Local News Articles

City, County, and School System to Consider Proposal to Share Cost of Directing Traffic at Northside Elementary

September 2, 2010
Dwayne Page
Alderman Steve White, Mayor Taft Hendrixson, County Mayor Mike Foster
Police Chief Randy Caplinger, Alderman Aaron Meeks

Parents and others who want someone to direct traffic in the busy school zone at Northside Elementary School may get their wish.

A plan is being proposed for the County, the City of Smithville, and the Board of Education to share in the cost of funding the position of one crossing guard or officer to direct traffic in the mornings and afternoons for a total of approximately four hours a day, Monday through Friday, in the school zone at Northside Elementary School. County Mayor Mike Foster says the cost is estimated to be eight to nine thousand dollars per year, which could be split equally between the county, city, and school system. In addition, Foster says the school board will be asked to employ the person to do the job, preferably someone who is trained and already knows how to direct traffic.

City and county officials met Thursday evening at the courthouse to discuss the issue, including County Mayor Mike Foster, Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Smithville Alderman Steve White, Smithville Alderman/Police Commissioner Aaron Meeks, and Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger. Others attending were Sheriff Patrick Ray, County Commissioner/School Bus Driver Jimmy Poss, and School Transportation Manager Peggy Pursell.

Neither of the school board members nor Director of Schools Mark Willoughby were present because they were already scheduled to attend another meeting.

Mayor Hendrixson said he would place this issue on the agenda for discussion during Tuesday night's special meeting of the city council. Mayor Hendrixson and Aldermen White and Meeks seemed to indicate that they could support this proposal.

County Mayor Foster said he also thinks it's a good idea and he will present it to the county commission to get their blessing. "I think it's what we should do. I think we should join together and solve the problem that is a dangerous situation. We've got factories out there where vehicles are coming and going about the same time as the kids are. You've got a lot of traffic on that road. The other schools primarily are on five lanes of traffic and vehicles can get in and out easier. This one (Northside) is the one we get the most complaints about as the most dangerous so I think it's a good situation for everybody involved to have somebody there who can direct traffic and get them in and out quicker and more safely."

Police Chief Caplinger admits that while traffic concerns are perhaps greater at Northside Elementary than the other schools, the department has chosen to have officers run stationary radar there instead of directing traffic. " When you see a (patrol) car setting down there (Northside), the officer is running stationary radar. They are catching speeders coming into the zone and cars going out of the zone. It depends on where we're at, if we're at the high school, we sometimes do moving radar trying to slow the traffic down prior to the school zone. If the traffic is going slow when it comes into the zone, it's not as much of a problem. A lot of cars (motorists) wait until they get right at the zone until they let up and then the traffic starts backing up and some of them don't let up."

Caplinger adds that another problem the department faces is that if city police officers were assigned to direct traffic, there would most likely be times when they would be summoned to answer an emergency call or work a wreck, leaving the school zone unattended.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, when contacted by WJLE late Thursday night seemed less than enthusiastic about the funding proposal as it relates to the school system, and said he'd rather not make a comment at this time, but that he would make a statement later.

The sheriff's department monitors traffic in the school zone at DeKalb West School and Sheriff Ray says that will continue."We take care of the West School with the school traffic in the mornings and we try to do it most every afternoon. Until the school board or the county decides to hire a school crossing guard down there, then we'll continue to offer that service to them."

There are currently no plans to fund a crossing guard at DeKalb West.

School Board Members Sworn Into Office

September 2, 2010
Dwayne Page
New School Board Member Billy Miller

Five members of the school board were sworn into office to begin their new terms Wednesday afternoon at the Board of Education building.

Judge Bratten Cook, II administered the oath of office to first district member John David Foutch, second district member Charles Robinson, third district member Kenny Rhody, fourth district member Billy Miller, and seventh district member Johnny Lattimore.

Miller is the new kid on the block, succeeding Joan Draper who did not seek re-election. The other four board members were re-elected.

