Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Climbs to 11.3%

January 29, 2010
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for December, 2009 was 11.3%, an increase from 10.6% in November. The rate for December 2008 was 9.2%

The local labor force for December, 2009 was 9,410. A total of 8,350 were employed and 1,060 were without work.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for December was 10.9 percent, up 0.7 percentage point from the revised November rate of 10.2 percent. The United States' unemployment rate for the month of December was unchanged at 10.0 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for December 2009, show that the rate increased in 91 counties, decreased in one, and remained the same in
three counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 7.1 percent, up 0.4 from its November rate. Lauderdale and Marshall counties had the state's highest unemployment rate at 18.9 percent. Lauderdale was up 0.4 from the November rate, and Marshall County increased from 16.8 percent in November.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 8.1 percent, up 0.4 percentage point from the November rate. Hamilton County was at 8.9 percent, up 0.5 percentage point from the November rate. Davidson County was 9.2 percent, up 0.4 from the previous month, and Shelby County was 10.3 percent, up 0.3 from the November rate.

Legislative Update from State Senator Mae Beavers

January 29, 2010
State Senator Mae Beavers

The following is a Legislative Update from State Senator Mae Beavers

The Tennessee General Assembly returned to Capitol Hill this week to close out the Special Session on Education and begin the work of the 2010 legislative session. Although the budget deficit will be the predominant driver for legislative action this year, among many issues that will headline the legislature’s agenda are unemployment, job creation, and preparing for Congressional action on health care that could have a huge negative impact on the state’s finances in the future. In addition, Thursday marked the last day in which Senators could file legislation to be debated throughout the coming months.

Senator Mae Beavers Files 2010 Legislation

This week Senator Beavers completed the filing of her 2010 legislative package. Legislation filed by Beavers included bills that address Tennessee’s DUI laws, healthcare, worker’s compensation, job creation, and the court system. Beavers once again hopes to pass an “ignition interlock” bill that would require a repeat DUI offender to purchase a device that would not allow that person to start his or her vehicle while intoxicated. In addition, Beavers filed bills that would encourage the purchase of certain health insurance across state lines, and also proclaim Tennessean’s constitutional right to not buy health insurance if a mandated and nationalized healthcare reform bill were to pass in Washington.

In addition, Senator Beavers continues to push for a repeal of a 2008 law that mandated worker’s compensation insurance be purchased on sole-proprietors and small contractors. Beavers also filed legislation that would encourage a “Tennessee-Made” logo be made available for businesses that employ Tennesseans and produce Tennessee goods and products. Finally, as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Beavers filed many bills dealing with the courts and constitutional amendments, including a constitutional amendment that would make it harder for the administration to spend over the limits of the “Copeland Cap” as set forth in Tennessee’s Constitution, as well as a constitutional amendment that would require the Attorney General be held accountable to the people of Tennessee through an election every four years.

Resolution would ensure future generations have the right to hunt and fish in Tennessee

The State Senate approved a bill this week that would give Tennessee voters the opportunity to decide if the state’s Constitution should be amended to recognize that citizens have the right to hunt and fish. The resolution was approved after Senator Beavers and other members of the Senate were added as sponsors of the measure. Tennessee, like most other states, predicates wildlife conservation efforts on a user pay system supported by sportsmen. Protection of sportsmen’s right to hunt and fish will ensure wildlife preservation efforts in Tennessee continue indefinitely. In addition, sportsmen pump millions of dollars into Tennessee’s economy. The resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 30, will give sportsmen a voice in court on any future action that would deny their right to hunt and fish if approved by the voters.

Issues in Brief

Tennessee Prime Milk – The Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill this week to help Tennessee’s dairy farmers by establishing a category of milk to be called "Tennessee Prime Milk.” The voluntary use of this label and program is designed to promote Tennessee's new official state drink: milk. The bill, Senate Bill 1899, aims to help Tennessee's dairy farmers which have declined from 10,000 active farms at the height of the business to 500 today. This voluntary program allows marketing and sale of a "home grown" milk product and calls for the milk to be certified by the state’s Department of Agriculture for sale at retail stores as “Tennessee Prime Milk” if it meets higher standards. Bottling plants can label their milk as "Tennessee Prime Milk", as long as 80% of the milk is produced in Tennessee.

