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The LOOP- A Legislative Update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

February 26, 2010
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The following is an update from State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver.

Greetings, Folks of the Fortieth! We continued our examination of the budget this week, amid reports that revenues continue to slide. The state has seen revenues decline for 20 straight months, a new record. Despite the dismal numbers, we are focused on our goal of a balanced budget that keeps priorities in place and view the current budget situation as an opportunity to return government to the basics.

Based on tentative numbers, the total budget will shrink this fiscal year by roughly $1.5 billion. Analysts say that the state’s sales tax revenue—the primary source of revenue—has dropped sharply over the last 20 months.

“Clawback Payment” could save millions
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that Tennessee could keep some of the “clawback payments” associated with prescription drug coverage. The temporary change means the state could save roughly $120 million, going a long way in softening the blow of the Governor’s call for $200 million in reductions from TennCare.

Some Tennesseans that are a Medicaid-waiver enrollee are also enrolled in Medicare. The federal government requires the state to contribute some of its TennCare funds in lieu of paying twice for the benefits that both programs cover, called “clawback payments.” Temporarily, the federal government will be forgiving those payments, thus saving the $120 million.

Tennessee joined several other states in asking the federal government to suspend the payments, because the federal stimulus aid for Medicaid meant the state would have paid less for prescription drugs in the next two budgets. At the end of last week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services agreed, leading them to temporarily suspend the payments.

Subcommittee approves ‘Pass the bottle’ legislation
The ‘Pass the Bottle’ legislation appeared before the House Local Government Subcommittee on Wednesday, eventually winning the approval of the committee. The bill passed with a 5-3 vote. House Bill 2744 would ban open containers in the passenger areas of vehicles, and make a violation a misdemeanor, subjecting a guilty party to a fine. Currently, no driver may consume an alcoholic beverage or possess an open container of such while operating a motor vehicle, but passengers may consume alcohol. The sponsor argued this policy invites drivers to drink as long as there is a passenger to which they can “pass the bottle.”

The bill was filed last year and experienced resistance in subcommittees then. Opponents expressed concern over the ability of sober drivers to take friends home who are drinking, and also regarding sporting events, such as University of Tennessee football games. Despite these objections, the sponsor said the state must reform its drunk driving laws.

In 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in drunk driving related crashes. Alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion in 2000, including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in quality of life losses. People other than the drinking driver paid $71.6 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill, which is 63 percent of the total cost of these crashes. Having won approval from the Local Government Subcommittee, the bill now faces the full House State and Local Government Committee and is scheduled to be heard on March 2nd.

Lawmakers continue to study traffic cameras; Attorney General opinion released
The controversy over traffic cameras continues, and legislation that would place a two-year moratorium on the cameras is being held in the Transportation Committee until April 1st. The bill would prohibit city and county governments from signing new contracts for a two-year period, giving us time to study the issue further.

The state’s Attorney General also released an opinion this week that said the cameras are constitutional. A fellow lawmaker asked the Attorney General to decide whether or not the cameras violate the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause, which allows the accused to confront any witnesses against them. The AG opinion stated, in response, “The confrontation clause embraces testimonial statements. Photographs are not testimonial statements.”

Although the opinion did not directly address many of the issues we are examining, it indicated there are certain areas that could be open to scrutiny. The opinion also stated that certain restrictions we are considering placing on the cameras would be constitutional, as long as the restrictions were “reasonable.”

The City of Gallatin in Sumner County was the first to implement the cameras in 2006, and has since added additional cameras. City officials say the cameras have significantly reduced T-bone crashes at major intersections. Currently, sixteen Tennessee cities utilize the cameras for traffic enforcement, including red light and speed cameras.

In Brief
House Bill 270, requiring citizenship status to be proven prior to registration to vote was passed out of the House State and Local Government Committee this week.

The week ahead
Next week bills will shift focus to several areas of importance. House Bill 2904 decreases from five to three years the length of time a small employer must purchase coverage through a health group cooperative. Next is House Bill 1357 which allows municipalities to take special census at their own expense any time between regular decennial federal censuses. Then, there is House Bill 2506 which creates a new criminal offense prohibiting a felon from possessing a radio capable of receiving emergency voice transmissions; prohibits a person from using information from the radio to facilitate a felony or interfere with emergency transmissions. Also, House Bill 2936 clarifies that tuition credits or refunds during military service are to be given to students called to active duty while attending Tennessee technology centers as well as state universities and community colleges. And finally, following along the theme of education is House Bill 3745 which authorizes h ome schooled students to participate in extracurricular athletic activities of a public school in which they are eligible to attend.

