Local News Articles

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County in Search of Next Partner Family

March 15, 2011

Looking for an affordable opportunity to put your family in your own home?

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is now searching for their next partner family and has begun accepting applications for the fourth house to be built. The location of the next home is on Hayes Street in Smithville.

An Informational Meeting and Application Fair will be held on Tuesday, March 29th at 6 p.m. in the basement of the DeKalb County Courthouse in downtown Smithville. During the meeting, families will receive help in completing the application and will be given information about the Habitat Program.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, you may call the Habitat phone number 615-215-8181 and leave your name, address and phone number and a Habitat volunteer will contact you to provide additional information and perhaps mail an application to you.

To be considered, completed and signed applications must be postmarked by Thursday, April 21, 2011.

The purpose of Habitat is to build homes with families and sell the houses at no profit and no interest to families who could not otherwise afford a house. This Christian ministry is financed through private donations and utilizes volunteer labor and donated materials, if possible.

Habitat guidelines are basically 3 major qualifications: need for housing, ability to pay and a willingness to partner. In addition, partner families must have been a resident of DeKalb County for at least 1 year prior to March 2011 and must be a US citizen or have permanent resident alien status.

A Family Selection Committee will consider applications, based on those major qualifications as well as some other general guidelines as follows:

"Must have a housing need: For example, no indoor plumbing, poor heating, leaks in the roof, overcrowding ( 3 to a bedroom), unsafe or unsanitary conditions

"Ability to Pay

"For a family of 4, the maximum allowable annual income is $25,520, which is 55% of the median income for families in our community. If you are age 60 or have a special needs household member, the maximum allowable annual income level for a family of 4 is $27,840. The income levels vary according to family size. You may get detailed information specific to your family at the informational meeting on March 29.

"With your permission, we will verify employment and other income, verify checking and savings account balances, get a statement from your current landlord, have a credit check completed and and a criminal background check.

"Willingness to Partner

"If approved for a Habitat house, we will ask that you be willing to join in programs to learn and practice budgeting, home repair and home maintenance.

"If approved for a Habitat house, we require that all adult household members ( 18 years and older) be willing to work a combined total of 500 hours of "sweat equity", with 100 of those hours completed before construction. Children who are members of the household may help with "sweat equity" by improving their grades in school and having good attendance at school.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is very anxious to help another family have their dream of home ownership become a reality.

Man Charged with Statutory Rape of 15 Year old at SES during "Read Night"

March 14, 2011
Dwayne Page

A 25 year old man is facing a statutory rape charge after allegedly having sex with a fifteen year old girl in an unoccupied classroom at Smithville Elementary while the school was hosting a "Read Night" program on Monday evening, March 7th.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger is asking the public for help in locating Roel Celaya Sosa aka Carlos Oliver Aldino, who has not yet been arrested and may have fled. Sosa, who lived in Apartment-A at 615 South Mountain Street, was employed at Zelenka Nursery as a crew leader. Workers there told police Monday, March 14th, that Sosa has failed to show up for work in recent days and indicated that he might have gone to Mexico.

Detective Matt Holmes, who is investigating the case, told WJLE Monday that on the night of the offense, the fifteen year old girl was at the school to look after her younger brother who was participating in"Read Night", a teacher supervised program where parents and students come to school after hours and read together. The mother of these two children had apparently dropped them off at the school and then returned later to pick them up.

After arriving at the school that night, the fifteen year old met up with Sosa and they separated themselves from others in the building. Police have declined to make public more details about the encounter between the two, fearing it might harm the prosecution of the case. According to Detective Holmes, a custodian later saw Sosa and the victim standing in the hallway and told them they were not supposed to be there.

The next day, Detective Holmes said the custodian informed Principal Dr. Bill Tanner of the incident and he contacted the victim's mother. She then reported it to School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead, who contacted the Department of Children Services and Detective Holmes.

Although Sosa has not been found, Smithville Police have seized his green Chevy Tahoe. The vehicle was found parked at Sosa's residence. Detective Holmes said police believe he drove it to the school to commit the act, which is use of a vehicle in the commission of a felony.

State Legislation Clarifies that Counties have No Line-Item Veto Authority over Election Commission Budgets

March 14, 2011
State Senator Mae Beavers

A bill sponsored by State Senator Mae Beavers makes clear that county governments do not have the authority to make line-item vetoes in the budgets of local election commissions.