Each term is for four years, effective September 1st.

The other two school board members, W.J. (Dub) Evins from the fifth district and Bruce Parsley from the sixth district, are in mid-term. Their terms of office expire in two years.

The next meeting of the school board is Thursday, September 9th at 7:00 p.m. at the board of education building.

Voters to Decide Constitutional Amendment on Right to Hunt and Fish in November Election

September 1, 2010
Dwayne Page

A constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to hunt and fish in Tennessee will go before voters in November's general election.

Voters will see the Constitutional Amendment question on the ballot right after the Governor candidates.

You will be asked to vote either "yes" or "no" to the following question: "Shall Article XI, Section 13 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee be amended by adding the following sentences at the end of the section:"

"The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state's power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species."

Voters will also be electing a new governor, a new representative for the U.S. House of Representatives from the sixth district. Voters in the 40th legislative district will be choosing a state representative and in the 17th senatorial district, voters will elect a state senator.

The election will be Tuesday, November 2nd. Early voting is set for October 13th-28th.

Candidates for Governor are:

Republican Bill Haslam
Democrat Mike McWherter

Bayron Binkley
Brandon Dodds
Samuel David Duck
David Gatchell
June Griffin
Toni K. Hall
Mike Knois
Boyce T. McCall
Donald Ray McFolin
Linda Kay Perry
James Reesor
Thomas Smith, II
Howard M. Switzer
Carl Twofeathers Whitaker

Candidates for the U.S House of Representatives in the 6th Congressional District are:

Republican Diane Black
Democrat Brett Carter
Jim Boyd
Brandon E. Gore
Tommy N. Hay
David Purcell
Stephen R. Sprague

Candidates for the Tennessee Senate 17th Senatorial District are:

Republican Mae Beavers
Democrat George McDonald

Candidates for the Tennessee House of Representatives 40th Representative District are:

Republican Terri Lynn Weaver
Democrat James C. Hale
Independent Pleas Ford

City Still Without New Budget- Aldermen Trying to Resolve Pay Scale Issue

August 31, 2010
Dwayne Page
Taft Hendrixson
Aaron Meeks
Shawn Jacobs
Stephen White

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen are in a race against time to get a new budget passed before the property tax collection season gets underway in October.

The city council, again Monday night, failed to adopt a new budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The hang up is over a wage chart for new city employees hired after July 1st, 2010. Should the city adopt a new one or stick to the old one which Mayor Taft Hendrixson says is riddled with pay inequities? Until the aldermen answer those questions, they can't pass a budget and time is of the essence because Trustee Sean Driver has informed city officials that the state wants a budget and tax rate approved before city tax cards are printed.

Mayor Hendrixson Monday night presented a proposed new wage scale ordinance, which he says would address the problem and only affect new employees hired after July 1st, 2010. This new ordinance would replace three other current ordinances which deal with city wage issues.

Under the current wage scale, city employees with less than four years of service receive a regular step increase in pay until they top out on the wage scale plus a traditional yearly cost of living raise. After four years, these employees usually receive an annual cost of living increase, but nothing more.

Mayor Hendrixson said with the proposed new wage scale, city employees hired after July 1st, 2010 would receive starting hourly pay, comparable to the old wage scale, but they would get a fifty cent per hour step increase each year up to four years, effective on the anniversary date of employment, in lieu of cost of living raises. After four years, these same employees may only get a yearly cost of living increase, if the city aldermen choose to give a COLA raise each year. The pay of salaried employees, secretary-treasurer, police chief, city judge, building inspector, and airport manager would be established and approved by the city council each year. In setting wages for employees, the proposed new wage scale ordinance states that "the mayor and board of aldermen may consider the prior work experience or extraordinary ability of such employee. Any employee hired by the city that requires a certification will be given eighteen months to become certified or they will be subject to dismissal."

Alderman Aaron Meeks said he wanted to make it "crystal clear" that this proposed new wage scale would only apply to "new hires". "It does not apply to any present city employee that's working for the city."

