Local News Articles

Fire Destroys Two Camper Trailers

March 21, 2012
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Two Camper Trailers (Photo by Callie Matthews)

A fire destroyed two camper trailers at Lakeside Resort Tuesday afternoon.

Central dispatch received the call at 3:21 p.m.

According to County Fire Chief Donny Green, the campers served as temporary housing for construction workers at Hurricane bridge. No one was there at the time of the fire and no one was injured.

Chief Green said four camper trailers were parked side by side about six feet apart at the end of Relax Drive. One of the campers in the middle caught fire and spread to another one beside of it. Both were destroyed. Firefighters were able to save the other two campers although they received some heat damage. The blaze also spread into the woods but it was quickly brought under control.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and Cookeville Highway Station responded along with the Tennessee Forestry Division, DeKalb EMS and Sheriff's Department

Chief Green said volunteers of the local Red Cross Chapter helped provide shelter and arranged to meet other needs for victims of the fire.

Another fire was reported at 6:44 p.m. Tuesday at the trailer home of Billy and Cecilia Orchard at 160 Clear Creek Road, Liberty.

Chief Green said that Mr. and Mrs. Orchard and their two children were at home when a grease fire started from the cook stove. The family escaped unharmed. A neighbor called 911 to report the fire.

Members of the Liberty and Main Stations responded and quickly extinguished the blaze. Fire damage was confined to around the area of the stove.

Volunteers of the local Red Cross Chapter helped provide shelter for the family during the night. The Orchard family is expected to return to their home Wednesday, pending an electrical inspection of the residence.

Mayor Grills Fire Chief Over Grant Application for Full Time Firefighters

March 20, 2012
Dwayne Page
Mayor Taft Hendrixson questioning Fire Chief Charlie Parker

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker was questioned by Mayor Taft Hendrixson Monday night why he chose to apply for a FEMA SAFER Grant for the hiring of full time firefighters when it appears that the city may not qualify for such a grant

During the March 5 meeting, the aldermen gave their blessing for the fire department to make application for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, which if approved, would fund the hiring of firefighters for up to two years at no costs to the city.

At that meeting, Chief Parker told the mayor and aldermen that the city would be under no obligation to keep funding the positions locally after the grant funds are exhausted. "The grant is a two year total grant and it would be for hiring full time personnel. It would go up to a max of $230,000 for salary supplements for that two years. That's the maximum amount. That doesn't mean that we will get the full amount but it could be up to that for personnel. If we do get it, it will still need to be accepted by the board," said Chief Parker.

In order to beat the filing deadline, Chief Parker apparently applied for the grant before asking the mayor and aldermen and sought approval after the fact.

During last nights (Mondays) meeting, Mayor Hendrixson said he had checked with FEMA and Congressman Diane Black's office and learned that the grant, for which Chief Parker applied, has no chance of being approved since it was for rehiring laid off firefighters, retaining firefighters who faced imminent layoff and or filling positions vacated through attrition. Smithville has an all volunteer fire department.

Mayor Hendrixson asked Chief Parker why he chose to apply for a FEMA grant ostensibly to pay full time firefighters when the city had a better chance of obtaining another grant for funding the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. "I took it upon myself to contact FEMA in Washington. We have zero chances of getting this grant (applied for by Chief Parker). It did not even go before the review board according to my contacts through Congressman Black's office," said Mayor Hendrixson.

"The recruitment and retention grants assist fire departments with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters who are involved with or trained in the operations of firefighting and emergency response," he said. "These grants are intended to create a net increase in the number of trained, certified, and competent firefighters capable of safely responding to emergencies likely to occur within the grantee's geographical area. One hundred percent funding is provided for periods up to four years on this one (recruitment and retention grant)."

"What I'm concerned about is they told me in Washington that from looking at our grant, we would have had a good chance of getting this recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters (grant). We have zero chance of getting this other one. They've already told me," said Mayor Hendrixson.

"For the benefit of your rank and file members. They (city firefighters) get paid twenty dollars per call (currently). Had we gotten this other grant, they might have gotten forty, fifty, or sixty dollars a call depending upon how much money you got (from the grant). They could have had more training. You could have provided insurance packages such as accidental death and dismemberment, disability, health, dental, and life," said Mayor Hendrixson.

