Local News Articles

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.

Local SCV Group Observes Confederate Memorial Day

June 2, 2007
Dwayne Page

While our dead heroes of all wars are remembered and honored on national
Memorial Day and at various Decoration Days at many cemeteries,
Confederate Memorial Day is dedicated to those who served so bravely and
honorably in the cause of Southern Independence 1861 to 1865. Our
Governor has again issued a proclamation in support of honoring those
who served and fought long and hard against great odds.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, Savage-Goodner Camp of DeKalb County
honored those in a ceremony placing a wreath on the Confederate Monument
at the Court House and at the grave of the Unknown Confederate Soldier in
the Smithville Town Cemetery.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans exists for the purpose of honoring
those ancestors and preserving the TRUTH of our history and their cause
against a malicious campaign of falsification and distortion, not only
against the Confederacy but all of Southern history and culture.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans stands one hundred per cent in favor of
education in TRUTH. The Southern people are the most loyal of American
citizens. Most native Southerners can name ancestors or relatives who
have fought in every war for the past 300 years. We deserve better than
to be vilified and portrayed as inferior in any way. We have every
reason to be proud of our heritage, and thus we salute our ancestors and
honor them at every opportunity, mainly by BEING Southern and proud of
it. We are mindful of the Fifth Commandment in Holy Writ, \"Honor thy
father and thy mother\". We abhor the absurdity of the notion of
\"generation gap\" invented in the 1960s to the great detriment of our

City Swimming Pool to Reopen Wednesday

June 4, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Municipal Pool will reopen Wednesday morning and Report Card day will be Thursday.

Students may present their report cards Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and swim free.

Jimmy Lewis, operator of the Golf Course and Swimming Pool, says the pool was inspected last week, and while the well water used to fill the pool passed inspection, the swimming pool had to be drained because the pool has only one chlorinator and two chlorinators are required when well water is used for swimming, one at the pool and one at the well

Lewis says the pool has now been filled with city water which does meet the requirements with one chlorinator.

Lewis says the pool will have a second chlorinator within a few days, so that well water can be used to refill the pool next year.

Two Charged with Driving Offenses by Smithville Police

June 4, 2007
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have made two arrests in recent days for driving offenses.

Chief Thomas J. Stufano says Smithville Police arrested 48 year old Dewey Barrett of 905 Main Street in Smithville for Driving on a Revoked Driver's License (2nd Offense) after officers spotted Barrett driving.

A computer check disclosed that Barrett was under a current revocation for a prior DUI driver's license revocation.

He was subsequently arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $3,000 bond.

Meanwhile, 39 year old Cameron Smith of 1119 New Due West Road in Madison was arrested for DUI.

Chief Stufano says officers responded to the Sonic Restaurant to investigate a reported intoxicated driver. Upon arrival, officers made contact with Smith who displayed signs of intoxication. He was given and performed poorly on a field sobriety test. Smith was arrested and transported to the DeKalb County Jail under a $1,500 bond.

Jail Inmates Working a Summer Garden

June 6, 2007
Dwayne Page

The inmates are working a summer Garden.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the garden is located on Highway 70 east of Smithville.

Ray said inmates have planted tomato plants along with squash, cucumbers, pepper and two kinds of beans. He is hoping that vegetables grown in the garden will help ease the cost of the food budget at the jail.

Sheriff Ray says four-to-six inmates work at a time, under supervision, in the garden. He says the prisoners seem to enjoy it as a way of giving something back to the county during their incarceration.

Sheriff Ray says Bobby Colvert has donated use of the land for the garden and Steve White did the ground preparation.

Ray said the only cost to the county was the purchase of seed and the jail already had a refurbished tiller and the hand tools necessary to work the garden.

Two Former Cannon County Correctional Officers Charged With Local Thefts

June 4, 2007
Dwayne Page

Two former Cannon County Correctional Officers, 24 year old Jonathan McCormick of Lee Braswell Road, Smithville and 24 year old Christopher Hale of West Main Street, Smithville have been charged in connection with several local burglaries and thefts. Both men worked for former Cannon County Sheriff Kenny Wetzel.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says McCormick was arrested on May 30th for three counts of Burglary, one count of Aggravated Burglary, two counts of theft over $500 and three counts of theft over $1,000. Bond is set at $140,000 . His court date is set for June 21st.