Alderman Shawn Jacobs then asked "So a person that would be supposed to get their step increase this year, (will they get it)?"

Mayor Hendrixson answered, "They will get it".

Alderman Jacobs asked, "Will they get their COLA as well"?

Mayor Hendrixson replied, "Well, not under this (new) ordinance, unless you all (aldermen) want to do it."

Mayor Hendrixson continued, "The old wage chart is a little bit inequitable, some people (employees) are going to get 34 cents (increase) and some people are going to get a $1.70 or $1.80 cents (increase). You've got to remember that every dollar you get is over a $2,000 a year increase. If you're making ten dollars per hour, which we don't have many employees making that low but there are some who maybe have just started, fifty cents (per hour) per year at ten dollars per hour is a five percent increase; eleven dollars is a four and a half percent increase; twelve dollars is a 4.2%; thirteen dollars is 3.8%; fourteen dollars is 3.6% and if you're making fifteen dollars it's a 3.3% increase."

Alderman Meeks also pointed out that city employees receive close to eight thousand dollars in benefits which is not reflected in their hourly wage.

Mayor Hendrixson agreed, "Every employee in the City of Smithville that's been here for more than sixty or ninety days is getting over seven thousand dollars worth of free, paid (health, life, and dental) insurance. And whatever they've made from December 1st last year to November 30th this year, they will get a one percent bonus during the first week in December. If they've made $25,000, they'll get a $250 bonus. So with the perks and the health insurance, to my knowledge no where else does that. We pay the total of it and it's going to push $8,000 and it's probably going up in January."

Alderman Jacobs said some city employees have expressed concerns about this proposal. "Well I've had employees call me, concerned. They think that the rug is sort of being pulled out from under them because they've not had any notice that this is changing. But I've also had people tell me, ‘well you all are crazy for giving fifty cent raises to begin with.'"

Jacobs added "My only concern is I think that some of the employees (with less than four years of service) feel like they have been depending on the step raises and the cost of living they've been getting, now here we are later than normal and they're finding out they're not getting it and I certainly understand that."

In response, Mayor Hendrixson said some of these increases have been quite substantial. "For instance, take someone making twelve dollars per hour. The step raise is 4.2% and the COLA is 3.4%. That's almost an eight percent increase."

Alderman Steve White said he believes the new wage scale might discourage some people who want to make working for the city a career. "One of my concerns is the fifty cents (a year) for the four years. Say for example, you had someone start out at ten dollars an hour, twelve bucks an hour is where you're going to be (after four years) other than the cost of living increases. I like the old pay scale a lot better in that respect because it does jump you up a lot faster. I'm afraid that these lower rates will cause a bigger turnover of employees."

"I personally still like the old chart. Of course I think we need to do some of these other things that we've talked about like voting on the cost of living each year, setting salaries yearly, and maybe adding the certification", said White.

Mayor Hendrixson again reminded Alderman White of pay inequities under the old or existing wage scale and gave a specific example. " I won't say who it is but two people under two different categories had starting pay the same, and it was supposed to be the same thing. Well in the second or third year, one (employee) jumped to a $1.40 something cents more than the other one. The same amount of time and starting pay the same."

Alderman Jacobs then asked, "What was there in the scale that caused that aberration and what is going to keep it from happening in this (new) scale? Why haven't our auditors caught it? I'm about to blow a gasket over this. Somebody should have spotted this. This should have been on somebody's radar. That's what auditors do."

Mayor Hendrixson replied, "I can't tell you. I don't know why it happened. This is the scale that's been in effect since 1986 the best I can tell. It was just not equitable for every employee. That's what I was trying to fix."

Alderman Steve White said he still believes the proposed new wage scale could be unfair to city employees with less than four years of service who have not yet topped out on the current pay scale. White suggested that the city stick to the old pay scale for another year and look at changing it next year..

