Local News Articles

Star Manufacturing Announces Plans to Create 200 New Jobs Here

September 17, 2008
Dwayne Page
Star Manufacturing Executives, County Mayor, & County Commissioners

Star Manufacturing, a division of the Middleby Corporation, is expanding it's Smithville operation with plans to create another 200 jobs.

A new building for the expansion will be constructed on a 50 plus acre site on Coconut Ridge Road, just a short distance from the present location on Hobson Street.

Frank Ricchio, President of Star Manufacturing, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the Smithville Municipal Airport surrounded by other representatives of the company along with County Mayor Mike Foster and several members of the county commission.

In his announcement, Ricchio says "Star is purchasing 58 acres just up the street from our current plant here and we're looking forward over the next couple of years to start expanding manufacturing. We hope to add another 100 to 200 thousand square feet over the next several years. I think we have about 235 employees here in Smithville and there's a potential over the next 12 to 24 months for (adding) a couple of hundred jobs or maybe a little more than that."

"We manufacture commercial cooking equipment for restaurants including a variety of cooking appliances, griddles, charbroilers, conveyorized ovens, convection ovens, as well as products for concession stands, snack bars, and arenas, like the Titan's Stadium, like hotdog equipment, and popcorn machines. We distribute and sell worldwide.'

"Star is a privately held company since 1989, about six years after we first built the plant. But last December, we sold the business to the Middleby Corporation, which is a publicly owned corporation headquartered in Chicago. Middleby has some 19 different divisions manufacturing food service equipment and food processing equipment. We're one of their larger divisions, one of their more profitable divisions and that's why this opportunity really came along, although we've expanded from 50,000 square feet to almost 200,000 square feet on our own. Middelby enables us to utilize the great resources we have here in Smithville, the people, and the talent we have working for us. They (Middleby) have businesses that aren't performing as well as we are or don't have the skills we do in manufacturing, so we're very fortunate that they supported us in acquiring this land and are supporting us in our plans to eventually start building, expanding, and bringing more jobs here so I'd like to thank Middleby for supporting us in what we're doing.'

"I've been with the company since 1982. I joined one year before we actually opened in Smithville. I came up through the sales and marketing part of the business until I became president in 1999. I've been very impressed with the people of Smithville, the work ethic, and the fact that we've grown a lot. We've always been able to attract good people, even with the other industries in the surrounding area. I think we're very fortunate. This has been a great expansion for us and we want to continue it."

"We're (Star) is headquartered in Saint Louis, Missouri but we have (Middleby) companies in North Carolina, Illinois, New Hampshire, Vermont, Nevada, Michigan, and other places in the country along with a manuacfuring facility in the Philippines."

County Mayor Mike Foster says the new jobs being created by Star will be a big boost to the local econony. "The state is going to help them with infrastructure and some of the fast track programs such as site drainage permits, etc. They (state) will assist with some of the initiatives like tax incentives for each job they create, which they would do for any factory that comes in with 25 people or more and expends at least $500,000. They (Star) will probably construct a building in the neighborhood of $8 and $20 million dollars. Hopefully, it (additional jobs) will contribute around $8 million dollars a year to the economy here once they get up to full speed. The county is helping them (Star). We put up the earnest money on the property. We did the topo mapping for the property back when we were trying to decide if it was suitable. We are going to help them with the surface to water run-off permit, which we already have done. We'll also do some other things, infrastructure wise and drainage wise to help them get their program going. But the big contribution was through Economic and Community Development of the State of Tennessee. Don Rigsby helped us with that as well as other people."

"Star bought the land from an individual. It was put in their name. They will transfer it to the DeKalb County Industrial Development Board in order to take advantage of the way the government sets up their programs. The first two years will be tax free (to Star) because they don't have any building or anything there yet (on the new property). The third year, it will be 20% of what it's appraised at. The following year, it will be 40%, then 60%, then 80% of the appraised value. That is being done to stimulate them in their early years. They've been here 25 years and this new expansion is hopefully going to create a minimum of 210 jobs. Work on the site, as far as clearing and site prep will begin just as soon as we can get the permit back from the state."

