Local News Articles

DeKalb Middle School Student Wins Essay/Poster Contest

June 6, 2009
 Anita Puckett and Quenton McSparren-

Quenton McSparren recently participated in an essay/poster contest sponsored by the Country Music Association and the Tennessean: Newspapers in Education.

Mrs. Anita Puckett, Quenton's 8th grade Reading teacher, shared/offered the contest to her classroom students.

The contest consisted of writing an essay over the topic "Why are school music programs important? and creating a poster that follows along with their essay theme. Quenton submitted his essay/poster by the May 15th deadline and was contacted on June 1st of his winning.

McSparren won an array of prizes such as a $300.00 savings bond from CMA, Four tickets to the CMA Music Festival concert at LP Field,$100.00 gift card from Barnes and Noble, Nashville Shores Family four pack,Grand Ole Opry family four pack, $100.00 Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum prize pack, plus 4-pack of tickets, poster and essay to be published in The Tennessean and a commemorative plaque from all sponsor partners. Mrs. Puckett won a
wonderful selection of prizes as well. In addition to that Quenton won classroom passes (up to 34) for Nashville Shores and the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

McSparrens essay/poster will be published in the Sunday June 7th edition of The Tennessean.

Below is Quenton McSparren's essay

Why are school music programs important?

"Music promotes unity among students. I was fourteen before I learned to read music and joined the band. It was a great experience; I had one problem they did not like me counting to keep track of where we were. To me learning to read music notes was easy. I was diagnosed
with dyslexia and dysgraphia in the first grade and have been struggling ever since. This was the first time I did not feel behind my peers. I only wish the music teachers had asked if anyone had special needs. I try to hide my disability. Nevertheless, band was the one place I was not behind in my reading. Finally, it provides a chance to learn about music that you may never get anywhere else. That is why school music programs are important."

Police Investigating Church Break-In, Make Arrests in Other Cases

June 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police are asking for your help in solving recent crimes including a break-in at a local church.

Chief Richard Jennings says on Tuesday, June 2nd, on or about 6:45 p.m. someone broke into the Temple Baptist Church at 500 Miller Road. Entrance was gained by breaking open the front door of the church. A blue tinted water jug containing approximately $200 in paper and coin currency was taken. The estimated damage to the church structure is approximately $500.

Meanwhile on or about Tuesday, May 26th, in the morning hours, someone struck the brick entrance to the subdivision of Love Lane on Riley Avenue. Damage to the entrance is estimated at approximately $1,000. Police suspect that considerable damage would have been done to the vehicle that struck the brick entrance.

Officer Travis Bryant was dispatched to 634 Restview Drive on Wednesday, June 3rd at approximately 10:15 p.m. to investigate an assault. Upon arrival, Officer Bryant talked to the victim who said she was sitting on her front porch when someone came up behind her, grabbed her head and began assaulting her with what she thought was a rock or some other hard object. The woman was unable to identify her attacker.

Chief Jennings says any information you could provide to help police solve these or any criminal offenses is greatly appreciated. All information is kept confidential.

Meanwhile Smithville Police have made several recent arrests.

32 year old Sharon R. Barnwell of 1071 Banks Pisgah Road and 28 year old Brandon Edward Smith are each charged with theft of property. Bond for each is $5,000 and each will appear in court on June 11th. 33 year old Jo Ann Rutland of 223 East Bryant Street, Apartment 1 is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and aggravated burglary. Her bond totals $11,000. Rutland's court date is June 11th. According to police, Officer Matt Farmer recovered some stolen property in a pawn shop in McMinnville on Tuesday, May 26th. This property, along with other articles, was taken in a burglary on May 21st from the residence of Jose A. Narvaez of 1222 South College Street. The total estimated value of the property taken in the burglary was $3,301.

