Local News Articles

Pody Supports Cut in Sales Tax on Food and Ending Funds for NPR

December 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Pody

State Representative Mark Pody said he supports Governor Bill Haslam's proposal to cut the state sales tax on grocery food by another quarter-cent.

Pody also wants to end state funding for National Public Radio (NPR).

The governor said last week that he will ask legislators next month to cut the sales tax on food from 5.25 percent to 5 percent.

"He wants to bring it down to 5 percent. Right now its at 5.25 percent," said Representative Pody in an interview with WJLE Friday. "We did reduce it a little bit last year and I believe he's got it in the budget where we can afford to do that (reduce the sales tax by another quarter percent). I think that will be a good move. It will help everybody across Tennessee equally," said Pody.

If lawmakers pass the reduction, it would mark the second year in a row that they have reduced the sales tax rate by a quarter of a cent. Cities and counties in Tennessee, like DeKalb County, add up to 2.75 percent more in local sales taxes, which are not affected by the state cut.

Haslam said he will propose, in the state budget he will present to lawmakers by early February, the second consecutive cut in the food tax. But he said he has no plans to cut it further in future years.

"In general, the debate from a lot of folks is about what tax can we cut next," said Governor Haslam in a Memphis Commercial Appeal report. "We've cut the Hall (the state's limited personal income tax on investment income), eliminated the gift tax, are phasing out the inheritance tax and are cutting the food tax by 10 percent of the total (state) tax. That's nothing to sneeze at," he said.

"But ... we've got to balance the revenue and expense side. I'm always amazed how many people want us to cut taxes but they don't want us to cut any programs," said Governor Haslam.

Representative Pody said the state has sufficient funds to cover the costs in cutting the sales tax on food but beyond that he would like to see the state cut funding to NPR. "Right now we have almost an extra $500 million that has come in above and beyond what we have budgeted. This would be more than enough to make up for that (sales tax cut). Some of that cost is already going to be going to TennCare costs and other increases that we have, but there would be enough to do it," said Pody.

"There are more cuts I believe we can make in the budget. In fact one of them is NPR. I don't believe that any organization should be competing with other private organizations. I don't think the government should be in the mode of picking and choosing who they are going to help, if they're not going to help everybody equally. That's one place I'd say we should be cutting," said Pody.

What about public television? "There are so many stations out there right now, that the public has a choice of where they want to go," said Pody. "We don't need to be picking up that kind of costs. If the public wants it, they can make their donations on their own. They can publicly pay for it with their own private funds and it can still be a viable option as an independent business. It does not have to be run or funded by the government," said Representative Pody.

UCHRA Transportation Raises Money for Home Delivered Meals Program

December 24, 2012
By RANDALL KILLMAN, Field Operations Program Specialist
UCHRA Transportation Raises Money for Home Delivered Meals Program

Recently, the Transportation Department at Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency did a fundraiser to assist the Home Delivered Meals Program that the agency administers in the 14 county regions, better known as “Meals on Wheels”.

The employees decided to raise the money by selling Boston Butts. The Butts were purchased at a discounted rate from Jerry’s IGA in Livingston, TN, and then prepared by agency employee Steve Lancaster who is known over the region for his BBQ skills. Many of the employees sold the Boston Butts, assisted Lancaster in the preparing, and then delivered the Butts to the generous people who purchased them.

Rebecca Harris, Transportation Director, stated “I am so proud to work with such a caring group of people and I am thrilled we were able to help such a great program.”

The effort resulted in raising $2056.01 for this program that delivered hot meals to seniors homes across the Upper Cumberland. It takes $1820.00 per year to feed one person for a year through the Home Delivered Meals Program.

Linda Tramel, Field Services / Nutrition Director at UCHRA stated that, “we are so appreciative of the efforts of all that helped with this fundraiser and as a result of their generosity we will now be able to remove one senior off of the waiting list this year”.

