Local News Articles

Body Found in Rubble of Mobile Home Destroyed by Fire

October 8, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Body Found in Burned Down Mobile Home

A body has been found in the rubble of a single wide mobile home near Liberty which was destroyed by fire this week.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the body, burned beyond recognition, has been sent to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy and to make positive identification through medical and dental records. The cause of death is currently unknown. An investigation is underway to determine if any foul play was involved.

The mobile home, which belonged to Robert "Bob" Senick, was located in an isolated area about a mile off the Liberty to Dismal Road. The fire, which destroyed the home, apparently occurred either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

According to Sheriff Ray, the mobile home had already burned to the ground by the time it was discovered and reported Wednesday morning at around 9:13 a.m.. The cause of the fire is also unknown.

The investigation is being conducted by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Bomb and Arson, and District Attorney General Randy York and members of his staff.

Sheriff Ray says if you have any information that could help investigators, please call 597-4935.

Special Sales Tax Deduction for Car Purchases

October 7, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

With 2010 models arriving in dealer showrooms, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that purchasing a new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle could qualify them for a special deduction for the state and local sales and excise taxes on their 2009 tax returns.

Purchases made after Feb. 16, 2009, and before Jan. 1, 2010, will qualify for this deduction under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

"Many new vehicle buyers can use this special deduction to lower their taxes and they don't have to itemize to qualify," said Dan Boone, IRS spokesman.

The deduction is limited to the sales and excise taxes and similar fees paid on up to $49,500 of the purchase price of a new vehicle. The deduction is reduced for joint filers with modified adjusted gross incomes (MAGI) between $250,000 and $260,000 and other taxpayers with MAGI between $125,000 and $135,000. Taxpayers with higher incomes do not qualify.

Taxpayers who make qualifying new vehicle purchases this year can estimate the deduction with the help of Worksheet 10 in IRS Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Withholding? Lines 10a to 10k of the worksheet show how to take into account purchases above the $49,500 limit, as well as the reduced deductions for taxpayers at higher income levels.

The special deduction is available regardless of whether taxpayers itemize deductions on their returns. Taxpayers who do not itemize will add this additional amount to the standard deduction on their 2009 tax return.

For those that have questions about the deduction for sales tax and other fees, these questions and answers might help. A video on the IRS Youtube.com channel and audio podcasts in English and Spanish are also available to help taxpayers take full advantage of the deduction.

Hale Announces Candidacy for State Representative

October 7, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Hale

A DeKalb County man has announced that he will be a candidate for the office of State Representative in the 40th Legislative District during the State Democratic Primary next August.

James Hale of the Riverwatch area recently made the announcement during a local Democratic party meeting.

The following is a prepared statement concerning Hale's bio:

Hale is a native of DeKalb County

After attending local schools, Hale began his life-long career with the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) as a construction laborer when he was still a teenager. A member of Local 386 in Nashville, he worked his way up through the ranks and served as Field Representative, President, and Business Manager of the local.

Moving onto the Union's International stage, Hale was a Regional Manager for the organization serving more than 50,000 Laborers in 14 states and two territories. In that capacity he oversaw the working of some 50 Local Unions in the states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Hale also served as a Vice President on the LIUNA General Executive Board from 1998 until his retirement last year. In that position he helped set policy impacting the lives of more than 500,000 working men and women who are members of the Laborers' International Union.

In those positions, Hale garnered 38 years of experience dealing with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the labor relations realm. He hopes to continue his relationships with the current TVA officers and staff with the intent of helping the organization further its goals of safety, integrity, respect, honest communication, accountability, teamwork, continuous improvement, and flexibility.

While with LIUNA, Hale was asked to be an integral part of several Boards of Trustees governing issues such as health insurance, training and apprenticeship, education, health and safety, and pensions, to name a few. As a member of the LIUNA National Laborers -Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET), he supported the Trust's goal of offering a wide range of services to Laborers and their signatory contractors, including market assessments, research, advertising, and outreach to owners and construction users. LECET is devoted to helping Laborers and their signatory contractors win projects and jobs. To further that goal, Hale served as the Chairman for the Ohio Valley and Southern States Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust and on the National Service Contract Training Fund.

