Local News Articles

Representative Pody Proposes Alternative to State Gas Tax Hike

January 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
State Representative Mark Pody

Although he is opposed to increasing the state's gas tax as some have advocated, State Representative Mark Pody has an idea to get TDOT and local road departments more money to operate.

In an interview with WJLE on Thursday, Representative Pody suggested reallocating a portion of money in the state's general fund to TDOT from taxes derived through the sale of tires and other automotive services.

"Gas prices are low and there's already a push now to add more gas taxes to it. On the federal level as well as the state level, there are people saying that because gas prices have dropped so much that if we're ever going to put a tax (increase) on now is the time to do it. I would rather see us do something different to give TDOT more money. For example, I'm trying to propose that any tax on tires sold be used. We're already getting that money. We can just take it out of the general fund and allocate that to TDOT and there are other things like that we can do to help fund TDOT. I'm not saying we shouldn't give them more money but I think we can reallocate the money we're collecting to that department. Anytime someone gets their auto repaired or oil changed we could take that portion of the tax on those services and use it for the roads and put that to the same formula that we have now so it goes to the locals (county road departments) and to the state (TDOT). We don't have to raise more taxes to do this and we can still get that money to the required areas," said Pody.

Tennessee imposes 21.4 cents in taxes per gallon of fuel. That hasn't been increased since 1989. The federal gas tax, which hasn't changed since 1993, is 18.4 cents per gallon, meaning drivers in Tennessee pay a total of 39.8 cents on each gallon of gas purchased.

Proponents of a gas tax hike have said more revenue is needed to keep pace with the costs of funding needed transportation road and bridge projects across the state.

2014 Fire Incident Responses Up in DeKalb County

January 9, 2015
County Fire Chief Donny Green

The DeKalb County Fire Department has compiled its 2014 Incident Response Summary.

Overall, 2014 fire incident responses in the county were up by 126 calls from 2013. In 2013, the department responded to a total of 278 fire-related incidents. The department responded to 404 fire-related incidents in 2014. This count does not include medical responses made by members of the department who are medically trained.

With DeKalb County's rural population growing at rates higher than the cities’ population growth in DeKalb County, Chief Donny Green said the department continues to experience annual increases in the number of incident calls within the county jurisdiction. Automobile accidents, responses to storm-related damages, and grass/forest/debris fires were the categories with the most noticeable increases of incident call volume for 2014.

The DeKalb County Fire Department is a 100% volunteer fire department with no paid staff. Volunteers do receive a $10 per call fuel reimbursement and those who excel in training attendance and incident responses are eligible to receive annual training/response award incentives. The department operates out of 11 substations located in communities across the county and currently is staffed with 78 volunteer firefighters.

The following is a year 2013 and 2014 comparison in the following types of Incident Responses:

Structure: 48 (year 2013), 45 (year 2014)

Wildland/Grass/Debris: 28 (2013), 60 (2014)

Auto Wrecks: 76 (2013), 103 (2014)

Vehicle Fires: 10 (2013), 14 (2014)

Landing Zones: 30 (2013), 50 (2014)

Extrication/Entrapment: 30 (2013), 32 (2014)

Hazmat: 1 (2013), 3 (2014)

Alarms: 32 (2013), 45 (2014)

Miscellaneous: 23 (2013), 52 (2014)

TOTAL: 278 (2013), 404 (2014)

Hospital Presents Employee Awards

January 9, 2015
Dwayne Page
Samantha Bragg of DeKalb Community Hospital was named ‘Employee of the Quarter’ presented by Dietary Director Teresa Steele
Shan Burklow received the Outstanding Leader and Director of the Quarter Awards

Samantha Bragg of DeKalb Community Hospital was recently named ‘Employee of the Quarter’. The award was presented by Dietary Director Teresa Steele.

Meanwhile Shan Burklow received the Outstanding Leader Award presented by CEO Sue Conley.

Burklow was also named ‘Director of the Quarter’ during the recent hospital ceremony as part of their P.O.P. Star Program (Patients Our Purpose).

Bragg is an employee of the dietary department at DCH, while Burklow is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for both DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospitals.

A surprise staff reception was held in their honor.

County Clerk Explains Laws on Registration and License Tag Renewals

January 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss

If you reside outside DeKalb County, you are not legally permitted to register or renew tags for your automobile here.

