Local News Articles

Alexander Tells Corps He Won’t Approve Funding Requests if Corps Won’t Listen to the Senate on Fishing Beneath Cumberland River Dams

May 12, 2013
Lamar Alexander

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told a top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official at a budget hearing on Wednesday, May 8 that he would restrict the Corps’ ability to transfer new funds to projects if it doesn’t abandon “unreasonable” fishing restrictions that amount to “thumbing your nose at elected officials,” saying, “It sounds to me like we have a life jacket problem – not a water problem.” (Video HERE.)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is beginning to implement permanent full-time water access restrictions around Center Hill Dam and the other nine dams on the Cumberland River and their tributaries.

The restricted areas will be the minimum area allowed per Corps regulations upstream and downstream of locks, dams, and power plant facilities. All forms of water access within the restricted areas will be prohibited including boating, swimming and wading. The Corps continues to promote bank fishing in all areas that were previously approved, including areas adjacent to some restricted areas.

The Restricted Area Boundary Lengths around Center Hill Dam will be:

Upstream Restricted Area Length.....400 feet

Downstream Restricted Area Length.....750 feet

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the subcommittee chairman whose approval the Corps would also need, called Alexander reasonable “99.9 percent of the time” and told the Corps officials, “My strong advice would be to try to work something out with him.”

“We don’t need Big Brother in Washington holding our hands while we’re fishing down in Tennessee or Kentucky or any other place,” Alexander said to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. “If you’re not going to pay attention to the elected representatives of Tennessee and Kentucky and other states, I’m not going to pay attention to your judgment. You have nine major accounts, 918 project accounts, and in order to move that, you need the permission of the chairman and me to . … You’re going to find it very hard to get my approval for any reprogramming request – anywhere in the country – until I get the Corps’ attention, and if that doesn’t get your attention, I’m going to work with my colleagues to reduce the reprogramming requests to $1,000 so that any reprogramming you want to do, you’ll have to come back to me and Senator Feinstein and the chairman and ranking member in the House.”

Referring to the order in which the legislative and executive branch duties are laid out in the Constitution – Article I and Article II, respectively – Alexander said, “We’re Article I, you’re Article II – you ought to be paying attention to our judgment on this, especially when so many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have made themselves clear on this. We don’t need a government that’s big enough to interfere with us when we have enough sense to … get out of the water the 20 percent of the time when it’s spilling through the dam.”

Alexander, the lead Republican or Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development that was holding the hearing, has introduced the “Freedom to Fish Act” to prohibit the Corps from restricting fishing beneath 10 dams on the Cumberland River. On March 23, the U.S. Senate unanimously supported his amendment to the Senate budget resolution allowing Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the Corps plans.

On April 30, the Corps announced that it would move forward with full-time, permanently restricted access to tailwaters areas below the dams, through buoys and signage. Today, Alexander said the Corps would “find it very hard” to get the approval it needs from him as Ranking Member of the subcommittee for “reprogramming” required to move money among the Corps’ more than 900 project accounts.

Alexander pointed to the Corps’ own statistics showing that water only spills through the dams 20 percent of the time, on average. Alexander said, “Closing off the tailwaters 100 percent of the time would be like putting the gate down over the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time – the tracks aren’t dangerous when the train’s not coming, and the water isn’t dangerous when the water isn’t spilling through the dam.”

Former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin, an appointee of President Obama who until stepping down recently would have been responsible for defending the Corps in court, has said the Corps’ restrictions are unreasonable “in light of the tremendous protection from liability enjoyed by the Corps.” The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has also said it will not enforce the Corps’ restrictions, and Alexander has repeatedly encouraged the Corps to work out a compromise with state agencies to address safety concerns.

Community Showers Relay for Life with Love and Support

May 11, 2013
Dwayne Page

Folks flocked to Greenbrook Park Friday evening to show their love and support for cancer survivors and to join the fight against the disease during the 16th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Rains, called for in the weather forecast , eventually came but held off during the first few hours of the event as young and old alike gathered to enjoy the food, games, music, and fellowship.

The program from the stage featured singers and church groups, along with crowd favorite David Turner and Friends, a popular local ventriloquist. The opening ceremony included presentation of the Colors by Boy Scout Troop #347, the National Anthem performed by Suzanne Slager, welcoming remarks by Renea Cantrell and a song in honor of cancer survivors by Shelley Cross and Bonnie Rigsby.

Cancer survivors, introduced and presented with a medallion, took the first lap around the walking trail in the park.

