Local News Articles

Mallory Sullivan Ties for Fifth Place at State Golf Tournament

October 4, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mallory Sullivan Ties for Fifth Place at State Golf Tournament

DeKalb County High School senior Mallory Sullivan finished tied for fifth at the Class A/AA state golf tournament Wednesday at the Willowbrook Golf Club.

Sullivan, the only female from DCHS to compete in the state golf tournament all four years, carded a 3-over 75 to tie for a fifth place finish at 82-75—157, just a stroke away from a medal. She had the second lowest score of the day on Wednesday.

"The first day she struck the ball so well but her putting kind of let her down," said DCHS golf coach Joe Pat Cope. "She had a bunch of three-putts that day. She came back the second day and shot even par on the toughest side and hit the ball as good as anybody there. I was tickled to death with her performance," he said.

Sullivan placed 11th in the state tournament as a freshman, second as a sophomore and tied for 14th as a junior. "It's been a blessing for me to coach an athlete of that caliber," continued Coach Cope.

"She has signed to play at Belmont where her sister, Shay went. Her work ethic is so good. She is going to be a success at the college level because every day, if she is not playing, she is hitting balls, chipping, or working on her putting and that's what it takes. She is willing to put in three or four hours every day and it shows in her game," said Coach Cope.

Middle Tennessee State junior Payne Denman is the only DCHS male golfer to compete at the state tournament all four years.

Although he did not advance to the state tournament, Coach Cope also praised Ethan Roller for his performance this season. "I want to give a shout out to Ethan. He is a senior this year and came up a little bit short in the region. We had such a tough region with Notre Dame, Signal Mountain, and Macon County. The score he shot would have been good enough to go to the state in the triple-A that was played the other day at Riverwatch with Warren County, Cookeville, and White County. He would have qualified there and he would have qualified in every other region in the state except for the one he was in. He is a heck of a golfer too and we're about to get him signed to a scholarship as well," said Coach Cope.

Christian Academy of Knoxville senior Sophia Schubert won the individual girl's title at the state tournament, carding a 4-under 68 Wednesday for a two-day total of 141. She topped runner-up Allyson Dunn of Sullivan South (75-77—152) by 11 strokes.

Macon County’s Kaitlin Cartwright (79-76—155) was third, followed by Clarksville Academy’s Anna Michelle Moore (78-78—156).

Sullivan tied with Christ Presbyterian Academy’s Siarra Stout (74-83—157).

Sullivan South won the girls title with a 315, followed by Macon County (323), CAK (327), Milan (327), Clarksville Academy (336), Boyd-Buchanan (340), CPA (351) and Trinity Christian (390).

On the boys side, Alcoa (591) won, beating Sullivan South (608) by 17 strokes. CPA (612) placed third, followed by Lipscomb Academy (614), Notre Dame (627), Boyd-Buchanan (667), Milan (683) and Jackson Christian (736).

CPA sophomore Grayson Davis claimed the boys individual title with a 70-69—139, beating Lipscomb senior Dawson Armstrong (70-69—139) on the first hole of a playoff.

Woman In One Car Crash Airlifted

October 3, 2013
Dwayne Page
Woman In One Car Crash Airlifted
Sommer Roark Airlifted After One Car Crash

A 19 year old Smithville woman was seriously injured when she lost control of her car and crashed on Highway 83 (New Home Road) this morning (Thursday).

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Sommer Roark was traveling north in a 1995 Chevy Camaro when she wrecked while trying to negotiate a curve. The car went off the left side of the road and struck three trees and a mailbox before coming to rest in a ditch facing the highway.

Roark was treated by DeKalb EMS.

She was later airlifted from near the scene by a Life Force Helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

Officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and members of the Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also there.

City Announces Second Annual "Trick or Treat Halloween Downtown"

October 3, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jan Wilkins, Holly Anderson, Jimmy and Joyce Poss, Dana Jennings, Beth Adcock
Trick or Treater getting goodies fron Dana Jennings at City Hall last year

Parents, children, and local businesses are invited to join the City of Smithville for the Police Department's "Trick or Treat Halloween Downtown" Thursday, October 31 from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Beth Adcock, records clerk for the Smithville Police Department, organized the first "Trick or Treat Halloween Downtown" last year and it turned out to be a great success. Hundreds of children were served.

