Local News Articles

DeKalb Unemployment Rate for September Drops to 7.4%

October 27, 2012
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for September dropped to 7.4%, down from 8.2% in August and from 8.9% in September 2011

The local labor force for September was 9,740. A total of 9,010 were employed and 720 were unemployed. DeKalb County had the fourth lowest unemployment rate among the fourteen counties in the Upper Cumberland region.
Here's how they ranked from highest to lowest:

Pickett County: 11.3%
White County: 11%
Van Buren County: 10.4%
Clay County: 9.1%
Fentress County: 9.1%
Warren County: 8.6%
Cumberland County: 8.2%
Macon County:8.2%
Overton County: 8.1%
Jackson County: 7.5%
DeKalb County:7.4%
Smith County: 7.1%
Putnam County: 7%
Cannon County: 6.9%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for September show the rate decreased in 94 counties and increased in one.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for September decreased to 8.3 percent, down from the August revised rate of 8.5 percent. The national unemployment rate for September 2012 was 7.8 percent, 0.3 percentage point lower than the August rate.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.9 percent, down from the August rate of 6.7 percent. Davidson County was 6.6 percent, down from 7.4 percent. Hamilton County was 7.1 percent, down from 7.7 percent, and Shelby County was 8.5 percent, down from 8.9 percent in August.

Tigers Fall to Livingston Academy 35-13

October 26, 2012

The DeKalb County Tigers lost at Livingston Academy 35-13 in the regular season finale Friday night. DC finishes 9-1 overall and 4-1 in the district. Livingston Academy also concludes the season at 9-1 and claimed the district championship at 5-0. Both teams have qualified for the state play-offs beginning next Friday night.

Wildcat quarterback Brock McCoin scored the first of his five touchdowns of the game on a five yard touchdown run with 6:34 left in the first period, capping a nine play drive on Livingston Academy's opening series. The P.A.T. by Eli Saddler was good and the score was 7-0

McCoin scored again with 8:12 left in the second period on a six yard touchdown run. Saddler converted the extra point and Livingston Academy led 14-0.

The Tigers got on the board with 37 seconds left before halftime on a five yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lucas Phillips to Will Molander. Ben Driver converted on the P.A.T. and DeKalb County trailed 14-7.

McCoin scored his third touchdown of the game on a nine yard run with 3:52 left in the third period. Saddler converted on the extra point and Livingston Academy extended its lead to 21-7

The Wildcats took a 28-7 lead on a 42 yard touchdown run by McCoin with five seconds left in the third period. The P.A.T. by Saddler was good.

DeKalb County's Chris Chapman scored on a 10 yard touchdown run with 8:31 left in the fourth period. The P.A.T. try by Ben Driver was no good and the Tigers trailed 28-13.

Livingston Academy's Brock McCoin scored his fifth touchdown of the game on a 62 yard run with 7:35 left. The extra point by Saddler was good and the Wildcats went on to win 35-13.

Willoughby Explains Cash Overdraft Finding in School Audit

October 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County School System has been written up in the latest state audit report for a school federal projects fund cash overdraft in the amount of $96,023 as of June 30, 2012.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said the reason for the overdraft is because the school system did not receive its federal reimbursement of grant expenditures in time to cover it.

Willoughby told WJLE that its not a serious finding since the federal reimbursement was expected, but to keep a cash overdraft from happening again, he has asked County Mayor Mike Foster to help the school system address the issue. "Back in 2009, we received a letter from the state saying that something like this might show up in the audits in the future. In dealing with federal and state funds, we have to spend the money before we're reimbursed. We have thousands of dollars we've written grants for but it takes a while for that grant money to reimburse. Again, we have to spend the money before we can request for the reimbursements. We run all of our after school programs with federal funds. I've talked with Mr. Foster. He and the budget committee are going to be meeting. Its recommended from the state that we set up a reserve fund to cover situations like this," said Willoughby.

