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DeKalb Animal Shelter Can No Longer Pick Up Or Keep Stray Dogs From Outside the City of Smithville

October 30, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Stray dogs from outside the city limits of Smithville will no longer be picked up or accepted at the DeKalb Animal Shelter.

The action was taken during a special called meeting of the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen Thursday night following a work session meeting with Marsha Darrah and Sue Puckett, Board members of the DeKalb Animal Coalition.

City officials are concerned with the liability and city expense of sending city employees out into the county for the purposes of animal control.

The shelter is approaching its third anniversary in business.

It opened in November 2017 on Transfer Station Road behind Tenneco Automotive under the guidance of the DeKalb Animal Coalition, a non-profit organization, with a mission to provide a safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in homes. The new shelter replaced an old dilapidated dog pound which the city operated and staffed on Smith Road

The two full time employees who work at the new shelter, Director Megan Moore and Emmaly Bennett are employed by the City of Smithville. The Coalition also funds a part time employee. The city provides a truck for the shelter which is used for animal transports and the city has other expenses related to the shelter as specified in a 99 year lease which the city entered into with the Coalition in 2015. The original agreement was for the city to fund only one full time and a part time employee but that was later changed due to the workload.

Both the City of Smithville and the DeKalb County Government appropriated $75,000 for construction of the shelter and the Coalition raised funds and borrowed money to complete it.

“We (Coalition) spent $150,000 on that building in addition (to what the city and county appropriated),” said Puckett

Also under a memorandum of understanding with the county, the Coalition is to pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor’s office or the sheriff’s department at a fee of $110 but city officials say the City of Smithville is not a party to that agreement.

Darrah said the Coalition was organized to serve all municipalities in the county.

“You’ve got a beautiful building and a well run shelter which is much better than what you had before” Darrah told the mayor and aldermen.

City officials say the City of Smithville has more than done its part.

“In fiscal year 2015 (before the new shelter was built) we spent roughly $60,000. In 2016 we spent $63,071. In 2017 we spent $64,000. In 2018, not counting the $75,000 that we gave toward building the shelter, we spent $118,372. In 2019 we spent $103,000 and in 2020 we have spent almost $115,000 so we have almost doubled what the city has been spending since before the building was built and what we have been contributing,” said Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city’s financial advisor.

“What we committed to originally was one full time and a part time employee, a vehicle and utilities. In addition to that you have some salary payroll taxes, insurance, retirement, repairs and maintenance, supplies, uniforms, the vehicle operation, and we do insure the building. They (Coalition) insure the contents, etc. So our costs have doubled yet we are getting no revenue (from the shelter). I don’t see a whole lot of what they are contributing other than they have got the building in place for us,” said Jackson.

Currently 67% of the animals coming to the shelter are from the county.

“My biggest concern is our (city) employees having to go out into the county to get these animals. All the while they are on the clock for the city using city equipment with city liability. I don’t think that is appropriate without the county being involved. We are mandated by statute for animal control in the city but not in the county. My problem is when they get called out into the county, there is no way for them to take off their city hat and put on a county hat so we have crossed boundaries here that are legally fuzzy and dubious at best. I think for our city employees we don’t need to be answering those county calls until this is straightened out,” said Alderman Brandon Cox.

“I make a motion that the city employees at the animal shelter no longer go out into the county to pick up animals and that no county animals be accepted at the shelter at this time.” said Alderman Cox. County animals already being housed at the shelter may remain there.

Alderman Danny Washer offered a second to the motion and it was approved on a voice vote of the council.

“I am sorry they (aldermen) did that,” Puckett told WJLE after the meeting. “We are supposed to be a Coalition for all the county and that was in the preamble of our contract. I am hoping that we can get some solution. I am distressed over this,” said Puckett.

The lease/contract as adopted between the City of Smithville and the Animal Coalition in 2015 specified the following terms and conditions:

* The City is to lease to the Coalition the property for a term of 99 years beginning September 1, 2015 and ending August 31, 2114.

*The City shall pay to the Coalition the sum of $75,000 that has been appropriated for one-half of the anticipated cost for the erection of the animal shelter upon the land leased by the City to the Coalition.

*The Coalition shall be responsible for the erection of the building

*The City agrees to pay all utility bills connected with or which may accumulate directly or indirectly to Coalition’s term of occupancy.

*The City agrees that it shall be liable for and make all maintenance and structural repairs for the outside of the building, including roof and the heating and air conditioning units, except if caused by the negligence of the Coalition. The Coalition shall be responsible for maintenance of the inside of the building.

