Local News Articles

A Look at the Tennessee Legislature

May 9, 2011
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

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

As the free-spending ways of Washington sink our nation further into debt, a resolution was passed that calls on Congress to follow Tennessee’s model.

The measure simply encourages the U.S. Congress to return to the founding principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility to rein in spending. Additionally, the resolution advises Congress to follow the example set by Tennessee of balanced budgets and responsible spending cuts to provide a stable environment for the State.

This legislation is a direct reflection of the will of Tennesseans. Our citizens are tired of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars being wasted in Washington on bailouts, giveaways, and out-of-control entitlement programs. We are simply sending a message to Washington to get its fiscal house in order. If they need a model of how to do that, all they need to do is look to Tennessee. We have navigated these rough economic times by maintaining a balanced budget, keeping taxes low, and reining in burdensome government regulations.

In addition I am proud of the efforts of the Republican leadership in Congress and support them and want them to continue fighting for more reductions so our country can flourish.”

Constitutional Amendment Regarding Abortion Advances in House

On Wednesday, the House Majority moved the legislation that will amend the State's Constitution. SJR 127 is a constitutional amendment that, when passed, will bring the Constitution of the State of Tennessee back to a position of neutrality regarding abortion. Once again, SJR 127 enjoys bi-partisan support.

The amendment is intended to restore to the people of Tennessee, acting through their elected state representatives and state senators, their rightful authority to regulate abortion, all within federal constitutional limits. “This amendment restores protections for citizens through common sense measures regarding a very personal matter in the lives of many women. It is important to note this amendment does not outlaw or criminalize abortion. SJR127 simply restores the authority of the people acting through their elected officials, to legislate abortion. Our State has a strong record of protecting life and this amendment will forever enshrine that principle in our Constitution.”

Many Members fought for the passage of the constitutional amendment for several years, but their efforts were blocked in subcommittees. The process for amending the State's Constitution is a long one. Joint resolutions must pass one General Assembly by a majority, which was accomplished last year for this bill. In the subsequent General Assembly, it must be passed by two-thirds, before finally being put to the voters in the next gubernatorial election.

House Protects Teacher Pay

On Wednesday, the Majority passed legislation that protects teacher pay from reductions in Tennessee. While local school boards and municipalities face tight budgets along with other government agencies, Members of the Majority are committed to making sure our valuable teachers are protected from budget cuts.

The legislation, House Bill 367, simply prohibits any local education agency from lowering teacher salaries, without a corresponding change in the teacher's duties, or lowering the amount spent for teacher benefits from one school year to the next.

Teachers need to know we support their hard work in the classroom and this bill shows that. I am committed to giving a voice to all teachers and this legislation ensures our educators can rest assured we will fight to make sure their salaries are never reduced.”

House Closes Criminal Code Loophole

The General Assembly has been vigilant when it comes to protecting the rights and security of victims. Recent news reports have shown an alarming trend with violent criminals taking advantage of a loophole in Tennessee’s legal code.

HB 401 creates a “good faith exception” to the Exclusionary Rule so courts will have a legitimate alternative to allow evidence to be heard in a case and sets out a clear definition so there will be clarity on the issue.

Criminals and defense attorneys have taken advantage of this loophole for years causing violent offenders, including murderers, to be released because of small clerical errors. In an effort to protect society and honor victims, I am proud to say we have closed this loophole.

New Legislation Slams the Door on Looters

HB 1946, known as the “retail theft” bill, provides a new offense whereby courts may require a criminal to perform public service as designated by the court. The offender would be required to perform at least the number of hours of public service necessary to satisfy the fine assessed by the court at minimum wage.

Simply put, this bill was crafted to crack down on looters. These are some of the most despicable criminals who hurt families in their time of most need. Instead of just throwing them behind bars, this legislation ensures they are put to work rebuilding our communities and doing hard work to make up for their unacceptable crimes. Let us continue to keep those families in our prayers who have been affected by last month’s horrible tornadoes.

Major Protection for Tennessee Workers Passes House

During the mid-week, the House enacted HB 1747, a major protection for Tennessee’s workforce. In basic terms, the legislation ensures the Volunteer State’s workforce will never face intimidation or coercive tactics by unions who are forcibly trying to unionize factories or workshops.

