Local News Articles

School Board May Use Stimulus Money to Save Positions in New Budget

April 22, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education, facing a May 15th deadline to present a tentative school budget to the county commission's budget committee, is looking for ways to balance it's proposed spending plan for the upcoming school year without eliminating positions.

Members of the board met in a workshop Tuesday night to discuss the options.

Projected revenues in the new budget are estimated to be $17-million 074-thousand 322. Anticipated expenditures are expected to be $17-million 822-thousand 740. That's a shortfall of $748-thousand 418. A total of $640-thousand 500 in BEP reserves can be programmed into the budget, but that still leaves the budget short by $108,000.

In order the balance the budget, the school board could eliminate two or three positions in the system, seek a property tax increase, or use the school system's allocation of federal stimulus money to temporarily fund local positions.

Director Mark Willoughby says the option to use the stimulus money seems to be the best under the circumstances. "The options are to do away with some positions, which we do not want to do. All employees are doing a good job and we want to keep them. We are not planning on eliminating any positions. We feel like all our positions are very needed. The federal stimulus money is one place where we may be able to come up with $108,000 but that is something that will have to be voted on by the board."

"We're waiting to see what our final budget is going to be from the state. Should we use the stimulus money the way that's been explained to us, we would have to say that we were going to use that (money) because of a shortfall in the budget. We would have to say we were going to eliminate certain positions and then we would fund those positions with the stimulus money. That would have to be voted on by the board. That is one of the options we have. In talking with several of the Upper Cumberland Directors, I think that's something that may be pretty common that's going to be used this time."

Director Willoughby says he would have preferred to use the stimulus money for other needs. "The stimulus money is there to enhance the education program that school systems across the state already have. We were hoping to use all that money to purchase things such as computers and software. We have a lot of computers which are outdated. We have a lot of software we need to upgrade. There are some computers which are just not working and need to be replaced. We might have used that money to place another elementary teacher or two to help out with some special needs children. That was the first intentions, but as the economy continued it's downturn, the federal government made it so we could use it to keep from cutting people out of jobs."

Willoughby says plans are to make cuts where possible in the budget without seeking a property tax increase. "We don't have much more to eliminate. We figured fuel costs pretty high last year because fuel was going up like crazy, and that's one of the things we've cut down a pretty good amount this time. There's different things in the budget (we've cut), a thousand dollars here, a thousand dollars there. I wouldn't say it's a pretty budget but we're trying to make it so it won't affect the taxpayers without any problem. We don't plan on asking for a tax increase at this time. Of course that's going to be the board's decision. That's not my decision. That's not something we want to do right now during these economic times. Now is not a good time to be putting more burden on the taxpayers."

The proposed budget includes no local pay raises for personnel other than step increases. Those who have already topped out on the pay scale would not get a pay raise in this budget.

Director Willoughby says the spending plan does include a small increase to help match employee's health care benefits." We're looking at no more than a one percent increase in local spending. That's almost inconceivable with the rate of inflation. We would love to possibly give a one or two percent increase to our employees on what we pay for their insurance. Keep in mind that we pay 18% of teacher's insurance so we'd like to add one or two percent more to that. For non-certified employees, we pay 50% of their insurance and we'd love to pay one or two percent more for that also."

School board members who attended Tuesday night's workshop were Chairman Charles Robinson, John David Foutch, Joan Draper, and Bruce Parsley.

Robinson said another workshop will be held to crunch the budget numbers again before the next school board meeting on Thursday, May 14th to formally act on the tentative budget. Amendments can be made to the proposed budget up until final passage by the county commission this summer.

Recovery Act Helps Laid Off Workers and Low-Income Adults

April 21, 2009

Governor Phil Bredesen and Commissioner James Neeley announced today the availability of training funds to dislocated workers and low-income adults in Tennessee. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides a one-time appropriation to Tennessee of $21.2 million for dislocated workers and $9.2 million to low-income adults to pay for training and support services.

“The training, particularly in emerging occupations, that will be provided with these Recovery Act funds will help prepare unemployed Tennesseans for new jobs at a time when that’s more important than ever,” said Bredesen.

ARRA funding is anticipated to increase participation of the dislocated worker program by more than 1,300 (40%) over the number of individuals who received training services last year. Adult services are expected to increase by approximately 2,000 slots, or 20 percent, over last year.

“Being out of work is especially difficult in this economic environment,” said Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development James Neeley. “Many laid-off workers and adults haven’t had to worry about updating their skills for years, and this Recovery Act funding provides an opportunity to do just that.”

Dislocated workers and low-income adults who qualify for the ARRA funds must apply for the assistance at their local Tennessee Career Center. Individuals are assessed and training opportunities are chosen from a local list of approved training providers. In addition to occupational skills training, Adult Education and literacy preparation are available for earning a GED. Those receiving approved training may also receive travel allowances and child care assistance while they are upgrading their skills.