Detectives allege that on May 19th, McCormick entered a house at LaFever Ridge Road, Silver Point that was under construction and took electrical tools valued at $2,600. The tools have since been recovered.

Hale has also been charged with two counts of Burglary, one count of Aggravated Burglary, three counts of theft of property over $500 and two counts of theft of property over $1,000. Bond is set at $410,000 and his court date is June 28th
Detectives allege that on May 10th, McCormick and Hale entered a residence that was under construction on Coconut Ridge Road Smithville and took 300 feet of under ground copper wire and various hand tools valued at $1,110.

Sheriff Ray says McCormick and Hale, on May 14th, entered a residence through a window on Big Rock Road Smithville and took a computer valued at $800. The computer has since been recovered.

Two days later on May 16th, McCormick and Hale entered a house on Seaton Drive, Smithville, that was under construction and took 8 rolls of copper wire that was valued at $600.

The same day, they allegedly took a roll of cooper wire valued at $600 from a company who was doing wiring for the newly constructed dock at Hurricane Boat Dock.

McCormick and Hale also allegedly took 2,000 pounds of copper wire valued at $6,000 from a location on Game Ridge Road Smithville on May 28th.

Meanwhile, on May 30th, John Atnip Jr. of Jacobs Pillar Road Smithville was involved in a hit and run accident on Short Mountain Highway. Atnip lost control of his vehicle, went across the roadway, and struck a utility pole. Atnip then fled the scene. Atnip was later arrested and charged with leaving the scene and violation of his driver's license. Atnip was placed under a $2,500 bond and his court date is June 28th.

20 year old Ben Pascal of Green Hill Road, McMinnville was arrested on May 30th for theft of property. Sheriff Patrick Ray says Pascal went to visit a friend on South Tittsworth Road , Smithville and stole another visitor's prescription drugs (10 Oxycontin 20 milligrams). Bond is set a $1,000 and his court date is June 7th.

Meanwhile, on May 30th, deputies from the Sheriff's Department worked a wreck on Highway 70 West in Liberty.

45 year old Hoyte Neal of West Broad Street, Smithville was west bound on the Nashville Highway. in a 2005 GMC Pickup. Neal failed to negotiate a curve and ran head on into two parked vehicles in a parking lot belonging to Crook's Auto Sales. Neal's vehicle also struck the car lot's office building. Neal was not injured.

On May 31st, 19 year old Kurtis Dykes of Floyd Drive, Smithville was charged with Consumption of alcohol under age 21. Deputies pulled over Dykes' vehicle in Dowelltown for a traffic violation and found Dykes had been drinking. His bond was set at $1,500 and his court date is June 21st.

Deputies, also on May 31st, worked a motor vehicle accident at the Intersection of Patterson Road and Short Mountain Road. 48 year old Martin Arnold of Wet Mill Creek ,Celina was arrested for DUI and implied consent after deputies found Arnold to be under the influence. Bond was set at $1,500. His court date is June 28th.

On Friday, June 1st, the Sheriff's Department received a report from Redmon Road, Smithville that a car was stolen. Warrants have been taken on 39 year old James Cargill of St. Louis, Missouri. Cargill was arrested in Long Beach, Mississippi for possession of the stolen vehicle. Cargill will be extradited back to Tennessee shortly to face charges here for theft of property over $1,000.

On Saturday, June 2nd, 18 year old Brandon Hutchings of Young Ridge Road, Sparta was charged with public intoxication and consumption of alcohol under age 21. Deputies were called to Young Ridge Road to answer a disturbance call and found Hutchins in an intoxicated state. Bond was set at $5,000 and his court date is June 28th.

City Leaders Asked to Revisit Public Records Ordinance

June 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has written a letter to city leaders asking them to review and reconsider portions of an ordinance adopted last fall which he says may be contrary to relevant state law, appellate court decisions, and opinions of the State Attorney General

Frank Gibson says he is concerned about the City of Smithville's ordinance regulating access to, inspection of, and reproduction of public records and believes it may have the effect of hindering public access. He is asking city officials to either review the ordinance or submit it to the Municipal Technical Advisory Service for a legal review.

