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Signups begin Saturday for DeKalb Youth Baseball

January 28, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

Signups for the DeKalb Youth Baseball League begin Saturday, January 30 from 8 a.m. until 12 noon at the county complex in the UT Extension office.

If you miss Saturday’s registration, there will be three other dates to signup on Saturday, February 6th, 13th, and 20th at the same times and location.

Registration fees are $65 per child and $50 for each sibling. Parents who don’t want to work the concession stand may make a $25 buyout payment. Please bring proof of player age and proof of residency. Tryouts are set for February 27. See the DeKalb Youth Baseball League Facebook for details. Debit and credit cards will be accepted and transaction fees apply.

DeKalb County Youth Baseball, formerly known as Little League, is played at the park on Allen’s Ferry Road. Player ages for this league are from 7 to 15 years old.

“The way our league works if you are not familiar with it is we have 7-8 year old Coach Pitch. Last year we had Machine Pitch but we are going to Coach Pitch this year,” said League President Casey Midgett.

“Our first year of Kid Pitch Baseball we call Minor League and that is for 9-10 year olds. We will also have 11-12 year old Major League Kid Pitch. Last year was our first year to offer Senior League which is 13-15 year olds and we plan to offer it again this year and they will play at the Joe L. Evins park. If we don’t have enough kids signup to play Senior League those who do will still be allowed to play baseball on some level,” said Midgett.

Girls are also welcome to signup.

“A question I get a lot is can girls play?. The answer is yes they can play. We encourage it. We have had some really good girls come through who were every bit as good as the boys that played. Its just that its baseball and not softball. We won’t have just a girls team but girls will can get drafted just like the boys,” Midgett said.

“We hope to have both the Middle School baseball and softball players join us this year. Most of the time the Middle School season is over by May. For anyone who wants to play in that league who is on the Middle School team, we will draft you on February 27 and then basically tell you we will see you after the Middle School season is over. You will not be expected to show up for practice or a DeKalb Youth Baseball game before then,” added Midgett.

This year the league will be unsanctioned.

“There are a few changes and we don’t have all the details worked out yet but we will be going from Machine Pitch to Coach Pitch for the 7-8 year olds and we are going to be unsanctioned this year. Last year we made a big push to be with Cal Ripken and that was great. They treated us really well and we had no complaints. In past years we were with TYBA and before that Little League. We met as a board this year and decided with all that is going on in the world right now we didn’t feel like it was prudent for us to affiliate with a league because it takes away some of the local control over what we can and cannot do such as dates for All-Stars and things like that. We didn’t really want to give that up (local control) but we will still pick All-Star teams and there will be a post season. We haven’t worked out all the details yet but the All-Star teams will play somewhere,” added Midgett.

Kim Driver Luton Appointed to DeKalb Election Commission

January 28, 2021

A new member has been named to the DeKalb County Election Commission by the Tennessee Election Commission.

Mrs. Kim Driver Luton, a resident of Smithville, is replacing Lisa Peterson as one of the two democratic members of the local commission. She will serve out Mrs. Peterson’s term, which expires in April 2021. Mrs. Peterson was first appointed in April 2017 and served until her death January 19, 2021.

“ I am so honored to be appointed to serve on the DeKalb Election Commission. I realize I have some very big shoes to fill with the loss of my friend Lisa Peterson. I can only hope I make her proud,” said Luton.

Since the state legislature is made up of a majority of GOP lawmakers, Republicans have the right to hold majority memberships on the Tennessee Election Commission as well as all county election commissions. The appointments to local commissions are made by the state election commission in April of odd numbered years. The term for each member is for two years.

The other four members of the DeKalb County Election Commission are Republicans Mrs.Walteen Parker, Mrs. Barbara Vanatta, Mr. Jim Dean, and Democrat Mrs. Jackie Smith.

Jordan Wilkins, Chair of the DeKalb Democratic Party, stated: “I am beyond devastated at the passing of Commissioner Lisa Peterson. Nobody in DeKalb County knew more about election law than Lisa. Lisa loved and respected the election process. As Chair, Lisa was a wealth of information for me and always dependable. I will miss her friendship and working with her. To her family: thank you for sharing her with us and I join you in mourning her loss.”

Wilkins recently recommended Kim Driver Luton to the Tennessee Election Commission to fill Peterson’s unexpired term on the local election commission left vacant by her death.

“After much thought and deliberation, I submitted Kim’s name to the state for consideration. Kim has been a lifelong and active member of the Democratic Party. Kim is very progressive and has experience in working as an election official. I am very excited about her appointment and I know she will serve the voters of DeKalb County with honesty and integrity.” said Wilkins.

County Seeks Grant to Purchase Fire Truck

January 27, 2021
By: Dwayne Page

DeKalb County may soon be seeking another grant to purchase a new or used fire truck.

During Monday night’s monthly meeting, the county commission voted 8 to 5 to adopt a resolution expressing support for the filing of an application for a $250,000 USDA Rural Development Facility Grant with a 45% local match of $112,500. The grant application will be filed on behalf of the county and administered if approved by the Upper Cumberland Development District and funded from the capital projects category of the county budget in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Fifth district commissioner Anita Puckett moved to adopt the resolution and sixth district commissioner Matt Adcock offered a second to the motion. It passed 8 to 5. Commissioners voting in favor were Jenny Trapp, Anita Puckett, Matt Adcock, Jerry Adcock, Jeff Barnes, Julie Young, Sabrina Farler, and Scott Little. Commissioners Beth Pafford, Bruce Malone, Myron Rhody, Janice Fish Stewart, and Bobby Johnson voted against it.