"I've heard you (Chief Parker) say many times that its hard to recruit firefighters. This (grant) is a tool that will help recruit firefighters. You can recruit them or you can pay the ones already here. If you recruit a man, you can reimburse a member while he (recruit) is attending basic training, fire training, compensate for lost wages, mileage, lodging, and a per diem," he said

"Marketing costs (can be met) to recruit new members. In other words, (grant could fund) billboards, newspaper ads, radio advertisements. We could have paid for a station Internet, computers and common areas. It would have paid for that," said Mayor Hendrixson.

"Station duty uniforms for new recruits, pants, shirts, hats (could be paid for with grant funds) and non uniform clothing as part of an award program. If you get new recruits, it would have paid for a physical. It would have even paid for their turnout gear. It would have paid for any new turnout gear. Not for the ones that are here but for the new (members)," he said.

Mayor Hendrixson said money from a recruitment and retention grant could even provide yearly bonuses to city firefighters who complete training programs, just as the county firefighters receive. "I know the county does this and they're enjoying this grant right now. If their firefighters complete all their training sessions, they get a $400 bonus out of this grant. There's an awards program for participation in operational activities, length of service plaques, gift cards, mileage reimbursement for operational activities, responding to incidents, and attending training," he said.

"I can just see a lot of benefits for your men and for the department and for the city as a whole by applying for the other grant that would fit us as a volunteer department," said Mayor Hendrixson.

Chief Parker said it was his understanding that the grant for which he applied did include funding for the hiring of new firefighters, if approved, and he confirmed it after checking further during the meeting. "I went back to the FEMA 2012 eligibility guidelines and it says that the following entities are eligible to apply directly to FEMA under this solicitation. Volunteer fire departments may apply for funding in the following categories: Hiring the firefighters category. Hiring career firefighters. Second category. Recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. If the applicant wishes to fill an application for both categories, two separate applications must be completed for each. This is in the 2012 guidelines and this is what I went by to the best of my ability. That was what we were shooting for, full time people. We've already got some (firefighters) who are compensated. They are not well compensated but we have some compensated volunteer firemen now. We're looking to hire some full time people and progress a little further. So in the best interest of my department and the city, that's the reason I was pushing for full time firefighters. If we get free money, fine. If not, we'll try to push forward and if not we'll stay where we're at,"he said.

Chief Parker also asked the city to make a better effort in the future in assisting the fire department in obtaining grants. "I would like to make a formal request that we look for fire department grants from this board. We need grants for automated external defibrillators (AED's). We need AED's for each truck. We could use grants for turnout equipment. We can use grants for things on the trucks. Anything that we can apply for in a grant, I would be more than welcome for the board to do so or get somebody else to do it. Somebody has got to look for them," he said.

Alderman Gayla Hendrix defended Chief Parker saying it never hurts to apply for grants for which the city might benefit. "Chief Parker came to us with this. He explained very clearly that it was a last minute resource. That he had received a letter from Congressman Black encouraging volunteer fire departments to apply for that. He told us that. He also told us we were down to the wire and that we may be able to get it or we may not, but what's it going to hurt to apply. It never hurts to write a grant. I haven't read the entire grant but what you (mayor) just handed to us, I totally disagree with your interpretation Mr. Mayor. It specifically says the purpose of these grants is to improve or restore local fire departments staffing and deployment capabilities in two categories. Number 1, hiring firefighters. Number 2, recruiting and retention. He applied to hire. There are very few fire departments anymore in this country that are strictly volunteer. Those days are almost over. We're very fortunate that we have these people who are willing and who have fifteen, twenty, and thirty years of experience doing it. Anytime something is brought to a department head's attention that there's a possibility of getting funding for their department, its never a bad decision to try. We may get turned down but we've been turned down before. But you try and you put it out there and see what you can get. Its going to come a day when we're going to have to start staffing this volunteer department," said Alderman Hendrix.

Chief Parker told WJLE later that the mayor had requested that he attend Monday night's meeting, but he was not told for what reason. The issue was not listed on the regular meeting agenda.

Unemployment Claimants Now Required To Provide Proof Of Work Searches

March 20, 2012

Beginning in April, significant changes to the unemployment insurance system will require in-person case management and documented work searches for nearly 56,000 claimants. Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis today announced the receipt of guidance from the USDOL outlining new requirements for select claimants to continue receiving unemployment benefits.

“The reality is that as the state unemployment rate drops there will be fewer weeks of unemployment available,” said Davis. “These new requirements will make sure claimants are on track to find employment and not get caught off guard when their benefits expire.”