In an effort to better educate the public on this issue, County Clerk James L (Jimmy) Poss has issued the following press release in the form of a question and answer forum. Poss also addressed in the statement eligibility requirements for Special Purpose License Plates and plates for elected officials.

Q: Is it true that some persons who live just outside DeKalb County have been coming to your office expecting to get services here, such as vehicle renewals of license tags, etc.?

A: "Yes; these requests have been increasing over the past few weeks"

Q: Is it illegal to provide such services?

A: "Yes; when we knowingly provide service to individuals with a physical location outside our county it is illegal. By doing this we are preventing that county to receive revenue belonging to them"

Q: Is it a major problem for your office?

A: "Yes; we adjoin six other counties and have experienced this in every area of the county except where we border Putnam. Of the six counties bordering us all are collecting a wheel tax except for Putnam".

Q: Can you give us an example of what you are experiencing?

A: "Yes; when processing new registrations or renewals we enter a person’s information in our system. This is to search and cross reference physical addresses to determine eligibility. We have recognized these occurrences when a road continues into adjoining counties, also when road names are not appearing in our county and with individuals wanting to use their second home here without proper proof of eligibility".

Q: What would you like people to know and understand about this issue?

A: "For individuals state law uses the term “Bona Fide Residence”, simply meaning a person is living at a physical location within our county. For Business owners, law allows the owner to register the vehicle in any county where a “Physical Presence” can be established. I understand that certain people have previously been allowed to complete these transactions here. Some for a number of years, but to uphold state law and office uniformity we cannot knowingly continue service outside DeKalb County"

Q: Who may qualify to obtain a “Special Purposes” license plate?

A: "There are multiple plates in this category. For example we have several applicants receiving Emergency, Fire, and Rescue Squad plates. In order to fulfill each departments request we ask our local emergency agencies to provide us a list of their employees or members. Each of these tags have eligibility requirements for our office to follow and most require the applicants name on the title and registration to issue these tags"

Q: What about license plates for elected officials? Are they just for the public officials themselves?

A: "Yes, Just like Special purpose plates these tags also have eligibility requirements and most require the applicants name on the title and registration to issue these tags. There also multiple plates in this category. Such as State House and Senate, U.S. Senate and Congress, Sheriff, Judicial etc."

"In closing, it’s a pleasure and most humbling feeling to serve the people of DeKalb County. However; to maintain uniformity within our office we must follow laws and guidelines set for us. Our office aims to provide equal and honest service to the best of our skill and ability," Poss concluded.

Sheriff Releases 2014 Activity Report

January 8, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

Sheriff Patrick Ray has released the "Activity Report" from his department for the calendar year January 1, 2014-December 31, 2014.

The report shows a total of 8,397 incident calls for the year. These statistics are from the 911 center. According to Sheriff Ray "These are dispatched calls, not self-initiated calls (incidents that officers respond to on routine patrols). Self-initiated calls are not included in these counts:

The report breaks down as follows:

Calls Reported :

Wrecks- 671
4 wheeler calls- 50
911 calls- 420
Abandoned Vehicles- 15
Animal calls- 424
Assaults- 59
Armed Suspects- 15
Fires and Fire Alarms- 287
Boating Accident- 4
Bomb Threats- 2
Break-ins- 227
Burglar Alarms- 600
Child Custody Exchanges- 26
Children in roadway- 13
Civil Matters- 58
Debris in roadway- 38
Deliver Messages- 37
Disturbing the peace- 75
Deaths- 51
Domestic violence- 524
Drownings- 1
Drug trafficking- 77
Funeral Property Escorts- 215
Extra Patrols- 375
Fights- 89
Gas drive-offs- 10
Harassments- 54
Indecent exposure- 1
Investigations- 623
Kidnapping- 2
Medical Alarms- 15
Medical Assists- 288
Mental Patient Transports- 48
Missing Person- 90
Mutual Aid to another Agency- 53
Possible D.U.I. - 175
Public Intoxication calls- 32
Rape- 8
Reckless Drivers- 417
Recover Property- 45
Robbery- 4
Seizures- 18
Shots fired- 72
Shop lifter- 7
Stranded motorists- 108 -
Attempt Suicide and Suicide calls- 90
Suspicious noises, persons and vehicles- 565
Traffic Hazards- 247
Trespassing- 26
Unruly juveniles- 24
Unwanted guests- 166
Vandalism- 109
Vehicle lockouts- 305
Wanted Persons- 109
Welfare checks- 297

Total 8397 incident calls

Weather Related Conditions Cause Widespread Power Outage

January 8, 2015
Dwayne Page

Caney Fork Electric Cooperative experienced a widespread power outage overnight in DeKalb County due to the weather. Power has now been restored for CFEC customers

"The power outage was due to the extremely cold weather conditions. At approximately 1:30 a.m., we had a conductor to break and fall. This knocked out the Smithville substation, which includes 4,365 members. Due to the cold temperature, we had to restore power slowly, working through one section at a time. The majority of power was restored by 2:30 a.m. with all members having power by 7 a.m. Caney Fork Electric Cooperative apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused," said Angel Wood, Communications Coordinator for Caney Fork Electric Cooperative.