Chief Jennings says 41 year old Teodulo Lara Garcia of 721 Short Mountain Street, Smithville was arrested Friday, May 29th and charged with a first offense of driving under the influence, sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (cocaine), violation of the open container law and no driver's license. His court date is June 11th and his bond is $11,500. According to police, several complaints were made about the manner in which Garcia was driving. Officer Matt Farmer responded to the call and at approximately 9:58 p.m., he made contact with Garcia near the Ace Hardware store in Smithville. Garcia submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Further investigation revealed that he had cocaine in the vehicle and an open container of beer. Garcia did not possess a driver's license.

44 year old David Junior Sandlin of 632 Restview Avenue, Smithville is charged with public intoxication. His court date is June 11th and his bond is $1,000. Officer Travis Bryant responded to 632 Restview Avenue on Saturday, May 30th at approximately 9:07 p.m. because of a complaint of persons fighting in the front yard. Upon arrival, Officer Bryant made contact with Sandlin. According to police, Sandlin was across the street from his residence creating a disturbance by yelling and using profane language.

41 year old Robert K. Geist of Aurora Drive, Murfreesboro is charged with public intoxication. His court date is July 16th and his bond is $2,500. Lieutenant Steven Leffew and Officer Randy King were recently dispatched to Mapco Express to investigate a complaint of an intoxicated person in the parking lot. The officers made contact with Geist, who was very unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech, and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person.

33 year old Amy Denise Green of 917 Short Mountain Street was arrested by Officer Scott Davis on Saturday, May 30th and charged on an outstanding warrant from Wilson County for criminal trespassing.

23 year old Roel Sosa Celaya of 320 West Broad Street is charged with driving on a suspended license, simple possession of a schedule II drug (cocaine). His court date is June 11th and his bond totals $2,500. According to police, at approximately 2:23 a.m. on Sunday, May 31st, Officer Matt Farmer observed a vehicle turn in to the parking lot of the apartments located at 320 West Broad Street. The vehicle did not have it's head lights on. Officer Farmer approached the vehicle to investigate and made contact with Celaya, the driver. Upon further investigation, Officer Farmer learned that Celaya was driving on a suspended license. He was placed under arrest. During the search, incident to arrest, a white powdery substance, believed to be cocaine, was found.

29 year old Brandon N. Loader of 2069 Bethel Road, Apartment G-2, Smithville is charged with a fourth offense of driving under the influence. He will be in court June 11th and his bond is $5,000. Officer Travis Bryant was dispatched to McDonalds restaurant at approximately 11:39 p.m. on June 3rd to a possible impaired driver. Officers Bryant and Matt Holmes had difficulty in getting the vehicle to stop, but it was finally pulled over in the parking lot of Save-A-Lot on Congress Boulevard. The automobile was operated by Loader. Officer Bryant noticed that Loader's speech was slurred and there was an odor of alcohol on his person. Loader exited the vehicle upon request and submitted to a field sobriety task in which he performed poorly. Loader was then arrested for DUI. Loader told Officer Bryant that he currently had a DUI charge pending in court in Warren County. Loader further stated that he had been convicted of a first offense DUI on June 7th, 2002, a second offense of DUI on February 23, 2005, and a third offense of DUI on September 20th, 2007 all in Warren County.

39 year old Robert Todd Hendrixson of 2320 Old Snows Hill Road, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended/revoked license. His court date is June 25th and his bond is $1,000. Officer Matt Holmes, on Thursday, June 4th, observed a vehicle traveling west on Broad Street. He clocked the speed of the vehicle on his radar unit at 52 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour speed zone. The vehicle was stopped near Sunshine Cleaners on Broad Street. Officer Holmes checked Hendrixson's license through the state computer and found the status to be suspended/revoked.

Lighthouse Boy's and Girl's Ranch has Celebration Service and Open House

June 5, 2009
Grand Opening of the Lighthouse Boys' and Girls' Ranch

A celebration worship service, ribbon cutting, and grand opening of the Lighthouse Boys' and Girls' Ranch at Lighthouse Christian Camp was held at 11:00 a.m., on Saturday, May 30th. The service was followed with a delicious meal and tours were given of the two Ranch homes and the camp facilities. The event was well attended by many from DeKalb County, Nashville, Putnam, and other areas of Middle Tennessee.

