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Local News Articles

Dowelltown Woman Charged with Breaking into Same Home Four Times

August 1, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tammy Denise Currie
Kenneth Adam Wright
Theresa Petty Tittle
Jason Kenneth Cline

A Dowelltown woman, accused of breaking into the home of a neighbor on four separate occasions last month while the victim was in the nursing home, has been charged with four counts of aggravated burglary and theft under $500.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that 39 year old Tammy Denise Currie of East Main Street, Dowelltown is under a $30,000 bond and she will be in court August 18.

According to Sheriff Ray, Currie took advantage of her neighbor being in a nursing home, going to the residence on East Main Street, Dowelltown four times in July to remove items from the home.

On each occasion, Currie entered the residence through a back door

On July 5, Currie allegedly stole several dishes, antique plate sets, China sets, and other glass items valued at $200.

Three days later on July 8, Currie allegedly took more dishware from the home, valued at $150 including China cups, matching some of the dishes taken on July 5.

Currie returned to the home on July 12 and allegedly stole a box of China dolls, two bb guns, and two lamps, valued at $475.

On July 14, Currie entered the home again and allegedly took a suitcase, jewelry, and a VCR, valued at $390.

29 year old Kenneth Adam Wright of Lower Helton Road, Alexandria is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. Wright's bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on the charge August 25. He was also issued a citation for violation of the financial responsibility law and violation of the implied consent law.

Sheriff Ray reports that on July 31, a deputy saw two males slumped over in a vehicle at the parking lot of DeKalb Market. While performing a welfare check, the officer found that the automobile's engine was running. The driver, Wright, was awakened by the deputy and asked to step out of the vehicle. The officer noticed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Wright and he was very unsteady on his feet. He submitted to and performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. Wright refused to submit to a blood test.

42 year old Theresa Petty Tittle of Pea Ridge Road, Liberty is charged with theft of property under $500. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court on August 18.

Sheriff Ray reports that on July 28, Tittle went to DeKalb Market and got $64.06 worth of gas and left the store without paying for it.

33 year old Jason Kenneth Cline of Ford Road, Smithville is charged with vandalism. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court August 4.

According to Sheriff Ray, Cline broke a window on July 26 in a holding cell at the DeKalb County Jail while he was incarcerated. Cline could be seen on the jail's surveillance camera monitors kicking and breaking the window. The estimated value of the damage is $2,000. Sheriff Ray said that the incident occurred while Cline was serving a weekend sentence.

Community Joins in "Prayer Service for Schools"

July 31, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

A large group turned out Sunday afternoon to join in a special "Prayer Service for Schools" observance held in front of DeKalb County High School.

The prayer service has become an annual event conducted by local ministers offering prayers for each school as well as the students, teachers, transportation staff, and other employees.

Among the local ministers participating were Larry Green, Donald Owens, Bernard Houk, Michael Farr, Don Davidson, Bill Robertson, B.J. Thomason, and John Carpenter.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby also made some brief remarks

DeKalb County Schools Re-Open Monday, August 1.

Registration for all students, not previously registered, will be Monday, August 1st. That will be an abbreviated school day from 7:45 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, August 2nd will be an administrative day

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 3rd.

Meanwhile. the Sixth Annual First Day of School Education Celebration for DeKalb County will be held on Monday, August 1st from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. downtown around the courthouse square

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Foster Explains County Budget in WJLE Interview

July 31, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

The DeKalb County Commission is scheduled to act on approval of budgets for all county departments for the 2011-12 fiscal year and establish the property tax rate for the year during a special meeting scheduled for Monday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. Action on passage of the new budgets and tax rate will take place after a public hearing, scheduled for 5:00 p.m..

Total appropriations come to $37-million 154-thousand 087 dollars.

(CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO VIEW PDF OF ACTUAL PROPOSED BUDGET FOR ALL COUNTY DEPARTMENTS FOR 2011-12

Dekalb 2012 Budget.pdf (196.53 KB)

The county budget committee is recommending that the new tax rate be set at $1.62 per $100 of assessed value, a ten cent increase above the new certified rate of $1.52 established by the state after reappraisal.

County Mayor Mike Foster, in an interview with WJLE Thursday, said that while a tax increase is being proposed, the new budget does not include any extra frills. "Overall we've tried to stay pretty well the same as the budget we had last year except there's a little bit of stuff in there to cover some utilities, insurance costs that went up. There's a little bit in there for pay raises. We budgeted five cents (tax increase) for schools and that covers their raises and we budgeted five cents (tax increase) for the county. That covers nearly most of their raises as well," said Foster.