The management response to the auditors finding, states that "The school system will monitor expenditures to ensure that a cash overdraft does not exist when closing our books in June. The school system will continue to adhere to federal program guidelines when requesting reimbursement for expenditures. During the 2011-12 school year, several programs operated in the month of June for which reimbursement was not received until mid-July, We realize that federal programs operate on a reimbursement basis, and an effort will be made to finalize all anticipated expenditures earlier in the school year so that reimbursement may be realized prior to closing the books.

Smithville Airport Gets Grant for Fuel Farm

October 26, 2012
Dwayne Page
Aerial View of Runway at Smithville Municipal Airport

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced today that federal and state aeronautics grants totaling $16.3 million have been approved for 23 Tennessee airports including one for Smithville.

The local project is for the design and construction of a fuel farm at the airport totaling $330,000, funded $297,000 federal, $16,500 state, and $16,500 local.

The grants are made available through the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.

The Division administers federal and state funding to assist in the location, design, construction and maintenance of Tennessee's diverse public aviation system.

Except for routine expenditures, grant applications are reviewed by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission (TAC), which is a five member board charged with policy planning and with regulating changes in the state Airport System Plan. The board carefully reviews all applications for grants to ensure that the proper state and local matching funds are in place and that the grants will be used for needed improvements.

The TDOT Aeronautics Division has the responsibility of inspecting and licensing the state's 126 heliports and 75 public/general aviation airports. The Division also provides aircraft and related services for state government and staffing for the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission.

DeKalb Man Dies, Two Others Injured in Smith County Crash

October 25, 2012
Dwayne Page
Johnny Ray Farless

A 19 year old Smithville man died and two others were injured after their car ran into a tractor trailer rig on Interstate 40 in Smith County early Thursday morning.

Dead is Johnny Ray Farless. Those injured were 21 year old Amanda Price of Liberty and 19 year old Zachary Barlow of Lebanon.

An official of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Farless and Barlow were passengers of a 2009 Hyundai, driven by Price. The accident occurred at around 2:06 a.m.

According to the accident report filed by Trooper Nick Neal, Price was driving east on I-40 near the 252 mile marker when she apparently fell asleep and ran into the back of a 2012 tractor trailer, which was parked off the roadway near a truck rest stop area. The driver of the rig, 44 year old Alvin Walker of Olive Branch, Mississippi was asleep in the sleeper cab compartment of the truck at the time of the accident. The truck was loaded with general freight. After making impact with the rear of the trailer, Price's car spun around and came to rest halfway in the slow lane and the entrance ramp to the rest stop. Walker was not injured

Neither Farless, Price, nor Barlow were wearing a seatbelt.

The funeral for Farless will be Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at DeKalb Funeral Chapel. Visitation will be Friday from 5:00 p.m until 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until the service at 1:00 p.m. He was a member of the Emmanuel Bread of Life.

Farless was preceded in death by his father, Waylon Farless and grandparents, Rose and Larry Cobble.

He is survived by his mother, Keisha Farless and fiancee Charles Young of Smithville. A sister, Montana Farless of Smithville. Grandparents, Jerry and Terrie Bogle of Smithville, Ronnie and Cynthia Farless of Smithville, and Cheryl McCowan. An Aunt, Amanda Cobble of Smithville. Special cousin, Mackenzie Turner. Special friend, David Hutchins and girlfriend, Amanda Price.

The family asks that donations be made to DeKalb Funeral Chapel to help with funeral expenses, in lieu of flowers.

Star Manufacturing Joins Statewide Hiring Initiative to bring Paychecks to Patriots

October 25, 2012

The Tennessee Department of Labor has joined with Dollar General, Star Manufacturing and several other major employers in Tennessee to connect veterans with jobs. The Paychecks for Patriots initiative will include hiring fairs to be held on October 25 in 13 Tennessee Career Centers throughout the state, and will feature local employers interested in putting veterans to work. The Paychecks for Patriots hiring fair in Cookeville will be held from 10am to 2pm at 580 South Jefferson Avenue, Suite A.

Governor Haslam signed a proclamation announcing October 25th as Paychecks for Patriots Day. The declaration signifies the governor's support for recently returning veterans as well as those from past campaigns.