The Lighthouse Boys' and Girls' Ranch is a ministry of Lighthouse Christian Camp, Inc., and the homes, one for boys and one for girls, will provide a permanent home for children in need of a safe, secure, and loving environment. Children, ages five to 12, will be accepted by referral from grandparents and others, who find it difficult to provide for the basic needs of children in their care. Many children are being left with grandparents, relatives, and friends, and find they are unable to provide the care that children from difficult circumstances really need and deserve.

Joe and Kim Madden are the parents for the boys' home, and Clint and Jeanne Underwood are the parents for the girls' home. Each home will accommodate six children. The beautiful, two-story homes have spacious living areas, large kitchen, and dining room, library, and five bedrooms. Every bedroom has a private bath, and every bath has double vanities.

The Lighthouse Boys' and Girls' Ranch will provide programs and services designed to strengthen and support the total development of the children. This will be accomplished primarily through the parents, attendance in church, and participation in all the programs at Lighthouse Christian Camp.

"We get so excited thinking about the opportunity to provide a Christ-centered, biblically based, stable and loving home for precious children in such desperate need. A mom and dad that love the Lord Jesus Christ will provide consistent love, discipline, and direction children need and deserve," said Bro. Ben Chapman.

The children that come to live at the Ranch will be assured of a permanent home through high school and will be provided an opportunity to live in a transitional home on the property until they graduate from college, technical school or until they are gainfully employed.

Those that may know of children that would benefit by being a resident at the Lighthouse Ranch are encouraged to call Bro. Ben Chapman at 615-597-1264 for more information.

For those that are interested in serving or supporting the ministry of Lighthouse Boys' and Girls' Ranch or Lighthouse Christian Camp, please call any of the staff at 615-597-1264 or visit the website at www.lighthousechristiancamp.com.

(Pictured:Front Left to Right: Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, County Executive Mike Foster, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Ben and Ermeda Chapman, President & Camp founders; Donna England, Executive Board; Stacey Hancock, Ranch Advisory Board; Jeannette Gaw, Ranch Advisory Board; Kay Quintero, Ranch Advisory Board; Kim Madden, Ranch parent

Middle: Jeanne Underwood, Ranch parent; Clint Underwood, Ranch parent

Back: Gordon Parham; Ranch Advisory Board; Pastor Larry Green, Ranch Advisory Board; George Robinson, Executive Board; Adam Whitecotton; Joe Madden, Ranch parent)

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

June 5, 2009
 State Senator Mae Beavers

In her latest Legislative Report, State Senator Mae Beavers says the General Assembly addressed bills this week that left many scratching their heads as to the role of government and the validity of the Constitution.

Senator Beavers says she saw herself as the sole "no-vote" in the Senate after debate on an energy bill that would heap huge costs and burdens on small counties in the form of mandated international building codes. In addition, bills were passed that stressed the importance of both the 10th and 2nd Amendments. The Senate hopes to wrap up its business within the next two weeks before adjourning for the summer.

Meanwhile Senator Beavers says the State Senate approved legislation this week that seeks to combat the destruction of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution by the Federal government in their attempt to infringe upon states' rights. Senate Bill 1610, known as the "Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act," sponsored by Senator Beavers, takes a step in the right direction to restore to the states control of intra-state commerce and the regulation of firearms manufactured and sold within Tennessee.

"Be it the federal government mandating changes in order for states to receive federal funds or the federal government telling us how to regulate commerce contained completely within this state - enough is enough," urged Beavers. "Our founders fought too hard to ensure states' sovereignty and I am sick and tired of activist federal officials and judges sticking their noses where they don't belong."

The Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act asserts that if a firearm and/or ammunition is made totally within the state of Tennessee, and stamped "Made in Tennessee", then the federal government has no jurisdiction over that item in any fashion so long as it remains in state and outside of interstate commerce. All state regulations applying to the possession of firearms in Tennessee would still be applicable and must be complied with. This legislation is being proposed to prevent a federal attempt to legislate beyond the Constitutional limits of Congress. This bill is similar to one signed into law in Montana, and is currently pending passage in at least 30 other states.

