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Governor Signs Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits

July 2, 2009

Governor Phil Bredesen recently signed into law legislation extending unemployment benefits with federal funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Tennessee Extended Benefits Program adds a maximum of 20 weeks of benefits for claimants who exhausted their emergency unemployment compensation benefits on or after February 28, 2009.

"The extended benefits provided by the Recovery Act will help eligible Tennesseans who have exhausted their emergency unemployment benefits," said James Neeley, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. "And since the federal government pays 100 percent of the costs to extend the benefits, the money will not be drawn from Tennessee's unemployment trust fund."

Unemployed Tennesseans who believe they may be eligible for state extended benefits will file online by accessing the department's Web site at http://tn.gov/labor-wfd/. The extended benefit application will be available online beginning July15, 2009. No applications will be available before July 15. Unemployment claimants who are receiving benefits as of July 15 will automatically transition to the extended benefits and will not have to reapply.

Those who meet the requirements to establish an extended benefits claim will receive a notice of monetary entitlement that will be mailed within 28 days advising claimants of the amount of benefits. Benefits will not be paid until eligibility is determined. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will contact individuals directly if additional information is required.

Individuals who do not have access to a personal computer may go to their nearest Tennessee Career Center where staff will assist claimants in accessing the Internet application. Paper copies of the applications may be requested; however mail-in claims will take longer to process.

State extended benefits differ from regular state unemployment and federal emergency unemployment in two major ways:

Claimants will be required to make a minimum of two tangible and documented work searches each week. Claimants will be required to keep a journal of these work searches that is subject to periodic inspection by the agency to verify compliance. An additional question will be added to extended benefit weekly certifications asking claimants if they have documented their work searches for the week.

The definition of suitable work has changed. If a claimant refuses a job where the weekly wage is greater than the weekly benefit amount of unemployment, the unemployment claim is stopped.

The extended benefit program ends on December 26, 2009.

38th Annual Fiddlers Jamboree Kicks off Friday Morning

July 1, 2009
Dwayne Page

The 38th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival is set for Friday and Saturday, July 3th & 4th. The musical competition kicks off on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Jack Barton, the new Fiddler's Jamboree Coordinator, says this year's event promises to be exciting and entertaining, and two new competitive events have been added to the lineup. "There is a lot of excitement building around this. I think when it lands on the Fourth of July, there's usually a lot more people in attendance. We've got a couple of new events that are great. We'll have youth square dancing on Friday night. We're letting the youngsters have their own category. We've also added a bluegrass fiddle category, which is more of a truer to Appalachian style category and that will be named in honor of Neil Dudney. It will actually be the Neil Dudney award and we're excited about it."

Barton says more crafts are also expected this year. "Emma Adkins, our crafts director, and I have done a lot of reaching out to prior year craftsmen to see if they could come this year. We've been successful in filling every street but Third Street. We have 180 plus booths and about 149 crafters, some people have two booths, but it should be much more full than it was last year. Next year, we hope to fill all the streets."

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories on Friday:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (solos and duets); Flat Top Guitar; Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event; Youth Square Dancing, Old Time Fiddle Band; Autoharp; Gospel Singing (solos); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Gospel Singing (duets, trios, and quartets); and Mandolin. Youth Square Dancing will be a new event this year.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

On Saturday starting at 9:00 a.m., preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; Bluegrass Band; Bluegrass Fiddle, Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing. The Bluegrass Fiddle is a new event this year and the winner will receive the Neil Dudney Award, named for the longtime President and Coordinator of the Fiddlers Jamboree.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back Saturday night to compete for first, second, and third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature hundreds of crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE.

Newly Elected Smithville Aldermen Take Office

June 30, 2009
Dwayne Page
Alderman W.J. Dub White Takes Oath of Office
Alderman Aaron Meeks Takes Oath of Office-
Alderman Shawn Jacobs Takes Oath of Office
Judge Bratten Cook Administers Oath of Office to Aldermen Elect

The three recently elected Smithville Aldermen were sworn into office during a brief ceremony held following Tuesday night's special city council meeting.

