Local News Articles

Baxter Man Arrested for Burglary and Theft

November 5, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
William David Arendall
Christopher Allen Richardson

A Baxter man has been arrested for breaking into an outbuilding and stealing a riding lawn mower in the Silver Point area.

60 year old William David Arendall of Baxter is charged with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $30,000 and he will be in court on November 15.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, October 8 Arendall allegedly broke into an outbuilding on Lafever Ridge Road in the Silver Point area of DeKalb County and stole a riding lawn mower, valued at approximately $1,600. He was arrested on Monday, October 29.

The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

42 year old Christopher Allen Richardson of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with domestic assault and vandalism under $500. His bond is $7,500 and he will be in court on November 29.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, November 4 Richardson allegedly assaulted a family member at a residence on Sparta Highway. According to Sheriff Ray, Richardson allegedly followed the victim into a room where he broke a window, causing less than $500 in damage. He is accused of holding the woman down by the hair of the head and strangling her, making it hard for her to breathe, and leaving red marks on her throat. The woman pulled away and went to a neighbor's house. Richardson allegedly followed her to the neighbor's house and threatened to kill all of them there. The victim had red marks on her chest and throat area, and a cut on one of her ears. Richardson was arrested and taken to the jail for booking.

Meanwhile with the holidays approaching and thefts on the rise Sheriff Ray is asking you to report any suspicious activity you may encounter. "We're in that time of year where break-ins are on the rise. We've had home break-ins recently on Edge Road in Dowelltown, the Alexandria to Dismal Road, and Old Snow Hill Road. We've also had other thefts across the county, such as metal products that have been stolen including equipment, scrap metal and things like that. We just want to advise everybody as to what has been going on. We urge you to take an extra look at your surroundings and be our eyes and ears. If you hear or see anything that looks suspicious or have knowledge that someone is trying to sell something that doesn't belong to them, we would encourage you to call the sheriff's department at 597- 4935. You can speak to me or to one of our criminal detectives. Or you can call the dispatch line at 215-3000 and they will get a deputy in response to check on it," said Sheriff Ray.

Smithville BPW Fall Pageants set for Saturday at New Location

November 4, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lauren Ashley Medlin
Anna Rachel Blair
Tyra Grace Graham

The Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club will be moving their annual Fall Fest, Autumn Princess, and Autumn Sweetheart pageants to the DeKalb County Complex auditorium Saturday. The first pageant begins at 3:00 p.m.

16 year old Lauren Ashley Medlin is the reigning Fall Fest Queen. She is the daughter of Greg and Teresa Medlin of Smithville. The Fall Fest pageant is for girls ages 14-18.

11 year old Anna Rachel Blair is the 2011 Autumn Princess. Blair is the daughter of Keith and Amanda Blair of Smithville. The Autumn Princess pageant features girls ages 7 to 10.

14 year old Tyra Grace Graham is the first ever Autumn Sweetheart. Daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville, Graham will crown her successor Saturday. The Autumn Sweetheart pageant is for girls ages 11-14.

All Princess entries will receive a trophy and all Sweetheart/Queen entries will receive an Entry Gift from the BPW Club.

Long Branch Community Church Celebrates New Beginnings

November 2, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Pastor Mark Miller at New Home for Long Branch Church
Aerial View of Long Branch New Beginnings
Pastor Mark Miller inside Church Sanctuary

The Long Branch Community Church has long wanted and needed a bigger building to house its growing congregation. After years of planning and construction, pastor Mark Miller and his fellow church members will experience a new beginning Sunday as they hold services for the first time in their new home which will also have a new name the Long Branch New Beginnings.

"We have just completed our new building and Sunday, November 4th will be our first service," said Miller. " Its been a long time coming," he added.

The former location of the church, about a mile below Center Hill Dam at Lancaster served as a place of worship for decades. "We just out grew it", said Miller. "During the past few years we have seen a tremendous growth in our attendance. So in 2009, the church decided to build a new facility with construction beginning in the early part of 2010. We are a non denominational church and are excited about what the future holds for our church," he said.