*The City shall not be responsible for any personal property placed on the premises by the Coalition, its agents, servants or employees, and it is understood and agreed that it is the Coalition’s responsibility to secure appropriate insurance to cover its personal property from any losses. Any personal property remaining on the premises 30 days after termination of this lease shall be and become the property of the City.

*The City shall insure the building with a reputable insurance company in a sufficient amount to replace the building if destroyed by natural disaster, fire, or other means.

*The City shall continue to provide to the Coalition the full time employee, as well as the part time employee and the animal control vehicle, to assist in the day-to day operation of the animal shelter and will budget funds for this purpose from year to year, subject to approval of the Coalition.

*The Coalition will maintain proper shelter and care for all domestic and wild animals and fowl that come into its custody.

*The Coalition will maintain suitable office hours at the animal shelter for the convenience of the public and for the purpose of transacting business in connection with the duties under this lease and for the purpose of receiving animals or for accepting applications for the redemption of impounded animals.

*The Coalition will, through duly appointed and legally qualified agents and officers, diligently enforce all animal regulation laws and ordinances and will capture and impound animals found running at large in the City in violation of those certain ordinances relating to stray animals and to the restraint of dogs running at large.

*The Coalition will provide proper food, water, shelter, and other humane treatment for such animals and fowl while they are in the Coalition’s possession and until placed or otherwise humanely disposed of by the Coalition.

*The Coalition will cooperate with the Health Department by following procedures required by the ordinance concerning persons or animals bitten by an animal in the City.

*The Coalition will investigate all reports of violations of City ordinances relating to animal control and regulation and, when warranted by the facts, shall cause to be prosecuted all persons charged with violation of said ordinances.

*The Coalition will be responsible for scheduling and overseeing all volunteers and staff.

*The Coalition will be responsible for providing foster homes and the adoption of the animals.

*The Coalition agrees to indemnify and keep harmless the City from all losses, damages, liabilities and expenses which may arise or be claimed against the City and be in favor of any person arising from the use or occupancy of said premises by the Coalition or arising from any acts, omissions, neglect or fault of Coalition, Coalition’s agent, employees or invitees.

*The Coalition agrees to take out and maintains public liability insurance with a reputable insurance company against property damage, personal injury, or death arising out of the use or occupation of the leased premises. The City shall be named as co-insured on all such policies, and Coalition shall furnish the City with a certificate of said coverage. Such coverage shall not be decreased or canceled without 30 days’ written notice to the City. All such policies shall be written as primary policies. This section shall not affect the indemnity or hold harmless provision in Section 17.

*The Coalition will collect all board, adoption, and impoundment fees and shall keep proper financial records to account for same. The Coalition will permit the City, at all reasonable times, to inspect and audit such records and shall make such reports of monies received as shall be required.

*The Coalition shall keep full and accurate records of all animals taken into custody and impounded, showing the date, place, reason, and manner whereby animals were brought into custody with a description of the animal and a record of its final disposition.

*The Coalition shall, in addition to the other duties outlined herein, be subject to call to rescue any injured animal or any animal or creature which is trapped, or is other unnaturally restrained and shall be responsible for providing humane treatment for same.

*The City hereby reserves the right to inspect the premises occupied by Coalition at any reasonable time.

*In the event the property is destroyed by fire or other acts of God or perils, the City is obligated to rebuild the building with the insurance proceeds, and, when rebuilt, this lease shall continue. Upon destruction or condemnation of all or a portion of the demised premises, the Coalition shall have the right, at its sole discretion, to stay at the premises or to cancel this agreement, on 30 days’ written notice without any further liability.

*In the event of failure of the Coalition to perform the terms and provisions of this lease, same shall constitute a breach of this lease and shall give the City, at option, the right to declare this lease forfeited, without notice or demand, and to take possession of said property and to recover any damages sustained as a result thereof, and, likewise, a failure on the part of the City to perform the terms and provisions of this lease shall give the Coalition the right to declare this lease forfeited and vacate said property without liability resulting from such breach.

*The property herein leased and the contract herein is not to be subleased, sold, mortgaged, or assigned by the Coalition, except with the written consent of the City. However, the City shall not unreasonably withhold or delay such consent.

*This agreement is to be governed by the laws of the State of Tennessee, and it is mutually understood and agreed to by the parties hereto that the City will defend this contract with all due and proper diligence should it be challenged by any action in law.

