Local News Articles

Driver and Colwell Crowned Little Mister and Miss at Fair

July 25, 2007
Dwayne Page

Levi Katon Driver and Sarah Anne Colwell were crowned Little Mister and Miss at the DeKalb County Fair Tuesday night.

Driver, who was also named Mister Congeniality, is the four year old son of Brad and Kelly Driver of Dowelltown and Colwell is the six year old daughter of Trent and Christie Colwell of Smithville.

They succeed the retiring Little Mister and Miss Hunter Vaught and Macy Elizabeth Hedge. Vaught is the seven year old son of Ronnie and Bethany Vaught of Brush Creek and Hedge is the six year old daughter of David and Trina Hedge of Smithville.

First runner-up in the Little Miss contest was Alexis Diann Bly, the seven year old daughter of Steven and Cristy Bly of Smithville.

Second runner-up was four year old Taylor Nicole Gibbs, daughter of Teesha Gibbs of Smithville.

Six year old Madison Elaine Colwell was third runner-up. She is the daughter of Gabriel and Heather Colwell of Smithville.

Meanwhile, four year old Sarah Rose Smith was named Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Shane and Amy Smith of Gordonsville.

First runner-up in the Little Mister contest was Bryson Lee Stewart, the four year old son of D.J. Stewart and Dallas Parker of Smithville.

Five year old Colin Howell was the second runner-up. He is the son of Michael and Juanita Howell of Brush Creek.

Third runner-up was Ethan Lane Evans, the five year old son of Sherry and Ricky Evans of Smithville.

Meanwhile Alan Cox was the winner of the $1,000 cash giveaway Tuesday night.

Residents Express Concerns About Austin Bottom Landing

July 24, 2007
Dwayne Page

Three concerned citizens from the Austin Bottom area of DeKalb County attended the county commission meeting Monday night complaining of a recent disturbance at the Austin Bottom landing and the lengthy amount of time it took for authorities to respond.

Chuck Stacey says Austin Bottom Landing, which is a gathering spot for people who like to drink and party, is increasingly posing a safety concern for residents in the area and they want it closed or restricted for use only as a boat launching ramp.

Stacey says one person was seriously injured there last week in an assault.

Most of the problems occur late at night and Stacey would like to see more law enforcement patrols in the area.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says his deputies have patrolled the community but it's "hit and miss" on catching the troublemakers, not knowing when they are going to be there. Sheriff Ray says his officers are doing their best but can't be in the area seven nights a week because there are usually only two officers on duty at night to cover the entire county.

Foster proposed an idea which he says might make things better. " I've talked with several people about it and we think cleaning up the area, making it a better ramp, making it more user friendly, getting more people in there would probably be a better solution than trying to close it. If you've got families there you're less likely to have these people that you're talking about in there(undesirables). We've got approximately forty ramps around the lake and four hundred plus miles of shoreline. I live at Holiday Haven and it's the same way down there. You go down there on a given night and there's nobody there and you go back another night and there's forty partying and you can't get your boat in. From working that area years ago, I know it is out of the way. I think improving it to the point that you do get more families down there and patrolling it maybe a little more will help, maybe talking to the TWRA officers and getting them to run by there more often, because I know we did when I worked for them. The Corps also maybe needs to do some more. We could put up the signs (boat launching only) but it's federal property. Even though technically the ramp area is leased to the county, the county can't enforce federal laws, which would have to do with camping on that property. We can enforce state laws that have to do with firearms, alcohol, and that kind of thing."

County Commissioners say a constable position is open in the fourth district and they asked Stacy, who is a retired law enforcement officer, if he would be interested in being appointed until the next election. Stacey said if he had to provide his own vehicle, he probably wouldn't want the position. Constables also receive no pay other than fees from serving papers.

Stacey says he and a group of residents in the Austin Bottom area plan to meet with officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to further discuss possible solutions.

State Allocates Funding for a New Pre-Kindergarten Class in DeKalb County

July 24, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County is getting a new Pre-Kindergarten Class.

