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McMinnville Man Arrested in Undercover Drug Operation

June 30, 2009
Dwayne Page
Joseph Edward Mantz Jr

A 50 year old McMinnville man was arrested Monday in an undercover drug investigation by the Smithville Police Department.

Chief Richard Jennings says Joseph Edward Mantz, Jr. is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance (morphine). Mantz is to make his first court appearance on the charge Thursday, July 2nd.

According to Chief Jennings, the Smithville Police Department recruited an undercover agent to make a buy of morphine from Mantz, after receiving information that he was allegedly selling drugs in this area.

Mantz was arrested in the old Pamida parking lot by Chief Jennings, Investigator Jerry Hutchins, Jr. and Smithville Police Officers Nathan Estes and Bradley Tatrow.

Police also seized Mantz' 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle along with some cash.

Chief Jennings says more cases stemming from this investigation will be presented to the August term of the Grand Jury and more details of the operation will be disclosed pending any grand jury indictments.

Department of Safety Begins Issuing Driver License with Easier to Read Date of Birth

June 30, 2009
Dwayne Page
New Drivers License

On July 1, the Tennessee Department of Safety (TDOS) will begin issuing driver licenses with the date of birth in larger red type designed to make it easier for retailers to read.

“We are pleased to announce that the type size of the date of birth on the Tennessee driver license has been enlarged to comply with the ‘Gus Kampas Act’, which was adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Bredesen in 2008,” stated Department of Safety Deputy Commissioner Greta Dajani.

Public Chapter 638 of the Public Acts of 2008 required that the size of the type for the date of birth on the Tennessee driver license be the same size as the driver license number. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Tim Burchett and Sen. Doug Overby of Knoxville, Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton, Rep. Dale Ford of Jonesborough, and Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland. Prior to the new law, the driver license number was already a larger font size than most other personal information on the plastic laminated card. Senate Bill 3116 of 2008 also requires that the date of birth be in red.

The Gus Kampas Act is named after the owner of Kampas Liquors on Alcoa Highway in Knoxville. The purpose of the legislation was to make it easier for retailers to see the date of birth on the Tennessee Driver License to quickly determine eligibility for the purchase of merchandise based on age requirements.

The provisions of the amendment to TCA 55-50-331(b) applies only to the issuance of new or renewed driver licenses. Public Chapter 638 does not require driver license holders to obtain a new driver license unless the person is applying for a new license, a replacement driver license or renewing an existing Tennessee driver license.

Four Arrested on Traffic Offenses- Sheriff Offers 4th of July Safety Tips

June 29, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested four people since last Wednesday on traffic offenses, including two for DUI.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 35 year old Thomas Chadwick Reed of Crown Hill Drive, Murfreesboro was charged Wednesday, June 24th with a second offense of driving under the influence after deputies found him in his vehicle and in an intoxicated state at the Cove Hollow Marina. Reed admitted to driving and consuming beer and mixed drinks. Deputies also noticed an odor of alcohol on Reed's person and he was unsteady of his feet. Reed submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Two whiskey bottles were found in Reed's vehicle, one contained a very small amount and the other one was empty. There was one mixed drink in the car. Reed's bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in court on July 23rd.

42 year old William Hardie Morris of Old Snow Hill Road, was arrested on Friday, June 26th for a first offense of driving under the influence and a third offense of driving on a revoked driver's license. Morris was involved in an accident on Holmes Creek Road and when deputies arrived they found him in an intoxicated state. Morris was unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and he also had an odor of alcohol on his person. Morris' license were found to have been revoked on November 9th, 2002 in DeKalb County and December 14th, 2000 in Putnam County. Bond for Morris was set at $4,500 and he will appear in court on July 23rd.

Also on Friday, a deputy, while on patrol on Short Mountain Highway, spotted 20 year old Timothy (also known as Tyler) William Patrick driving a motor vehicle. The officer had prior knowledge of Patrick's license being revoked. Patrick was arrested for driving on a revoked license and his bond was set at $1,500. He will appear in court on July 30th..