The new sanctuary is located in DeKalb County on State Highway 264 between the Temperance Hall community and the Smith County line. "The church is 100' x 115'," said Miller. "Its handicapped accessible. Our Sunday School facility is so much greater than it was. Our fellowship hall is now right in with the church. The auditorium is in the center of the building. Our lighting, video, and audio is so much different than what we've ever known. We appreciate all the prayers and the support and work that people have put into this. We're excited about getting in it," he said.

Miller and the congregation invite everyone to come join them in their first worship service at the new church sanctuary on Sunday. "We invite one and all to come out and join us on Sunday, November 4. Our service this Sunday will start at 10:30 a.m. We will not have Sunday School this Sunday. Our normal services will start at 9:45 a.m. for Sunday School and 10:30 a.m. for worship and at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night," he added.

Chili Cook-off Raises $3,400 for Habitat

November 2, 2012
The Chili Flappers” from the DeKalb County Board of Education
“The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials
“‘Lei’ Me Out Chili” from Middle Tennessee Gas Utility District

A great crowd turned out on Friday to enjoy chili and delicious baked goods at Habitat for Humanity’s Ninth Annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, which was held at the 303 Building on the square. “The Chili Flappers” from the DeKalb County Board of Education again won the “Best Chili” award, and “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials followed in second place. In the decorating contest, “‘Lei’ Me Out Chili” from Middle Tennessee Gas Utility District won first place honors.

According to Tecia Puckett Pryor and the Habitat Chili Cook-off Committee, the event raised $3,400.00, which will be used toward the current construction costs for the fourth Habitat house on Hayes Street. “We had a great turnout for the Chili Cook-off,” said Pryor. “We had five new chili teams this year, and everyone enjoyed coming out and visiting with their friends and neighbors, while sampling all the delicious chili. We truly appreciate all the chili teams for their hard work and dedication to this event year after year. We also thank everyone who brought the delicious baked goods, especially the Tiger Pride Kitchen from DCHS.” Pryor added.

Twelve teams participated in the event, including “The Bean Counters” from Janney & Associates; “Chili Flappers” from the DeKalb County Board of Education; “Hot Checks Chili” from DeKalb Community Bank; “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials; “Smokin’ Hot” from the City of Smithville; “‘Lei’ Me Out Chili” from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; “Chili with Electability” from the Inn at Evins Mill; “Indian Summer Chili” from Indian Creek Baptist Church; “Blessed and Highly Flavored” from Allen’s Chapel & Buckner’s Chapel Methodist Churches; “‘No Liability’ Chili” from the DeKalb County Bar Association; “Fantasy Falls Forest” from K. Daly-McEver; and “Blueberry Creek Farm” from Chala Salisbury.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with volunteers and families in need, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged. To contact Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, please call 215-8181

Jon Slager, DeKalb County's Newest Attorney

November 2, 2012
Jon Slager Takes Oath to the Bar from Judge Bratten Cook, II

DeKalb County has a new attorney

Jon Slager has received his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from the Nashville School of Law. A lifelong resident of DeKalb County, Slager is a 2003 graduate of DeKalb County High School and a 2008 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.

He is associated with local attorney Jim Judkins. His office is located at 200 South Third Street in Smithville where his practice includes criminal defense, domestic relations law, estate planning / wills, personal injury and more.

He recently took the oath to the bar administered by Judge Bratten Cook, II

Nashville Attorney Hired to Help Represent DUD at UMRB Rate Review Hearing

November 2, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dewey Branstetter, Jr.
Keith Blair

A Nashville attorney has been hired by the DeKalb Utility District Board of Directors to assist their lawyer in representing them before the state's Utility Management Review Board in a rate review hearing.

The DUD board met Thursday in regular monthly session and retained the services of C. Dewey Branstetter, Jr. of Branstetter, Stranch, and Jennings PLLC of Nashville. He will be joining DUD attorney Keith Blair in handling legal issues pertaining to the matter.