The aldermen later took a vote on passing a new budget with the current pay scale and it was defeated 3-2. Aldermen Steve White and W.J. (Dub) White voted for the budget with the old wage scale but Aldermen Shawn Jacobs, Aaron Meeks, and Cecil Burger voted against it, apparently preferring to address the pay inequity problem now.

Mayor Hendrixson suggested that the aldermen re-convene next week to try again to resolve the matter. So another special meeting will be held Tuesday, September 7th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Several city employees and others attended Monday night's meeting but no one was given an opportunity to speak. The city has a resolution which authorizes citizens to make comments at the beginning of each regular or special called meeting of the board.

Smithville Police Charge Store Clerks with Selling Beer to Minors

August 30, 2010
Dwayne Page
Kira G. Clouse
Susana Jasmin Saldivar
Hardik Pravinbhai Patel

The Smithville Police Department made arrests at three businesses Friday after conducting an undercover investigation into the illegal sales of alcohol to minors.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger says 29 year old Kira G. Clouse, a store clerk at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard (Highway 56) and 24 year old Hardik Pravinbhai Patel, a clerk at Village Market on North Congress Boulevard were each charged with sales of alcohol to a minor; while at El Mariachi (BP Station) on West Broad Street, 33 year old Susana Jasmin Saldivar was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allowing a sixteen year old female store clerk to sell beer. The underage clerk was also charged in a juvenile petition with selling alcohol to a minor.

Bond for Clouse, Patel, and Saldivar is $1,000 each and they will appear in General Sessions Court in September.

Chief Caplinger says he and Detective Matt Holmes conducted the undercover operation using a confidential underage informant."This took place on Friday, August 27th here in the city limits of Smithville. We've been receiving complaints from some of the citizens with concerns of underage sales of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products to minors. With a confidential underage informant, we entered eight locations that sell beer in Smithville. He (underage informant) presented his ID at these locations and he was able to purchase alcohol at three of these locations. At one of the locations (El Mariachi), the salesman (female clerk) was actually a minor and she was selling alcohol (in violation of the law) and she did sell to him (underage informant) which is also a violation of the law. The five other locations where the informant presented his ID, the clerks there did an outstanding job. They did exactly what state law requires and he (informant) was turned down and not allowed to purchase alcohol."

In addition to Jewel's Market, El Mariachi, and Village Market, the undercover informant was sent in to all other city establishments that sell beer including Food Lion, Kwik-N-Ezy, Mapco Express, Eastside Citgo, and Wal-mart

Chief Caplinger says police are also concerned about the sale of tobacco products to minors. He adds that while store clerks can't legally sell beer or tobacco to minors, adults who make these purchases for minors can also be charged with a crime. "In addition to the underage purchases of alcohol, we've also had a concern about the underage buying of tobacco products. Those concerns will be addressed and we will be checking those (businesses) periodically. Under state law if an individual (trying to make a purchase of tobacco) appears to be under 27 years of age, they are to be ID'ed. Even the purchase of an alcohol or tobacco product for a person under the age of 21 for alcohol and 18 for tobacco is against the law and those people (making the purchase for a minor) will be cited with a class a misdemeanor."

In the complaint against Clouse, Police say that on Friday, August 27th at 3:27 p.m. Detective Matt Holmes and Chief Randy Caplinger were present at Jewel's Market on Highway 56 with an 18 year old confidential source, who entered the business, purchased beer from the clerk (Clouse), and then exited the store at 3:30 p.m. with a six pack of Natural Ice beer. Clouse was positively identified as being the suspect who sold the beer to the minor. Clouse was later placed under arrest for sale of alcohol to a minor. Her bond is $1,000 and she will appear in General Sessions Court on September 9th.

