Local News Articles

Smithville Volunteer Fire Department Called to NHC Healthcare Center Monday

January 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to NHC Healthcare Center Monday afternoon after an air handling unit on top of the building overheated sending smoke through the duct work into one wing of the facility.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker says a belt apparently locked up in the unit causing the problem.

The smoke triggered the fire alarm and a few residents down one wing were relocated to another part of the building while firefighters set up positive pressure fans to clear the smoke.

There was no damage to the building and no one was injured as a result of the incident.

Meanwhile, Chief Parker says city firefighters were also called to McDonald's restaurant around 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning after an electrical breaker box overheated and kicked off as employees were preparing to open for business.

Chief Parker says there was no damage to the building and no one was injured.

Sheriff's Department Gets Grant for Removable In-Car Video Cameras

January 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, Office of the Criminal Justice Program.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says this grant is for 15 removable in-car video cameras. Each patrol car will be equipped with a new video camera. This camera will be attached to the patrol cars dash, but also can be removed and used as a hand held video recorder. This will assist deputies while on traffic stops and will give them the ability to video tape any crime scenes they respond to. The Grant is for $18,000.

DeKalb County Sheriff's Department to buy equipment with Federal Grant

January 14, 2008

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will use an $11,500 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant to buy much needed equipment, U.S. Representative Bart Gordon announced.

"The Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program provides smaller communities and rural areas with technology, equipment and technical assistance to enhance their first responder capabilities, " Gordon said. "CEDAP is particularly helpful for local law enforcement agencies, such as DeKalb County, which have limited resources."

CEDAP provides resources such as communications interoperability equipment, information sharing technology, chemical detection devices, sensors, personal protective equipment and rescue tools and training in how to use the equipment, devices, and technology.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will use the funds to buy XOA Portable Video Surveillance System, according to Sheriff Patrick Ray. The surveillance system is capable of managing up to four cameras- including pan-tilt-zooms, long range, day-night, analog and IP digital and recording evidence directly to a removable media, such as an external hard drive.

"This system will provide a new degree of investigative capabilities for our department," Ray said. "The best part of this award is that it will be delivered at no cost to our county."

Three Arrested on Drug Charges by Sheriff's Department

January 14, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested three people in recent days on drug charges.

23 year old Brandon Lynn Tallent was charged on January 5th with simple possession of a Schedule II drug (dilaudid).

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies responded to a call about a vehicle sitting in the roadway. When officers arrived, they found Tallent around the vehicle and then saw him throw a blue container in the ditch. Deputies found two pills believed to be dilaudid.

Tallent posted a $1,500 bond and he will be in court January 31st on the charges.

Meanwhile on January 7th, deputies responded to a gas drive off on Highway 56 South. Sheriff Ray says when deputies arrived, they found 45 year old Darrell Wayne Evans of Winding Way, McMinnville in the store. The owner of the store had reportedly chased the vehicle down and asked Evans to return to the store. Evans was found to be in an intoxicated state. Upon a search of Evans' person, he was found to have six blue pills in his pocket believed to be valium.

Evans posted a $3,500 bond for public intoxication and simple possession of a schedule IV drug.

He will appear in court on January 31st.

32 year old Jennifer Leigh Taylor of 455 Parsley Road, Smithville was charged January 9th with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a schedule III drug. Sheriff Ray says deputies were attempting to serve a warrant at Lakeside Resort and found a cut straw and a plate that contained a line of white powder and a total of four pills in Taylor's possession. The pills are believed to be Hydrocodone. Sheriff Ray says Taylor did admit that the plate and pills belonged to her. Taylor posted a $2,500 bond and she will be in court on February 7th.

DeKalb County to Get Recycling Equipment Grant

January 14, 2008

Governor Phil Bredesen and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke announced today that 20 recycling equipment grants have been awarded for projects to help reduce landfill
waste across Tennessee. These grants total more than $424,000.

“I’m pleased we can provide funding to support the waste reduction efforts these 20 grants represent,” Bredesen said. “This program plays an important role in our state’s strategy to encourage recycling and to reduce the amount of solid waste that goes into landfills in

DeKalb County has been approved to receive $22,645 to assist with the purchase of divided and open-top containers. DeKalb County is represented in the General Assembly by Representative Frank Buck and Senator Mae Beavers. The local match is $9,705.