This program is designed for the elderly and adults with disabilities to remain in their own homes, avoiding premature institutionalization by providing a nutritionally balanced noontime meal up to seven days per week.
The Home Delivered Meals Program has served 184,626 meals to people in the Upper Cumberland this 2011-12 fiscal year alone.

Luke Collins, Executive Director of UCHRA said, “It is my goal to remove as many seniors as possible from the Meals on Wheels waiting list, and our team is helping do just that”.

To learn more about the Home Delivered Meals Program or any of the other 62 programs UCHRA offers call 931-528-1127 or visit www.uchra.com.

CUTLINE: The UCHRA Central Office Transportation staff present the Nutrition Program with a check for monies raised through Transportation’s Boston Butt fundraiser.

Pictured L to R: Randall Killman, Field Operations Program Specialist; Lloyd Williams, Mobility Manager; Riley Sparks, Fleet Operations Manager; Gail Stephenson, Transportation Personnel Coordinator; Dusty Ledbetter, MIS Software Developer; Pam Redmon, Nutrition Project Director; Linda Tramel, Field Services/Nutrition Director; Becky Harris, Transportation/Services Director; Steve Lancaster, Mobility Manager; Danny Hill, Commodities/Van Pool Coordinator; Kelly Dishman, Field Operations Program Specialist; Judy Draughn, Transportation Contracts/Accounts; Teresa Johnson, Assistant Transportation Contracts/Accounts; and Jeff Walling, Commodities. Those who assisted in the fundraiser who are not pictured are: Cindy Stanley, Assistant Director of Transportation; Tony Smith, Director of General Services; and Terry Alley, Project Coordinator Transportation Services.

"Love Lights a Tree" for the American Cancer Society

December 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
"Love Lights a Tree" for the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society invites you to make a special donation in honor or in memory of a loved one during the holiday season through "Love Lights a Tree". A special memory board has been erected on the south side of the courthouse that lists the names of your loved ones.

The names of the honorees are as follows:

Lisa Anderson, Tracie Webb Baker, Dortha Barnes, Shelly Cross, Earl D. France, Radley Hendrixson, Eddie Hobson, Lois Horn, Jo Doris Johnson, Walter Johnson, Betty Malone, Amy Lynn Miller, Josh Miller, Linda Milligan-Ferguson, Karen Milligan-Hylton, Katrena Moore, Ann Pack, Larry Scurlock, Margie Smith, Willie Turner, Polly Turner, Sandra Wall, and Susan Young.

The names of those remembered are as follows:

Cecil Adkins, Mai Akin, John D. Akin, Angela Allen

Rebecca Beason, Martha Bluhm, Jesse Bluhm, Alan Bradford, Jo Puckett Bradford, Larry Bratten,

Jeremy Caldwell, Joshua Caldwell, Johnny Cantrell, Frances Cantrell, Clifton Cantrell, Jodie Cantrell, Tracy Cassity, Will Allen Cathcart, Martha Cathcart, Ersie Cherry, Jennifer Clark, Mary Collins, Barbara Colvert, Bob Cook, James (Buddy) Cook, Pam (Baker) Cook, Arlo Cook, William Smith (Bill) Craig, Jr., Eva Crook, Grady Crook, W.C. Crook, Walter Cubbins, Wilma Cubbins,

Vera Bell Davenport, Vanice King Davenport, Frank Davis, Ravanelle Driver, Earl Driver, Lynn Duke, H.C. Duke, Onie Durham, Woodrow Durham, Tony Durso,

Donnie L. Edge, Ruth Elder,

Geraldine Fish, Kathy Foster, Willie Foutch, Billy J. France, James Alvie France, Jamie Frazier, John Larry Frazier, Billie Ann Frazier, Jo Ronald Frazier, Woodrow Frazier, Leonard M. Freeman, Margaret Freeman, Leonard M "Buddy" Freeman, Violet Fuson, Edsel Fuston, Jean Fuston, Hoyt Fuston, Sybil Fuston,

Walter Gassaway, Dessie Brown Gassaway, Royce T. Givens, Jr., James Goodwin, John Paul Grubb,