In the complaint against Saldivar, police claims that on Friday, August 27th at 4:12 p.m. Detective Matt Holmes and Chief Randy Caplinger were present at El Mariachi (BP Station) at 517 West Broad Street with an 18 year old confidential source, who entered the business, purchased beer from the clerk, and then exited the store at 4:17 p.m. with a six pack of Busch beer. The female clerk who sold him the beer was later found to be a sixteen year old minor and she was placed under arrest for juvenile delinquency (selling alcohol to a minor). Saldivar, who was also in the store at the time, later told police that the sixteen year old clerk was helping her run the store. Chief Caplinger says it is illegal for a minor to sell alcohol to anyone. Saldivar is under a $1,000 bond and she will be in General Sessions Court on September 16th.

The complaint against Patel alleges that on Friday, August 27th at 4:32 p.m. Detective Matt Holmes and Chief Randy Caplinger were present at the Marathon gas station on North Congress Boulevard (Village Market) with an 18 year old confidential source, who entered the business, purchased beer from the clerk, (Patel), and then exited the store at 4:38 p.m. with a six pack of Busch beer. Patel was positively identified as being the suspect who sold the beer to the minor. Patel is under a $1,000 bond and he will appear in General Sessions Court on September 16th.

Smithville Golf Management, LLC To Terminate it's Lease with the City

August 28, 2010
Dwayne Page
Farron Hendrix
Stephen White

The Smithville Municipal Golf Course and Swimming Pool may soon change hands again.

After only two years as a tenant, Farron Hendrix, doing business as Smithville Golf Management LLC has given notice to the mayor and aldermen of his intentions to terminate the lease agreement with the city, effective October 23rd.

In a letter to city officials, Hendrix writes that the golf course is no longer economically viable for his operation. "Smithville Golf Management, LLC entered into the lease with the intent to improve and maintain a beautiful city asset for the benefit of the citizens of Smithville, our school and community golf leagues, and to attract visitors and industry to our community. We also entered into the lease, not for personal gain, but with the hopes of maintaining the golf club as a non-profit entity. However, due to the downturn in the economy, extreme weather conditions, increased competition from surrounding courses, and increased expenses, we can no longer manage this city property at our own personal expense."

"We are very proud of the many improvements that we have made during our lease agreement; improved fairways, additional tee boxes, new trees, cleaner pond, refurbished sprinkler system, and updated facilities, just to name a few. However, our tax records prove that we have lost and continue to lose money each year in the management of the property. Therefore, it is with regret that we terminate our lease agreement with this sixty day notice."

Hendrix goes on to state in the letter that the Smithville Golf Management, LLC is willing to sell equipment and supplies to the city at a reduced assessed value for continued management of the golf club. He adds "Smithville Golf Management, LLC also agrees to assist the city in the management of the golf club until the new management can be secured."

In August, 2008 the Smithville aldermen, by a vote of 3-2 voted to accept Hendrix's bid to become the new tenant at the golf course and swimming pool, effective September 1st, 2008.

Hendrix bid $750 per month for the term of the lease, which was to be for a five year period from September 1st, 2008 until August 31st, 2013.

Smithville Alderman Stephen White, who is also the city's representative on the golf course board, told WJLE Saturday that it's unfortunate that yet another tenant at the golf course is giving up the operation for economic reasons. "We've had four tenants at the golf course over the last few years and it's sad that due to the economy, they've not been able to make money."

White says the city must come to a decision soon on what course of action to take concerning the golf course and pool, whether to try leasing it again, or for the city to assume the operation of it. "I'm inclined to think it would be best for the city to take it back over. Our residents deserve recreation that the golf course and swimming pool provide, it's vital to our community and industries, and we need to keep it going."

Smithville Police Report Theft of Tools and Vandalism at Habitat House

August 27, 2010
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police are asking for your help in solving a theft and vandalism at the Habitat for Humanity house under construction at 110 Hayes Street. The incident , which occurred sometime during the night of Wednesday, August 18th, was discovered the next morning.

Police are reporting that someone broke into a trailer at the work site and stole numerous tools. The intruder(s) also made entry to the house, causing damage to the back door. Some tools inside the house were also stolen. Taken were a 16 foot aluminum ladder, cordless drill w/charger, Bosch air compressor, 25 foot air hose, 50 foot extension cord, Delta Miter box and Makita circular saw.