Governor Phil Bredesen and State Representative Frank Buck Tuesday announced that 257 new pre-K classrooms will open for the 2007-08 school year serving approximately 4,000 additional four-year-olds across the state.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says plans are for the new Pre-K class to be started at Smithville Elementary School. With the addition of the new class, DeKalb County will have a total of five Pre-K classrooms, including four at Smithville Elementary School and one at DeKalb West School.

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

Each Pre-K class may have up to twenty students. At least sixteen students per class must be enrolled by September 30th in order for the school system to retain available funds for the program.

Governor Bredesen requested $25 million new state dollars to expand Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program, raising the investment for the 2007-08 school year to $80 million. Dekalb County Schools will receive $89,909 to fund one new classroom.

“We have expanded access to our quality pre-K program from serving 3,000 students three years ago to 17,000 today,” Governor Bredesen said. “This commitment to early childhood education means over the last three years, we’ve helped nearly 40,000 boys and girls start their education on a path designed to help them achieve academically in the long run. Tennesseans want more students to graduate from high school; the task starts with making sure students start out on the right foot from day one.”

Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program now operates in 94 out of 95 counties and 133 of 136 school systems, providing a high-quality early childhood education to more than 17,000 four-year-olds. The National Institute for Early Education Research has ranked Tennessee as one of six states maintaining the highest pre-K standards in the nation for the past two years.

“Pre-K is the foundation of a strong educational system,” said Representative Buck. “We must ensure that our children graduate on time and with the skills they need to succeed. Pre-K is critical to ensuring this success.”

The trademarks of Tennessee’s high-quality pre-K program include:

o a staff to student ratio of 1:10;

o a lead teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and endorsement in early childhood education

o 18 hours of professional development required for staff each year; and

o a maximum class size of 20 students.

County Commission Still Contemplating Future of Ambulance Service

July 24, 2007
Dwayne Page

The county emergency services committee may be having second thoughts about bringing the ambulance service back under the county's control.

County Mayor Mike Foster says running the ambulance service could be a costly endeavor for the county and more study is needed before any action is taken by the county commission. But time is running short because Sumner Regional Medical Center will officially cease operation of the DeKalb County Ambulance Service within a few weeks.

Foster, during Monday night's county commission meeting, said cost estimates are still being compiled. "I got information from eleven counties. We based our budget on numbers that we got from them as well as some that I got from Sumner County General. The guy that helps us with budgets also did a budget. We all came up with some pretty scary numbers. We're seeing that the number of (ambulance) runs was around 2,600. We've averaged other counties revenues and we have estimates from ambulance directors in other counties, and they estimate that we should average $260 per run. If we do that, we come up with revenues of about $676,000. When we run (cost) numbers for the staff, secretary, director, benefits, materials, fuel, and repairs, we come up with a number in excess of $1-million,031-thousand dollars. The first year we would have to buy three heart monitors for approximately $41,000 and we would continue to buy an ambulance, so that's another $136,000. There is an EMS software program that's about $12,000 per year, or if we contract with someone to collect it (billing), they charge seven percent, which would be about $47,000, but the EMS consultants would furnish the software. It's one of those things that we've got to look at and we've got to do it fairly quickly. This is a very important thing and we're probably taking a little more time than some people would like to see, but we're concerned about this. If we take the money that we're currently contributing ($163,00 per year) away from the numbers we're talking about, we still show losing somewhere between $328,000 and $400,000 and we're not comfortable with that."

Foster says he and members of the commission will hold an informal workshop on the issue again Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the courthouse.

Courtney Curtis Wins Fairest of the Fair Pageant

July 23, 2007
Dwayne Page

18 year old Courtney Curtis of Smithville, daughter of Brett and Sherree Curtis, is the 2007 DeKalb County Fairest of the Fair.

She succeeds the retiring Fairest of the Fair, 19 year old Whitney Nicole Rice of Smithville, daughter of Brenda and the late Bobby Rice.

First runner-up in the pageant was 19 year old Christen Ashley Hale, daughter of Craig and Evelyn Hale of Dowelltown.

