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City Awards $2.7 Million Bid for Renovation of Waste Water Plant

August 16, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Head Works to be Renovated
Aeration System to be replaced
Aeration Infrastructure to be Upgraded

A $2.7 million renovation at the Smithville Waste Water Treatment Plant will soon get underway.

During a special called meeting Monday night, the Smithville Aldermen voted to award a bid to the W & O Construction Company, Incorporated of Livingston as recommended by the city’s consulting engineer, the J.R. Wauford Company.

The bid of $2,794,000 was the lowest of the five bids submitted for the project which includes a renovation of the headworks and to replace the aeration system at the wastewater treatment plant.

In a letter to Mayor Jimmy Poss, Stephen C. Lee, P.E., the Vice President of J.R. Wauford & Company wrote that “This contractor has successfully performed work for our firm in the past and we recommend awarding this contract to W & O Construction, Inc.”

“Please be advised that this project involves some unit price pay items which means the final quantities will determine the final contract amount. The final contract amount may differ from the bid amount as is the case for all unit price contracts,” wrote Lee.

To help pay for the cost of the project, the City of Smithville was recently awarded a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $525,000 from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Although the grant will fund part of the costs, the bulk of the funding to pay for it will be appropriated from the city's water and sewer fund surplus.

This project has been several years in the making.

Greg Davenport of the J.R. Wauford company addressed the mayor and aldermen on the proposed project in October, 2013. "The existing wastewater treatment plant was designed in 1991 and it went into operation in 1992. It has functioned very well. The operation of that plant is top notch. The operators have done a fantastic job of preserving your infrastructure. Even so there are things that wear out with time and equipment is one of those things. After about twenty years at a wastewater treatment facility, it just gets to a point where it's time to renew it. There are really two components to the plant. The first component is the headworks which is the primary treatment. That's the screening and grit removal. Obviously the most aggressive environment is at the front end of the wastewater treatment plant. The second component is the aeration and controls. The aeration system itself is not in a failing mode but there are more energy efficient systems out there nowadays that we feel like you ought to take a look at. This would be a more pro active project. What we're proposing is a project that would renovate the headworks, which is the primary treatment device and then install a more efficient aeration system. My preliminary calculations on the aeration system show that it could save about $30,000 to $35,000 a year in electricity by switching over. The plant is twenty one years old. It's time to take an assessment of it and see what needs to be done," said Davenport.

City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said Monday night that a pre-construction meeting will soon be held to lay out more specifics of the project and a timeline for completion.

Two Teens Charged in Liberty Burglaries and Thefts

August 16, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joshua James Boland
Bobby Christopher Maynard
Robert Orin Nannie
David Dwayne Anderson
Billy Cooper Pruitt
Karen Louise Edwards
 Christy Mae Bell
Steven Darrell Bly
Amy Leigh Estes

Two teens have been arrested in the recent burglaries and thefts at two homes in Liberty.

18 year old Joshua James Boland and 18 year old Bobby Christopher Maynard both of Clear Creek Road, Liberty are each charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft of property over $1,000. Bond for each is $30,000 and they will make a court appearance August 18.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, August 2 Boland and Maynard allegedly broke into a residence on West Main in Liberty. Items taken from this home were several pieces of jewelry, an iPod Touch, a Kindle Fire, a Verizon prepaid phone, an Easton ball bat bag, $750 in cash and $300 in assorted change.

Five days later on Sunday, August 7 Boland and Maynard allegedly burglarized a different home on West Main Street in Liberty. Items taken from this home included a Winchester 45 caliber revolver, a 25 caliber semi-automatic handgun, and $350 in assorted change.

According to Sheriff Ray, some of the stolen items have been recovered. The cases were investigated by Sheriff’s Department Detectives.

48 year old Robert Orin Nannie, a homeless man, is charged with indecent exposure. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is August 25. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, August 12 a deputy was called to Maggie’s Landing on Highway 70 due to a complaint of a man sitting on a bench in front of the building exposing his genitals and buttocks to the public. Nannie was placed under arrest.

46 year old David Dwayne Anderson of Dedmon Hollow Road, Liberty is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and vandalism. His bond totals $9,000 and his court date is August 18. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, August 2 Anderson allegedly destroyed a master lock and stole an 18 foot dovetail trailer valued at $2,000. The case was investigated by a Sheriff’s Department Detective.

