Local News Articles

TDOT Expects Bid Letting for Highway 56 Project by Fall

March 17, 2018
Dwayne Page
State Senator Mark Pody; State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver; TDOT Assistant Chief Engineer for Region 2 Joseph Deering; TDOT Director of Project Development, Wes Hughen;  TDOT Director of Operations Ken Flynn; and TDOT Regional Community Relations Officer Jennifer Flynn. NOT PICTURED: State Representative Clark Boyd
TDOT Expects Bid Letting for Highway 56 Project by Fall

The Tennessee Department of Transportation still has plans to improve Highway 56 south in DeKalb County and into Warren County along the existing nine mile corridor but construction is months away and will be done in three phases instead of two once it gets started. Bids are to be let for the first two phases of the project by this fall.

Meanwhile plans are still in the works for expansion of Highway 70 (State Route 26) from Highway 53 in Alexandria to Highway 96 in Liberty but while right of way acquisition was long ago acquired for the project, the state has yet to allocate funding. It is included among the projects identified by TDOT to be addressed as part of the IMPROVE ACT adopted by the state legislature last year.

A public meeting was held Friday morning in Smithville with TDOT officials hosted by State Senator Mark Pody and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Clark Boyd.

According to TDOT, The first two phases of the Highway 56 project are from the Warren County line to Magness Road and then on to East Bryant Street in Smithville along the existing route. A new project from near State Highway 287 in Warren County to the DeKalb County line is still under review.

TDOT’s plans call for a new two-lane but the highway (2- 12 feet traffic lanes with turning lanes and wider shoulders along the route) could eventually be expanded to four-lanes in the future. The property has already been acquired to build a new two to four lane highway.

According to Wes Hughen, TDOT Director of Project Development for Region 2,construction would have already taken place had it not been for delays due to environmental issues. There are still stream mitigation concerns to be resolved both with the Highway 56 and Highway 70 projects.

“We have been trying to get the project to construction for some time but we had some issues with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document,” said Hughen.

“The first two sections we expect to have let to construction by late this fall or early winter. We have already acquired all the right of way for those two sections. We will start out building two lanes of a proposed four lane project. We will maintain traffic on the existing Highway 56 (alignment) while we build the new portion and then we will take the old part out. We’ve got connections to driveways to everybody,” said Hughen.

"Once it lets to construction and bids are found to be acceptable, it (contracts) will be awarded within four to six weeks and then sometime after that we would start work but while all the right of ways are available, we will still have to relocate utilities and things like that,” said Ken Flynn, TDOT Director of Operations for Region 2.

The entire Highway 56 project is expected to be completed within three years after construction begins.

TDOT will schedule a public information meeting in May or June to share more specifics about all three phases of the Highway 56 plans.

School District Sets Testing Dates for State Assessments

March 17, 2018
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County School district has set the state assessment testing dates at each school for the remainder of March and April.

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and other school administrators are asking parents to make sure their children are in the classrooms each day for the assessments.

“Our state testing provides feedback about students’ academic progress. The results help us to make informed decisions on how to better invest in our schools. All high school students will take the End of Course exams online this year," said Director Cripps. For a preview of how your child will be tested at the high school level please visit this link: https://tn.nextera.questarai.com/tds/#practice

“All other students in our district, grades 2nd-8th, will take the paper version of the TNReady test. Additional information regarding TNReady and End of Course testing can be found on the Tennessee Department of Education website.”

The following testing dates are specific for each school.

DeKalb County High School:
* March 20th ACT-11th Grade
* April 16th-26th-Grades 9-12
* April 30th-May 4th-Grades 9-12
* Make-up dates for TNReady: April 20th, May 4th

DeKalb Middle School- Grades 6-8
* April 17th-April 27th
* Make up dates: April 18th, April 26th

DeKalb West School-Grade 2 and Grades 3-8
* 2nd Grade Assessment -April 23rd-April 26th
* Make-up date: April 27th, April 30th
* 3rd-4th-April 17th-April 25th
* Make-up dates: April 26th, April 27th
5th-April 17th -April 26th
* Make-up dates: April 27th, April 30th
6th-8th -April 17th -April 27th
* Make-up dates: April 30th, May 1st

Northside Elementary School-Grade 2 and Grades 3-8
* April 18th
* April 23rd-May 1st
* Make-up dates: April 27th Grades 3-4; April 30th-May 1st-Grade 2-5
* 2nd Grade Assessment -April 24th-April 26th
*Make up date: April 26th, April 30th, May 1st

Smithville Elementary School Grade 2
* 2nd Grade Assessment-April 24th-April 26th
* Make-up date: April 27th

DCHS FBLA Students successful at State Conference

March 16, 2018
Dwayne Page
DCHS FBLA Students successful at State Conference

Congratulations to the following DCHS FBLA members who placed at the State Leadership Conference.

