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City Auditor Tells Mayor and Aldermen that Water and or Sewer Rate Adjustment May be Needed Soon

October 21, 2009
Dwayne Page

It's been a few years since the City of Smithville has increased water and sewer rates but an adjustment could be coming in the near future, if the aldermen take the advice of the city auditor, John Poole.

Poole, who is currently working on the city audit for the 2008-09 budget year, addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night and explained why a rate increase may be needed. "The state recently changed the law regarding utilities. In the past, the utility system had to make at least a dollar of profit every three years. Now you (utilities) have to make a profit every other year and sometimes with utility systems that can be very difficult to do."

"In the water and sewer fund, there's a category called "change in net assets". It's a big number $1-million 897-thousand dollars, which says the city actually showed an increase in it's net assets by that amount. We (city) were donated $1.9 million worth of sewer lines. That's very common these days. You can get developers to build your sewer lines and it can save you (city) the cost of having to do that. We, the city accepted those (sewer lines), and we have to record those as revenues and put them on our books. The state says we have to do that. But if you back that out (remove donated sewer lines from consideration) the utility system in real dollars would have shown a loss of almost $22,000 (for 2008-09), For a district this size, that $22,000 loss is really insignificant other than you have a state law that says you have to show a profit."

"When we accepted those lines, which is obviously the thing you want to do, we set them on our books, almost $2 million dollars, and we have to start depreciating that. You can figure these lines will last about forty years so we're going to be adding an extra $50,000 worth of that depreciation expense (next year). So assuming everything happened just like it did last year, next year we're going to show a $70,000 loss simply because we added these lines and the state wants you to set aside monies to make sure you can replace and repair those lines in future years."

"We're going to have to comply with the law, maybe as soon as June 2010, the fiscal year we're in now. I know it has been several years since there has been a rate increase and I know in difficult times it's hard to do those things, but you're going to have to look at doing something. I don't have the answer but that is something the board needs to start considering."

Poole added that while the water and sewer fund might need shoring up, the city's general fund is financially sound. "Even in this tough economy, the city saw surpluses in it's general fund. That's very unusual, a lot of cities are really struggling from the economy, the city of Smithville hasn't gone down as much as others. We did show a surplus in the general fund."

A more detailed report will be made available to the Mayor and Aldermen on the city audit for 2008-09 when it's completed.

Alexander, Corker Announce Funding for Safety Repairs at Center Hill Dam

October 20, 2009

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced today that the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2010 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, which passed the Senate today, includes funding to aggressively continue the safety repairs at Wolf Creek and Center Hill Dams. The bill also provides funding for several other water infrastructure projects in middle Tennessee.

Both Center Hill and Wolf Creek Dams were designated “high risk” for failure in January of 2007. The senators said that currently ratepayers in Middle Tennessee have to pay an additional $100 million a year in replacement power while water levels at the dams are down for the repairs.

“This funding will support several important projects in our state, including repairs to two dams that have been designated as ‘high risk’ since 2007,” said Alexander, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I’m glad to see these federal dollars coming to Tennessee to help ensure that Tennesseans are kept safe from flooding and have continuous access to safe drinking water.”

“These funds for ongoing maintenance of essential water-related infrastructure along Tennessee's waterways will help ensure public safety, preserve quality of life for Tennesseans, and promote economic development,” said Corker. “This legislation also supports the important mission of Oak Ridge National Lab, which is one of our nation’s most valuable resources for advanced scientific research and innovation.”

Key Tennessee projects funded in the Conference Report of the FY10 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act include:

$116.2 million for repairs to Wolf Creek Dam. Seepage has caused zones of high water pressure in the embankment next to the dam, posing a significant risk of dam failure and threatening the surrounding communities with flooding. Funding would be used to continue to build a cutoff wall to prevent seepage into the embankment. The bill also includes $8.5 million for operations and maintenance of the dam.

$52.9 million for repairs to Center Hill Dam. Since its construction in 1951, seepage problems have cost millions of dollars for constant upkeep. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Dam Safety Portfolio Risk Assessment ranked Center Hill Dam as a Class I dam safety project -- the highest priority of all Corps dams. The bill also includes $5.84 million for operations and maintenance of the dam.

$45,000 for the Mill Creek Watershed to complete a feasibility study to address flooding problems. Mill Creek is a major tributary of the Cumberland River in southeastern Davidson County and northwestern Williamson County.

$6.1 million for Cheatham Lock and Dam for continued operations and maintenance.

$6.5 million for Cordell Hull Dam and Reservoir for continued operations and maintenance.