As a member of the Laborers' National Health and Safety Fund's Board, Hale was committed both to healthier Laborers and to healthier bottom lines. The Fund's primary goals are to enhance jobsite safety and health, and improve the competitiveness of signatory employers.

The Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund (L-AGC) is a partnership between LIUNA and the Associated General Contractors of America. As a Board member Hale worked to see that Laborers' training reached every state in the U.S. and every province in Canada. Laborers-AGC's affiliated funds service the training needs of hundreds of LIUNA local unions and thousands of construction-related contractors by providing relevant and necessary training to LIUNA members and apprentices. Each year thousands of LIUNA members and apprentices receive training at one of the 70 state-of-the-art training facilities that comprise the Laborers' training network.

While those National Funds offer union-wide assistance, state and local funds also exist to help working families on a more immediate level. Serving as either Chairman or as a member, Hale worked on behalf of the Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana Laborers' Health and Welfare Funds. These Funds oversee the health insurance issues and well-being of members throughout those states.

As the Chair of the Southeast Laborers' Training and Apprenticeship Fund, covering the states of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, Hale helped to establish training and apprenticeship facilities to further the skills of Laborers. The same is true for the South Central Laborers' Training Fund, covering the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and the Florida and Kentucky Training Funds as well.

The Laborers' National Pension Fund and the LIUNA Staff Pension Fund are charged with the oversight and continued growth of Laborers' pension plans. James served on both Funds where he helped establish programs to ensure the continued health of these plans.

From 1988 until the year 2000, Hale was a member of the Board of Directors for the DeKalb Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (DTC). The Board was created in 1951 by local citizens to bring basic telephone service to rural areas at a time when none existed. The DTC, member-owned and covering 20,000 residents, has served and continues to serve both residential and commercial customers in rural communities with quality communications service at competitive rates.

As a member of the DTC Board, Hale promoted a modernization program that resulted in area-wide free calling. Initially opposed by some as too expensive, once implemented the program actually earned a profit in its first month of operations.

Also under his direction, the DTC built a cellular system and created Advantage Cellular. Advantage is the only locally owned nationwide wireless provider in the area.

Advantage was licensed to provide service and operates 47 towers in the Tennessee counties of Smith, DeKalb, Cannon, White, Warren, Van Buren, Coffee and Grundy, but was and remains today a nationwide carrier through agreements entered into with major roaming partners throughout the country. The company started providing service using analog technology. As technology has continued to advance, so has Advantage Cellular Systems.

As a result of these experiences, in 2004 Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen appointed Hale to the Council for a New Economy Workforce. He continues to serve the state in that capacity.

A community activist as well, Hale founded the John William Hale Foundation, Laborers' CARE (Crisis Assistance Response to Emergencies). The Foundation relies on the goodwill of individuals through voluntary donations and an annual motorcycle rally to raise funds as a means to fulfill its mission. This charitable fund was created to assist Laborers in the Ohio Valley and Southern States Region who have been seriously injured on the job and are unable to work, or in the most unfortunate circumstances, lose their lives while working as Laborers.

Amateur Radio Club Participates in State-wide Emergency Exercise – “H1N1 Immunization”

October 7, 2009
by: 
Freddy Curtis

Members of the DeKalb County Amateur Radio Club participated in a state-wide emergency exercise on Saturday, October 3rd, 2009. The state-wide exercise was titled “H1N1 Immunization.” The exercise scenario was that all Tennesseans would be immunized in an H1N1 pandemic, and DeKalb County Emergency contingencies and local plans were reviewed.

Local Amateur Radio Operators utilized local radio repeaters and then utilized their emergency skills for stations in point-to-point contact. A particular point of interest was evaluating the amateur radio station backup at DeKalb Community Hospital. Communications were also sent to the District Emergency Coordinator who would relay the information to TEMA. These messages relayed the latest emergency status in DeKalb County.