The State Senate has approved legislation (SB 2300) aimed at drawing down stimulus funds for energy efficiency in Tennessee. Yet, opponents of the bill, most noticeably Senator Beavers, argued that such high energy standards would heap huge costs on local builders.

"The last thing we need to do during a housing slump is to raise the prices of homes so that environmentalists in Washington and Europe can have something to cheer about," argued Beavers. "Protecting the environment and lowering future energy costs is important; however, for the state to mandate adoption of international building codes during a recession is pure stupidity."

The Senate voted 21 to 9 on Thursday to override Governor Phil Bredesen's veto of legislation that would allow law-abiding handgun permit holders to "carry" into restaurants that serve alcohol. The measure would apply as long as the owners of the premises have not posted notification that guns are banned and that the legal permit holder abides by current law which prohibits them from drinking alcoholic beverages while carrying their firearm.

The vote to override the bill was taken as crime victim Nicki Goeser, who supported the action, looked on from the floor of the Senate. Goeser's husband Ben Goeser was shot and killed by Hank Calvin Wise in April in the Karaoke business he managed. There were about 50 people inside the business when the shooting occurred. Nicki Goeser and patrons who watched as the crime occurred were prevented from carrying a weapon in the establishment under current Tennessee law.

Thirty-six other states, including Tennessee's neighbors, have a law that allows for legal permit holders to carry their firearms into restaurants or bars that serve alcohol. There has been no move to repeal any of those laws.

Two bills dealing with landowners and their responsibility when trespassers come onto their property were approved this week. One bill, SB 679, amends Tennessee's criminal trespass law to shift the burden from individual property owners to the alleged trespassers. Current statute requires extensive posting and signage, and this bill shifts that burden to the individual who will be required to know if he/she has permission to be on the land. Farmland can prove to be especially difficult to post, and this bill will protect farmers to ensure that trespassers are held accountable for their actions.

The second bill, SB 2102 , addresses problems experienced by landowners and farmers where ATV riders or others have trespassed on private property. Under current law, if a trespasser is harmed by a dangerous condition created by a force of nature, like a ditch produced by heavy rainfall, the landowner could be responsible regardless of whether or not the person harmed was invited. This legislation seeks to remedy that action by protecting landowners when the condition is one created by natural forces.

"Open Rodeo" Added as New Event to DeKalb County Fair

June 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jeff McMillen

The DeKalb County Fair in Alexandria is set for Monday through Saturday July 20th through July 25th.

With the theme "You need a FAIRCATION", the Grandpa Fair of the South will feature a fun filled week of activities including a new event, an Open Rodeo, which will be held Thursday, July 23rd at 7:30 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena.

Fair Manager Jeff McMillen says the fair has never before had a rodeo, so this should generate a lot of excitement." It's an open rodeo. Anybody can enter. The events include bareback riding, team roping, calf roping, one barrel speed race, three barrel speed race, bull riding, and there's some kids events including a calf scramble and possibly money in a haystack and things like that. It'll be a lot of fun."

McMillen says the Off-Road Challenge, which made it's debut last year, will return this year with a new twist. "We have a new event in the Off Road Challenge this year. It's a two wheel drive class. It's basically a speed course. Everything in this class is real fast. You (participants) are basically climbing things in an obstacle course. You won't be going through things, you'll be jumping them." The Off-Road Challenge will be held on Monday, July 20th at 6:30 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena.

Another crowd favorite, the demolition derby, will be featured on Friday, July 24th at 7:00 p.m. at the grandstand. McMillen says spectators may also notice some changes in this event "The rules have changed a lot in the demolition derby. We're having to use newer model cars now because the older cars are gone. You're probably going to see faster cars and probably less mud."

The fair will also be bringing back the Antique Tractor Pull, Super Tractor and Truck Pull, Go Kart Racing, Four Wheelers and Motorcycle Racing, DeKalb Idol, the Vintage Fashion Show, and many other popular attractions. Missing this year will be lawn mower racing, which has been dropped from the lineup.

