Local News Articles

Candlelight Vigil Ceremony for Colten May Set for Saturday

June 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Colten Alexander May

A memorial service for 23 month old Colten Alexander May featuring a candlelight vigil and balloon release is set for Saturday, June 6 at 6:00 p.m. at Evins Park across from the Post Office downtown Smithville.

The program is being held in remembrance of the child who died last month and to promote child abuse awareness. Jennifer Wilkerson, Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center will be the guest speaker. Chris Moore of the Smithville Church of God will serve as moderator. LIVE music will also be part of the program.

Dana Poss, organizer of the event, urges everyone to attend to show support for this effort. More white tapered candles are needed. If you would like to make a donation of candles call Dana at 615-597-4745 extension 4 at city hall. Attendees are also asked to wear blue shirts in recognition of child abuse awareness

2016 To Be Active Election Year

June 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
2016 To Be Active Election Year

After a busy election year in 2014, DeKalb County voters get a break this year except in Alexandria where town leaders will be chosen in September. But the campaign season will gear up again in 2016 with a Presidential election along with several local races.

In DeKalb County, the Assessor of Property Office and all seven constable positions will be up for election. The incumbents are Assessor Scott Cantrell and Constables Chad Curtis in the first district, Chris Tramel in the second district, Travis Bryant in the third district, Paul Cantrell in the fourth district, Mark Milam in the fifth district, Carl Lee Webb in the sixth district, and Johnny King in the seventh district.

Party nominees and any Independents for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable will be on the August 2016 General Election Ballot along with school board candidates in the fifth and sixth district as well as in the fourth district (to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired term). All terms are for four years. Those school board seats are currently held by W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the fifth district, Doug Stephens in the sixth district, and Kate Miller in the fourth district (appointed to fill two years of her husband Billy Miller's unexpired term).

The Smithville, Liberty, and Dowelltown Municipal elections will also be held in August 2016. Again, all terms are for four years.

In Smithville, voters will elect three aldermen. The incumbents up for re-election are Shawn Jacobs, Josh Miller, and Danny Washer.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected in Dowelltown. The positions are currently held by Mayor Gerald Bailiff and Aldermen Joe Bogle and Kevin Kent.

Liberty voters will choose four aldermen. Three of them to serve four years and the fourth to fill the remaining one year of an unexpired term. The three positions up for election to new four year terms are now held by Jason Ray, Paul Neal, and Todd Dodd. The person elected to the fourth seat will serve the last year of an unexpired term. J.D. Bratten currently holds that position.

In this year's Alexandria election, three aldermen are to be elected, each to serve a four year term. Meanwhile, a mayor and two other aldermen are to be elected to fill vacancies or the remaining two years of unexpired terms. The sitting members are Mayor Tony Tarpley and Aldermen Pat Jackson, David Cripps, John Suggs, and Bennett Armstrong. All are serving as appointees except for Jackson, who was elected in 2013 and still has two years remaining in his term.

Free Fishing Day Set for Saturday

June 3, 2015
Free Fishing Day Set for Saturday

Tennessee’s annual Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 6 when anyone may fish free without a license in the state’s public waters.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in fishing. The day allows anyone the opportunity to try this great outdoor sport, especially children. In addition, children ages 15 and younger may fish without a license beginning on Free Fishing Day through the following Friday (June 12).

Meanwhile, the annual Pea Ridge Kids Fishing Rodeo will be held at the big pond in the Pea Ridge Wildlife Management Area on Saturday, June 6 from 7:00 a.m. until noon. Kids through age fifteen may participate. Lunch, soft drinks, and prizes will be available for the kids.

The day and week are annual events in Tennessee and are great opportunities to introduce children to the enjoyment and excitement of a day on the water catching fish. The TWRA is among several organizations planning special fishing events, primarily for youngsters. The TWRA annually stocks several thousand pounds of fish for various events.