The bill ensures all employees, who want to select a bargaining representative for their workplace, may utilize a secret ballot – a core principle of American voting tradition.

Secret ballot voting is a basic American value that we must protect. No citizen should be forced to join a union or pay dues to a union just to have the opportunity to work and provide for their family. For the last five years, unions have spent millions of dollars across the country to pass bills that effectively eliminate employees’ rights. With this legislation, we are forever ensuring those horrid tactics will never be a reality in Tennessee.

Smithville Swimming Pool to Re-Open Soon

May 7, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool is expected to re-open soon.

Workers for Langley and Taylor of Nashville have been doing the repair work on the pool. On Friday, they were putting down white marcite plaster, a white cement mixed with crushed marble, troweled to a smooth finish.

Smithville Swimming Pool to Open Soon from dwayne page on Vimeo.

The work is expected to be completed within the next week.

Man Injured in Motorcycle Accident

May 6, 2011
Dwayne Page
Jarrett Manning Injured in Motorcycle Accident (woman pictured not involved)

A 27 year old Smithville man suffered injuries Friday afternoon in a motorcycle accident on West Broad Street in front of DeKalb Community Bank.

Smithville Police Officer Matt Farmer said that Jarrett Manning was operating a 2006 Suzuki motorcycle traveling west on Broad Street as a Ford F350, driven by 56 year old Kirt Martin of Smithville, was pulling out onto the highway from the bank parking lot attempting to go east.

According to Officer Farmer, Manning claims he saw the truck pulling out and applied his brakes trying to avoid a collision. Manning came off the motorcycle and it slid into the front of the truck. Manning's body also struck a portion of the truck and he came to rest in the street. Manning was transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. He reportedly suffered fractures in his pelvis in two places, his hip, and his leg in a couple of places.

Martin, the driver of the truck, was not injured.

Roses to Close Saturday

May 6, 2011
Dwayne Page
Roses to Close Saturday
Smithville Roses to Close

Fifteen months after opening for business in Smithville, Roses is closing.

Saturday, May 7th will be the last day in business according to signs posted on the front doors of the store.

The store manager also confirmed for WJLE that the store will not re-open after it closes for business Saturday night at 9:00 p.m.

In a November 2009 news release on the company website, the Henderson based Variety Stores, a subsidiary of Variety Wholesalers, Inc. a discount retailer, announced it would open a 30,000 – square-foot Roses store, a unit of the company's retail division, in Smithville at 750 South Congress Boulevard in the former location of Pamida.

The store held it's grand opening on February 25th, 2010

City and county leaders said they are saddened to learn that Roses is leaving town.

DeKalb Community Bank Provides Donation for Food Pantry

May 5, 2011
Dwayne Page
Clark Oakley (right) presents donation to Pat Zornow (left)

DeKalb Community Bank helped provide a supply food for local families and individuals in need recently through a donation to Smithville’s Second Harvest Food Pantry, which is sponsored by and housed at First United Methodist Church on North 4th Street.

DCB Regional President Clark Oakley presented the contribution to pantry representative Pat Zornow, FUMC Pastor Dr. John Purdue and a number of the volunteers who help operate the food pantry. The Second Harvest Food Pantry distributes food every two weeks to those in need.

If you would like to volunteer or make a donation to the food pantry, or if you are in need of help from this ministry, please contact the church at 597-4961.

DeKalb Community Bank, Member FDIC, is an office of Wilson Bank & Trust in Lebanon, Tenn.

County Firefighters Save Home on Henley Hollow Road

May 5, 2011
Dwayne Page

County firefighters saved the home of Diane Shifrin of 1995 Henley Hollow Road near Alexandria this morning (Thursday).

Central dispatch received the call at 5:03 a.m.

Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that Ms. Shifrin was awakened by smoke and discovered a chimney fire. She initially tried to put out the fire herself, but gave up, called 911, and escaped from the home unharmed.

Members of the Liberty, Main Station, and Tanker Truck from the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded. Chief Green said the fire got into the attic and then burned through the ceiling into the living room, but firefighters were able to contain the blaze there. Although the fire was extinguished, smoke spread throughout the house.

