Leadership DeKalb 2013 is feeding hungry children this summer.
"Each year, Leadership DeKalb classes have to pick a project and our class has decided to try to feed children that might be hungry this summer while school is out," said Darrell Gill, President of the 2013 Leadership DeKalb Class. It's our plan to get non perishable foods to the families of children that are needing help this summer," he said.
Families in need of help feeding their children this summer or if you know of a child that could benefit call 615-318-2726. You may also call if you would like to donate non-perishable foods or money to support to this effort.
This Thursday night, June 6 around six o'clock were going to have hot dogs, potato chips, and drinks. We're also going to have some flyers that we'd like to pass out and questionnaires for parents or guardians to sign up for this project help that we're trying to do with the food drive for hungry children. We'll be set up in the areas of the Joe L. Evins ballpark and the Short Mountain Village and the Bell Street area. So if you see us out with hotdogs and chips and you'd like something to eat, come over and talk to us and we'll give you a flyer and a questionnaire to fill out, "said Gill.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that the two-year ban stopping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restricting fishing below dams on the Cumberland River, passed first by the Senate and then by the House, has officially become law.
“Now the Corps is required, by law, to stop wasting taxpayer dollars and ignoring elected officials who are standing up for fishermen,” Alexander said.
The legislation that became law today prohibits the Corps from implementing existing fishing restrictions for two years, while also delegating enforcement below the dams to state agencies in Tennessee and Kentucky. The U.S. Senate unanimously supported this legislation on May 16, and the House passed it on May 21.
In addition to today’s two-year ban, on May 15 the U.S. Senate passed Alexander’s permanent solution as part of the Water Resources Development Act. This permanent solution would prevent the Corps from establishing permanent physical barriers, and from taking any further action until the Corps ensures that restrictions downstream of the 10 dams on the Cumberland River are based on actual operating conditions – instead of 24 hours a day. The Water Resources Development Act would also give sole responsibility for enforcement of the restricted area below the dams to the states and require that the Corps seek and consider public comment before taking further action. The House has not yet taken up its version of the Water Resources Development Act, which Alexander said made it necessary to pass a two-year ban in the meantime.
The Corps had proceeded with its plan to restrict access below 10 dams along the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky, despite the Senate’s unanimous support for an amendment to the budget resolution in March that would allow Congress to prohibit the Corps’ plans. Alexander had also held numerous meetings with Corps officials encouraging them to find a compromise with state agencies, and after they refused, he said on May 8 he would restrict Corps funding in his role as the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.
Alexander’s legislation, known as the “Freedom to Fish Act,” was cosponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). A similar version was sponsored in the house by U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.).
Tennesseans who have not taken the GED® high school equivalency test or who have passed some but not all parts of the GED® have only the remainder of 2013 to earn their high school credential under the current test structure, Labor & Workforce Development Acting Commissioner Burns Phillips announced.
Beginning January 1, 2014, partial test scores will be invalid and will not transfer to the new high school equivalency test. At that time, Tennesseans will have a choice of taking either the new 2014 GED® test or an alternative high school equivalency test designed by the Educational Testing Service called HiSET® in order to earn a high school equivalency diploma.
Since 2002 when the last change took place to reflect needed proficiencies, the General Educational Development (GED®) test – accepted by virtually all states, colleges, and employers – has been offered as a battery of five tests that measure skills in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. During the last 10 years, standards have changed, and the test is being redesigned to more accurately measure what students are expected to learn in high school to be prepared for college or a career.
“We’re urging everyone who has passed a portion of the GED® test to register and finish the test now because all partial scores will no longer be valid after January 1, 2014. In addition, the new GED® test will be computer-based and the cost increases to $120,” said Marva Doremus, state administrator for Adult Education. “Our preparation classes are filling up quickly as people prepare to get in under the wire.”
“There’s no registration deadline, but test-takers must know that by November and December if they have not registered there may not be any openings left. To ensure they can take the current version, they should do it as soon as possible.”