Some county officials have said that their new budgets have been cut somewhat in certain line items from this past year which will absorb the pay raises that will be given to their employees.

While projections for the new budget year show the county going into the red, Foster said he is hopeful that all departments will spend less and stay under budget again this year, just as most did this past year. "We show going a little bit into the red. We did that last year too but actually every budget was under budget so we still came in actually ahead with expenditures about $400,000 less than revenues," said Foster.

So why then a need for a tax increase? Foster answered "Because you never know what your expenditures are going to be. Your budget is kind of a guess. You try to guess your expenditures high and your revenues low and hope that it comes out like it should. We try to budget five or six percent under and over, that way you hopefully can come out right. For example, in July of this year you don't know what diesel is going to be costing in December. You don't know what electricity might be and other things that are very much unknown. You could have two central units go out. We have to account for all that. So you over bid expenditures a little bit and you usually underbid revenues a little bit. I feel that most people are doing a good job with their budgets. I think in the times we are in we don't need to be increasing (the number of) positions. We're trying to protect the people we have rather than trying to increase (the number of employees). There may come a time when we have to cut some people (positions)," said Foster

Under the county budget committee's recommendation, five cents of the tax hike would go for schools and the other nickel increase would be for county general. The proposed tax rate, as recommended by the county budget committee, breaks down as follows:

County General: 83 cents
Highway/Public Works: 3 cents
General Capital Projects- 9 cents
Debt Service-12 cents
General Purpose Schools- 55 cents

The solid waste fund does not receive any property tax money. The fund is supported by revenues derived from payment-in-lieu of taxes, local option sale taxes, hotel-motel tax, bank excise tax and wholesale beer tax, etc. Up until two years ago, the solid waste fund was supported by a portion of the property tax rate. Since then the tax rate previously designated for solid waste, 20 cents, has been added to the general fund.General services charges include $90,000 in tipping fees. Total revenues for solid waste from local and state sources comes to $1,357,220. County Mayor Foster said that total solid waste expenditures are projected to be $1,460,860, up from last year's budget of $1,400,231. "It's up a little bit but there's $120,000 in there for depreciation which rolls over and comes back in (to the budget) and the state requires us to put in $200,000 for post closure. That means (money has to be in the budget) in case we have to do some work at any of these other old landfills that have been closed for up to thirty years. In reality we know its actually going to be about $51,000 this year that we will be doing. So actually there's about $270,000 that the state requires us to put in there which we are 99% sure we won't spend. So it's stable. There are no new positions. There was a (rollback) truck in last year's budget that we've rolled over into this year's budget,' said Foster.

One cent of the tax rate generates $42,389 in local money with a 5.85% delinquency rate figured into the equation.

The new budget includes a new four tiered salary pay scale for employees of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department to bring their salaries more in line with other law enforcement agencies in the area. All other full time county employees are budgeted a $1,000 pay raise for the year, which equates to about a 50 cent per hour increase.

Last year, the county budgeted money to fund an animal control officer but that position was not filled. This year funds for that position, $25,000, will be re-allocated to fund a director position at the new county administrative office complex still under construction on South Congress Boulevard. Four county officials from the courthouse, the Register of Deeds, Assessor of Property, Trustee, and County Clerk and their staffs are scheduled to move to their new offices in the old Town and Country Shopping Center location on Thursday, August 18.

The costs to the county for the new administrative building including purchase price and renovation expense is expected to be $3.2 million unless other change orders or add-ons are required before the entire project is finished. The re-payment schedule on the five million dollars borrowed to pay off previous obligations and to purchase and renovate this building is for fifteen years at a locked in rate of three percent. Yearly payments are to be $409,000 compared to $469,000 under the previous six year debt repayment schedule at 5.8%. The county is scheduled to receive $50,000 a year in rental payments from tenants in a portion of the building, including UCHRA. General fund utilities expense for county buildings combined is budgeted to go from $75,000 last year to $150,000 in the new budget. County Mayor Foster said about $50,000 of the increase for utilities is due to the new administrative building

The budget again provides local property tax relief of up to $50 for those who qualify for the state property tax relief program.

Capital projects fund expenses include:

"Motor Vehicles" Ambulance-$80,000 (to re-do an existing ambulance, placing a new chassis with an old box remount)

"Furniture and fixtures" (shopping center building)-$150,000 (carry-over expense from last year)

"Motor vehicles" category for patrol cars and or fire truck- $80,000 (money allocated for any emergency vehicle needed during the year)

"Law enforcement equipment" fire department- $31,000 (carry-over expense from last year to be used to purchase an older model equipment truck for the county fire department)

County Fire Chief Donny Green's request for $180,000 to purchase a new fire pumper to replace the Midway engine which is a 1979 model will apparently not be met for now. The truck has not been included in the budget. But in addition to an older model equipment truck, the department may also get to fund replacement of a portion of turnout gear and breathing cylinders.