These Recovery Act program funds will be available from April 2009 through June of 2010.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will speed economic recovery, create and save jobs, and provided needed services to Tennesseans. For more information, visit www.tnrecovery.gov or www.recovery.gov, or the Department of Labor’s Recovery Web page at: www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/EconomicFunding.html.

Children in Smithville Day School Visit WJLE

April 21, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Children in Smithville Day School Visit WJLE

Several children in the Smithville Day School at the Smithville Church of Christ visited WJLE on a field trip Tuesday morning.

The children were interviewed on the radio and sang "Jesus Loves Me"

The Smithville Day School is a pre-school program that meets every Tuesday and Thursday. There are five classes and children from eighteen months to pre-kindergarten are served. During this time, the primary objective is to provide an exciting and rewarding environment for your child. Some of the goals are to increase your child's language development, improve physical development, increase intellectual development, master hand/eye coordination activities, enhance fine and gross motor skills, increase awareness in interpersonal relationships, stimulate by exposure in the areas of arts and crafts, teach moral and cultural values concerning honesty, obedience, friendship, and trust.

A Bible lesson is taught every day. During this time, your child is taught the difference between right and wrong, the feelings experienced when they have done something wrong, and the values of trust, honesty, obedience, and respect for their parents. Children are taught about the many Bible characters in the Old and New Testaments and how these stories are applied to each child's life. Above all, the children are taught they we should love God.

For more information, call 615-597-6308 or Frances Hedge at 597-4975.

Pictured above left to right (seated front row) Courtney London, Lilly Ellis, Katie Colwell, and Olivia Taylor (seated back row left to right) Silas Cross, Ty Panker, Kolter Kilgore, Dawson Bandy, Avery South, and Matthew Keaton.

City Making Plans to Reactivate Water Fluoridation

April 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen voted 5-0 Monday night to re-activate fluoridation of the city's water supply, but no date certain has been set on when that will occur. It could be weeks or months.

City officials say the machine that feeds the fluoride into the water system broke down about a year and a half ago and was never repaired or replaced.

At the April 6th meeting, Smithville physician Dr. Steven Cooper and dentist Dr. Mitchell Tatum addressed the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen asking that the fluoridation be re-activated for the benefit of the citizens.

Concerned citizen Gary Durham, who first raised the issue several weeks ago, isn't happy that the city never fixed the problem when it occurred, that city leaders never notified the public when the fluoride treatment had been discontinued, and that there now may be an extended delay.

Alderman Steve White made a motion that the treatment be started again, and to let the public know when, but that the city first consult with officials of Wauford Engineering Company about whether the new fluoride machines should be installed now or included as part of the design of the rehabilitation of the Water Treatment Plant. Alderman Tonya Sullivan requested that any needed safety equipment to support the fluoride treatment procedure also be purchased before the process is begun.

In other business, Mayor Taft Hendrixson briefly mentioned that a workshop was held Thursday night to discuss the firefighter's request but that more discussion will follow on that issue during budget preparation time.

Smithville firefighters want their all volunteer unit to become a combination department with a few full time firefighters as well as volunteers. They are also asking that some extra funds be designated in the budget for training and that the firefighters pay scale be changed.
In the proposal, the firefighters want the city to fund two full time firefighter positions per 24 hour shift, for a total of six positions along with an administrative person.

Concerned citizen Faye Sandosky addressed the mayor with some questions about how members are appointed to the Industrial Development Board and Smithville Electric System Board. "At the last meeting, at the city attorney's advice, the previous appointments to the Smithville Electric Board and the Industrial Board were set aside. I don't know either of the gentlemen personally. My concern is that at no time have the requirements of the job or the selection criteria been mentioned here. I have a few very simple questions before any further actions are taken on the appointments. I would like the mayor to respond since he makes the appointments."

"What does the job require? What is the criteria? Is diversity a consideration? Does the manager of Smithville Electric and or the Smithville Board provide input? What benefits go along with the appointment? What do eligible residents/citizens of the city need to do to have their names considered and is it too late for that?"

Mayor Hendrixson responded " I don't have to answer these questions. These are my appointments and I make the decisions. The board either approves them or disapproves them.

" The Job requirements? They make decisions on these boards that they are appointed to."
" What is the criteria? I have contacted both of these boards and they both recommend those two people that I appointed."

"Diversity? I know I have appointed some women on some boards since I have been here."
"Does the manager of Smithville Electric and the Industrial Board provide input? Yes ma'am they do."

"What benefits go along with the appointment of an industrial board? To my knowledge they get one meal every quarter, if they meet every quarter. Most of the time they don't meet that often. On the Smithville Electric Board, I don't know what they get paid, if anything. They do have some fringe benefits to go along with those appointments such as insurance."

