Local News Articles

DeKalb County Earns Three-Star Certification

October 14, 2011
DeKalb County Earns Three-Star Certification

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced today that DeKalb County has achieved certification under the state’s Three-Star program for excellence in economic development.

“Our goal is to create a business friendly climate that gives companies the confidence to invest and expand in Tennessee,” Hagerty said. “Solid community development is a crucial aspect in this process by providing the foundation needed for successful economic development.”

DeKalb County is now eligible to receive additional incentives under the guidelines of the Tennessee Three-Star program.

In order to receive the certification, communities are required to meet criteria in planning, leadership, community, business and education and work force development categories. Incentives for receiving the certification include identification on all FastTrack infrastructure and job training applications; eligibility for matching grants, if criteria set by ECD are met; earning points in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; assistance from ECD’s regional field staff and the sharing of “best practices” in community development; and the establishment of a strategic plan that is updated annually with measurable goals, specific actions, responsible parties and a timeline.
Beginning in 1980, the Three-Star program has now grown to 89 programs certified, representing more than 340 cities and towns.

To view and download photos of DeKalb County with Governor Haslam and Commissioner Hagerty, visit www.tn.gov/ecd and click the “Governor’s Conference Award Photos” button on the right.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. To find out more, go to www.tn.gov/ecd.

(Pictured above left to right: Smithville Alderman Steve White, Commissioner Bill Hagerty, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Governor Bill Haslam, and State Senator Mae Beavers)

Board of Education Seeks Traffic Study Near Schools in Smithville

October 14, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Board of Education wants the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen to formally request the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) to conduct a cost free study of traffic flow patterns and to make suggestions for relieving congestion on highways at Northside Elementary as well as DCHS and DeKalb Middle School in Smithville.

On Thursday night, the board voted to formally ask the city to make this request of MTAS.

In August, Board Chairman Charles Robinson wrote a letter to Rex Barton, Police Management Consultant for MTAS, requesting a traffic study at Northside Elementary, DCHS and DeKalb Middle School. "On behalf of the DeKalb County Board of Education, I am requesting a traffic study. We are experiencing congestion and difficulty entering and exiting three of our schools. The locations are Northside Elementary on North Congress Boulevard and DCHS and DeKalb Middle School on West Broad Street in Smithville."

Barton responded in a letter to Robinson in September, stating that the request would have to come from the City of Smithville "An MTAS Public Works Consultant and I can review the infrastructure and traffic patterns to determine what physical or traffic flow changes might benefit the traffic issues around the schools"

"MTAS exists to provide consulting services to Tennessee cities. The schools you reference are in the city of Smithville, but the city will have to make the request for the traffic study. I am copying this letter to Mayor Taft Hendrixson to ensure he is aware of your request".

The Board of Education Thursday night adopted a resolution paying tribute to custodians.

The resolution states:

"Whereas, our school custodians have a long list of responsibilities to tend to daily, which includes everything from emptying waste baskets to spot cleaning walls and light fixtures; and

Whereas, custodians frequently go above and beyond the call of duty to help keep schools free of dirt and germs that may cause illness and make our schools unattractive; and

Whereas, custodians are at the school long before anyone else arrives and well after everyone else has left; and

Whereas, like western sheriffs cleaned up their towns, our custodians clean up our schools by getting rid of the gangs of germs and eliminating their hideouts, protecting the students on campus by sending trash and garbage away for good and much more; and

Whereas, our school custodians are such an important part of our school staff that our schools could not operate properly without them

Therefore, be it resolved, that the DeKalb County School Board expresses appreciation to our custodians for all that they do to make our schools good places for students to grow and learn.

Be it further resolved, that each school is encouraged to celebrate the October 27, 2011 Custodian Appreciation Day by getting students, employees, and parents involved and in saying a heartfelt "thanks" to their custodians.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby updated the board on personnel.

The following persons have been employed since last month:

Anita Conley, Rhonda Pilgrim, and Judy Wright as substitute cooks/cafeteria workers
Dianne Werth, DCHS teacher
David Stanley, Donald Haggard, and James Lewis as substitute bus drivers

Leave of Absence:
Marla Beshearse, teacher at Northside Elementary School, granted a leave as requested
Carrie Lee, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, granted a leave as requested

Amy Tobitt, teacher at DCHS
Tonya Roberts, Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School
Neal Brown, bus driver

Jennifer Martin, Educational Assistant transferred from Northside Elementary to DeKalb West School replacing Tonya Roberts. David Stanley transferred to a full time bus driver replacing Neal Brown.