Community Leaders Seek Support for DeKalb County Clean-Up Campaign

May 4, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Executive’s office would like to invite residents across the county to participate in the DeKalb County Clean Up campaign on Saturday, May 14th. This event will be held in conjunction with the Keep American Beautiful initiative going on across the country. This organization’s mission revolves around a core belief that beauty is a silent but powerful force that makes communities safer, healthier and more livable.

Mike Foster, Suzanne Williams, and Jen Sherwood on Chamber Chat from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, would like to remind everyone that DeKalb County’s peak tourism season is about to begin, so now is a great time to start getting things spruced up for our coming visitors. According to Williams, “I think we are all aware of the value and importance of beautification in our communities to attract newcomers and tourists to our area and to maintain a stable and growing economy.”

To get a head start on clean up, dumpsters will be set up at highly visible and convenient locations a few days prior to the main event. Dumpster locations will be at the Dowelltown Community Center, Liberty Community Center, Alexandria City Parking Lot (behind square), and the Shopping Center parking lot (close to DeKalb Ace Hardware), 702 South Congress Blvd., Smithville.

County Executive Mike Foster says, “We would like for people to come out and help clean our communities and roadways. Folks are welcome to pick their own locations to clean, or we will be glad to assign a safe place for each person to participate.”

DeKalb Clean Up volunteers are asked to come to the Chamber office located at 301 North Public Square, Smithville on May 14th between 9 AM and 11 AM to sign-in and pick up the provided trash bags, rubber gloves, bottles of water, and hand sanitizer. For early sign-up, you can stop by the Chamber anytime during regular office hours before May 14th to pick up supplies. Or if stopping by is not convenient, call the Chamber office at 597-4163 to be counted as a DeKalb Clean Up volunteer -- just give your name and the general area where you will be working. Whether you’re beautifying your street, a highway, a park, ball field, a stream, or your own home, what a difference we can make through working together!

"Peace of the 70s" Musical a Big Hit at NES

May 3, 2011
Dwayne Page

A large crowd packed the Northside Elementary School gymnasium Tuesday evening for the 5th grade musical "Peace of the 70s".

Peace of the 70's at Northside Elementary from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Students and teachers alike joined in the show featuring some of the best music from the decade of the 1970's including country, pop, rock, and even some of the favorite television commercials and TV theme songs from the era.

Remembering All in the Family and the Brady Bunch from dwayne page on Vimeo.
This crowd pleasing show was directed by Kelly Jo Birmingham

Pre-K Registration to be held in July

May 3, 2011
Dwayne Page
Michelle Burklow

Registration for the voluntary pre-kindergarten program in the DeKalb County School system will be conducted in July at Smithville Elementary School and DeKalb West School. The exact date has not yet been announced

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K through 6th grade, said state funding provides for a total of four pre-k classes at Smithville Elementary School and one class at DeKalb West School.

Eligible children must be four years of age by September 30th and their parents must meet the federal income guidelines.

Burklow said the registration this year will be earlier than normal. "In the past, we have had pre-K registration on the same day as our kindergarten through 12th grade registration. This summer we're going to try to do that a little differently. We know how rushed parents are trying to get from one school to the next. There's more intense paperwork that comes with the pre-K program because it is the first year of the child's entry into school. So we want to be able to slow down that process, make the parents feel a little more comfortable with the process, and be able to talk with the children and let them become familiar with a few things going on in the school," said Burklow.

"We plan on doing this (registration) in July but we do not have the exact date because we are coordinating with our principals, teachers, and coordinated school health because we want her to do some vision and hearing screening on that day. Of course, we also want our school nutrition lady, Stephanie Walker there that day. There's several people coming together that day. We'll have little stations set up for our parents to progress through that process," said Burklow

"As a reminder, on that day please bring the child's birth certificate. We need the birth certificate that has on it the raised seal of Tennessee and not the one that says "Live Birth". That's not the original birth certificate. We also need children to have a physical examination. In addition to that documentation, we will also need immunization records that are up to date. That's one of the things that is looked at very closely at the beginning of the year. Our nurses go through the school records to make sure those immunizations are up to date," continued Burklow.