$4.6 million for J. Percy Priest Dam and Reservoir for continued operations and maintenance.

$11.7 million for Old Hickory Lock and Dam for continued operations and maintenance.

$6.1 million for Dale Hollow Lake Dam for continued operations and maintenance.

The bill must now be signed by the president before becoming law.

Senator Mae Beavers Joins Efforts to Uphold 10th Amendment Legislation

October 20, 2009

Senator Mae Beavers recently supplied a letter describing the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act passed earlier this year to the lead plaintiffs in a suit filed against the federal government, who in September claimed that both the Tennessee and Montana Firearms Freedom Acts were null and void. In the letter, Senator Beavers discussed the overwhelming support for this bill amongst the Tennessee General Assembly, with a total of only eight Senators and Representatives voting against the bill during session.

"In all my years as a legislator, I have never witnessed such staunch reproach of the federal government overstepping its constitutional authority and encroaching on my state's ability to govern itself," said Beavers. "Tennesseans and Americans are fed up, and I am proud to have passed an actual bill that directly challenges the federal government's overregulation of intra-state matters. Enough resolutions have been filed...its time for the Supreme Court to re-address this issue and what better place to do it than with the 10th Amendment legislation that has recently been passed in Montana and Tennessee."

The Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act and it became law in late June. The law asserts that if a firearm and/or ammunition is made totally within the state of Tennessee, and stamped "Made in Tennessee," then the federal government has no jurisdiction over that item in any fashion so long as it remains in state and outside of interstate commerce. All state regulations applying to the possession of firearms in Tennessee would still be applicable and must be complied with. This legislation was proposed to prevent a federal attempt to legislate beyond the Constitutional limits of Congress.

The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that which has been delegated by the people to the federal government, and also that which is absolutely necessary to advancing those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution of the United States. The amendment was adopted after the Constitutional ratification process to emphasize the fact that the states remained individual and unique sovereignties. Unfortunately, some courts' interpretation of Congress' power implied by the commerce clause has been misconstrued to suggest its unlimited application to state regulation.

In addition to its passage in Montana, this law will be considered by at least thirty other states in upcoming legislative sessions. A link to the suit filed against the federal government by Montana organizations and citizens, as well as other information on the Firearms Freedom Act can be found at www.firearmsfreedomact.com.

DeKalb West Junior Beta Club Students Help with Second Harvest Food Bank Distribution

October 19, 2009
Morgan Vickers and Katie Hall Help Distribute Food

Thirteen students from the DeKalb West School Junior Beta Club gave of their time during Fall Break on Saturday, October 17, to help with the Second Harvest Food Bank distribution at Smithville First Methodist Church CFC.

Students helping from D.W.S. were Beta Club President Cassie Cain, Secretary Crystal Vickers, Katie Hall, McKenzie Gann, Morgan Vickers, Casey Vickers, Destinie Edge, Alexis Nokes, Keely Mckay, Ashley Grater, Lane Davenport, Lydia Trail, and William Cain.

Students do service projects in the Junior Beta Club, which has as its national motto, "Let Us Lead By Serving Others." These students gave a club total of 44 1/4 hours for this community service project.

Thomas Gets Three Year Sentence in Attempted Aggravated Robbery-Released to Time Served

October 19, 2009
Dwayne Page
Billy Ray Thomas

A 49 year old Alexandria man, who tried to pull off an armed robbery at Prichard's Foods in Alexandria in December 2008, pleaded guilty Friday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Billy Ray Thomas of Lower Helton Road, who was charged with attempted aggravated robbery and unlawful carrying of a weapon with the intent to go armed, received a three year sentence as a range one offender to serve 108 days. He was given credit for time served from December 27th, 2008 to April 13th, 2009 and has been released.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Thomas must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and complete a Teen Challenge program for addiction or some similar treatment program. Thomas must also make a $75 payment to the economic crime fund.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says on Saturday night, December 27th at 6:52 p.m. 911 received a call from Prichards Foods in Alexandria that a man had come into the store, got some items, and brought them to the cashier. As he approached the counter, the man was wearing a rag over his face telling the cashier he had a bad cold and didn't want her to catch it. When she totaled up the items on the cash register, the man pulled a knife, pointed it toward the cash register before the drawer opened and ordered the cashier to " give me what you got". The cashier turned and ran through the store screaming for someone to call 911.

The man then left the store and got in his vehicle but before he drove away, the store manager had followed him outside and wrote down the license tag number. He then called 911.

