Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 9.8% in July

August 26, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for July was at 9.8%, down from the June rate of 10.1%. The local jobless rate for July, 2009 was 10.7%

The July labor force in DeKalb County was 9,800. A total of 8,840 were employed and 960 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's jobless rate for the month was fifth lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region. Here's how they rank from highest to lowest:

White County- 12.2%
Pickett-12.1%
Jackson- 11.4%
Van Buren-11.4%
Warren-11.3%
Clay- 11.2%
Overton-11.1%
Fentress- 11.1%
Cumberland-10.1%
DeKalb-9.8%
Smith- 9.6%
Cannon- 9.1%
Putnam- 9.0%
Macon- 8.9%

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July was 9.8 percent, down two-tenths of a percentage point from the revised June rate of 10.0 percent. The national unemployment rate for July 2010 was 9.5 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for July show that the rate decreased in 87 counties, increased in 5 counties and remained the same in three counties.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, down from 6.7 percent in June. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.4 percent, down from 20.8 percent, followed by Marshall County at 15.7 percent, down from 16.6 percent in the previous month.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.5 percent, down from 7.8 percent in June. Davidson County was 9.3 percent, up from 9.0 percent. Hamilton County was 8.4 percent, down from 9.1 in June, and Shelby County was 9.9 percent, down from 10.5.

Leadership DeKalb Seeking Participants for New Class

August 25, 2010
Jen Sherwood and Suzanne Williams

Leadership DeKalb is seeking participants for its 13th class to run September 2010 – June 2011. The program's mission is to develop a diverse pool of business and community leaders, and to provide them with the information and tools needed to become more effective and active leaders in creating positive change in DeKalb County.

Anyone who lives or works in DeKalb County is encouraged to join the upcoming class. For more information, please contact Jen Sherwood at 615-464-0645 or the chamber office.

Leadership DeKalb is an adult leadership enhancement program. This program is for individuals who are or show the desire for the role of community trustees. Participants study the county in-depth, strengthen leadership skills and build a network of fellow leaders through the Leadership DeKalb classmates and alumni. Leadership DeKalb shapes our county's future with knowledgeable, effective and active leaders.

Each year, twelve individuals who live and/or work in DeKalb County are selected to participate in the September to June program. Selection into Leadership DeKalb is competitive, based upon a written application. The selection committee considers candidates' involvement in the community and demonstration of their current or future leadership potential. The overall diversity among the class participants - including occupation, age, heritage, gender, education and geography -- plays a significant role in the selection process. Tuition is $175 and is expected to be paid at least in part by the participant. The following dates provide the selection schedule for the Class of 2011:

September 1 - Deadline for application
September 3 - Notification to applicants by letter
September 10 - Tuition payment deadline

Class of 2011 Program Schedule

Program Meeting Days Time Topics

Thursday, Sept 16, 2010
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Opening Retreat (full attendance required)

Thursday, Oct 7, 2010
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Health Care & Quality of Life

Thursday, Nov 18, 2010
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Local Government

Thursday, Dec 9, 2010
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Justice System

Thursday, Jan 20, 2011
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Economic Development

Thursday, Feb 17, 2011
7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Education

Mon-Tues, March 14-15, 2011
2 pm - 5 pm (overnight)
State Government (Nashville)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Community & Communications

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Center Hill Lake (closing retreat)

Thursday, June 16, 2011
5:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Graduation (families, employers & sponsors are invited)

Participants must be committed to attending all sessions, and a maximum of only 10 excused hours may be missed throughout the year in order to successfully complete the program. Opening retreat and graduation are required.

For questions or more information, contact the chamber office at 597-4163 or Jen Sherwood at 615-464-0645.

Smithville Fire Department Called to Shiroki North America

August 25, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

Employees of Shiroki North America, Incorporated on West Broad Street were evacuated as a precaution this morning (Wednesday) after filters caught fire in an air filtering system outside the building forcing smoke into the plant where workers were operating.

Central dispatch received the call at 10:27 a.m. and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department quickly responded.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker says the filtering system was shut down and firefighters pulled the burning filters out of the unit and extinguished the small fire.

No one was injured.

According to Chief Parker, Shiroki North America has a secondary air filtering unit which was activated in order to keep the plant operating. Once the smoke was cleared from the building, employees returned to work.

Smithville Man Escapes Injury in Truck Crash

August 25, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Man Escapes Injury in Truck Crash

A 27 year old Smithville man escaped injury this morning in a pickup truck accident on the Old Blue Springs Road.

Central dispatch received the call at 9:24 a.m.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Adam Daniel Washer was driving east in a 2005 Ford F150 when he went off the road and ran head-on into a tree. He apparently had fallen asleep.

DeKalb EMS was called to the scene but Washer was apparently uninjured and did not have to be transported to the hospital.

