Local News Articles

Deputy Fired For Alleged Inappropriate Contact With Female Prisoner

May 29, 2006
Dwayne Page

A DeKalb County Sheriff's deputy has been terminated for alleged inappropriate contact with a woman he placed in custody Friday night.

Sheriff Lloyd Emmons confirms that he has dismissed Officer David Sharp.

According to Sheriff Emmons the woman, who was taken into custody by Officer Sharp for violation of probation, was upset when she arrived at the jail, complaining to the staff that she had been the victim of a sexual assault.

The Sheriff's Department conducted an internal administrative investigation while the TBI is conducting a criminal probe into the matter, including the collection of DNA evidence.

Sheriff Emmons says the woman has been moved to another location where she is receiving counseling.

Harold Ford, Jr. Speaks at DeKalb Rally

June 2, 2006
Dwayne Page

With a beautiful spring rain as a backdrop, the Democratic party faithful gathered under shelter number one at Greenbrook Park on Thursday evening to call for renewed efforts in the upcoming elections. Initially, over 200 people entered the area immediately surrounding the band shell at Smithville's most beautiful park to the sounds of the TCB Band and the Smithville Community Chorus.

The tales of a tranquil evening soon turned breezy and threatening weather briefly disrupted local elected officials serving fresh, hot barbeque with all the trimmings. County Executive Mike Foster, General Sessions Judge Batten Cook, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillan, Assessor of Property Timothy \"Fud\" Banks, County Court Clerk Mike Clayborn, and Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack broke down the tables as quickly as possible and moved the food under a shelter while the remainder of the crowd and local candidates took cover from the arriving rain. Even though the inclement weather was a brief distraction, the spirits ran high and everyone settled in for what turned out to be a wonderful evening, reminisce of a by gone era. One filled with laughter and singing; cozy seating and good ole time feeling of togetherness. No public address system, no stage ? just a podium and the voices of those seeking office. The most fundamental elements of politics permeated this crowd as they listened to their candidates speak. Party Chair Faye Fuqua called the meeting to order and Katherine Pack led the pledge of allegiance while Jackie Smith gave a stirring rendition of our national anthem. Sheriff candidate Myron Rhody spoke first, and then Russell Ambrose introduced Trustee candidate Anthony \"Doc\" Green. Next, Criminal Court Judge Lillie Ann Sells spoke to the crowd.

Bert Driver then came to the podium and introduced Congressman Harold Ford, JR. Ford, candidate for the US Senate called for those in attendance to remember that Democrats have always led the way in new and innovative ideas, and that he believes in a balanced budget, something the current administration and Republican led Congress has forgotten. Ford, 36, hails from Memphis and spoke passionately about the importance of the upcoming election. His spirit and zeal energized the crowd at Greenbrook Park as he thundered away about what it means to care about your fellow man; in fact, lightning and thunder provided a dramatic backdrop for the evenings' key note speaker. The revved up crowd gave Harold Ford, Jr. a standing ovation as he mounted up in his black ford pickup and headed to his next campaign stop.

Other candidates and officials who spoke were: Mike Foster, Second District County Commission Candidate Shane Cook, Sixth District County Commissioner Marshall Ferrell, Judge Bratten Cook, II, Katherine Pack, Mayoral Candidate Jerry Hutchins, Sr. Mike Clayborn, State Representative Frank Buck, Timothy \"Fud\" Banks, Jeff McMillan, District Public Defender in the 13th District David N. Brady, Two State Senate candidates from the 17th District were represented: Bob Rochelle of Lebanon was represented by his son Bruce Rochelle while Aubrey T. Givens also of Lebanon was represented by his fianc?e.

Faye Fuqua closed the program by reminding everyone that there was still work to be done and that nothing is to be taken for granted. She thanked all the candidates and especially recognized all the members of the DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee for all their hard work and for making the event possible.

Smithville Police Make Two Arrests In Recent Burglary & Theft Investigation

June 2, 2006
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has made two arrests in a recent burglary.

18 year old Gary Christopher Ponder of Old Mill Road, Dowelltown and 18 year old Brittney Danielle Barnes of Belk Road, Smithville are each charged with aggravated burglary and theft under $500.