According to the company website, Star Manufacturing International, Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, has been making durable, reliable, quality products since 1921. That year, Star introduced it's first product, a popcorn machine. Since then, the company has grown and expanded into one of the world's most respected and valued manufacturers of products in six major categories: Counter Top Gas and Electric Commercial Cooking Appliances, Hot Dog Cooking and Preparation Equipment, Popcorn Machines, Specialty Food Warmers ,Display Merchandisers, Toasters & Waffle Bakers

Star products are used in a broad range of applications that include fast food, leisure, concessions and traditional restaurant operations. Star manufactured equipment is used in little league, big league ball parks, arenas, stadiums, restaurants and convenience stores.

(Pictured left to right: Star Plant Manager Fred Edington, County Commissioner Randy Caplinger, Star President Frank Ricchio, County Mayor Mike Foster, County Commissioners Jerry Scott, Bobby Joines, and Jack Barton, and Tommy Martin of Star Manufacturing)

Barn and Ski Boat Destroyed in Tuesday Afternoon Fire

September 17, 2008
Dwayne Page
County Fire Fighters Battle  Blaze at Donnie Agee Barn (photo provided by Callie Matthews)
Donnie Agee Barn Gutted by Fire (Photo provided by Callie Matthews)

A fire Tuesday afternoon destroyed a barn and a ski boat belonging to Donnie Agee at 8375 Holmes Creek Road.

Agee told firefighters that he was winterizing a ski boat housed inside the barn when a backfire from the boat sparked the blaze.

Agee called 911 around 4:00 p.m. and members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and Tanker Truck of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded but found the barn fully engulfed in flames upon their arrival. The boat, barn, and other personal belongings in the barn were destroyed.

Fire fighters were able to contain the blaze to keep it from spreading to other structures in the area.

No one was injured.

(Photos by Callie Matthews)

Bain and Weaver Scheduled to Debate

September 17, 2008
Dwayne Page
Cleveland Derrick Bain
Terri Lynn Weaver

The first debate between the candidates for State Representative will be held later this month.

Democrat Cleveland Derrick Bain and Republican Terri Lynn Weaver will participate in this public forum on Monday, September 29th at the Temperance Hall Community Center.

Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. The debate will begin at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments will be available before and after the debate.

The candidates will each answer questions posed to them by representatives of WJLE, the Smithville Review, and the Middle Tennessee Times.

The public is invited to attend to learn where the candidates stand on the issues.

WJLE will broadcast the forum LIVE.

DCHS Band Is Hot In Hendersonville

September 16, 2008
DCHS Band Boosters

On Saturday, September 13th, the DCHS Fighting Tiger Marching Band traveled to Hendersonville and competed in their first competition of the season. Despite the sweltering 91 degree heat, the band received trophies for First Place Horn Line in Class E, First Place Field Commander in Class E, and First Place Band in Class E.

“Being my first year here in DeKalb County, I was impressed with the talent in this band” said Band Director Jonathon Wright “I was very pleased with their success at this competition and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

In addition to these trophies, the score sheets revealed that the Color Guard placed third in class. The Percussion section placed second in class and Field Commander, Hunter Tramel not only received First Place in Class, but he had placed SECOND out of ALL THE COMPETING BANDS of the entire day although those achievements were not publicly announced.

After the performance, the band loaded back on the bus and went to Rivergate mall for dinner and a little “unwind time”. Some students just enjoyed the air conditioning while others took a spin in the carousel inside the mall. Either way, the trip to the mall was much needed before returning to Hendersonville High School for the awards ceremony.

Assistant Director Kelly Jo Birmingham said “I am so proud of the Band. They have worked really hard to get to where they are now, and they all know we have a long way to get to where we are going!”

The Band and Boosters would like to thank the bus drivers that take us there and hang with us through out the day. Without them the band would not get to compete. We would also like to say thanks to Sheriff Patrick Ray and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Dept for the escort into (and through) town that night.