Senator Beavers told WJLE Monday that this legislation simply clarifies already existing case law. "I just want to set the record straight on what we're doing. We are clarifying the law according to the case law. Decisions have been made in court as to some of these things so we're just clarifying the law to be in line with the case law," said Senator Beavers.

"The bill says county commissions have no line-item veto authority over the election commission budget. That has been case law for ever and ever as to any entity in the county. I found that out when I served on the county commission (Wilson County). I've been there. I've done that. I'm not going to do anything to harm the county. But county commissioners simply can't go through each and every budget and cut out the line items that they want to cut out. I know how county commissioners feel. I've been there. I've felt the same way. But I was told at that time that we did not have line item veto authority over anybody's budget. So this is just clarifying the law," said Senator Beavers

"The court has also ruled in the past that (election commissions) are a state agency more or less but they're funded by the county and they (election commissioners) have to present a reasonable budget. The law already says that the budget can't be any less than the year before. This bill clarifies that if the county commission does not fund them (election commissions) in a reasonable manner with the money they need to conduct elections, that they (election commissions) can go to Chancery Court and ask the court to make a ruling. That's not anything new. We're just clarifying the law," according to Senator Beavers.

"There's no reason for anybody to get excited. If they think this is going to cost the county money, it's not. We got the fiscal note on this Sunday and there is no fiscal impact to the state or the county. Its simply not going to harm the county at all. Its not changing things," said concluded.

Present law generally requires each county to fund the operations of its election commission. If a county fails to appropriate funds sufficient to pay expenses that are reasonably necessary for the discharge of the statutorily mandated duties of its county election commission, the commission is authorized to petition the chancery court of the county in which such election commission is located to compel the appropriation of such funds.

This bill specifies that counties do not have the authority to make line-item vetoes to items in their election commissions' budgets. This bill specifies that the decision whether to petition a chancery court for an appropriation lies solely within the commission's discretion. This bill designates clear and convincing evidence of unreasonableness as the burden of proof that a county must meet in order to defeat a commission's petition to compel an appropriation. This bill also requires that the county must pay the commission's legal fees that are associated with the commission's funding.

Parents Make Sure Students Immunizations Up To Date

March 14, 2011
Dwayne Page
Dee Anna Reynolds

Dee Anna Reynolds, DeKalb County School Health Coordinator, has issued a reminder to parents to make sure your children have their required immunizations up to date.

Speaking during the school board meeting Thursday night, Reynolds said " for the parents and guardians regarding immunizations for next year, any student who will be entering seventh grade next year will have to be current on their DTP vaccinations. That's the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. They will also need proof of varicella immunity. That's the chickenpox. There's four ways they can do that: date of birth before 1980, which that's not going to be any of our seventh graders; history of chickenpox illness diagnosed by a healthcare provider; documentation of two doses of varicella; vaccine given at least twenty eight days apart, excluding doses given earlier than four days before their first birthday; or documentation of a blood test if they do not have doctor documentation," said Reynolds.

"For our high school seniors who are entering colleges or universities this year, they are also going to need proof of that varicella immunity (those same four ways); their second dose of MMR which is the measles, mumps, and rubella; and they may also need an additional tetanus depending upon when they did get their DTP," said Reynolds.

"I'd like to also remind parents to keep their children up to date on immunizations because we do check those each year a few weeks after school starts up. Those must be on the correct form. Those can be obtained from the health department, the Tennessee Department of Health, or private physicians. If you have questions about immunizations you can learn more on the Tennessee Department of Health website," added Reynolds.

The Loop: A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

March 14, 2011
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a weekly legislative update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver:

Health Care Freedom Act Passes General Assembly, Headed to Governor for Signature

The “Tennessee Health Care Freedom Act” passed the House this week, meaning the legislation is now on its way to the Governor for his signature. This bill’s passage is part of a larger effort by the General Assembly to not only encourage job growth, but protect the valuable jobs already in Tennessee.

The legislation was an integral piece for many legislators’ agendas over the last two years. A majority of House Members felt it was necessary for Tennessee to take action and protect the State from job losses that would have inevitably occurred due to the onerous mandates stemming from the federal health care law. More importantly, the legislation protects the integrity of individual rights for Tennesseans.

