Local News Articles

Closing Date Set on Sale of Lakeside Resort; Youth Residential Center an Option if Deal Falls Through

September 3, 2013
Dwayne Page
Lakeside Resort
Closing on Sale of Lakeside Resort Set for Sept 30
Bob Pierce and Jim Himelrick
Randall Killman
Mike Foster

UCHRA is hoping to close on the sale of Lakeside Resort in DeKalb County to the Brentwood Arts Society by September 30th. If the deal doesn't go through, UCHRA is looking at the possibility of opening a residential center for youth there.

In April, 2012 UCHRA settled on a deal to sell the facility to the Brentwood entity controlled by Jim Himelrick and Bob Pierce, real estate developers and former investors in Nashville Shores.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, last fall approved allowing the non-profit Brentwood Arts Society to assume the land lease. Rural Development had to approve a loan to Brentwood Arts before the transaction could be finalized.

In an interview with WJLE Thursday, Randall Killman, UCHRA Human Resource and Community Relations Director said UCHRA is still hoping to do business with Brentwood Arts Society. "Rural Development has notified us that the Brentwood Arts Society has agreed to a closing date of September 30 to finalize the transfer of the Lakeside facility. That's good news in the fact that this date has been set. At that point and time they will need to have all their money secured to be able to do the closing and we are hopeful that will happen. Of course the property is owned by the Corps of Engineers (federally owned property cannot be sold) but they (Brentwood Arts Society) are purchasing the equipment, the furnishings, and the rights to be able to occupy it and to be able to use the facility. The sale amount is the closing amount. Rural Development has issued some requirements for them as far as having some money in an escrow to cover any unexpected expenses that might occur. But the sale price is for the amount that is still owed on it. The amount is approximately $1.6 million," said Killman.

If Brentwood Arts Society can't secure funding and the closing does not occur, Killman said UCHRA may go the route of a residential center for youth at Lakeside. "In any good business plan, you'll always have a plan "B" and maybe even a plan "C", "D", and "E" hopefully to be able to operate in case this (closing) doesn't go through. Our Executive Director, Mr. Luke Collins has been working very hard on that for the past several months and looking at several different options. One of the options, which seems to be, in the early stages, our most viable option is a type of residential center. Something similar to what we do now. We have three different residential centers now. We have one in DeKalb County, Putnam County, and Crossville working with youth so this would be a program similar to that in which we would utilize that area (Lakeside) for that purpose. It's something we're looking into. It would give us the opportunity to be able to serve many more youth than we are currently able to serve. Of course there is always a need for that in the state of Tennessee and around the country, to help those that are in situations that might not get help otherwise. We're looking forward to that possibility if this process doesn't go through. Of course we are in the early stages of planning. We would be working with the Department of Children Services and there will be a lot to have to do to be able to get that (Lakeside) in the position of where we could provide residential services down there for the youth. We would have to work very closely with DCS to be able to do that such as form contracts and make sure that everything was appropriate for the youth down there. The current thought process is to have residential facilities for youth. Most likely it would be teen youth. As far as the specifics go we really have not gotten to that point yet to determine what particular area we may target more. But this definitely is the plan "B"," said Killman.

According to a recent published report in the Herald-Citizen of Cookeville, UCHRA Residential Services Director Brian Swearingen presented a plan to the policy council on Tuesday, August 20, with proposals of opening an enhanced level II alcohol and drug program for adolescents and a primary treatment center and detention at Lakeside.

County Mayor Mike Foster told WJLE Friday that he missed that UCHRA policy council meeting where the residential center option was discussed but believes it is too premature for anyone to speculate on what the UCHRA board will do if the deal with Brentwood Arts Society does not go through. "The day that they had the last meeting, Tuesday August 20 I was at the Hurricane Bridge dedication and missed whatever they (UCHRA officials) talked about in that meeting. But I think they have seven or eight hypothetical situations that they have been talking about though none of them have been approved and we would certainly have to know a whole lot more about them before I think the board would approve any of them. I know they're talking to some church groups and other people for other uses of that (Lakeside) but again none of them have been approved," he said.