For more information about the band and its sponsors or schedule, log onto www.dekalbband.com

Smithville Police and Fire Departments Both Want Old Fire Hall

September 15, 2008
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings has made a request of the Mayor and Aldermen that apparently is not setting well with the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department.

Chief Jennings wants to expand the police department into the old fire hall, now that the fire department has moved into the new fire hall.

Chief Jennings came before the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night to formally make the request.

Chief Jennings says the police department needs extra space to store records, house equipment and the K-9 dog, and to more securely bring in prisoners for processing. "What I'm asking the board to do is to approve the expansion of the police department into the old fire hall. We need a sally port. One bay would be used to bring prisoners in, remove them from the vehicles, and bring them into the department for processing. Generally when we have problems with prisoners it's when we exit the patrol cars and start toward the building. We need that (space) to unload these prisoners in a secure area. I understand the doors (to the firehall) have electric openers on them. We could put one in each car and when an officer pulls up, he could raise the door, pull in, lower the door, and remove the prisoner from the vehicle"

"Another bay would be used to place a 10 x 10 pre-fabricated dog pen in there to hold our drug dog. Due to the high price of gasoline, we can no longer leave our K-9 in the patrol unit with the air conditioner running, so we have to bring him into the police department. When we bring him into the police department, we do not have a place to put him. There could be a danger of the dog biting a citizen that comes in. Another down side is the dog could use the bathroom in the floor in the police department, and we'd have to clean it up. If we had that bay, we could put the K–9 out there in that. Also when the K-9 officer goes on vacation or has to be out of town, we have to pay a board bill on the dog. So we could place the dog in a cage there and we could feed and water him which would reduce the cost that we would have to put out for paying a board bill. That would save us some money. "

"We have an emergency response van over here in this old building across the street. We would like to secure it in the other bay in a more secure area than what it is now because when it's fully equipped and everything, the equipment we have on it certainly needs to be in a secured area."

"The office back there (in the old fire hall) would be used to conduct police business and it would relieve some of the overcrowding in the present offices that we are experiencing each day. The smaller room in the old fire hall would be used for a records room. We currently have records stored upstairs here. We have five large filing cabinets containing arrest files stored in the city tax department and when the front office closes, we do not have access to these records. And when the secretary needs to look through the records upstairs, she has to come all the way upstairs and go into the storage room to view those records. If we are given the old fire department, we would be able to move all our records down there and we would have them in the police department"

" The police department is a full time agency that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We have ten full time officers who work 12 hour shifts, one chief, one secretary, and one officer who is on medical leave. We have approximately 1, 420 square feet of usable office space in the department and we're operating in very cramped quarters. So I come before you tonight to ask you to allow us to expand into the old fire hall."

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says even though the fire department is now in the new addition, the old fire hall is still needed and he asked that the council take no action until a meeting is held to give his fellow firefighters, who are opposed to the request, an opportunity to be heard. "Before you make any decision on that I wish you would look into it and ask these ladies and gentlemen (firefighters) their opinion. I figured this day would come when someone would try to move into some of our space. I did make them (firefighters) a promise that if that did happen, we would have a meeting and they could express their comments and concerns. I would ask that you look into that very closely. Some of you are new and don't know what promises were made (by previous city officials) when we were doing that (new building) because we tried to get a little more expansion on the bottom floor but we were told we could retain our old stuff."

"At present we still have a squad vehicle that's parked in there (old fire hall). We also have the exercise equipment. We have managed to obtain exercise equipment for the firefighters and their families to use. That's one of the few perks that they do get."

"We're not through growing yet, unless you want to stop us. We have been an aggressive department. We have managed to purchase some class-A equipment, obtain class-A training, and we have some class-A firemen.. We want to continue growing. Mr. Hendrixson had asked me about using one of the bays as a sally port to get prisoners in and out. I said we could probably work something out where they could do that, but we're still not through growing. When we get another vehicle we're going to need a place to put it. We would like to add some full time personnel. We would like to add more equipment. We want to continue to grow or you can stop us and we can go back. It's entirely up to the city council as to what we do from this point. We can go forward or we can go backward. Not just on this matter, but other things."

