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A total of 491 Vote Early in City Election through Wednesday

May 31, 2009
Dwayne Page

A total of 491 people have voted in the Smithville election through Wednesday, June 10th

The daily voting totals are as follows:
Wednesday, May 27th- 51
Thursday, May 28th-48
Friday, May 29th-50
Saturday, May 30th-38
Monday, June 1st-25
Tuesday, June 2nd-38
Wednesday, June 3rd- 18
Thursday, June 4th-54
Friday, June 5th-29
Saturday, June 6th-21
Monday, June 8th-35
Tuesday, June 9th-37
Wednesday, June 10th-35

Twelve absentee ballots were cast prior to May 27th.

Early voting continues through Thursday, June 11th in the basement courtroom of the courthouse

Voting hours are 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Three aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 16th

A look at the Tennessee Legislature

May 31, 2009
Terri Lynn Weaver
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Greetings Folks of the Fortieth…
Count your many blessings even if you can not get your yard mowed!

Here is what is happening on the Hill
As we enter the homestretch of the first legislative session of the 106th General Assembly, House lawmakers began a thorough review of the budget this week. In a presentation to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Dave Goetz emphasized the increasingly dismal revenue numbers as a reason for the deep cuts presented in the new budget proposal.

Revenue continues to drop
Although the state’s revenue has been declining since the beginning of 2008, revenues for the last few months have been particularly low. The decline in sales tax revenue had been a fairly steady 6 percent until it accelerated last month and dropped to an approximate 10 percent decline. Making matters worse are declining revenues on big ticket items such as homes and cars.

Commissioner Goetz outlined that the technical corrections bill, which legislators have yet to see, should produce roughly $63 million through closing tax “loopholes” and increasing a myriad of fees on various services and industries.

While the Administration is arguing that these increases will offset other cuts, House members are concerned that some of the provisions are far-reaching, and some even place an increased burden on small businesses, which are already facing difficulties with the struggling economy.

Reserves in good shape, stimulus money will plug holes
The state’s various reserves accounts are in good shape, with the state’s Rainy Day Fund standing at $750 million. The federal match for TennCare has also increased, freeing up more state dollars to be directed elsewhere. The Administration is proposing to use the stimulus funds to plug holes, but
concerns have been raised about that tactic. The stimulus is essentially one
time money, but the Administration has proposed using some of it to fund recurring items in the budget—something House members have cautioned against doing since February.

The budget is typically among the last bills passed by the legislature before adjournment. The General Assembly will carefully review language in the amendment in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee next week and make any needed changes before the bill goes to the full body for final consideration.

Judicial selection process reformed, legislation passes Senate, House on Thursday
The House approved legislation Thursday, after a lengthy debate, that reforms the selection process for the state’s appellate and Tennessee Supreme Court judges. Legislators have debated the issue for nearly 16 weeks in the committee system, hearing testimony from dozens of attorneys, former judges, current judges, and scholars. The Judicial Selection Commission, a component of Tennessee’s current plan for appointing judges, is set to expire next month.

The bill, Senate Bill 1753, sets up a new nominating commission with fewer attorney members and less special interest input. Lawmakers indicated they would still pursue a separate measure that would call for a Constitutional Convention to let the people decide whether or not they want to elect the judges or opt to continue a system of nomination by a commission, followed by a retention vote from voters.

Tennessee’s Constitution says judges must be “elected by the qualified voters of the state.” The lengthy debate in the legislature has focused on whether or not the selection process with a retention vote meets that test, with detractors saying that it blatantly violates the constitution.

The legislation provides for a 17-member Judicial Nominating Commission that would have at least 10 attorney members. After being appointed through this process, the judges would stand for approval by the voters who could decide whether or not to "retain" or "replace" them, a move that proponents say is more clean than the current ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the ballot regarding the retention of judges.

If voters decide to replace a judge, an interim judge would be appointed by the governor until the next election. At that point, the people could decide who would fill the slot through a popular election, which is the same process by which the state’s trial judges are currently selected.

I took my oath of office as a member of the 106th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee to faithfully support the Constitution of this state and the United States Constitution. I passionately believe in our sacred document. Therefore when stated in Article IV Section 3 ‘The judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state” my friends you can not get any clearer then that.

In closing…
It is an honor to serve you and I look forward to seeing more of you when session concludes. Blessings!

On The Beaten Path Art Fair Set For Saturday

May 31, 2009

Fans of fine art and craft should head to Smithville Saturday June 6 for the second annual On The Beaten Path Summer Event. It runs from 10 until 5 in the yard of Stella Luna Art Gallery, 412 College Street, a short walk or ride from downtown Smithville in DeKalb County

In event of rain, it will be held Sunday, June 7, from noon until 7 p.m.