All claimants receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC 08) must complete two work searches weekly and provide documentation to Labor and Workforce Development upon request. Additionally, claimants must participate in case management at a Tennessee Career Center including orientation, eligibility review, assessment of skills, participation in remedial workshops, and commitment to a work search plan.

“The federal government has raised the bar on accountability for claimants,” said Commissioner Davis. “Claimants will be required to prove that they are looking for work, and they will be engaged face to face with our job service employees. If these requirements are not met they will no longer be eligible to receive benefits.”

In February 2012, federal legislation was enacted extending the deadlines for federally funded unemployment benefits through December 2012. The changes to the structure of federal benefits reduced the total amount of benefit weeks, but did not create additional benefits for those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

For up-to-date information visit http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/2012 Unemployment Update.html or follow the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TNLabor.

Stanley Charged with Theft and Forgery

March 19, 2012
Dwayne Page
Steve A. Stanley
Janet Marie Lewis
Cassandra Nicole Estes Robinson
Michael James Dean
Karen Louise Edwards

In his weekly report on crime news, Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 34 year old Steve A. Stanley of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown is charged with theft of property over $500 and two counts of forgery. His bond totals $8,500 and he will be in court March 29. Stanley was arrested on Monday, March 12.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, March 9 Stanley allegedly took a laptop computer, Fenton glassware, and two white and green baskets from the residence of a family member on Old Mill Hill Road. The total value of these items comes to $900.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, March 7 Stanley allegedly passed a forged check on a family member at Citgo on Highway 70 east. The amount of the check was $100. The family member did not sign the check nor authorized anyone to sign it.

The next day, Thursday, March 8, Stanley allegedly passed a forged check in the amount of $75.00. The check was forged on a family member. Stanley cashed the check at Region's Bank in Smithville. The family member did not sign the check nor authorize anyone to sign it.

The case against Stanley was investigated by criminal detectives of the sheriff's department.

50 year old Janet Marie Lewis of Crestlawn Avenue, Smithville is charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a schedule IV drug for resale. Her bond totals $7,000 and she will be in court March 29. Sheriff Ray reports that on Monday, March 12 drug detectives went to Lewis' home to investigate possible drug traffic. After mirandizing her, detectives inquired about Lewis' prescription medication and received consent to search. Found in an end table drawer in the living room were an unlabeled pill bottle containing three diazepam pills (10 milligrams), an unlabeled bottle with eight diazepam pills (2 milligrams), an unlabeled bottle with five Klonopin (5 milligram tablets) and $109 cash scattered throughout the drawer. Lewis told detectives that she did not have a prescription for the diazepam. The money was seized as suspected profits from illegal drug sales.

29 year old Cassandra Nicole Estes Robinson of Foster Road is charged with public intoxication and she was issued citations for possession of a schedule IV (Klonopin) and VI (marijuana) controlled substance. Robinson is under a $1,000 bond and she will be in court on April 5. Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday March 14 during court, a deputy noticed Robinson, in the courtroom, trying to send a text message on her cell phone, dropping the phone, and nodding off. After watching her for several minutes, the officer asked Robinson to step outside so he could speak with her. While talking to Robinson, the deputy noticed that her speech was slow and she kept nodding off. She was very unsteady on her feet. Robinson consented to a search and the officer found on her four pill bottles, including one that did not belong to her, along with five small marijuana roaches. Robinson also had prescription medication, which had been filled with 90 pills on March 12. Forty two of those pills were missing. Due to Robinson's intoxication and for her safety, she was placed under arrest.

60 year old Michael James Dean of Burton Ridge Lane, Smithville is charged with disorderly conduct. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court April 5. According to Sheriff Ray a deputy responded to a call of an assault Wednesday, March 14 at Maggie's Landing on Highway 70. The officer spoke with Dean but found him to be very irate. Dean was urged several times to calm down and he was advised of his rights. Dean admitted to drinking alcohol and told the officer to take him onto jail.

23 year old Anthony Wayne Tramel of Oakley Road, Liberty was arrested on West Broad Street Thursday, March 15 for failure to appear and violation of probation. He was also issued a citation for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. He will be in court on March 29. Sheriff Ray said while making the arrest and conducting a search of his person, a drug detective found needles and a plastic baggie containing white powder, which field tested positive for methamphetamine.