Foster said he believes Lakeside should continue to be used as a tourist attraction and by the Brentwood Arts Society if possible. "My first choice is that, hopefully this sale will go through, and it winds up being a tourism attraction which would be a good thing for the community I think. That is the only proposal that has been accepted by the (UCHRA) board and I think it is by far the best proposal. They would use it in connection with their arts and plays that they have and they would also offer a destination tourism attraction, where it would attract people to come there to see plays and to stay in the cabins or motel. To me that's by far the better situation," Foster told WJLE.

"Of course, obviously we still have options, running it as a resort area and trying to do some improvements to the facility and also to do things to promote it more to be able to encourage more people to stay there," said Killman. " But we feel like as an agency that the most viable option for us at this point, if this closing does not happen with the Brentwood Arts Society, would be for us to look at this youth facility. So now we're at a point where if the Brentwood Arts Society can get the financial backing to be able to close this on September 30, we'll be good to go," said Killman.

Himelrick and Pierce of Brentwood Arts Society had reached a deal in April, 2012 to acquire the Lakeside facilities from UCHRA by the first of the year (2013) but also operate it for a fee of $5,000 a month until then. Under the existing lease and loan terms, a non-profit has to be in control of the property.

UCHRA Executive Director Luke Collins, who addressed the county commission during its regular monthly meeting in January said the Brentwood Arts Society would bring more activities to the county through Lakeside Resort. "I think that change will be a win, win for everybody. I think the Brentwood Arts Society will bring more activities to Smithville and DeKalb County and more opportunities because that's more of what they do. They are specialized in doing those things and I think they would be a better suited organization to manage Lakeside. We (UCHRA) are primarily into social services. That's primarily what we do. But Lakeside is a great facility. It offers a lot of educational opportunities for DeKalb County and a lot of jobs. It's brought a lot of tourists here. We want it to continue to be an asset to DeKalb County and I think it will," said Collins

"It would still be run as an educational facility," said County Mayor Mike Foster during that January meeting. "It would still be open to the public and it would probably help create a resort area for DeKalb County and the Upper Cumberland area in that it would still be run as a motel, a destination, a training center, and would still provide a lot of the same services that it has in the past. But it would be run by a private organization," he added.

Brentwood Arts Society provides financial support to the Town Centre Theater in Brentwood, which also has a production group that put on play performances last year at the new DeKalb County Complex auditorium.

Lakeside Resort, consisting of 139 acres on the banks of Center Hill Lake off of the Cookeville Highway, created problems for UCHRA financially, by being unable to support itself or to service the debt on the $1.6 million note owed on property there.

Anderson Webb Graduates from Belmont University

September 3, 2013
Anderson Webb (White Coat Ceremony-UT Health Science Center College of Medicine

Anderson H. Webb of Smithville graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Biology Pre-Med on May 4 during the Nashville school's spring commencement ceremony.

Anderson, the son of Alan and Lora Webb graduated Magna Cum Laude (with high honors) for maintaining a grade point average of 3.75- 3.949. An active member of the Student Government Association, Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, Theta Epsilon Tau (Pre-Health Science Organization), and Alpha Epsilon Delta (Pre-Medicine Organization) where he helped charter this organization at Belmont University. He was also inducted into the Alpha Chi Honor Society. Alpha Chi membership is the highest academic honor awarded by Belmont University. Alpha Chi members are nominated by the faculty and must have "outstanding moral character" and display leadership, integrity, and service. Anderson was also on the Dean's List 8 consecutive semesters. He is now a medical student at the University of Tennessee Health Science College of Medicine in Memphis, Tennessee.

Ranked No. 7 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the fifth consecutive year as one of the top "Up-and-Comer" universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of approximately 6,650 students who come from every state and 25 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The university's purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world's needs, a fact made evident in the University's hometown, Nashville, where students served more than 60,000 hours of community service (valued at $450,000) during the last academic year. Belmont is also home to the World Cup champion Enactus team, a group of 42 student leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world. With more than 80 areas of study, 23 master's programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual's horizon. For more information, visit www.belmont.edu.

Alexandria Man Suffers Serious Leg Injury in Car-Motorcycle Wreck

September 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Ford Focus Hits Motorcycle on Lower Helton Road
Motorcycle Comes to Rest in Weeds off Lower Helton Road After Crash

An Alexandria man, riding a motorcycle, suffered a serious leg injury when he was struck by another motorist Monday afternoon on Lower Helton Road.