“We’ve put together an intimate art fair for anyone who appreciates fine art and craft,” says Louis Colombarini, Stella Luna co-owner and a founding member of event sponsors Off The Beaten Path. “There will be kid’s activities, live music, food, and several craft demonstrations. It’s a great opportunity to see the work of regional artists.”

Columbarini expects more than 15 exhibitors, including six artists featured on the Off The Beaten Path Fall Tour in October. Saturday’s line-up includes displays of jewelry, pine needle craft, painting, folk art, woodwork, clay, blown glass, and steel fire pits, all available for purchase. Several demonstrations are planned, including fabric spinning and blacksmithing.
There will also be a raffle, with $1 donations for a chance to win one of four original works of art.
For more information contact Louis Colombarini at 615.597.4004.

Off The Beaten Path is an affiliation of professional artists, skilled in contemporary and traditional crafts, who live in and draw inspiration from the scenic hill country of rural DeKalb and Cannon Counties in Middle Tennessee. Collectively, they promote the arts and their work through community outreach, educational programs and free events, culminating in the annual fall tour for which the group is named.

During the Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour, held the last full weekend of October, members open their studios to the public for a firsthand look at the materials, mastery and settings empowering their creativity. For more information, visit them online at www.offthebeatenpathtour.com

County Clerk Says Small Businesses Could be Affected by Proposed Change in State Law

May 30, 2009
Dwayne Page
County Clerk Mike Clayborn

DeKalb County Clerk Mike Clayborn wants to advise and alert all small business owners of an issue which he says will directly and adversely affect them.

On Tuesday, June 2nd, a State Senate Subcommittee will consider legislation for the Tennessee Department of Revenue to remove business tax administration from county clerks across the state. Clayborn is encouraging all business owners to attend the meeting at Legislative Plaza.

"I strongly oppose the attempt to take away the issuance of business licenses and the collection of business taxes from the county clerks. This has very serious ramifications for all my constituents and business owners across Tennessee. I do not believe the Department of Revenue can offer the same level of helpfulness and one-on-one frontline support that county clerks have provided since 1971,"said Clayborn.

Clayborn says county clerks not only process tax returns received by mail, but they spend countless hours each week assisting local taxpayers personally. Also, many daily telephone inquiries receive prompt response. In many instances, new businesses need their license immediately in order to open a bank account and purchase products to sell. Counties can do this on the spot.

Small business owners may especially have more difficulty in submitting tax returns to the Department of Revenue without one-on-one assistance from local government. Clayborn says it is this level of customer service that he feels is very important.

"The department references ‘regional offices' but I do not think taxpayers will appreciate having to drive three or four counties over to actually receive help from a live person."

"With the state registering these entities and collecting these dollars, there becomes a veil of secrecy, not only over the distribution of the money, but a shadow of uncertainty as to what types of businesses and activities are springing up on our hometown streets."

He says city and local governments stand at risk with a shift from a local to a state function.

County Clerk Clayborn encourages any concerned parties, especially those who own small businesses to show up and voice their opinions. The meeting will be held at Legislative Plaza, Room 12 at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 2nd.

Kelly Services has Immediate Job Openings at Federal Mogul

May 29, 2009
Dwayne Page

Kelly Services has IMMEDIATE INDUSTRIAL JOBS at Federal Mogul in Smithville. If you have recent manufacturing experience, can pass a drug and background screen, this may be the perfect opportunity for you! Call Kelly Services toll free at 1-866-513-5694 or locally 215-8900 or apply in person Monday-Thursdays 9am-11am or 1pm-3pm Remember, IMMEDIATE JOBS AVAILABLE NOW.

DeKalb County THP Officer Named Trooper of Year in Cookeville District

May 29, 2009
Dwayne Page
Trooper Dewaine Jennings

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol has been named Trooper of the Year for the Cookeville District.

Jennings, a resident of Smithville, was among eighteen members of the THP who were honored as Troopers of the Year for their individual districts during a special ceremony held Friday at the THP Training Center on Stewarts Ferry Pike in Nashville.

Trooper Jennings is a member of the Strike Team and assists with the Field Training Officer Program, where he leads by example everyday. Trooper Jennings' enforcement activity was also top in every category in his District. His work ethic, professionalism and pride in his everyday duties as Tennessee Highway Patrol State Trooper make Trooper Jennings one of the best and a clear choice for this award.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Safety's top overall awards went to Trooper Kevin Curtis as Trooper of the Year 2007 and Trooper Andy Forsythe as Trooper of the Year 2008.