Veto Override on Restaurant Menu Mandates – The Senate voted 24 to 7 to override the governor’s veto of legislation approved last year to ban unelected local government regulatory agencies from imposing requirements on restaurants to post calories on menus. The Senate passed the measure, Senate Bill 1092, last year after many small businesses raised concerns that some unelected agencies will impose different standards, which will significantly increase costs to small restaurant owners.

Tourism – Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker appeared before the Senate Conservation and Environment Committee this week to update lawmakers on efforts to promote travel to and within the state. Whitaker said tourism is up from $14.2 billion to $14.4 billion over the last year, although some parts of the state have been hit hard by the recession. The state is in the top ten in the U.S. in tourism and is doing very well compared to neighboring states, some of which are in double-digit decline. Tennessee is promoting a scenic by-ways project to get tourists into the more rural areas of the state, which is already meeting with some success.

The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

January 29, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Greetings! We resumed normal business this week, as the 106th General Assembly adjourned the Extraordinary Session on Monday. Committees held organizational meetings, heard testimony from department heads, and completed unfinished business held over from study committees. The Finance, Ways and Means Committee and Budget Subcommittee held budget hearings Tuesday and Wednesday to update us on the newest numbers.

State budget presents a challenge

The state is facing an unprecedented projected revenue deficit of roughly $1 billion. Because the Tennessee General Assembly is constitutionally mandated to pass a balanced budget, lawmakers will face extraordinary challenges. In October, Tennessee fiscal analysts said $1.1 billion in baseline budget reductions will likely need to be made in order to keep the state finances afloat.

The 2009-10 budget, passed in June of 2009, anticipated revenue growth of approximately one percent, but revenues have been falling short of that mark. The most recent revenue numbers show a continual decline, meaning that for a record 19 months, Tennessee has seen negative revenue growth. Economists are saying that general fund tax revenues could be down to about $8.5 billion for this year, compared to $10.3 billion in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Departments facing reductions

Overall, cuts of approximately $500 million to $750 million will need to be made in order to balance the budget. Deciding which programs to cut will be a difficult and delicate challenge. However, our household budgets are making tough choices around the kitchen table on a daily basis so; it is only natural that the state government must tighten the belt as well.

Education and corrections will probably not be on the chopping block, and we have said that departmental reserve accounts should not be tapped to cover recurring expenses. Most legislators also do not want to drain the entire Rainy Day Fund, which currently stands at approximately $525 million.

The State Funding Board recently adopted preliminary budget estimates in December, and we will likely hear them next week during budget hearings giving us a better snapshot of the budget hole it is facing. The Board will likely revise the estimate in late March or early April, as opposed to its practice of meeting in May, hopefully allowing us to finish earlier in the year.

Unemployment Trust Fund

The Unemployment Trust Fund will once again be a significant issue early in the 2010 legislative session. Despite a $140 million infusion of federal stimulus funds into the system in 2009, the fund continues toward insolvency. If the state incurs a deficit, it will likely require a bridge loan from the federal government until we can make other provisions in the Unemployment Trust Fund.

We voted last year to save Tennessee’s Unemployment Trust Fund from federal intervention, saying that the move was necessary to keep the federal government from completely taking over the nearly insolvent fund. The fund was approaching insolvency after the state unemployment rate jumped to 10 percent in 2009, and with the continuously rising percentage of Tennesseans out of work, the fund is being drained of resources. We supported the move, on the condition that a series of triggers allow unemployment taxes to decrease if the fund’s balance reaches a certain threshold.

