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Smithville Questions Corps Fees for Repairs to Center Hill Dam

May 4, 2016
Dwayne Page
Center Hill Dam

The City of Smithville is joining Cookeville in trying to avoid or reduce payment of fees to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers associated with the cost of repairs being made at Center Hill Dam.

Under federal law, utilities permitted by the Corps to draw water from lakes, including Center Hill are required to share in the costs for making repairs. The City of Smithville, the City of Cookeville, and the DeKalb Utility District are permitted to draw water from the lake. Smithville’s allocation is approximately two million gallons a day.

In March, the City of Smithville received a letter from a Corps official and a bill for $89,818. According to the letter, from James R. Waddle, Chief Engineering-Construction Division, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is continuing with the major rehabilitation work at Center Hill Dam and this work consists of two phases, main dam rehabilitation and the saddle dam rehabilitation. The main dam work is complete, placed in service, and the City of Smithville is being billed for that work as per the terms of your water storage agreement. In addition, a table of our best estimate of what your future billing will look like through 2020 is included for the remaining work”.

During Monday night’s meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen, City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said the City of Cookeville, which has also been billed a certain amount by the Corps, is challenging the fees. The issue is whether the dam repairs are considered a “safety” or “rehabilitation” project. The distinction would make a difference in costs to the utilities.

Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton recently sent letters to Congressman Diane Black and to U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker asking them to intervene in persuading the Corps to delay its initial demands for full reimbursement costs for the dam repairs until a final determination is made.

In a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) in Washington, D.C. on March 16, the Congressman and Senators wrote that “on behalf of communities in Tennessee that are being required by the Corps of Engineers to pay additional costs for safety repairs at Center Hill Dam, we urge you to delay cost recoupment from these communities until the Corps implements the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recommendations to improve cost-sharing for dam safety repairs”.

“The problem is that the Corps has unilaterally decided that safety repairs to Center Hill Dam are not covered by the Dam Safety Act. Instead of classifying repairs at Center Hill Dam as Dam Safety Assurance, the Corps has decided to classify the repairs as Major Rehabilitation. This decision significantly impacts the cost share borne by communities in Tennessee.”

“In December, 2015, the GAO issued a report that found the Corps has not applied the so-called “state of art provision” of its Dam Safety Assurance authority. The GAO also found that the Corps did not communicate or effectively engage with all project sponsors at the nine dam projects it studied, including Center Hill Dam.”

“In your letter to the GAO on November 12, 2015, you agreed with the GAO’s recommendation to clarify policy guidance on the use of the “state of the art provision” within 18 months. You also committed to engaging with the Center Hill Dam projects sponsors to establish a path forward for recouping Federal investment within 18 months.”

“We appreciate your commitment to resolving this issue, but instead of engaging with project sponsors to establish a path forward, we understand that the Corps is currently seeking full reimbursement under the Major Rehabilitation and asking communities to pay by March 31. We urge you to delay recoupment until the Corps clarifies its policy regarding the “state of art provision” and also more effectively engages with the project sponsors. It would also be helpful to know when the Corps plans to clarify its policy regarding the “state of the art provision” and whether any additional legislative changes are necessary,” the letter concluded.

According to City Administrator Hendrixson, Smithville will be getting more bills from the Corps over the next few years. “The US Army Corps of Engineers sent us a letter in March and the City of Smithville’s portion now is $89, 817. 97 based on what we draw out of Center Hill Lake. Our allocation charge for the 2016-17 budget year will be $3,000. For the year 2017-18 budget it will be $130 and for the year 2018-19 our costs will be $270. In the 2019-20 year, our final estimated cost will be $40,000,” said Hendrixson.

The fees assessed by the Corps to the DeKalb Utility District and the City of Cookeville were unavailable.

In addition to the costs for dam repairs, utilities must also pay a regular schedule of “water storage” fees to the Corps based on their permitted allocation agreements.

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night voted to follow Cookeville’s lead in challenging the fees assessed for dam repairs.

Two Charged in Alexandria Armed Robbery

May 4, 2016
Dwayne Page
Tyvarious Turner
Davon Hicks

Charges have been filed against two men believed responsible for an armed robbery at a residence in Alexandria and then leading officers on a high speed pursuit before being apprehended in Lebanon early Wednesday morning.