County Mayor Tim Stribling first shared with the commission the news about this grant opportunity last Thursday night during a committee of the whole meeting. Stribling said he had only learned about it a week before from Christopher Able of USDA Rural Development and explained that if the county wanted to make application it had to adopt the resolution expressing support and commitment to the project before mid February.

Although he voted for the resolution, Fifth district commissioner Jerry Adcock seemed to express concern for the county committing more money toward the purchase of another fire truck when the commission only two months ago voted to spend $250,000 from the capital projects fund to buy two used trucks to replace a couple of old homemade fire trucks in the fleet.

“When did USDA notify us about this? We just put $250,000 toward fire trucks and now a month later we are talking about putting another $112,500 toward another fire truck?” asked Commissioner Adcock.

“They called me last week and said DeKalb County qualifies for this. I just felt like I needed to bring this to the county commission and let you make a decision,” answered County Mayor Stribling.

“I am on the emergency services committee and understand what Jerry (Adcock) is saying about the $250,000 recently requested but this grant opportunity just presented itself and we are not going to have this opportunity again. I understand $112,500 is quite a bit of money but to know it means $250,000 to our emergency services gives us an opportunity to surplus some of our older fire department equipment for newer equipment. This is an opportunity we need to take part in,” said Commissioner Puckett.

When asked by Fourth district commissioner Stewart for his thoughts on the grant, Fire Chief Donny Green said its an opportunity of which the county should take advantage due to the aging fire trucks in the fleet.

“We had a very lengthy emergency services committee meeting in November and during that meeting I provided a list of all our vehicles in the fleet and their age. The average age of our whole fleet of fire trucks right now is about 21.5 years. In that meeting we talked about our most critical needs. We had two homemade fire engines that didn’t pass fleet inspection and we wanted to get those off the road for safety reasons. At that time we determined that because of our immediate needs it would be better to replace those with two used fire engines instead of buying one new one. We did find two used fire trucks but I will tell you that they (good used fire trucks) are not easy to find. I have looked all over the country including with the biggest dealers of used fire apparatus in Alabama and learned that if you find anything newer than ten years old you will be paying over the amount we would have to pay for a new fire truck in this grant for a used fire truck. Another challenge we face in buying used is finding them to fit in our fire stations. Our stations were built in 1975 and fire trucks back then looked a lot different than they do today. They were a lot smaller. Its hard to find good quality equipment to fit in our stations at a reasonable price. I think it is pretty obvious when you can get 55% of it (new or used fire truck) paid for (grant) and specify the size we need its probably not an opportunity you want to pass up,” said Chief Green.

“To put this in perspective, we have not bought a new fire truck for this county since 2012. Right now we have five fire engines out of the twelve that are over twenty years old. In eight years we will have ten of those twelve fire engines over twenty years old. In order for us to address not just today but eight years down the road and further we have to start blending in some new fire trucks in the fleet,” he continued.

Fifth district commissioner Adcock then asked Chief Green how many used fire trucks have been purchased in recent years.

“In 2017 we bought three used trucks through a Rural Development Grant including a 1993 engine, a 1996 engine, and a 1992 engine and we have two other used trucks, a 2004 and a 2006 model along with a 2009 truck that insurance replaced due to a crash. While these trucks did fill immediate needs taking some homemade and unsafe equipment off the road it did not improve the overall age of our fleet although we have tried to place them strategically in places with lower call volumes to maximize the life of the older trucks,” Chief Green explained.

Commissioner Adcock further inquired about the mileage of the fire trucks in the fleet.

“Some don’t have a lot of miles but on a fire engine mileage is not that big of a deal because their primary use is pumping at the scene which uses the engine through the PTO process so mileage is not always an accurate reading on the use of a truck. As these trucks get older you have problems with valves leaking and not being able to pass the annual pump test. I am not opposed to buying used equipment but sometimes I believe we stretch the rubber band until it breaks and I don’t want it to break on us all at once to the point where we have to come up here asking for six fire trucks,” said Chief Green.

If it is approved and funded, terms of the grant stipulate that the fire truck must be located in the western portion of the county at an existing station in the US Census tract which takes into consideration low to moderate income household demographics to determine grant eligibility. It is also a reimbursable grant meaning the county would have to pay up front and then be reimbursed 55% of the cost. Although USDA prefers the county buy a new fire truck with the grant money it could purchase a used one.

Seventh district commissioner Beth Pafford then gave her views on the grant.

“I want to commend Chief Green. He does an excellent job as fire chief for the county and advocating for the fire department but what has been on my mind is the $250,000 that we allocated to replace those two homemade vehicles and when our other fire truck crashed and it got replaced it was made evident that we really needed to do that (replace the two homemade trucks) because it was my understanding that if one of those had crashed the liability would have been on the county and we would have been on the hook for that. I feel really good about that decision. We have put $25,000 (seed money) toward the Wolf Creek station in District 1 and we added a part time position in 2019 to give the fire department someone who could be at the station to monitor calls and that went up to $24,000 (this year). I understand the need but we have had this grant come up all of a sudden. I believe there will be grants in the future we can look at when we have more time to look at our budget as a whole,” said Pafford.

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