In closing, I would like to say what a treat it was to have the Future Farmers of America (FFA) here in the halls of the legislature. These young men and women are some of the finest Tennessee has to offer. It was an honor to have them as guests in Agriculture Committee as well as have them speak to House members on the Floor. They are truly remarkable leaders of tomorrow. May we truly embrace their charge “Lead out loud.” Again, it is a pleasure to serve you the Folks of the Fortieth.

Dowelltown City Election set for August 5th

February 26, 2010
Dwayne Page

The City of Dowelltown will elect three members to the city board on August 5th, the same day as the County General Election.

Qualifying petitions are available at the DeKalb County Election Commission office and potential candidates must return the petitions by noon, April 1 in order to be eligible for the ballot.

The election will be for the seats elected in 2006 and are currently held by Brad Driver, Keith Farler, and Ron Griffith.

Again, the qualifying deadline is noon, April 1st. Only the registered voters who are allowed to vote in the Dowelltown elections can sign a qualifying petition. The petitions must have the signatures of at least 25 eligible voters in order for the candidate to be placed on the ballot.

High Speed Pursuit Ends with Arrests of Three People

February 26, 2010
Dwayne Page
Van Crashes and Burns After High Speed Chase (Photo by Trooper Dewaine Jennings)

After leading Warren County authorities and the Tennessee Highway Patrol on a high speed chase through three counties Wednesday afternoon including DeKalb, three people were taken into custody after their van wrecked and caught fire in the Rock Island area of Warren County.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 30 year old Joey W. Bradford of Manchester, the driver of a 2000 Nissan Quest van, was charged with evading arrest with a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment, and driving on a suspended license.

20 year old Chelsea Lynn Lawson, a front seat passenger of the van, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. Another passenger, 42 year old Troy Lee Lytle was arrested on an outstanding capias.

According to Trooper Jennings, officers of the Warren County Sheriff's Department got in pursuit of Bradford in Warren County. An officer apparently tried to pull them over after spotting Lawson in the vehicle, knowing there was an outstanding warrant against her. At times during the pursuit, officers tried to get ahead of the van to put down spike strips, but were unsuccessful.

Trooper Jennings says the pursuit entered DeKalb County on Short Mountain Highway. The van turned onto Whorton Springs Road toward Highway 56, then headed south on the McMinnville Highway at Whorton Springs. The van entered the old Blue Springs Road near Mystik market and continued through the back roads until it reached Highway 287 in Warren County. The vehicle turned left onto highway 287, sped toward Highway 56, then crossed the road, and made it's way toward the Rock Island area. Trooper Jennings says "He (Bradford) went from old Rock Island Road to Pine Bluff Road, missed a turn, left the road, bottomed out, and busted the fuel tank. He then went back onto the road, leaking fuel. He made a right turn, lost control, and went nose first into a ditch line. He attempted to put the van in reverse but he got stuck. We(officers) rushed the vehicle. We saw flames coming from the van. We jerked the (van) doors open and got them out. The van then exploded in flames."

Trooper Jennings says he initially clocked the van at 88 miles per hour on Short Mountain Highway and later in the pursuit, Bradford at times exceeded speeds of 100 miles per hour. "He was passing double yellow lines, forcing cars off the road, and going through intersections."

No one was injured.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department were called to assist as the pursuit entered DeKalb County.

(Photo provided by State Trooper Dewaine Jennings)

Court Appointed Attorney for Man Charged in First Degree Murder Files Motion to Withdraw

February 25, 2010
Dwayne Page
James P Vernon

The court appointed attorney for a man charged with first degree murder in the beating death of another man last summer on Center Hill Lake wants out of the case.

Attorney Hilton Conger, recently appointed by the court to represent 38 year old James P. Vernon, has filed a motion asking that he be allowed to withdraw from the case due to a conflict.

The court may have a hearing on Conger's motion next month.

Vernon is charged in the death of 24 year old David Joseph Clark who was severely beaten during an attack on a houseboat at Center Hill Lake July 7th, 2009. He later died from his injuries at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Meanwhile, several other cases were resolved Wednesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court under negotiated settlements.

Judge David Patterson presided.