Teams joined together to raise money to aid in the battle against cancer. A male beauty contest was also held again this year, featuring several men dressed as women, using their attributes to bring in as much money as possible

The walking track was also lined with luminaria in honor or remembrance of those who have battled cancer.

Relay For Life is a unique opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those lost, and fight back against the disease. Many of the participants are cancer survivors themselves.

"Backporch Friends" Share Tales During 8th Annual Storytelling

May 10, 2013
Susan Hinton
Frank Buck
Crowd Gathers to Hear Storytellers

The 8th annual storytelling event, "Backporch Friends," was held at the new DeKalb County Community Center on Saturday, May 4. Susan Hinton and Dot Tittsworth hosted the event sponsored by the Smithville Study Club. Despite the rainy weather, sixteen hometown storytellers spun their unique stories, both fiction and non-fiction including original poems, mythology, and folklore. The crowd of fifty plus responded enthusiastically and with heart-felt laughter, promising to attend next year' storytelling day and bring friends.

This event is held each year to perpetuate the tales of our town that will soon be forgotten if not passed down from generation to generation. The event drew an audience of all ages. Smiles and laughter were enjoyed by all who attended. Donations were made to support DeKalb's Imagination Library, which places books in the hands of children from one year of age until they start school. This program was started by Dolly Parton to develop life-long readers and educate our future leaders. What a great match to celebrate literacy and contribute to a worthy cause while being entertained by the joy of storytelling. If you were unable to come to this year's event, please stop by your local Justin Potter Library and make a donation to Imagination Library. Donations are accepted any time and the money will stay in our community. Thanks for your support in this great cause, and if you missed the storytelling day this year, it is always held on the first Saturday of May.

Smithville Elementary School Community Field Trip

May 9, 2013
Smithville Elementary School Students

The Smithville Elementary School's Community Field Trip was held on the Smithville Public Square. Eleven classes with over 200 students visited the DeKalb Courthouse, Justin Potter Library, Smithville Fire Hall, and Regions Bank.

County Mayor Mike Foster handed out "Go Green" backpacks sponsored by the TDOT Litter Grant and spoke to the children about the importance of not littering.

The DeKalb County Clean Up Day will be held on Saturday, May 18th. Everyone is encouraged to participate. For more info, call the Chamber at 597-4163.

New State Veterans Cemetery Proposed in the Upper Cumberland Region

May 9, 2013
Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder

Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder announced the initiative to establish a new State Veterans Cemetery in the Upper Cumberland region. TDVA has submitted a pre-application grant to the National Cemetery Administration for federal funding of the architectural design, engineer support and construction costs. However, funding for land acquisition must be raised through donations as well as city, county and state funding.

The cemetery would be located in the Upper Cumberland Region to serve Veterans and their eligible dependents in Clay, Cumberland, Dekalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren and White counties

TDVA Assistant Commissioner Don Smith hosted a community meeting on Thursday, April 25 to form a steering committee to proceed with the land acquisition process. Volunteers for the community member committee were finalized on Wednesday, May 1. Two community members from 12 counties have volunteered to participate in the Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee. Clay and Dekalb Counties will not participate in the committee efforts. The Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee will review available properties in the region and narrow the list to three recommendations which will be submitted to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs for consideration.

Chairman Jim Amerson of White County will be a non-voting member. Remaining committee members include Co-Chairman Daven Oppenheim of Fentress County, Secretary Ron Goode of Overton County as well as committee members Mark Pfaffenroth and Bill Ward of Cumberland County, E.J. Hancock and Keith Kennedy of Fentress County, Everette Vanhooser and Dale Smith of Jackson County, Mike Scott and Pat McJury of Macon County, John Alcorn of Overton County, Glenn Williams and Brian Raef of Pickett County, Frank Favia and Jim Loftis of Putnam County, Bob Baker and Scott Penfield of Smith County, Dan Belcher and William “Buddy” Hughes of Trousdale County, Vern Curry and Les Conway of Van Buren County, Angie Higgins of Warren County as well as George Schneider and Ralph Griffith of White County.

“Veterans and family members in the Upper Cumberland region currently have to drive to State Veterans Cemeteries in Nashville or Knoxville for services,” Grinder said. “It is our goal to establish a new State Veterans Cemetery within 75 miles from the Veterans and dependents we serve in the Upper Cumberland region.”

The next full steering committee meeting will be held on Friday, May 17 at the White County Courthouse, Second Floor, 1 East Brockman Way in Sparta at 10 a.m. (CDT).