Another witness later called 911 and reported that he was behind the vehicle and that it was going east on Highway 70.

Officers of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol pulled over the vehicle, a 1994 Dodge Sedan, on Highway 70 near Dowelltown and placed Thomas into custody.

Inside the vehicle, the officers found an eight inch knife between the seats and a rag that may have been used in the attempted robbery.

Sheriff Ray says officers later learned that Thomas had gone into another Alexandria store Saturday "looking for help" prior to the incident at Prichards Foods.

According to Sheriff Ray, Thomas walked into the Dollar General Store in Alexandria and asked the cashier for help. He was holding a rag over his face and had a knife in his back pocket. The cashier told him to go outside, get rid of the knife, and come back in and she would help him. He then walked out of the store and left. Thomas did not display the knife and apparently did not make any demands of the cashier while he was at the Dollar Store. Nothing was taken and no one was injured.

Thomas was not charged in that incident.

In addition to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Alexandria Police Department assisted in the case.

Meanwhile, in other cases Friday, 45 year old Jack Taylor, charged with two counts of simple assault, was granted judicial diversion for a period of 11 months and 29 days supervised by CPS probation. The cases are to run concurrently with each other. Taylor must have no contact or be in the presence of the victim.

29 year old Misty D. Goff pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted forgery and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case, all suspended to CPS probation. The cases are to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to a DeKalb County General Sessions sentence against her. She must make restitution to Region's Bank and pay a total of $150 to the economic crime fund.

59 year old Clessie Jones pleaded guilty to two counts of harassment and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each case, all suspended to supervised probation except for 30 days to serve. The cases are to run concurrently with each other. Jones must have no contact with the victim.

34 year old Stephanie Jill Kennedy pleaded guilty to a worthless check charge. She was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to supervised probation. She must perform ten hours of community service work, make $84.88 restitution to the victim, and pay $75 to the economic crime fund. The case is to run concurrently with a General Sessions case against her. Probation is to be supervised by the General Sessions probation officer.

24 year old Nicole Reynolds pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to CPS probation. She has requested judicial diversion. A hearing will be held December 7th. She must pay a $250 fine and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

34 year old Billy W. Crook, Jr. pleaded guilty to simple possession and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on supervised probation. He must pay a $250 fine and perform 10 hours of community service work. He also pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and received six months supervised probation. The two cases will run concurrently with each other.

36 year old Mark Hamilton pleaded guilty by information to driving on a suspended license. He will be on probation for six months, supervised by CPS probation. The case is to run consecutive to a General Sessions sentence against him in DeKalb County.

Barrett Home Heavily Damaged by Fire and Smoke

October 19, 2009
Dwayne Page

A Sunday night fire heavily damaged the residence of Jeff Barrett at 7181 Sparta Highway. Jeff

Barrett and Peggy Barrett, who were at home at the time of the fire, were not injured.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says Barrett was already in bed when the fire started but Peggy Barrett was still up when the smoke alarm sounded. Barrett got up and discovered the smoke and fire coming from a wall around an electrical box. A call was placed to 911 around 9:41 p.m. and Barrett used a portable fire extinguisher to try and put out the blaze until firefighters arrived.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Midway Stations of the DeKalb County Fire Department responded along with Tanker #1, the Supply Truck, and manpower from the Johnson's Chapel Station. Members of the Cassville Fire Station in White County also came to provide mutual aid support at the scene.

Chief Green says most of the fire damage was in the room where it started but the rest of the house received a lot of smoke.

Woodbury Man Charged with Theft of ATM Machine

October 19, 2009
Dwayne Page
Alton David Estes
Joey Donald Howell

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged a Woodbury man with stealing an ATM machine from a Liberty business.

42 year old Alton David Estes of Parchcorn Road, Woodbury was arrested on Tuesday, October 13th and charged with vandalism, burglary, and theft of property over $1,000. Sheriff Patrick Ray says during an investigation, detectives learned that Estes went to the Stop and Buy Citgo in Liberty and broke the glass out of the front door. Estes hooked some kind of apparatus to the ATM machine which was located in the front of the store shopping area and then hooked the other end of the apparatus to his vehicle and pulled the top half of the ATM machine loose from lower half. The top half of the ATM machine was found in a nearby creek later that day. Estes was unable to obtain any money from the machine. Estes was arrested at his home after detectives looked at video of the vehicle and checked out a citizen's tip of who owned an automobile like the one on the video. There was evidence that the ATM machine had been loaded into the back of Estes' vehicle. Bond for Estes was set at $80,000 and he will appear in court on October 29th

On Wednesday, October 14th, deputies responded to an accident on Sparta Highway near Quail Point. Upon arrival, they talked with the driver of the vehicle, 33 year old Jimmy D. Walker of Camp Overton Road, Rock Island. Officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on Walker's person and he kept telling them he was in Warren County, not DeKalb County. Walker submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Walker was arrested for a first offense of driving under the influence and his bond was set at $1,500. He was also issued citations for failure to maintain his lane of travel and violation of the implied consent law. He will appear in court on October 29th on all of the charges.