Those local DeKalb County Amateur Radio Operators involved in the exercise included W3HKG – Bob Mitchell, KF4QNT – Kevin Neely, KJ4GCT – John Lester, KF4MGN – Randy Morris, KH6AD – Bob Soares, K4TWT – Terry Trapp and KC4GUG – Freddy Curtis - DeKalb County Amateur Radio Emergency Coordinator. The club would like to thank DeKalb County Emergency Management Director Charlie Parker for his aid in this exercise and Nancy Trapp, ER Administrator at DeKalb Community Hospital.

The DeKalb County Amateur Radio Club is an organization of Amateur Radio operators from DeKalb and Surrounding Counties and is an affiliated club of the American Radio Relay League. The next club meeting will be on Thursday, October 29th, 2009 - 6:30 PM at the E-911 Center. Any person interested in Amateur Radio is invited to attend.

DCHS Boys Golf Team Finishes Second In Region Tournament

October 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Boys Golf Team finished second in the Region Tournament Monday.

The team shot a 302, second only to Notre Dame, who finished first with a score of 295.

Payne Denman, Austin Garrett, and Grant James will advance to the state tournament next week to compete individually.

Denman won the Region Tournament as low medalist with a score of 68. Austin Garrett was third medalist at 74, Grant James 78, and Logan Clark 82.

The DeKalb County boys, as a team, finished the year with a record of 43-14.

Kalli Mitchell meanwhile shot a 101 in regional tournament play Monday.

Pilot Program to Provide Food to Needy Children at SES During Christmas Break

October 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Cindy Childers(left) and Deanna Persinger(right)

The DeKalb County School System is making plans to launch a pilot program at Smithville Elementary School to make sure children who receive free or reduced priced meals at school have plenty to eat during the Christmas holiday at home.

Deanna Persinger, School Health Coordinator, says through the"BackPack" program, children receive food they can take home. The food is child friendly, non perishable, and easily consumed and vitamin fortified. "We're looking into something called a "BackPack" program for our students and possibly piloting that at Smithville Elementary and the reason why we have chosen Smithville Elementary is because we have a large percentage of students, approximately 357 kids who receive free and reduced priced meals, that we would look at feeding. The BackPack program serves as a way to feed those children during the holidays when they may not have food available to them. What we would do is fill bags of food to put in the backpacks with the children to go home during the holidays. We're shooting for Christmas break. We would send information home to the parents who are interested. Some parents won't be interested in the program but for the ones who are that's who we would be sending the food home with. We are looking for some partnerships as far as food donations, the plastic bags to put those in, and most importantly we need volunteers to help stuff those bags because if we're looking at approximately 350-360 children, that's a lot of food to stuff. The types of foods we're looking for are those that won't spoil that the kids could prepare for themselves if they are home alone or with siblings. If the program is successful we would like to continue that maybe during spring break or every other weekend. This is something lots of school systems in the state are already doing. Metro Nashville schools are partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank to do this. Other states are doing this as well. This is something that has gained in popularity and definitely something I see a need for here."

Suggested individually packaged food to donate for the BackPack program include: 100% juice in single serving unbreakable bottles, boxes, or pouches; small boxes or bags of nutritious cereal; nutritious snack/breakfast bars; fruit cups; small boxes of raisins or dried fruit; microwave popcorn; non-perishable single serve microwave kids meals; and individually packaged crackers (peanut butter and crackers)

For more information, call Deanna Persinger at 215-2118 or Cindy Childers at 215-2161

The BackPack Program concept was developed at the Arkansas Rice Depot, after a school nurse asked for help because hungry students were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the school children with groceries in non-descript backpacks to carry home.

In addition to providing nutritious food to school children in need, some BackPack Programs provide extra food for younger siblings at home and others operate during the summer months when children are out of school and have limited access to free or reduced-priced meals.