Meanwhile on Sunday, June 28th, a deputy, while on patrol in the Long Branch area of the county, stopped 22 year old Brittany A. Loftis of Hanging Limb Road, Monterey for a traffic offense. Upon checking Loftis' name for a driver's license, it was found that she had none. Deputies arrested Loftis and charged her with driving without a license. Bond for Loftis was set at $1,000 and she will appear in court on July 30th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July.

Here are some safety tips from Sheriff Patrick Ray.

Fourth of July Safety Tips

Water safety at the pool and lake:
" If possible, swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present, and swim with others. Never swim alone.
" Enter the water feet first. Enter the water headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
" Adults should never leave a child unobserved around water. Practice "reach supervision" by staying within an arm's length of young children and weak swimmers while they are in and around the pool, lake or ocean.
" Take frequent breaks (about once an hour) where everyone gets out of the water, drinks water, reapplies sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and rests.
" If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
" Watch out for the "dangerous too's" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
" Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
" If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

Fireworks safety:
There are nearly 9,000 emergency room-treated injuries associated with fireworks a year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission. You can enjoy these Fourth of July staples safely by doing the following:
" Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
" Keep a supply of water close-by as a precaution.
" Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
" Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
" Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
" Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

Safe Grilling:
Nothing says summer quite like the smell of barbecue. Make sure safety is a key ingredient in your Fourth of July by reading the following tips for safer grilling:
" Use gas and charcoal barbecue grills outside only.
" Position grills far from siding, deck railings, overhanging branches and house eaves.
" Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
" Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
" Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using grills.
" Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use

Sunday Fires Leave Two Families Homeless

June 29, 2009
Dwayne Page
County Firefighters Battle Fire Sunday at Mobile Home of John Whitworth (Photo by Callie Matthews)

Fires on Sunday left two DeKalb County families homeless.

The first one occurred at a mobile home at 303 Man Hill Road, Dowelltown.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says the residents, Treva Hartman and Larry Lattimore, both escaped safely, but they lost all their belongings.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 5:00 a.m. but the structure was apparently too far gone by that time they got there, and it could not be saved.

Members of the Liberty, Cookeville Highway, and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded, along with the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS.

The local Red Cross Chapter was called to provide emergency assistance including food, clothing, and shelter for the family.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Firefighters were called out again on Sunday at 3:20 p.m. to a mobile home at 991 Stoner Road in the Seven Springs Community. John and Cynthia Whitworth were renting the home from the owner, Bobby Stoner.

Chief Green says no one was at home at the time of the fire. The Whitworths had been gone overnight and discovered the fire when they returned Sunday around 3:00 p.m. They saw smoke coming from the house upon their arrival, and found, after trying to open the front door, that they could not enter the house because of the intense heat and smoke.

Members of the Keltonburg, Belk, Blue Springs, and Short Mountain Highway Fire Stations responded along with mutual aid assistance from the North Warren Fire Department, who helped supply water with a tanker truck. The Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also there.

Chief Green says firefighters were able to save about a third of the house and much of the contents and family belongings were either damaged or destroyed.

An electrical storm Friday night also kept firefighters busy, answering calls at residences on Carter Lane off Oakley Hollow Road, Liberty and at Lakeview Road off Cookeville Highway, Smithville where lightning strikes caused damage to home appliances, but sparked no fires.

Chief Green says lightning also struck a three story cedar lake home belonging to Billie Hayes at 320 Summer Court in the Four Seasons Resort area, but the damage wasn't discovered until Saturday afternoon when Ms. Hayes arrived at the residence. Firefighters were called around 12:43 p.m.

According to Chief Green, the lightning damaged a portion of the house that covers the deck, splintering wood, knocking off singles, and causing a support beam to catch fire, which firefighters found smoldering then they arrived.

Firefighters had to use their brush truck, because access was limited due to the steep, narrow road leading to the house. However, members of the Midway, Short Mountain Highway, and Cookeville Highway stations, along with a tanker truck were nearby to provide water and support.

No one was injured and the small fire was brought under control with minimal damage.

Dowelltown Man Injured in Motorcycle Wreck

June 28, 2009
Dwayne Page

A 50 year old Dowelltown man was injured in a motorcycle accident Saturday near Alexandria.