46 year old Billy Cooper Pruitt of Old Bildad Road, Smithville is charged with being in an accident resulting in damage to another vehicle. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is August 11. Sheriff Ray said that on June 25 Pruitt’s GMC pickup truck allegedly sideswiped another vehicle headed southbound on Hurricane Ridge Road. Pruitt failed to immediately stop at the scene of the accident nor did he return at any time during the subsequent investigation. Other parties involved in the accident obtained the license tag number of Pruitt’s truck and reported it.

51 year old Karen Louise Edwards of Oak Place Drive is charged with hit and run, damage to a vehicle, and failure to give proper notification. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, August 8 Edwards allegedly lost control of her 2005 Mazda and struck a parked vehicle on Vaughn Lane. She put her car in reverse, ran into a storage building crashing through the wall and damaging items inside, and then she drove off at a high rate of speed. Edwards was located the following day at her home and admitted to being responsible for the crash.

31 year old Christy Mae Bell of Dry Creek Road, Smithville is charged with aggravated assault. Her bond is $4,000 and she will make a court appearance on August 25. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, August 10 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Nashville Highway due to a domestic incident. Upon arrival, the officer learned that Bell had allegedly struck her ex-husband in the head and tried to strangle the man by grabbing him around the neck leaving scratches and marks on his face and neck. She was placed under arrest.

32 year old Steven Darrell Bly of Forrest Avenue, Smithville is charged with resisting stop, frisk, halt, arrest, or search. Bly is under a $5,000 bond and he is to make a court appearance on August 25. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, August 11 two deputies went to Banks Pisgah Road to serve a capias warrant on Bly for failure to appear in criminal court. As he was being arrested, Bly resisted by trying to pull away from the officers. Bly is being held without bond on the failure to appear warrant and is to make a court appearance on that charge September 12.

32 year old Amy Leigh Estes of Mountain View Drive, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. She was further issued citations for no insurance and failure to drive with due care. Her bond is $1,500 and her court date is August 25. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, August 13 a deputy was dispatched to the area of Hurricane Bridge on Highway 56 due to a one vehicle accident in which a car had hit a guardrail. Upon arrival, the officer observed a silver Saturn that had wrecked. Estes, the driver, had slurred speech and she was unsteady on her feet. Estes told the officer that she had not been drinking but that she was under the influence of suboxone and xanax. She performed poorly on field sobriety tasks.

Three Graduate from DeKalb Drug Court Program

August 15, 2016
by: 
Norene Puckett
Blake Goad and Judge Bratten Cook II
Crystal King and Judge Bratten Cook II
Michael Briley
Monty Burks

“I didn’t have a care in the world about anything or anyone besides myself. I stole, lied, cheated and hurt many people".

“I had zero relationship with my son and my behavior was so manipulative that the rest of my family and friends had no respect for me anymore."

“I never thought I would be here graduating the Drug Court program. I was always getting drunk every day and didn’t care about life or my family or kids or how I was hurting them all and myself".

Testimonials and recovery stories were shared by three individuals who have successfully completed requirements for graduation from the DeKalb County Drug Court Program during a recent recognition ceremony.

The graduates, Michael Briley, Crystal King, and Blake Goad, were presented plaques for their efforts during the program held at the New Life Connection Center in Smithville. Briley, King, and Goad are among 54 individuals who have successfully completed the local drug court program since its inception.

The ceremony, held on Monday July 25, featured remarks from the Honorable Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, a performance by Suzanne Slager of the song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again,” and a keynote address from Monty Burks, Director of Faith Based Initiatives for Tennessee’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Drug courts attempt to get at the heart of recidivism with a different tactic that emphasizes recovery over punishment. One of the first drug courts in Tennessee started in Nashville in 1996. Now there are courts that serve 76 counties across the State. According to the DeKalb County Drug Court program it costs about $4,000 annually per participant, while it costs about $20,000 to keep someone in jail.

Most of the drug courts in Tennessee offer similar recovery programs with some varying details in operation. There are now about 3,000 programs across the country. All require participants to be nonviolent offenders, suffer from an addiction and comply with the requirements of the local programs, which by all accounts are demanding. Offenders must first be assessed that they are eligible, and the District Attorney’s offices must sign off. Program participants then commit to four phases of treatment. In DeKalb County, this includes at least a 28-day inpatient substance abuse treatment program, outpatient treatment, individual and group counseling, and they must get and maintain employment, and attend countless 12-step-based meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous. They also are subjected to an unlimited amount of random drug testing all along the way.

