Local News Articles

Sierra Hull Returns to Fiddlers Jamboree to Perform and to Receive the Blue Blaze Award

July 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page and Shan Burklow
Sierra Hull Receives Jamboree Blue Blaze Award from Shan Burklow
Sierra Hull Delights Jamboree Audience with Saturday Performance

Sierra Hull, who competed on the Fiddlers Jamboree stage as a child, is now a young adult with a professional career as a singer, songwriter, and musician. But she took time out of her busy schedule to return to the Jamboree stage Saturday afternoon where she performed and was presented the Jamboree's Blue Blaze Award, which is given to a musician who is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music. The award was presented by Shan Burklow of the Jamboree Marketing Committee.

Following her performance at the Fiddler's Jamboree, Hull appeared on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night.

Hull's journey began on the stage of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree at the young age of 9 years old. By age 11, Alison Krauss had called with an invitation to the Opry stage; by 12, Rounder Records was expressing interest (she signed a record deal with Rounder at 13, with her first album released at 16.) She’s also played the White House, Carnegie Hall (twice), the Kennedy Center, traveled around the world sharing her music, and released three albums. Then there’s the fact that Berklee gave her the school’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship, a first for a bluegrass musician.

“We are honored that Sierra’s humble beginnings started right here on the Jamboree stage and have enjoyed watching her career explode at such a young age," said Burklow. "She is a remarkable talent and extraordinary person. The core mission of the Blue Blaze Award is to acknowledge a musician that has kept the embers of bluegrass music glowing for future generations to come. We believe that Sierra embodies the heart of this mission.”

“At 9 years old, I stepped on to the stage at the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree for the first time to play “Jerusalem Ridge”, said Hull, “It was my first contest, and I had only been playing about a year at the time. I didn’t place in the contest, but felt really inspired by all the other kids and musicians I met that day. I immediately looked forward to going back the next year. My dad certainly reminded me that I’d have to work hard if I wanted to place next time. The next year, I went back and won 1st on guitar, which was really exciting, but only 2nd on mandolin. I’ve always thought of myself as a mandolin player first, so I really wanted to win the mandolin contest at least once. It was such a good thing for me as a young kid to enter a contest and lose! It really gave me a boost to work hard for another year. I went back the next year and won both mandolin and guitar! I was so excited. It was also great local exposure with the contest being broadcast on WCTE. After winning - later that year, Gibson gave me my first mandolin endorsement - mostly because Danny Roberts had seen me play at the Jamboree. I couldn’t believe it! I am so honored to be chosen for the Blue Blaze Award this year. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Smithville as a place where some of my fondest memories as a young musician were made," said Hull.

Nashville Boy Wins Jamboree Fiddling Title for Beginners

July 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Giri Peters of Nashville was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler for Beginners Saturday at the Fiddler's Jamboree and won the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award
Giri Peters Receives James G. Bobo Driver Award from members of the Driver Family including great grandsons Logan Beauchamp, Brandon Turrentine, Ashton Campbell and sons Jim and Mickey Driver
Buck Dancing: First Place- Isabella McCoy of Brush Creek
Clogging: First Place- Kaelin Wade of Paris, Tennessee
Dobro Guitar: First Place- Giri Peters of Nashville
Mandolin: First Place-Giri Peters of Nashville
Five String Banjo: First Place- Uma Peters of Nashville
Flat Top Guitar: First Place- Giri Peters of Nashville

A Nashville boy won the top Jamboree award Saturday as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners.

Giri Peters was crowned the Grand Champion fiddler and won the coveted James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Award, named for the man who started the children's competition during the 1980's as part of the annual Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival. Members of the Driver family made the award presentation including Driver's sons Jim and Mickey Driver and great grandsons Logan Beauchamp, Brandon Turrentine, and Ashton Campbell.

In addition to winning the top fiddler prize, Peters also captured first place in the Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, and Flat Top Guitar competition.

Peters also received the "Entertainer of the Year" Award, which is presented to the best overall instrumental entertainer among winners in the dobro guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, and flat top guitar competition.

The National Championship for Country Musician Beginners showcases the talents of children up to age twelve in seven categories of competition.

