheel. The keys were still in the ignition. It took time to get Chandler to respond. He had very slurred speech. He was unsteady on his feet getting out of vehicle and he performed very poorly on all field sobriety tasks. Chandler submitted to taking a blood test.

53 year old Carolyn Jones is cited for theft of property. According to Chief Caplinger, police were called to Walmart on Friday, June 22 in regard to a shoplifter. Upon arrival, the officer met with an employee of the store, who said Jones had been seen taking merchandise and putting it in her purse. She tried to leave the store without paying for the items. She was found with the items on her.

27 year old Ellissa Howard is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500. Chief Caplinger said that on Friday, June 22 police were called to a residence on West Bryant Street where Howard had allegedly assaulted her husband by grabbing his shirt, breaking his necklace, leaving marks on his neck, and biting him. She also hit him in the face with a phone.

36 year old Russell Blackwell is cited for a fourth offense of driving under the influence and charged with simple possession of a schedule II & III controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond totals $14,500 and he will be in court July 19. Chief Caplinger reports that on Wednesday, June 20 police were called to the parking lot of Advance Auto Parts on South Congress Boulevard, where two people were passed out in a vehicle. Upon arrival, police found both Blackwell and 28 year old Roxanna Landis in the car. Both had to be awakened. Blackwell got out the vehicle. The keys were still in the ignition. His speech was very slurred and he was very unsteady on his feet. Blackwell told police he had been there for an hour. He was placed under arrest. A computer check revealed he already had three prior DUI offenses on his record. Blackwell submitted to a blood test and gave police consent to search. The officer found used hypodermic needles, a cut straw and a whole straw which contained a powdery residue. Inside the drivers side door panel, police also found a small box containing three dilaudid pills and a white box containing one and a half to two pieces of suboxone pills .

Landis was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. She was a passenger of Blackwell's vehicle. Police awoke her. As she got out of the car, police saw a straw coming out of her pocket. She was asked to remove all items from her pockets Landis tried to hide it, but the officer found that Landis was carrying two used syringes in her right front pocket.

29 year old Roxanne White is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court on July 26. While investigating a possible domestic assault case at a residence on Gentry Avenue, police asked to check White's purse for any illegal items. She consented to the search. Inside her wallet, the officer found a hypodermic syringe.

UCHRA Awarded Energy Assistance Funds

June 27, 2012
By LEE WEBB, Community Services Director

“Amid the current dismal economic news, there is finally some good news for citizens of the Upper Cumberland area who are struggling to pay their utility bills,” recently announced Luke Collins, UCHRA Executive Director. The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency has received notice from the Tennessee Department of Human Service of an award in the amount of $3,794,695, the same as last year’s award, for the FY 2013 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “With these funds in the coming year UCHRA will be able to provide utility assistance to in excess of 7,000 low income Upper Cumberland households,” he continued. UCHRA will begin accepting LIHEAP applications at each of its county offices for this funding period beginning July 1, 2012.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program, through the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), designed to assist low income households in meeting home energy needs and is intended to supplement energy costs for those eligible households. Priority for service is not “first come, first served”, rather it is based upon a point system that takes into consideration such factors as household income (maximum of 150% of the Federal Guidelines), and having household members who are elderly, disabled, and/or children (under age 6). Another factor is the % of income the household pays for its energy.

Documentation of income will be required for the application process and include proof of all household income. This includes check stubs for 13 weeks, Social Security or Pension Award letters, unemployment benefit letters. Bank statements will no longer be accepted as income documentation. If self-employed an applicant should provide a tax return or 4 weeks of receipts and expenses. Applicants should also provide a copy for one month of the household’s electric and/or gas bill in the last 12 month (the highest bill is most beneficial to the applicant). Social Security cards are required for all household members. Some additional documentation may be required to process applications.
Assistance provided to households ranges from $300 - $600 depending upon its total points. Once an application has been submitted by a household it will be notified by mail within 90 day of the status of the application.

Households awarded assistance are required to continue paying their energy bills until the awarded payment has been received by its designated utility provider, and when benefit is exhausted the household will return to paying for the energy costs.