55 year old Theodore Joseph Pryjama of Lower Helton Road, Alexandria was treated by DeKalb EMS before being airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance. He was reportedly flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

Lieutenant Randall Maynard of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Pryjama was traveling west on Lower Helton Road on a 2007 Harley Davidson motorcycle, trying to negotiate a curve, when he was sideswiped by an eastbound 2009 Ford Focus, driven by 27 year old Jennifer Johnson, also of Lower Helton Road.

"As they were negotiating a curve, the car came over on the westbound side, probably about a foot and a half from the center. They sideswiped. She was almost out of the curve and he was going into the curve. After impact, the car continued off to the right side of the road, went into the ditch, and then came back on the roadway and stopped. The motorcycle rider was ejected, traveling about 75 feet staying in the roadway. His motorcycle continued, going off the left side of the roadway approximately 100 feet into the weeds," said Lieutenant Maynard.

He said the accident was not a hit and run. " After the wreck she (Johnson) was trying to call her parents. They didn't answer. She went and got them and came right back," said Lieutenant Maynard.

Pryjama's wife was following behind him on another motorcycle and witnessed the accident. She was not involved in the wreck and was not injured.

Johnson was cited for failing to maintain her lane of travel. There were no signs of alcohol or drugs involved in the accident, according to Lieutenant Maynard.

Members of the Liberty and Temperance Hall Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with officers of the Sheriff's Department.

Public Invited to Open Forum on the Federal Affordable Health Care Act

September 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Oscar Boyd

An open forum to better inform and educate the public about the Federal Affordable Healthcare Act is scheduled for Monday, September 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Community Complex Auditorium at 712 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville.

Oscar Boyd, who will serve as moderator of the program said several public officials will be at the meeting to answer questions. Boyd said everyone is invited as this new law will affect individuals and business owners.

Invited speakers include State Senator Mae Beavers; State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver; Sue Conley, CEO of DeKalb Community Hospital; and representatives of the Tennessee Department of Treasury; Bureau of TennCare; and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

"We intend to educate the public on what is going on with the Affordable Healthcare Act and what it means to you, the individual and to you, the business owner," said Boyd. "We will educate the public on the new health insurance exchanges, IRS laws, and the regulations that go along with all the changes including health insurance and Medicare for seniors." he said

"As our lives will be greatly impacted by this entire Affordable Healthcare Act and the attachments to it, I think it is time for all citizens to be aware of the problems it presents and how to overcome them," said Boyd.

"You are invited to attend this open forum and ask questions. The meeting will continue until all questions have been asked and answered," Boyd concluded.

All are welcome to attend, especially residents of DeKalb and surrounding counties.

Alexandria Election Set for Thursday

September 2, 2013
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria Municipal Election is set for Thursday, September 5.

A mayor will be elected to serve a four year term. Jim H. York, Jr. is poised to succeed incumbent Mayor Ria Baker, who chose not to seek re-election. York is the only candidate for mayor.

Three aldermen were to be elected, each to serve a four year term but only one candidate qualified for alderman, Pat Jackson.

No one else qualified by the deadline to be an official write-in candidate.

It will apparently be up to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to make an appointment to fill the two other aldermen positions.

Voting will be Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Kenneth Sandlin Center on the fairgrounds.

Since the election is uncontested, voting will be done by paper ballot. "The law states any municipality with a population of five thousand (5,000) or less may elect to use paper ballots instead of voting machines for municipal elections when there is no opposition for any of the offices involved (on the ballot)," said Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley.

Altogether, Alexandria has a mayor and six aldermen positions.

James L. "Jimmy" Poss Announces Intentions to Run for County Clerk

September 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
James L. "Jimmy" Poss
James L. "Jimmy" Poss Family

Although the 2014 elections are several months away, the first candidate is stepping forward to publicly announce his intentions.

James L. "Jimmy" Poss, a Democrat, plans to be a candidate for the office of County Clerk

Poss has filed with the local election commission office an "Appointment of Political Treasurer" form, a requirement before a political candidate raises or spends money. On the form, Poss named himself as "Treasurer" of his campaign.