47 year old Karen Louise Edwards of Oak Place Drive, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. Her bond is $3,000 and she will be in court March 19. Sheriff Ray reports that on Friday, March 16, a deputy responded to a one car accident on Bright Hill Road. Upon arrival the officer found a woman, Edwards, in the vehicle. Her speech was very slurred. Edwards submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. She was very unsteady on her feet, almost to the point of falling down. Edwards also submitted to a blood alcohol drug test. Edwards informed the officer that she had taken Soma and Hydrocodone fifteen minutes prior to getting behind the wheel to drive. She had a prior DUI on October 20, 2004.

Arcadia Publishing to Release "Images of America DeKalb County"

March 19, 2012
Images of America DeKalb County
Ria Baker and Judy Fuson

"Images of America DeKalb County", the newest book in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series will be published in April.

Orders for the book, compiled by Judy Fuson and Ria Baker, may be placed at www.arcadiapublishing.com. The cost is $21.99. The book will also be available on Amazon, at Books-a-million, along with F.Z. Webb & Sons Gifts.

Book Description:
DeKalb County has a vast and interesting history spanning from Confederate general John Hunt Morgan's raids on the North during the Civil War to the building of Center Hill Dam, which formed a beautiful lake that brings thousands of tourists to the county each year. The lake, encompassing 18,220 acres, displaced thousands of the earliest settlers' descendants along the Caney Fork River. The state legislature established DeKalb County from parts of surrounding counties in 1837. The county was named after Revolutionary War general Johann DeKalb, while the county seat of Smithville was named after state senator Samuel Granville Smith; neither man was from the county.

Author Bio: Authors Judy Fuson and Ria Baker are lifelong residents of DeKalb County, and many of their ancestors were early settlers of the county. Baker has been compiling historical photographs and information about her hometown of Alexandria for years, and she currently serves as the town's mayor. Fuson taught in the county school system for 30 years, was yearbook advisor for 14 years, and is now retired.

The Images of America series chronicles the history of small towns and downtowns across the country. Each title features more than 200 vintage images, capturing often forgotten bygone times and bringing to life the people, places, and events that defined a community.

Local authors transform dusty albums and artifacts into meaningful walks down memory lane. Millions of vintage images become tiny time capsules, re-establishing memories of the formerly familiar, introducing generations to what once was, and reminding us all of what has been (and can be) in every corner of our nation. The popular series has expanded over time to preserve and celebrate additional worthy topics including local landmarks, architecture, ethnic groups, and more.

Arcadia Publishing is the leading local history publisher in the United States, with a catalog of more than 7,500 titles in print and hundreds of new titles released every year.

Established in 1993, Arcadia has blended a visionary management approach with the innovative application of state-of-the-art technology to create high-quality historical publications in small local niches.

Arcadia Publishing has expanded its focus on preservation efforts and is now the country’s first major book publisher to achieve the use of 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper across its entire book publishing program.

Alexander and Corker Applaud President's Declaration of "Major Disaster" for Tennessee

March 19, 2012
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander
U.S. Senator Bob Corker

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have released statements on President Obama's issuance of a "major disaster" declaration for the state of Tennessee, which triggered the release of federal funds to help individuals recover from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding that occurred in Bradley, Claiborne, Cumberland, DeKalb, Hamilton, Jackson, McMinn, Monroe, Overton, and Polk counties from February 29 to March 2, 2012:

"I'm pleased that the president responded so quickly to the governor's request, and our support of that request, by issuing a major disaster declaration for these counties in Tennessee. This federal support won't make anyone whole, but it will help people and businesses get back on their feet," said Alexander

Senator Corker also applauded the disaster assistance "I thank Governor Haslam for seeking aid for those recovering from the severe storms, and I appreciate the administration's quick approval of the governor's request that was supported by our congressional delegation. As communities continue to repair and rebuild, I hope this assistance will help Tennesseans in need," Corker said.

On March 15, Senators Alexander and Corker and Representatives Duncan, DesJarlais, Black and Fleischmann sent the following letter to the president in support of Governor Haslam's request that the president declare a major disaster in Tennessee:

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the State of Tennessee, we respectfully request that you declare a major disaster pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act due to the severe storms, straight line winds, tornadoes and flooding that began on the morning of February 29th through March 2, 2012.

Governor Bill Haslam has submitted a request for Individual Assistance for Bradley, Claiborne, Cumberland, DeKalb, Hamilton, Jackson, McMinn, Monroe, Overton and Polk counties, as well as Hazard Mitigation Grant Program assistance statewide. We strongly urge you to approve Governor Haslam's request, and we hope you will consider our State's request as soon as possible.

