If a new judicial redistricting plan is approved by the state legislature as proposed, DeKalb County would no longer be part of the current make up of the 13th Judicial District, which also includes Clay, Cumberland, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.
Under the proposed plan, Van Buren County would join the 13th district and DeKalb County would become part of a new eight county district which also includes Macon, Trousdale, Smith, Jackson, Cannon, Warren, and Coffee Counties. For DeKalb, that would mean a different set of judges, District Attorney General, and District Public Defender from those that currently serve the county.
The 13th Judicial district has three trial courts including the Chancery, Circuit, and Criminal Courts. The district is served by Criminal Court Judges Leon Burns, Jr. and David Patterson, Circuit Court Judges John Maddux and Amy Hollars, and Chancellor Ronald Thurman. The District Attorney General is Randy York and the District Public Defender is David Brady. All these officials are either from Cookeville, Crossville or Livingston.
State Senate speaker, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey said he wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine judicial districting and ways the legal system can operate more efficiently and effectively. He noted that the last judicial redistricting occurred nearly 30 years ago in 1984.
"We desperately need to take a fresh look at this judicial map statewide to ensure Tennesseans receive the best possible service from their judges, district attorneys and public defenders," said Lt. Governor Ramsey.
DeKalb County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook II, President of the local bar, said none of the local attorneys like this proposed move. Judge Cook plans to talk with WJLE more indepth on this subject later in the week.
State Representative Mark Pody, during a visit to Smithville Friday, said he believes something should be done and Lieutenant Governor Ramsey wants all proposed plans in for consideration within thirty days. "We are looking at redistricting of judicial districts. That is a huge issue. I'm going to tell you flat out that what we have isn't working," said Pody. "We've got thirty one districts and some of the wait times for example for a court case could be seventeen months depending on what district its in. I know cases where someone wants to get a divorce and they can't get a time to even get in front of a judge for over a year. That's just too long. Or if somebody commits a crime, if it takes over a year, that's not a speedy trial. We have to pay about sixty dollars per day (per prisoner) to hold those people in prison. That's what the cost is to the state. If we're paying sixty dollars per day just holding them until they go to trial, I think we could save some of that money if we could redo this (redistricting) and make our court (wait) times much shorter," said Pody
"The (redistricting) map I have seen is going from thirty one districts down to twenty nine districts. I'm not comfortable reducing the number of districts. That doesn't make sense to me," said Pody. " But Coffee County is a district unto itself. So we have to redo it (redistricting) so it is more equitable across the state. There are some areas that seem to be working very well with no back load but there are areas where there is a big back load. I'm hoping that the DA's, the judges, and all the interested parties will come together and help draw the map. Right now they are very open to looking at opportunities. I'd like to keep us at the thirty one districts. I think that even though its more than the twenty nine districts that they are proposing, the savings in jail time, etc should more than offset some of those things. We're looking at putting this plan together within the next thirty days. Its out there for the public to be commenting on. But more than just saying I don't like it, what I'm hoping is that somebody will say ‘here is an alternative' to divide it up in a way that works well for everybody across the state. My goal is to vote for what's best for the entire state and not what might be just best for where I am (my district). I have to look at this as a state issue and not just what's going to be best for our county. My vote has to be that way. I am going to be very open to the facts. For example, I want to know the case load and the average time for trial. I think that will make a difference in how its going to be divided up," said Representative Pody.
Tennessee currently has thirty-one judicial districts which determine the areas judges, district attorneys and public defenders serve.
To be considered, submitted plans must use 2010 federal census data and redistrict the entire state. Plans must contain a total of thirty-one districts or fewer and districts must be comprised of whole counties. Regional integrity, geographic boundaries and ease of inter-county travel must also be considered.
City officials fired back at the DeKalb Utility District Monday night after receiving a letter from DUD officials claiming that City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson have not provided the aldermen with "full and accurate information" concerning the DUD's position on the water cost study
"I take a little offense at that," said Parsley during Monday night's city council meeting.
City officials, during the last meeting on February 4 complained that DUD had decided not to pay for half the cost of a water study, as the utility had allegedly previously agreed to do in correspondence with the city.