McMillen urges fair goers to take the time to enjoy lots of delicious foods from the food booths and stop by to see the many commercial, agricultural, and women's exhibits.

The Kenneth Sandlin Center will be open Monday through Friday from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

All Non-Perishable exhibits ONLY will be accepted Saturday, July 11th from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

All Perishable exhibits ONLY will be accepted Saturday, July 18th from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Exhibit rule books are available at your local banks and libraries, and at the Register of Deeds office at the courthouse or get the 2009 premium list of rules and regulations online at www.dekalbcountyfair.us or www.dekalbtn.com.

Enjoy nightly entertainment at the Memory Lane Stage in Memory Village

The following events are scheduled:

Monday, July 20th: National Anthem at 5:45 p.m. at the Lion's Club Pavilion; T-Shirt Preview at 5:50 p.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; Cattle Show at 6:00 p.m. at the grandstands ; Off-Road Challenge at the T.C. McMillen Arena at 6:30 p.m.; Junior Fair Princess Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Fairest of the Fair Pageant at the Lions Club Pavilion. $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Tuesday, July 21st: the Little Mr. and Miss Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by David Turner and Friends at the Lions Club Pavilion; Go-Cart Racing at 6:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena; and a Horse Show at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Wednesday, July 22nd: Little Miss Princess Pageant at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Miss Sweetheart Pageant at the Lions Club Pavilion; Four Wheeler and Motorcycle Racing at 6:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Thursday, July 23rd: Senior Citizen Day activities at 9:00 a.m. at the Lions Club Pavilion; 4-H Chick Chain Show at 5:00 p.m. at the barn; Junior Goat Show at 6:00 p.m. at the barn; a Baby Show at 6:00 p.m. followed by a Vintage Fashion Show at the Lions Club Pavilion; and a Rodeo at the T.C. McMillen Arena at 7:00 p.m.; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m. and announcement of DeKalb Idol winners at the Pavilion.

Friday, July 24th: WSMV Channel 4 Snow Bird from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.; Toddler Show at 6:00 p.m. followed by DeKalb Idol Final Competition atthe Lions Club Pavilion; an Antique Tractor Pull at 7:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena; and a Demolition Derby at 7:00 p.m. at the Grandstand; $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 25th: A Horse Shoe Tournament at 3:00 p.m. at the barn; Gospel Singing at the Lion's Club Pavilion at 6:00 p.m. and a Super Tractor and Truck Pull at 6:00 p.m. at the T.C. McMillen Arena: and a $1000 cash giveaway at 9:00 p.m.

One thousand dollars in cash will be given away each night, Monday through Saturday and you must be present to win. If no one presents the winning ticket within three minutes, the money will be saved and given away on Saturday night in increments of $1,000. Your fair admission ticket is your ticket for the cash drawing.

Rides on the Midway will be provided by the Family Attractions Amusement Company. Unlimited rides will be available each night for $16.00.

Admission to the fair is $3.00 per person. Children age four and younger will be admitted free! Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Parking is Free!

For more information, call 529-FAIR or visit on-line at www.dekalbcountyfair.us or www. dekalbtn.com.

Businesses Urged to Participate in "Project Welcome Mat"

June 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
WJLE's Chamber Chat

The Smithville- DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is encouraging all local businesses to participate in "Project Welcome Mat".

"Project Welcome Mat" is an effort by the Chamber to ensure that our Fiddler's Jamboree visitors feel welcome. Businesses are urged to use their signs to promote tourism and to show hospitality to people visiting DeKalb County.

The Fiddler's Jamboree will be held Friday and Saturday, July 3rd and 4th

"Project Welcome Mat" awards three categories, "Most Original" sign, "Best Worded" sign, and the "People's Choice"

For more information, call the Chamber of Commerce Office at 597-4163

(Pictured left to right: Louis Colombarini, Roger Sharp, Suzanne Williams, Jen Sherwood, and Larry Green)

Confederate Memorial Day Observed by Savage-Goodner Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans

June 3, 2009

The Savage-Goodner Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans has placed wreaths at three DeKalb County sites in honor of Confederate Memorial Day. June 3, also the birthday of Confederate States of America President Jefferson, is a "special day of observance" under the Tennessee Code Annotated.