Free Fishing Day and Week apply to Tennessee’s public waters, TWRA owned and operated lakes, and state park facilities. Some privately owned pay lakes continue to charge during this special day and week. Anglers may consult with lake operators if there are any questions about a particular facility

No Property Tax or Water Rate Increases Anticipated in Smithville

June 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Seated: Mayor Jimmy Poss and Alderman Gayla Hendrix; Standing: Danny Washer, Jason Murphy, Josh Miller, and Shawn Jacobs
Hunter Hendrixson

Although the Mayor and Aldermen have not yet held their first budget discussions for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the City Administrator and Smithville's financial consultant have been at work.

"We're not looking at any property tax increase this year and no water rate increase for city residents," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson during Monday night's regular monthly meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

"Janice Plemmons-Jackson (City Financial Consultant) and I have been working on the budget. We're about 85% complete with it as far as the day to day operations and line items. The only thing left is any type of pay wage increase and any capital outlay projects for this coming budget year," Hendrixson told the mayor and aldermen.

"I think we can have you a rough draft (proposed budget) by the end of the week. That way you will have time to look over it. I am still waiting on a couple of departmental heads to get me their wish list. I'll send that to you with the costs and what they are looking for. I can send it electronically. If you want to set up a budget workshop or we could open up the meeting and have a workshop/ meeting where you can vote on the budget if you choose to that same night," Hendrixson continued.

While the state wants the city to have a new budget approved by July 1, Hendrixson said a continuing resolution could be adopted until final passage if the aldermen don't meet the deadline. "The state requires you to pass a budget by July 1 of each year. If you don't you're required to pass a continuing budget resolution. We've had to do that once before. I think it was in 2010. It's not the end of the world or anything but we prefer to have one passed by July 1 if at all possible," said Hendrixson.

The mayor and aldermen Monday night set a budget workshop/special meeting for Tuesday, June 16 at 4:00 p.m. at city hall. "Once you pass it on first reading you can always tweak it. You can't pass it no less than seven days from the first reading. You would be looking at no less than June 23 before we could have another meeting. We'll see what the departmental heads request. We'll meet on June 16 and go from there," Hendrixson concluded.

Cookeville Boat Dock Asks Judge to Reconsider Tax Ruling

June 2, 2015
Cookeville Boat Dock Asks Judge to Reconsider Tax Ruling

Cookeville Boat Dock is asking a judge to reconsider a recent ruling that it must pay over $200,000 in DeKalb County property taxes, interest and penalties.

The boat dock has refused to pay the taxes since 1998 and Judge Amy Hollers ruled in April that the dock’s challenge to the tax was invalid.

The boat dock’s attorney now argues the county cannot collect taxes beyond 10 years; that the judge’s ruling on the “Supremacy Clause” of the U.S. Constitution was incorrect; and that the amount of interest the county wants to charge is above what is allowed by law.

In the motion for “additional consideration of issues,” attorney Jon Jones points to a Tennessee law that states, “All taxes assessed against real property and personal property in this state shall be barred, discharged and uncollectible after the lapse of 10 years from April 1 of the year following the year in which such taxes become delinquent, whether suit be brought within that time or not to collect the taxes…”

As for the interest issue, the defendants argue “prejudgment interest may be awarded by courts or juries in accordance with the principles of equity at any rate not in excess of a maximum effective rate of 10 percent per annum.”

The motion states that the county “has not provided a breakdown regarding its proposed computation of prejudgment interest. However, defendant (boat dock) expects the county will claim prejudgment interest at a rate of 18 percent per annum. This exceeds the maximum rate of prejudgment interest this court is allowed to award.”

The defendant goes on to suggest the interest rate “should correspond with the interest rate DeKalb County has paid during the relevant time.” Showing documentation the county borrowed money or issued bonds in recent years at rates varying from one to 5.5 percent, the defendant claims “these rates should provide the upper limit on an award of prejudgment interest that the court may make in this case.”

In relation to the “Supremacy Clause,” the defendant asks the court “to reconsider its opinion in this regard.”

Initially the defendant had claimed a section of Tennessee law violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against a lessee of the United States in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee. It was argued since the boat dock pays fees to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which are used, in part, to pay DeKalb County a sum of “in lieu of taxes,” that having to pay property tax to the county was, in effect, double taxation.