Trooper Jimmy Tisdale of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says James T. Mitchell was operating a Suzuki 1500 motorcycle west on Lower Helton Road, near the Alexandria City Limits, when he ran off the road into a ditch while trying to negotiate a curve.

Mitchell was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Mitchell is to be charged with a third offense of driving under the influence and a second offense of driving on a revoked license.

Seven Persons Named in Latest Arrest Report by Smithville Police

June 28, 2009
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings has released the department's latest arrest report.

19 year old Jim Henry Mullins of Hayes Street and 24 year old Joshua R. Cripps of Steeplechase Drive, Smithville are each charged with assault. Their bond is $1,500 each and they will be in court July 16th.

Smithville Police Officer Randy King was dispatched to a fight call around midnight on Tuesday, June 23rd. He arrived at the intersection of Gentry Avenue and Morgan Drive and observed two males (Mullins and Cripps) engaged in a fist fight. Officer King saw Cripps knocked to the ground by Mullins. Cripps then got up and struck Mullins in the mouth. Both men were arrested.

25 year old Gerardo Barboza Arellano of Banks Pisgah Road, Smithville and 23 year old Marco Antonio Cerrillo Ramires of Cooper Avenue, Smithville are each charged with theft of property over $500 and their court date is set for July 16th. Bond for each is $5,000.

Smithville Police Officer Nathan Estes was dispatched to 608 Cill Street, Smithville on a break-in that was reported to be in progress at that location around 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 24th. Upon arrival, Officer Estes saw the residents and the two suspects there. During the investigation, the residents (the Robinson's) told Officer Estes they were in the process of moving from the Cill Street home and when they returned to pick up more of their belongings, they saw the two suspects, whom they did not know, packing up their property. The suspects told Officer Estes that their boss, the owner of the residence, had sent them to the home to pack up the Robinson's things. The owner of the home was contacted and told Officer Estes that he did send the suspects to pack up the Robinson's belongings but he did not authorize them to take anything. The Robinson's said they were missing some items, including a very sentimental watch. Officer Estes located the missing property in the suspect's vehicle.

18 year old Trey Daniel Hamilton of Athens, Tennessee was issued a citation for theft under $500. He will be in court July 16th

Smithville Police Officer Nathan Estes was sent to the Dollar General Store at 513 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville around 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24th. Upon arrival, he talked to a store employee who told him about two suspected shoplifters in the store. Officer Estes approached the two suspects. During his investigation, Officer Estes found store merchandise hidden in the pants leg of one of the suspects (Hamilton).

31 year old Lola M. Jackson of Sparta and 31 year old Chrystal Lee Harrison, also known as Crystal Moffitt or Crystal Graham of Hayes Street, Smithville are both charged with disorderly conduct. Bond for each was set at $1,500 and they will be in court on July 23rd.

Smithville Police Officers Matt Farmer and Matt Holmes were dispatched to the Mapco Express parking lot at 128 East Broad Street, Smithville on a fight in progress call on Thursday, June 25th at 4:28 a.m. Upon arrival, the officers talked to the two female suspects (Jackson and Harrison). During the investigation, the officers learned that the two suspects had a verbal altercation earlier in the parking lot by the old Smithville Food Store on Congress Boulevard. Later, when the two suspects met in the Mapco parking lot, a physical altercation occurred between the two. A witness stated that when Harrison got out of her vehicle, she had a metal pipe in her hand. The pipe was recovered by the officers.

Meanwhile, Chief Jennings has released the following offenses that have recently been reported in the city.

Rickey Stanley's residence on Foster Road was burglarized at some time on June 13th. A Sony Play Station, valued at $400 was taken.

A John Deer riding lawnmower LX 176 was taken from the residence of Jim Judkins on Webb Street on or after June 11th. The mower is valued at $700.

Barbara Potter of McMinnville was having her hair done at the A-1 Salon in Smithville on June 17th. She placed her glasses on the counter. After Ms. Potter had her hair done, she could not locate her glasses. The glasses had a metal bronze frame and transition precription bifocal lenses. The value is $450.

Cassondria Martin was at the Smithville Municipal Swimming Pool on June 24th. She had her LG cell phone VX9400 in her purse. Someone took the cell phone some time after 2:00 p.m. at the pool. The cell phone is valued at $400.