On Saturday, October 17th, 37 year old Joey Donald Howell of Page Drive Smithville was arrested for burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Detectives allege that on October 15th Howell went to a construction site on Back Bone Ridge Road and busted the glass out of a work truck that was setting on the premises. Howell then took a 16 inch circular saw, a chop saw, and two nail guns that were valued at over $1,000. Bond for Howell was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on November 19th.

Also on Saturday, deputies saw 31 year old Jason Richard Skaroupka of Midway Road Smithville operating a motor vehicle on Terrell Road. An officer, having prior knowledge of Skaroupka's driver's license being revoked for being a habitual offender, stopped him and placed him under arrest for driving on a revoked driver's license. This makes Skaroupka's 7th offense of driving on a revoked license. Bond for Skaroupka was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on October 29th.

Tigers Rally In Come From Behind Win over Upperman

October 18, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigers were held scoreless in the first half, but exploded for 33 points in the second half, even without their starting quarterback Hunter Poteete, in beating the Upperman Bees Saturday night at Tennessee Tech 33 to 14.

The win improves the Tiger record to 6-3 on the season and 3-1 in District 8 Double-A.

Poteete came out of the game early in the second quarter and did not return. He apparently had a tendon injury in his left ankle.

The only score in the first half came on the first play of the second quarter as Upperman Quarterback Mason Young took it into the endzone on a three yard run. The P.A.T. by Caleb Robishaub was good and the Bees led 7-0 with 11:57 left in the second period.

Upperman took the opening kick-off of the third period and scored on an 88 yard return by Mason Young. Caleb Robishaub converted on the P.A.T. and the Bees led 14-0 with 11:45 left in the third period.

The Tigers got on the board with 9:50 left in the third period as Shane Salley, who replaced Poteete at quarterback, found Justin Bragg on a six yard touchdown pass. The drive covered thirty yards in six plays. The P.A.T. by Zach Taylor was good and the Tigers trailed 14-7.

DeKalb County struck again with 5:38 left in the third period on a 75 yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Shane Salley to Abram Edwards. Taylor's P.A.T. attempt was no good but the Tigers were within one point at 14-13.

On the ensuing kick-off, Upperman's Mason Young lost the handle on the return as he was hit. The pigskin popped up in the air and into the arms of DeKalb County's Sebastian Phillips who returned it 15 yards for a touchdown. Zach Taylor's P.A.T. was good and the Tigers took the lead for the first time in the game 20-14 with 5:22 left in the third period.

The Tigers expanded their lead with 20 seconds left in the third period on a 56 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Shane Salley to Abram Edwards. Zach Taylor's P.A.T. was good and DeKalb County led 27-14.

The last score of the night came with 7:04 to go in the fourth period on an 83 yard touchdown pass play from Quarterback Shane Salley to Abram Edwards.. The 2 point conversion attempt failed but DeKalb County went on to win 33-14.

The Tigers will play their last regular season game on Friday, October 30th at home as they face the Livingston Academy Wildcats in an important district game. WJLE will have LIVE coverage.

Rollins Charged with Assaulting his Girlfriend and Child

October 16, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged a 20 year old man with breaking into the residence of his girlfriend and then assaulting the woman and a child.

Raymond Howard Rollins of 318 West Broad Street is charged with domestic violence, simple assault, child abuse or neglect and aggravated burglary. Detective Jerry Hutchins reports that on Thursday, October 15th Rollins was arrested after he kicked in the door of his girlfriend's apartment and assaulted her and their infant child. The girlfriend and child had visible signs of assault. Mr. Rollins was arrested without incident and transported to the Smithville Police Department. His bond is set at $25,000 and he is to appear in General Sessions Court November 19th.