"Other construction" is caution lights- $30,000 (to purchase and install caution lights at the intersection of State Highway 83 and U.S. 70 near Kilgore's Restaurant)

"Building Construction" Administration Building- $1,300,000 (carry over-expense from last year- About $700,000 to $800,000 left to be spent from remaining borrowed funds to finish rehab construction work on county administrative building)

"Solid Waste Equipment"- $145,000 (to purchase roll back garbage truck)

"Other construction" for various projects-$18,000 (for roof repairs to Omega Apparel building and for work to be done to 911 building)
Total: $1,834,000

A total of $183,053 in gifts and contributions to local libraries, which have been previously kept in a bank account, must now be accounted for as a line item in the county general budget for libraries by recommendation of state auditors.

As for schools, County Mayor Foster insists that the county is adequately funding schools with local money at more than $4.5 million dollars and is exceeding the state's BEP required local match for schools "by about $250,000".

"Schools have gone from over $11- million dollars nine or ten years ago to $19.9 million dollars today and that does not include the $2.8 million federal budget that goes in there for the cafeteria fund which kind of funds itself in that people buy meals but there's also some federal money in there for low to moderate income people," said Foster.

The General Purpose Schools budget totals $19,932,993. The property tax rate for schools as recommended by the budget committee is 55 cents per $100 of assessed value, five cents more than last year but not as much as the school board has requested. In addition to the $2-million 331-thousand 429 for schools generated by the 55 cent tax rate, the county commission is expected to transfer $1-million 540 thousand from the local purpose tax fund (sinking/local sales tax fund) to help operate schools this year along with $570,645 to fund the school debt service for payment on the Northside Elementary School and roof at Smithville Elementary School. The school system also gets $55,954 from Trustee's Collections (prior years), $30,309 from Circuit Clerk and Masters collections (prior years), $12,823 in interest and penalty, $8,603 in pick up taxes, and $1,000 in bank excise taxes. The total appropriation of local funds for schools is $4,550,763. The state BEP allocation for schools is $13-million 198-thousand dollars, an increase from last year's budget of $12,508,000. The school system also receives, according to County Mayor Foster, some $2.8 million in federal funding in addition to local and state appropriations.

The school board initially adopted a tentative budget requesting a seventeen cent property tax rate increase for schools to fund pay raises for personnel and to add some new positions in the new budget. The county budget committee rejected the request for new money, except for pay raises. The committee asked the school board to make cuts in their proposed budget. The school board later revised its proposed budget and brought back a proposal asking for an eleven cent tax increase and more money from the sales tax or sinking fund to meet their budget request. The county budget committee again rejected the proposed spending plan but voted to recommend a consolidated budget that includes a five cent tax increase for schools to send to the county commission. Although neither the budget committee nor the county commission can dictate how the school board spends the money, the proposed five cent tax increase is just enough to cover the proposed pay raises for school personnel.

The school board has proposed a 3.2% pay raise for support staff or non-certified personnel and a 1.6% local increase to match the state's 1.6% pay hike for certified personnel (teachers)..

The school board, according to its revised plan, seeks to add the following new positions:

A new fifth grade teaching position at Northside Elementary School.
An additional math teacher at DeKalb County High School
An assistant band teacher
A support staff site coordinator at DCHS
A special education teacher at DCHS
Three new assistant principals (one at each DeKalb West, Northside Elementary, and Smithville Elementary School)

The school board's revised budget adds local funding back to the general fund for three teaching positions and an educational assistant, which for the last two years have been paid for with federal stimulus or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds that have now been exhausted

Also remaining in the spending plan are requests for the following increases:
Textbook adoption (Math)- $40,000
Minimal increase in utility costs- $6,000
Increase in maintenance of plant supplies- $23,000

The county commission will be asked Monday, August 8 to either approve or reject the school board's revised budget request or to approve or reject the county budget committee's recommendation.

The ambulance service budget estimates expenditures to be $1,223,451 for the year, an increase from last year's budget of $1,138,558. Estimated revenues for the new year are projected to be $1,014,938 including $990,000 in patient charges.