Trooper Kevin Curtis is assigned to McNairy County in the Jackson District and was named Trooper of the Year 2007 for the dedication he showed investigating a horrific crash that occurred during an exhibition in Selmer, TN. Trooper Curtis spent more than 300 hours investigating the crash that killed six bystanders and seriously injured 22 others. Trooper Curtis displayed true professionalism and compassion working with each of the families involved, while managing his normal day to day responsibilities.

Trooper Andy Forsythe has been a member of THP since 1998 and is stationed in Weakley County. Last May, Trooper Forsythe came upon a fiery crash where some of the occupants of both vehicles were trapped. Trooper Forsythe physically bent back the top of one of the vehicles to free the driver and helped rescue some of the other seven victims. His heroic actions most assuredly saved at least two of the victims from perishing in the burning vehicles, and for this, Trooper Forsythe has been named Trooper of the Year 2008.

"These Troopers represent the outstanding achievements of the men and women of the Tennessee Highway Patrol," said Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. "Often, the public does not see the good work done by the officers of this fine organization."

THP Colonel Mike Walker added, "Many of these dedicated Troopers are being recognized for their hard work and enforcement activity, and others for concern for their fellow man and community involvement. All have exemplified Professionalism, Integrity, and Pride. I am proud of each one of them."

Meanwhile, Trooper Michael Williams, who is assigned to the Cookeville District, was honored for his outstanding work and dedication to the department. Trooper Williams is among the top in his district. In 2007, he made 39 DUI arrests and 33 felony arrests. That year, Trooper Williams also made the arrest of a Brink's Armored Carrier robbery suspect and recovered more than $110,000.00 in stolen money.

Mistake Discovered on Early Voting Smithville Election Ballot

May 29, 2009
Dwayne Page

A mistake on the early voting ballot in the Smithville Municipal Election, in which the name Jerry Hutchins, Jr. was listed as a candidate for alderman, has now been corrected.

The ballot should have listed the name Jerry Hutchins, Sr. and not Jerry Hutchins, Jr.

In a prepared statement, Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley says "It was brought to my attention Thursday evening (May 28th) that there was a typographical error on the early voting ballot for the Smithville Municipal Election. The error was that incumbent alderman candidate Jerry Hutchins, Sr. was listed as Jerry Hutchins, Jr."

"I, along with local election commission officials and state officials, immediately began to take steps to correct the problem. Before early voting closed Friday (May 29th), the error was corrected, and the ballot on the two early voting machines now correctly reads "Jerry Hutchins, Sr.".

"Voters should rest assured that any votes cast for Jerry Hutchins, Jr. before the ballot was corrected will be counted for Jerry Hutchins, Sr."

"As indicated, I was in constant contact with the proper state officials who guided me in correcting the error, consequently, voting (and the entire election) will continue as planned."

State Election Coordinator Mark Goins told WJLE Friday says this was simply a minor typographical error and there is no reason to void the election because of it. "This is not the first time this has happened (in Tennessee). It occurs every election cycle where there is some type of mistake dealing with a name being misspelled or whatever. Occasionally this happens. But I think in this case, it's the intent of the voter. They're voting for who they think they are voting for. It's a minor typo as opposed to where somebody might be running as say "Mark Shelby" and their name is really "Mark Smith". That would be a huge issue. If the courts were to look at it, they would look at the intent of the voter and I would certainly think that the voter would be intending to vote for the person running for office. This guy (Jerry Hutchins, Sr.) is already on the city council and I don't think the voter is going to be confused."

The entire slate of candidates on the ballot are as follows:

Gary Durham, Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Shawn Jacobs, Aaron Meeks, Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, W.J. (Dub) White, and Todd Van Dyne.

School Board Again Delays Action on Football Fieldhouse

May 29, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education, for the second time, has delayed granting approval for the construction of a new field house for the high school football program.

During the May 14th regular meeting of the board, Darrell Gill of the Jr. Pro Football program formally made the request stating that new field house would be built with high school football and Jr. Pro funds and that the school system would not be asked for any money. He added that most of the construction would be done with volunteer labor.

The issue was referred to the board's facilities committee, which met May 19th to study the legal and liability aspects of the proposal. The board was to have made a final decision during a special meeting which was held Thursday night (May 28th). But that decision has been postponed again until the next regular meeting on June 11th after Director of Schools Mark Willoughby received a legal opinion from an attorney for the Tennessee School Boards Association warning against possible violations of the federal Title IX law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The concern is whether building a new field house for the high school football program, even without school system funds, would constitute a violation of Title IX when there is no similar facility for girls soccer.