According to Adcock, the event serves as a way for the Smithville Police Department to give back to the community, to allow trick or treating in a safe environment, and to afford the police officers an opportunity to interact with the children and gain their trust. It also provides parents who may not be able to take their kids trick or treating on the night of Halloween,to do it during the day at downtown businesses and at offices in the courthouse and at city hall.

Participating businesses will have candy and special treats for the children. Look for the stores and offices with a picture of a pumpkin on their windows. Maps will be available at the police department, Justin Potter Library and other locations to show parents which businesses will be taking part in the event. WJLE will post the map at www.wjle.com. Last year, some of the clerks in the businesses and government offices joined in the fun by dressing up in Halloween costumes .

Adcock says a Halloween costume contest will be held again this year for children up to pre-school age at 10:00 a.m. upstairs in the community room at city hall. Another costume contest for those up to age twelve will be at 4:00 p.m.

Mayor Jimmy Poss encourages parents and children to join the city in "Trick or Treat Halloween Downtown" Thursday, October 31 from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

For more information call Beth Adcock at the Smithville Police Department at 615-597-8210 or check out the police department's facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SmithvillePoliceDepartment

DeKalb Foster Children Need Help During the Holidays

October 3, 2013
Dwayne Page
Annette Greek

The Christmas season is drawing near. Remember what Christmas was like when you were young? The family gathered together to give and receive blessings and gifts.

Christmas is a time for love, a time for joy, and a time for family. Not all children this year will take part in a celebration with their own families. Local children who are in foster care need assistance. Children who have been taken out of abusive or neglectful homes or sent away from their family by the Juvenile Court system may be sharing Christmas with a family of strangers. Your help is needed to make sure their needs are met during the holidays. "There are over sixty foster children that have been removed from this county. The number changes often. Some get to eventually go back home but more children usually wind up in care than get to go home," said Annette Greek, Treasurer of the DeKalb Foster Children's Fund.

"We're needing to get money for their Christmas and birthdays and other needs. We've done graduation gifts, school sweaters, and football uniforms. We've got foster kids who are really active in the school system too and we want to provide the best for them that we can," said Greek.

As in years past, your assistance is requested with Christmas gifts for local children who are in foster care with the Department of Children's Services. If you or your organization is willing to help provide funds, please send them to Mrs. Greek. "I collect the money and I send it to the foster parents. Teen age kids (foster children) also get a check," said Greek.

Since the ages of these foster children vary, a cash donation is preferable to gifts. "We do money for this because a lot of them (foster children) are out of town and it's just easier on everybody for the money to go instead of trying to get Christmas gifts spread all over the state. We try to do around $150 per child for Christmas. But I try to do for the birthdays too so I need quite a bit (donations) since there are sixty kids and there may be more later in the year. These kids deserve more than we can give them so please help. I know things are slow. Some of the letters (seeking donations) have been out for the last two weeks and so far I have only received one check and it is $450 less than usual (from this donor) so I know I'm going to need small amounts (donations) from more people because I don't know if the large ones (donations) will be there," Greek concluded.

You may send your donation to: Annette Greek, in care of F.Z. Webb & Sons Gifts, 400 West Public Square, Smithville TN 37166. For more information call 615-597-4186.

Greek says she will also be glad to accept your cash donation directly at the store.

Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour Set for October 25-27

October 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour Set for October 25-27

Art lovers will get to experience the beautiful fall colors and tour the studios of some of the region's leading professionals in fine art and craft on Friday through Sunday October 25 - 27 during the annual Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour.

The participating artists welcome visitors to this three day open studio celebration of fine craft and demonstrations. Studios will have art on display for viewing and for sale.

The 2013 tour features 13 studio locations with 30 participating artists. "It's a self guided tour," said spokesman Tim Hintz. "You pick up a brochure or download a map from www.offthebeatenpathtour.com. and you can read about the artists and pick out the studio you want to go to. It's hard to do it all in one day. That's why we have three days to do it. We'll have guest artists at a lot of the studios and demonstrations. It's your chance to meet the local artists who also help support the community and to buy something from them that is handmade, unique, and one of a kind," he said.