For more information about the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs and existing State Veterans Cemeteries, visit the department’s website at www.tn.gov/veteran, facebook.com/myTDVA or stay up to date by following the department on twitter @TNDVA.

National Association of Letter Carriers To Conduct Annual Food Drive Saturday

May 8, 2013
Dwayne Page
Smithville Post Office

The National Association of Letter Carriers will hold its 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive on Saturday, May 11
Non-perishable food donations will be collected by U.S. Postal Service mail carriers on their routes that day.

Shopping bags will be in the mail this week along with information about the drive. Contributors are asked to fill the shopping bags with non-perishable items and place them near their mailboxes for collection on Saturday.

You may also drop off your food donation directly at the former location of MeMa's Restaurant at 430 East Broad Street Smithville which serves as the collection center for the Second Harvest Food Pantry, sponsored by the First United Methodist Church. All goods collected in DeKalb County will be distributed locally.

The association's food drive is held annually on the second Saturday in May and contributions are made from all across the U.S.

Since its inception in 1992, letter carriers have collected 1.2 billion pounds of food, according to the organization's website.

The issue of hunger is a growing concern. Fifty million people nationwide are directly affected, including 17 million children and 9 million senior citizens. The drive's timing coincides with the summer months, when many children do not have alternatives to their school's meal program.

More information about the food drive can be found at www.nalc.org.

Hendrixson and VanVranken Overall Winners of Relay for Life 5K

May 8, 2013
Travis Hendrixson and Kristen VanVranken

Travis Hendrixson was the overall winner in the male division of the Relay for Life 5K last Saturday, May 4. His time was 18:43.

Kristen VanVranken had the best time in the female division at 20:32

"The Relay 5K was a success despite the poor weather," said spokesman Roth Terrell.

"This was the largest group of Runners and Walkers the Relay 5K has ever experienced, with a total of 99 people," said Terrell. The Relay for Life 5K raised a total of $3,870.76.

"We would like to thank all of our sponsors for helping make this year's 5K a success," said Terrrell.


Results for Relay for Life 5K 2013.pdf (182.35 KB)

The Smithville Police Department installs permanent drug take back box

May 8, 2013
Smithville Police Department installs permanent drug take back box

The Smithville Police Department has partnered with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Department of Health, DeKalb Prevention Coalition, and Pioneer Credit and has announced its plan to introduce a permanent collection bin for the residents of DeKalb County to properly dispose of used or unwanted medication.

Through TDEC’s Pharmaceutical Collection Program, the permanent bin offers a safe and easy way to dispose of unwanted medication, while creating opportunities for residents to promote environmental protection and a safer community. National statistics suggest that nearly 90 percent of Americans improperly dispose of outdated or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

“This joint effort is important to educate citizens on the appropriate disposal of pharmaceuticals, while increasing the number of locations for them to do so,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. We need to make DeKalb's citizens aware that throwing medication away with the household garbage or flushing it is not a safe method of disposal. The permanent collection drop-off box offers DeKalb residents a safe and viable disposal option to keep drugs out of our water and off the streets.

The Smithville Police Department has agreed to provide the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation with a monthly report on the total amount of pounds collected. A permanent drug take back box has been installed at the Smithville Police Department. Anyone who wished to drop off any unwanted or unused medication can come by the police department during normal business hours, Monday thru Friday 8:00am -5:00pm and dispose of them. Anyone with any questions or who needs special assistance please contact Corporal Travis Bryant at the Smithville Police Department, 597-8210.

(Pictured:Left to right: Gianna Owens, Kay Quintero, Tim Watson, Officer Matt Farmer, Police Commissioner Shawn Jacobs and Corporal Travis Bryant)

Legendary Stamps Quartet to visit Smithville for Elvis: Aloha 40

May 8, 2013
Stamps Quartet

Elvis Week 2013 kicks off on August 10, with a number of festivities planned to honor the late singer in his hometown of Memphis. However, Smithville, Tennessee, will have their own little slice of Elvis, as Presley's back-up touring group of the 1970's - the Stamps Quartet - will be in town as part of a show being called Elvis: Aloha 40.

Elvis: Aloha 40 will be held at the new DeKalb County Community Center on stage in the auditorium with two showings scheduled for Saturday, August 10. A matinee show will be held at 2:30 p.m., with a second show scheduled that evening at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for the event are $20 per person in advance, and $25 at the door the day of the show. A fundraiser is being held in conjunction with this show to raise money to purchase a curtain for the stage in the Community Center auditorium. Tickets for the event will go on sale in the coming weeks.