Transportation Committee imposes restrictions on traffic cameras

This week, the House Transportation Committee passed a bill that places certain contractual restrictions on local governments who utilize traffic cameras. The move comes after months of study committee meetings examining the use of traffic cameras in communities across the state. The committee voted unanimously this week requiring contracts between local governments and companies operating the traffic cameras to contain a provision that requires the contract to be changed when state law is changed. We are anticipating legislation this year that will restrict the use of traffic cameras in some way, or at least lessen their impact. Several legislators have already filed bills on the subject, ranging from the elimination of the cameras to reductions in fee payments. It is an honor and a pleasure to serve the 40th district of Tennessee. If you need any assistance or would like to visit my office do not hesitate to call 615.741.2192.

Forty Three Students to Compete in County Spelling Bee

January 28, 2010
Dwayne Page

A total of forty three students will be competing during the Seventh Annual DeKalb County Spelling Bee Friday night, February 5th at 6:00 p.m. at DeKalb County High School.

WJLE will record the spelling bee for play back at a later time.

Students from DeKalb Middle School, DeKalb West School, and Northside Elementary School recently competed at the school level to become eligible for the county competition.

Along with students from thirty nine other counties, the first and second place winners in the DeKalb County Spelling Bee will compete in the Tennessean Regional Spelling Bee on March 4th at Belmont University in Nashville.

The winner of the Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

The purpose of the County Wide Spelling Bee is to help students improve spelling skills, increase vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

Participants in this year's County Wide Spelling Bee are:

Northside Elementary School:

Fourth Grade- Hannah Brown, Grace Godowns, and Hayley Martin

Fifth Grade- Erica Birmingham, Madison Bouldin, Timothy Cassinera, Katlyn Cox, Caelin Crips, Eli Cross, Madison Dickens, Hali Huang, Sara Beth LeFever, Baylee Phillips, and Taylor Spare.

DeKalb Middle School:

Sixth Grade-Chase Bryant and Kyra Trapp

Seventh Grade- Peter Antoniak, Nichole Casselberry, Brandon Chapman, Lenzi Dickens, Matthew Foutch, Justin Johnson, Brandon Kircher, Makalee Rush, Makayla Starnes, and Jacob Washer.

Eighth Grade- Josh Davidson and Jacob Pittman

DeKalb West School:

Fourth Grade- Breanna Gibson and Danielle Theriaque

Fifth Grade- Jayra Plattenburg, Brandy Rock, and Paige Snyder

Sixth Grade- Chasity Garrett and Ashley Grater

Seventh Grade- Leah Burchfield, Cason Oakley, Lydia Trail, Tony Tramel, and Bruce Wilson

Eighth Grade- Zach Bandy, Megan Nichols, and Crystal Vickers

England Sentenced in Burglary Cases

January 28, 2010
Dwayne Page
 Amanda England

19 year old Amanda England pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary of an auto and one count of simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Judge Leon Burns, Jr. sentenced England to two years in each of the burglaries. Three of the sentences are to run concurrently, but the fourth case will run consecutively with the others. The total sentence is four years. England was given jail credit of 43 days and she will be in the community corrections program for the balance of the term. England must pay seventy five dollars to the economic crime fund in each case, undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments, make restitution to the victims, and pay court costs. Other charges against her will be dismissed as part of her plea. In the drug case, England received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, 75% of which must be served in the community corrections program. She was fined $750.

In other cases, 38 year old Tonya Silcox pleaded guilty to forgery. She received a two year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. Other charges against her were dismissed. Silcox was given six months to serve for violation of probation but received jail credit of 131 days.

19 year old Ashley M. Anderson pleaded guilty to theft of property (shoplifting) and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, suspended to CPS probation. The sentence is to run consecutive to a Warren County sentence against her. All other charges against her were dismissed.

34 year old Lisa Marie Arnold pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, suspended to supervised probation. She was fined $150. Her probation is to be supervised by the DeKalb County Drug Court. Another charge against her was dismissed.