22 year old Troy Cunningham pleaded guilty to several charges including burglary of an auto, burglary other than habitation, vandalism over $1,000, vandalism over $500, vandalism under $500, theft over $1,000, theft over $500, theft under $500, and sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. Cunningham received a total sentence of six years split confinement with one year to serve and the rest on probation. He is to undergo an alcohol and drug assessment, make restitution to the victims, and pay a $750 fine. Cunningham was given jail credit of 300 days.

21 year old Priscilla Leann Roberts pleaded guilty to an amended charge of simple possession and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation. She was fined $750.

20 year old Thomas Bagnell pleaded guilty to auto burglary and vandalism under $500. He received a two year sentence on the auto burglary, all suspended to supervised probation except time served. Bagnell received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in the vandalism case, suspended to supervised probation except time served. The sentences are to run concurrently. Bagnell is to pay $500 restitution to the DeKalb County jail and $100 to the economic crime fund. He was given jail credit of 188 days.

32 year old Aron Ponder was granted judicial diversion on a charge of driving on a suspended license. Facing a six month sentence, Ponder will be on unsupervised probation for one year.

46 year old Denise Jauregui pleaded guilty to theft over $1,000 and received a three year sentence, all suspended to probation. The sentence is to run consecutive to a criminal court violation of probation or any other violation of probation against her. She must make restitution of $1,172. She was given two days of jail credit

36 year old Jorge Luis Ramirez pleaded guilty to driving without a license and received a sentence of 48 hours with six months probation.

23 year old Brian Bly pleaded guilty to domestic assault and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation. He must forfeit a shotgun and attend anger management classes.

40 year old Jeffery Taylor pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to supervised probation except for 48 hours to serve. He will lose his license for one year and he must pay a fine of $365, attend an alcohol safety education program, and undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

61 year old James B. Metcalf pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve. He must pay a fine of $360 and complete and alcohol safety education program.

28 year old Jose Gerarvo Carillo pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to CPS probation except for 48 hours to serve. His license will also be revoked for one year. He must pay a fine of $360. Carillo was given four days of jail credit.

33 year old Marco Perez pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving on a revoked license. He received a six month sentence, all suspended to supervised probation except for two days to serve. He will lose his license for a period of time and he must undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.

23 year old Nathan Farris pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve. He will lose his license for one year and he must attend an alcohol safety program. Farris must also pay a fine of $365.

24 year old Christopher Brian Deal pleaded guilty by information to charges of reckless driving and speeding. He will be on good behavior probation for 11 months and 29 days after serving 10 days. Deal was fined $350.

19 year old Michaela Bilbrey charged with two counts of theft under $500 was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding for a period of 11 months and 29 days. She must pay restitution of $80 and perform 40 hours of community service.

22 year old Billy Douglas Ferrell pleaded guilty to driving without a license and having a prohibited weapon. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to supervised probation.

22 year old James Edward Gilles pleaded guilty to domestic assault and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to probation. He must also attend anger management classes. The sentence is to run concurrent with a violation of probation he is now serving.

26 year old Joseph Merriman pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended except for 48 hours to serve. He will then be on supervised probation. Merriman must pay a $360 fine and he will lose his license for one year. He must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow any prescribed treatments.

34 year old Billy Paul Mooneyham pleaded guilty to burglary and received a sentence of two years and one day, all suspended to supervised probation except for time served. The sentence is to run concurrently with a violation of probation he is now serving.

20 year old Cody Murphy pleaded guilty to retaliation for past action. He will be on probation for one year and he must complete anger management.

30 year old Crystal L. Thompson pleaded guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days suspended to probation except for eight days to serve. She was fined $750.

19 year old Christopher J. Garrett, charged with theft of property over $1,000, was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding for a period of two years. He must perform 100 hours of community service work as part of his probation.

38 year old Tina Beth Young pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence. She received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve 48 hours and then be on probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with a probation violation in another case. She was fined $360 and her drivers license has been revoked for one year.

Meanwhile the case against 36 year old Tonya Page, a former circuit court clerk bookkeeper, indicted for theft of property over $1,000, is set for trial April 13th. Motions in the case are scheduled to be heard April 5th.

Nick Robinson, recently convicted after a jury trial on a charge of theft of property over $1,000, was sentenced after a hearing on Wednesday. Robinson received a three year sentence, to serve 60 days, and then be on probation. He must make restitution of $7,000 to the victim.