In other business, the board voted to formally request that the county commission allow school system related expenditures up to $10,000 without competitive bidding, which is the same limit allowed under state law. The current limit is $5,000 under the DeKalb County Private Chapter #63, Section 3.

The board set the date of the 2012 DeKalb County High School Graduation for Friday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. on the football field.

Four People Injured in Wreck near Sligo

October 13, 2011
Dwayne Page
Victoria Lawson of Kentucky Injured in this 2006 Nissan
Three from Nashville Injured in this 1996 Toyota Camry

Four people were injured in a two car crash Thursday on Highway 70 just west of Sligo bridge.

Trooper David Hickey of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 25 year old Kristin Byrd of Nashville was driving east in a 1996 Toyota Camry when she crossed the double yellow line into the path of a westbound 2006 Nissan driven by 28 year old Victoria Lawson of Smithgrove, Kentucky.

Passengers with Byrd were 33 year old Africa Sunshine Brown and 31 year old Dwayne Mack both of Nashville.

All were transported to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.

Trooper Hickey said Byrd would be cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and failure to exercise due care.

DeKalb Depot Delivers Utility Trailer for County Fire Department

October 13, 2011
Photo by Callie Matthews

The DeKalb County Fire Department recently took delivery of a new enclosed utility trailer from DeKalb Depot.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said the trailer will be used to transport the fire department's John Deere Gator recently acquired through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the trailer will be used to transport other emergency equipment as needed.

Chief Green added that his department is especially appreciative to DeKalb Depot for their assistance in helping obtain a purchasing discount that allowed the department to work within a tight budget to purchase the trailer.

Murfreesboro Man Dies in Motorcycle Crash

October 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Motorcycle Crash Claims Life of Murfreesboro Man
Murfreesboro Man Dies in Motorcycle Crash

A Murfreesboro man died in a motorcycle crash on State Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) Wednesday afternoon

Dead is 41 year old William Ellis, Jr.

Central dispatch received the call at 3:55 p.m.

Trooper Todd Logan of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Ellis, operating a 2005 Yamaha motorcycle, was traveling south on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when he failed to negotiate a curve, left the road, went down an embankment, and struck a tree. Ellis, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the bike. According to Trooper Logan, the motorcycle traveled approximately 150 feet from where it began to leave the highway to the place where it came to rest. The crash occurred less than a mile from Highway 70 on Dale Ridge Road.

Two other motorcycle operators were riding ahead of Ellis on Dale Ridge Road prior to the crash. Neither witnessed the accident but one of bikers happened to glance in his rear view mirror and noticed that Ellis was no longer following behind them. As the two bikers got to Highway 70, they turned back and began looking for Ellis near where they last spotted him. After searching by bike and on foot without success, they called 911 and deputies and DeKalb EMS arrived on the scene.

Ellis' motorcycle and his lifeless body were later discovered by a deputy while conducting a foot search in the area.

Deputy Medical Examiner Terry Martin and members of the county volunteeer fire department also came to the scene.

TDA's Division of Forestry Begins Requiring Burn Permits October 15

October 12, 2011

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Division of Fire Prevention are observing National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 9-15), by reminding homeowners to follow simple safety practices to prevent forest fires. The official start of forest fire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15.

“Because of dry conditions and the traditional start of fire season, it’s important that citizens call for a burning permit and follow outdoor burning safety recommendations,” said state forester Steve Scott. “Many areas of the state are very dry and the permit system helps us communicate to the public when and where it is safe to burn.”

Activities requiring a burning permit include unconfined outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste and burning to clear land. Burning permits are free of charge. Citizens can apply for burning permits by calling their local Division of Forestry office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Forestry offices are listed in your local phone directory under state government, or can be found by visiting www.burnsafetn.org, which also includes tips for safe debris burning. Permit holders should also check for other restrictions in their locale.

Burning permits can be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling the DeKalb County office of the Division of Forestry at 597-4015. In Smithville, call 215-3000 to obtain a burning permit. Permits can be obtained for small debris piles after hours and on the weekends by visiting www.burnsafetn.org.

New this year is the automated online system. The online permits are only available for small scale burning of leaf and/or brush piles measuring less than 8 feet by 8 feet in dimensions. The system was developed to more efficiently issue permits to landowners conducting small scale debris burns, and to provide better access through the weekend and after-work hours for landowners. These permits can be obtained on days and in counties where burn permits are allowed by visiting www.burnsafetn.org.