The DUD letter, signed by Board Chairman Roger Turney and manager Jon Foutch, sent over the weekend to city officials including each alderman points out that the DUD was willing, in a proposed water purchase contract, to share in the expense of a Cost of Service Study with the city as long as both parties agreed on an unbiased and independent entity to perform the study, which is being done to determine the actual cost to the city of producing water. Results of the study are expected to help determine rates the city charges the DUD in any future water purchase contract agreement. Even if DUD builds its own water treatment plant, the utility will apparently still need a new contract with the city to serve some areas.
The city chose Warren & Associates to do the study at a cost of $7,500. DUD officials claim Warren & Associates is not unbiased since officials of that company are expected to be called as expert witnesses in the Utility Management Review Board (DUD rate review) proceeding on April 4 in Smithville and will be presenting evidence against the DUD on behalf of the City of Smithville.
Parsley insists both he and Hunter Hendrixson have kept the mayor and aldermen informed on all issues regarding the DUD and takes offense with the DUD for suggesting otherwise. "Hunter and I received a letter from the Chairman of the DUD and Mr. Jon Foutch which implied that Hunter and I had not been informing the board correctly about issues involving DUD. I certainly take a little offense at that because I know that the mayor and I have talked many times and we've brought it to your attention here as a board many times about issues as they are brought up. It wasn't at every board meeting because we didn't have something to bring up. But Hunter and the mayor and I have talked several times about various issues. Those (issues) that we felt like were important to bring to the board, I know we brought to the board's attention. I just wanted to clarify that. If anyone at the board here ever needs to talk to me about any issue with DUD you know my line is always open. My office is always open and I would be willing to talk to you at any time. I'm sure Hunter would say the same. You folks (mayor and aldermen), I'm working for you and whatever you want me to do I'll do and anytime you've asked me to write a letter, I've written a letter. I just wanted to clarify that," said Parsley.
"I was really disturbed at the way they (DUD) talked about you and Hunter," said Alderman Danny Washer. "Right off the bat, I didn't like it and you (Parsley and Hendrixson) have been up front with us. You have discussed everything with us. If I've had any questions you have always been open with us. We've been after this for a long time. It just seems like it just gets passed around. They (DUD) don't want to cooperate with us. We've been up front but they're not wanting to work with us on this. Its kind of like a smoke screen to me. They just keep putting it off and putting it off. I appreciate all the information you have given us. You have kept up informed with everything. I really respect the information you give us. I trust it. I don't like what I'm getting in the mail from them (DUD). I took offense to it and it wasn't even directed at me. But we're all part of the board and what reflects on yall (Parsley and Hendrixson) reflects on us" said Washer.
Meanwhile, Hendrixson said Warren & Associates is proceeding with the water cost study and should be finished soon. "I talked Friday with Warren & Associates. I think they are going to be up here one day this week to collect a little more data. I think they're getting pretty close to having a pretty accurate number. They won't give me any numbers yet which is fine until they are completely done. I'm hoping by the next meeting we'll have a cost of water survey completed and we'll know where we stand not only with DUD in negotiating a contract with them but also so we know where we are as a city and if we are charging our city customers too much. We'll know how to plan better if we need a rate increase or leave as is so hopefully in the next several weeks we'll have a number to go by which is long overdue," said Hendrixson.
The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen adopted a resolution Monday night to make changes to the city charter including having the terms of office go from two to four years, extending voting rights to county residents that own commercial property in the city (two persons per deed), allowing property rights voting to county residents who own at least 3,500 square feet of property in the city, and allowing by ordinance regular city council meetings to be held only once per month.
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The resolution, passed unanimously by the aldermen, will be sent to State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody and State Senator Mae Beavers asking that they introduce an act in the legislature to amend in its entirety the city charter, which is Chapter 486 of the Private Acts of Tennessee for 1941 and to replace it with the new charter.
After the resolution is adopted by the General Assembly, it must return to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a second reading where it must receive a vote of not less than two thirds of the entire membership of the board before it can take effect.
In January, Mayor Jimmy Poss and Aldermen Jason Murphy, Tim Stribling, Shawn Jacobs, Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson met in a workshop at city hall to review the charter and to suggest changes. City officials forwarded the proposed changes to the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) for a legal review.