Three cents of the property tax rate, $127,169 helps support the county highway department along with a mineral severance tax, $25,000, Other than that, Foster said all of the county road department's budget is funded by state allocations, mostly state gas tax revenues

Here's how much each fund is expected to collect from local property tax dollars:

Net Estimated Collections:
County General- $3,518,339
General Purpose Schools- $2,331,429
Debt Service- $508,675
Highways/Public Works- $127,169
General Capital Projects- $381,507
Total Tax Levy- $6,867,119

Total Estimated Revenues:
County General- $6,163,103
Highways- $2,075-225
Debt Service-$530,096
General Purpose Schools-$18,942,427
Central Cafeteria- $1,422,000
General Capital Projects-$397,572
Local Purpose Fund-$2,200,000
Drug Control- $34,910
Courthouse/Jail Maintenance-$48,600
Solid Waste-$1,357,220
Total: $33,171,197

Total appropriations for each fund are as follows for the year 2012 compared to 2011
County General- $6,894,857; ($6,339,634 for the year 2011)
Highways- $2,120,663; ($2,109 381 for the year 2011)
Debt Service- $1,103,260; ($1,138,412 for the year 2011)
General Purpose Schools- $19,932,993; ($18,029,136 for the year 2011)
Central Cafeteria- $1,536,450 (1,408,500 for the year 2011)
General Capital Projects- $1,872,369 ($3,511,566 for the year 2011)
Local Purpose Fund- $2,134,845 ($2,144,184 for the year 2011)
Drug Control- $33,535 ($36,003 for the year 2011)
Courthouse/Jail Maintenance- $64,255 ($64,755 for the year 2011)
Solid Waste- $1,460,860; ($1,400,231 for the year 2011)
Total- $37,154, 087 (Total- $36,181,801 for the year 2011)

The beginning Fund Balance for all funds combined (available money) to start the fiscal year July 1st, 2011 was $13,714,698. The ending fund balance by June 30th, 2012 is estimated to be $10,485,506.

Beginning Fund Balance as of July 1, 2011 (Available money as new year begins)
County General: $2,873,097
Highways: $720,875
Debt Service: $1,505,611
General Purpose Schools: $3,425,513
Central Cafeteria (Schools): $447,142
General Capital Projects: $2,219,421
Local Purpose Fund (Sales Tax): $721,245
Drug Control: $36,081
Courthouse/Jail Maintence: $90,905
Education Capital Projects: $3,945
Solid Waste: $1,669,863

The county commission is also expected to adopt a resolution August 8 making appropriations of $133,243 to the following non-profit organizations:

DeKalb Sparks Softball- $150
Upper Cumberland Development District- $3,411
Tennessee Division of Forestry-$1,500
DeKalb County Rescue Squad- $11,500
Plateau Mental Health-$7,180
Families First-$750
Senior Citizens Program-$26,325
DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$29,281
DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce-$15,000
Imagination Library- $7,200
Genesis House- $1,500
DeKalb County Fair- $1,500
WCTE-TV- $5,000
Prospect Incorporated-$12,500
Upper Cumberland Human Resources-$1,200
UCHRA Assessment-Homemaker Aide, etc-$9,245

Dues and memberships:
Upper Cumberland Tourism Association- $300
Tennessee County Services Association- $1,223
Tennessee County Officials Association- $1,985
Tennessee County Sheriff's Association- $1,500
Tennessee County Commissioners Association- $1,350
Upper Cumberland Development District- $3,000
Association of Tennessee Valley Governments- $400
Total dues and memberships- $9,758

DeKalb County 4-H Excels at State 4-H Roundup

July 30, 2011
by: 
April B. Martin, Extension Agent
Cassie Cain, Kayley Green, Matthew Cain, Hailey Perry, and Elizabeth Sanders
Hailey Perry, Matthew Cain, and Elizabeth Sanders.

DeKalb County was well represented at the State 4-H Roundup/All-Star Conference held recently at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Roundup is a state high school level event for 4-H members competing in project areas. To get to this level, 4-Hers must complete a portfolio and be one of five state finalists. At Roundup, they are required to do an interview along with a project display or resume.

Elizabeth Sanders, a senior at DeKalb County High School, received the Level II Goat project award. Kayley Green, a sophomore, received the Level I Food, Health, and Fitness project award. Hailey Perry, a senior, received the Family and Consumer Science Leadership award. These three 4-Hers received a trip to the National 4-H Congress to be held later this year. Also, Cassie Cain, a sophomore, competed in the Level I Veterinary Science project. Matthew Cain, a senior, competed in the Level II Veterinary Science project.