Art Studio Tour locations include:

"From the Earth and Sea Originals" at 237 Gard Lane, Smithville

"Fresh Chairs" at 118 Ponder Lane, Smithville

"Stella Luna Gallery" at 412 South College Street, Smithville

"Made by DeMay" at 801 South Mountain Street, Smithville

"Cosmic Clay Studio" at 8252 Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown

"Beech Hollow Studio" at 578 Frazier Hollow Road, Dowelltown

"Liberty Paper" at 1618 Cripps Road, Liberty

"Bareglass Studio" at 15858 Center Hill Dam Road, Silver Point

"Chery Cratty Pulp Painter" at 176 Ponder Lane, Smithville

"David Sharp Woodcarving Studio" at 234 Ponder Road, Smithville

"Creek Bend Pottery" at 2566 Dry Creek Road, Dowelltown

"Kathryn Faille Fibers" at 189 Sundrifter Lane, Auburntown

"Kathe Reed's Beads" at 445 Big Hurricane Road, Smithville

Although tour stops are numbered, the event is intended to be entirely self-guided, giving visitors the opportunity to drive from studio to studio in any order.

For more information, or to download a copy of this year’s tour map and guide, please visit the group’s website, www.offthebeatenpathtour.com.

Mock Disaster Set for Friday Afternoon

October 2, 2013
Dwayne Page
Charlie Parker

A mock disaster will be staged Friday afternoon, October 4 at DeKalb County High School and DeKalb Community Hospital.

Charlie Parker, local Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, said the DeKalb County Emergency Planning Committee is having local emergency responders conduct this exercise around 1:00 p.m.. Since the drill will take place after school, no students will be present. Friday, October 4 is an early release date for pupils in the school system.

Parker said this advanced notice is being made so that the public will not be alarmed when they hear sirens and see flashing red and blue lights the afternoon of the drill.

The purpose of the Local Emergency Planning Committee is to analyze, plan, prepare, and mitigate for disasters both natural and manmade that could potentially occur in our county. The Local LEPC is comprised of the combined efforts of city and county elected officials, law enforcement, emergency management, fire departments, EMS, Rescue Squad, hospital, nursing home, utilities, business, industry, media, Red Cross, school system, churches, and civic organizations. This committee meets on a regular basis to work on plans, share information and conduct exercises to make a safer and stronger community.

State AG Says Cookeville Boat Dock Must Pay County Taxes

October 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Cookeville Boat Dock
State AG Says Cookeville Boat Dock Must Pay County Taxes

Cookeville Boat Dock's claim in a Chancery Court delinquent tax lawsuit that it can't be forced to pay ad valorem (property) taxes on constitutional grounds is without merit and should be dismissed by the court, according to Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. (Bob) Cooper, Jr.

Cooper, in answer to the marina's counter complaint, states that "the Tennessee Constitution does not grant a property tax exemption to commercial taxpayers that operate a business on land owned by the state or local governments," as the owners of Cookeville Boat Dock claim.

In his answer filed Tuesday, September 24 in DeKalb County Chancery Court, Cooper further asserts that Cookeville Boat Dock's constitutional challenge is not properly before the court because the marina owners failed to first pursue other statutory remedies available to them.

Cookeville Boat Dock owns and operates a commercial boat dock and concession on land in DeKalb County that is leased from the federal government. The marina has been assessed ad valorem taxes on the boat dock property since 1998; however, it apparently has not paid these taxes and, thus, the boat dock property has been included in the delinquent tax proceedings of DeKalb County covering the tax years from 1998 through 2011. "It is the Attorney General's understanding that Cookeville Boat Dock has not been assessed for the underlying real estate that is owned by the federal government or for any leasehold interest in the real estate. Rather, Cookeville Boat Dock has been assessed only for the buildings and other structures that make up the boat dock property," wrote Attorney General Cooper in his answer.

From 1998 through the 2011 tax year, owners of Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. have been named as defendants in DeKalb County Chancery Court lawsuits filed against delinquent taxpayers. The amount Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. owes through 2011 in delinquent taxes comes to $156,257.12 (taxes on personal property and leased property including the base tax plus interest and penalty, attorneys fees, and court costs). Further penalties are assessed each month. Additionally for the 2012 tax year, the Trustee's Office reports that Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort Inc. owes a total of $8,504 in delinquent taxes including interest and penalty through October 1st, 2013. The Trustee's Office has just mailed a tax notice to Cookeville Boat Dock in the amount of $7,888 for the 2013 tax year, which comes due February 28, 2014.