School System to Make-up Snow Day on March 5th

February 24, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

DeKalb County Schools have been closed twelve days due to winter weather this school year, one day more than the eleven "snow days" allotted in the school calendar. So DeKalb County Schools will be open on Friday, March 5th, weather permitting, to make up that extra day missed.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says March 5th was originally designated in the school calendar as a "stockpile" or professional development day and students were to be out of school. By having school on March 5th, schools will still close for the summer on time, provided no more days are missed this winter.

Eleven days are built into the school calendar each year for "snow days" or inclement weather and two days are included for so called "stockpile" or professional development days. On the stock pile days, students do not attend. One of the stockpile days has already been used and the other was scheduled for Friday, March 5th.

State law requires students to be in school a certain number of days each year.

The remaining school calendar calls for students to be off again for spring break March 29th to April 2nd

Students will not attend on Friday, May 21. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend.. The last day of school will be Saturday, May 22nd. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Three Educators Selected for Regional "Teacher of the Year" Competition

February 24, 2010
Dwayne Page
Chris Vance
Mike Lewis
Julie Vincent

The DeKalb County School System has announced that three educators, Julie Vincent, Michael Lewis, and Chris Vance have been selected "Teachers of the Year" locally and will compete for regional honors in the Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program.

Michelle Burklow, Supervisor of Instruction for grades K-6 made the announcement Wednesday. "Again this year, we're going to participate in the Teacher of the Year program, which begins on the school level, moves to the system level, the regional level, and finally to the state level. This year a committee selected the Teachers of the Year at the system wide level."

"In pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, Teachers of the year are Julie Vincent from Northside Elementary and Beth Pafford from Smithville Elementary. Ms. Vincent was chosen on the system wide level and will represent DeKalb County at the regional level."

"In grades 5 through 8, Teachers of the year are Mike Lewis from DeKalb Middle School and Vicki Wilson from DeKalb West School. Mr. Lewis will represent DeKalb County at the regional level."

"In the 9th through 12th grade, which is DeKalb County High School, Chris Vance is the Teacher of the Year and he will represent DeKalb County at the regional competition.

Should these teachers win at the regional, they will represent DeKalb County at the state level in March.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year Program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career; and to encourage public involvement in education.

This program is sponsored annually by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Niswonger Foundation.

The Tennessee Teacher of the Year represents Tennessee at the National Teacher of the Year competition, which is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic, Inc.

Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: Building, System, Field Service Center Region, Grand Division and State; and from three categories (levels of teaching); Grades Pre K-4, 5-8, 9-12.

Teachers selected at each cycle receive local recognition and awards underwritten by local sources. State recognition/awards include a banquet honoring the nine State Teacher of the Year finalists and certificates of appreciation from the Governor. In addition, the State Finalists and the State Teacher of the Year receive cash awards from the Niswonger Foundation.

District Attorneys Launch New Statewide Teen Pregnancy Awareness Campaign

February 24, 2010
District Attorney General Randy York

District Attorney Randy York and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference today announced a new campaign including aggressive outreach through social media, printed materials and a major effort to build a statewide network of partners to increase their efforts to fight teen pregnancy.

The statewide initiative represents the second phase of the highly successful What’s the Rush? campaign that raises awareness of the legal, financial and social consequences of becoming teen parents.

“Teen pregnancy has a direct consequence, not just on crime, but on society in general. There’s an inability to care and support that child the way that it deserves. It’s really sad when you see teenagers in court for nonpayment of child support and they’re facing the loss of their driver’s and hunting licenses and the possibility of going to jail,” said General York.

The DAs started the campaign in 2008 in response to the number of court cases involving teen parents throughout the state. Printed materials and a video were created for the DAs to use when visiting schools and civic organizations to educate Tennessee’s youth about the consequences of becoming teen parents.

After receiving a substantial amount of positive feedback, the DAs decided not only to continue the campaign, but to commit more resources to expand its scope to reach even more teenagers. One of the new additions is the social media initiative the DAs will participate in using Facebook, YouTube and MySpace. They will also be working more directly with campaign partners, and sending new and updated materials to schools and medical offices across the state.

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference is already partnered with the Tennessee Departments of Human Services, Health and Education; Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians; Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants; Tennessee School Counselor Association; National Association of Social Workers – Tennessee Chapter; Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center; Hospital Alliance of Tennessee; and YMCA of Memphis & the MidSouth.

“We are pleased to partner with the district attorneys, who see this problem firsthand,” said DHS Commissioner Virginia T. Lodge. “Continuing and expanding this program can make a difference in communities across Tennessee.”