State elections are also held while at Roundup. We are very proud that two DeKalb County 4-Hers were elected to state positions. Elizabeth Sanders was re-elected as the State 4-H Council Member-At-Large for the second year in a row. Hailey Perry was elected as the State 4-H All-Star Scribe.

Another major event that occurs while at 4-H Roundup is the Vol State ceremony. Vol State is the highest level of recognition a Tennessee 4-H member may achieve. Vol State is presented to high school juniors and seniors in recognition of excellence in all phases of 4-H work, as well as service and leadership rendered in their communities.

We are proud that 4-Hers Hailey Perry, Elizabeth Sanders, and Matthew Cain were presented with the Vol State Award.
More information about 4-H Roundup can be found at http://www.utextension.utk.edu/4H/roundup/index.htm. The University of Tennessee Extension offers all its programs to everyone in the community, regardless of race, sex, national origin or ethnicity.

Four County Officials Relocating to New Administrative Building August 18

July 29, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
New Office Building for Four Courthouse County Officials
UCHRA Office Entrance
Renovation Continues on Rest of Building

Construction on the new DeKalb County Administrative Office Complex, formerly known as the Town and Country Shopping Center, is progressing and work on the offices of the four county officials who plan to move out there may be completed within three weeks.

Moving day from the courthouse to the new building for Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, Assessor of Property Timothy "Fud" Banks, Trustee Sean Driver, and County Clerk Mike Clayborn is now set for Thursday, August 18.

The portion of the building being leased by the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency has already been finished and officials of UCHRA have moved in there.

The remainder of the building, which is not expected to be completed by next month, will remain under construction.

County Mayor Mike Foster, in an interview with WJLE Thursday, said the county has spent to date $1-million 808-thousand 580 dollars on the renovation of the building and is still expected to spend up to another $700,000 before it is finished.

The total project is expected to cost the county around $3.2 million. The purchase price was $750,000 and the cost of construction to renovate the complex is $2-million 523-thousand 416.

When the county bought the building, Foster said a decision was made by the county commission to borrow up to $5-million dollars. By doing so, the county was able to pay off existing debt at that time of more than two million dollars and finance the cost of this building project. While the repayment schedule is now at fifteen years, rather than six years under the former debt repayment plan, Foster said the county's yearly payments are less with a better interest rate. Plus, he said the county is getting the added benefit of having tenants in the new building (UCHRA) which will be paying rent to the county for a number of years.

"The money we set aside when we borrowed the five million dollars was to pay off some debt that the county already had and that was paid off," said Foster. "We then set aside three million dollars for the building to do the upgrades and what not. We borrowed the money by bond issue at three percent for fifteen years locked in. So by borrowing the money at three percent versus 5.8% (under the former loan) that saved us some money. Of course, doing it under a fifteen year loan rather than a six year loan (under the former debt repayment schedule) really changed the amount we pay. We already owed over two million dollars, so that was paid off. The rest of the money was designated for upgrading that building and buying it. So we paid ourselves (county) back out of that five million dollars, the $750,000 that we gave for it (building). We are now in the process of doing the renovations and the bid to do that work (renovation) was $2,337,000. But we did some upgrades on insulation and energy saving devices throughout the building so we added a little bit to it ( change orders totaling $186,416) so it's (total renovation project) is $2,523,416," said Foster.

"One company (Cambridge Constructors, Inc. of McMinnville) is doing the work and they are subbing it out. In our specs we specified that 40% of the equipment had to come from DeKalb County and they have hired some local workers too as laborers because a percentage of them had to be local too," said Foster.

He continued "In the process, we have rented three or four spaces in there (building) that's going to bring in about $50,000 a year to help offset the costs. That $50,000 a year will be a continuous thing. Its not just a one time thing. Our payments (under former loan) on what we already owed was $469,000 a year but only for six years. The payment on the new building is $409,000 but for fifteen years. If we take the revenue we'll be receiving and use it for debt payment. If you did it (calculated it) that way, that would lower it (debt payment) to about $355,000. But you could also use it (rental payments from tenants) for utilities because there's going to be some utility costs out there. But either way, we're still about $55,000 better off than we were. We also cut the animal control officer position that was in the budget ($25,000) and moved it out there as somebody (director) to oversee the building along with a lot of volunteers. So it's a net gain actually of a little bit of money, rather than spending more money, except we'll be paying on it for fifteen years rather than six years the other way," said Foster.

Foster said he still believes this is a good investment for the county."We had to have more space for people in the courthouse. We had bought the lot here in town and had intended to use it for that purpose, but it was probably going to cost from $1.1 million to $1.5 million to build a new building over there. We later learned about this building (shopping center complex). So the county commission voted to buy it and do some renovation on it and move four of the county (courthouse) offices out there, Register of Deeds, Assessor of Property, Trustee, and County Clerk," said Foster.