"To the Attorney General's knowledge, Cookeville Boat Dock has not challenged the tax assessments through any of the available statutory procedures for pursuing such a challenge such as appeals to the county and state boards of equalization or a lawsuit against the collecting officer, provided the taxpayer first pays the tax under protest and files suit within six months of payment. Instead, Cookeville Boat Dock has attempted to raise this challenge as a defense to a delinquent tax proceedings", wrote AG Cooper.

The attorney for Cookeville Boat Dock, Jon E. Jones of Cookeville contends the owners of the marina are being discriminated against in that the county is trying to force them to pay ad valorem taxes on the boat dock facility which is leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (federal government property) while other properties in Tennessee leased from the state or local government entities (under Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution) are exempt from payment of ad valorem taxes. This, he claims is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution making the tax assessment against Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. invalid. In June, Jones filed an amended answer to the county's Chancery Court lawsuits against delinquent taxpayers including Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort along with a counter complaint seeking a declaratory judgment for his clients.

Attorney General Cooper, who was made a party to the case to defend the constitutionality of Article II, section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution, asserts in his answer that the state constitution does not grant a property tax exemption to commercial taxpayers that operate a business on land owned by the state or local government.

"The plain language of state law makes clear two points: First the same rule that applies to state and local government property also applies to federal property. Accordingly, contrary to Cookeville Boat Dock's argument in this case, Article II, Section 28 does not create a different rule for federal property than that which applies to state and local government property. In exercising its authority under Article II, Section 28, the legislature has created a rule that applies equally to the state and federal governments," wrote Cooper.

"Second, government property is exempt from taxation only if the property is used exclusively for public purposes. If government property is leased to a business that uses the property in its commercial operations, then the business owner's interest in the property is taxable. But here, no government property is being taxed at all. The assessment is for the boat dock facility itself, not the underlying real estate, regardless of who owns it. If Cookeville Boat Dock operated a commercial boat dock and concession on property owned by DeKalb County or the State of Tennessee, the law makes clear that Cookeville Boat Dock would be assessable for and required to pay taxes on its interest in the property. This is true even if the underlying real estate upon which the boat dock sits is not assessable because it belongs to the assessing county or the state. Although the underlying real estate owned by the federal government is not taxable under federal and state law, Cookeville Boat Dock's interest in the boat dock facility is taxable. The result is consistent for both state/local and federal government property. Contrary to Cookeville Boat Dock's basic premises, Article II, Section 28 does not provide a tax exemption for commercial boat docks operated on state or county property," wrote the Attorney General.

In their Trial Brief, "Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. is asking the Court to declare that DeKalb County's assessment of ad valorem taxes against boat dock facilities leased by Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc from the United States is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution because Tennessee exempts boat dock facilities from taxation when the lessor is an agency of the state."

In his answer, attorney general Cooper wrote that " the Federal Supremacy Clause does not prevent DeKalb County from assessing the property of a taxpayer that operates a commercial boat dock on land leased from the federal government".

"The United States Supreme Court has made clear that a state may impose a tax on those who deal with the federal government so long as the tax is imposed equally on the other similarly situated constituents of the state. In fact, the federal Supremacy Clause does not prevent the state from imposing a tax on a corporation using government property in connection with a business conducted for its own private gain. This principal applies to businesses that operate concessions on federal property," wrote Cooper.

In this case, "Cookeville Boat Dock has been assessed for boat dock buildings and other structures that are actually owned by Cookeville Boat Dock. If Cookeville Boat Dock did not own the boat dock structures, and the federal government instead owned the structures, the DeKalb County Assessor still could assess Cookeville Boat Dock for its leasehold interest in federally-owned property. Inasmuch as Cookeville Boat Dock actually owns the property for which it has been assessed, however, any constitutional or statutory provisions that bar the taxation of federally-owned property simply are inapplicable," according to the Attorney General.

"Cookeville Boat Dock owns the boat dock and related structures that it uses to operate a business on federal property. Neither the Supremacy Clause nor any principal of state law prevents DeKalb County from assessing Cookeville Boat Dock for its ownership interest in the boat dock property. Under Tennessee law, boat docks and marinas are assessable as real property and businesses that operate boat docks regardless of whether it is on the land of a state or local government or that of the federal government. If the taxpayer actually owns the boat dock and related structures, it is assessable for that property. Alternatively, if the taxpayer does not own the property but merely leases it from the local, state, or federal government, the taxpayer still is assessable for its leasehold interest in the property. Under these circumstances, Cookeville Boat Dock's challenge to the tax assessments is wholly without merit," wrote AG Cooper.