Under the proposed new charter, city elections will be held every two years, on the first Thursday in August to coincide with the county general election and state primaries. Terms of office for the mayor and aldermen will go from two to four years. Aldermen say the city will save money by not having to hold an election every year. By having the city election to run with the county general elections in August, it will most likely draw more city voters to the polls, according to the aldermen. City elections are currently held on the third Tuesday in June and the mayor and aldermen races are the only offices on the ballot.
The terms of office for the mayor and aldermen are staggered. For example, three aldermen are to be elected this year (2013) and a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected next year (2014). Currently the terms of office are for two years. The office holders are elected on the third Tuesday in June and their terms of office begin on July 1.
There will be no change in the date of the city election this year. The election will be held on Tuesday, June 18. The three aldermen elected this year will serve for a three year term until the day after the August election in 2016. From then on three aldermen will be elected to serve four year terms. The new charter specifies that the terms are to begin at 12:01 p.m. on the first Friday in August, or the day after the election.
Next year under the proposed new charter, a mayor and two aldermen will be elected on the first Thursday in August and take office the next day. Those elected will serve for four years.
The proposed new charter states that " The Election Commission of DeKalb County shall hold a municipal election on the third Tuesday in June of 2013 for the purpose of electing three aldermen to serve until the first Thursday in August of 2016 or until their successors are elected and qualified. At the municipal election of the first Thursday in August of 2014 a Mayor and two aldermen shall be elected to serve until the first Thursday in August 2018 or until their successors are elected and qualified. Thereafter the terms of the Mayor and aldermen shall be four year terms. The Mayor and aldermen shall be elected at large. Any elector who has been a resident of the city for at least one year may be qualified as a candidate for Mayor or Alderman by a nominating petition submitted to the DeKalb County Election Commission in the time and manner determined by the general laws of the State of Tennessee".
According to the proposed new charter, "the terms of office of Mayor and all Aldermen shall commence at 12:01 P.M. on the first Friday of August following the municipal election, and they shall serve until their successors have been elected and qualified". .
Currently, persons who live in the county may qualify as a city property rights voter in municipal elections if they own property in the city of at least 7,500 square feet. The proposed new charter changes that to 3,500 square feet and it allows property owners to count multiple floors toward the total square footage requirement. Anyone who lives in the county but owns commercial property of any size in the city may also register as a property rights voter with a limit of two persons per deed. The proposed new charter states that " any person owning property within the corporate limits of the municipality and residing outside such limits but within DeKalb County may register and vote in municipal elections, if such property ownership is of a residential lot size of not less than thirty-five hundred (3500) square feet or any person owning a commercial property of any size as long as there are not more than two (2) persons per deed in either property classification. Multiple floors shall count towards the total square footage residential requirement Such nonresident shall furnish to the Registrar's office proof of ownership and lot size and location by submitting a copy of the municipality's tax notice or such other document deemed acceptable by the Registrar. Such nonresident shall not be eligible to hold any municipal office or serve on any municipal board or commission."
The proposed new charter gives the aldermen the authority to establish by ordinance the salaries of the mayor and aldermen as well as the time and dates of all city council meetings. Regular city council meetings will only be held once, instead of twice per month, after passage by ordinance but special meetings may be called as needed. The mayor and aldermen will meet on the first Monday night of the month, as they do now, but the time will change to 6:00 p.m. instead of 7:00 p.m. If the meeting date should fall on a holiday, the mayor and aldermen would meet on the following Monday night. The second regular meeting night of each month, now on the third Monday night, will no longer be held. Special meetings could be called by either the mayor or any two aldermen, giving at least 48 hours notice.
The proposed new charter states that "the salary of the Mayor and Aldermen shall be determined by ordinance; however, those salaries may not be increased or decreased during their current term of office. The Board shall meet regularly at least once every month at the city hall or municipal building, or at another place and time prescribed by ordinance. The Board shall meet in special session on written notice of the Mayor or any two Aldermen and served on the other members of board personally at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. Only the business stated in the written call may be transacted at a special meeting. Informal meetings or work sessions of the Board may be held for the purpose of fact finding and conducting inspections; however, there shall be no official action taken by the Board in these meetings. The Board shall exercise its powers only in public meetings," according to the proposed new charter".