The Short Mountain Highway Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department also responded

County Officials Take Oath of Office

August 24, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Mayor and members of County Commission

Even though their new terms of office don't officially begin until September 1st, seven county officials and thirteen members of the county commission took the oath of office Tuesday afternoon at the courthouse.

In a brief ceremony Tuesday afternoon, Smithville Municipal Judge and County Attorney Hilton Conger administered the oath to County Clerk Mike Clayborn, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, County Mayor Mike Foster, Trustee Sean Driver, Road Supervisor Kenny Edge, and Sheriff Patrick Ray.

General Sessions Judge Bratten Cook, II administered the oath to Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack.

Later in the afternoon, County Mayor Foster administered the oath of office to members of the county commission including Mason Carter and Elmer Ellis, Jr. from the first district; Bobby Joines from the second district; Bradley Hendrix and Jerry Scott from the third district, Wayne Cantrell and David McDowell from the fourth district, Jerry Adcock and John Green from the fifth district, Jeff Barnes and Marshall Ferrell from the sixth district, and Larry Summers and Jimmy Poss from the seventh district. Jack Barton from the second district was absent.

Others elected on August 5th not taking the oath of office Tuesday, still have until September 1st to be sworn into office to begin their new terms.

Judge Cook also administered the oath to Smithville Municipal Judge Hilton Conger whose new appointed term begins September 1st.

(Pictured seated left to right: Bradley Hendrix, Elmer Ellis, Jr. Jimmy Poss, Jerry Adcock, John Green, and Bobby Joines)
(Pictured standing left to right: County Mayor Mike Foster, Mason Carter, David McDowell, Larry Summers, Jerry Scott, Jeff Barnes, Wayne Cantrell, and Marshall Ferrell)

Aldermen to Adopt New Ordinance Addressing Wages of City Employees

August 24, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Taft Hendrixson

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen, meeting in a Monday night workshop on the budget, discussed adopting a new ordinance addressing wages of city employees.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson says the city needs a new wage scale because the existing one is confusing and not equitable to employees. " The old wage chart, I can't make rhyme nor reason out of it, the way the computer was doing the wages and the raises every year. It's just not equitable how these raises are determined. There needs to be something done about it to make it equitable for everybody."

So the mayor has proposed a new "wage chart" which if approved would take effect this budget year, 2010-11. Mayor Hendrixson says under the proposal, pay rates would be based on those in the 2009-10 budget, but there would be a change affecting new employees and the way pay raises are determined. "This is for employees starting after July 1st, 2010. The other employees, their wage will be whatever it is plus either cost of living or step raises."

"I've simplified it. The first four years, you (employees) would get a fifty cents (per hour) a year step raise and you would get it on your anniversary. What's been happening in the past, for someone say starting in August, it would be 23 months before they would get their step raise and I don't think that's right. That needs to be on their anniversary. Then after the four years, there would be a cost of living raise if the board deems that they want to do that every year. I think that needs to be in the ordinance. I don't think it (cost of living raise) needs to be automatic. There's towns around us where employees haven't gotten a raise in three or four years. We're lucky we've given one every year but I believe it needs to be at the board's discretion. There are four salaried employees and I think the board needs to set their salary every year. That's my opinion."

Mayor Hendrixson says wages of city employees are comparable to the pay of other towns and many local industries. In some cases, he says it's even better, considering the benefits. "All of these wages are comparable to any of the factories here or better and are far better than what the county pays. They are comparable to anything around and better than most. And you can add seven thousand dollars a year to each one of these employees for health, life, and dental insurance, that nobody else gets to my knowledge. That's a seven thousand dollar a year perk. When you talk to somebody out of town about this they just can't believe we do this (offer benefits) and there may come a time when we can't, but I hope we can keep it up."

The proposed new ordinance may also require city employees that need certification to become certified within eighteen months of employment. Alderman Aaron Meeks spoke to this issue. "Any employee hired that requires certification, they should have eighteen months to obtain certification. If they don't obtain it within eighteen months they will either be terminated or transferred to another department if we have an opening where they can transfer."

Mayor Hendrixson added that for all new hires " the first sixty days, they need to be on probation, just like we have had it. At the end of sixty days, if they're not working out, they can be terminated at the board's discretion."

Alderman Meeks suggested that a new ordinance be adopted soon to address these issues. " I think we need to draft an ordinance that would replace three old ordinances (regarding wages) to reflect these changes that we've discussed and then I believe we will have a good starting point for our city employees pay scales."

Once the proposed ordinance is drafted by city attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. the mayor will schedule a special meeting to consider first reading passage. The new budget ordinance may also be scheduled for passage at the same meeting.

Public hearings and second and final reading passage of each ordinance would follow within two weeks of first reading.