"Once we have the children registered, we have certain guidelines we must meet because we apply for a grant and the grant dictates what we can and cannot do as far as students who are eligible. So when parents come in and register their children, we will keep them in numerical order. We have our folders numbered and when you're given a folder you'll go through the process of the stations with us and we'll put you on a list in the order that you come in. After we get the folders together, we have to go through and look at the guidelines. One of the first things we have to make sure of is that our children are age four on or before September 30th. That's the first guideline we have to follow is that age for our pre-K children. We do have a few classrooms that take three year old children. We try to serve our four year old children first because we want to front load those babies going into kindergarten. We want to give them the benefit of being in the school, acclamating to the school so they will feel more comfortable when they go into kindergarten," said Burklow.

"I do have some parents who call and say, My child is supposed to go to kindergarten but they're not ready for kindergarten. We cannot take five year old children into the program unless there is some type of circumstance that we can go to the state department about. For the most part, five year old children are required to register for kindergarten," said Burklow.

"The second thing we look at is our children who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. That's why we want Ms. Stephanie Walker there because she will have the new guidelines. The guidelines change every year. She can look at the income the parents turn in and see if they qualify right there," added Burklow.

"If we do not get our program filled up, we do look at children with disabilities, those that may have an English as a second language, children in state custody, or those at-risk for failure due to circumstances of abuse or neglect."

"At Smithville Elementary we have eighty slots for pre-K students and twenty slots at DeKalb West. We do have a curriculum that we go by. It's not one of those you'll see in the first, second, or third grade. It's totally different. It's play. These children learn through play. We have stations set up all day long where the children are learning. They're playing together but they're learning their alphabet, learning math, social studies, and science skills. This is really a hands-on program, getting them ready to go to kindergarten," concluded Burklow.

Governor's Cuts Force Local Governments to Look Elsewhere for Help with Planning

May 2, 2011
Dwayne Page

As part of Governor Bill Haslam's Jobs4TN plan, all employees in state run regional planning offices will lose their jobs when those offices close permanently in mid-July.

With the cuts, state planners will no longer be assisting local communities with growth planning, and local governments will have to look elsewhere, perhaps to private entities, to fill that role.

The City of Smithville and DeKalb County governments are currently served by state planners from the Cookeville regional office, which helps many communities in the Upper Cumberland area with planning efforts. Planners convene with the Smithville Planning Commission on the first Thursday night of each month and the DeKalb County Regional Planning Commission on the second Monday night every month.

During those meetings, state planners give advice in helping local planning commissions draft ordinances and land-use regulations, such as subdivision development guidelines and zoning. They also assist with mapping and serve as a resource for surveyors, engineers, developers, realtors, and property owners.

During Monday night's council meeting, Smithville Alderman Shawn Jacobs asked Mayor Taft Hendrixson what impact this will have on the city

Untitled from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Mayor Hendrixson said he has received a letter from officials of the Upper Cumberland Development District who are working toward taking over the planning program once the state drops it in July. " I received a letter from UCDD and they are in the process of trying set it up where they will take this over if the fourteen counties (Upper Cumberland) and the cities in those counties would like for them to do this. I think they're (UCDD) very capable of doing this. They're trying to get it all put together," said Mayor Hendrixson.

"Our planner from the state will be here through June. Of course we won't have a planning commission meeting in July. He will be here this Thursday night and then the first Thursday night in June, said Mayor Hendrixson.

"We (city) pay $1,830 per quarter to the state for their assistance in this planning. I don't know what UCDD will charge but I have an idea that it will be in line with what we have been paying. That's something they will let me know. They are checking to see if there is enough interest in the Upper Cumberland area for them to do it. I surely think there will be," said Mayor Hendrixson

Alderman Jacobs added that "I want to go on record that this is pound wise and penny foolish and I highly disagree with the Governors actions".

The cuts are part of Governor Haslam's Jobs4TN plan which calls for a "significant reorganization" effort that he says will create jobs but will also result in a 35% reduction in Tennessee Economic and Community Development staff, cuts that will largely come from these regional planning offices across the state.

The Jobs4TN program will also establish regional "jobs base camps" for which the Upper Cumberland Development District has been named. UCDD has sent out letters to communities, like Smithville and DeKalb County, currently served by local planners, letting them know of the services that will be available.


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