1st place:
Sarah Ann Colwell and Jasmine Parker, American Enterprise Project
Andrew Fuson and Wesley Carpenter, Banking and Financial Systems
Faith Judkins, Addison Oakley and Raiden Martin, Community Service Project
Jasmine Parker, Journalism
Chance Mabe and Justin Trapp, Marketing
Mackenzie Partridge, Chapter Scrapbook

2nd place:
Maggie Robinson, Organizational Leadership
Anna Chew and Holly Evans, Partnership with Business
Eli Cantrell, Electronic Scrapbook

3rd Place:
Ami Patel and Emily Lasser, Emerging Business Issues
Raiden Martin and Parker Gassaway, Global Business
Madi Cantrell and Macy Hedge, Hospitality Management
Tyree Cripps, Local Chapter Annual Business Report
Madi Cantrell, Macy Hedge, and Carly Vance, Partnership with Business

4th Place:
Holly Evans, Introduction to Financial Math

5th Place:
Madison Judkins, Sophie Cripps, Chloe Sykes, Business Ethics
Trey Fuston, Noah Byrge, Website Design

The DeKalb County High School Chapter received the following Awards:

2nd largest chapter in the state of Tennessee with 125 members
Level 3 Membership, Gold Level
Club 100
Gold Seal of Merit Chapter
First Place Children’s books with over 2,000 books
Third Place Can Tabs, with 52 gallons

Raiden Martin was elected the Tennessee FBLA Treasurer. Marilyn Roberts, Lead Adviser at DCHS was chosen as the Adviser of the Year. Several of these students qualified to compete at the National Leadership Conference this summer in Baltimore, Maryland. The chapter was also recognized for our contributions to Tennessee FBLA Scholarships and the March of Dimes.

Spring Turkey Season to Open March 31

March 16, 2018
Dwayne Page

Tennessee’s 2018 spring turkey season opens on Saturday, March 31 and continues through Sunday, May 13. The state young sportsman hunt for youth ages 6-16 is March 24-25.

Spring turkey harvest numbers have been consistent for a number of years in Tennessee. Tennessee turkey hunters have passed the 30,000 harvest mark for 15 consecutive years during the spring hunting season.

Hunting hours for turkeys are 30 minutes prior to legal sunrise until legal sunset. Legal hunting equipment includes shotguns using ammunition loaded with No. 4 shot or smaller. There is no restriction on number of rounds in magazine. Longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows are permitted.

Firearms and archery equipment may have sighting devices except those devices utilizing an artificial light capable of locating wildlife. Night vision scopes are illegal.

Bag limits are one bearded turkey per day, not to exceed four per season. Any turkeys harvested during the young sportsman hunt count toward the spring season limit.

More information on the 2018 spring turkey season can be found in the 2017-18 Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide. The guide is available at TWRA offices, license agents, and online at www.tnwildlife.org.

Mayor Facing Possible Censure from Aldermen for Violating City's Hiring and Nepotism Policies (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

March 15, 2018
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss

Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss may be facing a censure by the Aldermen for hiring his son, Tony Poss last September to work at the golf course and swimming pool without the approval of the Board.

Members of the town council say Mayor Poss violated the city’s hiring and nepotism policies and should be held accountable. A workshop was held Thursday evening at city hall to discuss the matter but the mayor did not show up. All five aldermen were there including Jason Murphy, Shawn Jacobs, Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Josh Miller along with City Attorney Vester Parsley and City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.

M2U02662 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

City records show that from September 1 to March 2, Tony Poss earned $300 per week (gross) for a total of $8,100. When the issue came to light on March 5, Tony’s employment with the city ended.

Although Tony was supposedly hired to mow the grass at the golf course, Mayor Poss admitted at the March 5 city council meeting that he (Tony) actually did other things.

“We had a problem and what he (Tony) has done, he has taken care of that golf course with what Riverwatch wasn’t doing. He (Tony) has protected us from freezing up. The pool was running low with no water being put in it. It wasn’t being maintained by the city and that wasn’t Ken’s deal (Ken Lacy of Riverwatch). This is what Tony did. He took care of the city’s property. Now it wasn’t mowing. That’s an error there,” explained Mayor Poss.