“By providing assistance to local communities to help them recycle, we can keep more materials from ending up in landfills,” Buck said. “I’m pleased the state is able to provide this assistance for the benefit of Tennesseans.”

Recycling equipment grants may be used to purchase equipment for new recycling programs, improve and expand the operation of an existing site or prepare recyclable materials for transport and marketing. Grants may be awarded to counties, cities, non-profit recycling organizations and solid waste authorities across Tennessee to help reach or exceed the goals set forth in the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991. Each recipient is required to match the state grant on a sliding scale basis. Local matching funds toward these 20 projects total nearly $199,000.

The grant program was authorized by the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 and is supported from the Tennessee Solid Waste Management Fund that is administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation. The fund receives its revenues from a state surcharge on each ton of solid waste disposed in landfills and from a fee on new tires sold in
the state.

Three Announce Plans to Run for State Representative

January 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

Three people Saturday morning announced their intentions to seek the Democratic nomination for State Representative during the DeKalb County Democratic Party Mass Meeting held at the high school.

Dean Sircy of Lafayette, Cleveland Derrick Bain of Smithville, and Gayla Hendrix of Smithville say they will be candidates in the August 7th State Democratic Primary.

The 40th Legislative District is made up of DeKalb, Smith, and Macon Counties.

The seat is currently held by long time Democratic State Representative Frank Buck of Dowelltown. Buck was not present during Saturday's mass meeting and is expected to make a formal announcement soon as to whether he will seek re-election.

The qualifying deadline for State Representative (State Primary) is noon on April 3rd.

The State General Election is November 4th.

Sircy, a Baptist minister, says he is also a farmer and has sought public office before. "I am from Lafayette. I farm and was raised on a farm. I lived on a farm all my life except for three years when me and my wife went to Georgia. I am also a Missionary Baptist preacher. I pastor Antioch Missionary Baptist Church right up on the Kentucky line. We have about 300 members and about 150 in attendance every Sunday morning."

"I've run for political office one time before this about ten years ago. I ran against the County Executive of Macon County and got beat by eleven votes."

"I was fortunate to meet my wife while attending Tennessee Tech University. We went to Georgia and stayed three years because she had an engineering degree and no work experience. So she worked with the government there for three years and came back and went to work with the Dollar General Corporation in Scottsville, Kentucky and served over their computer system as assistant manager for fifteen years. She is retired and stays home and keeps our two grandbabies right now."

"We have two children, a son and a daughter. Our daughter is at Western Kentucky University majoring in pre-pharmacy. Our son is at Tennessee Tech University. He has one more year after this year and he'll have his degree in education with a chemistry emphasis."

"The biggest thing I see wrong from the state back down to the local government is that the state is collecting all the money and keeping it at the state. They need to put that right back down to the local level. We need more financial resources put back in the counties and let the government lead. I thought that's what a democracy was all about is to let the people of the county administer their own government by themselves. I stand before you to serve as your State Representative."

Bain, during his announcement, talked about his family and work background. "Both of my grandparents are from here. My grandparents on my father's side were Clay and Ruth Bain. Clay was a carpenter and a builder. My grandmother Ruth worked hard as a homemaker. My grandparents on my mother's side were Homer and Jackie Gay. He was a nurseryman. My grandmother Jackie worked hard as a homemaker. She worked at Georgia Girl and Smithville shirt factories for over 40 years. My dad Cleveland is a framing contractor. He's been in business for over 30 years."

" As for myself, I went to the University of Tennessee where I graduated in political science and history. After graduating from college I went to work with my father and his company. I worked there for some time and then I branched off. I now own my own company. It's the Bain Company. We're a design build residential, commercial, and large commercial contracting firm."

