Local News Articles

Career Coach Mobile Unit Returning to Smithville

November 15, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Career Coach mobile unit will be in Smithville Wednesday, November 16 from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Smithville Head Start Center at 118 Kimberly Lane.

A service of the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Career Coach adds a valuable dimension to its services to reach people across the state who do not have a Career Center in proximity to their homes or places of employment.

"We want to make Career Center services accessible to job seekers and employers in their home communities," said Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis. "The mobile units will offer the same services available to our customers as when they walk into one of our Career Centers located across the state."

The mobile units are set up as computer lab classrooms, each having 10 workstations that are equipped with a laptop with high-speed Internet connection. At one end of the coach is the instructor's workstation that is connected to a 42" flat-screen TV with SmartBoard® overlay and a DVD/CD player. The coaches are equipped with a wheelchair lift, and the workstations are ADA compliant.

"The mobile units serve multiple purposes," said Lynn Gibbs, coordinator for the middle Tennessee coach. "Job applicants can register for work and search available openings online. They can also take part in the three workshops we offer – résumé preparation, job search skills, and interviewing skills."

In addition, Gibbs said the department is inviting employers to use the coaches for recruiting, pre-employment screening, taking job applications onsite, and interviewing applicants. "New businesses can use the coaches as a working space when facilities are still under construction, yet the company needs to start hiring. Employers can also
conduct company training classes, since the buses have learning-support technology."

Labor's Adult Education division plans to use the mobile units for enrollment pre- and post-testing, orientation, administering the Official GED Practice Test, and offering GED Fast Track classes.

Because 31 of the state's 95 counties have limited Career Center services, the coaches extend job recruitment and training activities to those areas. These 31 counties have little or no Labor staff present, although Work Investment Area staff may be available. "It's hard enough to be unemployed, but having to drive 30 to 50 miles to a Career Center creates an extra hardship, with gas costing more than $3 a gallon," said Gibbs. "We hope when people see the mobile units they will be a positive sign that jobs are not far behind."

Counties served by the middle Tennessee coach are the following (underlined counties have limited Career Center service): Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Davidson, DeKalb, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Moore, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren, Wayne, White, Williamson, and Wilson.

The cost of the three coaches in the fleet is about $188,000 apiece. Funding for the mobile units came out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) $4.6 million for Re-Employment Services that Tennessee received. The additional total cost per program year to operate all three units, including maintenance and staff, is $513,000.

Besides being used for Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development activities, first priority use of the coaches will be for national, state, and local emergencies. For example, in the event of another disaster such as the Nashville flood in May 2010, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency need to use the coach would
take precedence over any scheduled departmental booking. The bus is equipped with high-speed satellite Internet and modern radio communications.

If you're an employer who would like to use the Career Coach to interview employees for a new or expanding business or use the bus as a training classroom, go to the Web site at www.getonthecoach.tn.gov/ or call (615) 741-0634. You will be able to check availability and request reservation for an event.

If you would like to ask questions of the Department of Labor and to see photos of the Career Coach, visit the Facebook site at www.facebook.com/GetOnTheCoach.

Sykes Arrested after Allegedly Breaking into a Home

November 14, 2011
Dwayne Page
Scott Lynn Sykes
Joseph Matthews Giles, II
 Walter D. Crawford

A 38 year old Smithville man was arrested Friday after trying to flee from a home he had allegedly just burglarized on Big Hurricane Road.

Scott Lynn Sykes of Alexander Street, Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary, vandalism under $500, resisting arrest, and evading arrest. His bond totals $12,500 and he will be in court on November 17.

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Friday, November 11 Sykes allegedly broke into a home on Big Hurricane Road by kicking in the back door, causing less than $500 in damage to the door. A deputy was called to the residence and upon arrival, he saw a man running out of the back door of the home and into the woods. The officer caught up with the suspect, Sykes, and placed him under arrest. Sykes resisted, refusing to be handcuffed. The officer took him to the ground and forcibly handcuffed him. According to Sheriff Ray, Sykes had allegedly stepped in some fresh white paint while he was at the residence. He still had some white paint on his boots when he was arrested.