“For participants who violate program rules, there are swift consequences, but each case is handled individually,” Norene Puckett, Program Coordinator said. “Some participants cannot handle the rigorous program and ask to be terminated, choosing to serve their sentences in jail rather than submit to the intensive therapy and substance abuse treatment. It’s a very hard program, and it should be. Drug and/or alcohol addiction is something that our participants will have to deal with for the rest of their lives. Eventually they will get that serenity for which they are searching, but that will come only after working hard for it. The drug court program is for people who are ready to make that change,” Puckett said.

The program is funded by multiple sources which include State funded grants through the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, court fees and fines of individuals charged with drug or alcohol related offenses, additional funding appropriated through the County Commission and through donations of time from Judge Cook, the Office of the District Attorney General, the Office of the District Public Defender, Sheriff Patrick Ray, Haven of Hope Counseling and Community Probation Services. If you would like to help support the DeKalb County Drug Court Program, please contact Norene Puckett at 615-215-8690 or norene.drugcourt@gmail.com for more information.

Smithville Police Make Arrest in Auto Burglary Case

August 15, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Billy Eugene Cook Jr.
Jacob James Damon

Smithville Police arrested a man last week accused of breaking into vehicles parked near the hospital.

47 year old Billy Eugene Cook Jr. was arrested on Wednesday, August 10 for criminal impersonation and auto burglary. Police were called to investigate a complaint of a man who left the emergency room of the hospital and had been seen going through cars in the parking lot. Upon arrival the officer was approached by a man who said that someone had gotten into his vehicle and threatened him. After making the threat, the man jumped out of the vehicle and ran toward the specialty clinic. The officer caught up with the man (Cook) and placed him under arrest. Cook gave the wrong name and birth date when asked to identify himself. Another officer on the scene, who knew Cook, recognized him. His identity was confirmed by a computer picture. Cook was found to have in his possession stolen items taken from a car parked earlier by the hospital emergency room. His bond is $15,000 and his court date is August 25.

22 year old Jacob James Damon was arrested Thursday, August 4 for simple possession, driving on a revoked license, and evading arrest. Police responded to a complaint of a reckless driver on Cookeville Highway coming into the city limits. Officers spotted the vehicle near Northside Elementary School and observed it go through the red light at Highways 70 & 56 at a high rate of speed. Police activated their blue lights but the driver (Damon) refused to stop and continued into Warren County through a residential area. The driver (Damon) then turned onto a driveway and drove through the back yard and field where the vehicle went out of control and spun around before going into the yard of another residence. Due to a safety threat, police determined that the driver (Damon) needed to be stopped. They implemented the controlled pit maneuver and got the vehicle stopped. The driver (Damon) exited and continued to evade on foot. Officers gave chase and apprehended Damon. Incident to arrest, police found 32 pills believed to be Diazepam in a cellophane wrapper on Damon’s person. His bond is $16,500 and his court date is August 18.

25 year old Ashley M. Singleton was cited for shoplifting on Tuesday, August 2. A Dollar General Store employee observed Singleton placing items in her purse. The stolen merchandise was recovered and returned. She will make a court appearance on August 25.

40 year old Michael Dwayne Bennett was arrested on Friday, August 5 on a second offense of driving while suspended. Police initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle failing to maintain its lane of travel. Bennett, the driver, was not able to produce a driver's license. Central Dispatch revealed that Bennett's license were suspended for failure to show proof of insurance. Bennett was further cited for registration violation and failure to maintain lane of travel. His bond is $2,500 and his court date is September 1.

22 year old Shane Tyler Hale was cited on Saturday, August 6 for theft of property under $500. A Wal-Mart employee observed Hale taking multiple items from the store shelves and concealing the items in his pockets.

State Website Available to Assist Patrons of County Clerk Office

August 14, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
State Website Available to Assist Patrons of County Clerk Office

Although patrons of the county clerk office still have to pay a visit for most services, the Tennessee County Clerk website can be a useful tool to help them prepare for completing their transactions.

Applications for such services as duplicate titles, new businesses, marriages, notary public, etc. can be accessed, filled out, and sent online through www.tncountyclerk.com. according to County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss.

“Online renewal allows the customer to pay online leaving the mail process to us. Once you submit your request we process, mail and automatically submit a return email confirmation of completion,” said Poss.

The state website offers a variety of links and options for patrons to select. "Of the many applications and forms available, each allows the customer to complete prior to arriving at our office. Many forms are printable from the site and hand printed. Others such as marriage, notary, and business license applications may be completed and saved online leaving minimal information to be added once arriving at our office,” Poss continued.