Those who want to take the GED® test for the first time as well as those who only lack certain parts must take the test at an official GED® Testing Center. Individuals can take the test either by computer or on paper. For details on taking the current test and information on preparation courses, contact the GED® Office in the Adult Education Division of the Department of Labor & Workforce Development 1-800-531-1515, or visit the Department’s website at http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/AE/.
According to the GED® Testing Service, more than a million adults nationwide have started but not finished the current GED® test. Last year, 9,159 Tennesseans earned GED® diplomas, but Tennessee still has more than 930,000 adults without a high school diploma or its equivalent.
A 64 year old Smithville woman was injured in a rollover accident Sunday afternoon on Allen Ferry Road near the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.
Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department said Mary Harris was driving east in a 1995 Ford Focus when she went off the right side of the road, struck a culvert, knocked down a speed limit sign, and overturned. The vehicle came to rest on its side at Mt Holly Cemetery. Police say Harris claims she lost control the car after taking her eyes of the road to reach for cigarettes she had dropped in the car.
Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department performed extrication services to get Harris out of the vehicle. She was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.
Captain Leffew said Harris will be cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance).
Smithville Police investigated another accident in almost the exact same spot the day before, on Saturday.
Officer Matt Farmer said 30 year old Russell Johnson was driving east on Allen Ferry Road in a Ford Ranger pickup when he lost control and went off the right side of the road and overturned. The truck came to rest on its top near the cemetery. Johnson was injured and taken to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS.
County unemployment rates for April 2013 show the rate decreased in 62 counties, increased in 23, and stayed the same in ten.
Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.4 percent, up from 6.2 percent in March. Davidson County also increased from 6.2 in March to 6.5 in April. Hamilton County was 7.5 percent, down from 7.6 percent in the previous month. Shelby County was 9.2 percent, down from 9.5 percent in March.
Tennessee’s unemployment rate for April was 8.0 percent, which increased two tenths of one percentage point from the March revised rate of 7.8 percent. The national unemployment rate for April 2013 was 7.5 percent, decreasing by one tenth of one percentage point from the previous month.
The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.
Facing a tight budget year with no tax increase, city officials are not expecting much in the way of extra spending for 2013-14. That may not be good news for the Smithville Fire Department which had hoped to add one or two new paid full time firefighters.
In their final workshop before Monday night's council meeting, the mayor and aldermen met Tuesday evening with financial consultant, Janice Plemmons-Jackson to crunch the budget numbers. Jackson said she and secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson have gone over the proposed budget in recent days cutting "fluff". But with all the revisions that have been made, the city could still go slightly in the red or just break even by the end of the fiscal year. "The (proposed) general fund had a (projected) $200,000 deficit for the year," said Jackson. "Hunter and I went through and talked about taking out all the fluff, or the rounding, or the cushioning. We decided to go back to a barebones (budget). We've got the general fund tightened down as good as we can get it without eliminating positions or hours. This is a very tight budget," she said.
If emergency spending is required during the year, Jackson said the aldermen could approve budget amendments, taking money from the general fund surplus.
As for the fire department's request, Jackson said with revenue streams not keeping pace with expenses, the city would have to look for new money at some point if it added another firefighter position. "We've weeded out a lot of fluff. If you want to do it (add firefighter position), you've got surpluses that will provide some money to do it. But to know that it's a today, tomorrow, in the future and a never ending thing makes me look at revenues and other expenses and say, sometime you're going to need more revenues or you can't afford it. Right now today, yeah you can afford it but you may have to cut other things out. Revenues are pretty flat. They are not growing at the same rate that expenses are growing. That's why I'm cautious about adding new kinds of recurring things when you're not adding sources of revenue," said Jackson.