This year's winners are as follows:

Fiddle: First Place- Giri Peters of Nashville; Second Place- Uma Peters of Nashville; and Third Place- Kate Ward of Kuttawa, Kentucky

Buck Dancing: First Place- Isabella McCoy of Brush Creek; Second Place- Kaelin Wade of Paris, Tennessee; and Third Place- Gracie Parrish of Pleasant View

Clogging: First Place- Kaelin Wade of Paris, Tennessee; Second Place- Isabella McCoy of Brush Creek; and Third Place- Lexi Huntley of Loretto.

Dobro Guitar: First Place- Giri Peters of Nashville; Second Place- Maddie McKenney of Cullman, Alabama.

Mandolin: First Place-Giri Peters of Nashville; Second Place-Isabella McCoy of Brush Creek; and Third Place- Evan Morse of Smithville.

Five String Banjo: First Place- Uma Peters of Nashville; Second Place- Lexi Huntley of Loretto; and Third Place- Noah Aikens of Cookeville

Flat Top Guitar: First Place- Giri Peters of Nashville; Second Place- Noah Aikens of Cookeville; and Third Place- Robert Wheeler of Smithville.

The remainder of the day's on-stage events are as follows:

Preliminaries in the following categories:

*Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39)
*Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over)
*Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over)
*Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over)
*Bluegrass Banjo
*Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39)
*Flat Top Guitar
*Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award
*Bluegrass Band*
*Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over)
*Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back tonight to compete for first, second, and third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival.

WJLE is broadcasting the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

In addition to music and dancing competitions onstage, the Fiddlers Jamboree also features dozens of crafts displayed along the downtown streets, plenty of delicious foods for sale at local food booths, and lots of shade tree picking under tents around the town square.

Aikens Wins Fiddler 5K

July 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
The 5K male winner was Caleb Aikens of Cookeville, TN with a time of 17:34.6 (PHOTO BY BILL LUTON)
The female winner was Kristen VanVranken of Silver Point, TN with a time of 19:12.8. She broke her own course record set in 2013. (Photo by Bill Luton)
The Fun Run male winner was Connor Close from Smithville, TN with a time of 06:59.4. The female was Ella VanVranken of Silver Point, TN with a time of 7:45.1 (Photo by Bill Luton)

Caleb Aikens of Cookeville was the overall winner of the 17th annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run this morning (Saturday).

Aikens ran the course in 17 minutes and 34 seconds.

Kristen VanVranken of Silver Point set a new women's course record at 19:12, breaking her previous course record from 2013.

TOP MALE MASTERS (Age 40 and older): Scott Fanning of Lebanon at 17:50

TOP FEMALE MASTERS (Age 40 and older): Allison Brooks of Smithville at 24:34

One-Mile Fun Run (age 12 and younger) winner:
TOP MALE: Conner Close of Smithville at 6:59
TOP FEMALE: Ella Van Vranken of Silver Point at 7:45

The 17th Annual Fiddler 5K and One-Mile Fun Run featured 300 participants.

Funds raised will support Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County

Complete results are available at www.fiddler5k.com or http://tnracetiming.com/results/icalrepeat.detail/2015/07/04/82/-/fiddle...

Community Chorus Entertains Jamboree Crowd (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

July 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Community Chorus made a return appearance during the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Friday evening

With the theme "What the World Needs Now is Love", the chorus performed a variety of patriotic songs with a special tribute to veterans, particularly disabled veterans. Again this year, adults and children alike sang in the chorus with some clogging as well. AmVets members helped distribute one thousand donated flags among the audience.

(PLAY VIDEO BELOW)

Jamboree Craft Awards Presented

July 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Larry and Deb Drake of Nashville received the "Best of Show" award for their display of handmade Sterling Silver Gemstone Jewelry. Pictured with Emma Adkins (left) and Macie Bouldin
Fawn Gabel of Gatlinburg was presented the "Best Appalachian Craft" award for her display of handmade Appalachian String Instruments. Pictured with Emma Adkins and Olivia Norton
Best Newcomer" Award went to Thomas Nunnery of Jena, Louisiana for his hand sculpted bird feeders and wine bottles. Pictured with Emma Adkins and Olivia Norton
Scott Cantrell of Livingston received the "Best Display" award for his chainsaw art.

The annual Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards were presented Friday.

Larry and Deb Drake of Nashville received the "Best of Show" award for their display of handmade Sterling Silver Gemstone Jewelry.

