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Local Industries Feeling the Effects of COVID-19 Concerns

March 21, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

Local factories are being impacted by the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic which is resulting in layoffs for a few due to supply issues.

During a WJLE Radio program Friday, County Mayor Tim Stribling said industry officials he has talked to this week are concerned. Smithville Mayor Josh Miller and DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Charlie Parker joined Stribling on the radio program.

(Click link below to hear the program)

“I have been in touch with most of our industries this week and they are all very concerned. Layoffs are happening now with our industries and smaller, individual businesses. We are automobile heavy related in the county when it comes to industries and as automobile manufacturers shut down across the country it will trickle down. I talked to an industry Friday that is automobile related. They are still going to try to work but their concern is their suppliers not being able to send them what they need. Unfortunately that has happened at one industry and will probably happen at others in time,” said County Mayor Stribling.

Help is available to workers affected by layoffs.

“If you have been laid off working for a small business you may call 1-877-813-0950 which is the unemployment division for the state. You may be on hold for a while but be patient. They are waving the waiting week. You usually have to wait a week before you can file for unemployment benefits and start drawing but they are waving that week,” Stribling continued.

Although COVID-19 has forced local governments to temporarily change the manner in which they serve the community in many cases, Stribling said the business of government goes on even if the public cannot visit with their elected officials face to face.

“County services are still operational as normal including our emergency services and the solid waste and garbage collection convenience sites are all open,” said Stribling.

“We want to reassure everyone not to panic because we are taking steps to ensure the safety of the public including county employees. We have had to make some hard decisions to lock some county buildings that provide services to citizens but we are still in there working and signs are on the doors with phone numbers so you can call the public official you want to speak with and they can tell you how your situation can be handled.”

“I was on a conference call with the Governor for all county mayors in the state this week and one of the things he said which struck me was that government will do what it can but that government can’t solve all this. It is going to take families, businesses, and organizations being responsible and I think that is happening here in DeKalb County. I think people realize the seriousness of this virus. As far as county offices, we are still providing services. On the health front, I just encourage everyone to continue to be aware of your surroundings because all the medical experts have said this is going to get worse before it gets better,” added County Mayor Stribling.

While Smithville Mayor Josh Miller joins Stribling in calling for residents to remain calm during this crisis, he disagrees with those who say the community is overreacting to it.

“Some may have questioned whether we are going to the extreme by doing what we are doing. I don’t think so and if we are we will apologize later but I don’t think we can disregard what we are hearing from our governor, president, and medical personnel. That would be foolish,” he said.

“We decided to close city hall to public access this week but we have the drive through window open and are still conducting business. All of our services are available including garbage pickup, water and sewer services, and police and fire protection. As far as our city is concerned our services are and will be available,” Mayor Miller continued.

The mayor said he is happy to see local businesses acting responsibly as well.

“We have many restaurants and banks in town doing drive through service only and I know many churches have made a hard decision on cancelling worship services for the next few weeks and I think that shows great responsibility. We are all doing what we need to do at this time.”

Mayor Miller also cautioned the public against panic buying at the local markets.

“I was on the phone Thursday night with a manager at one of our big grocery stores and my question to him was are we getting low on stock. Are we good with our supplies? He said they are getting trucks in two or three times a week but the panic buying has gotten everybody bent out of shape. If everyone will buy as they did three weeks ago I think everything will be fine,” he said.

“I know we will come back from this so I encourage everyone not to panic because the City of Smithville and the County are on top of this,” added Mayor Miller.

Although there still have been no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in DeKalb County, local EMA Coordinator Charlie Parker said testing is available.

“We have been testing in DeKalb County for a while now. The Centers for Disease Control recommendations for that is for you to contact by phone your primary physician first and they will do a pre-screen and then tell you where you need to go to get tested. They will also do a pre-screening when you get there to determine if you meet the conditions to be tested for COVID-19. There are tests you must take first. If you do not have a primary physician then the health department can test. They have been doing testing the last couple of days. They have testing kits. If you do get tested they are asking you to self quarantine until the results come back,” he said.

“Locally we have formed a DeKalb County COVID-19 Task Force to address the situation in our county. This includes law enforcement, government officials, first responders, health care providers, education officials, public works and others. We have a good mix of people in our county making decisions in the best interest of everyone,” added Parker.