41 year old William Andrew Cantrell pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to appear. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case, to serve sixty days and then be on probation, supervised by CPS. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other. Cantrell will be in the community corrections program for the balance of four years. He was given jail credit of 264 days.

38 year old Reed Edge pleaded guilty to simple possession and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, suspended to good behavior probation. He was fined $250.

32 year old Jackie Darrell Ervin pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule II controlled substance and driving on a suspended license and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to supervised CPS probation in the drug case and a six month suspended sentence on the traffic offense. The sentences are to run concurrently. He was fined a total of $1,000.

30 year old Jason T. Harris pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case to run concurrently. He must serve 48 hours and then be on probation.. Harris was fined $365 and he will lose his license for one year.

32 year old Vanessa Louise Lance pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, suspended to supervised CPS probation. She was fined $150 and given jail credit of ten days.

35 year old Jimmy B. Martin pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve and then be on supervised PSI probation. He must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the recommended treatments. He was fined $360 and will lose his license for one year.

32 year old Lisa M. Porterfield pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to probation, to be supervised by Warren County CPS. The sentence is to run consecutively to a violation of probation she is currently serving and concurrently with a Warren County probation case. Other charges against her will be dismissed. Porterfield was given jail credit since May 18th.

42 year old Napoleon B. Wainwright pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve. He must complete an alcohol safety education program and submit to an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the prescribed treatments. He was fined $365 and will lose his license for one year.

Chamber Banquet Coming Soon

January 26, 2010
Suzanne Williams
Suzanne Williams

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is making plans for the annual membership banquet.

The following is the monthly "Chamber Chat" article by Suzanne Williams.

We would like to invite everyone to attend the 2010 Chamber Annual Membership Banquet. This event will be held on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church, 1850 Allen Ferry Road, Smithville. The special evening begins with a “Silent Auction” at 5:30 PM; the dinner and program start at 6:00 PM. Wonderful background music will be played during the evening by pianist, Tomomi McDowell. Our singing entertainment will be provided by local talent, Mercedes Luna.

Our keynote speaker will be Coach Watson Brown, head football coach of the Tennessee Tech University Golden Eagles. Coach Brown returned to his hometown of Cookeville as the 10th head football coach in Tech history. A proven veteran in the coaching profession, Brown is known as one of the best offensive minds in football. The 2010 season will be Coach Brown’s 38th year of coaching collegiate football, and his 26th year as a collegiate head coach. Brown’s many achievements as a student-athlete and later as a coach in the state of Tennessee have not gone unnoticed. In 2003, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

In addition, the Leadership DeKalb Alumni group will present their winners for “Community Leader of the Year” and “Legacy” awards. Our newly-elected Chamber Board members will be introduced and our retiring directors will be honored.

Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased from any of our board members or can be picked up at our office located at 301 N. Public Square, Smithville. We are accepting "Silent Auction" donations, so if your business would like to contribute an item or service, contact the Chamber at 597-4163. We will be glad to pick it up. We hope you can join us as we celebrate our 47th year as a Chamber of Commerce.

Welcome New Chamber Members:

•Dale Hollow Marketing Group, 8500 Hwy 111, Suite 50B, Byrdstown , Owner - Terry Burckhard.

•Roses, 750 S Congress Blvd., Smithville, 215 -2015

•Heartland Café, 108 W Walnut St., Smithville, Owner – J. Ashburn - Serving BBQ and homestyle cooking, Available for catering special events. For more info, call 597-9449.

•Wheeler Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Scott Wheeler, 690 S Congress Blvd, Smithville, 597-3770

•Smithville Auto Service, 300 W Broad St, Smithville, 597-7800 – For all your auto service and repair needs

The Chamber Milestone Award was recently presented to Phillip “Fluty” and Marilyn Cantrell, owners of Cantrell’s Clothing celebrating 45 years in DeKalb County. Congratulations!