Meanwhile, 18 year old Joseph Matthews Giles, II of Foster Road, Smithville is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Bond for Giles is $1,000 and he will be in court on December 1.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Sunday, November 13 Giles went on a date with a 14 year old female and spent the night with her at his grandmother's home without the permission of the girl's mother.

45 year old Walter D. Crawford of Bluhmtown Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property over $500. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on November 17

Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, November 2 Crawford took from property on Blumntown Road, a door, a large window, and two small windows all valued at over $500.

Crawford is a co-defendant with 43 year old Raymond Earl Tague of Bluhmtown Road, Smithville who was arrested last week and charged with theft of property over $500 in the same case. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court November 17.

Community Improvement Award Presented to Girl Scout Troop 343

November 14, 2011
Girl Scout Troop 343

The Chamber of Commerce recently presented a Community Improvement Award to Girl Scout Troop 343 for the nice improvements made to the Town Cemetery in Downtown Smithville.

The Girl Scouts made this contribution as part of their Silver Award Project. After meeting with Mr. Tommy Webb and researching how to safely clean tombstones, they went to work. Tombstones were cleaned, a sunken grave and holes were filled, old vines from the fence were removed, 3 small trees were cut down, and trash and fallen limbs were collected and removed. Girl Scout Troop 343 would like to express their appreciation to Mr. Tommy Webb for his help, to Mr. Jewell Redmon for donating the topsoil, and to the City of Smithville for providing water

Pictured l-r:
Front row: Ashley Phillips, Zoe Cripps, Katherine Parsley

2nd row: Baylee Phillips, Callie Cripps, Karen Johnson, Susan Webb, Rachel Fuson, Sophie Cripps, Chloe Cripps, Kristen Parsley

Back row: Alan Webb, TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee & President of Town Cemetery; Steve White, chair, TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee; Wade Smith, TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee; Rob Willingham, Chamber Board Member; and Suzanne Williams, Chamber Director and TN Downtowns Program Steering Committee

USDA Announces Disaster Assistance Sign Up for 2010 Crop Losses

November 14, 2011

DeKalb County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Donny Green today announced that the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program enrollment for 2010 crop year losses begins November 14, 2011.

"Producers across the state experienced several natural disasters during the 2010 crop year that caused hardship and financial losses to many agricultural operations," said Green. "The SURE program provides assistance to producers when disaster strikes, so I strongly encourage producers with 2010 crop losses to contact the DeKalb County FSA office to learn more about the program," he said.

To qualify for a SURE payment, the producer's operation must be located in a county that was declared a disaster for 2010 and have at least a 10 percent production loss that affects one crop of economic significance. Producers with agricultural operations located outside a disaster county are eligible for SURE benefits if they had a production loss greater or equal to 50 percent of the normal production on the farm.

To meet program eligibility requirements, producers must have obtained a policy or plan of insurance for all insurable crops through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and obtained Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage on non-insurable crops, if available, from FSA. Eligible farmers and ranchers who meet the definition of a socially disadvantaged, limited resource or beginning farmer or rancher do not have to meet this requirement. Forage crops intended for grazing are not eligible for SURE benefits.

For more information on SURE program eligibility requirements contact the DeKalb County FSA office at (615) 597-8225, extension 2, or visit the website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/sure.

Community Observes Veterans Day

November 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Ronnie Goodwin

Members of the community joined the American Legion Post #122 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7623 in a Veterans Day observance Friday morning at the 303 building downtown Smithville.

The program featured performances by the Smith Family, singing gospel and patriotic music, and members of the DCHS band. Local minister Charles Olson opened with prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance led by Doyle Smith. Anthony Rosolowski led the audience in singing the Star Spangled Banner and Susan Hinton read a poem by an unknown author called "You Can't Tell a Vet Just By Looking".

"He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carrier didn't run out of fuel."

"He is the barroom loudmouth whose behavior is outweighed in the cosmic scales by four hours of unparalleled bravery near the 38th Parallel in Korea."