Alderman Tonya Sullivan made a motion that the council take no action at Monday night's meeting. Alderman Steve White seconded the motion. The other three aldermen, Cecil Burger, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins, Sr. all voted in favor of the motion,

Alderman White, who is the Police and Fire Commissioner, said he was unaware of the request prior to Monday night's meeting. "It was mentioned to possibly be a safer place for the police department to bring in prisoners, but taking over the whole fire hall was not ever mentioned to me until now. I think we do need to meet with the fire department to see their side of it and how they are using this facility because it's like Charlie said this was in the plans when we planned the other (new) fire hall. It was to go along with the new fire hall. It's not like they were abandoning the (old) fire hall. They are still using it."

Members of the fire department issued a brief statement Tuesday morning responding to some of Chief Jennings' comments Monday night. In the statement, the fire fighters say "the SWAT van Richard (Jennings) is referring to WILL NOT fit into the old firehall. It's too tall. That space (fire hall) is NOT air conditioned. Therefore they couldn't put their (drug) dog in there anyway. There's a large hose dryer in one of the rooms. The room was built around it. The entire wall would have to be demolished to get it out. If and when the fire department gets a ladder truck, the Rescue Van would have to be kept in the old firehall. This means two bays would be in use (Service Company Van and Rescue Van).

In other business Monday night, the aldermen voted 4 to 1 to grant a request by Police Lieutenant Steven Leffew that the city pay his salary while he is off duty on a ten week training course in police management in Nashville

The course will be from October 6th until December 19th.

Leffew told the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night that he initially applied for a two week school in supervision of police personnel, but that course was canceled. His application for financial aid for the ten week course in staff and command training was approved and his tuition of $3,200 will be fully funded including the costs of his lodging and meals. Leffew requested that the city pay his salary during the ten weeks while he is in the course, but no overtime or drive time.

Police Chief Richard Jennings raised some concerns about Leffew's request. According to Chief Jennings, Leffew is the department's only evidence technician, meaning no other officer, including himself, is authorized to enter the evidence room, for accountability reasons. "It would be ten weeks before we could enter or get anything out of the evidence room. If the city puts someone in his place while he's gone, I would request they be certified as an evidence technician and an inventory be made of the evidence room before the new person comes in."

As far as his absence, Lieutenant Leffew said the department has a relief officer (Nathan Estes) whose job is to fill in for other police officers during their absence. As for the evidence room, Leffew says fellow officers have been appointed to oversee evidence in the department before, when he was away on vacation.

Chief Jennings says during the ten week period when Leffew is off duty, other officers may also have to miss work due to sickness or other reasons and that this could create an overtime problem since the relief officer couldn't possibly cover for all the absences. Jennings added that he will be taking a vacation himself around that period of time.

According to the Chief, the city will incur additional expenses, not accounted for in the police department budget, in order to meet Leffew's request and he further suggested that it might also set a precedent. "If other officers ask for ten weeks of training we would be hard pressed to refuse them."

Alderman Steve White, who is also the Police Commissioner, made a motion that the city grant Leffew's request and pay his salary while he is enrolled in the ten week training course because of his longevity with the city. White said he believes the police department has enough employees to cover for Leffew in his absence. "We shouldn't have to hire another employee. We have ten full time officers and one part time officer and with the 12 hour shifts, they don't all work all the time."

Alderman White added that Chief Jennings initially signed off on Leffew's request to apply for the financial assistance to take this course and he believes the city should not deny Leffew the opportunity to receive this training.

After the meeting, White said he believes officers, in the future, who seek training should first come before the city council to receive approval, before making application for the course or the financial assistance.

Aldermen Cecil Burger, Willie Thomas, and Tonya Sullivan all voted in favor of White's motion. Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr. voted against it.