Sheriff's Department Makes Two More Arrests in August 3rd Robbery of Liberty State Bank

August 23, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Ricky Estes
Roxanna Landis
Carlos Lynn Godsey
Dustin David Yates
Danette Louise Paulic

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested two more people, believed to have been accomplices with 38 year old Craig Hill in the robbery of Liberty State Bank on August 3rd.

45 year old Ricky Estes of Whorton Springs Road, Smithville and 26 year old Roxanna Landis of Andrew Street, Smithville were both arrested on Friday, August 20th and charged with aggravated robbery. Each is under a $100,000 bond and they are scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Monday, September 13th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Estes "aided in the robbery of Liberty State Bank by being involved in the planning of the robbery and driving the get away car. He also shared in the proceeds from the robbery."

Sheriff Ray adds that Landis "aided by being involved in the planning of the robbery, freely leaving in the get away vehicle, and sharing in the proceeds of the robbery.

Hill, who was accused of actually committing the robbery, made a brief court appearance last week but the case was continued until September 13th in DeKalb County General Sessions Court. Hill is under a $100,000 bond on the aggravated robbery charge but he is being held without bond on charges of violation of probation in other cases against him.

Hill, a resident of Holmes Creek Road, Smithville turned himself in at the DeKalb County Jail on Saturday, August 14th for violation of probation.

In a brief statement, Sheriff Ray said "On August the 3rd, through an investigation into the robbery, Hill was identified through (bank surveillance) video tapes and other investigative tools to be the person responsible for the robbery. Lawmen had been searching for Hill ever since. Hill, who had been living out of town since this incident, came to the DeKalb County Jail to turn himself in on a violation of probation warrant. While there, he was questioned by Sheriff's Department Detectives about the robbery and admitted his involvement in the robbery of Liberty State Bank.

The warrant alleges that "On or about the 3rd day of August 2010, Craig Anthony Hill did enter the Liberty State Bank in Liberty Tennessee presenting the teller with a note stating "Give me the money in 20's and 100's, I have a gun" thus putting the teller in fear of her life. The teller at that point took the cash from her drawer and gave it to Craig Hill as instructed. The amount of money taken during the robbery was in excess of $6,000."

Meanwhile in other crime news, 30 year old Carlos Lynn Godsey of LaVergne Street, Alexandria
was charged Tuesday, August 17th with theft of property under $500 and theft of property over $1,000. His court date is September 16th and he is under a $35,000 bond

Sheriff Ray says, Godsey went to a location on Rosewood Lane, Smithville on Tuesday, August 10th and took a door to a Chevy S-10 pickup truck, a metal milk jug, and a set of metal car ramps, valued at about $200.

The next day, Wednesday, August 11th, Sheriff Ray says Godsey went to a location on the Alexandria to Dismal Road, Alexandria and stole a 20 horsepower boat motor, an air compressor, a truck and car transmission, and a 1976 International scout body, valued at $1,500.

27 year old Dustin David Yates of School Land Road, Van Cleave Missouri was charged Tuesday, August 17th with theft of property. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court on September 2nd.

According to Sheriff Ray, Yates took a vehicle in Missouri and brought it to Tennessee. "We got a report that the vehicle was on Miller Lane, Smithville at a residence. A deputy went to Miller Lane, found the vehicle, and learned that he was the driver of the vehicle. Authorities in Missouri have placed a hold on Yates for the charges against him there.

35 year old Karen Lynn Welsh of Bobby Hayes Road, Dowelltown was charged on Thursday, August 19th with a first offense of driving under the influence. Sheriff Ray says deputies received a call from dispatch of a "Be on the Lookout" BOLO for a black Forerunner. "One of the deputies got behind the vehicle on Highway 56 south and observed it cross the center line four times. The officer then pulled it over. The driver, Welsh, had slurred speech and her pupils were pin pointed in size. She submitted to field sobriety tasks which she failed. Her bond is $1500 and she will appear in court on September 2nd.

52 year old Danette Louise Paulic of Oakley Road, Liberty was charged Thursday, August 19th with aggravated burglary, theft of property under $500, and possession of drug paraphernalia
Her bond is $16,000 and she will be in court on September 2nd. According to Sheriff Ray, deputies were called to a break-in on Sparta Highway and found Paulic there. "She had taken a leather jacket, a bottle of bleach, and a basket full of cleaning supplies. When they (officers) did an inventory of the vehicle before it was towed, they found two pipes used to smoke illegal drugs."

45 year old Claude Patrick Trimble of Tabernacle Road, Smithville was charged on August 20th with a second offense of driving on a revoked license and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is $3,000 and his court date is September 30th. Sheriff Ray says Trimble was operating a motor vehicle on Banks Pisgah Road and was stopped for almost hitting another vehicle head-on. When the deputy asked to see his drivers license, Trimble handed him a parole card and stated he did not have a license. A computer check of his license revealed that they were revoked for a DUI and other offenses on May 1st, 2003 in Warren County. The deputy also found between the driver side seat and console a used hypodermic needle.