Chief Chris Russell said the Alexandria Police Department has charged 19 year old Tyvarious Turner of Burdock Street, Lebanon and 28 year old Davon Hicks of Oak Leaf Drive, Old Hickory with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. Sheriff Patrick Ray said Turner has also been charged by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department with two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of evading arrest, and a first offense of driving on a suspended license. Both Turner and Hicks are each charged by the sheriff’s department with resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search.

According to Sheriff Ray, Turner and Hicks entered the home on New Hope Road in the City of Alexandria after 3:00 a.m. and held residents there at gunpoint demanding money. They displayed a black handgun and took $1,200 from a man and woman in the home. They also hit another man in the head with the butt of the gun while committing the robbery. During the incident someone called 911 to alert authorities.

Deputies arrived minutes later and spotted a white Saturn in the driveway at the scene. After refusing the officers commands to stop, the driver of the car (Turner) pulled out and took off. Hicks was a passenger. The deputies initiated a pursuit which continued on Highway 53 to Interstate 40 and then to Lebanon, where Turner and Hicks bailed out of the car at an apartment complex on Sycamore Street and tried to flee on foot. The deputies apprehended Turner and Hicks and placed them in custody. The officers were assisted at the scene of the arrest by members of the Lebanon Police Department, Wilson County Sheriff's Department, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The two counts of reckless endangerment against Turner are for his having led two deputies in a pursuit that covered twenty five miles through three counties at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. He was also found to have been driving on a license which was suspended due to a previous accident with property damage in Wilson County.

Bond for Turner and Hicks on the Alexandria Police Department charges is $40,000 each. Turner’s bond on the sheriff’s department charges totals $28,500 and $4,500 for Hicks.

They will appear in General Sessions Court in DeKalb County on May 19.

The case remains under investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department and Alexandria Police Department and more arrests may be made.

According to Lebanon Police, Turner is wanted for the March shooting of a 33 year old man multiple times at his home near Cumberland University in Lebanon.

Lebanon Police said they believe the shooting occurred during a robbery due to a large amount of drugs found at the victim's residence.

In April, Turner crashed a car in Wilson County after a vehicle pursuit, striking two cars and a pole on Hartsville Pike near Hillcrest Baptist Church before taking off on foot.

Officials say they found a weapon on the floorboard of the vehicle Turner was in after the crash.

Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday

May 3, 2016
Dwayne Page
Drive Thru Mobile Food Pantry Set for Saturday

As part of its community outreach ministry, the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church is again sponsoring a drive thru mobile food pantry Saturday morning, May 7 rain or shine.

In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, the church plans to prepare enough food boxes to serve up to 300 families regardless of their income status, on a first come, first served basis. Families will receive enough food to last them for a full week. The church held its first mobile food pantry in April 2015 and again in October, 2015 and both were a great success.

Second Harvest will bring in pallets of food on trucks. The food will then be off loaded and organized in preparation for the distribution.

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the food will be delivered from 9:00 a.m. until noon. Unlike most food distributions, those being served by the mobile pantry will not have to get out of their automobiles. They will drive thru in a pickup line and volunteers will deliver the food directly to their vehicles, placing the food boxes either in the back seat or trunk. Cars will line up facing north on College Street across from the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

"It's a mobile food pantry but it's also a drive thru. The recipients will stay in their cars. They will line up starting at 8:00 a.m. on College Street and when we have everything prepared and organized we'll start the line moving, hopefully around 9:00 a.m. Recipients will drive through. As they enter in we'll have a team there to put a box of food in their cars, either in their back seat or trunk," said spokesperson Teresa Trapp Brown.

"We will line up right across from the church (Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church) on College Street. We'll start registration at 8:00 a.m. We'll need the name of the recipients and how many families are being served. We're limited to two families per vehicle to make sure we have enough food," added Isaac Gray, Minister of the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Others who wish to volunteer may show up Saturday or call for more information at 615-464-7896

Two Charged with Attempted Aggravated Robbery

May 2, 2016
Dwayne Page
Charles Robert Fults, Jr.
Logan Tyler Martin
John Allen Judkins, Jr.
Christy Lynn Berry
Shane Michael Downey

Two McMinnville men have been charged with attempted aggravated robbery after one of them pulled a knife on a DeKalb County man and asked for his wallet.