"She is the nurse who fought against futility in Da Nang and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years."

"He is the POW who left one person and came back another"

"He is the drill instructor who has never been in combat, but has saved countless lives by turning no-accounts into Marines."

"He is the parade-riding legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand."

"He is the white-haired guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp."

"A vet is an ordinary and extraordinary human being, someone who offered his life's vital years in the service of his country."

"He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. We will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude we owe."

Ronnie Goodwin, the featured speaker, called for unity in America again and encouraged each of us to personally thank veterans for their sacrifices. "What is it that burns so bright in people like you that you would give everything you have, that you would risk your very lives not for just this country but to go around the world countless times to fight for freedom for other people who would love to have what we have and all too often that we take for granted?"

"What can we do or say this morning that could come close to saying thank you? I don't know."

"One thing I think we can do is to start living what we say we believe as Americans. This country has been divided in recent years probably more so than at any time since the Civil War. We hear of red states and blue states. Liberal and conservative. Rich and poor. My dad (who is a World War II veteran and ex-POW) was in my office one day. When he went out I heard him talking to a man in the lobby. It was a political discussion. Dad said my young friends and I went to Europe and fought and my buddies died. They didn't die for red states or blue states. They died for the UNITED STATES."

"We need to come together and show the world again what we're about. A simple thank you wouldn't hurt either. Besides a close family member, how many of us know a veteran and take the time to walk up and say thank you with a firm handshake. Not for saving the world. Goodness knows they've done that. Not for preserving the liberties we love. That's a given. But look them in the eye and say thank you for ME. FOR ME. That I can get up and breathe the air of freedom and live in the greatest country that the good Lord as ever let stand. Its that simple," said Goodwin.

Following the program, a wreath was placed at the veterans memorial monument on the south side of the courthouse near the eternal flame. The wreath was laid by veterans Edward Frazier, Ronnie Redmon, Jimmy Sprague, and Tom Skelenka along with Captain Scott Emmons of the Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Captain Emmons conducted his first tour of duty in Iraq from July 2009 to August 2010 and his preparing to return there.

(TOP PHOTO: Left to right- Ronnie Redmon, Jimmy Sprague, Captain Scott Emmons, Edward Frazier, and Tom Skelenka)

DeKalb Awarded CDBG Grant for Water Line Extension

November 12, 2011
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty have approved more than $23 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist with infrastructure improvements in Tennessee including a $500,000 grant for the DeKalb Utility District.

County Mayor Mike Foster told WJLE Friday that the local grant will be used to install water lines to serve approximately ninety residents on Oakley Road, Dismal, Tramel Branch, Long Branch, and Givens Hollow. Foster said he received the news of the grant award from State Senator Mae Beavers.

The county applied for the grant on behalf of the DeKalb Utility District and the DUD will fund the local matching obligation.

Foster said he is very grateful that DeKalb County has been awarded this grant. "We have been really fortunate in the last several years. We have received four of these grants probably in the last eight or nine years. We try to select the areas that are in the highest need," said Foster.

"As we work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, the proper infrastructure must support existing and future businesses," Haslam said. "I am pleased the state of Tennessee is able to partner with our local communities to make these projects a reality."

The funds were allocated under a procedure authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly.

"Community development is essential in growing the economy and creating a business friendly environment," Hagerty said. "CDBG grants allow communities to take the steps needed that will ultimately encourage existing businesses to expand and future companies to relocate and invest in Tennessee."

Allocation of CDBG funds is based on priorities set at local levels where community needs are best known. The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

DCHS Building Trades Home Ready for Sale

November 11, 2011
Dwayne Page
DCHS Building Trades Home Ready for Sale

Students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program have completed their latest home and its now ready for sale.

The Board of Education Thursday night voted to advertise the sale of the home at cost plus ten percent.

Up until this year, all homes built through this program were constructed on lots which had been purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed.