In the 13th District alone, the most recent statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health show that in one year there were 380 reported cases of teen pregnancy and more than 13,000 cases reported statewide. Statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy show that teen parenthood can lead to a number of legal, financial and health consequences. Those statistics include:

Eight out of 10 teen fathers do not marry the mother of their first child.

Less than half of mothers who have a child before they are 18 years old graduate from high school, and less than 2 percent have a college degree by age 30.

Teen fathers have less education and earn much less money than teenage boys without children.

The children of teen mothers are more likely to be born prematurely and at a low birth weight, which can cause infant death, blindness, deafness, respiratory problems, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and hyperactivity.

Children of teen mothers are 50 percent more likely to have to repeat a grade in school and are less likely to finish high school.

The sons of teen mothers are two times more likely to end up in prison.

The children of teen mothers are two times more likely to suffer abuse and neglect compared to children of older mothers.

For more information about What’s the Rush?, call General Randy York at (931) 528-5015. To learn more and access the campaign materials, please visit www.tndagc.org/whatstherush.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/whatstherushtn

MySpace: www.myspace.com/whatstherushtn

YouTube: www.youtube.com/whatstherushtn

DeKalb Lady Tigers at Grundy County for Region Tournament Opener

February 24, 2010
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County High School Lady Tiger basketball team will make their debut in the Region 4AA tournament Friday night at Grundy County.

Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. and WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Grundy County enters the Region Tournament as the top seed from District 7 while DeKalb County is the fourth seed from District 8. The winner of this game will advance to the next round on Monday, March 1st at 6:00 p.m against the winner of a game between Cannon County and Bledsoe County.

Cannon County is the second seed from District 8 and Bledsoe County is the third seed from District 7. That game will be Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at Woodbury.

On the other side of the tournament bracket, the Upperman Lady Bees, the top seed from District 8, will host the fourth seeded Sequatchie County team Friday night at 7:00 p.m. while Chattanooga Christian, the second seed from District 7, will host Livingston Academy, the third seed from District 8 at 7:00 p.m. The winners of those games will advance to the next round Monday night at 7:30 p.m.

Omega Apparel Lands Contracts to Add More than 100 New Jobs

February 22, 2010
Dwayne Page
Omega Apparel to Create More Jobs

Omega Apparel of Smithville has been awarded contracts to produce new Army Service trousers and skirts for the U.S. Defense Department which will result in the creation of 112 new jobs here. The contracts are for five years and total approximately $40 million. The new jobs are expected to increase payroll for the operation by $1.8 million.

Hiring should begin within two weeks.

The announcement was made Monday by Dick Chase, President; Brian Roberge, Chief Financial Officer; and Chris Roberge, Operations Manager for Omega of Smithville.

Chase says Omega, which currently employs 86 workers, is excited about it's expansion plans. "The new contract will involve hiring production operators, sewers, cutters, material handlers, and clerical staff, about 112 jobs forecasted. We'll have a contract that will produce 176,000 new trousers for the Army in this contract. The garment is called the Army Service uniforms. The Army has chosen to go away from the traditional green that everyone is familiar with and has seen and are transitioning into this new garment. By October 2014, everyone (Army) will be in that new garment."

Omega currently operates out of the two old shirt factory buildings downtown, on either side of Mountain Street. One of those buildings is used for cutting and sewing and the other for warehousing. After a renovation, one of the facilities will be for cutting and warehousing and the other for sewing.

"This has been a very interesting contract for us", said Chase. Because of the expansion, we've had to increase the size of our sewing facility. Currently we have our cutting operation within these four walls (building on the west side of Mountain Street). We're going to have to renovate our building across the street (east side of Mountain Street) and spend a quarter of a million dollars of renovation costs to bring that building up to speed and put our cutting department in that building. Then we'll take that other square footage we have here and add that sewing operation to this existing facility. We will start hiring operators, production people and staff within the next two weeks."

Chase says Omega, which has been in operation since 1994, also produces uniforms for other branches of the military. "We currently have contracts for the Army, and Navy. For the Navy, we have a men's dress trouser and that garment has been made in Smithville since 1988. So every enlisted sailor who goes into the Navy has a broad fall trouser made here in Smithville. We also have the women's Navy slack, both in white and the new black. Then we have the Air Force skirt, Marine Corps skirt, both in green and blue, the mens and women's khaki trouser, the Air Force dress uniform skirt for the women."

All U.S. military uniforms have to be manufactured in the United States or U.S. territories under federal law.