"We should never take for granted the freedoms we enjoy here at home because of the service of veterans," Haslam said. "I am really grateful for our service members and all that they do overseas and back here at home, and I'm happy the state could help by partnering with local employers to find jobs for veterans."

Cookeville's hiring fair features Cable Wireless Info Tech, Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Deaconess Healthcare, Dollar General, Fixtur-World, Flowserve, IWC Cash & Carry, Lowe's, Moeller, and Star Manufacturing. They will have representatives on-site who will be accepting resumes or referring applicants to online applications. Tennessee Career Centers are equipped with computer workstations to facilitate online applications and job searches through their jobs database at www.jobs4tn.gov.

"Tennessee employers understand the value veterans bring to the work place. Dollar General has hired more than 7,000 veterans in the last two years alone," said Bob Ravener, Dollar General's executive vice president and chief people officer. "Through Paychecks for Patriots, we're seeking to resolve the challenges of unemployment facing our veterans by equipping Tennessee's military community with the resources to better understand the job opportunities available."

Several agencies are contributing to the event including Labor and Workforce Development, Economic and Community Development, Military, Veterans Affairs, and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

"Paychecks for Patriots has pulled together some of Tennessee's most prominent employers with one goal in mind ... to help our veterans find or better their employment," said Major General Haston. "The Tennessee National Guard is proud to be a part of this landmark project."

Paychecks for Patriots hiring fairs will concurrently be held in Chattanooga, Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville, Crossville, Dyersburg, Jackson, Johnson City, Knoxville, Memphis (Poplar Avenue), Nashville (Metro Center), Talbott and Tullahoma.

Information on Paychecks for Patriots and participating employers and locations can be found at http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/Patriots/Paychecks.shtml.

Smithville Police Department Starting New Crime Stoppers Program

October 25, 2012
Dwayne Page
Smithville Police Department Starting New Crime Stoppers Program

The Smithville Police Department is forming a new Crime Stoppers Program.

A board of directors has been named to oversee the program and a set of by-laws are being developed to help govern the operation of it.

"Your local Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization which serves the City of Smithville," said Chief Randy Caplinger. "Crime Stoppers consists of a Board of Directors, who are local citizens in this community and have regular jobs. The Board of Directors volunteer their time to make decisions for Crime Stoppers, such as the amounts to pay out as rewards for crime tips. Crime Stoppers is funded solely by fundraising campaigns and donations," he said.

The city has received a grant, in the amount of $6,250, to start up the program. Five thousand dollars of the grant will be for rewards and the remaining $1,250 for administrative costs including equipment and advertising.

Crime Stoppers is led by designated coordinators, Chief Caplinger and Corporal Travis Bryant, giving out descriptions of local crimes via local media such as the local newspapers and the radio station.

Crime Stoppers works by giving the citizens an opportunity to call in anonymously and give information on a crime and then a number is assigned to that caller. If an arrest is made based on that information then the Board of Directors determines how much of a reward is given for that tip. These rewards can total up to $1,000 for a single tip. Also, Crime Stoppers gives out rewards based on an arrest for that crime not a conviction for the crime.

So remember, if you know information about ANY crime in the community, no matter how large or small, just call and give your information. It doesn't matter if they publish the crime or play it on the radio. If your information leads to an arrest, you may receive an award.

Members of the Crime Stoppers Board are Sue Conley, CEO of DeKalb Community Hospital; John Daniels of Regal Craft Kitchens; Phillip (Fluty) Cantrell, local businessman; Jeff Armstrong, minister of the Smithville Church of God; Karen Caplinger, of Potters Home Center; Dwayne Page, manager of WJLE; Shawn Jacobs, alderman and city police and fire commissioner; Mayor Jimmy Poss; City secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson; and alderman and local attorney Gayla Hendrix.

October Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Mike Foster and Genesis House Advocate Rachel Pugh

County Mayor Mike Foster Tuesday signed a proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Rachel Pugh, Advocate for the Genesis House, was also on hand for the signing.