The storms that swept through Tennessee beginning February 29, 2012 claimed three lives, damaged hundreds homes and left families across the state in need of immediate shelter. According to the preliminary damage assessments there is over $18 million in damages to homes, and several workers have also lost their jobs due to damage to businesses. Tennessee has suffered 5 declared disasters in the past 12 months, and several counties are still struggling to recover.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the beginning of this incident, and we are grateful for their efforts to respond to Tennessee's needs. Our offices can provide you with any additional information should you have any questions.

Survivors affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding Feb. 29 through March 2 should apply now for federal assistance.

Federal funding is available to affected individuals in Bradley, Claiborne, Cumberland, DeKalb, Hamilton, Jackson, McMinn, Monroe, Overton and Polk counties.

Individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency can help eligible applicants with temporary housing assistance, uninsured personal property losses and medical, dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other disaster-related expenses and serious needs. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration also will be available to cover residential and business losses not covered by insurance.

Storm survivors should register with FEMA, a process that takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Registration is available online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362). Help is available in many languages. Disaster applicants who use TTY should call 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) should call 800-621-3362.

The toll-free FEMA registration numbers are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.

Survivors also can apply for federal assistance directly through Web-enabled mobile phone devices or smartphones. Registration through the mobile site involves three steps:

Go to m.fema.gov and click "Apply Online for FEMA Assistance." You will be directed to www.DisasterAssistance.gov;
Click on Start Registration; and fill out the registration form.

FEMA will ask for the following information:
The telephone number where applicants can be reached;
The address where applicants lived at the time of the disaster and the address where they are staying;
Their Social Security number;
A general description of damage to property and other losses;
The name of the insurance company and policy number or agent if the property is insured; and
Bank account routing information (for direct deposit of funds) or address for mail delivery (optional).

People whose property suffered any storm damage are encouraged to document damage with photographs and to save repair receipts. Damage also should be reported to the insurance company.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for all of Tennessee.

Capitol Hill Week From Senator Mae Beavers

March 18, 2012
State Senator Mae Beavers

Two tax relief bills that aim to keep senior citizens in Tennessee during their retirement years have begun moving through the State Senate in a week that was filled with action on some of the most important bills of the 2012 legislative session. One bill continues an incremental approach in phasing out Tennessee’s Hall Income Tax for senior citizens, while the other would provide relief by raising the inheritance tax exemption level to $1.25 million with the objective of reaching a $5 million level in subsequent years.

Hall Tax Relief -- The Hall Tax is imposed on individuals and other entities receiving interest from bonds, notes and dividends from stock. Enacted in 1929, this tax collects approximately $190 million in revenue, with about one-third going to local governments. Last year, legislation was passed to provide Hall Tax relief to citizens age 65 and older by raising the standard income exemption from $16,200 to $26,200 for single filers and from $27,000 to $37,000 for joint filers.

Of the individuals who pay the tax, 48 percent are age 65 and older. Many of the seniors live on fixed incomes and rely on investment income as their “nest egg” for retirement.

Senate Bill 2535 further raises the exemption for citizens 65 years of age and older to $36,200 for single filers and $47,000 for those filing jointly beginning January 1, 2013.

The Senate Tax Subcommittee also approved Senate Bill 2535 that would require annual adjustment on July 1 each year, to the maximum allowable income exemption levels, for single and joint filers of the Hall Income Tax who are 65 years of age or older. The adjustment would apply to the percent change of the consumer price index as published by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Inheritance Tax Relief -- Similarly, Senate Bill 3762 takes a first step towards providing inheritance or estate tax relief, which is also called the death tax. Currently, the tax applies to estates worth more than $1 million. Tennessee has a higher inheritance tax when compared to its neighbors, which range from 5.5 percent to 9.5 percent.

Retirees have told lawmakers that the death tax is a key reason for them relocating outside Tennessee. There is also great concern that the inheritance tax places a heavy financial burden on family farms and family businesses. The bill is included in Governor Bill Haslam’s legislative package.

Reduction of Sales Tax on Food -- In addition, the Senate Tax Subcommittee recommended key legislation to reduce the state portion of the sales tax on grocery food from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent, with the goal of lowering it to 5.0 percent in three years. Senate Bill 3763 has been a goal of many Republicans in the General Assembly over the past several years. This year it was included in Governor Bill Haslam’s legislative package and is funded in the budget, which gives it a major boost towards passage. The first reduction in the sales tax on food was sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) who is also supporting passage of the measure to reduce the tax this year.

