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(UPDATED) Early Morning Storm Leaves in its Wake Downed Trees, Structure Damage, and Power Outages

March 29, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Many homes remain without electricity this morning (Monday) after a powerful thunderstorm blew across DeKalb County early Sunday morning downing trees and utility lines and causing some structure damage. No injuries were reported.

Although power was restored to some areas later in the day Sunday, others remain in the dark.

In a statement released Sunday night, officials of Caney Fork Electric Cooperative said an all out effort was undertaken Sunday and will continue today (Monday) to restore service.

“The storms that hit our service area around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 29th were severe and far reaching. Our crews have been in the field working non-stop ever since the storms passed and continued to do so until 8:00 p.m. Sunday night when they were asked to go home and get some much-needed rest so that they could continue to work safely in the days ahead. Be assured that they will return to continue their efforts at 6:00 a.m. Monday, March 30 and will work throughout the day to restore power to as many members as is possible.”

“We have requested mutual aid from other Electric Cooperatives and Municipal Power Distributors and currently have their additional crews working on our system as well”.

“Because the damage from this storm system was so extensive, we were not able to restore everyone’s power Sunday night. If you have medical needs that require power in your home, we ask that you find an alternative place to stay for your safety. We truly regret not being able to restore power to everyone on our system, but there were far too many broken poles and downed power lines for that to have been possible Sunday”.

“Please remember: if you see downed lines, assume they are energized and stay away from them. We want everyone to come through this event safely. Thank you for your patience in this most trying time; we are working as hard as we can to get the lights back on while keeping the safety of our crews in mind,” the CFEC statement concluded.

Most of the damage apparently occurred over the southern and eastern portions of the county but the City of Smithville was also affected.

“We had what appears to be some strong straight line winds that affected several parts of the county from the Short Mountain Highway area to the Four Seasons community and beyond over to Sligo. There was a lot of trees down across roads and even on at least a couple of houses and an outbuilding. It took a section of the metal roof off of Mystick Market on the McMinnville Highway in the Shiney Rock community and blew it across the road up against a home. In Smithville we had some damage. Trees were down on Town Hill and Smith Road and other places but the city did not have near what occurred in the county,” said Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator.

Hours before daybreak members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, DeKalb County Highway Department, Smithville Public Works Department, Emergency Management, and other volunteers sprung into action, many of them using chainsaws and other cutting tools and equipment to remove the debris blocking county and city roads and state highways. Crews from utilities including Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, Smithville Electric System and DTC Communications worked through the day trying to restore service.

“All the volunteers and crews were out all morning trying to get roadways opened back up and they all did a great job,” said Parker.

Connecting to Christ During COVID-19 Crisis

March 28, 2020
By: Bill Conger

During this unprecedented time in the country, people are experiencing a range of emotions from frustrations to fear as they struggle to live with the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical and mental health care workers have provided advice on how to cope, but many people are also looking for spiritual answers.

This week we begin a new series where we talk with area ministers, starting with Chad Ramsey from Smithville First Baptist Church.

Bill Conger: What effect have you seen this pandemic have on people either in general or members of the church?

Chad Ramsey: I have seen a variety of emotions and responses from our church members. It has ranged from people wanting to crawl up in a bunker with a pallet of Lysol disinfectant spray to people who are upset that everything is shutting down. The same is true with people outside of the church. Most people just don’t know what to do. They want to be safe and smart, but they are worried about paying bills and surviving day to day. Many people are searching for answers about COVID-19, and they don’t know who to trust or what information is accurate. Right now I would say most people are staying relatively calm, but it is still early. I would expect the longer this virus stays around the more restless people will become.

Conger: This is a period of uncertainty for a lot of people, and many people have a lot of worry and stress. What does the Bible say about what people should do when experiencing these trials?

Ramsey: The main question I have received from people during this time is what does the Bible say about everything that is happening. The Bible does not actually talk about disease like this in the form of prophecy. However, the Bible does make it clear that we are to only fear God and God alone (Luke 12:5). At the same time scripture tells to have a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). We must not live in fear, but we must also make wise choices.