The UCHRA DeKalb County office is located at 726 South Congress Blvd., Smithville, TN and can be reached by calling 615-597-4504.

New County Budget to be Adopted Next Month, Wage Scale May Be Developed for Employees

June 27, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

The DeKalb County Commission is expected to adopt budgets for all county departments and establish the property tax rate for the 2012-13 fiscal year during their next regular meeting on Monday, July 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse.


DeKalb-FINAL 2013 Budget 6-21-12.pdf (194.41 KB)

The budget committee of the county commission voted to recommend passage of the budgets during a meeting held Tuesday night, June 19. "I think its kind of a very basic budget that's not got any new ideas or new things in it much. Its kind of a continuation of the budget we're in this year," said County Mayor Mike Foster.

No pay raises are included in this budget for county general employees right now but Foster said the county is considering establishing a step increase plan for county employees, possibly later in the budget year. The County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) may be consulted in assisting the county in developing such a wage scale, possibly taking into consideration job title and years of service. "We're going to be looking at it in August and September after we close the books in July to see where we are. We hope to institute a step system based on job classification and years of service. That would be primarily for all county employees, especially where there are like positions throughout the county," said County Mayor Foster. "We have asked the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) to do this study for us (wage scale). "They will give us the information and then help us structure it. They work with a lot of different counties and they'll kind of base it on some of the other counties and job duties that the employees have,'"he said.

Last year (2011-2012), the county budgeted a new four tiered salary pay scale for employees of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department to bring their salaries more in line with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

Total appropriations come to $40-million 039-thousand 837 dollars.

The county property tax rate would remain at $1.62 per $100 of assessed value. One cent of the tax rate generates $42,548 in local money with a 7% delinquency rate figured into the equation.

The proposed tax rate is broken down as follows:

County General: 82 cents
Highway/Public Works: 3 cents
General Capital Projects: 10 cents
Debt Service: 12 cents
General Purpose Schools: 55 cents.

The solid waste fund, under this budget, would not receive any property tax money but would continue to be supported by revenues derived from payment-in-lieu of taxes, local option sale taxes, hotel-motel tax, bank excise tax and wholesale beer tax, etc. Up until three years ago, the solid waste fund was supported by a portion of the property tax rate. Since then the tax rate previously designated for solid waste, 20 cents, has been added to the general fund, and the payment-in-lieu of taxes has been removed from the general fund and placed in the solid waste category of the budget.

Capital projects fund expenses for the year include:

*Motor Vehicles (Ambulance)-$117,000. "We've got in there to purchase a new ambulance this year. We have been remounting the ones that we've had but you can only do that a certain number of times so this time we've got to buy one," said Foster

*Other equipment (Power Cots for Ambulance Service)-$65,000

*Furniture and fixtures (County Complex)-$30,000

*Motor vehicles (Patrol Cars for Sheriff's Department)- $80,000

*Other Construction-$65,000 "This is for probably part of a roof and to finish up work the county complex. We have to put in ceiling tile in a small area and floor tiles." said Foster.

*Other equipment (Fire Department Turnout Gear and Compressor)- $45,000

* Solid Waste Equipment (Roll Back Garbage Truck)- $145,000
Total: $547,000

The beginning fund balance for county general to start the fiscal year, 2012-13, is expected to be $3.2 million, but projections are that by the end of the budget year next June, it could be $2.7 million, meaning the county may have to dip into its fund balance for operation during the year. "They (fund balances) are pretty strong but this budget proposes that we will probably spend a little more money than we are taking in, which I don't like. We did that (projected deficit spending) last year but we're actually going to come out in the black. I just don't know exactly how much. We generally over estimate expenditures and under estimate revenues to build in a little cushion. It looks like we're going to come out with maybe a $400,000 to $500,000 fund balance in the black this year," said Foster. Fund balances for all county departments combined come to $14.4 million to begin the new year, 2012-13 and are projected to be $11.9 million by June 30, 2013.