Sharon Evans, Vice President of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, says the back door and door frame of the home had to be replaced as well as the door locks. She says Habitat owned some of the tools that were stolen while others belonged to volunteers. In spite of the vandalism and theft, Evans says the construction is continuing uninterrupted and the home should be finished by the first week in September.

Meanwhile in a separate case, police are investigating a purse snatching incident at a local business on Saturday night, August 21st. According to police, a woman leaving work at EL Marichi Mexican Store stated that when she went to her car at approximately 8:55 p.m. an Hispanic male 5'6 to 5'7, thinly built, around 135 to 140 pounds with a red and white striped shirt and a blue bandana across his face demanded that she hand over her purse. Before she could respond, the man grabbed her purse and ran across the parking lot to a maroon SUV and jumped in the passenger side. The vehicle then headed east on Broad Street.

Anyone with information on these or other offenses is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential

Meanwhile, 29 year old Jennifer Ball of East Bryant Street was arrested by Officer James Cornelius for theft of services on Friday, August 20th. Discount Taxi Cab from Cookeville picked up Ball at Craw Daddy's Bar in Cookeville and brought her back home at 223 East Bryant Street. Upon advising Ms. Ball that the fare was $45.00 she stated she didn't have the money and refused to pay. Bond for Ball is $1500 and her court date is August 26th.

Heather Ann Yoskovich of Holiday Haven Road was recently arrested by Officer Scott Davis for shoplifting. An employee of Food Lion observed Yoskovich place several items of merchandise in her purse in an attempt to deprive the business of payment. Her court date is September 30th.

49 year old Roy D Atnip of King Ridge Road was recently arrested for driving on a revoked license. Officer Scott Davis saw a dark colored Chevy S-10 parked near the gas pumps at Delta Express and the tags on the vehicle bore the same letters and numbers as were given out on a BOLO or Be on the Lookout for a possible drunk driver. Officer Davis made contact with the driver, Atnip, who stated that his license were revoked for DUI. Atnip's vehicle was seized by the Smithville Police Department. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is September 30th.

54 year old Mark Eugene West of Prater Road was arrested recently by Officer Matt Farmer for driving on a suspended license. West was stopped for speeding in a school zone. A computer check revealed his license were suspended for failure to satisfy a citation. Bond for West is $1,000 and his court date is September 15th.

33 year old Timothy Corley Allen of Alexandria was arrested on Tuesday, August 24th for public intoxication. Officer Scott Davis was dispatched to Hardees to investigate a call about a man who was passed out at one of the tables. Officer Davis awoke the man, Allen, and found that he had slurred speech and he was unsteady on his feet. Bond for Allen is $1,000 and his court date is September 30th.

54 year old Linda Gail Phillips of South Mountain Street was arrested on Wednesday, August 25th for theft by K-9 Officer Bradley Tatrow. Phillips admitted to removing items from FZ Webb & Sons and taking them to the Treasure Chest to try and sell. Bond for Phillips is $1,000 and her court date is September 30th.

33 year old Amy Michelle Davis of Liberty was arrested by Corporal Travis Bryant and 33 year old Eureatha Cripps of Cripps Lane was cited for theft on Wednesday, August 25th. An employee of Rite Aid saw Davis take several items into the restroom and then leave the store. The witness stated she found the empty containers in the restroom, left there by Ms. Davis. The items were found in Ms. Davis' possession upon being arrested. Ms. Cripps was cited for assisting Ms. Davis in the theft. Bond for Davis is $1,000 and the court date for both is September 16th.

43 year old Robert Ernest Rochefort of Puckett Point Road was arrested Thursday, August 26th for vandalism. Corporal Bryant saw a man, Rochefort, run into the roadway on West Broad Street and pick up a large rock and run to the other side of the street where he disposed of it. At the same time, Corporal Bryant was flagged down by Sandra Clark who informed him that Rochefort had just thrown a rock at her car as she was traveling down the roadway causing damage to the side of her vehicle. Bond for Rochefort is $1,000 and his court date is September 16th.