The Chamber would like to express gratitude to our retiring board members: Gina Denman, Denny Lamp; Elmer Ellis, Jr., County Commissioner, District 1; Kelley Garrett, Garrett Insurance; Charlie Parker, Smithville Builders Supply; and Chris Griffith, DeKalb Co. Farm Bureau. Their positive contributions to this organization have been invaluable. They have done an excellent job in their positions on the Board.

We would also like to acknowledge a job well done by our 2009 Chamber Executive Board: Robin Driver, President; Tim Hintz, Vice President; Kelley Garrett, Treasurer; and Valerie Laprad, Secretary; and Kerry Davis, Past President. They have served as a great team of advisors for me and supportive in every way possible. I am so appreciative.

We are excited to announce the new 2009-2011 Chamber Board Members: Tom Miller, Liberty State Bank; Keith Blair, Attorney-at-Law; George Oliver, Smithville Rotary Club; Jason Ray, Leadership Alumni – Class of 2009; Mike Williams, Sheriff’s Dept./DeKalb Fair Board. Newly appointed for resigned directors are Janna Gillard, DeKalb County Guide (serving out a 1-yr term) and Angie Meadows, Smithville Review (serving out a 2-yr.term).

The Chamber projects and events wouldn’t be possible without the devoted and talented people on the Chamber Board. They are such an asset in reaching our goals and objectives.

The Chamber would like to again express a very heartfelt thanks to Jim Finley and NHC Healthcare for sponsoring our Chamber Board of Director meetings. A wonderful meeting space and delicious lunch are provided monthly by NHC.
Good News Report!

•TN Roadscapes Grant - The Chamber applied for the Tennessee Roadscapes Grant in 2006 & 2008. Gov. Bredesen recently announced that DeKalb County has been awarded $20,000. This 80/20 matching grant will be used to create four beautiful, inviting entry signs into the county.

•Center Hill Lake Visitors’ Guide – A beautiful, full-color visitors’ guide highlighting our county businesses and Center Hill Lake plus stories of interest and information on accommodations, marinas, restaurants, shopping, events, and much more will be available in May, 2010. We are excited to have this beneficial marketing tool to highlight the positive aspects of our county.

The Chamber wants to help promote your news or special events. Please call our office at 597-4163 or e-mail us at dekalbtn@dtccom.net and we’ll help you spread the word.

Mark your calendars:

WJLE Chamber Chat Radio Program - 1st Wednesday of every month at 8:30 AM and filmed by DTC TV and aired on myDTC3.

Tuesday, February 16th – Chamber Annual Banquet, Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church, Silent Auction begins at 5:30 PM, Program at 6 PM -- Keynote Speaker: Coach Watson Brown, head football coach of the TTU Golden Eagles. Tickets-$20 - Everyone is invited.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County’s “Real Sock Hop,” Get out your poodle skirt & bobbie socks & get ready to rock ‘n roll! on Saturday, February 13 at the 303 North Public Square Building, Smithville – Dance & Hula Hoop Contest for 50+ crowd, Best Dressed Contest & Cake Walk for everyone, Classic Car Show, Radio Personality Ralph Vaughn, Minimum Donation of $5 - Refreshments available for purchase.

Senator Beavers Confronts TDOT Officials about Sligo Bridge during Committee Meeting

January 26, 2010
Dwayne Page
State Senator Mae Beavers Questioning TDOT Officials

The Sligo bridge issue was a topic of discussion Tuesday during a State Senate Transportation Committee meeting in Nashville.

Gerald Nicely, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Paul Degges, TDOT Chief Engineer, updated the committee on projects funded under the federal stimulus program.
(To view video click the following link and then click "presentation-stimulus update from TDOT")

State Senator Mae Beavers, a member of the committee, asked why the Sligo bridge was not among the projects funded. Degges, explained that the project was not "shovel" ready at the time, because issues regarding right of way had not and still have not been resolved. "We ultimately did not have the right of way in hand, in fact we don't have the right of way or the environmental issues quite worked out. The Corps of Engineers has a concession with a marina operator underneath the bridge. To build this bridge, we'll take the parking lot. There's also acid producing rock in the earth and when we build this we'll need a handling plan for that material. That stuff is still in progress and is close to being finalized. So that project was not shovel ready because we didn't have everything ready."

