Local News Articles

Congressman Bart Gordon to Vote For Controversial Health Care Bill

March 19, 2010
Dwayne Page
Congressman Bart Gordon

Congressman Bart Gordon says he will vote in favor of the controversial health care bill when it comes to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a prepared release, Congressman Gordon says "The health care bill being considered by Congress now accomplishes three things: one, it reduces health care costs for families and small businesses; two, it improves access to affordable care, regardless of pre-existing conditions; three, it lowers our budget deficit. That’s why I am supporting it.

Over the past year, I have been contacted by thousands of Middle Tennesseans with opinions on health care. Because this issue is so important, I have heard from passionate voices on all sides through face-to-face meetings, call-ins, surveys, town halls, calls and letters.
During that time, I have consistently said I would not support any version of health care reform unless it brings down rising health care costs, improves access to affordable care, and does it all without adding one nickel to the national deficit. I’ve now been presented with a bill that does all three; in fact, this proposal reduces the deficit by $130 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the 10 years after that. Finding solutions to the problems we face has been challenging, but we simply cannot sustain the status quo any longer.

I’ve heard from many Tennesseans in the past year who are struggling to afford health care. Since 2000, health insurance premiums for the average family have doubled. Too many hard-working families and small businesses are getting priced out of needed health care.
There is no evidence this trend of escalating costs is moderating. If no reform is passed, the average family premium in Tennessee is expected to increase from $11,550 today to $19,700 in 2019. Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who currently have insurance are projected to lose their coverage. Small businesses that have stretched their budgets to cover employees will be forced to either cut care or cut staff. If we do nothing, local hospitals that are already struggling to accommodate uninsured patients through emergency room care and other resources will be stretched to the breaking point; some will likely go bankrupt.

Drawing from Republican and Democratic ideas, the bill before the House now has the potential to bring about major, commonsense remedies to our system that most all Tennesseans agree are necessary. Under the bill’s reforms, Tennesseans with preexisting conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer would be able to purchase insurance from any insurance company in the United States. Young adults would be able to remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. Families in financial trouble would receive tax breaks to help them find affordable insurance plans in the private sector. And finally, for the 100,000 seniors in my district, the bill would eliminate the Part D donut hole and extend Medicare’s solvency nine years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Growing health care costs are also straining our economy and increasing our national debt. Health care expenditures now account for 20 percent of the federal budget. Without reform, that number is projected to double in the next ten years. The Congressional Budget Office calls current federal spending on health care “the single greatest threat to budget stability.” These costs must be contained if we are to get serious about cutting our national debt. I voted against the House bill in November because that version didn’t do enough to address health care inflation. The Congressional Budget Office now says the current bill will address the problem by reducing the deficit.

With this bill, we have an opportunity to address a number of inefficiencies that have drained our system and driven costs up artificially. To begin with, we can address the pressing issue of frivolous and expensive malpractice lawsuits, which force doctors and hospitals to practice defensive medicine and put a huge financial burden on the system. That’s why I introduced a measure based on Tennessee’s own successful Certificate of Merit Program, which has already brought down the number of malpractice suits in Tennessee by 60 percent.

We can attack waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. We can hold insurance companies accountable and prevent companies from hiking premiums arbitrarily and dropping patients when they get sick. These are the measures I believe are essential to sensible reform, and these are the measures the new bill includes.

In November, I said I hoped the Senate and House could work out the difference and produce a bill I could support – one that takes responsible steps to make health care more affordable for our economy and for our families and small businesses. If I and each of my 534 colleagues in Congress had been able to write our own health reform packages, we would be looking at 535 different bills today. In the end, the question I’m faced with is this: will this reform be better for Middle Tennessee than the status quo? I think it will. That’s why I believe passing meaningful health care reform is essential and why I have made my decision to help ensure health care is affordable for Middle Tennesseans today and for generations to come."

DeKalb Community Hospital Welcomes New Physician

March 18, 2010
 Dr. James McKinney

DeKalb Community Hospital is pleased to announce the association of a new physician. Dr. James McKinney will be seeing patients at the Medical Specialty Office and performing surgery at DeKalb Community Hospital. DeKalb Community Hospital works hard to bring in the brightest and the most reputable specialty doctors so that those in our community can receive the care they need and still stay close to home.