The proposed new charter further states that "the Mayor shall preside at meetings of the Board, and shall not have a vote on any matter except in case of a tie vote. He shall be recognized as the ceremonial head of the city. The Mayor shall have veto power over any legislative action of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The Mayor's veto may be over-ridden by a two-thirds majority vote of all currently sitting members. Upon passage of a legislative ordinance or resolution, the Mayor shall notify the Board in writing of his veto within 10 days and the reasons for the veto. Should the Mayor choose not to veto an action of the Board and fails to sign the ordinance or resolution by the next regular meeting, the ordinance or resolution shall be deemed to be approved and become a law without the Mayor's signature," according to the new charter.
Three people escaped serious injury in a two vehicle traffic accident Monday night at the intersection of South Congress Boulevard and Vaughn Lane.
Patrolman Stephen Barrett of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that 18 year old Diana Gaspar of Smithville was driving west on Vaughn Lane in a 2005 Nissan when she pulled into the path of a 2011 Honda car driven by 66 year old Kenneth Heady of Gainesboro who was north on Congress Boulevard (Highway 56). 68 year old Clella Martin of Gainesboro was a passenger of the Heady car.
Gaspar's car struck Heady's vehicle in the passenger side. After impact, the Heady car overturned on its top and slid to a stop in the highway while Gaspar's car apparently knocked down a fence just off the road.
Neither Heady, Martin, nor Gaspar were believed to have been seriously hurt. Martin was the only one transported to the hospital by DeKalb EMS.
Gaspar was cited for failure to yield, driving on a suspended license, and violation of the financial responsibility law for no insurance.
Officer Barrett was assisted by Smithville Police Sergeant Andy Snow and Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was also on the scene.
A 28 year old woman is in trouble with the law for allegedly stealing wallets from two victims at church
Tracy Ann Thomason was arrested on Friday, February 8 for two counts of theft of property under $500. According to Smithville Police, an officer was called to check out a complaint of stolen property at the Smithville Church of God on West Broad Street. While enroute, Central dispatch advised the officer that the suspect (Thomason) had left the church and was walking east on Broad Street. Members of the church were following her. The officer made contact with the subject (Thomason) on Whaley Street. Found in her purse were the two wallets which were stolen from victims during a church service. Except for some cash, the wallets and contents were recovered and returned to the owners. Bond for Thomason is $4,000 and her court date is March 7.
Three days after the theft, Thomason was arrested again on Monday, February 11 in a separate case of public intoxication stemming from a shoplifting complaint at Walmart. According to the warrant, an officer was called to Wal-Mart on a shoplifter complaint. The officer viewed the store's surveillance video and saw the suspect in the make-up aisle. He then went to the make-up aisle and made contact with the woman (Thomason). The officer reported that Thomason was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. Thomason was escorted to the office where a loss prevention store employee obtained information from her so that they could prosecute her for shoplifting. Due to her being a danger to herself and the public, she was placed under arrest. Bond for Thomason is $1,000 and her court date is March 14.
25 year old Sabrina Marie Hancock was cited on Friday, February 8 for three counts of simple possession. An officer pulled over a vehicle on a traffic stop. Hancock was a passenger. Upon making the stop, the officer saw Hancock place something between the seats. After removing her from the car, the officer recovered pills believed to be Lortab, Oxycodone and Morphine. She will be in court on March 7.
30 year old Marlena Sue Patterson was arrested Sunday, February 10 for the aggravated assault of a family member. According to the warrant, an officer was called to a residence to check out a physical assault in progress. Upon arrival at the location, the officer made contact with two females who were apparently in an altercation on the floor. Both females were irate and would not obey the officer's commands. After getting them separated and speaking to everyone at the residence, the officer determined that Patterson was the primary aggressor. Patterson allegedly punched the woman (a family member) in the head and strangled her by putting her hands around her throat. Bond for Patterson is $2,500 and she will be in court on March 7.