27 year old Courtney Anne Paris of Potts Camp Road was arrested on Thursday, August 26th by Officer Bradley Tatrow and 27 year old Jeremy Daniel Loader of Bethel Road and Samantha Bee Florida of West Broad Street were cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. The Smithville Police Department was assisting probation officers on a home visit at a local motel where Ms. Paris gave officers consent to search. In a drawer in the bathroom officers found two used hypodermic needles and four cut straws with residue in them. Bond for Paris is $1,000 and the court date for all three is September 30th.

The police department will also be conducting sobriety checkpoints and enhanced traffic enforcement on Friday September 3rd and Saturday September 4th in an ongoing effort to provide safer roadways for the public. The department will continue to work with the Governors Highway Safety Office in an effort to keep our roadways safe.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) is Tennessee’s advocate for highway safety. This office works with law enforcement, judicial personnel and community advocates to coordinate activities and initiatives relating to the human behavioral aspects of highway safety.

The GHSO’s mission is to develop, execute and evaluate programs to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries and related economic losses resulting from traffic crashes on Tennessee’s roadways. The office works in tandem with the National Highway Safety Administration to implement programs focusing on occupant protection, impaired driving, speed enforcement, truck and school bus safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety and crash data collection and analysis. Programs administered by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office are 100% federally funded.

DeKalb Emergency Communications District to Receive State Funds for Dispatcher Training

August 26, 2010
Dwayne Page
Brad Mullinax

The Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB) has made
$2.2 million in funding available to local Emergency Communications Districts for dispatcher training.

"We've set uniform standards because we want to do all we can to improve the effectiveness of 911," said TECB Executive Director Lynn Questell. "We know many districts exceed these standards and provide additional training and support to their dispatchers. We certainly want to provide the local 911 districts with the needed funds to for this training."

"We're pleased we can provide these funds," Questell said. "Not every state has minimum requirements. And among those that do, not every state provides funding for the training. Tennessee continues to be a national leader in 911."

Brad Mullinax, Director of the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (Central dispatch/911 center) says this extra funding allocated to the local 911 center will help offset the costs of dispatcher training. "Tennessee state law mandates that all dispatchers that receive an emergency call complete 40 hours of on the job training and a 40 hour Public Safety Telecommunicator course. Additionally, all dispatchers are required to complete annual continuing education classes to satisfy to state training requirements. Until recently these mandates were being funded locally. We are very excited about these funds that are being provided by the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board. Training has become a major portion of our budget and this will finally provide some relief for us to provide additional training to our emergency dispatchers with no costs to our taxpayers and local telephone subscribers. We currently employ 8 full time dispatchers and 5 part time dispatchers"

TECB requires that all dispatchers to have 40 hours of supervised, on-the-job training and 40 hours of public safety communications coursework within the first six months of employment. Additionally, dispatchers must participate in regular continuing education.

The training standards in Tennessee are modeled after the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) standards. The dispatcher training funds are available on an annual basis.

"Our Board has set solid standards for the training of 911 dispatchers," said TECB Chair Randy Porter. "We want to be sure the districts have the funds they need to train those dispatchers. Uniform training of dispatchers results in improved response to emergencies."

The TECB was created by the General Assembly in 1998 to assist ECDs' boards of directors in management, operations and accountability, with the goal of establishing reliable emergency communications for all citizens of the state. It's a successful formula; in 2005, Tennessee became the third state in the nation to become Phase II-ready, meaning a 911 operator can obtain a wireless caller's number and location information. In 2005, Tennessee received an award from the Congressional E911 Institute for having the nation's best state system.

The TECB is administratively attached to the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 9.8% in July

August 26, 2010
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%
Jackson- 11.4%
Van Buren-11.4%
Clay- 11.2%
Fentress- 11.1%
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.

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.


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