Legislation replaces Court of the Judiciary with new panel

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation to address concerns regarding the transparency and effectiveness of the Court of the Judiciary, the body charged with investigating and disciplining judges. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Mike Faulk (R-Church Hill), seeks to exercise the legislature’s constitutional duty to remove judges for misconduct and the Judiciary's obligation to police its own members.

The bill follows hearings initiated by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) to investigate the practices and procedures of the judicial oversight body. It also comes after recent reports in Knoxville and Nashville regarding judicial misconduct that exposed some deficiencies of the body and its effectiveness in exercising the legislature’s obligation to remove judges guilty of misconduct.

The Court of the Judiciary was created by the legislature to investigate and, when warranted, act on complaints against judges. Currently, six of the eleven-member board is appointed by the Supreme Court and three are selected by the Tennessee Bar Association. The Court has broad jurisdiction to internally investigate, hear and determine charges sufficient to warrant discipline or removal of a judge.

Senate Bill 2671 abolishes the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary and replaces it with a new body, the Judicial Board of Conduct. Under the bill, appointments would be made by the Tennessee Judicial Conference, the Speakers of the House and Senate, and the Governor. Furthermore, it provides for a less restrictive standard that must be met for a complaint to move forward, as well as more transparency in regards to its reporting to the legislature and to the public. The Board would have the authority to take action against state judges and could endorse punishment, including removal.

“This bill moves us in the right direction,” said Senator Beavers. “Simply sitting by and doing nothing would be a travesty to many Tennesseans who hope to have fair and impartial judicial proceedings.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate floor for final consideration.

Prescription drug abuse legislation approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

Legislation that would curb prescription drug abuse in Tennessee was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Mae Beavers this week. Tennessee ranks second in the nation in regard to the overutilization of prescription pain medications. The bill would require doctors or their designees to check the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Database for patients’ prescription history before prescribing an opioid or benzodiazepine substance.

Opioids are painkillers such as morphine, methadone, buprenorphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. Statistics from the Tennessee Drug Diversion Task Force show that 56 percent of patients who receive opioid prescriptions have filled another opioid prescription within the previous 30 days. Benzodiazepines are depressant drugs such as alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam and triazolam. Young adults ages 18 to 25 have the highest annual rates of prescription drug abuse.

Over the last ten years, more than 8,000 Tennesseans have lost their lives from drug overdoses. Last year, there were more deaths in Tennessee due to drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents, homicide or suicide.

Senate Bill 2733, which is included in Governor Bill Haslam’s legislative package, requires pharmacies to collect a patient’s prescription information and report that information to the database within seven days. Currently it must be reported within 40 days. The bill also enhances penalties for doctor shopping from a Class A misdemeanor offense to a Class E Felony when it involves 250 or more pills. The stiffer penalties allow law enforcement officials to go after dealers who distribute the drugs illegally.

Under the legislation, information from the database regarding patients’ prescription information can be released to law enforcement officials if they are engaged in an investigation or through a court order. With appropriate board approval, doctors’ and pharmacists’ prescribing / dispensing information could also be released to departmental investigators to help identify those medical professionals who are contributing to Tennessee’s prescription drug problem.

The bill now goes to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee for consideration.

Haslam Announces Disaster Aid For 10 Counties Including DeKalb

March 17, 2012
Bill Haslam

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced today the federal government will provide Individual Assistance in Bradley, Claiborne, Cumberland, DeKalb, Hamilton, Jackson, McMinn, Monroe, Overton and Polk Counties under a disaster declaration for the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding of Feb. 29 to March 2, 2012, with a federal designation of DR-4060.

“My goal is always to make sure we get the needed assistance to as many families as possible,” Haslam said of the disaster assistance he requested. “I’m very pleased the federal government has taken this step to provide needed relief to those individuals and families impacted by these storms.”


Individuals in Bradley, Claiborne, Cumberland, DeKalb, Hamilton, Jackson, McMinn, Monroe, Overton, and Polk Counties are now eligible for federal assistance, and residents who sustained losses in these counties can begin applying for assistance immediately through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

More information on FEMA's Individual Assistance program is available at www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm.

For more updates regarding the state’s response, visit the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s website at www.tnema.org.

