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Performers Jam Past Midnight on Opening Day of Fiddlers Jamboree

July 2, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
 State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody presented a US flag  flown over the state capitol to John and Thelma Austin from Ramsey East Anglia, England
 State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver presented flag flown over the state capitol to John Sadler from Seattle Washington
Old Time Appalachian Folk Singing (Solo): Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tennessee
Junior Clogging (Ages 13-39):Chris Stewart of Hermitage
Junior Buck Dancing (Ages 13-39):Justin Yates of Adams
Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet):The McKenneys of Cullman, Alabama
Dobro Guitar:Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Mountain Dulcimer:Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Hammer Dulcimer:Mack Garner of Walland, Tennessee
Novelty Event:Josiah Tyree of Carthage
Autoharp:Austin Derryberry of Shelbyville
Gospel Singing (Solo):Kelcy Tomlin of Springfield
Country Harmonica:Tyler Martelli of Chattanooga
Old Time Banjo:Josiah Tyree of Carthage
Youth Square Dancing:-Explosion of Springfield
Gospel Singing (Duet, Trio, & Quartet):The McKenneys of Cullman, Alabama
Mandolin:Tyler Andal of Nashville
Old Time Fiddle Band:Slim Chance Band of Smyrna

Performers picked, sang, and danced all day Friday until around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning during the first day of the 45th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody presented flags flown over the state capitol to persons who traveled the greatest distances inside and outside the country to get here. John Sadler from Seattle Washington received a Tennessee State flag. John and Thelma Austin from Ramsey East Anglia, England were presented a United States flag

Following a Jamboree welcome Friday evening from Coordinator Jack Barton and an introduction of local public officials, the Community Chorus entertained the crowd with a patriotic program.

Preliminaries were held in sixteen categories of music and dance competition followed by the finals featuring the top three acts in each event.

The following are the winners in each category:

*Old Time Appalachian Folk Singing (Solo):
First Place-Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tennessee
Second Place- Amanda McKenney of Cullman, Alabama
Third Place-Jennie Coppinger of McMinnville

*Junior Clogging (Ages 13-39):
First Place-Chris Stewart of Hermitage
Second Place Gary Giles of Franklin
Third Place-Justin Yates of Adams, Tennessee

*Junior Buck Dancing (Ages 13-39):
First Place- Justin Yates of Adams
Second Place-Amanda Herron of Algood
Third Place-Shelby Dunn of Fairview

*Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet)
First Place- - The McKenneys of Cullman, Alabama
Second Place- Kelcy and Sierra Tomlin of Springfield
Third Place-Harvey Brown of Beechgrove

*Dobro Guitar:
First Place-Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Second Place-Joey Gipson of Manchester
Third Place-Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro

*Mountain Dulcimer:
First Place-Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Second Place-Daniel Amick of Centerville
Third Place-Lailah Valentine of Guntown, Mississippi

*Hammer Dulcimer:
First Place-Mack Garner of Walland, Tennessee

*Novelty Event:
First Place- Josiah Tyree of Carthage
Second Place-Hillary Klug of Shelbyville
Third Place-Joey and Daniel of Manchester

*Autoharp:
First Place- Austin Derryberry of Shelbyville
Second Place-Bill Rothe of Estill Springs
Third Place-Deanna Mathis of Watertown

*Gospel Singing (Solo):
First Place-Kelcy Tomlin of Springfield
Second Place- Addie Cooksey of Cedar Hill
Third Place-Cara DiGiovanni of Greenbrier

*Country Harmonica:
First Place- Tyler Martelli of Chattanooga
Second Place- Micah McCreary of Section, Alabama
Third Place- Daniel Amick of Centerville

*Old Time Banjo:
First Place- Josiah Tyree of Carthage
Second Place- Tyler Andal of Nashville
Third Place- Austin Derryberry of Shelbyville

*Youth Square Dancing:
First Place-Explosion of Springfield
Second Place- Main Stage Revolution of Mt. Juliet
Third Place-Little Texas of Franklin

*Gospel Singing (Duet, Trio, & Quartet):
First Place- The McKenneys of Cullman, Alabama
Second Place- Ivy and Cara of Chapmansboro
Third Place- Mountain Cove Bluegrass Band of Signal Mountain

*Mandolin:
First Place-Tyler Andal of Nashville
Second Place- Daniel Amick of Centerville
Third Place-Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro

*Old Time Fiddle Band:
First Place-Slim Chance Band of Smyrna
Second Place-Notorious Pick-Flickers of Shelbyville
Third Place- String Cats of Nashville

The Fiddler's Jamboree resumes at 9:00 a.m. today with preliminaries in the following categories:

*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

*Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39)

*Flat Top Guitar

*Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award

*Bluegrass Band*

*Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over)

*Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back tonight 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.

The Jamboree Blue Blaze Award will be presented at 6:00 p.m. to recognize a musician that is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music. This year’s winner is Danny Roberts, a member of the Bluegrass music group “The Grascals”, a former Fiddlers Jamboree performer.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held this 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.

WJLE will broadcast the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

In addition to music and dancing competitions onstage, the Fiddlers Jamboree also features dozens of crafts displayed along the downtown streets, plenty of delicious foods for sale at local food booths, and lots of shade tree picking under trees around the town square.

Second Round of Litter Pickup Begins on State Highways

July 1, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Second Round of Litter Pickup Begins on State Highways (WJLE Photo)

For several years the county has received an annual litter grant from the state to compensate the sheriff's department for providing roadside pickup of litter on county roads using inmate labor. This year, the state has also provided grant funds for litter pickup on state roads in DeKalb County.

The second round of litter pickup has begun .

“We have started our second round of litter pickup on our state roads. The mowers are supposed to be here July 18. You’ll see our correctional officers out with our inmates. We ask everybody to use caution when they see our orange signs with flags on them which say “inmates are working up ahead picking up litter”. We ask everyone to slow down and pay attention. There could be inmates on both sides of the road or just one side of the road. We just ask everybody to be aware and slow down,” said Sheriff Patrick Ray.

The first round of the litter pickup on state roads was conducted in the spring after the state grant was awarded.

"In April we were able to get an additional grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation where we can pick up litter on state roadways here in our county," said Sheriff Ray. "The grant pays for three cycles of litter pickup each year with an optional fourth cycle if needed and the grant awarded us enough money that we could hire a full time employee and use him for other things when he is not picking up trash out in the county. We can use him to help non profit organizations such as food pantries, the fair, the Jamboree, and other things that are non profit. We help some of our local churches do things and take care of cemeteries that have been abandoned. It opens up more opportunities for us to get out in our community and help people,” he said.

This grant covers over 100 miles of listed state roadways. These roads are Sparta Highway, Nashville Highway, Cookeville Highway, McMinnville Highway, Keltonburg Road, Antioch Road, Belk Road, New Home Road, Short Mountain Highway, Murfreesboro Highway, Dale Ridge Road, Wolf Creek Road, Medley Amonett Road, Temperance Hall Road, and Lancaster Highway. We are using inmate labor to pick up the trash on the state roads just like we do with our county roads litter grant program. We already have a separate contract for county roads that we’ve had for many years,” he said.

Sheriff Ray offers some safety tips for motorists who may approach these litter pickup work zones. These simple tips could save your life or the life of a worker in one of the litter zones.

*Always think orange. When you see orange signs, cones, or barrels, expect a roadside work zone ahead.

*Stay alert. Look for narrow driving lanes and highway workers ahead.

*Pay attention. Work zone signs will tell you exactly what to expect ahead.

*Don't follow too closely. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.

*Minimize distractions. Drivers should keep their eyes on the roadway especially in a work zone.

*Do not talk on a cell phone or adjust your radio while in one of these zones.

*Slow down. You may encounter slowed or stopped traffic in an instant or encounter workers on or beside of the roadway.

You will know you are entering into a litter pickup zone when you see orange signs that say "Litter Pickup Ahead".

Motorists Asked Not to Block Roads at Fireworks Shows

July 1, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Motorists Asked Not to Block Roads at Fireworks Shows

Sheriff Patrick Ray is asking for your cooperation if you plan to attend any of the fireworks shows planned for this weekend around Center Hill Lake.

“If you are driving to a fireworks show, please do not park in the roadway near these events. We must keep roads open at all times especially for law enforcement, fire, and ambulance personnel who might be called to respond to an emergency. Any vehicle found parked in the roadway or blocking traffic in any manner will be towed at the owner’s expense. We plan to have deputies at all fireworks shows on the lake this weekend,” said Sheriff Ray.

“Thank you for your cooperation and have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend”, he concluded.

TDOT Finds "Heavy Collision Damage" to Bridge

June 30, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
TDOT Finds "Heavy Collision Damage" to Bridge
Closeup View of Damage to Underside of College Street Bridge

An inspection by officials of the Tennessee Department of Transportation reveals “heavy collision damage” to the Veterans Memorial Bridge (overpass) on College Street and it will remain closed to traffic until repairs are made.

A TDOT official is recommending that proper signs and barricades be installed.

The damage was caused by a DeKalb County Landfill truck which hit the underside of the bridge Monday morning as it was traveling east on Broad Street. Although the truck carried no dumpster at the time, the lift was up. The driver, 54 year old Roger Chapman, received minor injuries and was cited by Smithville Police for speeding. The truck was totaled.

“This bridge sustained collision damage to the beams and deck by a waste disposal truck. We have completed the damage inspection and evaluation of this bridge,” wrote Wayne J. Seger, TDOT Director of Structures.

In an evaluation report to Ray Rucker, TDOT Transportation Regional Director, Seger defined the scope of the damage to the bridge.” This structure consists of four simply supported concrete deck girder spans with an asphalt wearing surface. The substructure is concrete.

“Beams “E” and “F” in span number 3 have sustained heavy collision damage near the midspan. It has resulted in large areas of spalled concrete with exposed damaged reinforcing steel. The area of spalling on beam “F” is nine feet long, one foot and six inches wide, and one foot deep. On beam “E” it is fifteen feet long, one foot and eight inches wide, and one foot and eight inches deep. In their present condition concrete beams “E” and “F” in span number 3 have no calculated live load carrying capacity,” wrote Seger.

“The deck and sidewalk on the right side of span number 3 have heavy cracking up to 1/8 inch wide extending all the way through the deck due to collision damage.”

“At the time of inspection, the bridge underpass was posted for a vertical clearance of thirteen feet and ten inches.”

Seger recommends that the bridge remain closed to all traffic and that proper signs and barricades be installed; that beams “E” and “F” be repaired or replaced; and and that the deck and sidewalk be repaired.

“After the beams, deck, and sidewalk have been satisfactorily completed, the bridge shall be re-opened to traffic without any restrictions,” wrote Seger.

Broad Street under the bridge will remain open.

Smithville Aldermen Adopt $6.2 Million Budget for 2016-17

June 30, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Aldermen Adopt $6.2 Million Budget for 2016-17

The Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved the new $6.2 million budget ordinance on second and final reading during a special meeting Tuesday at city hall.

The new budget totals $6-million 642-thousand 988 dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at 64.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. The city property tax rate is budgeted to generate $820,000.

Water and sewer rates are to remain the same. City water customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are $7.50 per thousand gallons. City sewer customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62.

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District will remain the same at $2.67 per thousand gallons. The city had planned to raise the rate to $3.00 per thousand but was prohibited because of a Chancery Court order from 2014. “The only thing that has changed since the first reading is the DUD rate. We have to keep it at $2.67 per thousand gallons rather than the recommended $3.00 due to the court order from Judge Thurman from a couple of years ago. The way I understand it, we have to present a reason for the rate hike. I have talked with J.R. Wauford (city’s utility engineer) and they are working with us on that,” said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

The new budget includes pay raises for employees, a new sanitation truck, the addition of a new full time officer in the police department to help cut down on overtime, matching funds to replace the Holmes Creek Bridge, street paving including on the public square, new equipment for the fire department, and an upgrade of the waste water treatment plant, among other projects.

Under the new budget, city hourly and salaried employees will get a 3% pay raise except for any police officers who are due to get an increase in pay under the department’s wage scale for all hourly employees. However the police department wage scale, which has been an eight step plan, will stop at six steps hereafter. The last two steps are being eliminated to keep police department salaries from getting too far out of line with other city workers.

In an effort to reduce overtime within the police department, the city is changing the officers shift schedules and creating a new full time officer position. With the new hire, the police department will have fourteen full time members including the chief, captain, one lieutenant/investigator, two sergeants, an investigator, and eight full time officers, plus two clerks.

The budget includes $100,000 in capital outlay to go toward the purchase of a new rescue pumper truck for the fire department. Fire Chief Charlie Parker is asking that the city make this purchase to replace the fire department’s oldest fire truck, a 1992 model, as well as a 20 year old rescue truck and cargo van. While funds will be set aside for a new rescue pumper, the city still plans to apply for a grant through the Upper Cumberland Development District in January. “Of course we’ll have to get specs, advertise, and take sealed bids which will take a little while. Apparently it will take close to a year once the bid is awarded. So this could actually roll into (following budget year 2017-18),” said City Administrator Hendrixson.

“Charlie (Parker) said it could take probably nine to eleven months (before the truck is purchased),” said Alderman and Police and Fire Commissioner Jason Murphy.

The city also intends to purchase a new garbage truck this year. “That is one of the first things we’ll do after the fourth of July holiday. I’ve already got the specs for that. I’ve had to go back and redo it somewhat. I’m still looking at paying for that with a $400,000 CD that we have. We’re making probably less than half a percent for what we’re getting on a return on interest so its not much. When it comes time to award those bids we can discuss that,” said City Administrator Hendrixson.

The city is also increasing its contribution to Justin Potter Library from $500 to $5,000.

General Fund Capital outlay projects for 2016-17 total $692,000 including the following:

*Fire Department equipment- $116,000

*New sanitation truck and trash containers- $350,000 (unspent from 2015-16 year)

*Street Department-Holmes Creek Bridge Project & Unspecified- $60,000

*Police Department Car & Unspecified- $30,000

*New Animal Shelter- $75,000 (unspent from 2015-16 year)

*Airport: Taxiway Initial Design & Unspecified- $20,000 (Mostly funded by grants)

*City Hall Building (Unspecified)- $25,000

*Public Works-Buildings & Grounds (Unspecified)- $5,000

*Parks and Recreation- $5,000

*Financial Administration- $1,000

*Legislative-$5,000

State Street Aid: Paving-$350,000

Water and Sewer projects including the following:

*Sewer Plant Rehabilitation- $2,750,000

*Tube Settlers for Water Plant- $40,000

*Backhoe-$80,000

The city is expected to wrap up the 2015-16 budget year June 30 in the black in both the general fund by $153,724 and water and sewer fund by $76,399.

Total general fund revenues for 2016-17 are projected to be $3,127,010, not enough to cover total estimated expenditures of $3,976,981. The city plans to appropriate $849,971 from the general fund surplus if needed to balance the budget.

The water and sewer fund is expected to show a surplus of $157,925 by years end with total revenues at $2,622,600 and expenditures of $2,464,075. But the 2016-17 water and sewer fund is supported by a $500,000 grant for sewer plant rehabilitation which is counted as income to the city for just one year .

The city will also lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue when the DeKalb Utility District launches its new water plant, which could come before next summer. In the budget the city has reduced projected revenues from the sale of water to the DUD from $765,000 for the year ending June 30, 2016 down to $400,000 for half the year 2016-17. City officials say such a loss of income may eventually force the city to look at ways of cutting spending or raising new revenues to make up the difference.

Downey Gets Four Years Probation in Theft Case

June 29, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shane Michael Downey
Kevin Wade Hedgecoth, Jr
Mitchell Allen Huffaker

A 40 year old man accused in the theft of items from a local storage unit building last fall appeared for sentencing in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Tuesday, June 21.

Judge Gary McKenzie presided.

Shane Michael Downey entered a plea to theft over $1,000 and received a four year sentence suspended to probation. The term is to run concurrently with a domestic assault sentence against him. Downey is to make restitution to the victim in an amount to be determined at another hearing. He was given eight days of jail credit.

Downey was arrested on Thursday, September 3, 2015 by Smithville Police Detective Brandon Donnell after an investigation in which some of the stolen items from a local storage unit building were recovered and returned to the owner.

According to Captain Steven Leffew, the victim told Officer Will Judkins on Sunday, August 30 that she discovered the burglary and theft the next day after moving items into a storage unit on Highway 56. The victim reported items missing from the unit valued at more than $2,000.

20 year old Kevin Wade Hedgecoth, Jr. entered a plea by criminal information to possession of a schedule VI drug over one half ounce and received a two year sentence suspended to probation. He was fined $2,500.

A codefendant with Hedgecoth, 19 year old Mitchell Allen Huffaker entered a plea by criminal information to attempted possession of a schedule VI drug for resale and received a two year TDOC sentence all suspended to supervised probation. He was fined $2,500. Huffaker was given one day of jail credit.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, December 21, 2015 a deputy received a tip from another officer that a vehicle was possibly transporting marijuana. The officer located the automobile at the Kwik N Ezy convenience market in Smithville. The driver, Huffaker was inside the store. When Huffaker came out of the market, the deputy spoke to him. As Huffaker opened the car door to reach for his license, the deputy detected an odor of marijuana coming from Huffaker's vehicle. Hedgecoth was a passenger. During a search of the automobile 3.17 ounces of marijuana were found in the middle console. Both Hedgecoth and Huffaker were arrested after admitting that they had put their money together to buy the marijuana.

37 year old Jeffery Scott McAlister entered a plea to theft over $1,000 and received a four year suspended sentence. The term is to run consecutive to a Rutherford County sentence against him. He must make restitution of $50.

Smithville Police Sergeant Brad Tatrow took a report on Monday, September 7, 2015 of someone taking a vehicle from the parking lot of Napa Auto Parts . The automobile was found near the Cannon/DeKalb line at Barnes Cemetery. McAlister became a person of interest and upon further investigation by Detective Matt Holmes it was determined that McAlister had taken the vehicle from the parking lot, driven it to the cemetery, and left it there. McAlister was arrested for theft.

Court Order Keeps City from Increasing Water Rate to DUD

June 29, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

The City of Smithville was poised to raise the water rate it assesses the DeKalb Utility District with passage of the new 2016-17 fiscal year budget. But due to an existing Chancery Court order, the city can’t move forward on that proposed increase.

With only a few months remaining before the DUD opens its new water treatment plant, the city had planned to charge the DUD $3.00 per thousand gallons for the water it buys from the municipality starting July 1. That is up from the $2.67 per thousand gallons the city currently charges. Once DUD breaks ties, the city will lose its largest water customer and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. In the budget, the city has reduced projected revenues from the sale of water to the DUD from $765,000 for the year ending June 30, 2016 down to $400,000 for half the year in 2016-17. City officials say such a loss of income may eventually force the city to look at ways of cutting spending or raising new revenues to make up the difference.

The proposed new rate to the DUD was included in the 2016-17 budget ordinance adopted on first reading by the aldermen Monday night, June 6. The vote was 3 to 0. Two aldermen were absent.

But city officials later learned that any increase in the rate without providing proper justification would violate the court’s order. During Monday night's special meeting (June 28) to adopt the new budget on second and final reading, the aldermen removed the proposed increase to the DUD from the spending plan.

In February, 2014 Chancellor Ronald Thurman ordered the City to reduce its water rate to the DUD from $5.00 down to $2.67 per thousand gallons, which a water study found in 2013 was the city’s actual cost to produce water at the time.

Following a two hour hearing in Cookeville, Chancellor Thurman granted a DUD motion for a temporary injunction barring the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gave proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons.

During that hearing, the Court found that the city violated Section 18-502 of the Smithville City Code, which required the City of Smithville to give the DeKalb Utility District 30 days notice in advance of a rate change. The City of Smithville gave the DUD only 16 days actual notice in advance of the rate change. The Chancellor also found that the city had not given proper justification for arriving at the $5.00 rate.

In an effort to remedy the notification issue in the future, the aldermen voted in March 2014 to abolish the 1980 ordinance, which set the rate to the DUD at that time and also provided that a 30 day notice would be given the DUD if the city were to modify the rate. But the city’s justification for raising the rate based upon an updated water cost study has apparently not been addressed.

County Officials to Get Pay Raises Effective July 1

June 29, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page

County officials here and across the state are getting a pay raise effective July 1.

Compensation for most county officials is governed by state law which establishes the minimum for Assessors of Property, County Clerks, Clerks of Court, Trustees, Registers of Deeds, County Mayors, Sheriffs, and Highway Officials. This law provides for an automatic increase in the minimum salary each year based on the percentage increase given to state employees for the previous fiscal year. The salaries of the county officials are partly based on the population class of the county and the office. Not all office holders earn the same amount of pay.

Under state law:

*The County Mayor’s compensation shall be at least 5% higher than the salary paid to any other county constitutional officer.

*The Sheriff’s salary shall be at least 10% higher than the salary paid to the general officers of the county.

*The Road Supervisor’s compensation shall be at least 10% higher than the salary paid to the general officers of the county

*The salary of the General Sessions Judge is to be increased annually in the same manner as state court judges, which is the actual percentage change in the consumer price index. The CPI change between 2015-16 is an average 0.1%. therefore the salary of the General Sessions Court Judge will increase by 0.1% July 1 for the coming fiscal year.

*The Administrator of Elections salary is 90% of the base salary of the Assessor of Property.

The new salary schedule as set by the state for DeKalb County is as follows:

General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge: $90,975 per year, up by 0.1%

County Mayor: $75,329 , up from $73,738

Road Supervisor: $71,743, up from $70,228

Sheriff: $71,743, up from $70,228

Trustee: $65,221, up from $63,843

County Clerk: $65,221, up from $63,843

Circuit Court Clerk: $65,221, up from $63,843

Clerk and Master: $65,221, up from $63,843

Register of Deeds: $65,221, up from $63,843

Assessor of Property: $65,221, up from $63,843

Administrator of Elections: $58,699, up from $57,459

Budget On Its Way to County Commission, Committee Defends Employee Pay Plan

June 28, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page

The budget committee of the county commission put the finishing touches on the proposed 2016-17 spending plan during a meeting Tuesday night at the courthouse.

Copies of the budget will be presented to all other members of the county commission and a workshop will be held soon for them to review it as a group without a vote. A public notice will then be published and a vote to approve the spending plan will be taken at the next regular monthly county commission meeting on July 25.

As WJLE first reported last week, the new budget includes a new pay plan for employees who work for the county general department, except for the sheriff’s department which has its own wage scale.

Under the plan, employees of the offices of Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master would get step raises at a percentage of what their employer earns. That doesn’t set well with most of these officials because their employees would not earn the same pay as employees of the county mayor’s office.

For example, Step 1 of the plan calls for the salaries of first year employees of the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and the Clerk and Master to go from $24,182 (current wage) to $25,436 per year (39% of their employer’s salary). Salaries of the county mayor employees with one year of service would go from $24,182 (current wage) to $29,378 (39% of their employer’s salary).

Step 5, the top end of the plan, would have the salaries of eight year employees of the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and the Clerk and Master to go from $26,432 (current wage) to $28,697 per year (44% of their employer’s salary). Salaries of the county mayor employees with eight years of service would go from $26,432 (current wage) to $33,144 (44% of their employer’s salary)

Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, who addressed the budget committee Tuesday night, believes the proposal isn’t fair to her employees. “ Just because Tim (Stribling)makes more than I do doesn’t mean his employees work any harder than mine do. Let’s just take a thousand dollars increase. That amounts to between $27 and $30 dollars a pay period. I appreciate and they (employees) appreciate anything that they get but its almost like an insult to say you're going to get a good pay raise but when you put it down to a pay period, its less than $30 dollars per pay period,” she said.

Pack is also concerned that the budget committee took action on this pay plan without inviting the county officials to the meetings to discuss it. “My feelings have been hurt over this because we weren’t consulted or anything. We had to read it on WJLE as to what you were doing,” said Pack.

Trusee Sean Driver is also upset. “I don’t know what I have done against the budget committee but I would like to have known that this was being discussed about my employees. I will put my employees up against anybody’s. It’s my understanding that Mr. Stribling wanted to discuss this with the elected officials three weeks ago but I don’t know what happened between that time and now. We thought that everything would be transparent. Evidently it’s not. This difference between one office compared to six offices, the majority usually rules but in this case I guess it doesn’t. I disagree with it but I sure would liked to have known this was going to happen and I am disheartened about it,” said Driver in addressing the budget committee.

“I’m sorry we didn’t ask you to at least attend and talk about it,” said Budget Committee member Jack Barton.

Under the existing pay plan adopted four years ago, many employees topped out right away because of their years of service without getting any further raises since. With this new plan, Barton explained that employees of these seven offices would get an increase every time the state gives their bosses (county officials) a pay raise along with the regular step increases. “I’m disheartened that in four years time there has been no opportunity for anybody to get a raise so to me tying to those adjusted increases the state passes on to your office, or Tim’s office, or whatever, makes sense. In the last four years, your associates would have gotten two raises by now that we would not have had to vote on,” Barton said.

“Instead of giving raises on a whim, we wanted to tie it with something that separated us from saying “hey what are we going to do this year? We’ve got a formula now,” added Budget Committee member Larry Summers.

Members of the Budget Committee even mentioned the possibility of adding another step to the plan next year if funding is available.

Clerk and Master Deborah Malone and Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell were also at the meeting Tuesday night in support of their employees.

According to the new scale, the step raises for employees of the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master offices would be as follows:

STEP 1: 39% of their employer’s salary -1 year of service

STEP 2: 40% of their employer’s salary-2 years of service

STEP 3: 41% of their employer’s salary- 3 years of service

STEP 4: 42% of their employer’s salary-4 years of service

STEP 5: 44% of their employer’s salary-8 years of service

Meanwhile the Library Director, Election Commission Office Employee, and Soil Conservation Secretary would be on the same scale (as noted above) with their salaries being a percentage of $65,221 which is what the Trustee, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, Assessor of Property, Circuit Court Clerk, and Clerk and Master earn.

Full time library employees and the Senior Citizens Director would get a percentage of $65,221 based on the following scale for them:

STEP 1: 31% of $65,221- 1 year of service

STEP 2: 32% of $65,221-2 years of service

STEP 3: 34% of $65,221-3 years of service

STEP 4: 35% of $65,221- 4 years of service

STEP 5: 37% of $65,221-8 years of service

All part-time County General Employees would be paid $10.00 per hour.

Custodians would get a 2.158% increase in pay

The director of the Landfill would get a salary of $42,000 per year.

Landfill employees would get the following rates of pay:

Drivers with Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL):

$13.00 per hour for 1 year of service

$14.00 per hour for 3 years of service

$15.00 per hour for 5 years of service

$16.00 per hour for 7 years of service

Laborers would get the following rates of pay:

$12.00 per hour for 1 year of service

$13.00 per hour for 3 years of service

$14.00 per hour for 5 years of service

$15.00 per hour for 7 years of service

Convenience Center employees would get $8.50 per hour

Ambulance service employees would get a 4% raise except for the director.

County Seeks Court Injunction to Have Gate Removed from Road

June 28, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Seeks Court Injunction to Have Gate Removed from Road

The county is preparing to take a landowner in the Belk Community to court for blocking a county road with a gate.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the county commission voted to file a lawsuit against the landowner, Grant Manning, seeking an injunction to keep him from having an obstruction (gate) across Sunset Drive which is located off Allen Bend Road in the Belk Community.

Last November, The county commission went on record to direct the Road Supervisor to take the necessary action to have the gate removed.

The gate was later taken down but it has been erected again.

Manning disputes the county’s claim that Sunset Drive is a county road and in an email response to WJLE last fall, Manning said the gate had been up for over four years and that he had maintained the road since 1990.

County Attorney Hilton Conger met with County Mayor Tim Stribling and the county commissioners in closed session last Thursday evening to give them legal advice about what to do in resolving this case going further. During Monday night’s meeting, Stribling said Conger gave three options; to do nothing and let the affected property owner deal with it himself by possibly filing a lawsuit against Manning; for the county to file a lawsuit seeking an injunction for Manning to remove the gate; or for the county to seek a declaratory judgment from the Chancery Court on whether Sunset Drive is a county road and if so the length and width of the road.

Sixth district commissioner Betty Atnip made a motion to exercise the second option for the county to seek a court ordered injunction against Manning. Second district commissioner Joe Johnson offered a second to the motion. Sixth district commissioner Jeff Barnes asked if another solution could be reached to avoid the county having to pay expensive legal fees over this issue. He said the other affected landowner, Bart Lay, has apparently agreed to help develop another road into the area and bypass Sunset Drive if the county would put down the gravel.

But Atnip and Johnson said such action would set a precedent the county might later regret. “Are we going to do that every time somebody blocks a county road? Build another one around it? I think we’d be setting a precedent here. I think we need to go (to court) even if it costs us a little money. We’ve got to stop blocking county roads,” said Johnson.

The county commission adopted Atnip’s motion to take Manning to Court.

In other business, the commission approved the re-appointment of Jane Hobson, Betty Pankey, and Jan Thomas to the DeKalb County Library Board of Trustees and Bobby White to the Regional Library Board. Each appointed term is for three years.

The commission adopted a continuing budget resolution to keep county government operating past July 1 until the new budget is adopted for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

A one year lease renewal was also approved for the Tennessee Opportunity Programs which operates out of one room at the county complex for $200 per month. The program seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farm workers and other disadvantaged persons to achieve economic self sufficiency by providing services that address their individual needs.

The commission will soon have to fill another judicial commissioner vacancy. County Mayor Stribling said Harvey Barnes has announced his resignation effective July 31. Barnes has served since his appointment last September. The judicial committee will review the applications still on file from the last time there was a vacancy and make a recommendation to the county commission. The opening will be re-advertised if necessary.

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