Anyone with information about any of these offenses or others is urged to contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210. Any information received will be kept confidential.

Knoxville Mayor and GOP Governor Candidate Bill Haslam Visits Smithville

June 25, 2009
Dwayne Page
DeKalb GOP Chairman Jennifer Winfree with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam made a campaign stop in Smithville Wednesday.

The Knoxville Mayor, who was first elected to that office in 2003 and re-elected in 2007, says he now wants to be the Governor of Tennesseee.

Haslam stopped by WJLE to share his views on various issues. "I would consider myself a conservative. I think in terms of believing in limited government, believing that government has to live within its means and understanding that while government has a big role to play that government is not necessarily the answer to all of our problems, I would say that I'm a conservative. Now I do believe that government can be an effective servant tool of the people and that's our job, to make sure we deliver the best service for the lowest price."

"The state right now has a $1.2 billion shortfall in the budget that ends June 30th. We're going to fix that shortfall by using our savings account, our rainy day fund and by using some of the federal stimulus money. The problem for the next governor is that money is not going to be there so you're really going to have to solve that shortfall. I think it's important that our next governor be somebody who is used to dealing with tough financial situations. Having been in business for twenty five years, having been a mayor where I've led the city in a way that our credit rating is the highest that it's been in the history of the city, our debt is 25% lower than it was when I came in, and our savings account is up three times higher than when I came in, I understand how to manage in tough financial situations."

"There's really two other primary concerns that people talk about a lot. The first is jobs. Unemployment in the state is above 10% now and in some of our rural counties its at 20% or more so this is a serious issue. Families are struggling. We need a governor who knows how to recruit businesses to Tennessee to create jobs and for the state's own economic condition. Again, since I've been mayor of Knoxville, for the last three years we've been ranked one of the top ten cities by the people who do those rankings like Forbes magazine and Expansion magazine, as a place to recruit and retain businesses, and as a place to do business, so I understand how to do that."

"The other issue that comes up big for folks everywhere is K-12 education. We rank 42nd out of the fifty states and if we're going to be the state that we want to be long term, we can't continue to follow the pack in education."

"I do not want to see us have an income tax. I actually think not having an income tax is a competitive advantage for us as a state. When we're out recruiting businesses and recruiting people to move to Tennessee, not having an income tax is one of our biggest selling points. It helps to have a full quiver of arrows when you're out there selling and not having an income tax is a big advantage. And if you look at the states around us that have income taxes, they are in as bad or worse shape than we are financially, so I do not think a state income tax is the answer."

"I don't think we can remove the sales tax either, just because competitive wise we have so many areas that border other states where you are at a competitive disadvantage. So I think the answer is to get a handle on spending. We have to live within our means. That's what we're asking families all across the state to do is to live within their means. Well, the state needs to do the same thing."

"TennCare is a big chunk of our budget. It's actually 25% of our budget and at one point in time it was creeping up to 31 or 32% of the budget so we really can't allow it to grow to become a bigger part of the budget. We're going to have to keep doing the things that we can to keep our rolls from expanding and making certain we don't have people that are enrolled in TennCare who shouldn't and making certain that we're buying medical coverage as efficiently and effectively as we can. But that's going to be an on-going struggle. We have to face that fact that TennCare is a big chunk of our budget and due to the cost of medical care, we're always going to be fighting with keeping TennCare where it's a service to those folks who need it but doesn't eat up too much of our budget."

Haslam is running for the Republican nomination for Governor in the August 2010 state primary. Winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries will square off in the 2010 November State General Election.

DeKalb May Jobless Rate at 10.8%

June 25, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for May was 10.8%, up slightly from the revised rate for April of 10.6% and significantly higher than the 5.6% rate recorded in May, 2008

The local labor force for May was 9,850. A total of 8,790 were employed and 1,060 were unemployed.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was at 10.7 percent, 0.8 percentage point higher than the April rate of 9.9 percent. The United States' unemployment rate for the month of May was 9.4 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for May show that the rate increased in 88 counties, decreased in 6 counties and remained the same in one county.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.5 percent, up from 6.3 in April. Perry County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 24.6 percent, up from 24.0 in April, followed by Lauderdale County at 19.2 percent, up from 18.2 percent in April. These figures do not reflect the impact of job-creation efforts in Perry County that were announced in May.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 8.0 percent, up 0.6 percentage point from the April rate. Davidson County was 8.6 percent, up 0.6. Hamilton County was 8.8 percent, up 0.6 percentage point, and Shelby County was 9.6 percent, up 0.7 percentage point.