Except for a few odds and ends, the county complex is complete. "We're still waiting on the basketball goals to come in for the gym and two or three little odds and ends, but its pretty well finished. We have two part-time positions (at the complex) and we'll have another part-time position to operate the sound equipment when we have a band performing out there," said Foster.

The county complex project cost the county less than budget estimates, according to Foster. "It actually cost us less than we budgeted for, which is a really good thing, and pretty unusual when you're talking about construction. We wound up with about $44 a square foot in it. The people who do our risk assessment came in without knowing what we spent on it and valued it at almost $100 per square foot. They have assessed the building alone at about seven million dollars. About $2.7 million is what it cost to remodel it plus the price we gave for it of $750,000. That's about $3.4 million which is considerably less than we thought we would have in it. We had some money budgeted in there on up to four million dollars," he said.

Foster said he is hopeful that revenues generated from rental fees at the complex will help offset the costs of operation. " I think we're a good bit ahead of what we estimated that the revenue would be out there (at the complex). Its hard to know yet but it looks like it may be three to four thousand dollars a month. That's a good thing because it will pretty well pay for itself as far as the employees. Hopefully, it will bring in $40,000 to $50,000 in revenue. As far as somebody there to maintain it and operate it, we're hoping its about the same amount of money (as the revenue). The biggest thing that I see that we probably didn't plan for (at the complex) is maintenance of the floors out there. But we are really pleased with our utility bills out there because it and the courthouse have consistently been under what we estimated they were going to be. When we built it, we added some energy efficiency things to that building and its probably running about 45% of what we estimated it was going to be," said Foster.

The school board's requests have been met in this budget including a building/roofing plan, proposed to be funded with a $3.4 million note over a 12 year period.

A summary of the proposed extras in the new school budget are as follows:
A 2.5% increase for teachers along with the regular step increases and degree advancements
A local 2.5% increase for support staff along with the regular step increases per salary schedule
An increase of 9% for projected health insurance costs
The addition of one math teacher at DCHS
The addition of two extra teaching positions (one for kindergarten and one for DMS sixth grade) if needed due to enrollment (currently unassigned)
Putting custodians on twelve month contracts instead of the current ten month contracts
Replacing Bookkeeping Computers for the School Bookkeepers
Additional costs in Special Education due to contracted services
Normal increases for utilities, transportation fuel, and for supplies.

The food service budget, which is self supporting, includes a 2.5% increase for support staff with step increases as per salary schedules. The central office bookkeeper under food service will go from an 11 month to a 12 month position.

The spending plan calls for $600,000 in local funding to meet a 12.5% FEMA grant match for building eight tornado "safe rooms" at DeKalb West School. During the April school board meeting, Director Mark Willoughby announced that the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency had approved grant funds of more than $1.5 million for the safe room project at DeKalb West School, pending final approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The $3.4 million note would cover the $600,000 grant match, an $850,000 cafeteria and kitchen renovation project at DeKalb West School; a $1.1 million DeKalb Middle School roof project (roof and removal of metal overhang soffit), a $700,000 DeKalb West School roof project (roof and removal of metal overhang soffit and seal off gymnasium); and an $85,000 Smithville Elementary School roof project (8,000 square feet of the roof).

Three cents of the property tax rate, $127,645 helps support the county highway department along with a mineral severance tax, $25,000, Other than that, Foster said all of the county road department's budget is funded by state allocations, mostly state gas tax revenues

Proposed expenditures for each department are as follows:
County General Fund: $6,861,550
Courthouse and Jail Maintenance: $68,255
Local Purpose Tax Fund: $2,169,820
Solid Waste/Sanitation: $1,582,037
Drug Control: $34,616
Highways/Public Works: $2,467,965
General Purpose School Fund: $19,959,698
Central Cafeteria: $1,794,125
Debt Service: $1,149,880
General Capital Projects: $551,891
Education Capital Projects Fund: $3,400,000

The county commission is also expected to adopt a resolution July 23 making appropriations of $135,387 to the following non-profit organizations:

DeKalb Sparks Softball- $150
Upper Cumberland Development District- $3,411
Tennessee Division of Forestry-$1,500
DeKalb County Rescue Squad- $11,500
Plateau Mental Health-$7,180
Families First-$750
Senior Citizens Program-$26,378
DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$29,592
DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce-$15,000
Imagination Library- $7,200
Genesis House- $1,500
Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center- $1,780
DeKalb County Fair- $1,500
WCTE-TV- $5,000
Prospect Incorporated-$12,500
Upper Cumberland Human Resources-$1,200
UCHRA Assessment-Homemaker Aide, etc-$9,245

DeKalb-FINAL 2013 Budget 6-21-12.pdf (194.41 KB)

Smithville Aldermen Vote to Settle Lawsuit With Two Former City Employees

June 26, 2012
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday afternoon, acting on the advice of counsel, voted to settle a lawsuit for $130,000 brought last year by two former city employees, who lost their jobs after being charged with theft for allegedly taking scrap brass from the water treatment plant and selling it to a recycling center.

46 year old Kenny Waymon Dyal, Sr. and 43 year old Christopher Derrick Ferrell, filed the lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court on February 17th, 2011 against the City of Smithville, asking for a jury trial. They wanted their old jobs back, compensatory damages for wages and benefits lost during the period of their unemployment, punitive damages for intentional, malicious, and reckless conduct of the city, for attorney fees and costs, and any other relief to which they may be properly and justly entitled. In the event they could not be given back their jobs, Dyal and Ferrell asked for lost differential wages and benefits to the date of their expected retirement.

Dyal was the supervisor of the Smithville Water Treatment Plant and Ferrell was a city maintenance employee and water meter reader.

During the brief meeting Monday, Dan Rader, the attorney appointed by the Tennessee Municipal League (TML), the city's insurance carrier, recommended that the aldermen approve an offer to settle the lawsuit for $130,000 which includes $100,000 in city funds, $30,000 from TML funds, and up to $2,500 for mediator, discretionary, and court costs, if TML does not pay those costs. "This lawsuit was filed quite some time ago and it has been pending by Kenny Dyal and Christopher Ferrell," said Rader. " We've been defending that and we had a mediation. Prior to that we had an attorney/client meeting and I won't reiterate or recount what the attorney/client advice was, but we have attempted to negotiate a settlement of this lawsuit. The plaintiffs started at $700,000 as their demand. The city made offers subject to this board's eventual approval. The city's final offer was a total of $130,000 which was going to be paid $100,000 from city funds and $30,000 from TML funds who is your insurance carrier. There are some issues with respect to whether or not they (TML) cover the claim. They (TML) have taken the position that they don't cover any of the types of claims brought, except that they do provide you a legal defense. So they were contributing based on a cost basis. In any event, the plaintiff's lowest demand at the mediation was $150,000 and the mediation ended and the case was not settled. Since that time, on Friday afternoon, the plaintiff's lawyer called me and said that they would take $130,000 plus some costs, which include the court costs. They have asked for us to pay all of the mediator's costs. Both of those are fairly standard. The only one that is not entirely standard is discretionary costs which are less than $1,000 but he didn't have a firm total for me. I have attempted to call TML to see if they would pay that on your behalf but the adjustor handling the claim is out unfortunately. He will be back later this week and I'll ask him if he will pay those costs on your behalf. But the question before the board tonight is whether or not to approve the settlement of the city's portion of $100,000 for a total settlement of $130,000. I'd ask you to approve up to $2,500 in costs, if necessary if TML doesn't pay it. The $100,000 plus potentially up to $2,500 would come from city funds," said Rader.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson asked city attorney Vester Parsley what he thought of Rader's recommendation

Parsley responded, "I think it is wise for us to go forward".

Mayor Hendrixson then asked alderman Gayla Hendrix, who was present at the mediation, what she thought.

Alderman Hendrix replied " I agree with Mr. Parsley, I think this is a good settlement and we should probably go forward with it"

Alderman Danny Washer made a motion to "accept our lawyer's recommendation". Alderman Hendrix offered a second to the motion and Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger joined Washer and Hendrix in granting approval. Alderman Shawn Jacobs was absent.