Meanwhile, Wood said the TVA power supply alert has been lifted. "The electrical grid is stable at this time. But as the temperature lowers tonight, we are asking that everyone please try to follow the guidelines as requested during the power supply alert to save energy consumption," said Wood.

Made in USA – Omega Apparel to Hold Monthly Job Fair

January 8, 2015
Made in USA – Omega Apparel to Hold Monthly Job Fair

Made in USA is alive in the apparel industry and Omega Apparel will be holding a monthly job fair as a result. Omega is planning to hire 40+ new teammates in January and up to 100 new teammates in the next 6-months. “We could not be more excited to be hiring again” shared Dean Wegner, President and CEO. “2014 was disheartening as we lost jobs as a result of a ~50% reduction in our military contract business.” Added Russ Brue, CFO, “What is more important to us than making money at Omega is to be in a position to create jobs, provide for families, and have a positive impact on their lives.”

As a result of the reduction in their military uniform business, Omega had to change their business model and expand their customer focus. “At the start of 2014, we had one customer” stated Bethany Colwell, Customer Service Manager. “We now have 25+ customers. This is a daunting challenge, but one that all of us at Omega are eager to embrace.”

Omega’s new customers range from well-established companies to entrepreneurial startups that want their production to be in the US. “We have two distinctly different production models; one focused on our larger customers and one focused on our smaller customers” commented Todd McCloud, Plant Manager. “Regardless of a customer’s size” added Connie Jolley, Quality and Operations Manager, “we stand for the highest level of quality, timely delivery, and customer service in the industry.”

HR Manager Michelle Brawley is leading the efforts for Omega’s job fair. “Given the growth we are projecting over the next year, finding strong new teammates will be our greatest challenge. We can teach a new teammate to sew. We are seeking individuals who have a have great attitude, strong work ethic, and are willing to embrace our values and 5 Foundations at Omega. We will hold our first monthly job fair on Friday, January 16th.” Details on the monthly job fair are included below.

Company Overview: Omega Apparel Incorporated is military veteran owned and the #1 supplier of dress trousers, slacks, and skirts for the US Military. Over a 20-year partnership with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Omega Apparel earned a reputation as one of the most consistent, dependable, and high quality producing manufacturers for the US Military. Omega has a long history of always delivering on time and with the highest level of quality. Omega’s production facility is located in Smithville, TN, and includes a highly trained workforce of skilled operators and supporting staff. Omega is a principles and values based organization centered on 5 Foundations of Ownership, Customer, Quality, Efficiency, and Teamwork. In 2013, Omega leveraged their depth of knowledge and expertise in the military apparel industry to enter the commercial market and provide a full range of cut and sew manufacturing capabilities to service multiple industries. In 2014, Omega established a Dress Shirt Production Line and an Assembly Division. Omega will continue to be 100% Made in the USA.

DeKalb Hospital Leads the Region in Molecular Testing

January 8, 2015
Shan Burklow
DeKalb Hospital Leads the Region in Molecular Testing

DeKalb Community Hospital Laboratory was acknowledged this past month as being the first Capella Hospital facility to perform genetic testing for Clostridium difficle. Molecular testing will now replace traditional EIA toxin testing at their facility.

“We are proud to be the first Capella facility in the region to perform genetic testing. We always want to offer our patients the best possible care, and our laboratory department is honored to be the leader in molecular sciences of this kind across our region,” said Sue Conley-CEO of DeKalb Community and Stones River Hospitals, “In addition, we are in alignment with the latest ASM guidelines for C-diff testing to deliver the highest quality results and faster diagnosis for our patients.”