The BackPack Program became a pilot program in 1995. The National Council of Feeding America approved the BackPack Program as an official national program of the Network in July 2006.

More than 140 Feeding America members operated more than 3,600 BackPack Programs and served more than 190,000 children in FY2009.

State Fire Marshal offers tips for Fire Prevention Month

October 6, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen has designated October as Fire Prevention Month, and the State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding Tennesseans to regularly check their homes for hazards that could lead to fires.

“Tennessee occupies an undesirable ranking in the country for fire deaths. Falling asleep while smoking in bed or in a comfortable chair remains a significant cause of fire deaths in Tennessee,” says Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman. “If you smoke, make sure your home’s smoke detectors are functioning properly.”

Tennessee residents should avoid other practices in the home that quickly become hazardous:

• keeping space heaters too close to bedding or drapes,
• burning candles or incense near flammable materials,
• using frayed cables, extension cords or holiday lighting sets, overloading wall outlets and surge protectors, and
• improperly storing or disposing of chemicals.

Newman urges Tennessee families to practice their home escape plan this month. “Having an established escape route is one of the most important things Tennessee families can do. We encourage them to rehearse it routinely – not just in October but all year.” Residents also should replace smoke alarms’ batteries when adjusting clocks for daylight saving time. They can do that on November 1, when clocks are set back an hour this year.

For further information, contact 615-741-2981 or visit www.tn.gov/commerce/sfm. The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/

Sen. Beavers and Rep. Weaver to File Legislation to Ease the Economic Burden on Contractors and Subcontractors

October 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

State Senator Mae Beavers and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver recently met to discuss the upcoming legislative session. In particular, the issue of easing the economic burden on small businesses and contractors during these hard economic times was at the top of their agenda.

“We cannot expect small businesses, particularly those sole proprietors and small contracting companies, to emerge from what has been a devastating few years in the economy and housing market if the state and federal governments continue to burden them with regulations and fees,” said Sen. Beavers. “Self-employed contractors are hurting enough as it is; the state doesn’t need to help put them out of business.”

The particular law addressed was a bill passed in 2008 that required all contractors and subcontractors – even those sole proprietorships whose owner is the only employee – to carry additional workers compensation insurance. The law will go into effect in 2010 after attempts to delay its implementation until the current economic crisis subsides was defeated in committee this year.

Rep. Weaver was not a member of the legislature when the bill passed, but nonetheless feels it is her responsibility to her district in these hard economic times to sponsor legislation that repeals this law. “Part of the reason I was elected was to help small businesses in my rural counties. The last thing these self-employed people need are more hurdles to clear when our economy is in need of a boost,” Weaver said.

Sen. Beavers was one of only five Senators who voted against the bill on the floor last session. “You have to be aware of the economic climate and what effects that state mandates will have when the legislature passes bills,” said Beavers. “And whereas I do think this issue should be discussed further in the coming years, I believe many legislators, including Republicans, were quite short-sighted when they passed this law.”

Rep. Weaver added, “Now is not the time to start putting yet another fee, regulation, or tax on self-employed businesses.”

Both Sen. Beavers and Rep. Weaver urge everyone to call their other legislators and ask them to support the bill they will be filing to repeal the 2008 law, in particular those who voted aye for the 2008 bill.

Lou Ann Zelenik Announces Candidacy for Congress

October 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Lou Ann Zelenik has announced she has filed the necessary documents with the Federal Election Commission to formally enter the race for Congress in Tennessee’s Sixth District.

Zelenik, a small business owner for more than twenty years and current chairman of the Rutherford County Republican Party, will seek the party’s nomination to oppose Congressman Bart Gordon in November of 2010. She enters the race with a pledge to provide representation that reflects the growing conservative views of the Sixth District.

“In his twenty-five years in Congress, Bart Gordon has steadily moved away from the views of this district,” Zelenik said. “As Middle Tennessee has embraced a more conservative philosophy, he has become an increasingly reliable vote for the liberal leadership in Congress. Tennesseans have said we are looking for someone who stands with us. Congressman Gordon has shown he prefers to stand with Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.”