19 year old Logan Tyler Martin of Fairbanks Lane McMinnville and 18 year Charles Robert Fults, Jr. of North Chancery Street, McMinnville are each under a $10,000 bond and they will make a court appearance on May 19.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Friday, April 29 Martin drove up to a location on McMinnville Highway where the intended victim was doing some yard work. Fults, a passenger with Martin, got out of the vehicle, pulled a silver knife as he approached the man and demanded his wallet. When the victim refused to hand over the wallet, Fults got back in the vehicle with Martin and they drove away. After the offense was reported to authorities a Be on the Lookout (BOLO) was issued to other law enforcement agencies. The vehicle was spotted in Warren County where Fults and Martin were taken into custody.

42 year old John Allen Judkins, Jr. (AKA J.J. Judkins) of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court May 12.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 24 Judkins allegedly broke into a home on Nashville Highway and stole a Craftsman saw, reciprocating saw, jigsaw, pole saw, chainsaw, charger, Stihl weedeater, drill bits, and saw blades all valued at approximately $1,270. The stolen items have been recovered. The case was investigated by a sheriff’s department detective.

33 year old Christy Lynn Berry of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $1,500 and her court date is May 5. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, April 26 a deputy responded to a domestic in progress at a residence on Sparta Highway. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Berry’s husband who said that his wife had hit him in the face and held him down keeping him from calling for help. After he freed himself, the man called 911. He had marks on his right shoulder and around the bottom of his neck. Berry was determined to have been the primary aggressor and she was placed under arrest.

39 year old Shane Michael Downey of Brook Lane, Sparta is charged with three counts of domestic assault for an attack on his wife and two daughters. His bond is $7,500 and he will be in court on May 12. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, April 28 a detective responded to a physical domestic at a home on Brook Lane in DeKalb County. Upon arrival the detective spoke with a woman who said that her father, Downey began yelling at her for pushing her brother. Downey allegedly grabbed a baby gate and threw it at her. When told she was calling 911 Downey came after the woman, shoving her into a vacuum cleaner. Downey then laid on top of her, grabbed her phone, and broke it. During the incident, Downey also allegedly got into his wife’s face and pushed her twice and then pushed his other daughter down on the couch as she stepped in front of Downey to intervene. Downey was placed under arrest.

One Airlifted, One Charged in Sunday Hit and Run Crash

May 2, 2016
Dwayne Page
2000 GMC Jimmy Driven by 56 year old Kenny Wright of Smithville
After being involved in hit and run, Melissa Petty drove this 1992 Chevy Stepside in this condition for another 9.7 miles trying to flee
Melissa Petty finally stops her diasabled truck on Halfacre/Joines Road
Vandy Life Flight lands at crash scene to airlift Kathy Wright
Melissa Petty

A hit and run crash Sunday on Highway 146 resulted in one person being airlifted and the one responsible charged with leaving the scene and reckless driving.

Trooper Tommy Cooper of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Melissa Petty was south on Highway 146 in a red 1992 Chevy Stepside pickup truck when she crossed the center line into the path of 56 year old Kenny Wright of Smithville who was traveling north in a 2000 GMC Jimmy and pulling a utility trailer loaded with two riding lawn mowers. Wright’s wife, 51 year old Kathy Wright and Daniel Niles were passengers with Wright.

According to Trooper Cooper, Wright swerved trying to avoid a collision but Petty’s truck struck Wright’s utility trailer. Wright’s vehicle went off the highway into a ditch and overturned as it came back onto the road.

Although Petty’s truck was heavily damaged and the left front wheel disabled she drove away and traveled 9.7 miles from Short Mountain Highway onto Patterson Road, Jacobs Pillar Road, to Banks Pisgah Road and then to Halfacre/Joines Road where she came to a stop.

A deputy came upon Petty’s truck and stayed with her until the Trooper arrived.

Wright’s wife was treated by DeKalb EMS and then airlifted from the scene by Life Flight to Vanderbilt Hospital. No one else was seriously injured.

Petty was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injury and reckless driving. She was also cited for failure to exercise due care, no insurance, and expired registration.

Members of the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department were also at the crash scene to render assistance.