Meanwhile, Fawn Gabel of Gatlinburg was presented the "Best Appalachian Craft" award for her display of Appalachian String Instruments handmade by Danny Williams of Winston Salem, North Carolina.

The "Best Newcomer" Award went to Thomas Nunnery of Jena, Louisiana for his hand sculpted bird feeders and wine bottles.

Scott Cantrell of Livingston received the "Best Display" award for his chainsaw art.

The awards were presented by Emma Adkins, the Fiddler's Jamboree Director of Crafts along with Olivia Norton and Macie Bouldin.

Come see all the crafts along the streets in the downtown area today.

The Fiddler's Jamboree resumes at 9:00 a.m. with preliminaries in the following music and dance categories:

*Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39)
*Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over)
*Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over)
*Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over)
*Bluegrass Banjo
*Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39)
*Flat Top Guitar
*Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award
*Bluegrass Band*
*Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over)
*Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back tonight to compete for first, second, and third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival.

The Jamboree Blue Blaze Award will be presented at 3:00 p.m. to recognize a musician that is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music. Sierra Hull is this year's recipient. Her journey began on the stage of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree at the young age of 9 years old. By age 11, Alison Krauss had called with an invitation to the Opry stage; by 12, Rounder Records was expressing interest (she signed a record deal with Rounder at 13, with her first album released at 16.) She’s also played the White House, Carnegie Hall (twice), the Kennedy Center, traveled around the world sharing her music, and released three albums. Then there’s the fact that Berklee gave her the school’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship, a first for a bluegrass musician.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held this afternoon during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

WJLE will broadcast the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

In addition to music and dancing competitions onstage, the Fiddlers Jamboree also features plenty of delicious foods for sale at local food booths and lots of shade tree picking under tents around the town square.

Performers Jam Past Midnight on Opening Day of Fiddlers Jamboree

July 4, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
State flags presented to Herbert Staggs and Sid Long of Memphis. Pictured with State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody and State Senator Mae Beavers
U.S. flag presented to Donda Kreatschman of Alaska. Pictured with State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody
U.S. flag presented to Svetlana Suleymeneva of UST' Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan and Copeland Elena Muralla of the Phillipines. Pictured with State Representatives Mark Pody, Terri Lynn Weaver, and State Senator Mae Beavers
Community Chorus Entertaining the Jamboreee Crowd
Old Time Appalachian Folk Singing (Solo) and Gospel Singing (Solo):First Place- Amanda McKenney of Cullman, Alabama
Junior Clogging: First Place-Chris Stewart of Lebanon
Junior Buck Dancing: First Place- Jason Wade of Paris, Tennessee
Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet): First Place- Sierra and Kelcy Tomlin of Springfield
Dobro Guitar:First Place-Joey Gipson of Manchester
Mountain Dulcimer: First Place-Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Hammer Dulcimer: First Place-Pamela Sanders of Sparta
Novelty Event: First Place- Kurt and Joey of Manchester
Autoharp: First Place- Austin Derryberry of Shelbyville
Country Harmonica: First Place-Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Old Time Banjo: First Place- Josiah Tyree of Carthage
Gospel Singing (Duet, Trio, & Quartet): First Place- The Jenkins Family of Wilder, Tennessee
Mandolin: First Place-Daniel Amick of Carthage
Old Time Fiddle Band: First Place-Uncle Shuffelo and His Haint Hollow Hootenanny of Unionville

Performers picked, sang, and danced all day Friday until just past midnight Saturday morning during the first day of the 44th annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody presented flags flown over the state capitol to persons who traveled the greatest distances from inside and outside the state and the country to get here. Herbert Staggs and Sid Long, both of Memphis received a Tennessee State flag. Donda Kreatschman of Alaska and Copeland Elena Muralla of the Phillipines and Svetlana Suleymeneva of UST' Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan were each presented a United States flag

Prior to the Jamboree welcome Friday evening from Fiddler's Jamboree Coordinator Jack Barton and an introduction of local public officials, the Smithville-DeKalb County Community Chorus entertained the crowd with a patriotic program.

Preliminaries were held in sixteen categories of music and dance competition followed by the finals featuring the top three acts in each event.