Officer Mike Billings, in his report, states that \"I was conducting an investigation of a burglary that took place at the home of Paul Robinson at 7176 Cill Street, Smithville on May 21st. Barnes did admit to entering the home of Robinson by using a hammer and screwdriver to gain entry to the back door of the residence. Once inside the house, she and her boyfriend, Gary Ponder, took a bottle of prescription morphine (15mg) and a bottle containing 4-5 percocets (5mg). Miss Barnes did make a statement admitting her involvement in the break-in and theft. Barnes said she sold the drugs for money.\"

Billings, in his report, further stated that \" Ponder admitted his involvement in the break-in.\"

Bond for both is set at $15,000 each and they will appear in General Sessions Court on the charges June 15th.

State-Shared Taxes Fully Restored

June 3, 2006
Dwayne Page

State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) stated today that she is pleased that the Governor had kept his commitment to restore all the state-shared taxes to local governments. The General Assembly passed a bill to make the restoration permanent.

We are very glad to see that all of the state-shared taxes taken to balance Governor Bredesen's budget in 2003 have now been fully restored,? stated Senator Beavers. The Governor made a commitment to us last year to restore half of those funds then and the other half this year. We are pleased that he has honored that commitment to us and to local governments.

Last year, members of the General Assembly were concerned that the state-shared taxes had not started to be returned in 2004 as many had expected. Public Chapter 503, Acts of 2005, restored half last year in the Fiscal Year 2005-2006 budget. That amount was projected then to be $20 million.

This year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 3970 to restore the other half of the state-shared taxes and to make the restoration permanent. Based on increased revenue projections, that figure is now budgeted at $24 million for Fiscal Year 2006-2007.

Senator Beavers represents Senate District 17 which includes Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith, Trousdale, and Wilson counties, and part of Sumner County.

City Election Draws 424 Early Voters

June 4, 2006
Dwayne Page

A total of 424 people voted early in the Smithville Municipal Election from May 31st through June 15th at the courthouse.

Election Day voting will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 20. The positions are currently held by Mayor Cecil Burger and Aldermen Steve White and Jackie Rigsby.

Taft Hendrixson and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. are running for mayor.

Candidates for aldermen are Incumbents Stephen White and Jackie Rigsby and challengers Cecil Burger and Alford Webber.

Each of the terms is for two years.

Call 597-4146 for more information.

DeKalb County Fair To Celebrate 150th Year

June 21, 2006
Dwayne Page

The 150th DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria will be held July 24th through July 29th.

The theme of this year's fair is \"Spotlighting 150 years of Memories\"

The following events are scheduled:

Monday, July 24th: Junior Fair Princess Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Fairest of the Fair Pageant at the Lions Club Pavilion.

Tuesday, July 25th: Little Mr. and Miss Pageant at 6:00 p.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; Go-Cart Racing at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena; and a Horse Show at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand.

Wednesday, July 26th: Little Miss Princess Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Miss Sweetheart Pageant at the Lions Club Pavilion; a Cattle Show at 6:00 p.m. at the Grandstand; and Four Wheeler and Motorcycle Racing at 6:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena.

Thursday, July 27th: Senior Citizen Day activities at 9:00 a.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; a Baby Show at 6:00 p.m. followed by a Vintage Fashion Show at the Lions Club Pavilion; and Lawn Mower Racing at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena.

Friday, July 28th: Toddler Show at 6:00 p.m. followed by Gospel Singing at the Lions Club Pavilion; an Antique Tractor Pull at 6:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena; and a Demolition Derby at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand.

Saturday, July 29th: a Horse Shoe Tournament at 3:00 p.m. at the barn; a performance by the DeKalb County High School Band at 5:00 p.m.; Karaoke and Games at 5:30 p.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; Live Band and Dancing at 8:30 p.m. at the pavilion; and a Super Tractor and Truck Pull at 6:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena.

Music in celebration of the decades will be featured each night around 5:45 p.m. and there will be a $1,000 cash give away each night at 9:00 p.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion. You must be present to win. Any unclaimed money during the week will be given away on Saturday night.