Smithville Water Plant Back in Operation

June 25, 2009
Dwayne Page
Smithville Water Treatment Plant-

The Smithville Water Treatment Plant is back in operation again.

Hunter Hendrixson, Secretary-Treasurer for the City of Smithville says the electrical problem was resolved this afternoon with a temporary fix. "At 3:15 p.m. today we were able to restore power down here at the water plant. Our high service pumps that fill our water storage tanks are now in operation and are currently working."

"M& D electric found another "used" breaker board in Sparta and we were able to put that into our existing electrical panel. Caney Fork Electric Cooperative came down and restored the power and the pumps are now up and running. We also have a new breaker box ordered which should be here, hopefully by tomorrow (Friday), and then we'll have a brand new one in there."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson, in a brief statement, said he wants to assure the public that the problem at the water plant did not result in a crisis and that "no one even came close to running out of water. We just wanted to keep the public informed about the situation and everything is now back up and running."

Early this morning, an employee at the water plant discovered that the electrical problem prevented the pumps from operating and with no water being produced, subscribers including city and DeKalb Utility District customers were being asked to conserve.

Just before noon, Hunter Hendrixson, gave the local media an update on what happened and efforts to correct it. "The main breaker on the electrical panel that runs the pumps that sends the water out to the water tanks in the city is burned up. We've got J & S Construction Company and M & D Electric, they're in Sparta looking for a temporary "used" one we can use for right now. If not, the nearest one is in Columbus, Ohio, which we will have shipped overnight. What we may have to do is bypass that breaker to get the pumps up and going to pump water into the city."

"As of right now, the tank near the high school was right under half full and the airport tank was at half full, so it's not bad, but by the end of the day it's going to be getting to where we need to pump more water back into the system for tomorrow's use. Usage usually drops off pretty good toward five, six, and seven p.m. so if we can get through this main part of the day, I think we'll be alright."

Water Plant Supervisor Kenny Dyal, in his statement at 6:00 a.m. this morning, explained when the problem was discovered. "My employee came in this morning to start up the plant at 2:00 a.m. and discovered bad electrical problems down there. We can't pump any water."

Dyal says the issue is not with the pumps, but in the power source. "We can't get enough electricity to them (pumps) to run them. Everything down there runs on three phase, and it's single phasing."

The water plant does not have back up generators, but Dyal says in this case, that would not have solved this problem. "It wouldn't make any difference because more than likely it (problem) is inside a transformer that is inside our electrical boxes and even with a generator, you still couldn't get power to the pumps or to the motors because it's got to go through the inside controls."

Meanwhile, Alderman Tonya Sullivan, responding to today's announcement about the water plant problems, says she is not surprised. "I would like to say I'm in disbelief that the water treatment plant shut down is a surprise, but it was not a surprise. When I toured the plant and made the discoveries of inefficiencies, I brought all the findings to the forefront, but getting anything done has been like pulling teeth. I've been told that things were fine, that I'm over reacting, and that all I want to do is spend money, and that we will for sure have water no matter what. Mr. (Aaron) Meeks added in his (political) advertisements that maybe I'm pushing for a Cadillac when a Chevrolet would do."

"I think the citizens deserve clean water. They deserve water. This is not a third world country. We have citizens that depend on water. We have businesses and factories that must have water to operate. Jobs are on the line and with this tough economy, we can't afford to lose any jobs or any factories. There can be no growth in Smithville or DeKalb County until the infrastructure of this city is brought up to date."

"Employees at the water treatment plant are still not certified. We're operating with only a few people when we are understaffed. It is time to take drastic action with proper staffing and proper renovations. Some of the problems will be addressed but whatever is done today to rectify the immediate problem, I feel is only a band aid effect to the massive problems at the Smithville Water Treatment Plant."