*City covenants and agrees with the Coalition that upon Coalition observing and performing all the terms, covenants, and conditions herein that the Coalition may peaceably and quietly enjoy the premises hereby demised.

*All covenants, promises, and agreements herein contained shall be binding upon, apply, and inure to the benefit of the devisees and successors of the parties hereto.

*This agreement contains the entire contract and agreement of the parties hereto and is signed in duplicate by the authorized officials of each party, with each party holding an executed copy hereof.

DeKalb County Early Voting Turnout Hits Record High

October 30, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County hit a record high for early voting turnout at 5,089 for the November 3 election.

The early voting period ended Thursday with 510 casting ballots including 487 in person and 23 by absentee. That brings the 14 day total from October 14-29 at 5,089 (4,635 in person and 454 absentees), up by 1,097 over the early voting/absentee turnout of 3,992 for the 2016 Presidential election. DeKalb County has 12,509 registered voters.

Election day voting on Tuesday, November 3 will be from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. at all 15 precincts in DeKalb County.

Safeguards are in place to help protect both workers and voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections the largest precinct vote turnout was the courthouse precinct at 53.1% while the lowest precinct vote was Belk at 18.7%.

Voting by precinct compared to the number of registered voters by precinct is as follows from October 14-29:

Alexandria: 407 voted (registered voters in this precinct 1,320 (30.8 % voted)

Temperance Hall: 177 voted (504 registered voters in this precinct (35.1% voted)

Edgar Evins State Park: 19 voted (100 registered voters in this precinct (19% voted)

Liberty: 169 voted (544 registered voters in this precinct (31% voted)

Dowelltown: 182 voted (535 registered voters in this precinct (34% voted)

Snow Hill: 280 voted (710 registered voters in this precinct (39.4% voted)

Church of God: 836 voted (1,812 registered voters in this precinct (46.1% voted)

Rock Castle: 39 voted (188 registered voters in this precinct (20.7% voted)

Courthouse: 938 voted (1,766 registered voters in this precinct (53.1% voted)

Johnson’s Chapel: 206 voted (532 registered voters in this precinct (38.7% voted)

County Complex: 663 voted (1,347 registered voters in this precinct (49. 2% voted)

Belk: 73 voted (389 registered voters in this precinct (18.7% voted)

Keltonburg: 217 voted (576 registered voters in this precinct (37.6% voted)

Blue Springs: 192 voted (628 registered voters in this precinct (30.5% voted)

Church of Christ Annex: 691 voted (1,558 registered voters in this precinct (44.3% voted)

Voting totals for the 14 days of early voting were as follows:

*Wednesday, October 14- 528 cast ballots including 287 in person and 241 by absentee.

*Thursday, October 15 – 320 voted including 303 in person and 17 absentees

*Friday, October 16- 340 including 336 in person and 4 absentees

*Saturday, October 17- 268 including 247 in person and 21 absentees

*Monday, October 19- 362 which was 346 in person (including Webb House residents) and 16 absentees.

*Tuesday, October 20-326 including 317 in person and 9 by absentee

*Wednesday, October 21- 356 including 328 in person and 28 by absentee

*Thursday, October 22- 375 voted including nursing home residents and 3 absentees.

*Friday, October 23-419 including 403 in person and 16 by absentee

*Saturday, October 24-299 all in person

* Monday, October 26- 342 including 312 in person and 30 by absentee

*Tuesday, October 27- 336 including 303 in person and 33 by absentee

*Wednesday, October 28- 308 including 295 in person and 13 by absentee

*Thursday, October 29- 510 including 487 in person and 23 by absentee

Clark Killed in Thursday Crash

October 29, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

A 41 year old Smithville man lost his life in a two car crash Thursday morning on Dale Ridge Road (Highway 96) near Jones Lane.

Dead is Bryan E. Clark.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Clark was traveling south in a yellow 2003 Toyota Celica when he crossed into the oncoming lane while negotiating a right curve and struck a northbound maroon 2010 Dodge Avenger driven by 33 year old Echo M. Hicks of Sparta. 38 year old Virgil Willis of Brush Creek was a passenger with Hicks.

Clark, who was not wearing a seatbelt, died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash. Hicks suffered non-incapacitating injuries. Willis was not hurt. Both Hicks and Willis had their seatbelts on at the time of the crash.

Trooper Troy Withers of the Tennessee Highway Patrol conducted the investigation assisted by Trooper Jonathon Burke and Trooper Dylan Palmer.

Clark’s death marks the 6th traffic fatality of the year in DeKalb County.

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