In January, 2011 Dyal and Ferrell, each charged with theft of property, appeared in DeKalb County General Sessions Court where, under a settlement, they agreed to make restitution in the amount of $1,348 jointly and severally. After they paid their half of the restitution, $674 the case against them was dismissed and their records were to be expunged.

Dyal and Ferrell alleged in their lawsuit that they were discharged by the city to keep them from talking to state auditors about alleged misconduct of city Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson and Public Works Director Kevin Robinson and that they were denied due process by not being afforded an opportunity to state their case in front of a board consisting of the mayor, department commissioner, and the secretary-treasurer.

According to the lawsuit, "In or around the summer of 2010, the City of Smithville entered into a contract with W&O Construction to replace water pipes at the water treatment plant. The contract between the City of Smithville and W&O Construction indicates it is the responsibility of W&O Construction to remove all of the scrap metal from the construction."

"When W&O Construction first began the construction process, another employee along with his son removed scrap pipe from the construction site and sold it to a scrap metal shop. To date, no charges have been filed against this employee nor have any disciplinary actions been taken by the City of Smithville."

"Having witnessed this, Dyal asked Hendrixson for permission to take other scrap metal off to be sold. Hendrixson gave his permission," according to the lawsuit.

"Dyal also spoke with Rick at W&O Construction to see if he could have his permission to remove the scrap metal. Rick told Dyal that the scrap "didn't mean anything to W&O and that he could take it."

"On October 21st, November 3rd, and November 4th, Dyal and Ferrell removed the scrap metal and sold it to a scrap metal business."

"On November 4th, even though both the City of Smithville and a representative from W&O Construction gave permission for Dyal and Ferrell to remove scrap metal, a complaint was filed with the Smithville Police Department and Dyal and Ferrell were arrested for theft of property."

"Without conducting proper dismissal proceedings as outlined in the City of Smithville Municipal Code, Dyal and Ferrell's employment was terminated on November 4th. This occurred just six days prior to the audit."

Further, Dyal and Ferrell allege that the "City of Smithville violated the City of Smithville Municipal Code by terminating their employment without a suspension period, by not providing a hearing within three working days of the suspension, and by not affording them an opportunity to state their case in front of a board consisting of the mayor, department commissioner, and the secretary-treasurer."

The lawsuit claimed that "The City of Smithville's conduct toward Dyal and Ferrell was committed in an intentional or reckless manner thereby causing them to suffer severe emotional distress."

Sheriff Cautions Homeowners to Beware of Latest Scam

June 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

If someone should come to your home, claiming to be from the property assessor's office, wanting to come inside to take measurements, beware!. It could be a scam.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that while no such incident has yet been reported in DeKalb County, the scam has occurred in counties close by. "Homeowners should be aware of this scam. Its where two individuals, most of the time males, will come up to a homeowner, knock on their door, and tell the homeowner that they are from the tax assessor's office and that they need to come inside of their home and measure rooms for tax purposes," said Sheriff Ray.

"The way the scam works is that one of the guys keeps the homeowner occupied, while the other guy, who is equipped with a tape measure and some writing materials, will go around and act like he is measuring out rooms. The whole time he is in there, he is stealing medication, cash, jewelry, and anything that he can put in his pocket. He is stealing that from the homeowner," he said.

"I called the DeKalb County Tax Assessor's Office. They told me that they very rarely go inside of a home to do any kind of tax appraisals. Any measuring they have to do on any building is measured from the outside, not the inside. They also use vehicles with signs on them while on official duty stating that they are from the DeKalb County Tax Assessor's Office," said Sheriff Ray.

If you suspect you may be the target of such a scam, Sheriff Ray urges you to contact his office to report it. " I would appreciate it if you would give us a call here at the jail where our detectives could start investigating. You can also call the Tax Assessor's Office at 597-5925 to verify any time that somebody there is doing a taxation of the property. If somebody does come to your house, stating that they are from the taxation department or the Tax Assessor's office, call the 215-3000 number, which is our dispatch line, and a deputy will come down and check on it," he said.


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