Dr. James McKinney grew up in Alabama. He completed Medical School at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and his residency in Orthopedics at the Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He is Board Certified in Orthopedics and is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Dr. McKinney has lived in the Upper-Cumberland Region since 1992. He and his wife, Karla, call Cookeville their home. The couple have 2 children. When he is not in the office Dr. McKinney likes to work on his farm and has a special interest in tractors. He is also very involved with the Boy Scouts. He is looking forward to helping serve Smithville’s health care needs for years to come.

Three Running for Mayor of Smithville

March 18, 2010
Dwayne Page
Debbie DePriest
Taft Hendrixson
Bruce Medley
 Cecil Burger
Steve White
Shawn Beckham

Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson will be challenged for re-election again this year.

Hendrixson, who is seeking his third term, will face opposition from former Smithville Mayor Bruce Medley and DeKalb County High School teacher Debbie DePriest in the city election on Tuesday, June 15th.

Hendrixson was first elected mayor in 2006 and he was re-elected in 2008. Medley, a local livestock producer, served one term as mayor from 1988 to 1990. He did not seek re-election in 1990.

DePriest will be making her first attempt at elected public office.

Meanwhile, Incumbent Aldermen Stephen White and Cecil Burger are seeking re-election. Also in the race for alderman is Shawn Beckham.

White was first elected in 2000 and will be looking for his sixth term as alderman. Burger is seeking his third term as alderman. He was first elected to that office in 2006. Prior to that, Burger served as Mayor from 1990 to 2006.

This is Beckham's first attempt at elected public office.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on June 15th. Each term is for two years. The terms of office for those elected will begin on July 1st.

Noon today (Thursday, March 18th) is the qualifying deadline.

Early voting for the Smithville Municipal Election will be May 26th through June 10th. Meanwhile, May 17th is the voter registration deadline for the Smithville City Election.

Voters who don't live in Smithville but own property in the city may vote in the municipal election under certain conditions.

The Smithville Charter allows Property Rights Voting. The property must be a minimum of
7500 square feet and the person owning the property must reside in DeKalb County. Proof of ownership and residence must be shown by the following means: (1) A certified copy of the deed and the execution of an affidavit that the person still owns this property and (2) A copy of the most recent DeKalb County real property tax notice, and (3) Proof of residence in DeKalb County. Property rights registrants are entitled to vote but not to hold any municipal office or serve on any municipal board or commission. Proof of ownership and registration form must be provided to the Election Commission office by the May 17th registration deadline.

Meanwhile, Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley reminds voters who have moved since registering to vote that the election commission office needs your current address on file.

"While checking the names of registered voters on some of the petitions returned recently, we noticed some voters have moved but have not informed the election commission office of their change of addres," Stanley said. "Updating the record is a simple process. All the voter needs to do is fill out a change of address form, which is available at the election commission office. To see if you need to update your record, simply check the address on your voter registration card. If it is different than your current address, you need to update the information with the election commission."

"Updating the address will make your voting experience go much easier and quicker." Stanley said," and will not slow down the line at the polling place during early voting or election day."

Scholarship Applications Due Soon

March 17, 2010
Dwayne Page
Lori Barnes Myrick

The DeKalb County High School Guidance Department is urging parents to encourage their high school seniors to submit scholarship applications by the deadlines.

Lori Barnes-Myrick, DCHS School Counselor says almost all local scholarship applications are due at the DCHS Guidance Office by March 23rd.

The following scholarships are available:

Hunter Davis Memorial Scholarship for an FFA member enter into an agriculture related field (Due April 6th to Hunter's mother, Annette Davis)

Kyle & Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship for student athletes

DeKalb Community Hospital- for students going into the healthcare field

DeKalb Retired Teachers Award for students who will major in education.

Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club Award for female students only.

The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship for future MTSU students only

The DeKalb Farmers Coop Award for students going into an agriculture or related field.

The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award for basketball players or basketball cheerleaders going into teaching.

DeKalb Republican Women's Club Scholarship. Male or female students may apply

AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship for a male and female student who are children or grandchildren of a veteran.

The DeKalb County Soil Conservation District Scholarship is for students majoring in agriculture.

The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship is for students who have a parent or grandparent who is a current member of the DeKalb Firefighter's Association.