DeVault Charged with Bringing Drugs into the Jail

September 15, 2008
Dwayne Page

A woman, being arrested Wednesday for failure to appear in court and four counts of probation violation, was also charged with introduction of drugs (dilaudid) into a penal institution (the county jail).

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 20 year old Samantha Rene DeVault of Talpha Drive was being taken from the holding area to the jail cell, when she was seen by a correctional officer carrying a pill bottle. When asked what she had in her hand, she shoved the pill bottle in her body cavity. The correctional officer then took DeVault to the bathroom and when DeVault retrieved the bottle, she poured the pills out and took some of them orally. Some of the other pills fell out on the floor. DeVault was then taken to the emergency room of the hospital where she was treated and released. Correctional officers found 25 small yellow pills believed to be dilaudid on the bathroom floor where DeVault had poured out the pills from the bottle. DeVault's bond was set at $50,000 and she will appear in court on September 25th.

In other crimes news, 23 year old Christy Jean Martin of Colvert Lake Road, Smithville was arrested Wednesday after deputies went to her home on Saturday, September 6th to serve a state warrant on her for possession of a schedule II drug (Percocet) and simple possession of a schedule VI drug marijuana. Sheriff Ray says upon a search incident to arrest, officers found 2 yellow pills believed to be percocet and a cellophane wrapper containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana in her pockets. Bond for Martin was set at $3,000 and her court date is October 2nd.

35 year old Bruce Mathias of Webb Lane Smithville was charged Saturday with driving under the influence. Deputies found Mathias on Keltonburg Road sitting with his four wheeler in a ditch. Sheriff Ray says upon speaking with Mathias, deputies noticed a strong odor of alcohol and found him to be unsteady on his feet. Deputies performed field sobriety tasks on Mathias which he failed. Mathias told deputies he ran out of gas, but the officers checked the four wheeler and found that it had gas and would run. Mathias also admitted to drinking 5 beers earlier. Mathias was arrested and his bond was set at $3,000. Mathias was issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law because he refused to take a blood test to determine the alcohol content in his blood.

22 year old Ivan Guzman Perez of McMinnville Highway Smithville was charged Sunday with public intoxication after deputies found him walking on Banks Pisgah Road intoxicated. Sheriff Ray says deputies tried to perform field sobriety tasks on Guzman but he passed out first. Guzman was so intoxicated he could not communicate with the deputies. Guzman's bond was set at $1000 and he will appear in court on September 25th.

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching for November Election

September 15, 2008
Dwayne Page

October 6th is the deadline for new voter registrations in DeKalb County in time for the November 4th elections.

October 30 is the deadline for voters who are already registered in DeKalb County to change their address on their voter registration if they have moved.

The DeKalb County Election Commission encourages people who have moved to keep their address current on their voter registration. Polling places are assigned according to a person's residence.
If you have moved and fail to change it on your voter registration, you will be required to fill out the form on election day and vote at the correct polling place.

Please call 597-4146 if you have any questions.
On November 4th, DeKalb County voters will head to the polls for the Presidential election.

The major candidates are Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

Other offices on the ballot include U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives (6th District), and Tennessee House of Representatives (40th District)

Candidates for the U.S. Senate are Republican Incumbent Lamar Alexander and Democratic challenger Robert D. Tuke.

6th District Congressman Bart Gordon will be unopposed.

Three candidates are in the race to succeed Frank Buck in the State House of Representatives, Democrat Cleveland Derrick Bain of Smithville, Republican Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster, and Independent Ray Amalfitano of Dixon Springs

Early voting dates are October 15th through October 30th. Times have not yet been announced.

Three Directors of DTC Board Re-elected Without Opposition

September 13, 2008
Dwayne Page
Terry McPeak, Greg Rogers, & Charles Dwight Vinson

The three incumbent directors of DTC Communications up for re-election Saturday won without opposition during the annual membership meeting in Alexandria.

Greg Rogers of the Woodbury Exchange received 180 complimentary votes, Charles Dwight Vinson of the Milton Exchange had 174 votes, and Terry McPeak of the Norene Exchange garnered 172 votes.