WSMV Channel 4's Snow Bird will be at the fair on Tuesday, July 25 from 5-7 p.m.

Rides on the Midway will be provided by the Family Attractions Amusement Company. Unlimited rides will be available each night for $14.00.

The fair will feature lots of delicious foods and many commercial, agricultural, and women's exhibits.

Admission to the fair is $3.00 per person. Children under age six will be admitted free! Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Parking is Free!

All non-perishable exhibit items must be brought to the fairgrounds on Saturday, July 15 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and all perishable exhibit items must be brought to the fairgrounds on Saturday, July 22 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Premium (Exhibit) books containing detailed information on entering items in the fair are available at the Smithville and Alexandria libraries; DeKalb Community Bank; Liberty State Bank; Regions Bank; and at the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, call 529-FAIR or visit on-line at www.dekalbcountyfair.us or dekalbtn.com.

Gordon Wants Congress To Repeal Outdated Phone Tax

June 17, 2006
Dwayne Page

Following the Internal Revenue Service's
announcement to stop collecting the federal excise tax on long distance
phone calls, U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon is urging congressional leaders to take
up legislation that would eliminate the excise tax from all calls.

Last month, the IRS announced it would no longer collect the 3
percent tax on long distance phone calls.

\"The federal telecommunications excise tax was originally
enacted to pay for the Spanish-American War,\" said Gordon. \"This tax
certainly has outlived its original purpose, and the time to permanently
repeal it is long overdue.

\"The IRS did the right thing by eliminating the tax on long
distance phone services. Now, Congress needs to take the next step and
eliminate the tax from local phone bills as well.\"

The tax first was levied in 1898 as a luxury tax for wealthy
Americans who could afford telephones. Since then, the tax has been
repealed and reinstated numerous times and became permanent in 1990.

Today (June 16), Gordon joined a bipartisan group of his
colleagues in sending a letter to the Speaker of the U.S. House of
Representatives expressing support for the Telephone Excise Tax Repeal Act
of 2005.

Gordon is a co-sponsor of the legislation, which would repeal the federal
excise tax on all calls.

\"With more telephones than people in the United States today,
the (federal excise tax) now represents the polar opposite of a luxury tax,
and merely serves to raise prices for consumers,\" wrote the House members.

Taxpayers will be able to file for refunds on their 2006 tax
returns for any long distance excise tax paid after February 28, 2003. More
information is available on www.irs.gov .

Sixteen Boats Damaged Or Destroyed In Fire at Hidden Harbor Marina

June 13, 2006
Dwayne Page

An early morning fire Tuesday destroyed ten boats and damaged six others at Hidden Harbor Marina at Holmes Creek on Center Hill Lake.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green says firefighters received the call around 1:30 a.m. \"We were called to Hidden Harbor Marina to a reported house boat fire. The sheriff's deputies arrived moments after the call and they reported back that we had four or five houseboats on fire. When we arrived we found that we had about five or six houseboats on fire that had been cut loose from the marina. We also had more boats attached to the pier that were still on fire. There were a total of ten houseboats or pontoon boats that were actually burning and were destroyed and six more boats were damaged. There was no one on the boats at the time so no one was injured. Thankfully, none of our fire fighters were injured either because it's a very risky situation when you're fighting a fire on the water.\"

Green says TWRA officers were of great assistance to the volunteer firefighters. \"I can't say enough about the help we got from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Officers Ben Franklin, Tony Cross, and Tommy Alexander did an excellent job. They got their quickly and they helped us. We couldn't have been successful in getting the fire controlled without their help. They did a remarkable job along with my volunteer firefighters who were there. With the help of the TWRA, We were able to pull the burning boats away from the pier and to isolate and secure them so they would not drift back into the dock. From the time we arrived until the time we controlled the fire, we did not lose any more boats other than those already on fire when we got there and we were able to isolate the fire with very minimal structural damage to the marina.\"

Green says the origin and cause of the fire is undetermined. \" We don't know how it started because at the time the fire was discovered, the gentleman at the marina who saw the fire, said there were multiple boats already involved, so at this point we don't even know which boat the fire started on. That is something the investigators will have to determine when they come in and start looking at this.\"

Members of the Cookeville Highway Station, Short Mountain Highway Station, and Midway Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded. Firefighters also used a boat equipped with an on board pump along with portable pumps to help fight the fire.