Homeowners living in forested communities can take steps to protect themselves and their property. Keeping gutters and rooftops free of debris, maintaining at least two to five feet of none flammable material next to the foundation of the home and clearing away flammable brush at least 30 feet from the house are just a few simple examples of what homeowners can do.

Wildfires are occasionally started by out of control house fires. The state Fire Marshal’s Office is warning citizens to also be aware of fire hazards in their home.

“For many years, Tennessee has occupied an undesirable ranking in the country for fire deaths. Falling asleep while smoking in bed or in a comfortable chair remains a significant cause of fire deaths in Tennessee,” says Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “Always make sure your home’s smoke detectors are functioning properly.”

Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires. Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

For more information, visit www.BurnSafeTN.org

Smithville Electric System Planning Power Outage

October 12, 2011
Dwayne Page

Smithville Electric System is planning a power outage which will affect all customers Sunday morning, October 23.

In a prepared news release, officials of Smithville Electric System state that " In order to upgrade our system's capacity and reliability, Smithville Electric is planning a Power Outage for all customers beginning Saturday midnight October 22nd at 12:01 a.m. thru early Sunday morning hours to approximately 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning."

"We plan to have all power restored well before sunrise on Sunday morning."

"This outage time will allow our personnel to safely install a new larger transformer in our substation. Our plans are to keep our outage time to a minimum and could be less."

"Actions you may consider before this event:

Shut down computers or provide battery backup
Leave electric garage doors open or cars outside
Notify alarm system companies of outage times
We do regret any inconvenience this outage may cause."

For more information you may contact our Smithville Electric office Monday- Friday 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. or our after hours answering service 24 hours a day at 615-597-4735 .

Fire Damages Mobile Home

October 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Photo by Callie Matthews

County firefighters responded to a fire at the single wide mobile home of Tim Johnson Monday night on Hickory Street off the Cookeville Highway.

It apparently began as a grease fire as the residents were in the kitchen doing some cooking. They put out the small blaze with a fire extinguisher and thought the problem was solved. But later, after they had left home to go to town, the fire rekindled.

911 was notified and firefighters were dispatched to the scene.

Lieutenant Brad Mullinax of the county fire department said that the blaze was confined to the kitchen and living room but the rest of the home received extensive heat, smoke, and water damage.

No one was injured.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and Tanker Truck responded.

Repair Work Underway at Veterans Memorial Bridge on College Street

October 11, 2011
Dwayne Page
Jamison Construction begins work College Street bridge
College Street closed to traffic Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Bridge

Repair work has begun on the College Street (Veterans Memorial) bridge over West Broad Street (U.S. 70) in Smithville.

TDOT let the bid to contract several weeks ago and Jamison Construction, LLC of McEwen was the successful bidder at $42,260.

According to TDOT officials, Jamison Construction plans to have temporary lane closures and pace traffic at various times depending upon the scope of the work both northbound and southbound on U.S. 70 from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. The estimated project completion date is November.

The repair work is needed apparently due primarily to collision damage caused by large trucks that have hit the bridge. The bridge underwent repairs for the same reason three years ago.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests for DUI and DRL

October 11, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department filed charges and issued citations against several persons this past week for driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that 49 year old Timothy Lloyd Caldwell of Medlin Drive of Dowelltown is charged with driving on a revoked license. He was also issued a citation for a violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and for failure to drive within his lane of traffic. His bond is $1, 500 and he will be in court on November 16

Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, October 5 a deputy stopped Caldwell on the Old Snow Hill Road for failure to maintain his lane of travel. A computer check revealed his license were revoked on August 24 for a DUI in Putnam County.

34 year old James Walter Stringer of Morgan Drive, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on October 13.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, October 6 Stringer was stopped on Highway 70 for squealing tires. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Stringer admitted to drinking beer and taking xanax. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks but refused to submit to a blood test.

43 year old Greta Lynn Higgins of Midway Road, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. She was also issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court on October 13.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, October 7. a deputy stopped Higgins on Highway 70 for failure to maintain her lane of travel. Higgins had slurred speech and she was very unsteady on her feet. She performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. She also submitted to a blood test. During the arrest, the officer found a hypodermic needle in Higgins' purse.

31 year old Tanya Renee Broad of Washington Street, Sparta is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. Her bond is $3,000.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, October 8 Broad was stopped by an officer on Highway 70 for a violation of the light law. She had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person and she was unsteady on her feet. Broad performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. She also submitted to a blood test.


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