The Utility Management Review Board, citing the lack of jurisdiction, decided in October that it would not consider a petition filed by concerned citizens and ratepayers on whether or not the DeKalb Utility District should build a water treatment plant. But the UMRB decided that it would act on the petitioners request for a DUD rate review.

A petition, signed by more than 1,000 persons was submitted to the Tennessee Comptroller and Utility Management Review Board in July asking for a state review of rates charged by the DUD and its plan of services including the proposed water treatment plant.

The UMRB met last month in Nashville and the issue regarding the petition and the DUD was tops on the agenda. During that meeting, the UMRB ruled that it had no jurisdiction to consider the petition as to the proposed water treatment plant. "On the jurisdictional issue only with regard to whether the UMRB has jurisdiction to consider the petition before it, the UMRB essentially approved a motion setting forth that they did not have jurisdiction on the question of whether or not DUD should be building a water treatment plant," said DUD attorney Keith Blair during the DeKalb Utility District's monthly board meeting in October.

But while the UMRB chose not to weigh in on the water plant issue itself, it did agreed to conduct a rate review. That hearing could be held in Smithville but no date has yet been set.

Meanwhile, in other business Thursday DUD Board Chairman Roger Turney asked whether the City of Smithville had submitted a new water contract proposal. DUD Manager Jon Foutch said none has yet been received.

Alexandria Post Office to Remain Open But at Reduced Hours

November 1, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Postal Official David Underwood conducts meeting in Alexandria
Concerned Alexandria Postal Customers Learn About Plans for their Post Office
Several Alexandria Postal Customers Gather for Community Meeting

The Alexandria Post Office will not close but its daily operating hours will likely be reduced starting in January in an effort by the U.S. Postal Service to save money. The carriers will continue delivering mail to Alexandria postal customers but will begin working out of the Watertown Post Office beginning Saturday, November 3.

David Underwood, Manager of Post Office Operations, held a community meeting at the Alexandria city hall building Thursday afternoon to explain the changes. About fifty concerned postal customers in the area showed up to learn more about the plan.
(PLAY SHORT VIDEO BELOW OF DAVID UNDERWOOD EXPLAINING CHANGES AT ALEXANDRIA)

M2U00876 from dwayne page on Vimeo.
"The Alexandria Post Office is going from a full time eight hour a day post office to a six hour a day post office," said Underwood. "Your address won't change. Nothing will change with your delivery. Your carriers are being shifted. They are going to come out of Watertown. But your delivery is not changing. Your address is not changing. Where you go to pick up packages when you're not home and get a notice, you still come here (Alexandria). Our intent is to make it as invisible as possible to you with the major changes being we are no longer going to have a full time benefit getting post master in Alexandria. There will be a part time post master working six hours a day. Your Saturday hours won't change from what they are now. Your collection box time at the post office is not changing. The mail will go out at the same time every night it always has. There's not much going to change but by shaving that two hours off which is how many hours this office earns with its revenue and volume, making it a lower level post master that gets less money, taking the processing out of this office from the carriers and consolidating it in with no more work hours at another post office, over time the return on investment is huge for us. It saves us a lot of money," said Underwood.

Alexandria postal customers began receiving surveys in September outlining four different options for the Alexandria Post Office. A total of 1,110 customer surveys were mailed and 437 of them were returned. Ninety two percent of the respondents (404 customers) said given the options they preferred a realignment of the hours.

(PLAY VIDEO BELOW TO VIEW ENTIRE MEETING THURSDAY IN ALEXANDRIA)

M2U00873 from dwayne page on Vimeo.
Based on the results of the survey, Underwood said the Postal Service will likely set the hours for the Alexandria Post Office for 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday with lunch from noon until 1:00 p.m. and Saturday hours will be from 8:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. The Postal Service will make its final decision on the change soon and a notice will be posted at the Alexandria Post Office as to what the new daily hours will be and when they will take effect. Underwood said the new hours will most likely become effective around the third week of January.