In his announcement, Poss said he has a life long affiliation and is a current member of the Bright Hill United Methodist Church. He has been married for 18 years to Jennifer J. Barnes (J.J.) Poss and they have two children, Lane Madison Poss, a Freshman at DCHS and Tanner James Poss, a 7th grader at DeKalb Middle School. Poss is the son of W.J. and Mildred (Bill) Hooper Poss. He has a brother and sister- in-law John Alan and Lori Poss. A sister and brother-in-law Dana and Dewaine Jennings. His grandmother is Pauline Poss Cantrell. Mother-in-law, Linda and husband Willie Moser. Sister-in-law, Lisa Barnes and Father-in-law Tink and wife Beverly Barnes

A graduate of DeKalb County High School, Poss is a licensed Emergency Medical Technician and is a licensed Real Estate Agent. He has also had OSHA/TOSHA Safety training.

For the past 23 years, Poss has been employed by the DeKalb County Ambulance Service and is the DeKalb County Safety Officer. He also works with the Real Estate Team. Poss previously worked for DeKalb Funeral Chapel.

In making his announcement, Poss said he would like the opportunity to continue serving the citizens of DeKalb County in a new role as County Clerk. If elected, Poss said his intentions are to provide courteous and efficient service to the citizens of DeKalb County and to complete County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) training to become a certified county official.

Upon being elected County Clerk, Poss said he would resign his full time employment with the ambulance service and retire his real estate license.

It is likely a primary election will be called by the DeKalb County Democratic Party for May 6, 2014. A May primary establishes the qualifying deadline for Democrat as well as Republican and Independent candidates. As a result, the qualifying deadline for all candidates will be Noon February 20th. Republicans and Independents must qualify at the same time. Republicans usually certify their nominees by Caucus. Qualifying Petitions will be available from the DeKalb County Election Commission on November 22, 2013.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

August 31, 2013

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Tennessee. An estimated 900 men, women and children commit suicide each year in our state — more people than are lost to homicide, AIDS or drunken driving.

DeKalb County had five suicides in 2011 for a rate of 26.5 per 100,000 population. That is the most recent statistic available for the county.

In the five years prior to 2011, the suicide rates in DeKalb County were as follows:

Year 2010: seven suicides at a rate of 37.4 per 100,000 population

Year 2009: five suicides at 26.5 per 100,000

Year 2008: nine suicides at 48.1 per 100,000

Year 2007: three suicides at 16.2 per 100,000

Year 2006: three suicides at 16.2 per 100,000

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youths and young adults ages 15-24 in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 4,607 recorded suicide deaths in our state in the past five years.

According to the Tennessee Youth Risk Behavior Survey published in 2011 by the Tennessee Department of Education, 25.9 percent of high school students — approximately 1 in 4 — surveyed reported experiencing a period of sadness or hopelessness for two weeks or more that was severe enough to pull them away from their usual activities during a 12-month period. One in 7, or 14.7 percent, actually considered suicide during that period. One in 9 (11.1 percent of survey respondents) planned out how they would do it. One in 16 (6.2 percent) actually tried to take their own lives. Of those who attempted suicide, approximately 35 percent required medical attention for injuries related to their attempt.

But while youth suicide gets the most attention from mental health agencies, our state also is dealing with increasing rates of suicide among middle-aged adults hard hit by the recent recession and slow recovery. Also, the ebb of the Middle East conflicts means more soldiers will be trying to reconcile their wartime experiences with civilian life. Many of the soldiers coming back from combat deployments suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network also is concerned about the issue of gun safety as it relates to suicide. Firearms are involved in roughly 600 suicide deaths in Tennessee each year — two-thirds of all suicide deaths reported in our state. Additionally, there are about 25 accidental firearm deaths in Tennessee each year, along with about 1,700 accidental shootings requiring emergency medical attention. As an alternative to potentially onerous gun-control legislation, our agency believes that safe storage of firearms is the answer, and we are currently reaching out to gun shops and firing ranges across the state to promote that ideal.

Our goal is not merely fewer suicides; it is zero suicides. Suicide remains a major and tragic threat to middle-aged adults in our state. When the people of Tennessee need us, we will be there to teach, explain, console and encourage. TSPN is staging several events across the state during September to promote the cause of suicide prevention. For information, visit our website, www.tspn.org. We hope you can attend at least one of these events and join us in the ongoing effort to make zero suicides not just an objective, but a reality for our state.

In the meantime, you can get help for someone who may be feeling suicidal — whether it’s someone you know or yourself — through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Josten’s Renaissance has arrived at DeKalb County

August 31, 2013
Kathy Bryant
DCHS students walk the red carpet lined with plants and balloons

Josten’s Renaissance has arrived at DeKalb County!