"What do they do to have their names considered? Well, again that's my appointments to make and the board of each one of these places have recommended that I appoint the ones I did."

At the April 6th meeting, the aldermen voted 4-0 to set aside the appointments of Tim Stribling to the Industrial Development Board and Walter Burton to the Smithville Electric System Board after City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. issued an opinion that the mayor should have first notified the aldermen in writing of his intentions before making the appointments, according to the city charter.

The mayor has not yet re-submitted the names for consideration and those positions remain vacant.

Murfreesboro Man Charged with Burglary and Thefts

April 20, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Ricky Ashford
James Allen Hesson

A Murfreesboro man, arrested during a traffic stop last week, was later charged with burglary and thefts after county officers found stolen goods in his truck.

30 year old James Ricky Ashford of Burnwood Trailer Court, Murfreesboro is charged with two counts of theft of property under $500 and one count of burglary. His bond is set at $7,000 and his court date is April 30th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Ashford was arrested on Sunday, April 12th after a traffic stop on Highway 96 in Liberty. "County deputies were on patrol in the Snows Hill and Dowelltown area when they made the traffic stop and noticed a leaf blower and a tool box in the back of the vehicle that Ashford was driving. After an in-depth investigation, officers discovered that Ashford and two other persons had been riding around looking for items to steal here in DeKalb County. They even went to a store in Smithville and purchased a pry bar to use as a tool to gain entry into locked buildings, vehicles, and trailers. Officers learned that the three men went to a residence on Dry Creek Road in Smithville and broke the lock off an enclosed trailer and stole a leaf blower valued less than $500. The men then went to a location on West Main Street, Smithville and removed from the owner's vehicle, a tool box containing various tools.

Deputies made the owners aware of the thefts after making this discovery.

The other two suspects in the case, who live in another county, have not yet been picked up.

Meanwhile, 31 year old James Allen Hesson of Big Hurricane Road, Smithville was charged Wednesday, April 15th with violation of the sexual offender registry. Hesson was arrested after he failed to report to the DeKalb County Jail, re-register his address, and pay his fines. Hesson also moved and did not report it. Hesson's bond is $10,000 and he will appear in court on April 30th.

37 year old Tina Beth Young was stopped on Highway 56 South Thursday, April 16th for a traffic violation. Officers noticed Young's speech to be very slurred. She was given field sobriety tasks which she failed. Young was arrested for driving under the influence and was issued written citations for violation of registration and driving without any insurance on the vehicle. Her bond was set at $1,000 and will she will appear in court on April 30th.

DeKalb County's E-911 Dispatchers Recognized

April 20, 2009
DeKalb E911 Dispatchers

April 12-18 2009 was designated as National Public Safety Telecommunicator's week.

This second week in April event is recognized to commend 911 call takers and dispatchers on a national level and show appreciation for the work they do. 911 dispatch has been classified as the third most stressful job in America. On an average dispatchers in DeKalb County answer 40,000 calls each year. It takes a special type person to answer the calls of some of the most troubling and stressful situations imaginable. Each year during National Public Safety Telecommunicator week, efforts are made to let 911 dispatchers in DeKalb County know how much their service to our county is appreciated.

On Friday afternoon a cookout was conducted for the employees of the agency to show appreciation to DeKalb County's E-911 dispatchers. A special thanks is extended to the following agencies for their donations and participation in making this year's PST week as huge success: DeKalb County Sheriff Patrick Ray, Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins, DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green and the other members of DeKalb County Fire Department who assisted with the cooking of the meal.

Pictured are: Back Row L-R: Supervisor Tony Thomas, Dispacther Misty Green, Dispatcher Kim Ray, Dispatcher Janice Higham, Supervisor Anthony Boyd. Front Row L-R: Dispatcher Terry Cowart, Dispatcher Darcie Cripps, 911 Director Bradley Mullinax, Dispatcher Stephanee Wrigfht, and Dispacther Kristina McMillen. Dispacthers not pictured are: Maranda Allen, Leslie Lytle, Lonnie Laxton, and Heidi Johnson

Family Escapes Burning Home

April 19, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Greg Overbey Family Home Destroyed
Greg Overbey Home Destroyed

A fire early Sunday morning destroyed the two story home of Greg and Kelley Overbey at 4477 Four Seasons Road.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says firefighters received the call at 2:36 a.m.

The Overbey family awoke to a house full of smoke and saw flames coming from the basement. Overbey's wife and children escaped unharmed but Mr. Overbey suffered some minor abrasions as he jumped through a bedroom window to get out of the house.

The home apparently had no working smoke alarms.

Chief Green says a neighbor spotted the fire and reported it.

Members of the Midway, Keltonburg, and Cookeville Highway Stations responded along with the tanker truck, DeKalb EMS, and the Sheriff's Department., but the house was too far gone and could not be saved. The family lost nearly all their belongings and a dog in the fire.