The following are the winners in each category:

*Old Time Appalachian Folk Singing (Solo):
First Place- Amanda McKenney of Cullman, Alabama
Second Place-Kelcy Tomlin of Springfield
Third Place-Josiah Tyree of Carthage

*Junior Clogging (Ages 13-39):
First Place-Chris Stewart of Lebanon
Second Place-Shelby Dunn of Fairview
Third Place-Jamie Hash of Walland

*Junior Buck Dancing (Ages 13-39):
First Place- Jason Wade of Paris, Tennessee
Second Place-Chris Stewart of Lebanon
Third Place-Sierra Tomlin of Springfield

*Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet)
First Place- Sierra and Kelcy Tomlin of Springfield
Second Place- The McKenneys of Cullman, Alabama
Third Place-Short Mountain Strangers of Smithville

*Dobro Guitar:
First Place-Joey Gipson of Manchester
Second Place-Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro
Third Place-Robbie Harris of Rockvale

*Mountain Dulcimer:
First Place-Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Second Place-Tyler Andal of White House
Third Place-Daniel Amick of Centerville

*Hammer Dulcimer:
First Place-Pamela Sanders of Sparta
Second Place- Mac Garner of Maryville

*Novelty Event:
First Place- Kurt and Joey of Manchester
Second Place-Haint Hollow Hootenanny of Unionville
Third Place-Hillary Klug of Shelbyville

*Autoharp:
First Place- Austin Derryberry of Shelbyville
Second Place-Pamela Sanders of Sparta
Third Place-Bettye Kash of Cookeville

*Gospel Singing (Solo):
First Place-Amanda McKenney of Cullman, Alabama
Second Place- Elizabeth Koegler of Smithville
Third Place-Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg

*Country Harmonica:
First Place-Rob Pearcy of Smyrna
Second Place- Daniel Amick of Centerville
Third Place- Tyler Martelli of Chattanooga

*Old Time Banjo:
First Place- Josiah Tyree of Carthage
Second Place- Tyler Andal of White House
Third Place- Austin Derryberry of Shelbyville

*Youth Square Dancing:
First Place-Jackson Hollow of Franklin
Second Place- Main Stage Revolution of Springfield
Third Place- Main Stage Explosion of Springfield

*Gospel Singing (Duet, Trio, & Quartet):
First Place- The Jenkins Family of Wilder, Tennessee
Second Place- Sandi Kay's New Hickory of Lebanon
Third Place- Kurt and Andrea of Dyersburg

*Mandolin:
First Place-Daniel Amick of Carthage
Second Place- Tyler Andal of White House
Third Place- Kurt Stephenson of Dyersburg

*Old Time Fiddle Band:
First Place-Uncle Shuffelo and His Haint Hollow Hootenanny of Unionville
Second Place- Flat Rock String Band of Manchester
Third Place- The P&J String Band of Nashville

The Fiddler's Jamboree resumes at 9:00 a.m. today with preliminaries in the following categories:

*Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39)
*Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over)
*Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over)
*Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over)
*Bluegrass Banjo
*Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39)
*Flat Top Guitar
*Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award
*Bluegrass Band*
*Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over)
*Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back tonight to compete for first, second, and third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival.

The Jamboree Blue Blaze Award will be presented at 3:00 p.m. to recognize a musician that is actively cultivating a love of bluegrass music. Sierra Hull is this year's recipient. Her journey began on the stage of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree at the young age of 9 years old. By age 11, Alison Krauss had called with an invitation to the Opry stage; by 12, Rounder Records was expressing interest (she signed a record deal with Rounder at 13, with her first album released at 16.) She’s also played the White House, Carnegie Hall (twice), the Kennedy Center, traveled around the world sharing her music, and released three albums. Then there’s the fact that Berklee gave her the school’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship, a first for a bluegrass musician.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held this afternoon during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.
WJLE will broadcast the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming at www.wjle.com.

In addition to music and dancing competitions onstage, the Fiddlers Jamboree also features dozens of crafts displayed along the downtown streets, plenty of delicious foods for sale at local food booths, and lots of shade tree picking under tents around the town square.

DUD Board Seeks Reappointment of Joe Foutch

July 3, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joe Foutch

The DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners are recommending that Joe Foutch be reappointed to a new four year term.

Foutch's current term expires August 31.

By law, the DUD board must certify a list of three names in order of preference to the county mayor, who has the sole authority to make the appointment.

During its regular monthly meeting Thursday, July 2, the DUD board voted to certify a list of nominees to the county mayor to fill the position. Foutch's name was listed first followed by the names of Joe Johnson and Jimmy Herndon.

While a DUD customer may submit a name to Jon Foutch, the District General Manager for consideration on the nominee list, Foutch said no names were submitted to him.

DUD attorney Keith Blair said he would send a letter to County Mayor Tim Stribling certifying that the board is presenting a list in order of preference. "I will present an order so he can complete that and hopefully we will hear back with something by the next board meeting," said Blair.

The DUD Board is made up of five members, three from DeKalb County (Jimmy Womack, Joe Foutch, and Hugh Washer), one from Cannon (Roger Turney), and one from Smith County (Danny Bass). The terms are staggered. All terms are for four years.

Three Horses Perish in Barn Fire

July 2, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Three Horses Perish in Barn Fire (Photo by Kimberly Johnson)
Fire Destroys Barn and Horses on Game Ridge Road (Photo by Kimberly Johnson)

A fire destroyed a barn and claimed three horses Thursday morning on Game Ridge Road.

Lieutenant Brian Williams of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department told WJLE that firefighters were called to the scene at 7:51 a.m. The owner of the barn is Billy Hendrixson but Jeffery Carter had it rented.

According to Lieutenant Williams, the cause of the fire is undetermined but it swept through the barn quickly and was well underway by the time firefighters arrived.

Three of the four horses inside the barn perished in the fire. The other horse was saved but suffered burns.

The barn and all other contents including hay and farm machinery were destroyed in the blaze.

Members of the Main Station, Short Mountain Highway Station, Blue Springs Station, and Tanker 1 responded along with DeKalb EMS and the deputies of the Sheriff's Department.

DUD Breaks Ground for Water Treatment Plant

July 2, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
DUD Manager Jon Foutch,  DUD Board members Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack,  Chairman Roger Turney,  Danny Bass,  Hugh Washer, and Buddy Kooce Jr. of Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood, the DUD's utility engineer
Chris Hampton, USDA Rural Development Program Specialist; Paula Lovett, Director of Community Development-Grants and Loans for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Roger Turney, Danny Bass, Hugh Washer, Rick Hogshead of the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, and Booxie Carlton, Appalachian Regional Commission State Program Manager

After years of planning and months of legal battles with opponents including the City of Smithville who tried to stop the project, the DeKalb Utility District has begun construction on its own water treatment plant.

The DUD Board of Commissioners held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the site of the water plant on Yulanda Hills Road off Holmes Creek Road near Center Hill Lake. The event was covered exclusively by WJLE.

"The purpose of this project is to provide a long term solution to providing the DUD customers with a safe, economical source of drinking water. A second purpose is to provide the region with a backup source of drinking water," said Roger Turney, Chairman of the DUD Board of Commissioners in remarks during the brief groundbreaking ceremony.

Turney expressed his appreciation to fellow board members for their vision and to others who have helped to bring this project about including agencies providing funding. "This project would not have happened without the commitment and vision by the District’s Board. We understood the importance and impact to the District’s customers in the future. We also had the willingness to see this project through in spite of some obstacles," said Turney

"This project received low interest loans and grants from three federal and state agencies. Their participation made the project economically feasible. We would like to recognize the representatives from these agencies, USDA Rural Utilities Service, State of Tennessee, State Revolving Fund Loan, and the Appalachian Regional Council," Turney added.

The $16 million project provides for the construction of a new raw water intake structure and raw water pump station on the Holmes Creek Embayment of Center Hill Reservoir (Caney Fork River); an 18-inch diameter raw water transmission line from the raw water pump station to the new 2.0 million gallon per day water treatment plant; an 18-inch diameter finished water transmission line along Holmes Creek Road, Allen’s Ferry Road, and U.S. Highway 70; and new 8-inch diameter water distribution lines along Big Rock Road, Dry Creek Road, Game Ridge Road, Turner Road, and Walker Lane. A finished water pumping station will also be constructed to deliver water from the Snow’s Hill Water Tank to the Short Mountain Water Tank. The new water treatment plant will include clarification, mixed media filtration and backwash systems, and a 250,000 gallon clear well.