In March, 2008 the county commission voted to purchase a small lot, about eight tenths of an acre, near the public square as a possible future location for a courthouse annex. The county paid $125,000 for the property on a three year note.

Foster insists that this new building project is not the reason the county is seeking a proposed increase in the tax rate.

DeKalb Among Four Counties in State to Experience Drop in June Jobless Rate

July 29, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb is one of only four counties in the state that experienced a drop in the unemployment rate for June

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for June show that the rate increased in 91 counties. The four counties that decreased were DeKalb, Hawkins, Moore and Smith.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for the month of June was 10.3%, down from 10.6% in May but still higher than 9.6% in June, 2010.

The local labor force was 10,400 in June. A total of 9,350 were employed and 1,070 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for June was fourth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland region as follows:

Pickett County- 15.1%
Van Buren- 13%
Clay- 12.5%
Warren- 12.2%
White- 12.2%
Jackson- 12%
Fentress- 11.8%
Cumberland- 11.4%
Overton- 11.3%
Macon- 10.8%
DeKalb-10.3%
Cannon-10.2%
Putnam-9.7%
Smith-9.6%

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for June was 9.8 percent, up slightly from the May revised rate of 9.7. The national unemployment rate for June 2011 was 9.2 percent, up from the May revised rate of 9.1 percent.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, up from the May rate of 6.1 percent, followed by Williamson County at 7.2 percent, up from 6.6 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 20.9 percent, up from 20.7 percent in the previous month, followed by Lauderdale County at 15.7 percent, up from 14.9 percent in May.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 8.0 percent, up from 7.4 percent in May. Hamilton County was 9.2 percent, up from 8.2 percent the previous month. Davidson County was 9.1 percent, up from 8.5 percent in May, and Shelby County was 11.1 percent, up from the May unemployment rate of 10.0 percent.

Campaign to Educate Public about Photo ID Requirement for Voting

July 28, 2011

The Tennessee Department of State has launched a campaign to educate citizens about the new photo identification requirement that will go into effect for elections held in the state after Jan. 1, 2012.

After that date, people who wish to vote will be required to show photo identification when they arrive at the polls. Accepted forms of identification include any photo ID issued by the State of Tennessee -
including drivers' licenses - and photo IDs issued by other states or the federal government, including U.S. passports, government employee identification cards and military ID cards.

The law, a safeguard against voter fraud, allows people who forget to bring photo IDs to the polls to cast provisional ballots and provide their county election officials with proof of identity within two business days after an election. People who vote absentee are not required to show photo IDs. And people who have religious objections to being photographed may sign oaths acknowledging their identities.

People who can't afford other forms of photo identification may get a state-issued ID, free of charge, at drivers' license offices around the state.

"I believe this new requirement is a common sense step that will increase public confidence in our elections," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "Requiring photo IDs will decrease the chances that an eligible voter can
be impersonated by someone else at the polls. As a voter, I want to know that my ballot counts just the same - no more, no less - as any other eligible voter. Photo IDs help ensure people aren't casting more than one
ballot - and that those who are ineligible to vote don't cast ballots at all. For those reasons, photo IDs are one more tool we can use to help combat voter fraud."

The Tennessee General Assembly approved the photo ID requirement during this year's legislative session. Sen. Bill Ketron and Rep. Debra Maggart were the prime sponsors of the legislation.

The Department of State includes the Division of Elections, which will be spearheading the outreach effort to citizens. As part of that effort, the Division of Elections has provided local election officials with information about the new requirement that will be distributed to people casting ballots in municipal elections being held around Tennessee this
year. Also, information about the new law will be posted on the Department of State's web site.

Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins said those are only two of the many ways the department will be using to get its message out to the public.

"It is very important to us that people understand this new requirement so they are not surprised when they get to the polls next year," Coordinator Goins said. "I am encouraging election officials and other leaders in Tennessee's 95 counties to help us spread the word about photo IDs. I invite civic groups and other organizations to contact our office for information that they can distribute to their members - and to invite their county administrator of elections to come to a meeting to explain how the new law will work."

Secretary Hargett and Coordinator Goins also plan to make the new law a recurring theme during their public speaking appearances around the state.

"I strongly believe that citizens of our state are comfortable with the idea of showing photo IDs in order to vote - just as they must do to board a plane, cash a check or perform any number of routine activities," Secretary Hargett said. "A poll conducted last month by Rasmussen Reports indicated that 75 percent of people across the country support the photo
ID requirement - with only 18 percent against it. Other polls have shown even stronger support for photo IDs, so we feel people clearly understand the benefit of making this change in order to help protect the integrity of our elections."