Alexandria Park Refurbished and Rededicated

May 1, 2016
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Park Refurbished and Rededicated
Ribbon Cutting Held Saturday for Refurbished Alexandria City Park
Ricky Harris
One of the new picnic tables at the city park
New flagpole at the city park

An Alexandria man’s dream of refurbishing a small city park there for families to enjoy has come true.

Ricky Harris, a resident of the town, received permission from the Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen late last summer to begin work in clearing the property of overgrowth and to call on volunteers to help revitalize the five acre park. Although some work remains to be done, a rededication and ribbon cutting were held Saturday for the Alexandria City Park, located just off the public square between the Old Osborne Grocery store building and the fairgrounds.

“It’s been a long time coming. Alexandria needed this park,” said Harris. “This is a place where families can come together now and enjoy. Hopefully we can start having community projects or get-togethers here,” he said.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver was among those on hand for the rededication and she brought Tennessee and United States flags which can be flown at the park. She also presented a Tennessee Senate proclamation honoring the park in its rededication and commending the volunteers for their hard work and commitment to revitalizing the park. The proclamation is signed by State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representatives Mark Pody and Terri Lynn Weaver, and by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, speaker of the State Senate.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams was part of the ribbon cutting and presented a “Chamber Community Improvement Award”.

Members of the Boy Scout Troop #347 joined in the commemoration.

“Its just amazing what motivated volunteers can do. They single handedly came out here. The park was a jungle and way overgrown and neglected. But with friends he (Harris) brought in, hundreds of hours of community time has been spent here. They all brought their own tractors. It was a lot of work but it has really turned out nice,” said Alexandria Mayor Bennett Armstrong.

Harris said plans are to add basketball goals and a walking trail to the park. “We have the park completely clear now. We’ve got nine picnic tables that have already been put in. Ten more will be going in within the next few weeks. The walking trail will be the next project. Basketball goals will also be going up soon,” said Harris.

The park, established in the 1970s under the federal Model Cities Program, originally sported a volleyball court, tennis court, softball field, and six horseshoe pits, but over the years due to neglect and vandalism the park deteriorated and overgrowth overtook it.

Harris gave a special thanks to all the volunteers including Mayor Armstrong and Lee Plummer and to local businesses Wilson Bank & Trust, Liberty State Bank, Alexandria Auto Parts, Dr. Wesley Suddarth, and others and to DTC Communications for their work and for donating the picnic tables.

The proclamation states:

“Whereas, it is fitting that the members of this legislative body should recognize our parks on the national, state, and local level and their natural, cultural, and historic heritage, providing opportunities for discovery; and

Whereas, one such park is Alexandria City Park, which will be rededicated in a special ceremony on April 30, 2016; and

Whereas, Alexandria City Park was founded in the 1970s when DeKalb County entered the Model Cities program; the park originally contained a volleyball court, tennis court, softball field, six horseshoe pits, and two picnic shelters; and

Whereas, the Town of Alexandria maintained the park until funds were no longer available and the park succumbed to vandalization; and

Whereas, Ricky Harris presented the idea of rejuvenating Alexandria City Park to the mayor and aldermen in August, 2015 and Mr. Harris was named the project coordinator; and

Whereas, Mr. Harris and his family led eleven volunteers of all ages and walks of life to begin the renovation project; local citizens donated a total of $1,600 to aid in the renovation and several volunteers brought their own tools to aid them in accomplishing their tasks, which included the installation of a flagpole and ten tables that had been purchased by six companies and two individuals; and

Whereas, four tractor owners moved dirt and piled up cut trees, completing more than 100 hours in service to their community; employees of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative contributed a chipper and shredder and eight hours of labor; and a crew from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation repaired two nonworking lights; and

Whereas, due to the hard work and determination of the good people of Alexandria, Alexandria City Park will once more serve as a gathering place for the community, and their efforts should be recognized; and now, therefore,

I, Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the Senate of the One Hundred Ninth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, at the request of and in conjunction with Senator Mae Beavers, Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Representative Mark Pody, do hereby proclaim that we honor Alexandria City Park on its rededication, commend the volunteers for their hard work and commitment to their community, and offer our best wishes for many years of continued success.

Proclaimed in Nashville, Tennessee, on this the 26th day of April 2016.”

Fire Claims Home at Silver Point, Two Injured

May 1, 2016
Dwayne Page

A fire destroyed a home at 8625 Aunt Helen Road in the Silver Point area of DeKalb County early Friday morning. Two people were also injured.

Captain Anthony Boyd of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department told WJLE that Elaine Parker and Dustin Thaxton, who were at the residence at the time of the fire, were taken by DeKalb EMS to Cookeville Regional Hospital. They suffered injuries in getting out of the home.

According to Captain Boyd the fire was reported Friday morning at 4:34 a.m. The blaze was well underway by that time and firefighters were unable to save the structure. The home and all contents were destroyed in the fire.

Captain Boyd said Parker was renting the home from Robert and Teresa Wolfe.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Liberty, and Cookeville Highway stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the tanker truck.

Highland Trail Boat Ramp Open Again

April 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Highland Trail Boat Ramp Open Again
Expanded Parking Area Near Boat Ramp
Road Entrance to Highland Trail (Dubland) Boat Ramp and parking area
Billings Road paved from Highway 70 to Highland Trail (Dubland) Boat Ramp

After almost three years since it was closed to the public due to the Sligo Bridge construction project, the Highland Trail (Dubland) Boat Ramp in the Riverwatch Community is open again.

The ramp was re-opened after noon on Friday following completion of pavement striping in the parking area at the boat ramp

Prior to and during construction of the new Sligo bridge, the contractor Massman Construction of Kansas City, Missouri gained access to the lake via Billings Road and the boat ramp. A staging area was set up at the boat ramp to get barges down to the bridge for the construction.

As a consideration to the Riverwatch community for its cooperation, TDOT funded the paving of Billings Road from Highway 70 to the lake. The parking area at the boat ramp was also enlarged and paved. Rogers Group did all the paving and striping except for the striping of the parking area. Quality Asphalt Sealing was contracted to do that work with county funds.

The expanded boat ramp parking area now has nine parking places for automobiles and for 20 boats and trailers.

TDOT also funded the paving of the Moore Taylor Road in the Midway Community which leads to the site of a former county landfill. Some of the pyrite, removed from the Sligo bridge construction site, was placed at that landfill location.

Two Airlifted After Friday Morning Crash

April 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Two Airlifted After Friday Morning Crash

Two people were seriously injured in a one car crash Friday morning on South Mountain near Spring Street in Smithville.

Both driver, 29 year old Joe R. Tittle of Smithville and passenger 32 year old Brandy Beckham were airlifted due to their injuries in the accident.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department said Tittle was driving a gray 2003 Chevrolet Malibu north on South Mountain Street when he failed to navigate a curve near Spring Street, left the roadway and struck a large tree head on in the yard of 806 South Mountain Street. According to witnesses and physical evidence, Captain Leffew said it was determined that Tittle's vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed.

In addition to Smithville Police, DeKalb EMS and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department were on the scene.

The accident currently remains under investigation.

Vandy Life Flight to Establish Base in Cookeville

April 29, 2016
Dwayne Page
Vandy Life Flight to Establish Base in Cookeville

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Vanderbilt LifeFlight, in partnership with Cookeville Regional Medical Center have announced that an emergency helicopter base will be established in Cookeville to serve the Upper Cumberland region.

According to a report in the Herald Citizen, the helicopter will have a 120-mile response area from Cookeville, and it will transport patients who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region back to CRMC.

The primary purpose of the Cookeville LifeFlight base will be to bring patients from the Upper Cumberland who require advanced medical and surgical care from prehospital scenes and hospitals in the region to CRMC and will be available to meet other calls for aeromedical services which may arise, according to Sullivan Smith, M.D. and Emergency Department Medical Director for CRMC.

A site for the new base is expected to open this summer.

Vanderbilt LifeFlight, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Trauma Systems (CAMTS), has flown more than 38,000 patients since 1984. LifeFlight transports to any medically appropriate hospital and has immediate access to the region’s only Level I Trauma Center, Burn Center and Children’s Hospital, all at VUMC.

LifeFlight also provides hospital-based emergency air medical transport services throughout Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, with remote helicopter bases in Lebanon, Tullahoma, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Mt. Pleasant and Henry County. LifeFlight also operates an airplane base at Nashville International Airport and has five ground ambulances as well as an event medicine division.

The AirMedCare Network including Air Evac and Life Force also serves portions of the Upper Cumberland area.


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