Renaissance is a nationwide movement designed to recognize and reward academic excellence, participation, and good school citizenship. Educators, parents, and partners in the business community join forces to provide incentives for students to improve grades, attend school, increase school spirit, and eliminate disciplinary incidents.

Melissa Ruch has worked relentlessly for several years to have the program implemented at DeKalb County High School. Assistant Principal Kathy Bryant has coordinated the efforts of faculty, administrators, residents of DeKalb County as well as students of the high school to assist Mrs. Ruch on making this new program an astounding success!

DeKalb County High School has found a partner with DeKalb Community Hospital. The hospital has generously agreed to help support the school’s renaissance program this year. The school will celebrate hard work, commitment, great character, leadership, and participation by involving students, faculty, parents, and the community in sharing the fun and passion for excellence in education!

To kick off this new program on Monday, August 5, all students arrived to a scene quite unique to DeKalb County school systems. As the students made their way to the front of the school, music echoed through the courtyard, and administrators and teachers welcomed the students back and guided them towards the red carpet lined with plants and balloons.

County Eyes City Industrial Park for Possible Site of Solid Waste Transfer Station

August 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

The County is making plans to develop a solid waste transfer station and recycling center possibly within the next year which may be located in the Smithville Industrial Development Park on East Broad Street.

Nothing definite has yet been decided but the Smithville Industrial Development Board and possibly other city officials are expected to be consulted and asked to give approval for such a move.

County Mayor Mike Foster, during the county commission meeting Monday night, said preliminary plans have already been prepared. "We have a set of very early plans but we're continuing to do some work on them. We'll be getting with Jimmy (Mayor Poss), the aldermen, and the Industrial Development Board to talk more about that. All of you on the (county) commission know that we have been working toward this end probably for the last eight or nine years. We have accumulated and allowed to build a fund balance that will be able to build (fund) that (Transfer Station) and a Class III/IV cell and to close most of the (existing) Class I landfill where it is now when its full," said Foster.

Foster said the county could still maintain a class III/IV cell because it is not subject to as many environmental regulations as a Class I cell and it would be mainly for disposal of construction materials. "We plan to go to a Class III/IV cell which is non-household garbage, which could be for construction materials and that kind of thing in the area where we are now (existing landfill location). But we would have a transfer station for household garbage (possibly at Smithville Industrial Park)," he said.

Under a transfer station operation, household garbage would continue to be collected at local convenience centers across the county, then loaded onto trucks and brought to the transfer station, where the garbage would be separated from recyclables and then loaded onto semi trucks and transferred to a landfill site in another county. DeKalb would contract for the garbage to be hauled out of county and for the disposal of it at a certain price per ton. The recyclables would be baled and sold.

According to Foster, DeKalb County would have fewer environmental worries about solid waste and could enhance its recycling capaibilities if it had its own transfer station. "It would be brought in and loaded on a truck and carried to whoever gets the lowest bid for taking the garbage. Right now, it looks like it would be Smith County or down at Murfreesboro. We would avoid much of the environmental liability and in conjunction with that have a recycling center where we could really enhance our ability to transfer and recycle primarily cardboard paper and plastics," said Foster.

Convenience sites would still be required throughout the county and residents could continue to bring their household garbage there or directly to the transfer station.

September 2013 Is National Voter Registration Month in Tennessee

August 29, 2013
Dennis Stanley
Tre Hargett

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett joins the DeKalb County Election Commission in reminding citizens that September is National Voter Registration Month. Secretary Hargett is working with county election officials to make eligible voters aware of registration deadlines and requirements, as well as encouraging already registered voters to update their current registration if they have recently changed their address.

“It is important for individuals to register to vote, but it is equally important for voters to verify that their registrations are up to date,” added DeKalb County Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley. “If you have moved, now is a great time to update your address.”

In a concerted effort to remind eligible voters to register or update their voting information before deadlines pass, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) has also declared September 24 as National Voter Registration Day. The goal is to encourage voter participation and increase awareness of state requirements and deadlines for voting.

“The right to vote should never be taken for granted,” said Secretary Hargett, who is also president of NASS. “I encourage all eligible U.S. citizens to register if they haven’t already.”

For more information on voter registration options and deadlines in Tennessee, as well as to check your current registration status, visit GoVoteTN.com.


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