Judge Hollers ruled last month the Supremacy Claus “does not prevent a state or local government from imposing a tax on an individual or a corporation ‘using government property in connection with a business conducted for its own private gain.’” The defendant now claims “the court ‘short circuited’ the issue of whether” the state law “is reconcilable with the Supremacy Clause.”

City Making Plans to Build Taxiway at Airport

June 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
Wes Nokes
Smithville Airport Runway

Plans are in the making for the construction of a taxiway at the Smithville Municipal Airport.

The Aldermen Monday night approved a request by Airport Manager Wes Nokes to apply for another aeronautics grant through the Tennessee Department of Transportation to acquire property adjacent to the airport for the project. If approved, the grant would be 95% funded. The city's matching portion would only be five percent or around $6,600.

"I have just come here tonight to ask your permission to apply for a grant for property purchase for the airport. This will serve in allowing us to build our full length parallel taxiway. It's between six and seven acres total. It basically amounts to a long narrow strip and moving a fence in order to meet our safety distances. The total cost for this project is going to be between $135,000 and $140,000. The variation would be for appraisals and that sort of thing. It will cost the city five percent which will be around $6,600," said Nokes.

"The FAA has mentioned for several years that the biggest safety issue we have is that we don't have a taxiway. Currently, when our planes depart they have to pull out onto the runway and taxi down the runway to either end. There is always a risk of somebody not seeing you and then coming in and landing and hitting you head on. This will prepare us to build that parallel taxiway. This is the first step in meeting that by acquiring this property," he said.

"We're at the point now where the FAA wants us to fix this major safety issue before they give us any more money (grants) in the future for revenue producing projects, such as building T-hangars and that sort of thing. They have been very generous over the last few years in giving us as much money as they have but they have reached a point where they're saying we've got to take care of our housekeeping before we give you anything else to make money with, "added Nokes.

Police Department to Offer Chaplain Services

June 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
Dwayne Cornelius

The Smithville Police Department is officially offering Chaplain services.

During Monday night's monthly meeting, the Smithville Aldermen approved Captain Steven Leffew's request to have local minister Dwayne Cornelius serve as Chaplain for the police department to provide spiritual and emotional support for members of the department as well as families affected by serious crimes or other tragic events. The Chaplain, serving on a volunteer basis without pay, will be available for guidance and counseling. The city will fund his training and provide the attire he will wear in the role as Chaplain to better identify himself to the public.

Cornelius, pastor of the New Life United Pentecostal Church, who has agreed to take on the duties will not promote any particular religious faith in his role as Chaplain. His counseling is to be non-denominational.

Captain Leffew said that while the Chaplain service is officially new to the police department, Cornelius has already been acting as Chaplain in an unofficial capacity for the last few years. "Pastor Cornelius has pretty much been playing the role of the Police Chaplain unofficially and he has done a tremendous job. We're really proud to have Dwayne a part of the police department family. He is heavily involved with the police department. He actually opens our department meetings now with prayer," said Captain Leffew.

"The Chaplain services would be volunteer. The only thing I would request would be that the Police Chaplain proper specialized training for Police Chaplains. I would also like for the Police Chaplain to be properly identified if he is called to the scene for his help. Maybe some nice dress shirts, may be embroidered to identify him," added Captain Leffew.

According to Captain Leffew, the duties of the Police Chaplain may include, but not be limited to:

*Accompanying a police officer to assist with notification of any suicide death or serious injury

* Offering prayers, assistance and spiritual support for families or victims of any tragic event.

* Working with police officers to assist in any kind of crisis situation where the presence of a trained Chaplain might help.

* Counseling police department members that may be in stress or may have experienced a traumatic event. Any such assistance shall be privileged and confidential between the officer involved and the Chaplain.

*Visiting with sick or injured

*Offering prayers at special occasions

*Assisting the police department in the performance of appropriate ceremonial functions

*Serve as a liaison between the police department and the community in all matters of religious welfare

*The Police Chaplain shall be on call at all times. Any police officer may utilize or call out the Police Chaplain based on officer's discretion.