The aldermen are not satisfied with the mayor’s explanation and question whether Tony actually did any work to earn his salary. They want to know specifically what work was done there on a daily basis during the six months between September and March when there was little or no activity at the golf course and pool, except for the work the Riverwatch team was already contracted to do in refurbishing the course. “The things they (Riverwatch) weren’t going to do we were having Kevin Robinson’s department (Public Works) to do which were already city employees handling those issues,” said Alderman Hendrix.

According to the city’s “Nepotism Policy” the City of Smithville shall not show favoritism in the recruitment or employment of municipal employees nor in their supervision. Immediate family members of City officials, Mayor, and Department Heads shall not be employed by the City unless a clear business reason exists and the hire is approved by the Mayor”.

Under the city’s charter, All officers and employees of the city, except as otherwise specifically provided by ordinance, shall be appointed and removed by the Mayor, but only with the approval of at least two-thirds majority vote of the council present voting upon the appointment or removal, and the employees shall be under the direction and control of the Mayor”.

“I think any employee needs to come before us (aldermen for hiring approval) because we are ultimately liable for the city employees and we need to know who they are,” said Alderman Hendrix.

While they are limited in their authority on punishing the mayor, the aldermen say members of the public are outraged by his actions and many want him to resign. Others say Mayor Poss should apologize and reimburse the city for the money paid to Tony during the six month period in which he was on the payroll.

“I have had phone calls from people who are not happy about this and want to know what we are going to do about it. That is one reason I thought we needed to have a workshop because this is a violation of what is supposed to be done,” said Alderman Hendrix.

"This is an ethics complaint and under the city’s personnel policy we could bring it to our city attorney to do an investigation and give us an advisory opinion or we could hire a separate attorney to do an investigation. An elected official is then subject to punishment or disciplinary action according to the municipality’s charter or other applicable law in addition to censure by the governing body," Alderman Hendrix continued.

"Some people are asking for his head but I have told them I don’t think that is an option. But I think a little remorse and humbleness and an apology (from the mayor) would really go a long way. Most people are pretty forgiving," said Alderman Murphy.

"If it can be shown what was done to earn any of this money, I would be fine with him paying back the difference and issuing an apology,” said Alderman Washer.

“I think a censure from the board would be in order and in that censure we could request that the money be paid back. I don’t know if we have the authority to enforce it but we could request it as a board,” said Alderman Jacobs.

"I also want an assurance that city government is going to be more transparent. I am looking for city government to be more responsive and for us (aldermen) to have a better idea of what is going on," added Alderman Jacobs.

Although they apparently don't plan to oust the mayor or force him to resign over this even if they could, the aldermen have called for a special meeting for Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at city hall to officially decide whether to censure the mayor or go further.

Local Attorney Celebrates Newly Renovated Office Building

March 15, 2018
Dwayne Page
Law office building of Attorney Jeremy Trapp as it looks today
Director Suzanne Williams of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce  and other guests were on hand for the presentation of a Community Improvement Award to Attorney Jeremy Trapp whose law office building was recently renovated.
The building was home to People’s Bank & Trust of DeKalb County 100 years ago
The building can be seen in the background on the public square during a celebration for WWI veterans
The building during the years it was home to First National Bank
Local Attorney Jeremy Trapp and wife receive Chamber's Community Improvement Award. They are joined by staff, guests, and friends for the special occasion.

A celebration was held Thursday to commemorate the centennial anniversary of a downtown landmark and its recent renovation.

Local attorney Jeremy Trapp and his family and staff hosted an open house to show off his law office located on what was once referred to as “the white corner” on the public square, the former home of Cantrell’s Jewelry.

Director Suzanne Williams and other representatives of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce were on hand to present a Community Improvement Award.

The two story building with 1200 square feet on each floor was erected 100 years ago and has been used for a variety of purposes including a bank, department store, dentist office, jewelry store, and law office.

Trapp relocated his law office there a few years ago after purchasing the building and making renovations.

“I purchased the building from Imogene Cantrell a few years ago when it was Cantrell’s Jewelry and I just wanted to do a complete renovation of the building. I always thought it would make a nice office. I thought it was a unique building. It’s taken a while. We did the outside and the bottom level first and then we moved in. A few years later we decided to go ahead and do the top floor of the building, which really hadn’t been used much except for storage since about the 1940s. We basically gutted the top and completely renovated that too so now the whole building is completely restored after 100 years and we’re using both floors for law office space,” said Trapp.