" I've always felt that it is my life's goal to help people in any way possible and I cannot think of any better way than to go to Nashville and represent your interest in the state legislature. And that's going to be the theme of my entire campaign, is to help people, especially the ones who have felt left out their entire lives. How am I going to do this? I have a three step approach. First, is to keep taxes low. I think it is government's top priority to be good stewards of the people's money. I believe lawmakers should be more responsible with the taxpayer's money than they are with their own. Second, is to bring good paying jobs and middle class jobs to this district. Third, is to prepare future generations to tackle the hard issues of job training and getting jobs. Education is the key to unlocking a society's potential and it is our job to make sure that our children are educated so they can make themselves competitive in today's and tomorrow's job market. I'm asking you to send me to be your representative."

During her remarks, Hendrix summarized her experience as an educator and businesswoman. "I was born and raised in DeKalb County. I graduated from this high school and went on to college at MTSU where I earned a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in education. From there I went to Tennessee Tech University where I earned an Education Specialist degree. Currently, I'm a third year law student. I've been a school teacher here in DeKalb County for almost 20 years. I also owned my own small business right off of the courthouse square for a couple of years. I married my high school sweetheart, Farron Hendrix. We have three children. Two are students at MTSU right now and one is an eighth grader at DeKalb Middle School. I'm a member of the First Baptist Church here in Smithville and have been my whole life although I occasionally visit the Methodist Church next door."

" I'm running for your State Representative because I care about our schools and our children and our education. I care about health issues. I care that there are still way too many Tennesseans who don't have health insurance, including children. I care about the infestation we have in our district of drug abuse and over prescribed prescription drugs and the devastating affect it has on our communities and our families. I care about the issues of poverty and those statistics are entirely too high in this area. I really care about our environment. I care about the fact that we need clean water, clean air, and to maintain our state parks for our children's future as well as our own. I'm also concerned with the state's budget. I believe our budget is a moral document and that document prioritizes who we are as Tennesseans. It represents what is important to us as a state. I would like to be your voice at the General Assembly and represent District 40."

Assessor Candidates Make Their Formal Announcements During Democratic Mass Meeting

January 12, 2008
Dwayne Page

The three Democratic candidates for Assessor of Property in the February 5th DeKalb County Democratic Primary formally made their announcements Saturday morning during a local party mass meeting at the high school.

Democratic Incumbent Assessor Timothy (Fud) Banks will be challenged for the nomination by Roy D. Merriman, a former Third District County Commissioner and a member of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and Willie Thomas, who is also a Smithville Alderman and a Seventh District County Commissioner.

In making his announcement, Banks said " It has been a great privilege to serve as your property assessor and I am asking for your help and support again to continue doing this. I have made a lot of great friends in the years I've been there. I'm going to ask everybody again, if I haven't seen you and asked you today or before, for your vote and support and if I can ever help any of ya'll, feel free to hollar."

Thomas, in reference to recent media reports about him, started off his brief remarks by saying, "I am the real Willie Thomas, and I am standing up. I want you all to know that. I am running for tax assessor. I thank everyone of ya'll. I need ya'll's vote and support. God bless you."

Merriman, in making the announcement, spoke of his family. "My wife Lisa and I have been married for 22 years. I have two children, Kayla and Kelsey. I am a volunteer firefighter and I have been serving the county for seventeen years and four years on the county commission. I'd appreciate your vote and support. God bless you."

Democrats running for Constable in the February 5th Primary include Incumbent Wayne Vanderpool in the Third District, Democrat Paul Cantrell in the Fourth District, Democratic Incumbent Mark Milam in the Fifth District, Democrat Cantrell Jones in the Sixth District, and Democrats Mary Ann Thomason and Johnny King in the Seventh District.

Milam was the only candidate who formally announced during the mass meeting Saturday. "I appreciate the opportunity to be seeking re-election. I was first elected in 1992. My wife Pat and I live on the Old West Point Road in Smithville. I count it an honor and privilege to have been your constable in the fifth district for the last four terms. I have enjoyed working with state, county, and city law enforcement agencies. I am running unopposed but I am still grateful for your vote."

Members of the DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee met Saturday morning and re-elected Faye Fuqua as local party chairperson. Billy Hawkins and Jim Judkins were named co-vice chairmen, and Fay Iverlette was returned as secretary. The young democrat chairman is Larry Bain and Russell Ambrose and Luke Willoughby were named youth coordinators. Jackie Smith is women's chairperson for the local party.