Meanwhile the Upper Cumberland Regional Health Office has created an information line for local residents and healthcare providers to call with questions or concerns related to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

The information line is 931-646-7586 and is designed to provide callers with trusted information related to COVID-19. Residents with medical questions will be referred to their health care provider. The Tennessee Department of Health has additional information available at The CDC has updated information and guidance available online at

The information line will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Recommended Precautions:

Tennesseans are encouraged to take routine precautions used in guarding against respiratory viruses:

*Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
*Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
*Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
*Stay home if you are sick.
*Stay away from people who are sick.
*Flu shots are available for free at your local health department.

Visit the Tennessee Department of Health online at

Connect with TDH on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedinatTNDepttoHealth!

DeKalb Sheriff’s Department along with Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments to Modify responses to some calls due to COVID-19 Concerns

March 20, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department along with the Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments are modifying their responses to calls amid concerns about COVID-19.

“Each call will be evaluated to determine if an officer needs to respond or if a report can be taken by phone,” said Sheriff Patrick Ray, Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins, and Alexandria Police Chief Chris Russell in a joint statement.

The three primary law enforcement agencies in the county decided to take this action after learning that neighboring Putnam County now has one confirmed case of the Coronavirus with possibly up to 7 others . All three agency leaders said “We are trying to keep our employees safe through this epidemic. If we have more than a couple of officers out at one time, we are in trouble.”

“Starting Saturday, March 21 at 7:00 a.m. until further notice, all deputies and city police officers will respond to calls differently than normal. Central Dispatch will evaluate each call and determine whether to direct deputies or city officers to respond or if the call can be taken over the phone. All life threatening emergency calls will be responded to as normal.” according to the statement.

You may call central dispatch at 615-215-3000 or in case of an emergency dial 911.

Nashville District provides update for 2020 recreation season

March 17, 2020

In the interest of public safety, and in accordance with Center for Disease Control recommendations, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is taking the following precautionary measures to assist public health efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

• Effective immediately all visitor centers and resource manager offices are closed to the public until further notice.

• Parks, campgrounds, day-use areas or other recreation areas that have not opened for the 2020 recreation season shall delay opening until further notice.

• In cases where closure of a day use recreation area is not possible, public restrooms, group shelters, beaches, and other amenities will be closed in order to promote Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended precautions. Day use fees will not be collected at these areas during this time.

• Cancellations for campground or group shelter reservations through May 15, 2020 will be processed automatically and a full refund will be issued. America the Beautiful passes may be purchased online by visiting

• Boat ramps will remain open.

• Campers with reservations at Defeated Creek Campground on Cordell Hull Lake who have already arrived or who arrive up to March 19 will be allowed to remain until March 23, 2020. All future reservations will be canceled.

• All schedule tours, interpretive programs, and special events will be cancelled until further notice.

• Shoreline management visits, usually relating to dock permits, will be conducted by phone, email, or mail between dock owners and Corps personnel in order to protect both parties.

Although public access will not be allowed, resource manager offices will be staffed and available to conduct business and answer questions via email or telephone. Telephone numbers for each lake office are listed below.

Lake Office
Phone Number

Lake Barkley
(270) 362-4236

Center Hill Lake
(931) 858-3125

Cheatham Lake
(615) 792-5697

Cordell Hull Lake
(615) 735-1034

Dale Hollow Lake
(931) 243-3136

J. Percy Priest Lake
(615) 889-1975

Lake Cumberland
(606) 679-6337

Laurel River Lake
(606) 679-6337

Martins Fork Lake
(606) 573-1468

Old Hickory Lake
(615) 822-4846

Additonal measures will be effective at each of the Nashville District’s USACE managed facilities throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. Please note, certain facilities are operated on USACE property by other entities under lease agreements, such as marinas and municipal parks. It is recommended that the public contact those entities directly in regards to their current operating status.

“We are taking the CDC’s recommended precautions as we work to provide a safe environment for our visitors,” said Diane Parks, Nashville District’s chief of Operations. “Public safety and the safety of our employees will always be our top priority, and every effort will be made to assist in efforts to contain COVID-19.”

Nashville District leadership continues to monitor and assess the situation and will keep the public informed of any additional updates.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at

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