A total of 202 members voted in the DTC Directors Election on Saturday.

All three directors elected Saturday will serve for three years.

The DTC Communications Board of Directors, in addition to Rogers, Vinson, and McPeak include James H. Dillard, Jr. of Gordonsville, Roy Nelson Pugh of Auburntown, Robert Don Malone of Temperance Hall, David Parker of Woodland, Ronnie Garrison of Smithville, Randy Campbell of Liberty, and Bennie Curtis of Alexandria.

Murfreesboro Man Uses Fake Name to Receive Medical Treatment

September 13, 2008
Dwayne Page
Eric Zachary Jarvis

A Murfreesboro man has been charged by Smithville Police after using a fake name to receive medical treatment at the emergency room of DeKalb Community Hospital Wednesday.

Eric Zachary Jarvis, also known as Mark Anthony Brown, of Sulphur Springs Road, Murfreesboro, is charged with forgery, obtaining drugs by fraud, and theft of services. His total bond is $9,500 and he will be in General Sessions Court on the charges October 16th.

The police report states that Jarvis went to the emergency room of the hospital on Wednesday and checked in using a fake name and address in order to receive medical treatment and medication for pain in his side that otherwise would have required a prescription to obtain. According to the report, Jarvis forged a false name (Mark Anthony Brown) to official medical documents.

The arrest warrants state that Jarvis, while at the emergency room, obtained a shot of dilaudid for the pain. During questioning, Jarvis allegedly admitted to being an IV drug user. By using a fake name, Jarvis, who is on probation, apparently thought he could be treated and no one would check and learn his true identity.

Division of Consumer Affairs Prepared to Investigate Allegations of Gas Price Gouging

September 13, 2008
Dwayne Page

The effects of storm systems active in the Gulf Coast are now being felt by Tennesseans at the gas pump. Prices for fuel have risen dramatically and the State is offering consumers information on how they can report possible price-gouging.

Governor Bredesen Friday addressed the issues surrounding gasoline supply in Tennessee, warning individuals and businesses who engage in gasoline price-gouging that “we will be very tough and very aggressive on people who take advantage of this situation. I hope people do not try to capitalize on the effects of these storms at the expense of Tennesseans, who are already struggling with high gas prices.”

“We are taking this very seriously,” said Leslie Newman, Commissioner for the Department of Commerce and Insurance. “Under Tennessee law, price-gouging is illegal and we will be working with the Attorney General’s office to aggressively pursue anyone who violates that law.”

It was anticipated that gas prices would rise with hurricane activity in the Gulf Coast, where a substantial portion of the country’s gas supply is produced. The Division of Consumer Affairs warns consumers to be on the lookout for potential price-gougers.

Consumers may contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at www.tn.gov/consumer or call at 615-741-4737 or toll-free at 800-342-8385, to report incidences of suspected price-gouging. Consumers will need to provide the name of the gas station, address and the price and grade of the gas being sold. Consumers may also report suspected price-gouging online to the federal government at http://gaswatch.energy.gov/.

Meanwhile, Congressman Bart Gordon has issued a statement on dramatic rise in gas prices

"Throughout the day, already too expensive gasoline prices have been dramatically rising. I have contacted the Tennessee Attorney General and asked him to be especially vigilant in protecting consumers from price gouging.

To help maximize fuel supplies, I contacted the Environmental Protection Agency and asked them to grant the waiver requested by Governor Phil Bredesen to allow retailers to begin selling the fall blend of fuel before the September 15 start date.

After we get through this interruption in supply and increase in price, we need to use every tool available to alleviate the pain consumers are feeling at the pump. That includes maximizing our domestic oil and gas production and working on new energy technologies.

If anyone has specific complaints about fuel prices at an individual location, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Consumer Affairs is the appropriate agency to register their complaint. The public can call this 800-number: 1-800-342-8385 or visit the Consumer
Affairs Web site to make a complaint online at www.tn.gov/consumer."


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