Senator Beavers then asked why constituents, when calling TDOT about Sligo bridge, were being told by a TDOT employee that the reason their bridge wasn't being funded was because she (Senator Beavers) and State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver did not vote for the bridge bonding bill.

Degges said he confronted the employee who denied making those statements to anyone."Senator none of my staff has said that. I have heard an allegation to that affect. The commissioner and I have personally talked to an employee who denies that he said that."

Commissioner Nicely added " When that report came in both Mr. Degges and I talked to the employee and he denied it so all I can do is say that he is a pretty trust worthy individual so maybe he was misunderstood. I will point out that other bridges in DeKalb County have been funded, if the argument is going to be made it's political. Finally, the Governor has probably got more complaints about me not being political enough than he has of me being too political since I've been commissioner."

Degges told Senator Beavers that there were over twenty projects "that were in our initial assessment as potentially eligible or ready for the program that ultimately did not get funded either through the stimulus funds or through our regular work program so those projects (Sligo and Cordell Hull) have a lot of company. They were not ready."

During a meeting last Friday night in Smithville, Degges talked with WJLE about the status of Sligo bridge. "We're under development on the Sligo bridge. Hopefully, we'll be finishing up our right of way acquisition with the Corps of Engineers. There is a concessionaire under the bridge with the marina and we've been working real hard with the Corps of Engineers trying to find ways to reduce impacts on that business so that is complicating our right of way acquisition problem."

Degges says TDOT originally considered a rehabilitation of Sligo bridge, but the public outcry here was for a total replacement, which is much more expensive. "That's around a $30 million project. We had looked at doing about a five or six million dollar rehabilitation but working with the community it was very vocally told to us that everybody wants a new bridge there. So we are not working on rehab plans, we are working toward a set of replacement plans on that bridge."

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander recently helped secure $1.5 million in federal funding for right of way acquisition and for making emergency repairs to the existing bridge and is now planning to ask for funding to replace Sligo bridge as a priority project in the federal highway re-authorization appropriation later this year.

Degges said Friday night that Sligo bridge remains safe under the posted weight limits and he explained for WJLE why chunks of concrete are falling from the bridge into nets underneath the bridge. "On the Sligo bridge, a number of years ago when the bridge deck was going bad, rather than shutting the bridge down and jack hammering the deck out and putting a new deck in, we came in there real fast and poured a whole new bridge deck on top of the old bridge deck. So the new bridge deck is a structurally reinforced deck to carry the traffic. The old deck underneath it, we didn't fix it before we put the new deck on it, and we didn't need to. It is starting to flake and crumble and have pieces fall out. It's not a structural issue with the bridge, but we put the nets up under there because we were concerned about people who might be underneath the bridge, we might have a piece of concrete fall. So that's what the netting is for. We realize that it doesn't look very good up under there but we felt it was important that we put that there to provide safety for people to be under the bridge. But again, from a structural standpoint on the bridge, the new re-enforced concrete deck on top of the old one is a perfectly good deck and it will hold the traffic on it."

County Commission Approves Plan to Escort Large Trucks Across Hurricane Bridge

January 26, 2010
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night approved a plan to provide escorts of large trucks across Hurricane Bridge through at least September and to apply for a state grant to help recoup the county's costs. The purpose is to control weight loads on the bridge.