And the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Alan Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, the Jeff Garrett Memorial Scholarship, the PTO, Jolly Angels Scholarship, Smithville Women's Club, and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

Local Scholarship Applications are now available in the Guidance Office or
on the DCHS website: http://www.teacherweb.com/tn/dekalbcountyhighschool/guidance/

Burn Permits Required Through May 15

March 17, 2010
Dwayne Page

Visible signs of spring are beginning to emerge as warm temperatures and sunny skies push back the doldrums from what has been one of the coldest winters on record. As Tennesseans begin to take advantage of this weather to do some yard work around the home or farm, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry wants to remind folks that if they are considering conducting an open burn, a burn permit is required in advance of such activity.

“Burning vegetative material that has accumulated around the yard or using fire to clear an old field can be an efficient tool to get rid of such debris,” said State Forester Steven Scott. “However, it is very important that citizens practice safe outdoor burning recommendations. Obtaining a burn permit in advance of debris burning is our way of making the public aware of those recommendations and helping them know when, where and how it is safe to burn.”

The free burn permits are required in all areas of the state by law from now until May 15 unless otherwise covered by local ordinances, so residents should check with their local government for other restrictions. The permits can be obtained by calling your local Division of Forestry office between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Phone numbers for each office can be found in the state government section of your local phone book, or by visiting www.BurnSafeTN.org and clicking on the ‘Burn Permits’ button for a list of phone numbers by county. Permits are generally good for 24 hours and can be issued for weekend burns.

More than 415,000 permits were issued last year for activities that included unconfined, outdoor burning of brush and leaves, untreated wood waste and burning to clear land. The volume of requests on any given day can be high, so the Division asks residents to exercise patience if they experience any delay in getting through to an operator.

Once a burn permit is obtained, debris burners should practice common sense while conducting a burn. This includes:

Establish a control line around the fire, down to bare soil before conducting the burn.
Notify neighbors and local fire departments in advance as a courtesy.

Have tools on hand such as a leaf rake and garden hose or bucket of water to help control the fire.

Watch for changing weather conditions as winds can blow the fire in the wrong direction.

Always stay with your fire until it is completely out. It is not only the smart thing to do, but it is also illegal to leave an open fire unattended.

Escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires in Tennessee. The Division’s burn permit system has dramatically helped reduce the numbers of escaped burns since the program began in 1995. Burning without a permit is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine not to exceed $50. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline toll-free at 1-800-762-3017.

Burning permits can be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling the DeKalb County office of the Division of Forestry at 597-4015. Permits for the weekend can be obtained on Friday. For residents in the City of Smithville, you must call Central Dispatch at 215-3000 to obtain a burning permit.

For more information on the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, visit www.TN.gov/agriculture/forestry. For more information on safe debris burning, visit www.BurnSafeTN.org

Children in Smithville Day School Visit WJLE

March 16, 2010
Dwayne Page

Several children in the Smithville Day School at the Smithville Church of Christ visited WJLE on a field trip Tuesday morning.

The children were interviewed on the radio and sang "Jesus Loves Me"

The Smithville Day School is a pre-school program that meets every Tuesday and Thursday. There are five classes and children from eighteen months to pre-kindergarten are served. During this time, the primary objective is to provide an exciting and rewarding environment for your child. Some of the goals are to increase your child's language development, improve physical development, increase intellectual development, master hand/eye coordination activities, enhance fine and gross motor skills, increase awareness in interpersonal relationships, stimulate by exposure in the areas of arts and crafts, teach moral and cultural values concerning honesty, obedience, friendship, and trust.

A Bible lesson is taught every day. During this time, your child is taught the difference between right and wrong, the feelings experienced when they have done something wrong, and the values of trust, honesty, obedience, and respect for their parents. Children are taught about the many Bible characters in the Old and New Testaments and how these stories are applied to each child's life. Above all, the children are taught they we should love God.

For more information, call 615-597-6308 or Frances Hedge at 597-4975.

Smithville Water Plant Renovation to Begin by August

March 15, 2010
Dwayne Page

It may be August before any significant work begins on the renovation of the Smithville Water Treatment Plant.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson updated the aldermen on the project during Monday night's city council meeting. "We had a pre-construction conference with W & O Construction last Tuesday. Of course they were awarded the bid on the water plant and they have been given notice to proceed. They will be doing some things down there in the electrical work, probably maybe pouring a concrete pad for a generator, but the majority of the work is probably not going to start until August. They have ordered all the pumps and there's about a ten or twelve week lead time on all this equipment. They will be doing some things down there but the major part won't start until about August. It was stressed to them highly that the water producing had to go on so there won't be any foreseen interruptions in water producing. The engineer is confident they will do a good job. The engineering firm works with them good and they were the low bidder. So like I said they will be doing some things down there but the majority of the work probably won't start until around August."