Still, Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Gayla Hendrix want to find a way to fund one new firefighter position this year. "We have a group of city firefighters and a majority have been with the department for a long time, fifteen, twenty, thirty years, which is almost unheard of," said Alderman Hendrix. "You're not going to see this coming up in the newer generation. The younger people are not going to make that kind of commitment . Full volunteer departments will eventually become a thing of the past because people have jobs that they can't take off from and leave when there is a call. Factories are not going to let you up and leave like it was when we were an agricultural community when people worked for themselves and they could do that. These guys have been doing all this stuff volunteer on weekends and nights away from their families for years and years. I like the idea that we would have people on staff that could make a call in the middle of the day if someone else were not available. I would like to see us put in one more position. I think there's a lot of other areas we could start cutting back on to make this work. I think that's more necessary than a lot of things we're putting money into right now. We know we're never going to have a full time paid fire department. We're still going to rely on volunteers, but if you have a couple of paid firefighters who can do so much stuff during the week, that keeps the volunteers from having to spend all their time doing the regular routine stuff that has to be done, then the volunteers can be there to do the training and be ready to go on a call when needed," said Alderman Hendrix.
"If he gets one other firefighter, (Fire Chief) Charlie (Parker) and that firefighter could respond with a vehicle immediately. One person can't do that. They could also do first responder calls, said Alderman Jacobs. "Sometimes we fool ourselves by saying every job is as important as the other. That's not true. Public safety is a special breed and I think you've got to pay for it. If we do add this extra fireman, I would like to see the salary start at the same salary that our policemen start at," said Alderman Jacobs.
"We projected what one person would cost, benefits and all that," said Jackson. "I took the middle number of (Fire Chief) Charlie (Parker's) projections $28,000 to $32,000 and said if I take $30,000 and added the payroll tax and the insurance (benefit). Its roughly $42,000. That gets you another full time person at a $30,000 salary," she said. "Some discussion came up about, maybe that's higher than what police people start at. So you may say we'll budget only $25,000 for (one firefighter) salary," said Jackson.
The other three aldermen, Jason Murphy, Tim Stribling, and Danny Washer said the city cannot afford adding a paid firefighter position right now without tapping into general fund surpluses, a practice they believe is not appropriate for meeting recurring expenses. " I hate not to do it (fund a firefighter position). I believe in what the firefighters do. But we don't have that much of a gap (between revenues and expenses). We're eventually going to need a new fire truck. We're going to need garbage trucks and other equipment. We need to build up our fund (surplus) so that we can take those capital hits. That's what scares me about it all," said Alderman Murphy.
"Our revenue streams are going down and there's other equipment that's got to be purchased and it's going to have to come out of our surplus," said Alderman Tim Stribling. "I'm not against having them (paid firefighters) but I want to be able to fund it every year without having to worry about kicking into our surplus. Who knows, a garbage truck might break down," he said.
"I'd like to have two (paid firefighters) if we could afford it. But in my opinion, it's too much too quick," said Alderman Danny Washer. We're leveled off right now. I'd like to stay leveled off for another year and see if we generate any more revenue and see how it looks a year from now," he said.
In addition to the firefighter positions, Chief Parker had requested extra funding for other needs in the fire department. Jackson said some of those proposed amounts have been cut back in this budget. "Charlie had requested $55,000 for capital outlay but he said he had about $5,000 of specific costs for hoses. So we cut that back to $10,000. If something comes up, you could amend the budget," said Jackson.
"He (Chief Parker) had asked for $50,000 for payments to volunteers. Two years ago, the city paid $32,000. This year we paid $30,000. I bumped it down to $35,000 (in new budget). If they have a lot of fires, we'll have to amend the budget," said Jackson.
The budget does include a 1.5% pay raise for all city employees including salaried personnel and those on the police department's step increase plan.
The proposed budget for the water and sewer fund shows a deficit by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year but that is expected to change when its known what the new water rate will be for the DeKalb Utility District in January, according to Jackson. "Water and sewer, we didn't project as much increases in revenues. We're at a (projected) loss of about $58,000 to $59,000. If you have an actual loss for two years in a row, the state makes you raise your rates to make you be profitable so we want to avoid that if possible. The big question will be what will the DUD rate be when their contract runs out?," she said. "January 1 we will be looking at having to come up with a number. We may end up, depending on where the DUD rate goes and how other costs go, that we can be profitable in 2014. My hope and goal is that we're not in the red and that we don't have to be forced to change rates," said Jackson.