The proclamation states "Whereas, domestic violence affects every person of DeKalb County, Tennessee as a victim survivor or as a family member, significant other, neighbor or co-worker of a survivor; and

Whereas, many citizens of DeKalb County, Tennessee are working to provide quality services and assistance to domestic violence survivors; and dedicated volunteer help staff 24-hour hotlines, respond to emergency calls and offer support, comfort, and advocacy during times of crisis, criminal proceedings, and throughout the healing process; and

Whereas, DeKalb County, Tennessee staff and volunteers of domestic violence programs are promoting prevention education by offering training to schools, churches, and civic organizations, as well as medical, and mental health, law enforcement, education, and criminal justice personnel regarding domestic violence issues; and

Whereas, it is vitally important that continued education efforts to provide information about prevention and services for domestic violence be supported and enhanced; and

Whereas, it is critical to intensify public awareness of domestic violence, to educate people about the need for citizen involvement in efforts to reduce domestic violence, to increase support for agencies providing domestic violence services, and to increase awareness of the healing power of creative expression; and

Whereas, Genesis House requests public support and assistance as it continues to work toward a society where all women, children, and men can live in peace, free from violence and exploitation;

Now, therefore, I Mike Foster, County Mayor of DeKalb County, Tennessee do hereby proclaim the month of October, 2012 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in DeKalb County, and I commend this observance to all citizens."

Commission Backs Road Supervisor on Maintaining Gated County Roads

October 24, 2012
Dwayne Page
Kenny Edge
Three landowners have property beyond this gate on Givans Hollow Rd near Liberty
State hot mixed dead end road with guardrails on private property at Snow Hill

For the last couple of years, Road Supervisor Kenny Edge has been written up by state auditors for maintaining roads to private cemeteries and for allowing property owners to have gates across county roads without authorization by the county commission.

On Monday night, Edge came before the county commissioners asking them to give him this authority, and they did on a unanimous vote. Edge said he sees nothing wrong with him working a road to a cemetery, or allowing gated county roads where they currently exist as long as property owners don't try to block others from passage.

State auditors, in the 2011 findings on DeKalb County, recommended that "The Highway Department should not maintain private roads to cemeteries unless authorized by the county commission or a private act approved by the state legislature"

Auditors further recommended that "The road supervisor should ensure the removal of any obstruction from the county's roads unless the DeKalb County Commission approves the gate across a third or fourth class county road as provided by Section 54-10-108,TCA. The road supervisor should determine if maintaining roads on gated property prejudices the rights of other taxpayers by denying them access to assets constructed with public funds"

"The concern was in the state law that says that I am not supposed to work anything but official county roads," said Edge. " They have been writing me up for the last two years and complaining about me working roads going to cemeteries and working any county road that had a gate across it. I told them (state auditors) that it has always been done. They (state auditors) said show me where the county commission has approved it to be done. Nobody could find no record of it so I brought it up to get it approved to where the county commission could okay me to maintain roads through cemeteries and maintain county roads that have gates," he said

In many cases, Edge said the gates are located on county roads that dead end with only a few landowners beyond those gates, and most are unlocked. "We've got gates all over this county and there have been gates all over this county for years and it even shows them on the county map. They're on dead end roads where there may be one or two landowners who just want to protect their property from somebody coming in there stealing everything they've got when they're gone," said Edge. "Some of them (county roads) don't have any homes on them. Its just farm land but the roads are officially county roads. They are named and are on the (county road) map. A few of them (gates) are locked but most are just (unlocked) gates across the road. They (state auditors) just don't want a gate across a road," he said.

Edge said its frustrating how that the state has such a problem with him on these issues, but sees nothing wrong with the state putting down hot mix and installing guardrails to a dead end on private property in the midst of a cedar thicket on the side of a hill along side a state highway (referring to property at the foot of Snow Hill on Highway 70). "The state of Tennessee hot mixed a road at the foot of Snow Hill going to that grave yard and they've got gates across it," he said.

Edge said he has the right to take down a gate across a county road if someone tries to prevent other landowners beyond the gates from passing through. " I've got a right to take the locks off of the gates or take the gates down and I've done it. If one person tries to lock another person out and two people own the property behind the gate, one won't let the other one have access to it, I've got the right to remove it," he said.

