DeKalb County Commission represented at TCSA County Government Day

March 2, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

For the first time in nearly two years, Tennessee County Services Association (TCSA) members convened in person for the annual County Government Day February 28 – March 1. The event was held at the Downtown DoubleTree Hotel in Metro-Nashville Davidson County.

Four members of the DeKalb County Commission attended including Susannah Cripps Daughtry, Janice Fish Stewart, Julie Young, and Jenny Trapp.

County Government Day presents an opportunity for county government officials—including highway officials, county mayors and commissioners–to network with their state legislators at the Capitol where they conduct their business. Two years ago, this event was disrupted by the tornado that came through downtown Nashville and left a path of damage across Wilson, Putnam, and other counties. At this time last year, the Cordell Hull building – home to legislative offices—was closed to the public during the pandemic and large group gatherings were prohibited.

“County Government Day was educational and a great way to network with people who hold the same office in other counties. It provided an opportunity to share information and ideas. We heard Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Commissioner of Education, speak about the Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement, which would transition Tennessee’s K-12 public schools to a student-based funding approach. The TISA will change the way the state funds public education. A change hasn’t been made in about 3 decades, so it was exciting to have the person in charge of the program educate us directly and field questions about the new funding approach,” said Commissioner Daughtry.

DeKalb County will have three fewer voting precincts starting with May 3 primaries

March 2, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

The number of voting precincts in the county has been reduced from 15 to 12.

Beginning with the May 3 primaries, the Belk, Dowelltown, and Edgar Evins State Park precincts will be closed and those who have voted there will cast ballots at different locations.

Those who were voting at the Dowelltown Community Center have been assigned to vote at the Liberty Community Center precinct; those who were voting at Edgar Evins State Park have been assigned to the Temperance Hall precinct; and those who were voting at Belk have been assigned to the Keltonburg precinct. The action was taken last fall by the DeKalb County Election Commission.

After reviewing the precincts, election officials said there were two factors in combining three voting locations: costs and the labor pool.

“Polling places are not provided free of charge,” Election Commission Chairman Walteen Parker and Administrator Dennis Stanley said in a joint statement. “The workers are paid, there is a cost to programming voting machines, and there is a cost to the materials provided at each precinct.”

“It has also become increasingly more difficult to find the number of workers needed to man 15 voting locations. These moves provide more flexibility in administering the entire process,” the two added.

County Commission allocates almost $1.8 million of ARP funds (View videos here)

February 8, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission has committed almost $1.8 million of its $3.98 million share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding although much of the money will not be spent right away.

The county received authorization to draw down $1.9 million of the total ARP funding last summer and the rest is expected to be drawn down this year.

(View video below of the county commission discussing allocation of ARP funds 9 minutes into the video. The rest of the discussion and vote can be viewed in the second video below)

The county commission has held several informal meetings in recent months to identify projects for the ARP expenditures and Monday night (February 28) voted to commit funding to several of them including $88,642 for 4- Lucas chest compression devices and $96,864 for 3-Zoll heart monitors for DeKalb EMS; $50,000 for an underwater camera, $7,000 for a raft, and $6,500 for a drone for the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad; $26,000 for an outdoor self-service (vehicle registration renewal) kiosk for the County Clerk’s Office; and $398,000 as a local grant match for construction of a new county $3.9 million health department center to be funded mostly by the state. In December the county commission also allocated $750,000 of ARP funding to help support completion of DTC Communication’s fiber infrastructure build in portions of DeKalb County.

In addition to the ARP funds, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is providing $3,730, 767 in funds to the county to be used strictly for water and sewer needs and distributed on an 80/20 grant match basis per project. TDEC will fund 80% of the match with the remaining 20% to be provided by a local source. The county commission has allocated $373,000 in ARP money to fund 10% of the 20% local match per project with DeKalb County water utility applicants to fund the other 10%.

For example, if a utility applied for a one-million-dollar water project, TDEC would supply 80% of the funding while the county’s ARP funds would support half of the 20% local match or 10% while the utility would have to agree to fund the remaining 10% match.

During Monday night’s county commission meeting, sixth district member Matt Adcock made a motion to include an allocation of ARP funding for all the projects that were up for a vote during the meeting plus the County Clerk’s outdoor kiosk. Second district commissioner Myron Rhody offered a second to the motion. Adcock said County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss had agreed that if the county would purchase the kiosk with ARP funds, he would use his office’s earmarked fees to pay the annual $5,000 maintenance fee on the machine.

Although he supported spending ARP money on the other projects, fifth district member Jerry Adcock questioned a need for the kiosk saying it was a waste of taxpayer money.

County Mayor Tim Stribling replied that “this is something the whole county could use, and it would be accessible 24 hours a day”.

Fourth district member Janice Fish Stewart added that the kiosk would be a convenient service to the public.

“For the people in the county who have children that play ball and do things like this, and they work late I see this Kiosk as being very beneficial to them. We also have a lot of people in the county who work out of town. It sure would be nice to have something like that for people and to put it in a central location outside Jimmy’s office so he can monitor it better,” said Commissioner Stewart.

Some commissioners have suggested that if a kiosk is purchased it should be placed in Alexandria for the convenience of people in the western portion of the county.

County Clerk Poss said since the county is only considering the purchase of one kiosk at this time it should be centrally located.

“If we’re buying one machine, I want to keep it centrally located because for example I don’t want to tell the people at Wright Bend (Belk Community) or Riverwatch they have to drive 40 minutes because that takes away their convenience. I would also like to have it outside my office because there would be a large roof area over it to keep the rain and sun off the machine and the people. It has a security camera, electricity, and other things that would be an extra cost if that were not available at another location,” added Poss.

Fifth district commissioner Anita Puckett then made a motion that another project be added to the list of ARP funding allocations for approval Monday night. “I have been talking about this for the last four months to spend $450,000 on memorial parks and playgrounds at all community center sites including at Johnsons Chapel, Belk, Keltonburg, Blue Springs, Snow Hill, Temperance Hall, and Midway,” she said. Puckett’s motion died for the lack of a second. Although it failed funding for the playgrounds issue could be raised again at another meeting.

Commissioner Jerry Adcock then tried to amend Commissioner Matt Adcock’s motion to lump together all the projects up for a vote Monday night by having the commission vote on each one separately. Commissioner Bruce Malone offered a second to the motion, but it failed 10-4.

On the final vote, the commission voted unanimously 14-0 to allocate ARP money (as identified above in this story) for the DeKalb EMS, Rescue Squad, kiosk, and local match for the health department and TDEC grants. The total amount including the DTC allocation comes to $1,796,006 which leaves a balance of almost $2.2 million of DeKalb County ARP Funding yet to be allocated.

Under ARP guidelines, all the money has to be obligated by December 31, 2024, and completely expended by the end of 2026. In addition to the county’s allocation, the school district and the municipalities are getting their own share of ARP funding.

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