The cause is officially undetermined but it apparently started in the basement.

Sullivan Released from Hospital

April 18, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Scene of Saturday Morning Shooting on Mountain View Drive

24 year old Matthew Sullivan, who was wounded in an early morning shooting Saturday at his residence on Mountain View Road, is recovering and has been released from the hospital.

The shooting was reported to 911 at 3:24 a.m. Saturday

Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department was contacted and upon arrival, officers found Sullivan in a wooded area behind the residence.

DeKalb EMS arrived on the scene and a Life Force Helicopter was summoned to airlift Sullivan to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. A helicopter landing zone was set up on Highway 56 north in the Buckner's Chapel Church area.

Sheriff Ray says through interviews and evidence that has been collected at the crime scene, the shooting appears to be justified. Through interviews with the victim and witnesses at the scene, it appears that Sullivan assaulted one man at the residence and then kicked a bedroom
door open where another male, female and two small children were present.

The male in the bedroom was then approached by Sullivan, who was holding a large knife, and witnesses state that Sullivan began to try and assault the male with the knife. The male, in fear of his life and the safety of the other people in the room, shot at least one round which hit Sullivan's arm and chest area. Sullivan then left the residence and went out side.

Sheriff's Department Detective's have been in contact with the District Attorney's Office about the case. At this time, no charges has been filed on anyone.

The case is still under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office.

ARRA Helps Disadvantaged Youth Obtain Summer Jobs

April 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Eligible youth are already signing up for the Summer Youth Jobs Program in Tennessee. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is providing $25 million to help provide 12,000 jobs for disadvantaged youth. Summer work will begin in June and end in September for most participants.

"The money provided by the ARRA is helping re-instate a valuable program that will help train, educate and enrich our youth," said Governor Phil Bredesen. "We want the participants in this program to walk away with actual workplace experience that will help to better their future."

This program is available to youth ages 14 to 24 who are low income and have one or more of the following barriers: deficient in basic literacy skills, school dropout, homeless, runaway or foster child, pregnant or parenting, offender, or an individual (including a youth with a disability) who requires additional assistance to complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment.

The total stimulus allocation of $1-million,162-thousand,019 is being awarded in the Local Workforce Investment Area of Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, White Counties. The contact persons are Faye Iverlett and
Linda Schuiten at 931-528-1127.

"We feel this program will be a vital tool in putting youth to work and ultimately stimulating the economy," said Commissioner James Neeley. "We also anticipate the program to be beneficial to employers who need the additional workers during the summer months, but due to the tough economic situation cannot afford to hire them."

The current economic downturn is making the possibility of summer employment very difficult for disadvantaged youth. Statistics from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development show the number of unemployed youth since 2007 has more than doubled resulting in more than 45,000 unemployed youth in 2009.

Applications for youth can be picked up at local Tennessee Career Centers or by contacting the Local Workforce Investment Area (LWIA) Youth Leads. Participants will be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour. The deadline to submit youth applications is Friday, May 15, 2009.

All employers are eligible to participate in this program except those involved with gambling, swimming pools, aquariums and golf courses.

The funding for the Summer Youth Jobs Program is part of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's proposed FY 2009-2010 budget, which is currently being considered by the Tennessee General Assembly.

For more information on the Summer Youth Program and the ARRA please call the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development at 800-255-5872 or go to http://tn.gov/labor-wfd/EconomicFunding.html.

Man Charged with DUI after Accident

April 17, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Two involved in Truck Accident on Holmes Creek Road (Photo Provided by Kevin Adcock)

Smithville Police charged a 34 year old man with a second offense of driving under the influence Friday morning after being involved in a pickup truck accident on Holmes Creek Road (Town Hill).

Jeremy A. Bilbrey is under a $2,000 bond and he will be in court April 23rd.

Lieutenant Steven Leffew reports that at around 1:00 a.m. April 17th on Holmes Creek Road, Bilbrey was operating a motor vehicle and was involved in a personal injury accident. He had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks and did take a blood test. A passenger, Jamie Bullard, was transported to the emergency room of the hospital.

Meanwhile, 30 year old Charlotte A. Myers of Smithville is charged simple possession of a schedule IV and VI controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officer Bradley C. Tatrow reports that on Thursday, April 16th at 716 Gentry Avenue in DeKalb County, the Smithville Police Department was at the residence checking on the welfare of two twin boys because of suspected substance abuse by the mother. When asked about drug use in the residence, she (Myers) did admit to using drugs and led the officer to her bedroom, and handed him a silver box with two small marijuana roaches, seven small blue pills believed to be xanax in a plastic wrapper, a marijuana crusher, rolling papers, and a pipe with marijuana residue

She will be in court on May 21st.

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