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Chamber Director Shares Good News About Tourism with City Leaders (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

October 2, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Tourism is big business in DeKalb County and getting bigger.

Suzanne Williams, Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce addressed the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen Monday night with some good economic news.

IMG_1621 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

In her report, Williams informed city leaders that Governor Bill Haslam and State Tourism Commissioner Kevin Triplett recently announced that DeKalb County’s tourism dollars increased by 6.7% from the previous year to $48.02 million, the third highest tourism dollars in the 14-county Upper Cumberland region.

Meanwhile, Williams said the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has selected DeKalb County to be included in its “Best Practices” program.

DeKalb County and Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital will be featured as a “Best Practices” in community partnerships and health initiatives for rural communities. This honor was given due to the success of the DeKalb County Health Adventure that was started by Saint Thomas DeKalb Community Benefit Dollars and continued with last year’s Three Star Grant written and submitted by the Chamber and the County Mayor’s Office.

Downtown is becoming a busier place with the addition of several new businesses including Old Timers’ Antique Mall, The Vintage Owl, The Market on Main, and D & D Fashions. Two of the downtown businesses have outgrown their present spaces and are moving to larger buildings on the square. Due to the most recent Community Development Block Grant awarded to the Chamber in the amount of $100,000, many façade improvements have been made to downtown building store fronts.

Williams further mentioned that the Chamber has been awarded a new Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Grant to be used for a Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree billboard on I-40 which will be exposed to as many as 42,000 vehicles per day.

The Fiddlers’ Jamboree & Crafts Festival is also being included in phase one of a new initiative by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development called “The Tennessee Music Pathway”. The music trail will be a 1,200 mile loop running the length of the state with a focus on preserving and promoting the history locally and how it has impacted music around the world and on current music events. The LIVE venues where people can go and hear music will be an integral part of this initiative. Williams said being a part of this will provide a lot of free promotion for this area.

Leadership DeKalb is back again under new leadership, Darrell and Beth Gill are the new co-directors. The opening retreat was held September 17.

Land Acquisition Efforts for City Airport Parallel Taxiway Hits Snag

October 2, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville has a chance to get a federal grant up to $4.6 million for the development of a parallel taxiway at the airport but a snag has developed in efforts to acquire property needed for the project.

IMG_1616 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

According to Airport Manager Joe Johnson, the city has been in negotiations with Aaron Tippin, Ronnie Mack Davis, and Eugene Minnear to purchase properties adjacent to the airport. Both Tippin and Davis have agreed to sell but Minnear wants more than four times as much as the appraised value for his land.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, Johnson informed the mayor and aldermen that Minnear has been offered $35,150 (appraised value) for his property, 4.37 acres but Minnear rejected it and made a counter offer of $152, 950. According to Johnson Minnear’s property is an overgrowth area that only has an old barn on it. Tippin has agreed to accept the city’s offer of $38,025 for his property ( parts of four lots) and Davis will get $1,050 for his land (part of one lot).

The city has already secured grants with a 5% local match for appraisals, survey, and environmental work and to purchase the properties. But in order to receive the $4.6 million federal grant to build the parallel taxiway, the city must have ownership of all the properties where it is to be located. If all the land is not acquired soon, the city may miss deadlines for obtaining the grant and could have to wait another year before making application.

The aldermen voted to ask Johnson and City Attorney Vester Parsley to meet with Minnear. Their hope is they can persuade Minnear to accept the city’s offer of $35,150 for his property. If not, the aldermen have instructed Parsley to file a land condemnation (eminent domain) lawsuit against Minnear under which the city could acquire the property. Minnear  would be compensated but at an amount ordered by the court.

Johnson said if the city were to receive the $4.6 million federal grant there would be no local match other than 5% of the engineering costs which should not be more than $15,000 to the city.

The FAA awards airport improvement program discretionary grant funds across the country to primary and non-primary airports for infrastructure projects such as runways, taxiways, aprons and terminals.

Johnson said a parallel taxiway will make the airport much safer and enhance economic opportunity for the city making it more appealing to potential new industry.

“A parallel taxiway will make it where planes don’t have to back taxi down the main runaway. When you come in to land, you have to turn around and taxi all the way back before you can get off the runaway. If another plane comes in to land when that is happening you could be in trouble and we have had several close calls. Its like driving down the interstate and then having to turn around in the road to come back and get off an exit ramp. The state wants us to have a parallel taxiway but right now we can’t afford it without this grant,” said Johnson.

City Establishes 20 MPH Speed Zones in Unposted Subdivisions

October 2, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

A speed zone is being established for subdivisions in the City of Smithville not already posted.

During Monday night’s regular monthly meeting, the Aldermen voted to post the speed limit at 20 miles per hour in the three or four subdivisions which have no posted signs. The estimated cost to post the signs is expected to be no more than $1,000.

IMG_1620 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Police Chief Mark Collins addressed the Mayor and Aldermen requesting specifically that the 20 mile per hour speed zone be established for Greenwood Drive Subdivision on Short Mountain Highway based on citizen complaints of speeding there. But Chief Collins added that speed zones in other subdivisions should also be posted.

“I have had a lot of people calling in and a lot of complaints about speeding (Greenwood Drive). I sent my guys out there. Every once in a while there is one (motorist) that comes through in excess. But Greenwood Drive is not posted. There is no speed limit actually on it other than going back to the state (speed limit on non-posted streets) which is 30 miles per hour. In my opinion even though people are traveling 30 to 35 miles per hour it is still too fast for Greenwood Drive,” said Chief Collins.

“I would love to get a speed limit posted for Greenwood Drive at 20 miles per hour. I think that would be a good speed limit for that area. The people I have talked to (residents there) also thought that was fair and reasonable. While we are doing this there are some other subdivisions throughout the city in the same boat. I have not had complaints from these subdivisions but there are no posted speed limits there either. I would like to ask that the board consider making the speed limit 20 miles per hour for all the subdivisions,” he continued.

Chief Collins said a posted speed of 20 miles per hour would make those subdivisions safer.

“In a subdivision you have turnarounds and houses close together. People are walking in the afternoon and kids are riding their bikes. If we leave it the way it is, non posted the speed limit is 30 miles per hour  (under state law) and there is really nothing we can do to anyone traveling 30 miles per hour. I feel 30 miles per hour is too fast so if we change one I thought maybe we could look at changing them all to 20 miles per hour,” added Chief Collins.

The aldermen adopted Chief Collins’ request.

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