But for the first time, a home has been built on campus at DeKalb County High School and now that its finished, the house is to be sold and the owner will be responsible for the costs and liability of moving it to his or her own lot. Since the home will have to be moved, some finishing work will be required by the owner once its relocated. "Its roughed in on the inside. There's no sheet rock inside. Its roughed in for plumbing. There's no siding on the outside. It does have the windows and doors in it and the roof is covered. It's a shingled roof. Its just a basic house. The reason it's a basic house is because when you go to move that and you've done a lot of interior work you could have some problems inside so its just a basic shell. I would call it a dried in house with the rough ins done," said Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education Director, who addressed the board Thursday night.

Class instructor Melvin Young told WJLE in September that work on the home, a 1,456 square foot structure, began in August. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Money from the sale of the home will go back into the building trades program to start another house.

Leach said that a total of $14,964 has been invested in this house. He recommended that a contract be drawn up specifying that the buyer assume the costs and liability of moving the home and establishing a time limit of sixty days for the house to be off the school property.

Leach also announced that the DCHS buildings trades class will be building a new ticket booth at the football field. "It will have access to both sides where you can run (pedestrian) traffic through and get people in a lot quicker. Sometimes the line is back almost to the gym for football games so that will alleviate people having to stand and wait and get them through a lot quicker," he said.

In other business, the board adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

The resolution states that "Whereas, Mr. Mark Willoughby has held the position of Director since July 1, 2006, and continues to inspire and motivate the administrators, faculty and staff of our school system to continually grow in their positions and to be the very best they can be; and

Whereas, our Director insures the safety and welfare of all our students, and makes decisions based on honesty and integrity; and

Whereas, he is a leader who builds community support for the public school system by attending school functions, getting involved in the inner-workings of our schools and speaking out for the needs of our schools; and

Whereas, he works with our board of education to create a vision of excellence for our school system and strives to make that vision become reality.

Therefore, be it resolved, that the DeKalb County Board of Education hereby establishes November 17, 2011 as Director of Schools Appreciation Day in our school system; and

Be it further resolved that the board encourages students, parents and staff to join us in expressing appreciation to Mr. Willoughby for all he does.

Meanwhile, Director Willoughby presented the board his monthly update on personnel.

Those employed include substitute teachers: Kevin Agee, Sue Close, Courtney Cope, Bethany Davis, Chelsea Grissom, Charlene Hallum, Rebecca Hamilton, Joyce Hendrixson, Leitita Henry, Wilma Hope, Jessica Patrick, Angelia Pedigo, Jessica Rackley, Doreen Reynolds, Brad Trapp, and Mack White.

Resignations: Suzanne Williams, Special Education Assistant DCHS, resigned.

Smithville Elementary School Observes Veterans Appreciation Day

November 10, 2011
Dwayne Page
SES Student shaking hands with Marine Veteran John Hummer
SES Students preparing to mail letters to local veterans
SES students at Veterans Appreciation Day
SES Principal Dr. Bill Tanner

A Veterans Appreciation assembly program was held Thursday morning at Smithville Elementary School in recognition of Veteran's Day Friday, November 11th.

Patriotic music was played as students from pre-kindergarten to the second grade filed into the gymnasium for the assembly program. Scouts presented the colors. Students, teachers, and guests stood for the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Principal Dr. Bill Tanner introduced the honored guests including local veterans Paul Robinson (Navy), Carlton Miller(Army), James Dean (Army), Daniel Flynn (Navy), John Hummer(Marines), Ronnie Redmon (Air Force), Clyde Medley (Army), Larry Green (Air Force), Jimmy Sprague (Army), Edward Frazier (Army), Edsel Frazier(Army), Walter Johnson (Army), and Charles Olson(Army & Air Force)

Dr. Tanner also mentioned the names of three other young men who are currently serving in Afghanistan from this area including David Hinton (Navy), Troy Hinton(Navy), and Nick Lester (Army) who left on a plane today (Thursday) to return to Afghanistan.