Cooper further asserts that Cookeville Boat Dock cannot raise this constitutional challenge within the context of a delinquent tax proceedings when it has not pursued its statutory remedies for challenging the underlying tax assessments. "Cookeville Boat Dock's challenge to Article II, Section 28, is not properly before this Court," wrote the Attorney General.

"Statutory remedies for contesting Cookeville Boat Dock's property tax assessments are provided by state law (appeals to the county and state boards of equalization) and (suit against collecting officer, provided the taxpayer first pays the tax under protest and files suit within six months of payment). Having failed to avail itself of either of these remedies, Cookeville Boat Dock may not contest the validity of the underlying property tax assessments by raising the issue in an answer or a counter-complaint to delinquent tax proceedings. Cookeville Boat Dock's failure to pursue these statutory remedies provides an additional ground for dismissing the counter-complaint in which it attempts to challenge the validity of the property tax assessments," concluded State Attorney General Cooper.

Each year the attorney for Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. has filed an answer to the delinquent tax lawsuits, claiming that the county can't "collect a tax on real estate" on federal property since the U.S. government pays in lieu of taxes to the state for the use and benefit of DeKalb County. That constitutes, in essence, double taxation, according to the answer.

Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. denies it owes any ad valorem taxes to DeKalb County and that the real property assessed is held in fee by the United States (federal government) and is leased to the marina pursuant to "lease for commercial concession purposes".

In the counter claim and request for declaratory judgment, Jones states that "DeKalb County asserts that this property is subject to ad valorem taxation. The claim of DeKalb County is based on Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee, which on its face allows for exemption of property leased by the State but not by the United States."

In their Trial Brief, "Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. asks the Court to declare that DeKalb County's assessment of ad valorem taxes against boat dock facilities leased by Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc from the United States is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution because Tennessee exempts boat dock facilities from taxation when the lessor is an agency of the state."

"Pursuant to Article II, Section 28, Tennessee discriminates against a lessee of the United States and in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee, its counties, or its municipalities or other local governmental entities. The constitutional provision and resulting discrimination against lessees of the United States including the counter plaintiff (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort,Inc.), violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States," according to the counter claim and request for declaratory judgment.

Concerning compensation to DeKalb County for lost Ad Valorem revenue, the trial brief states that "In 1940, Congress recognized that the taking of lands for flood control purposes would reduce the local property tax base. Congress also recognized that some of the property acquired would be developed and used for recreational purposes through concessions/leases. Congress decided that the United States should pay 75% of all monies received by the United States from leasing of lands acquired for flood control purposes to the State in which such property is situated...for the benefit of public schools and public roads of the county or counties, in which such property is situated, or for defraying any of the expenses of county government. Seventy five percent of Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.'s annual payment substantially exceeds the taxes assessed," according to the trial brief.

The counter claim of Cookeville Boat Dock and Resort states "Unless this court declares that Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee, and the resulting discrimination against the counter plaintiff (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.) as a lessor from the United States are violations of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States, counter defendant (DeKalb County) will continue to illegally assess ad valorem taxes against property leased to Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. and this will encumber and confuse counter plaintiff's (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.) use of said property".

"Wherefore, counter plaintiff (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.) asks the court to declare that Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee is invalid and that the real property subject to the counter plaintiff's lease for commercial concession purposes is exempt from ad valorem taxation. The counter plaintiff asks that the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee be made a party to this litigation for purposes of defending the constitutionality of Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee".

Former Chancellor Vernon Neal recused himself from hearing the delinquent tax case against Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. in 2002 citing a personal conflict. Former Circuit Court Judge John Turnbull was designated and appointed to hear the case to its conclusion. After Turnbull retired from the bench, the case was passed on to Judge Amy Hollars but it still has not been settled in court.

Last December, the county commission approved a motion by second district member Jack Barton to "give this priority number one in our unpaid taxes that our (tax) attorney is going after," he said.

The case was to be on the Chancery Court docket on June 20 but it was delayed due to the filing of Cookeville Boat Dock's amended answer and counter complaint for declaratory judgment. No new court date has yet been set in the case.

Vester Parsley, Jr. is the county's tax attorney.