Trapp said there are a lot of interesting facts about the history of the building.

“It started out around 1917-18 as People’s Bank & Trust of DeKalb County. That is what it was originally built for. In the late 1920’s First National Bank bought out or took over the bank. From that time period until about maybe the late 1950s or early 60s it was actually Puckett’s Department Store for a while. We have a picture of that. Not many people remember Puckett’s Department Store being at this location. I believe Joe L. Evins bought it from First National Bank and let Puckett’s Department Store rent it for a while until Imogene and Max Cantrell bought the building in 1965. From that time on, she and Max owned it,” said Trapp.

A dentist and attorney also made use of the upstairs portion of the building many years ago.

“In the old days there was a dentist office upstairs. I talked to some older clients who had actually been up here when it was a dentist office. There was also an attorney’s office in one part of the upstairs building. His name was R.L. Turner and that name was still on the door on the top level when I bought the building,” Trapp continued.

Since acquiring the building, Trapp has added a stairwell to gain access to the upstairs from the first floor, as the original structure had none.

"They didn’t have a stairwell in. The only access to the upstairs was from the outside of the building in an area that joins the neighboring or adjacent building. It was basically an easement that both buildings used to get to the top half of each building. I went ahead and put in a whole new stairwell and made it look really nice,” said Trapp.

Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday

March 15, 2018
Dwayne Page
Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday

As part of its community outreach ministry, the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church is again sponsoring a drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning, March 17 rain or shine.

In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, the church plans to prepare enough food boxes to serve up to 300 families regardless of their income status, on a first come, first served basis. Families will receive enough food to last them for a full week. Second Harvest will bring in pallets of food on trucks. The food will then be off loaded and organized in preparation for the distribution.

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the food will be delivered from 9:00 a.m. until noon. Unlike most food distributions, those being served by the mobile pantry will not have to get out of their automobiles. They will drive thru in a pickup line and volunteers will deliver the food directly to their vehicles, placing the food boxes either in the back seat or trunk. Cars will line up facing north on College Street across from the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

"It's a mobile food pantry but it's also a drive thru. The recipients will stay in their cars. They will line up starting at 8:00 a.m. on College Street and when we have everything prepared and organized we'll start the line moving, hopefully around 9:00 a.m. Recipients will drive through. As they enter in we'll have a team there to put a box of food in their cars, either in their back seat or trunk," said spokesperson Teresa Trapp Brown.

"We will line up right across from the church (Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church) on College Street. We'll start registration at 8:00 a.m. We'll need the name of the recipients and how many families are being served. We're limited to two families per vehicle to make sure we have enough food," added Isaac Gray, Minister of the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Others who wish to volunteer may show up Saturday, March 17 or call for more information at 615-464-7896 or 615-597-4197.

Frazier Brothers Celebrate their 92nd Birthday

March 15, 2018
Dwayne Page and Susan Hinton
Edward and Edsel Frazier

Family and friends joined twins Edward and Edsel Frazier, both World War II veterans, in the celebration of their 92nd birthday during a lunch at Patty’s Restaurant Tuesday.

Each received a letter from Congressman Jim Cooper congratulating them and both are to be recognized with resolutions commemorating their birthday from state lawmakers.

The letters from Congressman Cooper state “It gives me great pleasure to extend my greetings and congratulations to you on the occasion of your 92nd birthday. Reaching 92 years is a tremendous milestone and I am certain that you have touched and enriched countless lives along the way.

You have seen this country change and have helped to prepare the next generation for the 21st Century. I commend you on your long life, your good work, and for sharing your wisdom with generations that followed your own. Your family is privileged to have you in their lives, and we are all very proud of you.

As you celebrate with family and friends, know that I join with citizens from throughout the Fifth Congressional District of Tennessee in saluting you and wishing you a very happy birthday.

Again, congratulations on your very special day,” wrote Congressman Cooper.

Edward and Edsel were born to Hassie and Robert Lee Frazier on Dry Creek in DeKalb County on March 13, 1926.

The Frazier brother twins were inducted at Camp Forrest, Tennessee during World War II at 18 years of age. Edward and Edsel both started in the 99th Army Infantry Division and served with General Hodges and General George Patton while crossing the Blue Danube. The twins walked across the bridge at the landing of Normandy in the icy cold water. Their boots were frozen along with the rest of them.