Second runner-up was 20 year old Tara Joan Griffin, daughter of Mike and Tammy Griffin of Alexandria.

18 year old Wendy Michelle Scott of Smithville was named Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Kathy Scott and the late Billy Ray Scott.

The pageant was held Monday night at the DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria.

Whitney Moss Crowned Junior Fair Princess

July 23, 2007
Dwayne Page

The 2007 Junior Fair Princess of the DeKalb County Fair is 15 year old Whitney LaRay Moss, daughter of Greg and Wendy Moss of Alexandria.

She succeeds the retiring 2006 Junior Fair Princess, 16 year old Rosemary Apple of Smithville, daughter of Nick and Claire Apple.

The first runner-up was 13 year old Cora Beth Rhody, daughter of Kenny and Beth Rhody of Smithville.

Second runner-up was 13 year old Kristen Smartt, daughter of Aaron and Paula Taylor of Dowelltown.

13 year old Heather Marie Hughes was named Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Shawn McGowan and Mike Hughes of Smithville.

14 year old Martha Alan Webb was named Miss Photogenic. She is the daughter of Alan and Lora Webb of Smithville.

The pageant was held Monday night at the DeKalb County Fair.

Highway 56 South Garbage Collection Convenience Site To Close

July 23, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County residents, who normally dump their household garbage at the convenience center on Highway 56 south, will soon have to find somewhere else to go.

County Mayor Mike Foster says the state has purchased that property in preparation for the widening and improvement of Highway 56 south and the convenience site there will be closing by July 30th.

Efforts are underway to find another location in the area for a new garbage collection site. County officials thought they had found a spot, but Foster says those plans fell through.

Local Woman Arrested on Drug Charges

June 11, 2007
Dwayne Page

A 20 year old DeKalb County woman was arrested on various drug charges Friday by the Sheriff's Department after executing and serving a search warrant at her residence on Adcock Cemetery Road.

Arrested was 20 year old Kara Funk

Sheriff Patrick Ray says detectives, deputies, and K-9 dog Banshee found illegal drugs throughout Funk's residence. Funk was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, syringes and a marijuana grinder, simple possession of a schedule IV drug (valium), sale and delivery of a schedule VI drug( marijuana) over 3 ounces, sale and delivery of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone), and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid).

Funks' bond is set at $125,000 and her court date is June 21st. The Tennessee Department of Revenue has been contacted for the collection of taxes on the drugs.

In other cases, 23 year old Roxanna Landis of Highland Street, Smithville was charged with DUI on Thursday, June 7th. Her bond was set at $1,000 and her court date is June 21st. Landis was observed driving on Hayes Street. She was stopped by an officer and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks.

23 year old Ryan Walden of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown was charged with burglary and theft of property under $500.00 on Friday, June 8th. Walden entered an outbuilding on West Main Street, Smithville without the owners consent. While inside, Walden took approximately 50 sets of deer antlers and sold them to a local business. Walden's bond was set at $17,500 and his court date is June 21st.

32 year old Jeffery Spero of Neely's Bend Road, Madison was involved in an accident on Highway 56 on Friday, June 8th. After the Deputy noticed a strong odor of alcohol, Spero was asked to perform field sobriety tasks which he performed poorly. Spero was charged DUI 2nd offense . His bond was set at $2,000 and his court date is June 28th.

22 year old Raymond Simpson of Church Street ,Dowelltown was charged with Public Intoxication, Resisting Arrest, and Assault on Friday, June 8th. After receiving a complaint in Dowelltown, Simpson was found in an intoxicated state having blood shot eyes, slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. When Simpson was told he was under arrest, he began fighting two of the Deputies. One of the Deputies was hit in the head, but did not need medical treatment. Raymond's bond was set at $8,500 and his court date is June 28th.

Smithville Aldermen Adopts No New Taxes Budget

June 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday night adopted the new 2007-2008 budget on first reading.

The new budget totals $6-million 686-thousand 188 dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at 68 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The new budget calls for the water and sewer rates to remain the same. City water customers will continue to pay $3.50 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $3.50 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are 50% higher. The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District is $1.75 per thousand gallons but will increase to $1.80 for January 1st, 2008 sales.