Patriotic red, white, and blue flower arrangements, donning the Confederate St. Andrew's Cross, have been placed at the Confederate monument on the DeKalb County Courthouse lawn, at the grave of the Unknown Confederate Soldier in the Smithville City Cemetery, and at the monument to Confederate General John Hunt Morgan on the Alexandria square.

The Savage-Goodner Camp, SCV encourages all DeKalb Countians to reflect upon the noble sacrifice of their ancestors during the War Between the States on this important day of remembrance.

With over 35-thousand members worldwide, the Sons of Confederate Veterans is a historial and educational organization composed of male descendants of Confederate military personnel who died in action or were honorably discharged from military service to the South.

Smithville Firefighters Say City Needs Ladder Truck

June 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Wallace Caldwell Addresses Mayor and Aldermen

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department wants the city to invest in aerial apparatus, commonly referred to as a ladder truck.

Wallace Caldwell, member of the department and a training instructor addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night. "I know you're probably thinking that we can't afford this at this time, with all the other problems that the city has. But I think, not as a fireman, but as a citizen that we cannot afford not to have one. We've lived on luck and borrowed time for sometime. I know we only have a few buildings downtown that are considered tall by a lot of people, the Board of Education, the Courthouse, and the white corner there at Cantrell's Jewelry. These people think that would be the only place that it would be used. But the buildings and the entire downtown area are old and very old. If an aerial apparatus was not readily available and if we had a fire downtown, we could be in a situation that would be much worse than a lot of us could even imagine."

"If we were to get a call late at night and the fire is not caught before it spreads or begins to get large, we could lose an entire city block, if not more. Because a working fire will double in size every sixty seconds. Yes, we could get mutual aid from another county, but by the time they got here, it would be too late."

"We have a lot of industries in Smithville in the area in which we cover, Shiroki Wickes, Walker, Star, Ferodo, the old shirt factory, and all the buildings downtown just to name a few. Industries that would like to locate here or might be looking at locating here would look at the infrastructure of a city, look at water and power, the workforce, and fire protection. Not to mention the ISO also looks at an aerial apparatus, which would help every person that has insurance inside the city, whether they own a business or home."

"The last point I'd like to make is can we really afford not to give the firemen of this city the tools that they need to fight the fires? Not only that, we need to give the kind of protection to the citizens and to the industries of this city that they deserve. So please, don't send us as firefighters to a gunfight with just a knife."

A ladder truck to meet Smithville's needs could cost from $800,000 to $900,000. The aldermen listened to Caldwell but gave no commitment .

In other business, the aldermen adopted an ordinance on first reading amending the city's personnel policy to give city employees with ten consecutive years of service a three week vacation with pay.

The amendment states that "after ten years of consecutive service of full time officers and employees, there will be three weeks of paid vacation."

The ordinance will be up for second and final reading passage following a public hearing at the June 15th meeting.

The aldermen also adopted an ordinance amendment on first reading establishing a flat rate court cost of $85.00 for the Smithville City Court.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson says "the city currently has court costs ranging from $20 to $95. Most towns around us have gone to a flat court cost. This ordinance proposes an $85 court cost straight across the board. It just simplifies the court costs and the record keeping."

The ordinance states as follows: Whereas, the Municipal Court Reform Act of 2004 allows cities to set and collect reasonable municipal court costs in the amounts prescribed by ordinance;

Whereas, the City of Smithville has determined that it is necessary to establish reasonable court costs for the City Court.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Smithville, as follows:

Section 1. The following section is hereby amended:

In all cases heard and determined by him, the city judge shall impose court costs in the amount of $85.00.

One dollar of the court costs in each case shall be forwarded by the court clerk to the state treasurer to be used by the administrative office of the courts for training and continuing education courses for municipal court judges and municipal court clerks. The above amount does not include the $13.75 litigation tax levied by the State of Tennessee.