Brownie Haley, Lucille (Cook) Harris, Esker Harrison, Eva Harrison, Bertie Hayes, Rex Hayes, Mallow Herndon, Russell Herndon, Vada Pauline Herndon, Edward Hobson, Kenneth Howard, Elby Howard, Joe Huffman, Marvin Hutson, Sarah L. Hutson,

Charles L. Johnson, Linnie Johnson, Robert Joines, Johnnie Joines, McKinley Jones, Jim B. Judkins, Len Judkins, Marie Judkins, Earl Judkins,

Jennifer Renea Kincaid,

Nadine Luna, Brackett Luna, Angel Mahler, Billy Malone, Ida Malone, Carolyn Maynard, Helen Jones Mayo, T.C. McMillen, Gail Milligan,

June Nixon,

J.W. Pack, Bertha Parker, Hudson Parker, Pauline Parsley, Nina V. Phillips, Edna Pauline Phillips, C.T. Phillips, Sr., Dr. Jerry Puckett, Clyde L. Randolph, Mary Randolph, Vada I. Reeder, Bertie Reeder, George R. Reeder, Jack G. Rhody, Horace Rosson,

Kevin Sanders, Donald Smith, Virgil Smith, Nan Smith, Glen D. Smith, Ruby Smithson, Bruce Smithson, Christopher Stanley, Jordon Steinbach,

Burnace E. Terrell,

Arzie Usrey

Austin Vaughn, Edna Vaughn,

James F. Waggoner, Green Wall, Maud Wall, Eveleen Walls, Jvan Walls, Ruth Webb, Dennis Webb, W.A. (Bill) Young, and Juanita Young.

The names are in "honor of" and in "memory of" for a donation of five-dollars per name. The tree display board is located on the south side of the courthouse lawn. The Love Lights A Tree forms are available at First Bank, Liberty State Bank, DeKalb Community Bank and Regions Bank. For more information contact Committee Co-Chairs: Ivadell Randolph at 615-464-8129, Renee Cantrell at 615-597-4551, Barbara Ashford at 615-417-5653, Melanie Judkins at 615-597-1132 or Lynda Luna 615-597-5837.

Love Lights A Tree will continue thru December 31.

Saturday Fire Leaves Family Homeless for Christmas

December 22, 2012
Dwayne Page
Saturday Fire Leaves Family Homeless for Christmas
Home of Randy and Glenda Eaton Destroyed by Fire
Fire Destroys Eaton Home
Saturday Fire at Eaton Home near Alexandria

A fire three days before Christmas has left a DeKalb County family homeless.

County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that the residence of Randy and Glenda Eaton at 389 Old Liberty Road near Alexandria was destroyed by fire Saturday morning. The Eaton's were renting the home from the owner, Tommy Malone.

Central dispatch received the call at 10:08 a.m.

According to Chief Green, the Eaton's daughter, Leah Burchfield was in her bedroom when she discovered the fire across the hall in another bedroom. She then ran to the bathroom to alert her mother, who was taking a shower. 911 was notified and firefighters were dispatched to the scene.

Members of the Liberty, Main Station, and Short Mountain Highway stations of the county volunteer fire department responded along with the tanker truck, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS. Chief Green said mutual aid assistance was requested of the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department and they arrived on the scene to help. "They (Alexandria firefighters) did a good job and we really appreciated their help", said Chief Green.

The home was lost in the fire but the family was able to salvage some of their belongings. "Upon arrival, we found heavy fire coming from the back bedroom windows and roof. We worked hard to try to extinguish and contain the fire, but it had already spread into the attic area of the house causing significant fire, heat, smoke, and water damage throughout the entire structure," said Chief Green.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross is now helping the family with their immediate needs. "The family lost most of their personal items and furnishings. DeKalb County Red Cross personnel were summoned to the scene to help the family with immediate food, clothing, and shelter needs," said Chief Green.