To view answers to some frequently asked questions about the new law, go
to http://www.tn.gov/sos/election/IDRequirement.20120101.pdf

Alexandria Aldermen Adopt Budget Ordinance on First Reading

July 27, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria Aldermen adopted the city's new budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year on first reading Tuesday night.

Second and final reading passage will be scheduled following a public hearing at the next meeting on Tuesday, August 23 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

The city's property tax rate is established at .7896 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The budget includes higher water and sewer rates. A separate ordinance adopting the new rates was approved by the aldermen following a public hearing, prior to action on the budget ordinance.

Under the plan, the minimum bill for Alexandria water and sewer customers will increase by a total of ten dollars per month, going from $29.50 to $39.50.

The rate for Alexandria water customers will increase from $14.75 to $19.75 for a minimum bill up to 2,000 gallons. Customers will pay an extra 70 cents per additional 100 gallons of usage. The minimum sewer bill up to 2,000 gallons will also increase by $5.00, going from $14.75 to $19.75.

Water customers outside the corporate limits will see their rates jump from $21.30 to $28.52 per month for a minimum bill of up to 2,000 gallons. Customers will pay an extra 70 cents per additional 100 gallons of usage per month.

The City of Alexandria purchases its water supply from the Smith County Utility District.
City officials have said one of the reasons for the rate increase is due to higher costs being passed on to Alexandria from the Smith County Utility District. However during the public hearing, concerned resident and former Alexandria Mayor Danny Parkerson questioned why the rate of increase to city subscribers was much more than the increase to the city from the Smith County Utility District.

Aldermen explained that the city water and sewer fund has been running in the red for the last two or three years because there hasn't been a rate increase for sometime, and that the state is now forcing the city's hand. Aldermen said if the city does not get the water and sewer fund back in the black to make it self supporting soon, then the state could set rates for the city, which could be much higher than the rate increases in this plan.

Parkerson also suggested that some action be taken by the city to lessen the burden of this rate increase on the town's elderly who are on fixed incomes. Aldermen said later they may address that suggestion at another meeting in the near future.

The Alexandria budget projects General Fund Revenues at $323,404 including $80,546 from current property taxes; $11,000 from delinquent property taxes; and $24,000 from the beer tax along with intergovernmental taxes of $60,000; licenses and permits $500; fines $72,000; Utility in lieu of tax $9,358; other revenue $1,000; and remaining revenue $65,000

General Fund expenditures are budgeted at $316, 404 as follows:
Administrative salaries: $32,032
Audit: $4,000
Election expense: $2,000
Insurance & security bond: $12,000
Legal: $20,000
Office supplies: $5,000
Park & recreation: $600
OASI: $4,000
Equipment & supplies: $5,000
Building maintenance: $7,000
Parade/Halloween: $1,000
Senior citizens civic center: $5,000
Unemployment taxes: $6,000
Utilities & telephone $4,000
Total:$107,632

Police Department
Salaries: $85,860
911: $21,660
Gas & Oil: $15,000
Office supplies: $3,000
Repairs: $3,000
Materials & supplies: $500
Vehicle maintenance: $8,000
Equipment & supplies: $7,000
Total: $133,242

Fire Department:
Grant match: $5,000
Gas & Oil: $1,000
Total: $6,000
Total General Fund Expenditures: $316,404

Industrial Development Fund
Revenue: $20,632
Expenditures:
Marketing: $2,000
Equipment: $3,000
Other expenses: $15,632
Total: $20,632

Regions-Seay Church
Revenue: $3,340
Expenditures: $3,340

State Aid Fund Budget:
Income
State Gasoline & Fuel Tax: $42,000
Expense
Automobile expense & gas: $3,000
Materials & supplies: $3,000
Payroll expenses: $300
Equipment repair: $1,000
Purchase of equipment: $4,000
Utilities: $10,000
Total: $22,300

Water and sewer fund operating revenues are projected at $577,632. Total operating expenses are budgeted at $532,551

Water/Sewer Fund Operating Revenues
Water: $427,020
Sewer: $139,517
Penalties: $4,500
Other Income: $6,600
Total: $577,632

Operating Expenses
Office Supplies: $5,500
Water Supplies: $19,000
Water Samples: $480
USDA Bonds: $26,000
Audit: $2,450
Annual dues: $2,000
Utilities (Gas, Electric, Phone): $47,000
Water Purchased: $234,243
Salaries: $32,656
Advertising: $300
Bad debts (returned checks): $1,500
Sewer supplies: $11,000
Sewer samples: $11,000
Insurance: $12,000
Professional services (Accountant, Attorney): $12,000
Postage (General, Bills): $4,000
Contracted services: $83,422
Contracted labor: $25,000
Miscellaneous: $3,000
Total: $532,551

City of Alexandria to Consider Banning Handguns at the DeKalb County Fair

July 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Although he is a strong believer in the lawful rights of gun owners, an incident at the DeKalb County Fair last week convinced Alexandria Police Chief Mark Collins that handguns should be banned during the fair.