Chase says Omega was in competition with several other states for the contracts. There were ten other bidders for the jobs. "Our ability to win this contract didn't just come from having an exemplary past performance with this company and our participation. This has been a community effort. Smithville Mayor (Taft Hendrixson) has been involved. (County Mayor) Mike Foster has been involved. The county commissioners have been involved. Without their participation in helping us find ways to get our costs to a point where we can be competitive, we might not have gotten this contract. It took some real hard effort on everybody's part to bring it here to Smithville. We were competing against Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. We knew they were bidding on this. We beat them out because we were able to be competitive both in pricing and in our past performances"

Brian Roberge said other places made offers for Omega to relocate but company officials wanted to stay here. "Jobs are very competitive and many other states are giving a whole lot more to the industries in their states. We were offered quite a bit to move, but we started this program here with Mike (Foster) and his leadership of this county and he made it possible for us to stay here and bring these jobs here."

Chris Roberge added "We're excited to be able to bring 100 new jobs to Smithville. The company has worked hard for fifteen years in this community to make sure that we could provide as much opportunity inside this community as we can. We want to continue to do that and not just for five years, but hopefully for ten, fifteen, and twenty years into the future."

Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson said Omega's announcement is reason to celebrate."I'm certainly glad to see that they have gotten this new contract and the approximately 100 new jobs will absolutely be good for our community, especially in these economic times. The military is always going to clothe their soldiers, so that's something we're glad we've got."

County Mayor Mike Foster expressed his appreciation to Omega Apparel and to others who have helped them prepare for this expansion. "We want to thank all the people who have had anything to do with this especially Chris Roberge, Dick Chase, and Brian Roberge. For a company that's been here for fifteen years, they've got a really good track history. They're already providing jobs for 86 people here and this will be another 100 plus. It adds another $1.8 million to the local economy. The best thing about this is it's a five year contract and based on their past performances, it should be ten or fifteen year contracts. It gets some of the county and city buildings renovated and brings new life back down town. I want to thank Don Rigsby from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. He helped put a lot of this together. I also want to thank the Cumberland Investment Corporation, the county commission, and the county industrial development board for their help."

(Pictured above left to right: County Mayor Mike Foster, Omega President Dick Chase, Omega Operations Manager Chris Roberge, Omega Chief Financial Officer Brian Roberge, and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson)

Sheriff's Department Makes Arrest in Theft Case

February 22, 2010
Dwayne Page
Matthew Malachi Lawson
Amanda Pinegar
Jeremy Edward Woodard
Paul Cox Herron Jr

A 26 year old Smithville man was charged last week in a theft investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Matthew Malachi Lawson of Haley Road Smithville was arrested on Wednesday, February 17th and charged with theft of property under $500. During an interview of Lawson, detectives found him to be in possession of a tea set. After an investigation into where the tea set came from, detectives charged Lawson with theft of property when they discovered that he had stolen the tea set from a residence on South College Street in Smithville. Bond for Lawson was set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on March 25th.

On Wednesday, February 17th, deputies while on patrol, spotted a vehicle parked in a field. Two people were sitting in the automobile. The officer asked them if they had anything illegal on them and 28 year old Amanda L. Pinegar of Roy Foster Road, Smithville handed him a marijuana grinder that contained marijuana. Pinegar was charged with simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and her bond was set at $2,000. She will appear in court on March 18th.

On Friday, February 19th, a deputy stopped a vehicle on Highway 70 West for several traffic offenses. Upon speaking to the driver, the officer asked for his drivers license. The driver said that he did not have the license on him, but he identified himself as Gary Woodard and provided his date of birth and social security number. When the deputy checked the information, he discovered that the man's license was suspended. He was placed into custody and taken to the Sheriff's Department. The officer, still not satisfied, investigated further and discovered that the man is actually 30 year old Jeremy Edward Woodard of Sparta Pike, Watertown. Woodard's license was revoked. Woodard was charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license and criminal impersonation. His bond was set at $4,500 and he will appear in court on March 11th.

On Saturday, February 20th, deputies were called to Highway 70 West to check out a reckless driver. The suspected vehicle was stopped on highway 70 West and 62 year old Paul Cox Herron Jr. was found to be the driver. He appeared to be intoxicated. Herron had a strong odor of alcohol on his person and he failed all field sobriety tasks performed. Herron admitted that he had drank eight beers earlier. Herron was charged with driving under the influence and his bond was set at $1,000. He will appear in court on March 18th.


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