Smithville ISO Classification Upgraded

June 1, 2015
Dwayne Page
Charlie Parker

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker shared some good news with the mayor and aldermen Monday night.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is upgrading the City of Smithville's Public Protection Classification rating from a Class 6 to a Class 5/5x effective this summer which could result in lower homeowners insurance premiums for some families. This is the second ISO rating upgrade for the city within the last six years. In 2009, the rating improved from a Class 7 to Class 6.

According to Chief Parker, ISO collects and evaluates information from communities on their fire suppression capabilities. The information is analyzed using a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule and then assigns a Public Protection Classification number

"I just wanted to let the board and the citizens know that we received our notice from the ISO a couple of weeks ago that our new Public Protection Classification ISO rating is being lowered. We're going from a Class 6 down to a Class 5/5x which is a new split classification they are doing but it is good news that we are getting our ISO lowered. That does mean that we are making some progress in trying to continue to lower the rate," said Chief Parker.

As the new classification goes into effect, Chief Parker said homeowners are encouraged to check with their insurance carriers to find out if this new ISO rating will reduce their insurance premiums. " Hopefully this will help our citizens get some lower (insurance) rates (premiums) depending upon which company they have. Different companies do different things. Not all companies will go just by the ISO rating. But I have talked to ISO and most insurance companies will purchase information from ISO so they (insurance companies) use it somewhere in their formula. They may not use it here locally but in the corporate offices they use that information. It will eventually lower some rates even if it doesn't directly do so in the first little bit (right away). Some insurance companies will drop (premiums) automatically when the (ISO) rate does. Others may take longer but as our classification gets lower its just going to help the whole fire protection classification for the city. As the new classification takes effect probably in about a month, citizens should check with their insurance companies. The may get (qualify for) lower premiums," said Chief Parker.

In recent years the Smithville Fire Department has made improvements in equipment and services including the addition of a ladder truck. Chief Parker said more improvements are planned. "We have started working, even as early as last year, on some things to improve including training to get it (ISO) rating even lower".

Nominees Sought for FSA County Committee Election

June 1, 2015
Dwayne Page
Donny Green

Donny Green, DeKalb/Cannon County FSA County Executive Director, announces that the nomination period for the 2015 Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee Election is underway. The nomination period continues through August 3, 2015.

"I encourage all producers to participate in the county committee election process by nominating candidates by the August 3 deadline," said Green. "We are counting on as much participation as possible, because county committees are an important link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We have seen a trend in recent years of increased nominations of minority, beginning farmers, and women producers and we hope that will continue."

Committees apply their judgment and knowledge to make decisions on county commodity price-support loan eligibility, establishment of allotments and yields, conservation programs, disaster programs, employment and other farm program-related issues. Nationwide, there are more than 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to five members who are elected by eligible local producers.

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate.

Nominees must reside in Local Administrative Area (LAA) for which they are seeking to be elected. For the 2015 Election, the DeKalb/Cannon County FSA County Committee Election will conduct elections in LAA-1 (DeKalb County) and LAA-5 (Cannon County). Below are the descriptions of the LAA's that will be conducting elections this year:
Local Administrative Area # 1, the portions of DeKalb County described as following:
East of a line where Hwy. 146 crosses the Cannon County line; following Hwy. 146 North to Hodges Rd.; thence north to Tabernacle Rd.; following Tabernacle Rd. to Dry Creek Rd.; east of Dry Creek Rd. to Hwy. 70 West; south of Hwy. 70 to Hwy. 96 (Dale Ridge Rd.); thence north to Hwy. 96 to Hwy. 141 (Wolf Creek Rd.) to Center Hill Dam; from Center Hill Dam following Center Hill Lake southwest to include the area south and southwest of the lake to Sligo Bridge; thence following Hwy. 70 East in a westward direction to the intersection of Hwy. 70 and Hwy. 56; thence the area west of Hwy. 56 South to the Warren County line; north of the Warren/DeKalb County line back to Hwy. 146 at the Cannon County line.

Local Administrative Area # 5, the portions of Cannon County described as following:
That portion of Cannon County that lies west of Highway 53 (a state highway that runs south from the DeKalb County line and north from the Coffee County Line).