19 year old Skyelar Jerome Patrick was arrested Tuesday, February 12 for violation of an order of protection. According to the warrant, Patrick violated an order of protection against him by going to the residence where the petitioner lives. The order states that Patrick is to stay away from the home. Officers went to the residence of the petitioner and found Patrick inside the home. Bond for Patrick $2,500 and he will be in court March 14.
37 year old Lonnie Lynn Wheeler was arrested Thursday, February 14 for disorderly conduct. Officers responded to a disturbance call at a residence on Lincoln Street where they found numerous windows broken out of the home and three men who had been scuffling. One of the men was found to be Wheeler. Police said Wheeler was combative and he refused to comply with officers' instructions. Wheeler was tased and arrested for disorderly conduct. His bond is $4,000 and his court date is February 21.
25 year old Jamaal Ahmad League was arrested on Thursday, February 14 for public intoxication. According to the warrant, an officer was called to the area of Taco Bell where a man was said to be running in the roadway and screaming that he was going to kill somebody. The man was thought to have something in his hand. While enroute, a sheriff's deputy told police that the man was attempting to cross the roadway through congested traffic at the intersection of Highway 70 & 56. The officer made contact with the man (League) in front of Exxon. Due to the nature of the call, the officer asked League to show his hands and get on the ground for safety reasons. Upon speaking with League, the officer detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. For the safety of the public and himself, League was arrested. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is March 7.
52 year old Lisa Ann George was cited for shoplifting on Thursday, February 14. George was observed concealing items, taking them from Wal-Mart, and putting them in her trunk. The items were recovered and returned to the store. She will be in court on February 28.
Anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.
Any information received that would help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.
Local realtor and construction worker Josh Miller plans to be a candidate for alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election on June 18. Miller picked up his qualifying petition from the election commission office last week.
Miller, a resident of Stone Haven Drive, Smithville is employed by the Real Estate Team and he also works in construction.
Miller's wife Amy works for Shiroki North America, Inc. The couple has two children, six year old Addison Miller and two year old Lilly Miller.
Three aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 18 each to serve a one time three year term through August, 2016, subject to a revision in the city charter. Starting in August, 2016, the terms of these three aldermen positions will become four year terms.
The positions are currently held by Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer. All three have announced plans to seek re-election.
Anthony Scott of Riley Avenue has also picked up a petition to run for alderman, but he has not yet returned it.
Officials of DeKalb Utility District are not happy with comments made during the last meeting of the Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen accusing the DUD of being unwilling to share in the cost of a water study with the city.
DUD officials, in a letter to City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr., claim that he (City Attorney Parsley) and Hunter Hendrixson, the city secretary-treasurer, have not provided the city council with "full and accurate information" concerning the DUD's position on this matter.
The DUD letter, signed by Board Chairman Roger Turney and manager Jon Foutch, has also been sent to each alderman.
In the letter, DUD officials pointed out that a standard contract was sent by DUD to the City of Smithville on August 28, to initiate discussions regarding a new water purchase contract and that it was clearly spelled out that the parties (City and DUD) were to "agree" on an entity to perform a Cost of Service Study and that the entity "shall be unbiased as reasonably possible".
Furthermore, DUD officials claim the representatives of the entity the city has hired to perform the cost study is not an "unbiased" nor an "independent entity" in that "David Pine and Jerry Warren of Warren & Associates are expected to be called as expert witnesses in the Utility Management Review Board (DUD rate review) proceeding (April 4 in Smithville) and will be presenting evidence against the DUD on behalf of the City of Smithville"
During the last city council meeting on Monday, February 4, city officials said they were "disappointed" because DUD officials had stated in its contract proposal, that DUD would share in the expense of a study to determine how much it costs the city to produce water. The results of such a cost study will likely be used by the city to help establish new rates to be charged the DUD in any new water purchase agreement. In a letter to city officials on January 29, manager Foutch wrote that the DUD was not agreeable to share in the expense of a cost study performed by Warren & Associates and proposed using instead the Jackson Thornton firm. City secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, during the February 4 meeting, said the study by Warren & Associates was already underway. The cost to perform the study is $7,500.