In the 2011 report, State auditors found that "a property owner erected a gate on a county road". The finding stated that " During 2006, the Highway Department paved 2.1 miles of a county road serving six property owners; however, .6 miles of the county road serves a single residence that includes a circle drive. The public has no access to this portion of the paved county road because the property owner erected a gate across the roadway. The road supervisor advised us that the Highway Department maintains the portion of the county road beyond the gate. Section 54-10-110, Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) prohibits any obstruction, such as gates, on public roads, and Section 54-7-201, TCA authorizes the road supervisor to remove any fence, gate, or other obstruction from public roads and rights-of-way. However, Section 54-10-108, TCA empowers county legislative bodies (county commissions) to permit the erection of gates across public roads of the third and fourth class when in their judgment it will be manifestly to the advantage of the applicant and not materially to the prejudice of the public. The county could not provide us a County Commission resolution permitting the erection of a gate across the county road."

Concerning the finding that "The Highway Department performed work and provided materials on roads to private cemeteries without authorization", state auditors found that "The Highway Department maintained private roads to cemeteries using county employees, materials, and equipment. The road supervisor advised that it has always been the Highway Department's practice to maintain private roads to cemeteries as needed. Section 46-2-107, Tennessee Code Annotated, authorizes counties to expend public or private funds to maintain dilapidated or abandoned cemeteries, including the roads, if approved by a majority vote of the county legislative body (county commission). Furthermore, the Tennessee Constitution gives the state legislature permission to pass a private act that would allow a local government to spend public funds on private roads leading to cemeteries, if it determines that convenient public access to such cemeteries serves the public health, safety, or general welfare of the community. Officials could not provide us a private act or County Commission resolution allowing the Highway Department to maintain private roads leading to cemeteries."

Budget Committee to Discuss Possible Wage Scale for County Employees

October 23, 2012
Dwayne Page

County Mayor Mike Foster has called for a meeting of the budget committee and department heads hoping that a solution can be reached over what type of wage scale, if any, should be established for county general employees.

No pay raises were included in this year's budget, other than for employees due a raise in a four tiered salary pay scale for the Sheriff's Department which was implemented last year to bring their salaries in line with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

M2U00863 from dwayne page on Vimeo.
County officials, both in the courthouse and at the county complex, support step increases for their employees based on years of service, provided it can be funded without a property tax hike. But they have disagreed with Foster on his idea of using job classification as a criteria. Their belief has been that job titles would be divisive and kill morale and unity of county offices.

Foster, during Monday night's county commission meeting, said he still believes job classification should be a consideration in whatever wage scale is established. "It was our intent that we do that (wage scale) for all (county) departments. So far we have not been able to do that. But I think we're at the point where we need to do something one way or the other. I'm open for suggestions as to what you (county commission) think we need to do and what committees need to be involved and where we go from here," said Foster.

"It is my suggestion that we set up some meetings with department heads and the budget committee and see if we can't figure out where go," said Foster. "We've got two people (county employees) that have worked less than a year, seven people that have worked one year, three people that have worked two years, five people who have worked three years, seven have worked four years, nine have worked five years, six employees have worked six years, one has worked seven years, two have worked eight years, one has worked nine years, two have worked eleven years, three have worked twelve years, two have worked thirteen years, one has worked fourteen years, and one has worked sixteen years. Under our current way of doing things, if you're in the same job classification, if you work one year or fourteen years you make exactly the same penny. I think that's wrong. I think we're at a point where the budget committee needs to decide what they're going to do, up or down. Let's move on or do nothing, whichever its going to be," said Foster.

"I think its prudent to meet with the department heads," said second district commissioner Jack Barton. "Being on the budget committee, I want the employees to feel comfortable coming to that meeting as well and speak out. There may be some folks in the county that may disagree one way or the other and they may not be comfortable speaking in front of who they work for but I want to get all opinions," said Barton.

No date has yet been set for that budget committee meeting. Any recommendation for action by the budget committee would be sent to the full county commission for final approval.


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