31 year old Scotty Wayne Knowles was charged on Sunday, August 22nd with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,000 and his court date is September 30th.

Sheriff Ray says a deputy was on routine patrol on Jacobs Pillar Road when he observed a vehicle cross the center line several times. Upon stopping the vehicle, the deputy found the driver to be Knowles. The officer asked for a drivers license check through central dispatch and it showed Knowles' license to be suspended for failure to show a drivers license on March 17th in DeKalb County.

Tractor Trailer Rig Tears through Barbed Wire Fence into a Pasture on Allen's Ferry Road

August 23, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tractor Trailer Rig Tears through Fence and into Pasture on Allen's Ferry Road
Truck Driver Escapes Injury in Accident on Allen's Ferry Road

The driver of a tractor trailer rig escaped injury this morning after his truck went off Allen's Ferry Road and through a barbed wire fence before stopping in a pasture.

Central dispatch received the call at 7:14 a.m.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 59 year old Terry Lee Caldwell of Humbolt, operating a Volvo tractor trailer for Venture Express, was enroute to Federal Mogul hauling cardboard boxes.

According to Trooper Jennings, Caldwell was traveling north on state route 83 when "the vehicle failed to properly negotiate a curve to the left, ran off the road to the right, and over corrected going across the center line. The tractor trailer left the roadway to the left, entered a ditchline and came to rest in a pasture field after going through a barbed wire fence at 2535 Allen's Ferry Road."

As far as the damage, Trooper Jennings says the truck tore down part of the fence and some fence posts. "There was also damage to the truck. It busted his suspension and air tanks and there was some damage to the front end of tractor trailer."

Caldwell was cited for failure to maintain proper lane of travel and for a log book violation due to his duty status not being current. He was showing (logged) himself in the sleeper berth at the time of the accident.

DeKalb County to Get Litter Grant

August 22, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

As part of the effort to Stop Litter in Tennessee, Governor Phil Bredesen and TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely have awarded $3-million 862-thousand 515 in litter grant funds to all 95 counties in Tennessee.

DeKalb County will receive a grant for $29,237 dollars.

"Each year volunteers pick up almost 25 million pounds of roadside litter in Tennessee alone," said Bredesen. "Litter is an eye-sore, it's costly to clean up and it can be harmful to our environment, but it's totally preventable. These funds will be used by counties across the state to organize their pick-up efforts and conduct educational campaigns to teach children and adults about the importance of keeping Tennessee beautiful."

County Mayor Mike Foster says litter grant funds are distributed annually by TDOT to all Tennessee counties for litter clean up and education. "It's a good grant and it's one we've been getting for a lot of years. A deputy takes a crew of inmates out to clean up areas of roads and if we have an illegal dump they clean that up. But primarily, they do routine patrols on roads where they pick up litter. About $4,000 of it is earmarked for litter prevention education in the school system and most of the garbage cans that you see at the fast food restaurants, we bought those out of that money. It's done to try to educate the public and encourage them not to litter on any highway. We also hope it helps show how important clean areas are, especially in high tourism counties like ours, and how good roads look when they're clean. We'll have some education programs in the schools. We have had contests encouraging students to write an essay on the importance of not littering. Sometimes we have poster contests but the idea is for them to get the message and take it home. Last year we bought a bunch of back packs, rulers, and other things that have anti-litter messages on them."

"TDOT awards approximately $3 million each year to help local communities in their efforts to stop litter in Tennessee," said Nicely. "These funds are obtained through the collection of a specialty tax on the malt beverage and soft drink industry through the Litter Grant Bill which was enacted by the General Assembly in 1981 and are put to use by local communities to prevent litter through education and clean-up activities."

The funds that each county receives are determined by county road miles and county population in order to ensure an equitable distribution statewide. Funds must be used for litter pick-up activities and litter prevention education. Education funding can be used in a variety of ways, such as sharing litter control awareness with schools, citizens and businesses.

Through the litter pick-up program, approximately 25.5 million pounds of roadside litter were picked up on approximately 292,000 miles of county roads, and approximately 45,000 miles of state routes. Of the trash collected by volunteers, approximately 7.4 million pounds is recycled.

Firefighters Contain Fire Damage at Home on Obie Adcock Road

August 22, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Firefighters Enter Home on Obie Adcock Road

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were called to the single wide trailer home of Ronald Young at 311 Obie Adcock Road Friday.

Central dispatch received the call at 1:04 p.m.

Assistant County Fire Chief Roy Merriman says Young and his wife were at home when the fire started but they were not injured. Firefighters found the blaze coming from the kitchen and utility room area of the home and quickly extinguished it, containing the fire damage there.

Merriman says the cause of the fire might have been electrical in nature.

Members of the Main Station, Belk, and Keltonburg departments of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department.

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