Zelenik co-founded L&N Construction in 1985 and closed the successful business in 2007. In announcing her bid, she emphasized her understanding of the impact government policy has on small business and job creation in a faltering economy. “I understand priorities. I understand that families and businesses must live within our means but Congress spends our money at an unprecedented rate. Bart Gordon’s ‘stimulus’ package was sold to the people as necessary to keep unemployment under eight percent. Today it stands near ten percent. His vote to force a ‘Cap and Trade’ energy tax on families in the Sixth District threatens to kill more jobs when government should be on the side of working Tennesseans. His decision to support government-run health care runs counter to the values of Tennesseans. Bart Gordon’s addictions to the perks and privilege of the Washington lifestyle have made him a loyal supporter of Nancy Pelosi and her leftist agenda.”

Zelenik pledged to return representation to the Sixth District that hears the voices of Tennesseans and stands up for their values. “We understand that lower taxes create more economic opportunity. We understand that government policy should be driven by the interests of the people, not the political action committees. I will work to put the government back on the side of working families and give Tennesseans a voice in Washington. I enter this race knowing it will be difficult. Bart Gordon will be well financed by special interests. He will have the backing of ACORN and liberal national groups who don’t care about Tennessee. But our children’s future is worth the fight and I am ready to get to work. I ask the voters of the Sixth District to join me in this cause.”

Zelenik is the mother of one daughter. She is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering and attends World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrests

October 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Darrell Jerome Gurley
Michelle Lee Culwell
Heather Perkins

Three people were arrested Saturday by the Sheriff's Department..

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 35 year old Darrell Jerome Gurley of Parsley Road, Smithville is charged with criminal impersonation in addition to two warrants for violation of probation. 32 year old Michelle Lee Culwell of Parsley Road is charged with simple possession of a schedule III drug (Hydrocodone) and 29 year old Heather Perkins of Mountain View Drive, Smithville faces a charge of tampering with evidence.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy, while on patrol on Highway 56 north Saturday, spotted Gurley sitting with two females, Culwell and Perkins, in a vehicle at the parking lot of a local business. The officer had prior knowledge of two active violation of probation warrants on Gurley so he stopped to speak with him. Gurley initially identified himself as Paul Allen Sullivan and gave a date of birth and social security number. But after the officer confronted him about his identity, Gurley gave his real name. Gurley's bond is $1,000 and he will appear in court on October 15th. After receiving consent to search from Gurley and the women, the officer found ten pink pills believed to be Hydrocodone in Culwell's pocketbook. Culwell said she had no prescription for the pills. Her bond was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on October 15th. While searching the vehicle, the officer also noticed that the other passenger, Perkins, was trying to conceal something in her pants. The officer asked Perkins to empty her pockets and she produced a small container that was missing the lid. He inquired about what was in the container and where it went and she replied that it was a Xanax and that she had swallowed it. Perkins added that she did not have a prescription for the drug and that she had purchased it from a friend. Her bond was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on October 15th

Meanwhile, 50 year old Jack Christopher Adams of Petty Road, Smithville was arrested on September 28th after a deputy spotted him operating a motor vehicle on Highway 56 South. The officer had prior knowledge that Adams' drivers license was revoked. After stopping Adams, the officer confirmed that his driver's license was revoked for a conviction of driving under the influence on January 3rd, 2008. Adams also had eight separate prior charges of driving on a revoked driver's license. Adams' bond was set at $15,000 and he will appear in court on October 15th.

On Sunday, October 4th, deputies were dispatched to an auto accident on Highway 146. After speaking to the driver, the investigating officer arrested 31 year old Phillip Miranda of Cecil Hale Road Smithville for driving on a revoked driver's license. Miranda's license was revoked for a driving under the influence conviction on June 17th, 2008. Miranda's bond was set at $1,000. He was also issued a citation for no insurance and failure to maintain his lane of travel on the roadway.

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