Director Willoughby, in a letter to attorney Charles W. Cagle of Nashville, posed the following question: Could the construction of a new field house for a boy's football program on school property result in the need for similar facilities for girls soccer?

Cagle replied with the following response:" Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1973 states that no educational program that receives federal funding shall discriminate on the basis of sex. As a result of the adoption of these amendments, several complaints to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights have been filed concerning athletics. Indeed, several lawsuits have been filed over perceived disparities in boys and girls athletic programs. Many of these complaints/lawsuits arise over facilities that are constructed by support organizations for use by a single team. To be clear, many of these suits and complaints concern the provision of facilities, coaches, equipment, and preferential playing times for a boys athletic team versus the same considerations for a girls team. In each case, the U.S. Department of Education and the Office for Civil Rights has been clear in their rulings: school systems are responsible to see that discrimination does not occur in the provision of these facilities, coaches, equipment, playing time, or other support. Even if the building proposed for DeKalb County is being built by a team support organization, DeKalb County remains responsible for seeing that the girls facilities and supports are equal to those provided to the boys team. If this is not the case, I would advise that plans need to be made to consider alterations in facilities and improvements in supports to bring the girls team into parity with the boys program."

Willoughby said Thursday night that he is not opposed to a new field house but wants the board to be fully aware of the legal issues. "I'm for a field house but I believe the board needs to be aware that should there be a Title IX complaint and should they find out that the facilities are not equal, there's not much of a defense. If the people who come and investigate and tell you to make sure that there's equality and no disparity then you will say ‘yes sir' or ‘yes ma'am' and you will do it."

Willoughby added that the major concern is with athletic programs which have their seasons at the same time of the year. "Let's say that girls soccer was in the spring, you wouldn't have to worry about it, as I understand the law. It is the teams in which their games are going on simultaneously. It doesn't have to be on the same night. But if the boys have a nice locker room and the girls soccer team is playing the next week, they should also have a nice locker room."

According to Willoughby anyone could lodge a complaint whether it be a parent or concerned citizen, triggering an investigation. "Here you've got someone (Jr. Pro and High School Football Program) wanting to give you $50,000 (new building), and they're going to do everything to the building and we've got a federal law that basically says as long as nobody complains you're hunky dori. If somebody complains, you've got to have a facility that is just as good (for another athletic program). It's the federal government and usually they give you two years, but if don't fix whatever they say to fix, we don't get federal funds and we don't operate (schools)."

But whether or not a new field house is built, could the school system already be in violation of Title IX since there is an existing field house and no facility of any kind for the soccer program?

DCHS Football Coach Steve Trapp said he believes building a new field house could actually address some of these very concerns. "We're moving out of a facility (existing field house) and on their (soccer) game nights, we don't have a problem with them using that (existing field house). It's going to be used by the middle school football team when they have a home game and Jr. Pro football has a right to use that when they have games on Saturdays. But when soccer boys or girls, spring or fall, have a game they will be free to use those facilities. I don't think there would ever be a complaint if they are allowed to do that. This will make it better for everybody. They will have a place on their game nights and that's more than they've got right now."

In response, Willoughby said this probably wouldn't solve the problem since the existing field house would not be a place the girls soccer team could call their own.

Gill, during Thursday night's meeting, renewed his request for board approval. "I would like to see you approve it just for the fact that our kids have worked hard and our parents have worked hard. We've got a great opportunity to get a nice facility at no cost to the county. I hate to see our kids deprived because we're worried about somebody complaining."

Board member W.J. (Dub) Evins III said he came to the meeting Thursday night prepared to vote for the request but now has reservations after learning of Cagle's legal opinion.

Board member Bruce Parsley said he felt it was unfair to compare soccer and football. "I just don't think we can compare football with girls soccer. I think you compare girls soccer with boys soccer, as long as they're even, that's fine. Or baseball and softball, or girls basketball and boys basketball, but you can't compare football because it's not an exclusive male sport."

Board member Kenny Rhody responded, "I can't see us not being able to provide this for our kids because of fear of what might happen. Somebody might complain, but our kids need this."

Board member Johnny Lattimore made a motion, which was approved, to postpone final action until the June 11th school board meeting. In the meantime, Willoughby will ask Cagle to give his legal opinion as to whether the school system would be in compliance with Title IX by allowing the girls soccer, middle school football, and Jr. Pro football programs to share use of the existing football field house during the fall sports seasons. Since neither of the teams play at the same time, each one could use the facility on their particular game day

The new fieldhouse, a 50 x 70 foot block exterior structure with a metal roof, would be located near the existing facility between the practice field and playing field. It would be for the Tiger football program complete with a dressing room area, locker room, training room, utility room, showers and bathrooms, an office for the coach, and two dry storage areas, one of which would be for the youth football league.