Essentially, the soon-to-be law ensures every person within Tennessee is free to choose or decline any mode of health care services without penalty or punishment from the government. Additionally, it prohibits Tennessee officials from interfering with the health care insurance decisions of every Tennessean.

On Monday, the bill passed in an overwhelming, bipartisan fashion with a 70-27 vote. The bill sponsor said, “I believe this bill sets a precedent for States to begin protecting their citizens from a federal government that taxes too much, spends too much, and regulates too much. Tonight, with one voice that has been a long time coming, Tennessee tells Washington, ‘no’.” It was such a huge honor to carry this bill in the House.

Jobs Agenda Keeps Rolling Along in Tennessee

While the country is still grappling with the effects of a harsh recession, Tennessee’s economy continues to prove many experts wrong. In a mid-week announcement, the Governor and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development announced another company was expanding their facility in the Volunteer State. Tennessee has seen a surge of relocations and growth from many companies over the last few years that view our right-to-work State as a low-tax haven with a strong and qualified worker base.

The Japanese company is expanding its Coffee County manufacturing facility with a $32 million investment that will provide 70 news jobs to the area.

The ECD Commissioner stated this is another win for Tennessee's push to improve unemployment, especially in rural counties. The Governor added, “Japan has long been Tennessee’s largest foreign investor nation, and we are particularly grateful for the growing presence of Japanese companies in the Volunteer State and the investment and jobs they bring.”

Governor’s Education Reform Agenda Begins Moving in House

On Wednesday, the initial plank of the Governor’s education reform agenda began moving in the House with passage of the teacher tenure reform in the House Education Subcommittee.

The legislation passed the House Education Subcommittee with a strong 9-4 vote. As written, the reforms will require an educator to be on the job five years instead of the current three before being granted tenure. Additionally, in a common sense move, the legislation makes poor performance a reason for tenure to be revoked. These reforms will ensure Tennessee’s next generation is being taught by the best and brightest teachers. The bill places student achievement and excellent teacher performance as the main priorities for Tennessee’s educational system. The bill now goes before the full Education Committee for approval.

In related news, the Education Subcommittee passed an equal access bill that allows for other professional organizations to represent our State’s teachers. Currently, only one union is allowed to represent educators, essentially silencing thousands of teachers across the State. Next week, the Education Subcommittee will deal with legislation that reforms charter school requirements, including lifting the cap on the number of those schools. After that, the Subcommittee will move on to consider changes to the mandatory negotiating authority of the unions.

Agreement Reached That Allows Tennessee Veterans Day Flag Tradition to Continue

House and Senate Members announced this week they have been informed about an administrative change will take place to allow for the long-standing practice of placing American flags on the graves of veterans in Tennessee's veteran cemeteries on Veteran's Day. The lawmakers have worked with the Governor and the Veterans Affairs Commissioner to make the appropriate administrative changes to permit volunteers, like the Boy Scouts, to place the flags on the graves.

The cemeteries fall under the federal Floral Regulations for the gravesites of military veterans which prohibits the practice except on Memorial Day. Adherence to those regulations raised many concerns and questions by community organizations and others who sought to decorate the graves with flags last year on Veteran's Day. The administrative change anticipates a change in the federal regulations.

The VA Commissioner remarked, “Placement of flags on the graves of our heroes reflects honor and respect. It makes a public statement that the State of Tennessee shall never forget the many sacrifices of a few so that all can enjoy our freedom. Changing this policy is the right thing to do.”

Governor to Deliver His First State of the State Address Next Week

In what is often a highly-anticipated speech to highlight the priorities of Tennessee’s government, the Governor will deliver his first State of the State Address on Monday, March 14th. The House and Senate will enter into a Joint Convention in the House Chambers at 5:45p.m., with the Governor delivering the address at 6:00p.m.

The address offers all Members of the General Assembly and the citizens of Tennessee a unique chance to hear directly from the Governor about his Administration’s top initiatives. Tennesseans can expect to hear about economic growth, limiting government, education reform, and budget proposals, among many other important topics.

As always, I am so honored to represent each and every one of you. Please continue to keep me and the rest of the Legislature in your thoughts and prayers. Hope to see you all very soon.