The theme of Elvis Week 2013 celebrates the 40th anniversary of one of the most historic events of the late singer's career, the Aloha From Hawaii television special. The Aloha concert was beamed live via satellite to over one billion people worldwide, making it one of the most watched live television events of all-time, surpassing even the moon landing of 1969. Smithville's Aloha 40 show featuring the Stamps will coincide with the Elvis Week theme and celebrate the peak moment in Presley's latter career.

"DeKalb County is both honored and excited to have a group of this historic stature come be one of the first major acts in our new facility," said County Mayor Mike Foster. "We hope to be able to have more shows like this in the future. That was one of our major goals when we initially opened the new center."

The event is being organized by Smithville native Tim Colwell, who has worked with the Stamps Quartet as part of country singer Ronnie McDowell's touring group. Colwell believes Elvis fans, both near and far, will come to Smithville for the chance to see a part of music history.

"We've traveled to cities big and small and the result is the same -- packed venues -- all to see a show related to Elvis," Colwell said. "Elvis may no longer be with us, but he's still as popular now as he ever was. It shows in the crowds that come to the Elvis shows I have played. People of all ages still love Elvis."

Elvis Week annually coincides with the date of the singer's death, August 16, 1977. Thousands upon thousands of fans from all around the world still flock to the singer's Graceland home in Memphis every August to pay tribute to the son of a Tupelo sharecropper who grew up to be the most popular individual performer of all-time.

The Stamps Quartet backed Elvis on stage and in the studio from November, 1971, until the singer's final show in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 26, 1977. The Stamps were set to board a plane for Portland, Maine to open a new tour with Elvis on the evening of August 16, 1977, when they heard the news of his death.

Originally organized in 1969, the Stamps were known as J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet until Sumner's death in 1998. Sumner was noted for long having the lowest recorded bass note, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Long-time Stamps lead vocalist, Ed Enoch, was granted official ownership of the historic Stamps Quartet name in 2003, and the group has continued to tour venues all around the world.

In addition to Elvis Presley, the Stamps, over the years, have also provided back-up vocals for Jerry Lee Lewis, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Conway Twitty, just to name a select few. One of their most recent projects was singing back-up with Alan Jackson on his latest Gospel album.

Elvis: Aloha 40 will feature an opening performance by the legendary Stamps Quartet, followed by a full on Elvis tribute show, with the group - as they did for six years with Presley - providing the back-up vocals. Smithville resident, Tom Duggin, will provide the vocals for the Elvis part of the show, backed by Colwell and a local group of musicians known as "TCB." Much like the Presley stage show of the 70's, Elvis: Aloha 40 will feature a brass ensemble on stage as well as female back-up singers, in addition to the core musicians and the Stamps Quartet.

"It's exciting to be part of a show of this caliber, right here in my hometown," added Colwell. "This has always been a dream of mine. I know there are many who love Elvis, the Stamps, and their music, just as much as I do, and that makes it even more special to have it right here in Smithville."

The DeKalb County Community Center on South Congress Boulevard will be the central location for ticket purchases, with other venues to be possibly added. An announcement will be made as soon as tickets are available for purchase.

Liberty Mayor Edward Hale Decides Not to Seek Re-Election

May 7, 2013
Dwayne Page
Liberty Mayor Edward Hale

After more than four decades of service to the town, Liberty Mayor Edward Hale has decided not to seek re-election in August. He will be leaving office once his term ends August 31.

" I feel like after serving all these years, it's just best for me to step down," said Mayor Hale in an interview with WJLE Monday.

In forty two years, Hale never lost an election, having first been elected mayor in 1971. In most of those years, he didn't even have an opponent in an election. Mayor Hale holds the distinction of being the current longest serving elected public official in DeKalb County.

It was his love for the town he was born and raised in that inspired him to seek the office and with the help of many townspeople who have served on the city council down through the years, Hale has worked to improve streets and sidewalks, restore local landmarks, and preserve history for future generations. In fact, as he prepares to leave office, Mayor Hale is proud that a new paving project has just been completed which will provide good streets for the citizens of Liberty for many years to come.

The Liberty election is set for Thursday, August 1st and a mayor and two aldermen will be elected that day. One person has already stepped forward to possibly succeed Hale as mayor. Liberty Alderman Dwight Mathis has picked up a qualifying petition from the election commission to seek the office of mayor. The two aldermen seats up for election are currently held by Jarrett Pistole and Howard Reynolds, Jr. Reynolds has picked up a petition to seek re-election as alderman.

Thursday, May 16 is the qualifying deadline to run in the Liberty election.


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