A direct link is available providing information for individuals interested in becoming an auto dealer and the associated fees. A link is also provided for Boat registration fees and information related to that process.

After accessing the website, you are to select your county (DEKALB), which will then give you the county clerk’s office hours, phone number, and any other information regarding the office. On the left side of the screen you will see a list of links to select including motor vehicles, title applications, dealers, and handicap placards/plates. “With most of these placards/plates, you will have the option to renew online or by mail. Either way comes with a mail fee but whether by online or mail it is a convenience to be able to do this from home," said Poss.

The website further offers online filing conveniences for business and motel owners. “For business owners contact information for taxpayer service/Department of Revenue is available through this site and a new business application can be done online. That can be mailed in with the fifteen dollar fee and can be taken care of without the applicants actually coming into our office. Blank forms are also available for individuals who submit the Hotel/Motel tax. It's not a requirement that they bring those into our office. About half the people mail them in and the other half drop them by,” Poss said.

Another option to select on the website is licenses. Information is there regarding marriage licenses and requirements for marriage. “Actually by going online you can put in your information on a marriage license application at home and then come to our office to finish it. It speeds up the process by having the application almost completed before you get here. Once you arrive, we can search online by last name and finish the process which cuts down considerably on the amount of time," he continued.

Under the forms column, Poss said patrons interested in a title and registration form have access to a variety of options. "By clicking the link for title and registration it opens up to a full page of options with several different forms to choose from including blank bills of sales for watercrafts or motor vehicles, etc. There are separate forms for each including medium speed vehicles. We're having several people purchasing medium speed vehicles now and they're registering and putting plates on them.”

"You'll also see a license link for game and fish. However our office in DeKalb County does not provide hunting and fishing licenses. We are not set up to do those here and haven't been for several years"," he said.

" There's just a variety of different applications and affidavits available there that we use in our office daily. Whether you are requesting duplicate titles, noting of liens, specialty license plates, certificates of ownership, etc. you'll find applications for them online as well as information regarding such services as organ donor awareness," said Poss.

" We hope this website will help you find the resources or information you need to complete your desired task and cut down on your wait time while in our office. This service is not intended to keep people out of the office but a means of offering convenience especially to those who do like to use computers," he said.

“Remember too that when you visit our office you can take advantage of our drive thru service. Our lobby is very busy as we average more than 90 transactions daily and we ask for your patience but we strive to provide the service you need in a timely and efficient manner as staffing allows upon your arrival regardless of whether its at the drive thru or the lobby. We appreciate you and always look forward to serving you,” Poss concluded.

WJLE Sports Programs Returning This Fall

August 14, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
DCHS Tiger Football Returns Friday night
Tiger Talk with Coach Steve Trapp and John Pryor Airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m.
Listen for Murphy's Matchups with Murphy Fair Fridays at 6:00 p.m.
Catch Coach to Coach with Phillip Fulmer and Doug Matthews on WJLE Fridays at 5 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m.
Fearless Forecasters Returning August 31 at 4:30 p.m.
Tennessee Football Returns this Fall on WJLE

WJLE begins its annual fall sports programming this week with the return of DeKalb County High School Football.

The Tigers open the 2016 campaign hosting the Warren County Pioneers Friday night, August 19 at 7:00 p.m. WJLE will have LIVE coverage with the Voice of the Tigers John Pryor. Before kick-off, WJLE will feature “Tiger Talk” at 6:30 p.m. hosted by John Pryor with Tiger Coach Steve Trapp and members of the Tiger football team.

WJLE’s Friday night programming lineup prior to Tiger Football and "Tiger Talk" starts with “Coach to Coach” at 5:00 p.m. followed by “Murphy’s Match-ups” at 6:00 p.m.

Former UT Coaches Phillip Fulmer and Doug Mathews go Coach To Coach every week with one hour of intense football discussion. It’s just like you’re in the coaches’ meeting, talking offense and defense with the men who called the plays to win the big games.

Share the lessons from last week's game. Breakdown the SEC slate. Talk about the issues inside college football. Coach To Coach comes your way every weekend, hosted by one of the state’s premiere sports broadcasters, Larry Stone.

Get inside the 2016 Tennessee football season. Go Coach To Coach with Phillip Fulmer and Doug Mathews each week. The program airs Fridays at 5:00 p.m. and repeats Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m. on WJLE.

"Murphy’s Match-ups" is hosted by Murphy Fair with commentary on high school football matchups across the state and interviews with coaches.