Under the proposal, County Mayor Mike Foster says the county will appropriate around $20,000 to hire at least a couple of people with experience in law enforcement or traffic control who would work a forty hour week monitoring traffic across Hurricane Bridge. These officers will be responsible for making sure that no more than one large truck passes over the bridge at a time. Foster says the Tennessee Department of Transportation has agreed to the plan. "They have agreed and if the county would agree to supply people to go down there an escort people across the bridge so that only one big truck is on Hurricane bridge at a time, they (TDOT) will allow them (trucks) to carry 72,000 pounds. This will help our industries and school buses that are crossing it, and it will cost the county probably in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $25,000 between now and September. However, I talked to Paul Degges (TDOT Chief Engineer) today and he has acquired for us a Section 402 police traffic service grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Office so that we can apply for a $20,000 grant to repay us through the sheriff's office. We will pay for it (manning the escorts) and they (state) will refund us through Sheriff Ray's office $20,000 through September. The money needs to flow through his department."

Degges told WJLE Friday night that TDOT hopes to have the design plans for the rehabilitation of Hurricane Bridge completed by September and a contract bid letting could follow this fall if state funding can be secured for the project, which is expected to cost between $12 and $15 million dollars.

Foster says once TDOT begins construction work on the bridge, the county's responsibility for manning truck escorts across Hurricane would end, because the state would be controlling traffic on the bridge.

Meanwhile, in other business the county commission voted to transfer ownership of the county owned shirt factory building, being used by Omega Apparel, to the DeKalb County Industrial Development Board.

Foster says this move will benefit Omega and help them create more jobs. "Omega is the sole maker of the 13 button broad fall Navy pants. Every pair of Navy pants is made right here and has been for fifteen years. We have about 86 jobs that work there. They recently received a new contract to make skirts. That will be 29 new jobs. They have also applied for another contract for class-A dress pants with a stripe on the side. If they get that, it will mean 82 more new jobs. They are going to apply for a federal loan but to get them a better rate and to make sure we do everything the way we're supposed to do it, we would like to ask to transfer deed of the old shirt factory building to the DeKalb County Industrial Development Board. This allows them to assist Omega in applying for low interest federal loans to help provide new jobs. It will not happen unless they get this contract and DeKalb County gets 112 new jobs out of it. But it will help them, and they will spend that money on the county building to put a new air conditioning and heating system in it, divide it, and do some work on it. They (Omega) will move their cutting room across the street (to the shirt factory building) on this side (east) of South Mountain Street and manufacturing will stay on the other side (shirt factory building on the west side). The loan is to be entirely paid back by Omega."

Foster brought the commission up to date on the latest developments with the Town and Country Shopping Center building, which is now owned by the county, and he asked for and received authorization to speak with architects about some renovation work on the buildings. "We actually got the deed to the property on January 4th and we legally could not do anything with it, nor could we take people out there to look at it, because of the liability issues. We now have it in our possession and have insured it. So we'll begin having meetings (on potential uses). We talked about title insurance. I went ahead and got title insurance because it was a very complicated title. We'd also like to get some input from architects to begin planning as to what we need to do. I would like authorization to talk to the three or four architects that you all named in the meeting the other night to get some input and ideas and settle on an architect to do this work."

On other matters, the commission appointed Judy Sandlin and Jimmy Herndon to four year terms on the county industrial development board and re-appointed Danny Pirtle and Jerry Taylor to the regional planning commission.

Foster says Jim Poss of DeKalb EMS will serve as the county's TOSHA officer, subject to completion of a job description for the position.

The commission approved the county fire department's selection for another year of Donny Green as DeKalb County Fire Chief and Roy Merriman as Assistant Chief.

The annual contract between the county and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was approved allocating $38,080 in federal funds for the sheriff's department for providing a certain number of patrols at various lake sites from April through September.

Foster received authorization for an emergency purchase to have a garbage truck repaired, which was involved in a traffic accident earlier this month near Sligo bridge on Highway 70. He says the cost is expected to be $35,488. Foster will obtain more estimates and present them to either the purchasing and or budget committees for approval.

According to Foster, DeKalb County's economy grew last year based on sales tax collections. "December sales tax revenues were $294,241. Last year, December (2008) collections were $252, 463. That's up by $41,778, about a 14% increase over same month last year."