Individuals may nominate themselves, or others, as a candidate. In addition, eligible candidates can be nominated by community-based and other organizations in the county where the election is being held before the close of the nomination period, especially groups representing socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. Nominations and elections are open to all eligible candidates and voters without regard to race, color, religion, nation origin, age, sex, marital status or disability. The nomination form (FSA-669A) is available at USDA Service Centers and online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections

Ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters in LAA's 1 and 5 on November 9, 2015. Completed ballots must be returned, either in person or postmarked, no later December 7, 2015. For more information about FSA county committees, visit the DeKalb/Cannon

Smithville Police Make Arrests, Issue Citations

June 1, 2015
Dwayne Page
Captain Steven Leffew

The Smithville Police Department has issued citations and brought charges against several persons in recent days according to Captain Steven Leffew.

49 year old Wendy Kay Goodman is charged with public intoxication. Sergeant Travis Bryant was dispatched to the area of Restview Avenue on Saturday, May 16 in reference to a person knocking on doors throughout the neighborhood and disturbing the peace by yelling. Upon arrival Sergeant Bryant spoke with Goodman who had a strong odor of alcohol on her person and she was unsteady on her feet. As Goodman didn't live in the area, she was taken into custody for her safety. Goodman's bond is $1,500.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, May 20 Officer James Cornelius responded to a call of a man lying in the road on West Broad Street. Upon arrival he found 41 year old Steven Lee Gebhardt lying in the brush on the south side of West Broad Street. Once Gebhardt was helped to his feet, Officer Cornelius noticed his speech was slurred and that he was unsteady on his feet. Based on Gebhardt's condition he was placed under arrest for public intoxication. His bond is $1,500.

While on routine patrol at Wal-Mart on Saturday, May 23 Officer Andy Snow spotted 20 year old McKynna Smith sitting in her car smoking something from a pipe. The officer parked his patrol car and spoke with Smith asking if she had anything on her or in the vehicle. She voluntarily handed over three plastic baggies of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana totaling approximately. 6 grams along with two pipes and a grinder. Smith was cited for simple possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance (Marijuana) and drug paraphernalia. Her court date is June 11.

33 year old John Brent Williams is charged with public intoxication. Officer Will Judkins responded to a fight on Sunday, May 24 and upon arrival found Williams in a public place under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to such a degree that he endangered other persons and/or was unreasonably annoying people there. Williams was advised several times to calm down and he was arrested after refusing to comply. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance on June 18.

21 year old Jessie R. Herman was arrested on Monday, May 25 for domestic assault. Corporal Chip Avera and Officer Will Judkins were dispatched to a physical domestic and upon arrival found Herman yelling and cussing at everyone in the house behaving in a hostile and belligerent manner. After an investigation it was determined that Herman was the primary aggressor and he was taken into custody. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is June 18.

27 year old Matthew Allan Pasley was recently cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. During a traffic stop Officers Lance Dillard and Matt Farmer spoke with Pasley, who gave them consent to search the vehicle and his person. The officers found a grinder, rolling papers and a pipe with residue on them. He will be in court on June 18.

19 year old Nathaniel Andrew Chastain was cited by Sergeant Travis Bryant for vandalism on Monday, May 25. After a ball belonging to a neighbor rolled into the door of Chastain's home, he came out of the residence and stabbed the ball with a knife. His court date is June 11.

29 year old Cody Lee Cripps is charged with public intoxication . At approximately 1:30 am on Tuesday, May 26, Cripps was found to be in a parking lot on West Broad Street. Sergeant Travis Bryant observed that Cripps had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Cripps' speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Cripps had previously crawled into the cab of a semi-truck owned by Tennessee Credit. Witnesses said Cripps had been creating a disturbance by yelling and cussing prior to the officer's arrival. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance on June 11.

25 year old Dustin M. Heath was arrested for theft on Tuesday, May 26 after he allegedly entered Broad Street Market and took two 18 packs of Busch beer without paying for them. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance on June 11.


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