The ordinance will be up for second and final reading passage following a public hearing at the June 15th meeting.

An ordinance was approved on first reading levying a litigation tax for the City of Smithville

Mayor Hendrixson says "On every case that goes before our city court, there's a state litigation tax of $14.75 which goes to the State of Tennessee. Our clerk has to send it to the state. DeKalb County and, as far as I know, everyone around us, has their own litigation tax. It's only people that break the laws of the City of Smithville, who will be paying this, it won't be your taxpayers. It's just a way to help operate the police department without raising taxes on the taxpayers. It will be an additional $13.75 city litigation tax."

The ordinance states as follows: Whereas, Public Chapter 488 of the Public Acts of 1981, which imposed a state litigation tax, has been interpreted by opinions of the State Attorney General as allowing cities to levy a litigation tax in the same manner as the litigation tax now levied by state law in an amount not to exceed the amount of such state litigation tax; and

Whereas, the City of Smithville does not impose a litigation tax as authorized by law and desires to levy such a tax to help pay for court and police related expenses; and

Now therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Smithville that:

Section 1. Effective on the first day of each month following passage of this ordinance, a city litigation tax shall become effective as follows;

On cases in the city court there is hereby levied a city litigation tax to match the state litigation tax of $13.75

Section 2. The privilege taxes levied pursuant to this ordinance shall be paid to the City Recorder monthly to be used to assist in paying for the operation of the city court and the police department.

Section 3. This ordinance shall become effective on the first day of the month following the final passage of this ordinance."

The ordinance will be up for second and final reading passage following a public hearing at the June 15th meeting.

New City Budget May Include Increases in Water and Sewer Rates

June 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Water and sewer rates for Smithville customers may increase as of July 1st with passage of the budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The proposed new budget totals $6-million 074 thousand 558 dollars but the Smithville aldermen took no action on it Monday night.

Alderman Tonya Sullivan said she is concerned that the proposed rate hikes are too high and wants more time to study the budget. She recommended that a workshop be held. " As I looked over the water and sewer rates that are in here, they've increased drastically. We were supposed to have a workshop on this budget. We have not had a workshop and I feel that at this time that we need more time to consider this budget. I put that in the form of a motion. There may need to be an increase. I think that's something we need to work out to see where we might can cut our budget. Economic times are tough. I don't know if we can hit the public with a large amount all at one time. It may need to be spread out over a period of time."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said the water and sewer fund is currently running in the red and if that continues two years in a row, the state will adjust the rates if the city doesn't act. Mayor Hendrixson says the major reason for the higher costs of operation is in electricity and to a lesser extent, chemicals. "We haven't had an increase since 1998. Right now the minimum bill for a thousand gallons of water is $7.47, I believe. With the new rate, it would be $10.00. We're operating the water and sewer department in the red this year to the tune of probably close to $200,000. Now the state department will only let us do that for two years, then they will come in and set our rates. If our rates remain the same, they're (water and sewer fund) is probably going to operate in a deficit again next year. I want to do it (rate increase) as less as I can, but for a minimum usage of two dollars and a half a month (increase), it is not a large amount."

According to page 13 of the proposed 2009-10 budget, the water and sewer fund ended the year on June 30th, 2008 with a net income of $330,384.

When the 2008-09 budget was adopted in June, 2008, the projection was that on June 30th, 2009 the water and sewer fund would be in the red by $149,410 as indicated on page 13 of the (2008-09) budget. The revised budget shows that the water and sewer fund will be in the red by $229,344 as indicated on page 13 of the proposed (2009-2010) budget.

The water and sewer fund is projected to finish the year on June 30th, 2010 in the red by $35,308 as indicated on page 13 of the proposed 2009-2010 budget.

Alderman Cecil Burger agreed with Alderman Sullivan that a workshop should be held before any action is taken on the new budget. " I thought for about three months we were going to set a date to do that and then last week I got this (budget), just figures thrown out with no explanation, where they come from, who put them there, or nothing."