"For the year, DeKalb County's sales tax collections were $1,883,484, up $102,488 for the year, a 5.45% increase. We were the only county in the Upper Cumberland that had revenues that increased in sales taxes for the year."

The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

January 25, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is a Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Greetings! This “Special Session” called by the Governor, I must tell you, has been a special one indeed and highly extraordinary, to say the least.

The numerous hearing meetings discussing ways we can improve Tennessee Education brought this legislation to a more finite process. Because I value the heartbeat of my district when it comes to education, my school tour last fall provided a wealth of information needed to properly understand the nuts and bolts of public education.

“Race to the Top” will give much needed assistance to our great teachers that will help them reach even greater heights and thus reap greater achievements for our schools. I am very proud of the fact that we do not have any failing schools in the fortieth district. Hats off to our administrators, our principles and most importantly our teachers who labor in the classroom preparing our children to succeed!

It is my hope that one day we will focus more on rewarding success when it comes to distributing grant funds and rewarding our teachers with a better salary reflecting their diligence in educating our children. Never the less, our schools continue to work hard enabling our students to prepare for graduation and beyond.

Listed below are bullet points of what Race to the Top will bring to the table:

Provides $4.35 billion in competitive grants.

Building data systems that measure student growth and success.

Inform teachers and principals how they can improve.

Turning around the lowest-achieving schools.

Actually use the twenty years of information to improve the quality of education and to ensure that student performance is improving.

Reform education by putting in place common sense strategies and taking bold steps in reforming education laws.

Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) can now be used for up to 35 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, with another 15 percent of the criteria to be determined in part by an independent committee.

Teachers and principal will mutually agree with the person(s) performing the evaluation.

Teacher evaluations will be done once a year and will give teacher training programs access to TVAAS data on their graduates to help identify strengths and weaknesses of training programs.

Legislators have, for many years, advocated these types of education reforms on the state level, and we are glad to see a step forward being made for our children and our schools.

The state plans to enhance its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program.
Finalists in the competition will be invited to Washington to present their plans to the U.S. Department of Education in March. The winners will be announced in April. If successful, Tennessee can expect to begin receiving funds in September 2010 which will continue in equal increments over four years.

Tennessee currently ranks 40th in the nation in completion of bachelor’s degrees, and 45th in completion of associate’s degrees. We were told that in order to reach the national average, Tennessee would need to graduate another 20,000 graduates annually. The House passed the “Complete College Act of 2010”. I believe this plan will increase the number of college graduates, offer easily transferrable credits, and make the community colleges, four-year institutions, and technology centers work as a tightly knit network.

The bill will:
Revise the current law by making it easier for transfers of credit among institutions.

Give students an easier, more affordable way to finish the degree of their choice.

Develop a new funding formula based on outcomes.

And in addition legislators approved $6.2 million to establish the University of Tennessee at Knoxville as a premier research institution by partnering with Oak Ridge National Lab. The partnership is expected to create nearly 200 new jobs.

In closing, we have made great strides in putting into effect policies that will greatly enhance our education system and put us on the right track to realize our goals. By implementing accountability coupled with performance "Race to the Top" and the "Complete College Act of 2010" will bring us one step further toward meeting our goal to ensure a solid foundation for the future of our great state - Tennessee. Again, thank you for allowing me to work and serve you. Never hesitate to call my office at 615.741.2192. Blessings!

Crossville Man Injured in Sunday night Crash

January 25, 2010
Dwayne Page

A 19 year old Crossville man escaped serious injury in a one car crash Sunday night on Highway 70 east near Sligo.

Trooper Todd Logan of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Andrew Morgan was driving a 1999 Nissan Altima west on U.S. 70 when he lost control while going around a curve. The car struck a guardrail on the right, went back across the highway and hit a rockwall on the left side of the road. The car then overturned into a ditch, came to rest upside down, and caught fire. Morgan apparently got out of the vehicle on his own and was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where he was treated and released.

Members of the Midway station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department came to the scene to extinguish the fire.


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