On February 6, City attorney Parsley sent a letter to Foutch expressing the city's displeasure with the DUD decision not to share in the cost of the water study. In the letter, Parsley wrote, " The City of Smithville was very disappointed in your response to the City hiring Warren & Associates to conduct the cost study for the City of Smithville. Your previous letters had not set out any particular firms or conditions for hiring someone to do the cost study. The City was under the impression that we were going to share equally the expense of the cost study. Hunter (Hendrixson) had previously attempted to contact the Jackson Thornton firm that you mentioned in your letter. However, they did not return his call until after Warren & Associates had been retained. The City feels that DUD has at least a moral obligation to pay one-half of the $7,500 cost for Warren & Associates to perform the cost study, However, since Warren & Associates has already started the work the City will fulfill its obligation to pay them as contracted," wrote Parsley.
The following is the full text of DUD's letter in response to Parsley, signed by Turney and Foutch:
"On behalf of the DeKalb Utility District, I (Foutch) wish to respond to your letter of February 6, 2013. The "disappointment" of the City of Smithville was no doubt created by the misinformation and lack of information that you (Parsley) and Hunter Hendrixson have shared or failed to share with the city council. It is clearly evident from your letter, as well as the relentless information in the media regarding the efforts on a proposed contract, that the city council is not receiving full and accurate information. Therefore, I am providing each alderman a copy of this letter so that there can be a full understanding of what has transpired in this process.
For your benefit and the benefit of the recipients of this letter, I wish to point out the following:
1. On August 28, 2012, a rather standard contract was sent by DUD to the City of Smithville, to initiate discussions regarding a water purchase contract. Included in that contract, specifically on page 4 and 5, it was clearly spelled out that the parties were to agree on an entity to perform a Cost of Service Study and that the entity shall be unbiased as reasonably possible"
2. On January 3, 2013, after waiting over four months for some type of information on whether the proposed contract was agreeable and whether a cost study was going to be done, a letter was sent by the Chairman of DUD addressing this issue once again. In that letter, a copy of which was mailed to all aldermen, it was clearly spelled out that DUD is willing to share one-half of the cost of an "independent entity" to conduct a cost study of the city's water production operation. It was referenced in that letter that as of January 3, 2013, that DUD had received no input as to whether that offer was acceptable or whether any effort was being made to have a cost study accomplished.
3. On January 7, 2013, I (Foutch) understood from comments made at the council meeting that a cost study was going to be pursued and that Mr. Hendrixson would contact DUD accordingly. On January 24, 2013 after hearing nothing about the study, proposed entity or cost, I called Mr.(Hunter) Hendrixson to ask about the progress of a study. On that same date, he faxed to me one sheet of paper that included the business card information for Jerry Warren and David Pine of Warren & Associates. I told Mr. Hendrixson in this phone conversation that DUD would have to be agreeable with the entity to perform the cost study if they were going to pay one-half of the cost. Mr. Hendrixson agreed and provided no opposition.
4. On January 25, 2013, after trying to find information on Warren & Associates, I (Foutch) called Mr. Hendrixson and told him that DUD would not be willing to share in the expense of Warren & Associates due to us not having any information regarding their expertise and credentials in performing cost studies. At no time did Mr. Hendrixson provide me with any credential-type information on this entity and clearly no information like was discussed at the city council meeting on February 4, 2013.
5. On January 28, 2013, Mr. Hendrixson called wanting me to respond by letter regarding the denial of DUD in not agreeing to share the cost of the work of Warren & Associates. At that time, Mr. Hendrixson stated that the city had not yet made up their mind on what they were going to do regarding this study but that he would provide our letter to the city council and be back in touch on their response. Again, no information at all was provided regarding Warren & Associates. Pursuant to Mr. Hendrixson's request, I (Foutch) provided a letter setting out DUD's position on the use of Warren & Associates and proposing other experienced entities that would be agreeable for the cost study work.
6. On February 1, 2013, in the contested case matter pending before the Utility Management Review Board, which the City of Smithville has requested to be allowed to intervene and present evidence at that hearing, Mr. Hendrixson, on behalf of the City of Smithville, signed written interrogatories, which disclosed David Pine and Jerry Warren of Warren & Associates as being persons expected to be called as expert witnesses in the UMRB proceeding and would be presenting evidence on behalf of the City of Smithville. This information was not discussed at the council meeting of February 4, when the credentials of Warren & Associates were questioned.