The aldermen voted 5-0 to schedule the workshop for Monday, June 8th at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

Alderman Sullivan said the firefighters and other department heads could also have input at the workshop. "They (firefighters) have provided a list of equipment they need. We could discuss it at the meeting. Any other department heads can come to that meeting if they are not happy with this budget."

The city's financial consultant, Janice Plemmons will be asked to attend the workshop.

Under the proposed new budget, the rate for city water customers would increase from the current level of $3.50 to $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus a $1.25 increase from the current rate of $3.50 to $4.75 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are 50% higher. Outside city rates would increase to $7.50 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $7.25 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District is $1.85 per thousand gallons but will increase to $1.90 for January 1st, 2010 sales.

The rate for city sewer customers, under the new budget, would increase from the current level of $3.62 to $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of usage plus a one dollar increase from the current rate of $3.25 to $4.25 per thousand gallons thereafter.

Water tap fees for customers inside the city limits would jump from $400 to $1,000 for a three quarter inch water line and the sewer tap fee would go from $400 to $800 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, the fees are $2,000 for water and $1,200 for sewer..

For customers outside the city limits, water tap fees would increase from $525 to $1,500 for a three quarter inch line. Fees would go from $525 to $1,000 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, then the fees would be $2,500 for water and $2,000 for sewer.

Mayor Hendrixson says the city has been losing money under the current rate structure for tap fees.

The single largest project in the proposed new budget is the renovation of the water treatment plant which is to be funded from almost $4 million in available water and sewer department reserves..The city is also hoping to receive a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help fund the project. The rehab is not the reason for the proposed water and sewer rate increases.
The proposed budget does not include funds for any full time volunteer firefighters. In April, Fire Chief Charlie Parker and other members of the department met with the mayor and aldermen in a workshop to formally make the request. The firefighters want their all volunteer unit to become a combination department with a few full time firefighters as well as volunteers.
In the proposal, the firefighters requested that the city fund two full time firefighter positions per 24 hour shift, for a total of six positions along with an administrative person. They also asked that some extra funds be designated in the budget for training and that the firefighters pay scale be changed. Currently, the firefighters each receive $15 per call.

Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at almost 62 cents ($.6194 cents) per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed budget calls for city employees with up to four years of service to get their automatic step pay increases as defined in the wage scale but there would be no cost of living increase. City employees with more than four years of service, who have topped out on the wage scale would also get no cost of living adjustment.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $860,000. Specific projects are as follows: Financial Administration- $20,000 unspecified; Parks and Recreation- $15,000 unspecified; Public Works/Buildings and Grounds- $20,000 unspecified; City Hall Building Alteration per ADA- $30,000 including $5,000 for handicapped rehabilitation and $25,000 unspecified; Fire Protection- $15,000 unspecified; Street Department- $20,000 including $10,000 for downtown beautification and $10,000 unspecified; Police Department- $15,000 unspecified; Swimming Pool- $10,000 for capital repairs; Airport- $730,000 unspecified (grant funds); Animal Shelter- $5,000 unspecified; Sanitation Fund- $5,000 and Drug Fund- $10,000 unspecified.

Proposed water and sewer fund Fixed Asset Additions: 1 truck- $5,000; an update of the water plant and engineering fees- $1,750,000; a sewer rehabilitation camera-$25,000. Debt repayment-principal: bonds- $220,000.

Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.

Smithville Police to Crack Down on Unauthorized Parking

June 1, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Richard Jennings

The Smithville Police Department plans to crack down on unauthorized parking in handicapped spaces and in fire lanes on private or city property.

Chief Richard Jennings, in a news release Monday, says that "the police department is enforcing state law which states that stopping, standing, or parking is prohibited in specific places. A vehicle parked in a handicapped parking place that does not display a certificate, placard, or a disabled veteran's license plate will be cited. This also includes parking in the fire lane on private or city property."

Chief Jennings says the Smithville Police Department would like to remind citizens that this is an enforceable violation and to take care when parking.

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