Total Saturday window service hours will not be reduced and access to delivery receptacles will not change as a result of the POST Plan realignment of weekday window service hours, according to Underwood. Access to delivery receptacles will not be reduced from the current hours.

Alexandria postal customers were not surveyed about reassigning the carriers. Underwood said the postal service made that decision itself. "Its internal. That's something we decide. We call it Delivery Unit Optimization where we make the decision because its not affecting customers whatsoever. Its where we decide to consolidate carriers in a hub location because we have the same amount of clerks who can do that distribution work there. Rather than have them do it remotely and having a whole bunch of clerks doing a little bit of work (in different post offices) I've got the same clerks doing the same amount of work (at one location). Its a pure business decision. We're doing this everywhere," said Underwood.

The Alexandria Post Office is among 260 post offices in Tennessee which will have their hours changed or downsized within the next couple of years, according to Underwood.

Budget Committee Hears from County Officials and Employees on Wage Scale

November 1, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Budget Committee Members
Mike Clayborn, Katherine Pack, and Jeff McMillen
Trustee Sean Driver and other county officials and employees

Members of the budget committee heard from public officials and their staffs Tuesday night concerning establishing a wage scale for county employees.

All seemed to like the idea of setting up a pay scale for workers based on their years of service and while some said they were undecided, most are still opposed to giving employees job titles and basing their pay somewhat on their classification.

Some suggested implementing a step increase this year based on years of service, if it can be done without a property tax increase, and wait on job classification until an independent study could be done to formulate a plan, but the budget committee members took no action. It will be up to the budget committee to make some recommendation to the full county commission board.

County Mayor Mike Foster, an advocate of job classification, cited a long list of duties his staff has to perform and added that it isn't fair that they are paid much less than employees of the board of education central office and other counties who perform similar jobs and are classified by job titles. "Since I've been here the job has grown and grown and I still have two people (employees). When they (employees) look around across the street (board of education) and see somebody doing exactly the same job and who is not dealing with the landfill, the fire department, the billing, the grants and all the things we do and who is making twelve thousand dollars a year more than they are and they look at other counties who are making more then it becomes a little problem. If I lose one (employee) it'll take me six months to a year to get anybody doing that job. That's where I am. I don't think I'm better or that my girls are better than anybody, but if I'm going to keep them I've got to pay them. There's a law that says I can pay my secretaries at whatever they (county commission) will approve. But that's not what I want to do. I have never wanted mine to get a raise and no one else to get one," said Foster.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn said his employees also perform a variety of duties in the office. "We do seven different things and I could make it look like a hundred. But those seven things are just to do with license plates. They do twelve things that have nothing to do with license plates. People may say anyone can sell license plates. If that's all they did that would be alright. But that's not all they do. I'm for the step raises but I'm against the classifications. I don't want classifications in my office. I don't want classifications in the other offices. I think they should all be the same," said Clayborn.

Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen said he does not like the notion of having to classify one courthouse employee over another because they basically perform the same tasks and are equally important."I do think that we need to put a step increase in. I think it's a great idea. The way I look at it is if you're coming in that front door (to register of deeds office) and you've got a deed in your hand, the most important person to the public is that person in the register's office. If you've got car tags in your hand, the most important person is the people in the (county) clerk's office. If I put a classification on my girls they might look at each other and say ‘you're supposed to take care of this'. In the register's office, when you come in I want you taken care of as quick as possible and in the best manner that can be done. Again, I am not against the step increases. I think its great. I just don't want to have to put classifications on my employees. But what they do at the ambulance service or the landfill is none of my business," he said

Trustee Sean Driver said he opposes job classification of county employees at the courthouse and county complex fearing that morale might suffer. "I am for the step raise program out of fairness. But at this point, I am not for classification because of morale breakdown. The only way I'd be for classification at this point is that if they were classified all the same in these government offices," said Driver.