A look at the Tennessee Legislature

March 17, 2012
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Greetings! Lottery scholarship requirements will not change as long as lottery proceeds of at least $10 million sustains through 2015. Today students can obtain a scholarship worth $4,000 for each four years as long as they make a 3.0 grade average in High School or score 21 on the ACT college entrance exam. The original bill, HB2649, called to reduce the scholarships by 50 percent for students who do not meet both requirements. In order for the bill to have moved forward into full committee, an amendment was made that would be contingent upon those lottery revenues to be no less than $10 million. As long as we have the money, we will continue to fund the scholarships. With record sales of $130 million in February, proceeds dropping below $10 million would not appear to take place anytime soon. The Hope Scholarship has helped many students achieve their goal of a quality education.

HB 2337 continues a program that has helped many foster children transition into adulthood. This legislation will provide much needed help to foster children as they grow out of the state system. Country music singer Jimmy Wayne, who was a foster child himself, was on hand to witness the passage of the bill and also did a fabulous job of singing our national anthem on the House Floor. The Administration, which favors this bill, included the cost in the state’s annual budget.

HB3283--a law needed after a local news investigation discovered that many sex offenders in Middle Tennessee had avoided the registry. It seems their offenses were dropped to lesser charges; just because they have been granted “diversion,” which basically means good behavior, they can have their records wiped clean. This law will further strengthen the state’s sexual offender laws.

Many emails are coming to me concerning HB3606. Please remember, bills are in the metamorphosis stage while in committees. Job-killing bills and/or tax-increasing bills, I will not support. That being said, I will continue to keep watch on this bill. Thanks for addressing it, and thanks for your emails.

I want to thank the many constituents who came to the capitol this past week. Leadership DeKalb brought a great group this year. I so enjoy the lunch together and the Q&A we conduct around the conference table in the Senate Room. Your engagement and input?...priceless! Tennessee Electric Cooperatives were here in full strength; the 40th district was represented well. What a pleasure it was to talk with you and to assure you of my full support on legislation respecting the principle that a landowner is entitled to free enjoyment of their land. Also, it was Rural Health Association week and many of the Critical Access Hospitals in my district were here, as well. Hospitals will be prohibited from increasing charges to their patients as a result of the Hospital Coverage Assessment which, by the way, prevents $870 million dollars in cuts from taking effect.

WOW! A big week and more to come as we see the pace pick up tremendously. I want to remind you to keep the emails coming concerning support for the elimination of the Death and Gift Tax. Folks, this tax needs to die. Your emails to the Administration are paramount! Always a pleasure to work with and to serve the Folks of the Fortieth! Blessings!

Cecil Burger's Long Career with the City of Smithville Coming to an End

March 16, 2012
Dwayne Page
Cecil Burger

After forty five years of service to the City of Smithville, including sixteen years as mayor and six years as alderman, Cecil Burger has decided to call it quits once his term expires June 30.

Mainly because of his health, Burger will not be seeking re-election as aldermen this summer. "I've got a little health problem and I've decided that I might not be able to do the job I should", said Burger.

In twenty two years, Burger never lost an election, having first been elected mayor in 1990. He served eight terms, sixteen years in that office until 2006 when he chose instead to run for alderman. Burger will be completing his third term as alderman this year.

He began his career with the city in 1966 as secretary-treasurer, which also meant overseeing the city's public works operation and city employees. He served as city judge for the first couple of years as well. Burger retired from the secretary-treasurer position in 1989 but came out of retirement fifteen months later after being elected mayor in 1990.

During his time with the city as an employee, Burger served under dozens of aldermen and nine mayors starting with Othel Smith, John Bill Evins, Charles Gentry, Edward Frazier, Gary Gus Johnson, Hilton Conger, Waniford Cantrell, Dewey Love, and Bruce Medley.

In an interview with WJLE, Burger said he appreciates all the support he has received during his career with the city. "The people have been good to me and I appreciate it very much. They supported me well and I'd still help them if I could," said Burger.

"We (city) grew a right smart while I was mayor and we tried to serve the whole city. I don't know of anything special (we did) only trying to do our work with everybody. I had a lot of good help. I appreciate my friends who have helped me out all these years. They helped me when I was mayor and still do. I have plenty of friends. I've tried to treat them like I wanted to be treated," said Burger.


Follow Us


News Feed

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166
Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net
WJLE AM FCC Public File
WJLE FM FCC Public File

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree