Local News Articles

Three More Indictments Served on Alleged Drug Offenders

June 5, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jacob Fisher Murphy
Rachel Lucille Sprague
Michael Austin Briley
Jose Arias
Billy Wayne Rodgers
Paul Edgar Rowland
Brian Alan King
Blake Stephen Edmondson

Three more persons have been picked up by the Sheriff’s Department on sealed indictments returned during a special session of the Grand Jury last week.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW MUG SHOTS OF PERSONS RECENTLY BOOKED AT THE DEKALB COUNTY JAIL- Intakes & Releases From: 5/29/2017 Thru: 6/05/2017)

Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_26.pdf (4.83 MB)

20 year old Jacob Fisher Murphy of Peyton Lane, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) in a drug free zone. Murphy’s bond is $25,000.

41 year old Rachel Lucille Sprague of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) in a drug free zone. Her bond is $25,000.

25 year old Michael Austin Briley of Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone). His bond is $75,000.

The Grand Jury met last Tuesday and returned more than 40 sealed indictments mostly against drug offenders.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said officers of his department appeared before the Grand Jury and presented cases against each offender as the result of an undercover investigation. "A variety of drugs were bought during this operation including Xanax, Hydrocodone, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Subutex, and others," he said.

"We tried to focus this operation on methamphetamine. We had received information that methamphetamine has been coming up here from Georgia and not only into our county but also other places in the state," Sheriff Ray continued.

"Some of the indictments were for sale and delivery in a drug free zone which is an area 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, and daycare," he added.

A total of 33 have now been arrested as a result of the grand jury indictments.

Meanwhile, in other weekly crime news from the Sheriff's Department, 30 year old Jose Arias of Smithville is charged with violation of conditional release . His bond is $5,000 and his court date is June 8. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 29 Arias, a prisoner in jail, called his victim in a domestic violence case, asking her to come and make his bond. According to Sheriff Ray, Arias knew his bond conditions prohibit him from making contact with the victim.

37 year old Billy Wayne Rodgers of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville is charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is June 15. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, May 30 a detective went to Short Mountain Highway with state probation officers to speak with Rodgers. During a probation search of the residence a Winchester .22 caliber rifle was found. Rodgers was convicted of a felony drug charge in May, 2015 in Putnam County and is prohibited from having possession of a weapon.

56 year old Paul Edgar Rowland of Hawkins Drive, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is June 15. Sheriff Ray said that on May 30 a deputy responded to a residence on Hawkins Drive due to a domestic call. Rowland’s step son alleged to the Sheriff’s Office that Rowland grabbed his arm, turned him around, and spat in his face. The victim said he then pushed Rowland away from him. Rowland again allegedly confronted his step-son and began hitting him in the face. The victim went outside the residence but Rowland allegedly chased him down and continued to hit him according to the complaint.

29 year old Brian Alan King of Murfreesboro is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for failure to maintain lane of travel, violation of the open container law, and violation of financial responsibility for no insurance. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 15. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, June 3 a deputy was dispatched to the area of Nashville Highway due to a possible reckless driver. The officer spotted a red Dodge Stratus and noticed that the driver failed to maintain his lane of travel. The deputy stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver King. He had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. King’s eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred. He was unsteady on his feet and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. King later admitted to having had too much to drink to be driving. The officer found several open containers of alcohol in the automobile.

33 year old Blake Stephen Edmondson of Cookeville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also cited for driving on roadways laned for travel. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 22. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, June 4 a deputy stopped Edmondson’s vehicle for failure to maintain his lane of travel. While speaking to Edmondson, the officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. His speech was slurred and his eyes were watery. Edmondson admitted to having consumed some alcoholic beverages earlier in the night. He submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks.

Two Airlifted with Serious Injuries After Saturday Morning Crash

June 5, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tammy Gallant and Larry Rundle Seriously injured after their Hyundai Tuscon crashes into a tree on Hwy 56 south Saturday morning (WJLE photo)
Helicopter Ambulance descends at landing zone on Highway 56 to airlift wreck victim (WJLE Photo)

Two people were airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital with serious injuries after a one vehicle crash Saturday morning on Highway 56 in the Shiney Rock area.

Trooper T.J. Withers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 51 year old Tammy Gallant of Smithville, the owner of a 2007 Hyundai Tucson, and 50 year old Larry Rundle of Lewisburg were traveling south when the vehicle went off the left side of the highway and hit a ditch before crashing into a tree in the yard of a residence.

The wreck occurred around 5:18 a.m.

Both Gallant and Rundle were treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS before being transported by ambulance to helicopter landing zones set up behind a church and in the yard of a residence near the intersection of Highway 56 and Blue Springs Road. They were airlifted by Life Force and Life Flight to Vanderbilt where they remained hospitalized in stable condition as of Sunday.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also on the scene.

46th Annual Fiddlers Jamboree & Crafts Festival Coming June 30 & July 1

June 4, 2017
46th Annual Fiddlers Jamboree & Crafts Festival Coming June 30 & July 1

Come one, come all to downtown Smithville for the 46th Annual Smithville Fiddlers' Jamboree and Crafts Festival! This milestone event will be held Friday, June 30 and Saturday, July 1st. The Festival begins at 9:00 am each day, and continues until the final competition has been awarded. With over 35 music and dance categories, streets full of hand-made crafts, and over a dozen food booths, there is something for everyone at the Jamboree. You have to experience it in person...come and see the Jamboree!

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories on Friday, June 30:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Solo); Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Old-Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event (Spoon Clacking, Jug Blowing, Washboard, Tub, Saws-Appalachian Related Only); Autoharp, Gospel Singing (Solo); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Youth Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers); Gospel Singing (Duet,Trio, and Quartet); Mandolin; and Old Time Fiddle Band.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

A United States flag and a Tennessee State flag will be presented on Friday evening. The flags, which have flown over the state capitol, go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here. The flags will be presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody.

The Smithville Community Chorus is expected to perform with a variety of patriotic songs.

Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards will be presented during the weekend for "Best of Show", "Best Appalachian Craft", "Best Newcomer", and "Best Craft Display"

On Saturday, July 1, preliminaries will be held 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); and Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

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

Last year, the Rocky Top Revue of Franklin repeated as champions of the Square Dancing competition during the 2016 Smithville Fiddlers ' Jamboree and Crafts Festival

(VIEW VIDEO BELOW OF THEIR PERFORMANCE IN THE FINALS LAST YEAR)

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.

Last year's Grand Champion Fiddler of the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival was Ivy Phillips of Chapmansboro, Tennessee.

(VIEW VIDEO BELOW OF HER PERFORMANCE DURING 2016 FIDDLE-OFF)

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon, July 1 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.

One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer Trophy Award and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy.

Last year, Giri Peters of Nashville won the top Jamboree award, for the second year in a row, as the best fiddler in the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners.

(VIEW VIDEO BELOW OF HIS PERFORMANCE IN THE FINALS LAST YEAR)

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature many crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

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

To learn more visit http://smithvillejamboree.com/

DeKalb Baseball Camp to Start Monday Rain or Shine

June 4, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

The 2017 DeKalb County Baseball Camp will be Monday and Tuesday, June 5 & 6

Tiger Coach Adam Kefauver said the camp will be held RAIN OR SHINE but that the location for registration has been changed from the DCHS baseball field to the DCHS gym starting at 8 a.m. Monday due to the threat of rain.

The camp is for ages 7 to 14.

Camp Skills:
* Learn the proper mechanics for throwing and catching
* Learn the proper fundamentals for pitching, playing infield, and playing outfield
* Learn correct fundamentals of hitting
* Learn numerous drills for all aspects of baseball

What to bring:
* Cleats, tennis shoes, baseball pants, hat, glove, bat (catchers gear)
* Snacks and drinks for breaks (water will be provided)

Registration:
* Cost of the camp is $60
* Registration will be June 5 from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. at the DCHS Gym

Smithville Police Issue Citations and Make Arrests for Various Recent Offenses

June 4, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have issued citations and made arrests recently as a result of various offenses including shoplifting, domestic assault, simple possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, DUI, and driving on a revoked license.

23 year old Shelton Gene Martin, II was cited on Wednesday, May 24 for simple possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Martin was found to be in possession of approximately .25 ounce of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana and a pipe thought to have been used for the illegal use of marijuana. Martin's vehicle was searched during a traffic stop after the officer detected an odor of marijuana coming from inside. Martin’s court date is June 8.

33 year old Roxanna Landis was cited for shoplifting at Wal-Mart on Friday, May 26. Landis was observed putting items in her purse with the intent to deprive the store of its merchandise. The items were recovered and returned to the store. Her court date is June 29.

30 year old Jose Arias was arrested for domestic assault on Saturday, May 27. Police responded to a residence where they were informed that Arias had stepped on the victim's foot and pushed her in frustration. After investigating, Jose was found to have been the primary aggressor. He was taken into custody without incident. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is June 8.

44 year old Ricky Shannon Nokes was arrested for a second offense of driving on revoked license on Wednesday, May 31. Police observed Nokes operating a vehicle on Bright Hill Road. Knowing that Nokes’ license were revoked in Warren County, the officer stopped Nokes and placed him in custody without incident. Nokes’ bond is $2,500 and his court date is June 15.

46 year old Royce Virgel Ashford Jr. was arrested on Thursday, June 1 for DUI and he was cited for traffic control device/signal, registration violation, and financial responsibility. Police received a call of a possible DUI driver and spotted the vehicle on Allen Ferry Road. The officer conducted a routine traffic stop after observing that the driver had failed to remain in his lane of travel. The officer spoke with the driver, Ashford, and noticed that his eyes were watery, red, and blood shot and that his speech was slurred. Ashford submitted to field sobriety tasks but performed poorly. He was taken into custody without incident. Ashford’s bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 15.

Aldermen to Adopt Fireworks Ordinance on Final Reading

June 4, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

Fireworks sales inside the City limits of Smithville may be permitted in time for Independence Day celebrations.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen last month took the first step toward lifting the ban which has been in effect since 1982.

Under the proposed ordinance, which was adopted on first reading, a vendor may apply for a permit good for 12 months at a fee of $500 but sales would only be permitted from June 20 through July 9 and from December 21 through January 5 covering the time periods of Independence Day and New Year’s Day.

Applicants must also adhere to state laws applicable to the sales of fireworks as well as other regulations outlined in the city ordinance.

Second and final reading passage is planned at the next meeting of the mayor and aldermen Monday night, June 5 at 6:00 p.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

The aldermen are also expected to adopt a new $6.3 million dollar budget ordinance on first reading for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The new spending plan calls for a 45% increase in water rates and a 35% increase in sewer rates effective July 1 to make up the difference in lost revenue from the departure of DUD as a water customer. The city property tax rate would remain the same at 64.9 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The agenda also calls for the aldermen to award a bid for the removal of a vacant two story brick house at 929 Allen’s Chapel Road near the airport which has been declared by the city as surplus property. The city recently had to purchase the house for demolition and the trees around it will have to be removed because of FAA regulations prohibiting obstructions within the airport’s glide zone. The home was purchased using TDOT Aeronautics grant funds. The city’s local grant match was 5%.

City Conducting Street Paving

June 3, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tinsley Asphalt Company paving portion of Dry Creek Road

Motorists will notice some street paving in portions of the City of Smithville.

City Public Works Director Kevin Robinson told WJLE that either all or a portion of streets are being paved on Way Cross Way, Mary Street, O’Conner Street, Tramel Lane, Dry Creek Road, White Oak Drive, West Main Street where the sewer line construction took place several months ago, and patch job on Allen Chapel Road near Federal Mogul.

Last summer, the aldermen awarded a bid to Tinsley Asphalt Company of Tullahoma for street paving at $70.40 per ton, which was the lowest of the three bids submitted. The bid prices are good for a year.

The city’s 2016-17 State Street Aid budget has $350,000 for paving including $250,000 for the streets around the public square (which were completed last year) and $100,000 for other city streets.

Sheriff's Department Undercover Investigation Nets More than 40 Sealed Indictments (VIEW ALL PHOTOS HERE)

June 2, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joshua Lynne Batey
 Myrna Michelle Byars
Kristain Tylor Conley
Jason Bradley Cripps
Charles Dakota Lee Derrick
Christopher Keith Lain Derrick
Darian Cheyenne Ferrell
Desiree Nicole Ferrell
Jim Thomas Flesher
Thomas Walker Fox
Misty Dawn Gingerich
Rhonda Joy Goff
Debra Ann Grimmitt
Jonathan Wayne Hall
Jeffery Mark Hatfield
Lisa Michelle Huard
Phillip Andrew Martin
John Thomas Mason

The DeKalb County Grand Jury met in special session Tuesday and returned more than 40 sealed indictments mostly against drug offenders.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said officers of his department appeared before the Grand Jury and presented cases against each offender as the result of an undercover investigation. "A variety of drugs were bought during this operation including Xanax, Hydrocodone, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Subutex, and others," he said.

"We tried to focus this operation on methamphetamine. We had received information that methamphetamine has been coming up here from Georgia and not only into our county but also other places in the state," Sheriff Ray continued.

"Some of the indictments were for sale and delivery in a drug free zone which is an area 1,000 feet of a school, park, library, and daycare," he added.

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW REMAINING PHOTOS OF DEFENDANTS OTHER THAN THOSE SHOWN ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THIS PAGE)

http://www.wjle.com/more-pictures-sheriffs-department-undercover-investi...

Twenty three of the defendants were picked up on Wednesday and seven more were arrested on Thursday. More arrests are forthcoming

All the defendants named in these indictments will be arraigned in DeKalb County Criminal Court on June 20.

Names of those picked up so far and their charges are as follows:

* 29 year old Joshua Lynne Batey of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule IV drug (Xanax) $5,000 bond

* 46 year old Myrna Michelle Byars of Dearman Street, Smithville: 8 counts of forgery and 1 count of theft under $1,000: $2,500 bond

*21 year old Kristain Tylor Conley of Cantrell Road, Sparta: 3 counts of statutory rape: $2,500 bond

*42 year old Jason Bradley Cripps of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown: theft under $1,000 and attempted sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone): $25,000 bond

*21 year old Charles Dakota Lee Derrick of Toad Road, Dowelltown: 2 counts of sale and delivery of marijuana: $2,500 bond

*21 year old Christopher Keith Lain Derrick of Toad Road, Dowelltown: 2 counts of sale and delivery of a schedule IV drug (Xanax): $5,000 bond.

*21 year old Darian Cheyenne Ferrell of Gard Lane, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone): $25,000 bond

*41 year old Desiree Nicole Ferrell of Pine Orchard Road, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) in a drug free zone and 1 count of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone): $50,000 bond

*21 year old Jim Thomas Flesher of Village Place, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Morphine): $25,000 bond

*27 year old Thomas Walker Fox of Walker Creek Road, Alexandria: sale and delivery of a schedule VI drug (Marijuana): $2,500 bond.

*27 year old Misty Dawn Gingerich of Village Place, Smithville: forgery: $2,500 bond

*32 year old Rhonda Joy Goff of Midway Road, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine) in a drug free zone and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (meth). She was also cited for possession of drug paraphernalia after officers found her with a tote bag containing needles and spoons: $50,000 bond

*51 year old Debra Ann Grimmitt of Big Hurricane Road, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) and TennCare fraud: $30,000 bond

*24 year old Jonathan Wayne Hall of Gentry Avenue, Smithville: 2 counts of sale and delivery of a schedule VI drug (Marijuana) and 1 count of sale and delivery of a schedule VI drug (Marijuana) in a drug free zone. $5,000 bond

*26 year old Jeffery Mark Hatfield of Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone) in a drug free zone; sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone); and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine): $50,000 bond.

*25 year old Lisa Michelle Huard of Gentry Avenue, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) in a drug free zone: $25,000 bond.

*30 year old Phillip Andrew Martin of Kings Court trailer park, Smithville: child abuse: $5,000 bond

*22 year old John Thomas Mason of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone): $25,000 bond.

*36 year old Joseph Israel Neely of East Spring Street, Cookeville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine) over 0.5 grams: $25,000 bond.

*22 year old Ashley Nicole O’Conner of Doe Lane, Smithville: 2 counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine): $50,000 bond.

*41 year old Tyrone Dwayne Owens of Shady Drive, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone) and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone) in a drug free zone: $50,000 bond

*24 year old Christopher Thomas Pack of Adams Street, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule VI drug (Marijuana): $2,500 bond

*38 year old Rebecca Sue Pelfrey of Smith Road, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug ( Hydromorphone or Dilaudid) in a drug free zone: $25,000 bond.

*25 year old Britta Morgan Rollins of Kings Court Circle, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone): $25,000 bond

*42 year old Christopher Alan Scruggs of Highland Avenue, Smithville: 2 counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) and 1 count of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine). He was also cited for possession of drug paraphernalia after officers found a glass pipe on the floor of the room where he stays: $25,000 bond.

*31 year old Clent Lee Shehane of Wade Street, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine): $25,000 bond

*72 year old Eulaine Poley Edward Shelton of Morgan Drive, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule IV drug (Xanax) in a drug free zone and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) in a drug free zone: $25,000 bond

*24 year old Austin Duane Sigler of Joines Road, Smithville: 2 counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine): $25,000 bond.

*35 year old Angie Dawn Taylor of Carter Drive, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule III drug (Subutex): $5,000 bond

*20 year old Ray Franklin Vincent of Doe Lane, Smithville: 3 counts of sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Methamphetamine): $50,000 bond.

*20 year old Jacob Fisher Murphy of Peyton Lane, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) in a drug free zone. $25,000 bond.

*41 year old Rachel Lucille Sprague of Toad Road, Dowelltown: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Hydrocodone) in a drug free zone. $25,000 bond.

*25 year old Michael Austin Briley of Blue Springs Road, Smithville: sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and sale and delivery of a schedule II drug (Oxycodone). $75,000 bond

(CLICK LINK BELOW TO VIEW REMAINING PHOTOS OF DEFENDANTS)

http://www.wjle.com/more-pictures-sheriffs-department-undercover-investi...

$6.3 Million City Budget up for Passage Monday Night (Includes Water & Sewer Rate Hikes)

June 2, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mayor and Aldermen

The Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen will consider passage of a new $6.3 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year on first reading Monday night.

The proposed budget totals $6-million 358-thousand dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at 64.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. The city property tax rate is budgeted to generate $884,000.

Water and sewer rates are to increase. City water customers are to pay $7.25 per thousand gallons of usage, up from the current rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons. Rates for customers outside the city limits are to pay $10.88 per thousand, an increase from the current rate of $7.50 per thousand gallons. City sewer customers will see an increase from the current rate of $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62 to $6.75 per thousand gallons. The rate increase is to help make up the difference in the loss of $775,000 in revenue due to the departure of the DeKalb Utility District as a water customer.

The new budget includes a 2% across the board cost of living pay raise for city hourly and salaried employees except for the police department which already has a wage scale with scheduled step increases for its employees. The cost to the city for the pay raises is $40,000. The city is implementing a new method of awarding Christmas bonuses in the new budget. Bonuses will be paid based on longevity ranging from $250 for employees with up to five years of service to a maximum of $600 for those with more than 20 years of service. Previously, the city has given bonuses at 1% of an employee’s salary paid in December at Christmas time. By making this change, the city will save $2,000.

The budget includes $925,945 in proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund but most of that, $725,945 is for the new fire pumper/rescue truck which the city has ordered and $85,000 for three used police cars and a used investigator’s car which Police Chief Mark Collins has requested.

“I need four cars. I would like to get three cars from Missouri. The Dodge Chargers, I can pick those up. They are regularly $16,900 but the gentleman out there told me if we bought three he would let us have them for $15,500 so that’s $1,400 off of each car. To get those cars equipped will be around $63,000. We also need to replace a detective’s car, an Impala. I would like to get him (detective) an SUV, possibly an Explorer, not marked up but I can’t get that in Missouri. There’s about an eight month waiting list for that there. Maybe we can find one of those (SUVs) a lot closer. We don’t need a police package for that vehicle. If all else fails we can get another Charger for him from Missouri,” said Chief Collins.

The chief also requested that another employee position be created for the police department but that may not be funded this year due to concerns of a possible budget deficit by this time next year.

“I would like to ask for a new employee. This employee would be responsible for court. He would go to court every time court is going on just to represent us in court. That would free up (city hall employee who currently goes to court) with her responsibilities downstairs. We wouldn’t be a woman short in the office at city hall. I would also like to train this person to be able to be in (the office of the police department records clerk) when she is on vacation or out sick. It doesn’t happen a lot but it does happen. I would also like to use this new employee to represent the police department at the elementary schools and possibly teach classes on bullying and things like that. He would also be used as an extra man on a shift in an emergency or to fill in on a shift,” said Chief Collins.

A total of $50,000 has been included for the city hall building, most of which is expected to be used to make repairs to the elevator at city hall after lightning from a recent thunderstorm put it out of commission. The budget includes $15,000 to add side loaders to garbage trucks as the city prepares to convert to a new street side automated side loader garbage collection system. A total of $2,000 has been added to purchase software and handheld scanners for more efficient processing of water bill collections especially at the city hall drive through window.

Aldermen Josh Miller requested that the city’s allocation to the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad be increased by $500 from $1,500 to $2,000. That request will be funded.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker asked that the city fund another full time firefighter position, a request which the city doesn’t plan to meet this year. The chief also asked that the city increase insurance coverage for firefighters. “I would like to take out a different firemen insurance policy that we have right now. It needs to be updated. I have a price from an insurance company that covers fire departments and the price they quoted would be about $900 to $1,000 more than the one we have right now. This will better take care of the firefighters in addition to worker’s compensation in case they were to get hurt and had to be out of work,” said Chief Parker. If approved the city would take bids later this year.

The city is expected to wrap up the 2016-17 general fund budget year June 30 in the red by $640,150 primarily due to the city’s purchase of a new automated side loader sanitation truck and new garbage collection containers which costs $350,000 and for the city’s matching construction costs of the new Holmes Creek Bridge which was $111,485. The total bridge project cost $723,000 but the state paid most of it at $611,515. Another factor adding to the deficit is the city’s $350,000 cost for street paving. A total of $201,000 has already been spent for paving this year with more expected. If the city does finish the year with a deficit, the difference will be drawn from the general fund surplus to balance the budget.

For the 2017-18 year, the city is projected to end the year on June 30, 2018 with a general fund deficit of $802,840, most of which is due to the new fire pumper/rescue truck at $725,840 and for the purchase of four used police cars at $83,000. Again, should the city end the fiscal year in the red, the difference will be taken from the general fund surplus to balance the budget.

Jackson cautioned the mayor and aldermen about making too many large expenditures at once warning that city revenues over the last ten years have been largely stagnant while spending has increased and that large projects can have a negative impact on the city’s surplus reserves.

The city’s water and sewer fund is expected to end the fiscal year June 30 with a surplus of $242,179 but even after the rate increases the water and sewer fund is expected to only break even after the departure of DUD as a water customer. The city is underway with a sewer plant rehabilitation project which is costing $2,750,000 and $40,000 for tube settlers for the water plant. To help pay for the cost of the sewer plant project, the city was awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $525,000 from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Although the grant will fund part of the costs, the bulk of the funding to pay for it will be appropriated from the city's water and sewer fund surplus.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen will meet in regular monthly session Monday night, June 5 at 6:00 p.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Smithville Water and Sewer Customers Expected to Pay Higher Rates After July 1

June 1, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mayor and Aldermen (Older Photo)

City of Smithville water and sewer customers will likely be paying more for those services after July 1.

The mayor and aldermen held a budget workshop Thursday evening at city hall and discussed raising water rates 45% and sewer rates 35% with passage of the 2017-18 budget to offset the loss of revenue with the departure of the city’s largest water customer, the DeKalb Utility District. With its new water treatment plant up and running, DUD is prepared to go it alone without the city by next week.

The aldermen are poised to take first reading action on the new budget Monday night during its regular monthly meeting which will include an increase in water rates going from $5.00 per thousand gallons to $7.25 per thousand for customers inside the city and from $7.50 per thousand to $10.88 per thousand for customers outside the city. Sewer rates are to increase going from $5.00 per thousand gallons to $6.75 per thousand gallons.

The average customer using 5,000 gallons of water per month would see their bill go from $53.62 to $74.89 which includes an increase in water costs going from $25.00 to $36.25 and sewer charges jumping from $28.62 to $38.64.

The rate increases are expected to generate $682,250 in new money to help make up for $775,000 in water revenues the city received from DUD this past year but will no longer be getting. But because of the loss of DUD as a customer, the city is also anticipating that the costs of electricity at the water plant will drop from $273,000 this year to $175,000 next year; that chemicals will go from $75,000 to $45,000; and that water distribution supply expenses will decrease from $74,000 to $40,000 all of which would help get the water and sewer fund back to at least a break even point by June 30, 2018.

In January, Greg Davenport of the J.R. Wauford Engineering Company and Buddy Petty of Rate Studies Incorporated of Nashville shared with the mayor and aldermen the results of the latest water and sewer rate study which calls for the rate increases.

Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor quoted from that rate study report Thursday night during the budget workshop.

“DUD is Smithville’s largest water customer buying 64% of all water sold by the city providing about 50% of the city’s total water revenue. Now that DUD is no longer going to be a customer anymore, 64% of our water that we’ve pumped and sold is now not being sold and 50% of our revenue just stopped. That is a serious problem. Although operation costs will decrease slightly with a reduction in electrical costs and chemical usage, other fixed costs such as labor may not change”.

While the city has the option of implementing the rate increases in smaller percentages over the next four years, Jackson recommended the full rate hike be put in place all in one year. She warned that if smaller increases were enacted over time it would not be sufficient to get the city out of the red right away and should the water and sewer fund operate at a deficit for more than two years in a row, the state could set the rates for the city to put the water and sewer fund in the black.

“By law the state requires the water and sewer fund to not have a loss. If you have two consecutive years of losses, the state is going to come in and set your rates for you or they will call you in to meet with their review board to see what you are doing to fix this because you have to operate at a profit. You can’t run a business (utility) and keep it viable (with a deficit) so the state is trying to force people to make that water system operate so it can be long lived,” said Jackson.

According to the rate study, the City of Smithville, even with the increases, will continue to be competitive or cheaper than other area utilities including the DeKalb Utility District.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen will meet Monday night at 6:00 p.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

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