"I'm against the classifications at this time", said Clerk and Master Deborah Malone. "But I am for step raises," she said.

"I am for raises. I'm not for sure about classifications. I am not sure what I feel or what I think on classifications," said Assessor of Property Scott Cantrell.

"What I would really love to do is implement the step raises and have the independent consultant do a survey or whatever they do and then get back and meet back together and see where we are then. But I am definitely for step raises," said Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack.

Budget committee member John Green said he would like for the county to do more for employees, many of whom are making just barely above being eligible to qualify for food stamps." I've worked in a lot of factories and there has always been classifications, job titles, and certified people. There are many different jobs. And we've got important jobs in this county. But the bottom line is we need to try to help. There's people paying insurance right now. There's people who are making barely above being able to qualify for food stamps. That's bad. Maybe we ought to start people out a little bit better. I still think the step raises and a step pay scale needs to be in there because when you work thirty years at a place you shouldn't have somebody who has just started yesterday (earning the same pay)," he said.

No pay raises were included in this year's budget, other than for employees due a raise in a four tiered salary pay scale for the Sheriff's Department which was implemented last year to bring their salaries in line with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

Each courthouse or county complex employee working for a public official is budgeted to receive the same amount of pay $23,024 per year except for one of the employees in the assessor of property's office who receives $28,579 under an agreement reached years ago. This employee uses his own personal vehicle for making on-site reviews of property and is responsible for his own expense associated with that vehicle other than a county reimbursement rate for mileage which is currently 47 cents per mile for travel within the county.

Employees in the county mayor's office receive pay for extra duties in working with grants.

New York Man Inline Skating Across Country for Autism Awareness

November 1, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Brian Patrick Inline Skating West on Highway 70 at Foot of Snow Hill
Brian Patrick

Brian Patrick of New York is inline skating across the country to raise money and awareness for autismspeaks.org. His journey brought him through DeKalb County Tuesday.

Patrick's journey began in Montauk Point, New York on September 20 and it has taken him through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and now through Tennessee.. He is traveling by himself with a 22 lb. backpack "I am working my way to California. I'm on my own, I don't have an entourage. I don't have a travel companion in a car that can go up ahead of me and check out the road conditions. I am limited on my resources. I don't have the privilege of spending every night in a hotel. Its probably every three days. There are sacrifices that I am making but this is not about me. Its about helping people that are part of the Autistic Spectrum," said Patrick.

"On my journey, I've been speaking to parents and others, some of whom have children on the Autistic Spectrum to give them some insight into my experience. I have a child, Riley and he was diagnosed with Aspergers when he was about three years old. Up until fifteen years ago, Autism was something that was never really discussed until AustimSpeaks came along and really pushed it to the forefront. Austim is no longer an issue. Its an epidemic. Even though you may not have anyone in your life that is on the spectrum and you may be thinking everything is okay, at some point it could affect you or someone you know because of the amount of kids that are being diagnosed," he said.

Patrick, who is also on the Autistic Spectrum with Aspergers, encourages you to learn more about autism by visiting AutismSpeaks.org or checking out his website at at li2lb.com.

Almost 3,200 Vote Early

November 1, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Last Chance to Vote Early

A total of 3,196 DeKalb County voters cast ballots during the two week period for early voting, October 17 through November 1.

Thursday, on the last day for early voting, 414 voted including 400 in person and 14 by absentee.

The early voting turnout for this year's November election is down from four years ago. For the November 2008 election, a total of 4008 voted either early or by absentee. On election day, 3,182 voted for a total turnout of 7,190.

Election day voting Tuesday, November 6 will be from 8:00 am. until 7:00 p.m. at all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County. WJLE will have LIVE local election return coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night on AM 1480/FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

DeKalb County voters may cast ballots for President of the United States, a U.S. Senator of Tennessee, U.S. Representative of the Sixth Congressional District, and State Representatives of the 40th & 46th districts. City of Smithville voters will also decide the outcome of a liquor referendum.

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