Conger: What can be said to people who focus their hurt and anger on God for this issue?

Ramsey: That is a great question. There have been diseases and plagues in this world throughout history. The first thing I would tell these people is God is big enough to handle all your concerns and complaints. At the same time when we read the book of Job we see God responding to Job’s complaints. God will listen to you. God wants us to realize this world is not the end. We have to come to terms that this life is just a flash in eternity. Our focus must be to develop our relationship with God. God wants us to be intimate with Him. He also wants us to understand He has everything under control. God will listen to our complaints, but just as He told Job He has everything under control. The only thing we can control is our own personal relationship with God. I would let people know it is alright to feel upset or hurt because of what is going on right now. I would also let them know the safest place they can be is in the loving hands of God. We all need to surrender control (we never really had it anyways) and give everything over to God. God must truly be our Lord (Master) and Savior.

Conger: In addition to the power of prayer, what pastoral advice to you have for people dealing with the social isolation and the inability to fellowship at church during this time?

Ramsey: Human beings were created to be in relationship with others. Genesis 2:18 says the Lord said it is not good for man to be alone. We have to understand that isolation can be harmful to spiritual well-being. Therefore, I would encourage people to call their family and friends. Don’t forget to talk to reach out to family members who you know are by themselves or are not connected to social media. Reconnect with friends you have not talked to in a while. Share your stories with your families and friends. Use technology such as facetime and skype so that you can actually see your friends and family as you talk to them. Communication is key.

Conger: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Ramsey: I would encourage people to use this time of isolation and quarantine to reconnect to God. Spend time in conversation with God. Many times we ask God for help and aid which is so important. However many times we fail to listen to God. What I mean by this is we usually do all the talking when it comes to prayer. Reconnect to God by taking time to spend in God’s presence. Open up your heart and let God speak to you. Maybe you just need to ask God to surround you with His presence. Let God give you a hug. It might be the only social interaction you will get for the day, but it is also the most important social interaction you can get.

Services at Smithville First Baptist Church can be seen at or on Facebook at FBC

Drive-in services will start on Easter at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the church parking lot.

Three Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in DeKalb County

March 27, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County now has 3 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus.

County Mayor Tim Stribling made the announcement in the following statement Friday afternoon.

“I have been notified by the TN Department of Health that there is one more confirmed COVID-19 case in DeKalb County bringing the total of confirmed cases to three as of this date.”

“As I said in reporting the first confirmed case, this is not unexpected. As we ramp up our testing, we expect to identify more cases. But there is still a lot we can do to slow down the spread and protect our most vulnerable but the worst thing we can do is panic. Now is the time to look after our own health to limit the spread. Keep your hands clean and continue to practice social distancing. If you are feeling bad, stay at home. Our elderly need to be staying at home as much as possible and we as neighbors and friends need to keep a check on them,” said County Mayor Stribling.

“We will continue to work closely with the TN Department of Health and all agencies of government at all levels to minimize the impact on the residents of DeKalb County. That has been and continues to be our primary concern. We will get through this together as everyone takes a personal responsibility to do everything they can to protect our county,” he said.

Individuals with specific questions can call the TDH Information line at 877-857-2945 or 931-646-7586.

Meanwhile the DeKalb County Health Department began conducting COVID-19 drive thru assessments Friday, March 27 at the health department on Tiger Drive with help from three members of the Tennessee National Guard.

Drive thru assessments will also be held again next week Monday through Friday, March 30 to April 3 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the same location and each week thereafter until further notice.

“If you have symptoms of COVID-19, we encourage you to stop by our health department for an assessment,” said County Mayor Stribling.

“Per DeKalb County Health Department Director Michael Railing, assisting the DeKalb County Health Department will be the Soldiers and Airmen from the Tennessee National Guard to provide support in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Lee indicated 250 guard members have been deployed statewide. He notes 150 are medically trained. Most will help rural counties staff 35 virus testing and assessment sites,” Stribling said.

For more information on COVID-19, please visit: which also has a link to the Center for Disease Control website.

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