To fund this project, the DUD is receiving $5 million in loans at 2.75% interest over 38 years and $1.25 million in grants from USDA Rural Development. The utility has also been approved for $500,000 in grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission; three loans through the State Revolving Fund Loan programs in amounts of $2 million, $2.75 million, and $4 million at .6% interest over 20 years; and a $500,000 forgiveness (grant) from the State Revolving Fund Program.

"Every scenario we looked at it was going to be beneficial to DUD customers for us to build our own treatment plant. In the long run, we will save our customers money. Interest rates are also at an all time low and grants have been available to us. So we felt the time was right for us to proceed on with a treatment plant," Jon Foutch, DUD Manager told WJLE.

In October, 2014 the DUD awarded bids on the project. W&O Construction Company, Inc. of Livingston got the bid to build the water plant at $6.9 million. Judy Construction Company of Cynthiana, Kentucky is to perform construction on the raw water intake at $4.1 million and Hawkins and Price, LLC of Wartrace, Tennessee was awarded the bid for construction of the 18 inch Raw and Finished Water Transmission Lines at $1.8 million.

The original project cost was estimated to be $12,000,000 but it is now expected to be $16,000,000 due to a bid overrun. To cover the additional costs, the DUD requested and was approved for a $4,000,000 loan increase to the Drinking Water Fund loan. (part of the funding package as referred to above)

When the DUD asked for the loan increase, the State Revolving Fund Loan Program performed a financial review and decided a rate increase was necessary in order for the request to be approved. The DUD satisfied the requirement by making an adjustment in the minimum usage rate in February, 2015.

In January, 2015, the DUD completed a facilities plan amendment which included a new cost-effective analysis to prove that the chosen alternative of the original facilities plan (to build a water plant) was still the most cost-effective. The analysis concluded that the DUD could produce drinking water for its customers at a cost of $2.32 per 1,000 or less and is still cost-effective.

The new water plant is expected to be completed by late fall or early winter next year.

Since its beginning, the DUD has been a wholesale water customer of the City of Smithville but in 2012 the Board of Commissioners decided to pursue plans for building a water treatment plant. By producing its own supply, the DUD would not have to rely on the city for water. But plans for the project came to an abrupt halt in July of 2012 when a petition brought by the "Ratepayers of the DUD" and City of Smithville was filed before the Tennessee Utility Management Review Board (UMRB) to stop the construction of the facility. The UMRB later held a hearing in Smithville and denied the petitioners' request for relief, meaning the City lost. The petitioners then filed a petition for Judicial Review in the Chancery Court of Davidson County but lost again as the Chancellor later ruled against them, essentially clearing the way for DUD to proceed with plans for building the water plant. But the legal battle didn't end there.

In December, 2013 the Smithville Board of Aldermen and Mayor held a special board meeting to decide on a new water rate for the DUD beginning January 1, 2014 upon the expiration of the DUD's 10 year water purchase agreement with the city. At that meeting, the rate was increased from $2.05 to $5.00 per thousand gallons forcing the DUD to temporarily increase rates to its customers. The DUD then filed a Chancery Court lawsuit to contest the city's new rate and following a February 2014 hearing in Cookeville, Chancellor Ronald Thurman ordered Smithville to reduce the rate it assesses the DUD from $5.00 to $2.67 per thousand gallons, which a water study at the time found to be the city's actual cost to produce water. The $2.67 rate still remains in place today. But in April, 2014 attorneys for the city filed a counter claim in Chancery Court alleging that the DUD underpaid for water purchases from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2013 and owes the city more than one million dollars. The case remains pending in court.

The DeKalb Utility District serves a portion of DeKalb, Cannon, Smith, and Wilson Counties.

(TOP PHOTO: DUD Manager Jon Foutch, DUD Board members Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Chairman Roger Turney, Danny Bass, Hugh Washer, and Buddy Kooce Jr. of Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood, the DUD's utility engineer)

(SECOND PHOTO FROM TOP:Chris Hampton, USDA Rural Development Program Specialist; Paula Lovett, Director of Community Development-Grants and Loans for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Roger Turney, Danny Bass, Hugh Washer, Rick Hogshead of the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, and Booxie Carlton, Appalachian Regional Commission State Program Manager)

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