Judge Bratten Cook II administered the oath of office to W.J. (Dub) White, Aaron Meeks, and Shawn Jacobs. Their terms of office officially begin at midnight and expire in two years.

The new city council is made up of Shawn Jacobs, W.J. (Dub) White, Aaron Meeks, Stephen White, and Cecil Burger. The mayor is Taft Hendrixson. The terms of Aldermen Stephen White, Burger, and Mayor Hendrixson expire in 2010.

During the special meeting, plaques of appreciation were presented to the three aldermen, Tonya Sullivan, Jerry Hutchins, Sr., and Willie Thomas whose terms are expiring.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson, reading from the plaques, said "These plaques are presented in appreciation of two years of service to the Smithville City Council, the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen would like to thank you for your years of dedicated service as alderman for the City of Smithville. We appreciate the years of service that you have given to the citizens of Smithville."

Alderman Sullivan, in response said "I appreciate this board and the citizens for their support and I wish the new people good luck."

Alderman Hutchins added, " I also would like to wish the new ones coming in good luck, and congratulations to them. I hope they do a good job, and I know they will. I thank everyone who supported us."

The special meeting was held to adopt the new six million dollar budget on second and final reading and it passed unanimously following a public hearing, in which there were no public comments made from the audience.

Under the new budget, which takes effect July 1st, water and sewer rates will remain the same with no increases. Water and sewer tap fees will also remain at the same levels and property taxes will not be increased.

The budget includes a two percent pay raise for city employees and a five dollar increase per call for the volunteer firefighters, going from $15 to $20 per call.

Vance Charged in Burglary and Theft at K & M Jewelry

June 30, 2009
Dwayne Page
Comer Vance

A 39 year old man has been arrested by Smithville Police in the recent burglary of K & M Jewelry on West Broad Street.

Comer Vance is charged with theft of property over $60,000, burglary, felony vandalism, and unlawful possession of a firearm. His bond is $250,000 and he will be in court on Thursday, July 2nd.

Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. says sometime during the early morning hours of Thursday, June 25th, someone (believed to be Vance) entered the business by removing plywood covering a window. Once inside, a safe, containing jewelry, was taken from the store. The intruder also busted out glass in the display cases and removed more jewelry. The total value of the stolen jewelry was estimated at $100,000.

The owner of the business, Mark Violet, discovered the burglary and theft when he arrived to open up the store later that morning..

As a result of the investigation and with assistance from an informant, Vance was identified as a suspect in the crime. Police spotted Vance, who was as a passenger in a Ford Thunderbird, on West Broad Street Saturday, June 27th. The car was pulled over and Vance, also charged in warrants unrelated to the burglary case, was taken into custody. Police confiscated a stolen nine millimeter handgun, which was loaded. Most of the jewelry taken in the break-in at K & M. Jewelry has also been recovered.

Sergeant Joey Jones assisted in the traffic stop that led to Vance's arrest.

DTC Communications To Host Annual Meeting

June 30, 2009

DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (d/b/a DTC Communications) will host its annual meeting on Sept. 26, 2009, at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria.

Directors will be elected in three exchanges, including the Alexandria (529), Liberty (536), and Smithville (215/597) exchanges.

Voting for directors will take place at the cooperative’s annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 26. Thursday, Sept. 17, will be the last day to make changes to your membership for the 2009 election.

Only DTC members may vote, and each member must present identification. For a single membership, only that individual may vote. Either member of a joint membership may vote, but not both. In the case of a business membership, a business affidavit is required.

Individuals interested in becoming a candidate for a director’s position must meet the qualifications as defined in the bylaws and submit a petition by 5 p.m. on August 12, 2009.
For questions regarding membership and voting guidelines, refer to the by-laws section included in the current DTC phone directory.

McMinnville Man Arrested in Undercover Drug Operation

June 30, 2009
Dwayne Page
Joseph Edward Mantz Jr

A 50 year old McMinnville man was arrested Monday in an undercover drug investigation by the Smithville Police Department.