Clearly with Warren & Associates being the paid expert witnesses of the City of Smithville, they would not be an "unbiased" and "independent entity" as referenced earlier in the proposed contract. Evidently you (Parsley) and Mr. Hendrixson failed to advise the council on what experts had been paid on behalf of the city to attempt to defeat the efforts of DUD on the construction of a water treatment plant, but instead tried to get DUD to help fund such an effort. You and Mr. Hendrixson, while touting the credentials of this entity on February 4, for some reason completely failed to mention the hiring of them as experts in the pending matter.
7. On February 4, 2013, when the council met I (Foutch) heard information regarding Warren & Associates for the first time, and information that was clearly contrary to what I had been earlier told. It appeared to me from statements made by you (Parsley), Mr. Hendrixson and the mayor, that Warren & Associates had already started working on the cost study and were "already underway" and had been working on the study for at least three weeks. Again, no mention of this was made to me in my earlier mentioned phone conversations with Mr. Hendrixson. There was also much information shared at the council meeting as pertains to the experience and credentials of Warren & Associates but this had never been shared with DUD. You made many strong assertions that at no time did DUD ever place any requirements on their agreement to share the cost of a study. You evidently did not wish to share with them the proposed contract terms mentioned above or the correspondence regarding the required independence of such a study," wrote DUD officials.
The DUD letter to city officials further stated, "It is very troubling to hear the inaccurate information coming from the council meetings and from representatives of the city regarding this issue, but even more so when it is known that the information will be shared with the public via media outlets in a way that provides false or incomplete information. It has always been specifically pointed out both in the proposed contract and in follow up letters that DUD would share in an independent unbiased study and that continues to be DUD's position. As referenced herein, Warren & Associates does not meet that criteria and DUD respectfully cannot agree to use them."
"While it is disappointing that the City of Smithville has chosen to spend tens of thousands of dollars on public relation efforts and attorneys to defeat the business decisions of the DUD board on "its" future plan for "its" customers, it would be nice if full and complete information was provided to those in authority at the city who must make the final decisions on the best course of action for its citizens," wrote DUD officials.
The most dangerous part of a school bus ride is getting on and off and if motorists don't stop for buses when they're supposed to the potential for a tragic accident increases.
Jimmy Sprague, Transportation Supervisor for the DeKalb County School System, said he is concerned that too many motorists are failing to stop when school bus lights and stop signs are deployed as students get off and on buses in school parking lot loading zones and on roads, including four lane highways. " Highway 70 is considered a driveable median and when that bus accuates its stop sign and red lights, all four lanes east bound and west bound do have to stop. They don't proceed on until the stop sign is pulled in and the lights are off and the bus is proceeding on. When that happens, vehicles can move along also," said Sprague.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Lieutenant Ray Robinson, director of the State Department of Education's Pupil Transportation Division recently joined Sprague in making an appeal to local motorists to keep an eye out for children. "The penalty for passing a stopped school bus is a class-A misdemeanor and that penalty is actually from $250 up to $1,000," said Lt. Robinson.
Unless motorists heed the warning, Sprague is concerned that accidents will occur that could injure or kill someone. "It would be a hard thing as a parent to have to live with (a child injured or killed) but if you were the person in the car that run the bus stop sign and caused such an accident imagine having to live with that," said Sprague
A 12 year old was killed in Greene County in April, 2012 after the child was run over by a school bus.
According to Lt. Robinson, laws exist to protect children getting on and off the bus. Tennessee law requires that:
Vehicles must stop before reaching a bus that has its flashing red warning lights and/or stop signal arm extended (B). Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.
Vehicles traveling in the same and opposite direction as the bus on an undivided road are always required to stop. (The four lane Highway 70 is an undivided highway and all motorists traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus stops to pick up and drop off children)
Vehicles traveling on a divided, or separated, highway do not have to stop when meeting or passing a bus on the other side of the road.
Drivers never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.