Trustee Mails 2013 Property Tax Notices

October 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Trustee Sean Driver

The DeKalb County Trustee's office has mailed the 2013 property tax notices and you should be receiving yours any day, if you haven't already.

Property owners may pay their 2013 taxes without penalty from October 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014. Penalties begin accruing March 1, 2014.

According to Trustee Sean Driver, DeKalb County has property owners in nearly every state in the nation and in some foreign countries. " For 2013, the Trustee's office will be collecting on 18,080 parcels of land. We send tax bills to 47 of the 50 states. The only states not on the tax record are Idaho, South Dakota, and Delaware. We also have some mail going to Canada, Germany, and the Virgin Islands," said Driver.

DeKalb County property taxpayers may pay their taxes in person at the Trustee's office, by mail, on-line at www.tennesseetrustee.com or you can make partial payments.

The Trustee's Office began offering the partial tax payment option last year. " It became an instant success," Driver told WJLE. "We basically offer the taxpayer two options using the partial payment plan. We can take the total tax bill and divide it equally by two, three, four, five months, etc. or we can accept any amount the taxpayer wants to pay at any time during the collection period. If your tax bill is not paid in full before March 1, 2014, only the unpaid portion of taxes is subject to penalties and interest of 1.5% per month," said Driver.

Eligible taxpayers may also want to take advantage of the State of Tennessee's Property Tax Relief Program, which is administered in the Trustee's Office.

Tennessee's tax relief program is state-funded and provides a rebate of credit for all or a portion of the property taxes on residential property owned and occupied by low-income elderly, low-income disabled, and disabled veteran homeowners and their surviving spouses. " A property tax relief is based on ownership of the property, all sources of income, and in some instances his or her age. One new change for the 2013 Property Tax Relief Program is the income limit. In order to start an application for property tax relief, your income limit, using all sources of income from 2012, would have to be under $27,800. This program is very beneficial to the eligible taxpayer," said Driver.

For more information, call the Trustee's Office at 597-5176 or stop by the office at 732 Congress Boulevard Smithville, room 103.

White County Man Seriously Injured in Fall From Tree Stand

October 1, 2013
Dwayne Page

A White County man was seriously injured Sunday when he fell from a tree stand while deer hunting in the Indian Creek area near Center Hill Lake.

He is 34 year old Michael Phifer of Sparta, according to Captain Dustin Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross, who did not have the hunter's name when relating the story to WJLE, said the man and his father-in-law had accessed their hunting location by boat and were about 250 yards from the water's edge in the Indian Creek area. "They had actually went scouting Sunday afternoon and found this place where they wanted to hunt. They went back down to the boat and got their climbing stand equipment and walked back up. He had just ascended and gotten to the point where he wanted to stop but he wasn't wearing a safety harness and he fell some twenty five feet from the tree stand to the ground," said Officer Cross. The man suffered multiple broken bones in the fall.

In addition to TWRA Officers, members of DeKalb EMS and the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad were called to the scene. "The ambulance came to the Indian Creek Boat Ramp. We transported the paramedics from the boat ramp to the scene, which was about a mile. We had a bunch of the Rescue Squad members come out and help us. We had to pack him out in a stokes basket (and carry him) about 250 yards over some pretty rough terrain back down to our boat. We really appreciate the help we got from our local rescue squad," said Officer Cross.

Phifer was transported by ambulance to DeKalb Community Hospital and then to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) urges hunters to use care when hunting from a tree stand.

Many deer hunters find hunting from an elevated stand to be advantageous. It is often more difficult for a deer to detect a hunter in a tree stand than one on the ground, but the TWRA is urging hunters to be cautious anytime they use a stand.

The most common cause of tree stand accidents is a fall. All of these falls could be prevented with the proper use of a safety harness attached to the tree. Many falls occur when permanent, wooden stands, which have been left out in the weather attached to a tree, decay and become unsafe. Eventually, the weight of a hunter can cause the stand to collapse.

If possible, use temporary stands that may be stored in a dry area after the deer season. If a permanent stand must be used, always check it before hunting to make certain it is safe and securely attached. Whether using a permanent or temporary stand, always use a safety harness.