Chief Richard Jennings says Joseph Edward Mantz, Jr. is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (morphine). Mantz is to make his first court appearance on the charge Thursday, July 2nd.

According to Chief Jennings, the Smithville Police Department recruited an undercover agent to make a buy of morphine from Mantz, after receiving information that he was allegedly selling drugs in this area.

Mantz was arrested in the old Pamida parking lot by Chief Jennings, Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. and Smithville Police Officers Nathan Estes and Bradley Tatrow.

Police also seized Mantz' 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle along with some cash.

Chief Jennings says more cases stemming from this investigation will be presented to the August term of the Grand Jury and more details of the operation will be disclosed pending any grand jury indictments.

Department of Safety Begins Issuing Driver License with Easier to Read Date of Birth

June 30, 2009
Dwayne Page
New Drivers License

On July 1, the Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) will begin issuing driver licenses with the date of birth in larger red type designed to make it easier for retailers to read.

“We are pleased to announce that the type size of the date of birth on the Tennessee driver license has been enlarged to comply with the ‘Gus Kampas Act’, which was adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Bredesen in 2008,” stated Department of Safety Deputy Commissioner Greta Dajani.

Public Chapter 638 of the Public Acts of 2008 required that the size of the type for the date of birth on the Tennessee driver license be the same size as the driver license number. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Tim Burchett and Sen. Doug Overby of Knoxville, Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton, Rep. Dale Ford of Jonesborough, and Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland. Prior to the new law, the driver license number was already a larger font size than most other personal information on the plastic laminated card. Senate Bill 3116 of 2008 also requires that the date of birth be in red.

The Gus Kampas Act is named after the owner of Kampas Liquors on Alcoa Highway in Knoxville. The purpose of the legislation was to make it easier for retailers to see the date of birth on the Tennessee Driver License to quickly determine eligibility for the purchase of merchandise based on age requirements.

The provisions of the amendment to TCA 55-50-331(b) applies only to the issuance of new or renewed driver licenses. Public Chapter 638 does not require driver license holders to obtain a new driver license unless the person is applying for a new license, a replacement driver license or renewing an existing Tennessee driver license.

Four Arrested on Traffic Offenses- Sheriff Offers 4th of July Safety Tips

June 29, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested four people since last Wednesday on traffic offenses, including two for DUI.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 35 year old Thomas Chadwick Reed of Crown Hill Drive, Murfreesboro was charged Wednesday, June 24th with a second offense of driving under the influence after deputies found him in his vehicle and in an intoxicated state at the Cove Hollow Marina. Reed admitted to driving and consuming beer and mixed drinks. Deputies also noticed an odor of alcohol on Reed's person and he was unsteady of his feet. Reed submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Two whiskey bottles were found in Reed's vehicle, one contained a very small amount and the other one was empty. There was one mixed drink in the car. Reed's bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on July 23rd.

42 year old William Hardie Morris of Old Snow Hill Road, was arrested on Friday, June 26th for a first offense of driving under the influence and a third offense of driving on a revoked driver's license. Morris was involved in an accident on Holmes Creek Road and when deputies arrived they found him in an intoxicated state. Morris was unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and he also had an odor of alcohol on his person. Morris' license were found to have been revoked on November 9th, 2002 in DeKalb County and December 14th, 2000 in Putnam County. Bond for Morris was set at $4,500 and he will appear in court on July 23rd.

Also on Friday, a deputy, while on patrol on Short Mountain Highway, spotted 20 year old Timothy (also known as Tyler) William Patrick driving a motor vehicle. The officer had prior knowledge of Patrick's license being revoked. Patrick was arrested for driving on a revoked license and his bond was set at $1,500. He will appear in court on July 30th..

Meanwhile on Sunday, June 28th, a deputy, while on patrol in the Long Branch area of the county, stopped 22 year old Brittany A. Loftis of Hanging Limb Road, Monterey for a traffic offense. Upon checking Loftis' name for a driver's license, it was found that she had none. Deputies arrested Loftis and charged her with driving without a license. Bond for Loftis was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on July 30th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Here are some safety tips from Sheriff Patrick Ray.