Specifically, Gibson says the ordinance contains at least two troubling sections: One requires citizens to submit \"requests for inspection or copying\" in writing or on a form provided by the city. The other imposes fees in the form of \"actual personnel costs\" to retrieve and or supervise access to records. That is on top of a 25 cent per page copying fee.

Gibson says the Tennessee Court of Appeals noted in 2005 that the Public Records Act does not allow an official to condition access to records on filling out a form or making the request in writing.

The city ordinance also authorizes city employees to charge for time spent \"retrieving and accessing\" and \"supervising access to and inspection of or reproduction of records.\"

Gibson says court decisions allow agencies to adopt \"reasonable rules\" but only to cover the cost of copies.

According to Gibson, the State Supreme Court said in a case called The Tennessean vs Electric Power Board, that \"there is no authority under the (Public Records) Act allowing agencies to establish rules that would substantially inhibit disclosure of records. Moreover, limiting an agency to rules governing only the actual ‘making of extracts, copies, photographs, or photostats is consistent with the legislative policy in favor of the fullest possible access.\"

Gibson says \"The State Attorney General has said in an Opinion that \"conditioning the right to inspect a public record upon payment of a fee unauthorized by state law would be tantamount to denying the right of inspection that is set forth in state law.\"

In response, former City Attorney Sarah Cripps says \"Contrary to the protestations of Frank Gibson, the Director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, the City of Smithville's Public Records Ordinance was, indeed, reviewed by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). In fact, former City Attorney Cripps forwarded the Public Records Ordinance to MTAS Attorney Dennis Huffer for his review prior to the ordinance being submitted to the Smithville Mayor and Board of Alderman for approval. Attorney Huffer made certain changes to the ordinance which were incorporated into the ordinance that was utlimately passed by the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen.\"

Sue Mathis Named Smithville Police Department Employee of the Month for April and May

June 8, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department Employee of the month for April and May was Records Custodian Sue Mathis.

Presented by Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, and Mayor Taft Hendrixson, the commendation states that \"On behalf of the City of Smithville Police Department, I would like to commend you for your recent actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as Records Custodian and Front Office Supervisor. Your determination and efforts this month in handling, filing, and entering reports into the TIBERS system has substantially increased the performance of this department. The efficiency provided by your expertise and organizational skills has streamlined operations and presented an efficient presence to citizens in their quest for reporting information.\"

\"Due to your professionalism, TIBERS training, the many hours of dedicated service in inputting this critical information, you have been commended on numerous occasions by TBI for your efficiency. This has shown favorably on the Police Department. You have served with distinction and are a credit to your profession as a Smithville Police Officer.\"

\"Additionally, your work ethic and tenacity during the month of April and May has shown your true commitment to the citizens we serve and your fellow co-workers.\"

\"I appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this Commendation becoming apart of your permanent personnel record for all to see.\"

\"Congratulations on a job well done!\"

Police Department and City Leaders Present Commendation To Chief Stufano

June 7, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department and city leaders have presented an Official Police Commendation to Chief Thomas J. Stufano.

The commendation was signed by Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, Lieutenant Patrol Division Commander Steven Leffew, Lieutenant Special Services Commander Richard Jennings, and Lieutenant Detective/Internal Affairs Commander Steve Deffendoll.

It states that \"This commendation is presented to you on behalf of all of the Police Officers and Staff of the Smithville Police Department.\"

\"Due to your superior leadership and guidance, you have provided us with a professional agency that we are proud and honored to be apart of. It is said that a good leader leads by example'. The example you have displayed as our Chief through your professionalism and understanding has firmly established our confidence in you as a great leader of people and the officers of this agency.\"

\"It is with great pleasure that we show our sincerest gratitude to you for significantly elevating this agency's standards and also for being genuinely interested in our safety and professionalism.\"

\"We pledge to you that your tireless efforts to establish a professional workforce not go unheeded and we as a total department will continue to strive for excellence in our duties as Police Officers for the residents of this city.\"

\"On behalf of the entire City of Smithville Police Department, we would like to commend you for your actions and diligent efforts in your capacity as this agency's Chief of Police. We appreciate your input and current performance and for that you are hereby formally recognized and commended with a copy of this citation being submitted to the Mayor and Police Commissioner to become apart of your permanent personnel record for all to observe.\"

\"Congratulations on a job well done!\"


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