The Smithville Board of Aldermen, on February 1st, approved a resolution awarding the construction bid to W&O Construction Company of Livingston in the amount of $2,542,000. The actual costs will be more when taking into consideration fees for engineering and other related services. The city will receive a $500,000 community development block grant administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to help fund the project. But the bulk of the funding, $2,342,000 will have to be appropriated from the city's water and sewer fund.

Mayor Hendrixson said last month that the city would not have to borrow the money. There are sufficient funds in the city's water and sewer fund reserves to support the project.
The project entails modernizing the water treatment plant and making improvements to the raw water intake. Mayor Hendrixson says W &O Construction has 365 days to complete the project and service to customers will not be interrupted while the renovation is underway.

In other business, the aldermen voted to accept bids for the airport hay contract. The current two year contract expires in April.

Mayor Hendrixson said the city has been asked to make a donation to Project Graduation. The aldermen voted to contribute $500. This is the same amount that the city has donated in the past.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs mentioned that some citizens have raised safety concerns about an intersection near the public square. "It has been brought to my attention by some citizens that the intersection of Webb Street and South Third Street by the dentist office and across from the Foutch residence. I understand that there have been quite a number of accidents at that location. It was suggested by the people who brought it up to me that a four way stop be put there. Personally, I hate four way stops. I think they probably cause more accidents than they solve but I thought we might want to discuss it and ask Lieutenant Leffew or his department to maybe take a look at the statistics of the number of wrecks we've had there and get a recommendation as far as public safety goes. I'm not sure what to do but I've heard discussions about that being a dangerous location because of the hill there, you can't see and some cars pull out too far trying to see if anybody is coming up the hill.'

Lieutenant Leffew said he would gather some information and report back to the board.

Qualifying Deadline for Smithville Election is Noon Thursday

March 15, 2010
Dwayne Page

Candidates interested in running for mayor or alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election have until noon on Thursday, March 18th to qualify with the DeKalb County Election Commission Office in the courthouse.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 15th. The positions are currently held by Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Stephen White and Cecil Burger. Each term is two years.

Mayor Hendrixson has qualified to seek re-election. He will be challenged by former Smithville Mayor Bruce Medley, who has qualified to run for mayor. Debbie DePriest has qualified to run for Mayor.

Meanwhile Aldermen White and Burger will be seeking re-election. Shawn Beckham has also qualified to run for alderman.

Givens Makes Campaign Stop in DeKalb County- Files Papers to Run for State Senate

March 15, 2010
Dwayne Page
State Senate Candidate Aubrey Givens
Jordan Wilkins, Aubrey Givens, Alesha Stephens, and Delaney Johnson

Aubrey Givens of Lebanon, candidate for the State Senate in the 17th district, formally filed a certified duplicate copy of his qualifying petition with the DeKalb County Election Commission Monday.

Givens, who is seeking his party's nomination for the office in the August 5th Tennessee Democratic primary, says he is looking forward to the campaign. "Today was the day when we turned in our paper work. Everybody now has a name you can go out and vote for on the ballot and have confidence that you'll have good representation."

"I am originally from Lebanon, although interestingly enough, we were able to trace our roots back to DeKalb County to 1812 on my mom's side of the family. I went to public schools and graduated from Lebanon High School and then went to MTSU. Back then we didn't have the HOPE scholarship, you just kinda hoped you had a scholarship. Thank God I was able to be blessed and got a scholarship and a college degree. I went to the Nashville School of Law. Since that time, I have focused my practice on helping working families, helping people who need assistance and making sure they are entitled to justice and a fair shake in life. I'm proud of what I do and now I'm ready to take it to the next level to help not only the people I've served in the past but to be able to spread it now among all the people of this district and to give our working families a fair shake."

"The number one issue in the state of Tennessee for this district and all the others is jobs. We've got to get some programs in place to get Tennesseans back to work so they can provide for their families, raise their families here in this state, and have a good standard of living, give them a good education, and make sure they have good health care. That's what we intend to carry all the way to Nashville to represent our people of this district."