Fourth of July Safety Tips

Water safety at the pool and lake:
" If possible, swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present, and swim with others. Never swim alone.
" Enter the water feet first. Enter the water headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
" Adults should never leave a child unobserved around water. Practice "reach supervision" by staying within an arm's length of young children and weak swimmers while they are in and around the pool, lake or ocean.
" Take frequent breaks (about once an hour) where everyone gets out of the water, drinks water, reapplies sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and rests.
" If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
" Watch out for the "dangerous too's" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
" Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
" If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

Fireworks safety:
There are nearly 9,000 emergency room-treated injuries associated with fireworks a year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission. You can enjoy these Fourth of July staples safely by doing the following:
" Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
" Keep a supply of water close-by as a precaution.
" Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
" Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
" Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
" Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

Safe Grilling:
Nothing says summer quite like the smell of barbecue. Make sure safety is a key ingredient in your Fourth of July by reading the following tips for safer grilling:
" Use gas and charcoal barbecue grills outside only.
" Position grills far from siding, deck railings, overhanging branches and house eaves.
" Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
" Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
" Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using grills.
" Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use

Sunday Fires Leave Two Families Homeless

June 29, 2009
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters Battle Fire Sunday at Mobile Home of John Whitworth (Photo by Callie Matthews)

Fires on Sunday left two DeKalb County families homeless.

The first one occurred at a mobile home at 303 Man Hill Road, Dowelltown.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says the residents, Treva Hartman and Larry Lattimore, both escaped safely, but they lost all their belongings.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 5:00 a.m. but the structure was apparently too far gone by that time they got there, and it could not be saved.

Members of the Liberty, Cookeville Highway, and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded, along with the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS.

The local Red Cross Chapter was called to provide emergency assistance including food, clothing, and shelter for the family.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Firefighters were called out again on Sunday at 3:20 p.m. to a mobile home at 991 Stoner Road in the Seven Springs Community. John and Cynthia Whitworth were renting the home from the owner, Bobby Stoner.

Chief Green says no one was at home at the time of the fire. The Whitworths had been gone overnight and discovered the fire when they returned Sunday around 3:00 p.m. They saw smoke coming from the house upon their arrival, and found, after trying to open the front door, that they could not enter the house because of the intense heat and smoke.

Members of the Keltonburg, Belk, Blue Springs, and Short Mountain Highway Fire Stations responded along with mutual aid assistance from the North Warren Fire Department, who helped supply water with a tanker truck. The Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also there.

Chief Green says firefighters were able to save about a third of the house and much of the contents and family belongings were either damaged or destroyed.

An electrical storm Friday night also kept firefighters busy, answering calls at residences on Carter Lane off Oakley Hollow Road, Liberty and at Lakeview Road off Cookeville Highway, Smithville where lightning strikes caused damage to home appliances, but sparked no fires.

Chief Green says lightning also struck a three story cedar lake home belonging to Billie Hayes at 320 Summer Court in the Four Seasons Resort area, but the damage wasn't discovered until Saturday afternoon when Ms. Hayes arrived at the residence. Firefighters were called around 12:43 p.m.

According to Chief Green, the lightning damaged a portion of the house that covers the deck, splintering wood, knocking off singles, and causing a support beam to catch fire, which firefighters found smoldering then they arrived.

Firefighters had to use their brush truck, because access was limited due to the steep, narrow road leading to the house. However, members of the Midway, Short Mountain Highway, and Cookeville Highway stations, along with a tanker truck were nearby to provide water and support.

No one was injured and the small fire was brought under control with minimal damage.

Dowelltown Man Injured in Motorcycle Wreck

June 28, 2009
Dwayne Page

A 50 year old Dowelltown man was injured in a motorcycle accident Saturday near Alexandria.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says James T. Mitchell was operating a Suzuki 1500 motorcycle west on Lower Helton Road, near the Alexandria City Limits, when he ran off the road into a ditch while trying to negotiate a curve.

Mitchell was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Mitchell is to be charged with a third offense of driving under the influence and a second offense of driving on a revoked license.


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