"In December 2012, twenty eight states took part in a stop signs violation count in one day," said Sprague." Out of twenty eight states, 100,000 buses in one day recorded 88,000 illegal passes. I could probably find ten a day right here in DeKalb County. I just want people to realize that this is a very serious situation. We're talking about our children here," said Sprague.
And the problem is not just on the highways according to Sprague. "We're having issues at the DeKalb Middle School/DCHS parking lot where parents are dropping off students and blowing through our bus loading and unloading zones, which at the high school is in front of the cafeteria and at the middle school is at the front door. The danger is with pedestrians walking, faculty going to and from cars, or children running between school buses to get to a car. It's the same as on the road. If that school bus stop sign is out and those red lights are flashing, you need to stop," said Sprague.
Violators are subject to citations by local and state law enforcement authorities if caught. Bus drivers and motorists can also report passing vehicles, according to Lieutenant Robinson. "The department of safety has a form. If someone drives by a school bus while it is loading or unloading, the driver of that school bus or anyone else can actually get the tag information off of that car and send that tag information to me. I will in turn write a letter to the owner of that registered vehicle and explain to them what the law says about passing by stopped school buses. Obviously, I'm not going to cite somebody I did not see commit a violation. But that's another educational opportunity that we have. So if someone in DeKalb County gets a letter in the mail, signed by me, its not for monetary reasons, its for education," said Lt. Robinson.
Legislation is moving through the committees of the General Assembly that would make funding of up to one million dollars available for economic and industrial development to Smithville and other cities across the state on behalf of local utilities who wish to apply through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.
State Representative Mark Pody made the announcement Friday during a visit to Smithville.
According to the Tennessee General Assembly's website, this bill (House Bill 0051 and Senate Bill 0078) authorizes all municipalities to participate as a borrower and a lender in the rural economic development loan and grant program (REDLG). Under current law, the program is only available to cities in six Tennessee counties.
Present law authorizes any municipality in Hardeman, Lincoln, Dickson, Campbell, Rhea, or Marion county to promote economic and industrial development through participation both as a borrower and a lender in various programs established by the rural electrification administration or other federal programs.
This bill rewrites this provision to instead authorize each municipality in this state to promote economic and industrial development through participation both as a borrower and a lender in the rural economic development loan and grant program established and administered by the federal rural development administration.
"The bill should be going to the calendar and rules committee next week and probably to the House floor the following week. Its going to allow Smithville to apply for up to one million dollars from Rural Development. It's a zero percent loan for areas that want more development. This will be opened up to cities in all ninety five counties. I'm hoping that any cities that want to do it will be jumping on and applying for it quickly in getting the money because it is a limited amount of money so its almost going to be on a first come, first served basis. Its used to attract industry and develop areas," said Representative Pody.
According to USDA, the RED Loan program provides zero interest loans from the
USDA to local utilities which then provide loans to local businesses; the local business
directly repays the local utility who then repays the USDA.. The maximum amount of a RED Loan is $1,000,000.
• The RED Grant program provides grants to the local utility which then establishes a
revolving loan program. Upon termination of the revolving loan fund, the grant is
repaid by the local utility to the USDA.. The maximum amount of a RED Grant is $300,000.
• In the event a loan recipient defaults on a loan, the local utility will be responsible for
repayment to the USDA, resulting in a possible increase in local government
• The USDA requires a participating local utility to provide a 20 percent match of funds
for which the utility is applying.
• In the event a local utility opts to participate in the REDLG program, and it is
successful, it is reasonably assumed there will be an increase in local government
revenue resulting from an increase in local business success.
Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen is warning DeKalb County property owners to beware of a scam that could cost you eighty three dollars if you should fall for it.
McMillen told WJLE Friday that he has received calls in recent days from people inquiring about a letter sent to them which appears to be a bill or "Deed Processing Notice" from the Property Transfer Service in Washington D.C.
This notice encourages the recipient to send eighty three dollars to obtain a copy of his or her grant deed and property profile. The letter even includes a self addressed envelope for you to send your money to the Property Transfer Service Deed Processing Center in Westlake Village, California.
McMillen urges you not to reply to this request and don't send them any money. He said the information they seek to sell you is already available to you free of charge in the Register of Deeds Office.