DeKalb Jobless Rate Jumps to 10.3% in January

March 13, 2011
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate jumped from 9.4% in December to 10.3% in January according to new numbers released Thursday by the state. Still, the local jobless rate was better than the rate of 11.3% recorded in January, 2010.

DeKalb County's Labor Force in January, 2011 was at 9,990. A total of 8,960 were employed and 1,030 were unemployed

Among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland, DeKalb County recorded the second lowest jobless rate for the month of January.

Pickett County- 18.4%
Van Buren- 14.1%
White- 14.1%
Clay- 13.6%
Fentress- 13.1%
Macon- 12.2%
Smith- 11.5%
Putnam- 9.6%

Tennessee's unemployment rate for January was 9.5 percent, up 0.1 from the December rate. The national unemployment rate for January 2011 was 9.0 percent, 0.4 percentage point lower than the December rate.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for January 2011, show that the rate increased in 95 counties.

Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.7 percent, up from the December rate of 6.2 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 23.2 percent, up from 19.7 percent in the previous month, followed by Pickett County at 18.4 percent, up from the December rate of 15.4 percent.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.5 percent, up from 6.8 percent in December. Hamilton County was 8.7 percent, up from 7.6 percent the previous month. Davidson County was 8.6 percent, up from 8.1 percent in December, and Shelby County was 10.4 percent, up from 9.4 percent in December.

School Board Schedules Workshop to Address Science Needs at DCHS

March 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
W.J. (Dub) Evins, III

The DeKalb County Board of Education has scheduled a workshop for Monday, April 4th at 6:00 p.m. at DCHS to discuss plans for addressing science needs at the high school.

Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, during Thursday night's monthly school board meeting, said the science labs at the school haven't been updated in many years and its time for the board to act. "We want to do this right. Its going to take some time. If the county mayor and county commission deem this to be appropriate to amend our budget for this year then hopefully we can get started on this and have something done and completed through the summer months so that the classes coming back in 2011-12 can take advantage of this," said Evins.

"We have students leave this school and go to college. Some of them do okay in physics and chemistry. Some of them struggle with it. But its not because of the teachers. We have some teachers who are capable of teaching in any school but they need the facilities to work with and we're not providing that. We need to get with the program, meet, and then ask for a budget amendment. This may even involve having a portable classroom for the actual class and turning that into a full fledged lab. We need to do what's needed. If we're going to just take a band aid approach we might as well not do anything. If we can do it and do it right, that's great. Its not going to be money wasted because if we have a long range plan of five years or more for a new high school and it be the wishes of the board and community that (existing high school building) be turned into a middle school, then what better opportunity could the (future) middle school students have than to have a chemistry, physics, biology, and science lab? That would be a blessing," said Evins.

Application Filing Deadline Approaching for Local Scholarships

March 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Lori Barnes Myrick

The DeKalb County High School Guidance Department is urging parents to encourage their high school seniors to submit scholarship applications by the deadlines.

Lori Barnes Myrick, DCHS School Counselor says almost all local scholarship applications are due at the DCHS Guidance Office by March 30th.

The following local scholarships are available:

Smithville Women's Club (This scholarship is for female students and applications are due on April 8th)

DeKalb Democratic Party Scholarship (applications due April 8th)


DeKalb Community Hospital

Eddie Crips Memorial

Love Cantrell Funeral Home

Alan Hooper Memorial

DeKalb Farmers Coop

Class of 1966

DeKalb Soil Conservation

Smithville Rotary

DeKalb Republican Women's Club

DeKalb County Firefighters Association

Kyle and Kenny Robinson Memorial

Jolly Angels

Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship

Agee Oil

Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club

DeKalb Scottish Rite

Liberty State Bank

Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial

Class of 1969


AmVets Auxiliary

First Bank

DeKalb County Retired Teachers

Jeff Garrett Memorial

David Wayne Alexander Memorial

Dailey and Vincent

Local Scholarship Applications are now available in the Guidance Office or
on the DCHS website: http://www.teacherweb.com/tn/dekalbcountyhighschool/guidance/

Smithville Police Department Crime News

March 11, 2011
Dwayne Page

Five people have either been arrested or issued citations by Smithville Police within the last week.

In the most recent city crime report, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 41 year old Donna Sue Overall of McMinnville was issued a citation on Saturday, March 5th for simple possession. Ms. Overall was in a motel room that was being searched by police. Upon her giving consent to search her person and purse, Officer Brad Tatrow recovered some pills in her purse that were not in a prescription bottle. Her court date is March 31st.