The aldermen are expected to adopt on first reading Monday night, June 3 a new budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Two proposed budgets will be presented for consideration, one with a firefighter position included, and another without. Three votes are required for passage. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.
Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contract crews will close the Hurricane Bridge on SR 56 over the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County to all traffic on Friday, May 31 beginning at 8:00 p.m. for approximately 20 hours. The closure is necessary to allow the contractor to perform structural work (replacing a bearing pin on the bridge pier) that cannot be done with traffic driving on the bridge.
The work is weather dependent. Should inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances prevent this work from occurring as scheduled, it will be rescheduled to take place as soon as possible.
During the closure, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and flaggers will be present to assist with traffic control. Message boards will be in place to notify drivers of the closure. While the bridge is closed, all traffic will be redirected to the currently posted truck detour that utilizes I-40 at Exit 254 to SR 53. The bridge should be reopened to normal one-lane signal-controlled traffic by 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, 2013. The current weight postings of 10 tons for two-axle vehicles and 18 tons for vehicles with three or more axles will continue to remain in effect and will be strictly enforced.
The work is part of a $26.9 million rehabilitation project which is scheduled to be complete in October 2013.
The Town of Liberty is mourning the loss of their beloved mayor.
95 year old J. Edward Hale, Jr. died Wednesday at DeKalb Community Hospital. The funeral will be Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Salem Baptist Church. Dr. Bill Northcott will officiate and burial will be in Salem Cemetery. Visitation will be Friday from 1:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Love-Cantrell Funeral Home and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until the service at 2:00 p.m. at Salem Baptist Church in Liberty.
In forty two years, Mayor Hale never lost an election, having first been elected mayor in 1971. In most of those years, he didn't even have an opponent in an election. Until his death, Mayor Hale held the distinction of being the current longest serving elected public official in DeKalb County. But rather than seek another term in the August election, Mayor Hale told WJLE earlier this month that he would not be a candidate this year.
WJLE interviewed Mayor Hale on April 4, 2013 for a feature story on his life and career that was aired on WJLE and posted on our website on April 16. You may click the following link to read the article
Mr. Hale was preceded in death by his parents, John Edward Hale and Sadie Hale and two brothers, Dr. Jerre Hale and James Hale.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Gloria Hale of Liberty. Two sons, Tom Hale of Kentucky and Jamie and wife Carol Hale of Liberty. One daughter, Sally and husband Randy Baskin of Mount Juliet. Four grandchildren, Jacob Hale of Liberty, Leah Schitter of California, Anna Baskin of Mount Juliet, and Jonathan Baskin of Mount Juliet. Two great grandchildren, Lucas Hale and Livy Schitter. One sister, Betty and husband Harry Henderson of Martin, Tennessee. Five sisters-in-law, Betty Hale of Smithville, Mary Herbert of Nashville, Judy Sandlin of Alexandria, Jo Hobson and Barbara Hobson of Nashville. Several nieces and nephews survive along with a large loving church family.
Love-Cantrell Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. In addition to flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to Salem Baptist Church or Cemetery.
All customers of Smithville Electric System and a large service area of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative in DeKalb County were without power for about an hour Wednesday morning after a problem developed at the sub-station on West Main Street.
"We had a fault on one of our distribution meters that came through to the backup relay and that fault caused that relay to burn up and that actually caused a little fire for a short period of time there," said Michael E. Parker, manager of Smithville Electric System.
"It caused the power to be out. We were able to restore the power by isolating and bypassing the normal backup equipment. The backup relay. We've got it back going for now but we will have to do some more repairs in the future. We hope to limit any future outages to a minimum if at all," said Parker.