Willoughby, in his letter to Cagle, also asked if "there are specific building requirements of which the board should be aware concerning the construction of the football field house."

In his response, Cagle wrote, " I am advised that the field house is to be constructed on school board (public) property and that the cost for this construction is to exceed $25,000. As such, the building must conform to the laws relating to construction of public works projects."

"As this is new construction and not a renovation of, or an addition to, an existing structure and, since the site of the construction is to be on school board property with a cost exceeding $25,000, the law states clearly that there must be plans, specifications, and estimates that are prepared by a qualified registrant (in this case, a licensed architect or engineer). This school board has the duty to insist upon compliance with the law and is the agency against whom fines will be levied for non-compliance."

"I know the school board appreciates the citizens who head this effort. However, please be aware that there are legal and programmatic considerations outlined in this memorandum relating to further specific responsibilities of the school board in the acceptance of the offer."

Sheriff and SRO Officer Release Annual School Activity Report

May 28, 2009
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray and School Resource Officer Kenneth Whitehead have compiled stats for the 2008-2009 year from all the schools in the county.

Deputy Whitehead says in a letter to the Sheriff “As you can see it has been a busy year. I have met with many students and dealt with all kinds of problems throughout this school year. I feel that due to this contact I have helped these students deal with some problems and that my presence at the school does wonders for the student body. I hope that the school system and the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department continues to see the importance of the School Resource Officer Program and what benefits it can obtain from having it. I have enclosed the 2008-2009 school year SRO report.”

The reports are as follows:

DeKalb West-
Assist Deputies- 1
Advisory Sessions with Students- 17
Advisory Sessions with Parents- 5
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff- 16
Classroom Lectures- 4
Special School events- 4
Meetings attended- 2
Total for year- 49

Smithville Elementary
Advisory Sessions with Students- 2
Advisory Sessions with Parents- 2
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff- 3
Total for year- 7

Northside Elementary
Assist Deputies- 1
Advisory Sessions with Students- 1
Advisory Sessions with Parents- 3
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff- 3
Classroom Lectures- 1
Special School events- 3
Court Appearances- 1
Total for year- 13
1 citation wrote for cigarettes

DeKalb Middle School
Misdemeanor Arrests- 8
Drug Arrest- 4
Assist Deputies- 5
Advisory Sessions with Students- 60
Advisory Sessions with Parents- 24
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff- 32
Special School events- 17
Court Appearances- 5
Motorist assist- 1
Total for year- 156

DeKalb High School
Offense reports- 7
Misdemeanor Arrests- 27
Drug Arrest- 8
Assist Deputies- 37
Advisory Sessions with Students about School- 699
Advisory Sessions with Students about Family- 4
Advisory Sessions with Students about Law Enforcement- 283
Advisory Sessions with Parents- 111
Advisory Sessions with Teachers or Staff- 308
Conflict resolutions- 6
Classroom Lectures- 31
Special School events- 56
Meetings attended- 13
Court Appearances- 17
Medical Assists- 2
Motorist assist- 20
Club Meetings- 4
Others not listed- 319
Cigarettes Citations- 27
Fights- 18
Unruly- 2
Total for year- 1999

Sheriff Ray says “Our School Resource Officer is stationed at the DeKalb High School, but responds to all schools in the county. For the safety of our children and school staff, I feel that the School Resource Officer is a great tool for our school system. I will be looking forward to meeting with the Director of Schools, Mr. Mark Willoughby, for the upcoming 2009-2010 school year and continuing the School Resource Officer position in our school system.”

DeKalb County Jobless Rate for April at 10.7%

May 28, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for April was 10.7%, down slightly from 11% in March, but still much higher than the 5.1% rate in April, 2008.

The local labor force for April was 9,830. A total of 8,780 were employed and 1,050 were unemployed.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April at 9.9 percent is 0.3 percentage point higher than the revised March rate of 9.6 percent.

The United States’ unemployment rate for the month of April was 8.9 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for April show that the rate increased in 29 counties, decreased in 59 counties and remained the same in seven counties.

Lincoln and Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.3 percent. Perry County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 23.9 percent, down from 25.6 in March, followed by Scott County at 18.3 percent, down from 18.8 percent in March.

Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.4 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from the March rate. Davidson County was 8.0 percent, up 0.1 from the previous month. Hamilton County was at 8.3 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from the March rate, and Shelby County was 8.9 percent, unchanged from the March rate.


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