23 year old Francisco Maximo Domenguez of Hayes Street was arrested on Saturday, March 5th by Corporal Travis Bryant for driving on a revoked license, a first offense of driving under the influence, and criminal impersonation. Corporal Bryant was dispatched to the West Broad Street area regarding a person in a white Mustang driving recklessly. After making contact with the driver, Mr. Domenguez, the officer ran a computer check which revealed Domenguez was driving on a license which had been revoked due to a previous DUI offense. The criminal impersonation charge was filed against Domenguez after he gave a different name when first confronted by police. Bond for Domenguez is $5,000 and his court date is March 31st.

43 year old Rasikkumar H Patel of Stone Gate Drive was arrested on Monday, March 7th for assault. According to the warrant, an employee of Mr. Patel informed Officer Matt Farmer that Patel entered his store and hit her with his fist on the upper part of her right arm leaving a very large bruise. The incident allegedly occurred at the BP Station located at 627 West Broad Street. The employee claims she was sitting behind the counter when Patel came in, shook his head, rolled his eyes at her, and then punched her twice in the arm. The employee claims Patel was angry with her because she had asked off from work. Bond for Patel is $2,500 and his court date is March 17th.

39 year old Robert E Knox of Foster Road was arrested by Officer James Cornelius for driving under the influence on Thursday, March 10th. According to the warrant, Officer Cornelius was called to Wal-Mart to check out someone who appeared to be asleep at the wheel of a vehicle that was parked up front in the no parking zone. Upon arrival Officer Cornelius saw the man, later identified as Robert Knox behind the wheel of the vehicle. The engine was running and the gear was in the drive position. Knox appeared to be asleep. After waking up Knox, Officer Cornelius asked him if he had been drinking or had taken any narcotics. Knox replied that he had taken some medication about 20 minutes prior. Knox submitted to several field sobriety tasks and performed poorly. He was also unsteady on his feet. Bond for Knox is $1,500 and his court date is March 31st.

29 year old Joshua K Vickers of Liberty was issued a citation on Friday, March 11th for shoplifting and possession of a schedule III & IV controlled substance. Captain Steven Leffew was dispatched to the Dollar General Store where he was informed by the manager that Vickers was spotted putting an item in his pants. Vickers produced the item for Captain Leffew. Upon a search of Mr. Vickers' person, a schedule III & IV drug were recovered in an Rx pill bottle without a label. His court date is March 31st.

Meanwhile anyone with information on any offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Core Drilling Scheduled Monday on Allen Ferry Road Property

March 11, 2011
Dwayne Page

Core drilling has not yet been conducted on the property the school board is hoping to purchase on Allen Ferry Road because of recent rainy weather.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said Thursday night during the school board meeting that the core drilling has been re-scheduled for next week. "We were supposed to have core drilling done last Wednesday but the rain came in and we didn't get to have it on that day. We were going to have it on Monday but that didn't happen either because of the rain. Now it's set up for the core drilling to be done next Monday depending upon the weather. We're hoping to have that complete to give you (school board) a report pretty soon."

Meanwhile, Willoughby said he is hoping to negotiate a better price for the property with the owners after a recent survey of the site. "When we had the land surveyed, it came out to 52.97 acres which is about 4.68 acres less than what we thought it was going to be. When we looked at the survey the discrepancy in the 4.68 acres was actually an area that we could not use anyway so I am talking with the owners about lowering the price. I think that may be a good possibility that we may be able to purchase the property a little bit cheaper than what we had planned on."

Willoughby added "I think that particular site is going to suit our purposes really well. We will go forward once we get the core drilling and the professional opinions from the people that do this all the time. We'll find out whether we go ahead or not. Some people have been concerned but I just want to let everybody know that if the site doesn't meet the professional opinions of the engineers and it's not found to be a good building site, we won't go forward. If it does meet the opinions and the requirements of the architects and engineers then we will go forward with it. We're just waiting on the core drilling."

The school board voted last month to request that the county commission adopt a budget amendment to appropriate $374,000 of Basic Education Program (BEP) Reserve funds to purchase 57.59 acres more or less on Allen Ferry Road to be used for future educational needs. So far, the county commission has not acted on the request.


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