"I want to be the first candidate, and I feel I'm the only candidate that will make this commitment. The bridges, not only in DeKalb County, but in Smith County are in disrepair. The problem with that is it's a danger to our children crossing them in school buses, but it's also keeping our job opportunities down. My number one commitment for DeKalb and Smith County is to get the bridges fixed so they'll be safe, so we can encourage industry to come into our communities and put people in these counties back to work."

"In order to be a good candidate you have to bring first and foremost good common sense and then you have to look at the issues. You have to be able to talk to the people in the communities to find out exactly what it is that concerns them. So if you have some common sense and you're willing to listen, then if you take that to Nashville and you don't compromise your principles or your ethics, go down there and do the right thing, you're going to be successful."

"I'm a little disappointed in the way things have been going over the last few years and that's the reason for a lot of my motivation and the reason I'm taking this step. I believe we can do things better. I believe what we need to do in the state legislature is to get focused on the issues that are really important, jobs, education, and health care for our seniors. Those are the type things we need to be focused on. We need to get these programs in place. We don't need to be focused on things that are really not important to Tennesseans. But we've got to stay focused on these major issues."

"I am totally opposed to a state income tax and I won't support that at all. I believe that our tax system can work, but we have to spend our money wisely. First, we need to get Tennesseans back to work so they can go out and buy the goods and products that generate the sales taxes and then take those sales taxes and put them in the places where they need to be. At the same time, it's important to eliminate the waste and the fraud in our budget, the pork projects, so we can concentrate on our roads, bridges, and schools, and to keep our priorities straight."

The 17th State Senatorial District is made up of Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, Trousdale, Wilson, and part of Sumner County.

(Pictured second from top: left to right- Jordan Wilkins, President of the Junior High Democrats in DeKalb County, Aubrey Givens, and Alesha Stephens and Delaney Johnson, members of the Junior High Democrats)

Miller Charged with Domestic Assault

March 15, 2010
Dwayne Page
David D. Miller

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged a 55 year old man with domestic assault.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says David D. Miller of Kings Court, Smithville is under a $1,000 bond and he will be in court on March 25th.

Sheriff Ray says a deputy was dispatched to a domestic call at King's Court off Adcock Cemetery Road on Saturday. After arrival, the officer found a male victim with three red marks on his left side. Through an investigation, officers determined that Miller had struck the victim with a baseball bat several times leaving the red marks on the victim's side. He will appear in court on March 25th.

38 year old Wayne A. Stock of City Walk Apartments, Highway 70 East was charged Thursday, March 11th with driving on a revoked license and criminal impersonation. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on April 22nd

Sheriff Ray says a deputy stopped Stock on Thursday. When asked to see his drivers license, Stock told the officer that he did not have his license with him. He also said his name was Wayne Reynolds. Through an investigation into the man's identity, authorities were able to determine Stock's real name. A background check revealed that Stock's drivers license was revoked.

Meanwhile, during the traffic stop, 30 year old Aubrey Glenn Rigsby of Bethel Road, Smithville pulled up at the scene where he was arrested for a second offense of driving on a suspended license and a violation of probation warrant. Rigsby's bond was set at $2,000 and he will appear in court on the driving charge April 21st.

30 year old Bradley Shane Sanders of Dry Creek Road Smithville was charged Friday, March 12th
with driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop on Short Mountain Highway. He was also arrested for a failure to pay child support warrant that was issued against him.

Meanwhile, a passenger in Sanders' vehicle was asked to give her name and she replied that she was Krista Caldwell. The officer knew her by the name of Krista Mahaney of Sparta Highway, Smithville. Mahaney was arrested for criminal impersonation. She also had a failure to appear warrant against her for not appearing in court on another charge.

Bond for Sanders was set at $1,000 on the driving charge and he will appear in court on April 21st. Mahaney's bond was set at $1,000 on the criminal impersonation charge and she will appear in court on the charge April 22nd

35 year old Christopher Allan Scruggs of Big Hurricane Road Smithville was charged Saturday, March 13th with a second offense of driving on a suspended license. His bond was set at $2,000 and he will appear in court on March 24th. Sheriff Ray says a deputy was dispatched to a two vehicle accident on Highway 70 west on Saturday and found Scruggs to be the driver of one of the automobiles. The officer ran a background check on Scruggs' license and discovered them to be suspended.


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