During Tuesday night's city council meeting, Chief Collins asked that the Alexandria aldermen adopt an ordinance making possession of handguns illegal at the DeKalb County Fair. Although the fairgrounds are leased and operated by the DeKalb County Fair Association, the property belongs to the City of Alexandria.

The cause for concern arose last Monday night when a patron at the fair reported losing his handgun from the holster he was wearing while on one of the carnival rides. Chief Collins said some of the rides were shut down for a short period of time as members of the Alexandria Police Department, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, carnival workers, and fair association volunteers searched for the weapon.

Chief Collins said he was fearful that the gun might have been picked up by a teenager or a small child.

It turns out that the man had not even brought the gun to the fair in the first place. During the search at the fairgrounds, Chief Collins asked the man to return home just to make sure he had not left the gun there. While conducting a search at home, the man found his gun.

The aldermen plan to honor Chief Collins' request but have deferred action until the next meeting in August when an ordinance can be prepared and presented by City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. The ordinance may also ban handguns at other events on city properties.

Ring Gets Judicial Diversion in Child Abuse Case

July 26, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kenneth Brian Ring
Donald Perry, Jr.
Andre Wakefield
Samuel W. Walker
Sharon Groshon Malone

A 26 year old Smithville man, named in an April grand jury sealed indictment charged with child abuse of a youngster under age six, has been granted judicial diversion.

Kenneth Brian Ring appeared before Judge Leon Burns, Jr. Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court. Judge Burns granted Ring's petition for judicial diversion for a period of two years, all suspended to probation. Under terms of the judicial diversion, Ring must report to the Tennessee Department of Corrections Board of Probation and Parole and obey all requirements of this board; complete fifty hours of community service; complete and alcohol and drug assessment and follow any recommended treatment; and he must compete the SAV program GED classes, and Mediation.

The indictment against Ring alleged that "On or about December 18th, 2010 Ring intentionally and knowingly did, other than by accidental means, treat a fifteen month old child, in such a manner as to inflict injury, constituting the offense of child abuse."

The case was presented to the April term of the grand jury by Detective Matt Holmes of the Smithville Police Department.

Judicial diversion is a type of probation. Under terms of judicial diversion, defendants agree that they are going to be convicted of the crimes for which they are on probation. Should the defendants not complete the probation, they in effect have a conviction hanging over their heads while they are on probation, and if the defendants fail at probation, then it becomes a conviction, and the judge can have a sentencing hearing and sentence the defendants to jail. Should the defendants complete the probation they are eligible to have their entire record cleared of the charges.

39 year old Donald Perry, Jr pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a six year sentence in community corrections, a type of probation. He was given jail credit of 110 days and fined $2,000.

37 year old Andre Wakefield, charged with sale of a schedule II controlled substance, pleaded guilty and received a six year sentence, all suspended but ninety days to serve with the remainder on state probation. He was fined $2,000.

33 year old Samuel W. Walker pleaded guilty by information to one count of burglary, one count of theft under $500, and one count of theft over $1,000. Walker received a four year sentence in two of the cases and 11 months and 29 days in the other. All three sentences are to run concurrently and all suspended to time served since April 13. He must also make restitution of $2,000.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Walker was arrested on Wednesday, April 13th charged with taking four shotguns from a residence on Maple Lane without the owners consent on January 1st. The stolen guns were then sold.

Meanwhile in a separate case, Walker is alleged to have committed an aggravated burglary of a residence on Cripps Lane with the intent to commit a theft on August 29th. Entry was made through a back door. He allegedly took four shotguns and several other items from the home with a total value of $5, 575

37 year old Sharon Groshon Malone pleaded guilty to three counts of delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. She received a three year sentence in each case all to run concurrently with each other. She is to serve a total of 110 days with the balance on probation. She was also fined $2,000 and must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment. The sentence is also to run concurrently with a violation of probation in General Sessions Court. Malone was given jail credit since April 6.

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