26 year old Jennifer Lynn Bullard of 553 Adcock Cemetery Road is charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Officer Randy King reports that on Thursday, October 15th, he was dispatched to West Broad Street to take a report of an accident involving a purple Cavalier and an armored Loomis van. Before his arrival, Officer King was advised that the purple Cavalier had left the scene of the accident. King later saw the vehicle turn from Bell Street onto Atnip Street and he stopped it Judy Bullard was driving the vehicle. Officer King asked the driver why she left the scene. Bullard replied she was scared. Bullard was advised that she would be arrested for leaving the scene of an accident. At that time Bullard told the officer that it was her daughter, Jennifer Bullard who was actually was driving the vehicle. Deputy Roger Whitehead picked up Jennifer Bullard at her mother's residence. Jennifer was identified by one of the occupants as the driver who left the scene.

21 year old Brittney D. Barnes of 206 West Church Street is charged with theft of property under $500 and four counts of fraudulent use of a credit card. Officer Travis Bryant reports that on October 2nd the victim stated that someone had made several transactions on her account without her permission. Officer Bryant obtained photos of Ms. Barnes getting monies from the ATM's and warrants were taken out on her. Barnes went to the Police Department on Friday, October 16th to speak with Officer Bryant and to give her statement at which time she was served with the warrants and advised that her bond was set at $23,500. Her court date in General Sessions is October 22nd.

Meanwhile anyone having any information on the following offenses is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210.

On Monday, October 12th at around 5:00 p.m. someone stole Shelly Womack's purse from her vehicle while she was attending church at the House of Prayer.

On Tuesday, October 13th at around 11:45 p.m. someone broke into Jewel's Market on 1226 South Congress Boulevard. The front glass was broken. There were no suspect(s) at the scene when the police arrived.

On Wednesday, October 14th in the Star Manufacturing parking lot someone entered Corey Cantrell's vehicle through the rear sliding back glass and stole a Kenwood CD player valued at $380.

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

Local Artists Open Their Studios for 10th Annual Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour

October 16, 2009
Mike Antoniak

If you appreciate the arts and great outdoors, this could be the perfect weekend to combine those interests and hit the roads of DeKalb And Cannon Counties

From just over the county line in Silver Point to Short Mountain Road near Woodbury, local artists—members of the Off The Beaten Path Group— will open their studios to the public for their 10th annual studio tour.

The free event, Friday Oct. 23 through Sunday Oct. 25h, runs from 9 until 5 each day. The self-guided tour is timed with the autumn season, leading visitors through the fall colors on numerous hills and hollows, over Center Hill Lake and up Dry Creek valley.

“We spend the whole year preparing for our fall tour,” says wood sculptor William Kooienga, Off The Beaten Path co-president with his wife Sharon. “It’s something we enjoy doing, a meaningful experience for all of us and an important part of our artistic endeavors. “We all get a lot of rewarding feedback from the people who visit us on the tour.”

OffThe Beaten Path’s 10 studios and hospitality center showcase the work of an eclectic mix of 26 artists.They work in traditional or contemporary fine art and craft in glass, clay, fiber, paper, wood, photography or other media. At each studio stop, visitors can meet the artists in their creative environment, see the work of host and guest artists, and purchase or commission an original piece for years of enjoyment.

“We get repeat visitors every year who come back to see our latest creations, and the work of visiting artists featured on each year’s tour,” says Kooienga.

The Kooienga’s Beech Hollow Studios is just one of unique and scenic stops on the tour. “People enjoy the chance to see the alternative, simple lifestyle we’ve chosen for ourselves,” he says. Set deep in the woods, it features the solar powered cedar log home the family built and nearby studio.

Other featured studios include From the Earth and Sea Originals, Fresh Chairs, and Creek Ferry Pottery in Smithville; Bareglass Studio in Silver Point; Cosmic Clay, Creek Bend Pottery, and Liberty Paper Mill near Dowelltown; and Arlene’s Clay Studio and Fuhrman Glass in Cannon County.

“No two studios are alike,” note Kooienga. “The work ranges from small detailed craftwork to large scale pieces, in a full range of media.”

Stella Luna Gallery in Smithville serves as hospitality center for the Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour. Information about all stops, maps and refreshments will be available there. Also on display there is this year’s tour prize, Cosmic Offering, a contemporary sculpture in clay by Louie Colombarini, valued at $750. Tour visitors can register for the free drawing at any of the studio stops with the mailing label from their tour brochure, or by filling out an entry form.

“Anyone who can appreciate the beauty of nature, and fine handmade work will find the tour an enjoyable way to spend some time this weekend,” Kooienga promises.

For more information on the tour, participating artists and a downloadable map and brochure, please visit the group’s website, www.offthebeatenpathtour.com


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