Ten rules for tree stand safety are:
1.Always wear a safety harness while hunting from a tree stand, including while ascending and descending.
2.Never climb into a permanent stand you have not built yourself or carefully checked out.
3.Never hunt from tree limbs.
4.Be sure the commercial stand you have is safe. Practice with it before using it in the woods.
5.Never climb a tree that is too small or too large for your stand to fit safely.
6.Be sure your stand is level at the height you wish to hunt.
7.Always stand up slowly and be sure of your balance.
8.Be sure you are steady and braced before shooting.
9.Always use a haul line for your bow. Never climb with your equipment.
10.Never climb a dead tree or one with dead limbs above your head.

Hunters should be aware that on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) the use of wire, nails, or other metal material is prohibited in building or attaching of climbing devices or hunting stands. Portable devices or stands that do not injure trees can be used. Hunting from permanent attached stands is prohibited. Leaving any personal property on a WMA, including tree stands, unattended for more than 24 hours is prohibited without prior approval of the area manager.

(UPDATED): DeKalb USDA Service Center Closed due to Partial Federal Government Shutdown

October 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County USDA Service Center Closed due to Partial  Government Shutd
Notice of Closing Posted on front door of USDA Service Center

The partial federal government shutdown is affecting some services in DeKalb County.

The USDA Service Center on Bright Hill Road, home to the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is closed today (Tuesday).

A notice of the closing is posted on the front door of the building which states as follows:"This U.S. Department of Agriculture office is currently closed, due to the lapse in federal government funding. The office will reopen once Congress restores funding".

The notice further states that Anita Houk and Soil Conservation District activities are at the courthouse. You may call 464-5760.

Meanwhile, the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of conducting an orderly shutdown because of a lack of appropriations. The district will reduce its manpower over time to essential personnel only. These essential personnel will continue to support critical Corps of Engineers missions such as dam safety, hydropower, and operation of the navigation locks on both the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers.

The Corps is funded through multiple-year funding, which is enabling the Nashville District to conduct limited operations and construction through the course of the government shutdown. As the lapse in appropriations continues, the Corps will have more employees furloughed over time, but will maintain its mission essential personnel to ensure the operation and protection of corps facilities and property.

Nashville District recreation areas and campgrounds will remain open, as originally scheduled, using available Fiscal Year 2013 carryover funding. Existing campground and shelter reservations will be honored. The Recreation.gov website at www.recreation.gov is shutdown and the public can no longer use it to make any new reservations, and Call Agents at the Recreation Reservation Service call center (1-877-444-6777) will NOT make any new reservations until Federal funding has been restored. Nashville District’s remaining open campgrounds will continue to make new reservations for onsite registered campers on a first-come, first-serve. Walk-in campers are still welcome, but customers are asked to please contact the campground to check site availability. Camping information for Nashville District is available at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Camping.aspx.

The public will be informed as additional Nashville District operations and services are affected due to the federal government shutdown.

The U.S. government partially shut down for the first time in 17 years today (Tuesday) as a standoff between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans over healthcare reforms. Many government offices, museums, national parks, and other federally funded operations are now closed.

Federal agencies have been directed to cut back services and up to 1 million workers nationwide have been put on unpaid leave.

Republicans in the House of Representatives had tried to tie renewal of government funding to measures undermining President Obama's signature health care law, while the Democratic-controlled Senate repeatedly rejected those efforts.

Here’s a look at what stays open and what closes under the shutdown.

* U.S. Postal Service.
* Social Security.
* Medicare.
* Active-duty military will keep working, but will not get paid until the funds are available.
* Air-traffic control.
* Immigration.
* Border security.
* Emergency and disaster assistance.
* Federal law enforcement.
* IRS can still process electronic returns and payments only.

* Any federal agency that’s subject to appropriations. Each agency has the discretion to decide who is “excepted” or “emergency”, and who is furloughed.
* All National Parks.
* All federally-funded museums, including Smithsonian and the National Zoo.
* All federal government websites.
* Research by Health and Human Services stops. So does the grant process. Depending on how long it lasts, that will also impact medical research at hospitals and universities.
* Applying for Social Security. If you’re a new retiree, your application won’t be processed.
* IRS walk-in centers. Your paper tax return will not be processed.
* Loan applications for small businesses, college tuition, or mortgages.
* All Library of Congress buildings. All public events will be cancelled and web sites will be inaccessible.
* Federal contractors will be out of work.
* Federal workers (except “excepted” or “emergency” personnel) will not be allowed to work, not even from home. No blackberry, no smartphone, no laptop. Not even allowed to check work email.


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