Justin Walling, Field Representative for Congressman Lincoln Davis and State Chairman of the County Chairs for the Democratic Party was the guest speaker during the mass meeting.

Willoughby Gets Support from School Board in Latest Evaluation

January 11, 2008
Dwayne Page

Midway through his three year contract, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby appears to continue to have strong backing from the Board of Education.

The board conducted it's annual evaluation of the Director's performance on Tuesday, as well as a self evaluation, and Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III says Willoughby passed with flying colors.

Evins addressed the issue during Thursday night's school board meeting. "On Tuesday, the board in a workshop, as we do every year, did a self evaluation of the board. That's a way, an instrument of evaluating ourselves to look and see what we have accomplished versus what we should accomplish and there's no A's or B's it's just a matter of looking at what you have done and what you need to do and try to move forward with that. We also did our yearly evaluation of the Director of Schools and it was the consensus of the board that Mr. Willoughby has done what's been expected of him and furthermore done more than what's been expected of him and we're very pleased. I feel like we've had a productive year and the evaluations from the board in essence shows that Mr. Willoughby has gone beyond his call of duty to take his position and try to move things to a new level and we appreciate that."

Willoughby, later in the meeting, expressed his appreciation to the board. "I really appreciate the positive evaluation, but if it wasn't for the people that surround me and make me look good it wouldn't have been a positive evaluation so I want to say thank you to all those people that work hard to make me look good. It's not me but it's the people around me who help me out. I go to them and ask them a lot of questions. We've got a lot of excellent employees in our school system and I'm just really thankful to be working with such a professional staff, they're wonderful."

Willoughby's employment contract, which began July 1st, 2006, is for three years with his salary being reviewed by the Board each year. According to the approved contract, "The Board shall pay the Director an annual compensation of $77,500 in twelve equal monthly installments in accordance with Board policy and any additional state or local increases. The Board will review the Director's salary annually and the Board will increase the salary of the Director during the term of this contract each time an annual evaluation reflects that the Director has exceeded the expectations of the Board as follows: second year, a five percent increase and the third year, a three percent increase."

Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel during the meeting Thursday night.

Stevie Cripps has been employed as a substitute custodian.

Larry Johnson has retired as Materials Supervisor

The following employees have been granted a leave of absence as requested, Julie Pugh, an educational assistant at DeKalb Middle School; Sabrina Kirksey, a teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Marla Beshearse, a teacher at Northside Elementary School; and Penny Bilyeu, teacher at Smithville Elementary School.

Willoughby also updated the school board on the progress of the Freshman Academy. "I know there were some questions when we started this and a lot of hard work has gone into it and I praise the high school for that. I think the number of students not passing this year compared to last year with the freshman class is over a 50% improvement and I take my hat off to them, they've done an excellent job. Last year in the fall we had twenty students that had made two "F's" on their report cards for the semester. At this time, we don't have any freshmen students that have made two "F's" so that is a big improvement and the number of students that have made any "F's" is down at least 50%."

The board awarded bids on the sale of surplus property. The Mid South Bus Center of Murfreesboro was awarded bids to purchase two 1995 Model Blue Bird Busses for $2,877 each; Dean Johnson was awarded a bid to buy a 1994 John Deere 72 inch cut mower for $207; and Eddie Driver got the bid to purchase a Sanborn Blackmax 5 horsepower two stage air compressor 80 gallon tank for $102.

City Beer Board Recommends Study of Possible Sales on Sunday and Christmas Day

January 10, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Beer Board Thursday night voted to recommend that the city council consider allowing stores with beer permits to sell on Sunday's from one until six p.m. and all day on Christmas Day.

City businesses licensed to sell beer are currently prohibited from making beer sales during those times under existing city regulations and any change in the rules would have to be made by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen on two separate readings of an ordinance and after a public hearing.

Ronnie Dale of the Budweiser Company and K.C. Johnson of the Miller Company both of Cookeville came before the board to ask that Sunday beer sales be considered and they provided some statistics on tax revenue in cities and counties that do and don't permit Sunday sales.

Dale and Johnson claim that Smithville could stand to gain as much as $60,745 in additional tax revenue per year from Sunday beer sales.