Lab Director, Kevin Adcock, of DeKalb Community Hospital said, “This is a major improvement in diagnosing a condition that can cause severe symptoms and dehydration, especially in the elderly. The technology behind this test is amazing. It gives us an opportunity to provide our physicians a definitive result with near 100% accuracy. We’re proud to be one of the only hospitals in the area to offer testing on the genetic level”. He went on to say that the laboratory plans to expand its genetic testing menu for 2015.

In accordance with the American Society of Microbiology guidelines, DeKalb Community Hospital Laboratory has updated it’s testing guidance and sample rejection criteria to offer the best available results for C-diff testing. Although C. diff occasionally causes problems in healthy people, it is most likely to affect patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities. Most have conditions that require long-term treatment with antibiotics, which kill off other intestinal bacteria that keep C. diff in check. While use of any antibiotic can potentially lead to C. diff overgrowth, it most commonly occurs with the use of an antibiotic that is broad-spectrum, or able to kill a wide variety of bacteria. It also happens more often when multiple antibiotics are needed to fight infection and when the antibiotics need to be taken for a long period of time.

It’s also important to note that only one test has to be performed to definitively diagnosis C. difficle, not the previous three tests as before. The sensitivity of this method exceeds 96%. The DCH laboratory will perform the illumigene C. diff test for all C. diff diagnosis, thereby providing the most superior method for detection offered for this type of testing.

Pictured: DeKalb Community Hospital is one of the first hospital laboratories in the Upper Cumberland to perform genetic testing for Clostridium difficle. Molecular testing has now replaced the traditional EIA toxin testing at their facility.

Sheriff Reports Rash of Garage Break-Ins

January 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Jimmy "J.J." Tolbert Hendrixson, Jr.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has been investigating a rash of break-ins and thefts since Thanksgiving weekend and an arrest has been made in one of them.

42 year old Jimmy "J.J." Tolbert Hendrixson, Jr. of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown is charged with theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court January 8. He was arrested Monday, January 5.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on December 8, 2014 Hendrixson allegedly went to a residence on Old Snow Hill Road and took a Husqvarna and Stihl chainsaw with a total value of $1,100.

According to Sheriff Ray, most of the break-ins occurred in the southern portion of the county between Friday, November 28 and Sunday, January 4th on properties with detached garages in which the perpetrators made a forced entry into the garages. Items taken in these thefts include Craftsman hand tools, Shindaiwa chainsaws, DeWalt grinder, Cordless drill bit set, Echo hedge trimmers, Shindaiwa leaf blower, Model 026 Stihl chainsaw , Stihl weedeaters, 15 foot log chain with hooks on each end, a Miller model 1700 welder, DeWalt air compressor, Porter cable pancake compressor, Stihl chop saw, Makita gas powered cut off saw, Bosch hammer drill with bits, 20 volt DeWalt impact driver, 20 volt DeWalt hammer drill, Hitachi miter box, DeWalt laser level, Crown nailer, framing gun, 10 inch table saw, DeWalt 18 volt circular saw, 450 Husqvarna chainsaw, 395 XP Husqvarna chainsaw, Model 251 Stihl chainsaw in orange carrying case, Model 029 Stihl chainsaw, Stihl weedeater, Craftsman tool kit (case) containing a 19.2 volt reciprocating saw, circular saw, 2 speed drill, a battery charger, and a work light.

Sheriff Ray is asking for your help in solving these crimes by reporting tips to the Sheriff's Department. "We ask that if you have purchased these type items from Hendrixson or anyone else to contact the Sheriff's Department and let us take a look at them and check the serial numbers to make sure they are not stolen. Call 615-597-4935 and talk to me or one of the detectives. You may also call the Sheriff's Department's crime tip line at 615-464-6400. You may remain anonymous," he said.

New Sligo Bridge Continues to Take Shape

January 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
The new Sligo bridge continues to take shape
Excavation on Sparta side of the new Sligo Bridge with new road alignment being formed

The new Sligo bridge continues to take shape.

"There has been great progress made on the project," said Jennifer Flynn, Regional Community Relations Officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation in a statement to WJLE Wednesday.

"The contractor has set the last of the 56 steel bridge beams and they will be performing work throughout the next several months in anticipation of having the first concrete bridge deck pour in April," she said.

"On the west side of the project, the contractor continues to excavate and haul rock, which should be complete by January 31. Sometime in February, they plan to begin construction on a retaining wall," Flynn said.

In April 2013, TDOT awarded the construction contract on Sligo bridge to the Massman Construction Company based in Kansas City, Missouri at $38,903, 917. The project is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2016.


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