City sewer customers, under the new budget, will continue to pay the flat usage rate of $3.62 plus $3.25 per thousand gallons thereafter.

Water tap fees for customers inside the city limits is $400 for a three quarter inch water line and the sewer tap fee is $400 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, the fees are cost plus 10%. For customers outside the city limits, water tap fees are $525 for a three quarter inch line and $525 for a four inch sewer line. Again, if the lines are larger, then the fees are cost plus 10%.

The proposed budget calls for city employees with up to four years of service to get their automatic step pay increases as defined in the wage scale plus a 2.7% cost of living increase. City employees with more than four years of service, who have topped out on the wage scale will only get the 2.7% cost of living increase with two exceptions, City Recorder Burnace Vandegriff who is budgeted to receive an increase of about $3,800 making his salary $52,000 a year and Police Chief Tom Stufano, who is budgeted to get about a $7,100 pay raise making his total salary $45,011.

When the fiscal year started July 1, 2006, the general fund was projected to be $714,655 in the red by June 30, 2007, but by eliminating unnecessary spending during the year, city officials say the General Fund will have a surplus of $136,040 by June 30th, 2007.

The General Fund would actually show a surplus of $486,040 by the end of the month, however the cost of operating the city's sanitation system came to $350,000 this year. Since the city has no garbage collection fee for customers, the general fund must absorb the cost.

City officials are projecting that the general fund will show a deficit of $1,010,863 by June 30, 2008 unless spending can be held in check again during the year. If not, then the city may have to use more of the money from the surplus to balance the budget. The major spending projects include a proposed expansion of the fire hall and upgrades at the airport.

The water and sewer fund, at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, 2006, was expected to finish with a deficit of $67,594 by June 30, 2007. The projection now is for the fund to show a surplus of $ 1,771,103. However, the water and sewer fund is expected to finish the new budget year on June 30, 2008 with a deficit of $193,275 unless spending can be controlled.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $1,950,000. Specific projects are as follows: Financial Administration- $7,500 including $5,000 for a computer upgrade and $2,500 unspecified; Parks and Recreation- $15,000 unspecified; Public Works/Buildings and Grounds- $15,000 unspecified; City Hall Building Alteration per ADA- $8,500 including $5,000 for handicapped rehabilitation and $3,500 unspecified; Fire Protection- $900,000 for a proposed expansion of the fire hall; Street Department- $40,000 including $10,000 for downtown beautification and $30,000 unspecified; Police Department- $39,000 including $25,000 for a police car and $14,000 unspecified; Swimming Pool- $10,000 for capital repairs; Airport- $910,000 unspecified; Animal Shelter- $5,000 unspecified; Sanitation Fund- $5,000 and Drug Fund- $5,000 unspecified.

Proposed water and sewer fund capital outlay expenditures include $40,000 for an update of sewer plant equipment, $50,000 for an update of the water plant and engineering fees, and $20,000 for a sewer rehabilitation camera. Debt repayment-principal: bonds- $205,000

Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.

Second and final reading action will follow a public hearing at the next meeting on Monday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Friday Afternoon Blaze Damages Home on Lower Helton Road

June 2, 2007
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County and Alexandria Volunteer Firefighters were called to the home of James Anderson on Lower Helton Road Friday afternoon.

Assistant County Fire Chief Roy Merriman says the family was not at home when the fire started. He says a neighbor was on his back porch when he heard an explosion. Upon going to check, the man discovered a fire on the back wall and deck of the Anderson home.

Merriman says speculation is that Freon from a refrigerator on the deck may have ignited causing the explosion.

The neighbor called 911 and tried to keep the fire under control with a hose pipe until firefighters arrived.
Members of the Liberty, Temperance Hall, and Short Mountain Highway stations responded along with mutual aid support from the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department.

Assistant Chief Merriman says the fire burned through the back wall and into the attic and one corner of the house received extensive damage, but most of the home's contents were not damaged.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.


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