The Middle Tennessee Tax Revenue Comparison Report reveals that the City of Smithville, with a population of 4,198 and no Sunday beer sales, generated $154,233 in beer tax revenue in 2006, or $36.73 per person whereas the City of Livingston, that does allow Sunday beer sales with a population of 3,517, generated beer tax revenue of $173,586 in 2006, or $49.35 per person. Dale and Johnson say these figures are based on the 17% tax collection that each municipality gets from the sale of beer.

According to the report, towns with even smaller populations, such as Baxter and Celina that allow Sunday beer sales, generated more per capita beer tax revenue than Smithville, $48.99 per person for Baxter and $53.70 for Celina.

The report further shows that cities with Sunday beer sales average $50.68 per capita, which is $14.47 more per person annually than cities without Sunday beer sales. Dale and Johnson say that in Smithville, with a census population of 4,198, that could mean an additional $60,745 per year in tax revenue.

The report also compares the percentage of revenue growth from beer sales in selected cities and counties over an eight year period from 1998 to 2006 based on the 17% tax collections.

In the counties of Cannon, DeKalb, Fentress, Macon, Smith, and Van Buren and the cities of Lafayette, Pikeville, and Sparta (combined), where no Sunday beer sales are allowed, the average percentage of beer tax revenue growth from 1998 to 2006 was 9.5%

In the counties of Clay, Cumberland, Jackson, Putnam and the cities of Auburntown, Algood, Baxter, Celina, Crossville, Cookeville, Gordonsville, and Livingston (combined), where Sunday beer sales are allowed, the average percentage of beer tax revenue growth from 1998 to 2006 was 25%.

Dale and Johnson say actual beer tax revenue in DeKalb County, outside the city, dropped by 39% over the eight year period going from $133,365 in 1998 to $81,780 in 2006, and while actual numbers were not provided, Dale and Johnson claim that Smithville's beer tax revenue has increased during that time, because more stores in the city are now selling beer, such as Wal-mart and Food Lion, among others, which has taken some beer business away from stores in the county.

Beer board member Steve Hays made a motion that a recommendation be made to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen that a study and decision be made on whether beer sales should be allowed on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and all day on Christmas Day. Board members Annette Greek, Lloyd Black, and Farron Hendrix all voted in favor of the recommendation. Alderman Willie Thomas, another member of the beer board, was absent.

The issue may be brought up for discussion at the next city council meeting on Monday, February 4th.

Smithville Food Store Granted Beer Permit

January 10, 2008
Dwayne Page

Smithville Food Store will soon begin selling beer.

The Smithville Beer Board Thursday night granted Kevin Means' application to sell beer at Smithville Food Store.

Under the city regulations, a business applying for a beer permit cannot be closer than 400 feet (front door to front door) to a church or school. Smithville Food Store is near Smithville Elementary School and the First Assembly of God.

City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, who presided over Thursday night's meeting due to a vacancy in the beer board chairmanship, said that Means meets all the requirements. "Mr. Kevin Robinson (City Public Works Director) measured from the elementary school and it was 1100 feet from front door to front door. They didn't do the church (measure the distance). Anybody can eyeball it and tell it's more than 400 feet."

Hendrixson says the church is making plans to move to a new location on the Cookeville Highway and the church property is being rezoned to commercial." The rezoning application has already passed the planning commission. They're (the church) looking to sell and build out on Highway 56 north. As soon as they make a sale, they will no longer be there. The zoning will come before the board (city council) at the next meeting. It will be up to them to pass it but it did pass the planning commission to be rezoned."

Hendrixson says Smithville Food Store also easily met the inventory requirements. " The inventory must be greater than $20,000 or $25,000. It's well passed that. It's up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars as far as inventory goes. From what I can tell it meets the requirements.

Prior to the vote, Hendrixson called for a public hearing on the application, but no one spoke.

Mean's application was approved on a 4 to nothing vote.

Beer board members Steve Hays, Lloyd Black, Annette Greek, and Farron Hendrix all voted in favor. Alderman Willie Thomas was absent.

In other business, Annette Greek was named chairman of the city beer board.


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