"For two years I've been talking about trying to take action at the water treatment plant and for two years I have continuously addressed these problems. I've had evidence every step of the way, presented photos to the mayor, and all of the aldermen of the serious problems that didn't just start, but have been a long standing problem. The board that will take over July 1st is responsible for the outrageous shape of the water treatment plant, because they have refused to spend money to make needed repairs and maintain equipment as we have needed throughout the years."

"I will leave my position effective July 1st at the people's request, but I'm asking for the people to be involved and outraged at the condition of our water treatment plant. I'm asking that you be vocal and demand the city leaders to follow through with the water treatment plant renovations and not just have a band aid effect on these problems, because there are more problems to come if the money is not spent on these renovations."

Parker Named Manager of Smithville Electric System

June 24, 2009
Dwayne Page
SES Board Chairman John Nixon Welcomes New Manager Michael Parker

Smithville Electric System has a new manager.

Michael E. Parker of Aberdeen, Mississippi was recently hired by the SES board of directors to succeed Jim Wall, who has served as manager since 2002. Wall is stepping down primarily due to health concerns.

Parker was among twenty five applicants for the job and John Nixon, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Smithville Electric System says he was the best. "We put out applications through the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association (TVPPA) and received twenty five applications and I would say that most of them were good strong applications. We got one (application) from Mr. Mike Parker who was manager of a municipal system in Mississippi. I talked to him personally and the board talked to him personally and although we received a lot of applications, we thought Mike was the best one (applicant). So we hired him and he went to work on June 15th. We have not been disappointed at all."

Smithville Electric System has been in existence since 1969 and Nixon says Parker is only the fourth person to hold the position of manager of the utility in that forty year period." The first manager was Ed Williams who only stayed a short while until he got a promotion. We then hired Mark Ashburn who stayed here until he retired in 2002. At that time we hired Jim Wall. Mr Wall's health has deteriorated some so he thought it would be best for him to do something else, or retire basically."

Parker, who is originally from Alabama, comes to Smithville after serving as General Manager for an electric utility in Okolona, Mississippi. "I was born in Arab, Alabama and we migrated to Mississippi when I was young. I spent most of my life growing up around the Columbus Air Force base in Mississippi. I've spent most of my working career in the utility business, going on thirty four years now. It's something I got into I can't seem to shake. It seems to be a fit. I've worked in a district office for a four county electric cooperative for twenty seven years and was employed for a municipal system, Okolona Electric for almost seven years. I've been very blessed and very fortunate to have this opportunity in Smithville and hope that I can carry forward what's been in place and has worked for a number of years and to address the challenges that we'll face. I hope we'll prosper and continue to grow at the same rate we have and I sincerely appreciate the confidence that this board has placed in me."

During his years for the City of Okolona, Parker managed twenty seven employees operating in Monroe, Lee, Chickasaw, and Clay Counties serving 5,300 electric consumers and 1,600 water, sewer, and sanitation consumers and oversaw a 2009 annual revenue budget of more than nine million dollars for the electric department.

Parker, who has never been to Smithville before, says he heard about the job opening here from a vendor. "I had someone who is a vendor out of Huntsville, Alabama tell me about this opportunity and suggested that it was probably something I would like, that it was a great community to live in, and that I should check it out."

Parker and his wife Debra have one daughter who is a student at Brenau University at Gainesville, Georgia. She also has a degree in Biology from Ole Miss. The Parkers will be making their home in the Green Meadows subdivision in Smithville.

Smithville Electric System is governed by a five member board of directors, who are appointed by the Mayor. Both John Nixon and Dr. W.E. Vanatta have been members of the board since the utility was established in 1969. Other current members of the board are Tony Hagan and Smithville Alderman Cecil Burger. John Bill Evins was also on the board for many years but he recently passed away. That seat currently remains vacant.

Following a luncheon and prior to the regular board meeting Wednesday, Chairman Nixon and all other members of the board thanked Mr. Wall for his years of dedicated service to Smithville Electric System and the employees of the utility were also on hand to present him a gift.


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