Both have stories about the extreme weather conditions and surviving the war with Edward even going into an old farm house to stay next to a cow to try and get warm. Edward still credits that cow with saving his life after he was separated from the others in his platoon. The other soldiers in the company that night thought he was dead when he turned up missing, but had a good laugh when he finally caught up. These are a few of the memories they love to share, but there were many memories too painful to relay. Edward always talks about seeing so much hunger and to this day has trouble seeing people throw their food away wastefully. Both of the guys couldn’t wait to get back to their home state of Tennessee after the war and to roam in the hills of Dry Creek where they were both born.

Their Rank: Private 1st Class; Edward was recommended for Master Sergeant at the end of the war, but was too anxious to return home to stay in the army. He recalls the joy when told the war was over and everyone was returning home.

Edward and Edsel earned various medals including two battle stars, I Eastern Rhine, 1 European Theatre-medals, along with other awards. During the war, Edsel was hospitalized while Edward’s troop moved on so the guys were separated briefly during the war. The men were discharged in Fort Logan, Colorado in Denver at the end of the war.

A reporter talked to the guys and Edward laughingly told him that they were named by their father who loved his old Model T so much he named them after the Ford’s, Henry Edsel and Henry Edward. This was picked up by the AP Wire and sent all across the U.S. about the Ford Twins.

Through the years, the guys have both contributed much to the community with Edward being active in politics and serving on numerous county committees as well as being elected Mayor of Smithville for two terms. Edsel was a U.S. Postal employee and retired from that position and is also a member of the Shriners. Both have played key positions with their local VFW and American Legion organizations with Edward serving as Commander for many years.

Liberty State Bank Makes Donation to DCHS Tigerette Softball Program

March 14, 2018
Dwayne Page
Liberty State Bank Makes Donation to DCHS Tigerette Softball Program
Casey Midgett (left) and Rhonda Caplinger of Liberty State Bank present donation to DCHS Tigerette Softball Coach Danny Fish

The DCHS Tigerette Softball Team was presented a check Monday for $5000 from Liberty State Bank. Rhonda Caplinger and Casey Midgett came to bring all the girls nice caps and to present the check. These funds will be used to further the advancement of the facilities such as new batting cages and other larger expenses they may have. They want to express their deep gratitude and appreciation to Liberty State Bank for their very generous gift. ​

City Hires Managers of Golf Course, Pool, and Tennis Court

March 14, 2018
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Golf Course, Swimming Pool, and Tennis Court will soon be under new management.

During a special meeting held Tuesday evening at city hall, the aldermen voted 4-0 to hire Ken Lacy and Pete Ferguson to manage the facilities for at least one year. Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Shawn Jacobs, Josh Miller, and Danny Washer voted in favor. Alderman Jason Murphy was absent.


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The city will pay each of them $1,000 per month. This equates to a shared annual wage of $24,000. Lacy and Ferguson will also be offered the city’s healthcare insurance package which is a $7,000 benefit to each of them. The city will receive revenues generated through the facilities.

The mayor and aldermen held a workshop concerning the future of the golf course on Saturday.

“We had a workshop Saturday at the golf course to get an update on the condition, the maintenance, and how everything is looking. Everything is looking wonderful. The report was that potentially the golf course could be ready to open by April 1,” said Alderman Hendrix.

The city had previously had the golf course and pool leased to Tony Poss but he surrendered his lease last August. After that, the city entered into a one year maintenance agreement last September with Riverwatch Golf & Resort to upgrade and maintain the golf course at a cost to the city of $74,115.

The aldermen decided at that time to begin looking for a manager by spring instead of leasing the facility again.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Alderman Hendrix moved to hire Lacy and Ferguson as managers. She said their proposal was the best of those submitted for consideration.

“We had some applications submitted for manager but after reviewing everything, I would make a motion that we hire Ken Lacy and Pete Ferguson. I thought their proposal was by far the most economical and they are the best qualified for the position. I feel like we are very fortunate in this small town to have people of this expertise willing to do this and it will include management of the golf course, swimming pool, and tennis courts. They will be in charge of all of that” said Alderman Hendrix.

Alderman Miller suggested that the deal with Lacy and Ferguson be subject to a review after one year.

“Since we don’t really know what kind of revenue this golf course will bring in, I think we should at least make sure we have the option of looking at this again in a year,” said Alderman Miller.

The board gave its approval.


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