Adrienne McCormick read the following "Veterans Day" poem by Cheryl Dyson:

"On Veterans Day we honor all,
Who answered to a service call,
Soldiers young, and soldiers old,
Fought for freedom, brave and bold

Some have lived, while others died,
And all of them deserve our pride,
We're proud of all the soldiers who,
Kept thinking of red, white, and blue,

They fought for us and all our rights,
They fought through many days and nights,
And though we may not know each name,
We thank ALL veterans just the same."

Each class at the school has written letters which were collected Thursday morning to be mailed to local veterans.

Kelly Birmingham led the students in singing "God Bless the USA"

After the program, many of the students filed by each veteran shaking their hand in a show of respect and appreciation for their service to our country.

The purpose of the assembly was to honor veterans and try to instill in these children at an early
age the importance of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country.

The Veterans Appreciation Day program was organized by teachers Jan Thomas, Janet Woodward, Beth Cantrell, and Margaret Nichols.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson Involved in Minor Traffic Accident

November 9, 2011
Dwayne Page
Damage to 1997 Chevy Blazer driven by Mayor Taft Hendrixson

Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson was involved in a minor two vehicle traffic accident Wednesday morning on West Broad Street.

Trooper Al Seitner of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 82 year old Jelaski Denise Close of Smithville, driving a 1989 Ford Taurus pulled out of a parking lot on West Broad Street and crossed the path of a 1997 Chevy Blazer, driven by 68 year old Taft Hendrixson, who was west on Broad Street.

No one was injured in the accident. The Blazer the mayor was driving is a city owned vehicle.

There were no charges or citations issued.

Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Seeks Christmas Cards for Members of U.S. Military

November 9, 2011
Dwayne Page
Red Cross Rep. Kathy Nesmith and Liberty Sr. Citizens Director Nancy Goad

The holiday season is just around the corner and it's time again to start thinking about being part of the 2011 American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes. For a fifth year, American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes are partnering to ensure all Americans have an opportunity to send a touch of home this holiday season to members of our U.S. military, veterans and their families, many of whom will be far away from home this holiday season.

Starting this fall and throughout the holiday season, the Red Cross is working with Pitney Bowes, a mail stream technology company, to collect and distribute holiday cards to American service members, veterans and their families in the United States and around the world.

The process is very simple and takes no time at all - All you need is a pen and piece of paper to share your appreciation for the sacrifices members of the U.S. Armed Forces make to protect our freedoms The Holiday Mail for Heroes mail box is open and ready to receive for your cards.

Kathy Nesmith, executive director of the Warren County Chapter for the American Red Cross serving Warren and DeKalb County, said you can drop off your cards at the Smithville, Liberty, and Alexandria Senior Citizen Centers. "We want to ask everyone to write a Christmas card. Either make it or buy a Christmas card and sign a special message to soldiers thanking them for their service that they provide for us everyday. We also want to thank our veterans. We can't forget the veterans who have served in past years. We want to make sure these cards go out to all the military hospitals and military installations. We want to make sure they are going overseas and here locally as well. We want to show our support and what better time to start than during the week of Veterans Day. Everyone is asked to sign a card so we can get them sent out by Christmas. Just general cards cannot go out to these hospitals unless they are scanned for anthrax and different things like that. They will not let just general cards go out into these facilities. They have to be scanned. They have to be read for hate mail as awful as that sounds. Unfortunately that has to be done. The American Red Cross will facilitate getting the cards to the place where they need to be scanned and then distributed to the different places," said Nesmith.

The three senior citizens centers in DeKalb County will serve as the drop off points for the cards, according to Nesmith. "We have three drop off points, which are our three senior citizen centers here in DeKalb County at Alexandria, Liberty, and Smithville. You have until Monday, November 28 to have those cards at those centers. There are a few guidelines. A few do's and don'ts. Each of those centers will have information available concerning what you can and can't do. For example, you can't put glitter on cards. So get your church group and your school involved," said Nesmith.

Sending a "touch of home" to American men and women who serve our country is the perfect way to express your appreciation and support during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross will soon be opening an office in Smithville according to Nesmith. "The Red Cross is going to have an office here and we're going to be seeking disaster volunteers. That will be top priority," she said. The location for the office has not yet been determined.


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