TWRA had three officers and three boats on the scene and two officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department rendered assistance.

DeKalb EMS also stood by as a precaution to provide medical support.

Bankruptcy Trustee Files Motion On Behalf Of Cumberland Insurance Group

June 6, 2006
Dwayne Page

Bankruptcy Trustee John C. Mclemore has filed a motion to amend Cumberland Insurance Group's minimum purchase price of the B. Don James Insurance \"book of business\" from $200,000 to $175,000.

Under terms of the original agreement, Cumberland Insurance Group committed to pay 45% of its gross renewal commissions or a minimum of $200,000 for the Smithville, Woodbury, and Sparta businesses of B. Don James & Sons Insurance Agency.

McClemore now wants the original order amended because \"from the date of the sale, Cumberland Insurance Group, LLC and the Trustee had problems securing the book of business controlled by the Sparta branch. According to Mclemore, the manager there was determined to keep that business for himself. He left the employ of the Debtor and joined another insurance agency, taking with him sufficient records from the Sparta office to allow him to solicit from the customers assignments of the administrative rights to their policies. This was done despite the best efforts of Cumberland Insurance Group, LLC and the Trustee.\"

According to Mclemore's motion, \" it is the opinion of the Trustee that he was unable to deliver to Cumberland Insurance Group, LLC the book of business maintained by the Sparta branch and there should be an adjustment in the minimum purchase price required of Cumberland Insurance Group, LLC.

Mclemore, in the motion, states that Cumberland Insurance was able to generate gross commissions of $364,405 with $9,305 of that coming out of the Sparta branch. As a result, 45% of the gross renewal commissions generated $163,982 for the bankruptcy court.

Mclemore further stated, \"It is the opinion of the Trustee that given the circumstances, the minimum purchase price should be reduced from $200,000 to $175,000.

Some say the motion should not be granted because it is unfair to the other companies that bid on the business and that it could potentially reduce the money available to the creditors.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for June 24th at 9:00 a.m. in Nashville.

City Board Adopts New Budget On First Reading

June 4, 2006
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted the new 2006-2007 budget on first reading Monday night.

The new budget totals $5-million 122-thousand 699 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 $1.70 per thousand gallons.

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 3.9% cost of living increase. City employees with more than four years of service, who have topped out on the wage scale including salaried employees, will only get the 3.9% cost of living increase.

When the fiscal year started July 1, 2005, the general fund was projected to be $531, 815 in the red by June 30, 2006, but by eliminating unnecessary spending during the year, city officials have revised the deficit projection down to $147,364.

The General Fund would actually show a surplus of $102,636 by the end of the month, however the cost of operating the city's sanitation system comes to $250,000 a year. Since the city has no garbage collection fee for customers, the general fund must absorb the cost, thus creating the $147,364 deficit. Funds from the city's surplus must make up the difference

City officials are projecting that the general fund will show a deficit of $714,655 by June 30, 2007 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 water and sewer fund, at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, 2005, was expected to finish with a surplus of $273,413 by June 30, 2006. The projection now is for the fund to show a surplus of $570,061. However, the water and sewer fund is expected to finish the new budget year on June 30, 2007 with a deficit of $67,594, unless spending can be controlled.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $550-thousand dollars. 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- $375,000 to begin the first phase of a proposed expansion of the fire hall; Street Department- $65,000 including $25,000 for sidewalk improvements, $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- $10,000 unspecified; Animal Shelter- $5,000 unspecified; Sanitation Fund- $130,000 including $125,00 for a truck&bed and $5,000 unspecified; and Drug Fund- $5,000 unspecified.

Proposed water and sewer fund capital outlay expenditures include $15,000 for a pickup truck for the sewer plant, $20,000 for an update of sewer plant equipment, $25,000 for an update of the water plant and engineering fees, and $20,000 for a sewer rehabilitation camera.

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

Second and final reading action on the budget will follow a public hearing at the next meeting on Monday, June 19 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.


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