Although the cause of the fire cannot be determined at this time, Chief Green said statements made by the Eaton's indicate the home could have had an ongoing electrical issue that will be considered when making a determination of the cause.

Ironically, firefighters were called to the same home on Friday afternoon at around 1:38 p.m. after the family's artificial Christmas tree caught on fire in the living room, sparked by an extension cord powering a strand of lights. Chief Green said the family was at home at the time and Mr. Eaton used a blanket to smother the flames. The damage in that incident was confined to a small area of carpet under the tree. There was no significant structural damage

According to Chief Green, the fire on Friday was in no way related to the fire on Saturday and no foul play is suspected in either fire.

Smithville Police Department Throws Christmas Party for Needy Families

December 22, 2012
Dwayne Page

Many underprivileged children and their families were treated to a Christmas party Friday night at city hall hosted by the Smithville Police Department.

The party was complete with food, gifts, Christmas carols, the true message of the Christmas story presented by local ministers, and an appearance from Santa, his elves, and Mrs. Claus.

The police department obtained names of the families in cooperation with Second Harvest and letters were sent inviting them to the party

"We want to make sure we (police department) have a good public relationship with them. We want to help these children and the families," said Beth Adcock, police department records clerk who was largely responsible for organizing the party.

Car Plows Into Building due to Stuck Accelerator, No Serious Injuries

December 21, 2012
Dwayne Page
Car Plows Into Building
Pack Car Hits this Parked Mini-Van Before Running into Building

No one was seriously injured in a bizarre accident Friday morning in which a car traveling through a parking lot, struck another vehicle and then plowed into a building on East Bryant Street.

Central dispatch was notified at 11:10 a.m.

Corporal Travis Bryant of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that 85 year old Ernest Pack, driving a 2000 Dodge Stratus, was driving through the parking lot around back of Doc's Detail when his accelerator apparently stuck. The car went out of control and hit the rear of a parked Town and Country mini-van belonging to Billy Cripps. Pack's car then came around the parking lot and ran into a building belonging to Charles Atnip, which is used for storage. The force of the impact into the building and a central heat and air unit caused an adjacent small tree to fall onto another parked car, a 2010 Kia Optima, belonging to Alvina Levan.

Pack was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS but he refused to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. Pack's wife, who was also in the car with him, was not injured.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and Extrication and Rescue Team were also on the scene to provide assistance.

Funeral Home Gives Community a Chance to Show Concern for Victims of Connecticut Shooting

December 21, 2012
Dwayne Page

A local funeral home is giving area residents a chance to remember those killed during the school shooting in NewTown Connecticut last Friday.

DeKalb Funeral Chapel invites people from DeKalb and surrounding areas to stop by today through January 2 to sign a register book to express condolences to the families of the victims. Michael Hale, owner of the funeral home, said that "it's a way to let those people affected by the tragedy to know they are in our thoughts and prayers".

He said the register book will be sent to a funeral home in NewTown Connecticut to be shared with families of the school and community.

DeKalb County Helps Farm Bureau Insurance Fight Breast Cancer

December 20, 2012
DeKalb County Helps Farm Bureau Insurance Fight Breast Cancer

Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee raised more than $350,000 to fight breast cancer this fall, and the company's DeKalb County office played an important role in reaching that total.

The centerpiece of Farm Bureau Insurance's effort was the sale of special edition pink Farmer Charlie hats. More than 52,000 were sold statewide and 250 were sold by the DeKalb County office.

"We were very happy to see the number of people who responded to our pink hat campaign," said Agency Manager Bart Lay. "The people of DeKalb County showed the true heart of our community. Nearly everyone has a breast cancer story to tell, and we were proud to step forward and do our part," he said.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the American Cancer Society's signature event to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. The event unites the entire community to honor breast cancer survivors, educate people about how to reduce their breast cancer risk or find the disease early and raise funds to end breast cancer.

Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee participated as a statewide sponsor this year. "The American Cancer Society was thrilled to have Farm Bureau Insurance involved and is humbled by the tremendous outpouring of support received across the state from all Farm Bureau offices and agents, " said Mary Ann Upchurch, state vice president for the American Cancer Society in Tennessee. "All the Farm Bureau agents in Tennessee were involved in some form, whether it was selling pink hats, helping to promote their local walks or holding their own local fundraisers. They all rallied together to help end this disease. Even Farmer Charlie got involved to help. The American Cancer Society could not be more appreciative and thankful for what they have done for in Tennessee and for women everywhere who are battling this disease.

The funds raised by Farm Bureau Insurance will be used to provide free resources and support to the one in two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer who will turn to the American Cancer Society for help and support. Dollars raised will also fund groundbreaking research to find, prevent, treat, and cure breast cancer, as well as help the Society ensure access to mammograms for women who need them.

"It has been gratifying to see the people of Farm Bureau Insurance rally their neighbors and friends to a worthy charitable cause such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer," said Farm Bureau Insurance CEO Sonny Scoggins. "This terrible disease is so widespread and affects so many people. It was an easy decision to place our corporate emphasis on this project," said Scoggins.

Dowelltown City Lights Contest Winners Announced

December 19, 2012
Dwayne Page

Winners of the Dowelltown City Lights Contest have been awarded.

Best Overall
First Place: Chris Walker/Terri Dodd of Corley Street
2nd place: Mike and Elizabeth Redmon of Main Street
3rd place: J.C. Byford of Church Street

Best Window
First Place:Joseph and Beth Chandler of Corley Street
2nd place: Carmine Bain of Circle Drive

Best Door/Porch
First place: Bernice Hendrixson of Church Street
Second Place: Mitchell and Victoria Jamison of North Mill Street

Connecticut Tragedy Hits Close to Home for Smithville Man

December 19, 2012
Dwayne Page
Hugh Kennen

The massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut last Friday hit close to home for a Smithville man, whose mother serves as a kindergarten teacher's aide there and was on her way to work when the shooting occurred.

"She's tough but it hurts," said Hugh Kennen, an employee of Smithport Cabinetry, formerly Kitchencraft." That's something that even sitting here I'll never forget so I can only imagine how hard it is for her to deal with," he said.

Kennen, who is originally from Connecticut but has lived here since 1993, told WJLE Tuesday that he became worried about his mother, Jean Passero and other members of his family after hearing news of the shooting from a co-worker last Friday. "The first thing that happened was I got word from a co-worker who has alerts sent to his phone about major news events and he asked me if I had family in Connecticut. I said yeah. He showed me on his phone the first broadcasts that were coming out about it. I saw New Town Connecticut. That's where most of my family lives now. I came in and checked my computer and saw that the school was on lock down. They didn't know much at that point but they knew there had been a shooter. I picked up the phone and called my mother but her line was busy so I called my sister who also lives in New Town and got through to her so luckily there wasn't a long period of time where there was a lot of doubt that at least my close family was safe," he said.

"My mother was leaving the grocery store to go into school and got the call that the school was locked down so she turned around and went home to turn on the news like most people were," said Kennen. " I got word from my sister that her kids, although they were in school at another elementary school in town, were safe. So my immediate fears were quelled," he said.

Kennen said his mother knew many of the children and staff at the school who were killed and their loss has not been easy for her to accept. "She is a teacher's aide at that school for the kindergarten kids so a good portion of the kids that were in those first grade classrooms were her students from the previous year. New Town, even though it's not a tiny town is very close and she is good friends with a lot of the families. A lot of the staff are close friends of hers so it wasn't easy for her to get the phone calls from the other parents." he said.

The tragedy has also left an impression on Kennen, who knows that area of Connecticut so well. "From where I'm sitting, to see the places that I've been to and people that I know in just complete panic and turmoil and tragedy, it hits home and I haven't lived there in a long time so I can imagine it's just devastating for people that are actually involved. It was crazy. I'm not sure what breaks inside somebody's head that can make them walk into an elementary school and do this. I don't understand it," said Kennen.


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