Meanwhile Tennessee Football returns Thursday night, September 1 as the Vols host Appalachian State in Knoxville. Coverage begins on WJLE and the Vol Network with the Kick-Off Call-In Show at 5:00 p.m. with kick-off at 6:30 p.m. All other regular season Tennessee games this season will be on Saturdays.

WJLE will also bring back the “Fearless Forecasters” on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. with local personalities talking about college and Tennessee Titans football and making their predictions on winners of each week’s games. The program debuts Wednesday, August 31 at 4:30 p.m. due to the Tennessee game on Thursday, September 1.

Join WJLE for all these fall programs each week on AM 1480 and FM 101.7. Many of these programs will also be streamed LIVE at www.wjle.com

Danny Fish Named DCHS Girls Basketball Coach After Kennard Resigns

August 12, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Danny Fish
Nathaniel (Nate) Kennard

The new girls basketball coach at DCHS has resigned.

Nathaniel (Nate) Kennard who was recently named to succeed former Coach Joe Pat Cope, submitted his resignation this week. He will be returning home to accept a teaching position at Livingston Academy.

Principal Kathy Bryant told WJLE Friday that Danny Fish has been hired to replace Kennard as the new girls head basketball coach at DCHS. Fish will be coaching two sports at the school. He was recently selected to succeed longtime Tigerette softball coach Danny Bond.

Fish, who served as an assistant to coach Bond for the last four years, has moved from Northside Elementary School to DCHS where he serves as a physical education teacher.

Students and Teacher Involved in Head On Crash

August 12, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Three Students in this 1997 Nissan Maxima Airlifted after Head-On Crash
DeKalb Middle School Teacher and Boys Basketball Coach Cody Randolph in this 2002 Chevy Silverado Injured in Crash
Firefighters and EMS Personnel Tend to Cody Randolph
THP Troopers Chris Delong and Brandon Jackson Investigating Crash

Students and a teacher on their way to school were involved in a head-on crash this morning (Friday) on Allen Ferry Road (State Highway 83).

Central Dispatch received the call 7:10 a.m.

Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 18 year old Dustin Utley of 4406 Nashville Highway, Dowelltown was traveling on Allen Ferry Road toward highway 56 in a 1997 Nissan Maxima when he crossed the center line into the path of a 2002 Chevy Silverado, driven by 28 year old Cody Randolph of Smithville, who was traveling toward Highway 70. Randolph is a teacher and boys basketball coach at DeKalb Middle School.

Utley’s brothers were passengers with him. 10 year old Daniel Hudson, a student at Northside Elementary School, was a front seat passenger and 14 year old Christian Utley, a DCHS student, was in the back seat. Dustin is a former DCHS student who is apparently being home schooled this year.

The boys were all airlifted from the scene by three different helicopter ambulances (Life Force and Air Evac) and flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. Randolph was taken by DeKalb EMS to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital and later to Cookeville Regional Medical Center reportedly with a broken ankle.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department’s extrication and rescue team were summoned to help remove Randolph who was entrapped in his truck. The Main Station and Liberty Stations also responded to help establish the helicopter landing zone in the front yard of a residence beside the highway.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and Smithville Police Department were also on the scene along with Smithville Fire Chief/DeKalb Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Charlie Parker.

Trooper Delong was assisted at the scene by Trooper Brandon Jackson.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Director of Schools Updates Board on Personnel

August 12, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps updated the Board of Education Thursday night on personnel employment, transfers, leaves of absences, and resignations since last month.

Those employed include the following:
Adam Kefauver, teacher at DCHS, replaces Tracy Sloan
Thomas Cagle, teacher at DCHS replaces Joe Pat Cope
Sarah Noe, teacher at DCHS replaces Tonya Perry
Jacob Parsley, teacher at DCHS replaces Rolando Navarro
Lacey Foutch, teacher at DCHS replaces Natasha Judkins
Nikyra Calcagno, teacher, Countywide Gifted
William Jarvis, teacher at DCHS replaces Jill Bowman
Jim Porter, teacher at DCHS replaces Marti Maxwell
Shea Wiegele, teacher at DCHS replaces Kelley Burgess
Rachel Desimone, teacher at DeKalb West School, 3rd grade
Katie Merriman, teacher at Northside Elementary, replaces Ashley Reeves
Galen Brown, teacher at DeKalb Middle School
Gretta Smith, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, replaces Felicia Warden
Deborah Gentry, teacher at DCHS replaces Joel Goff
Tyler McKinney, teacher at Northside Elementary, replaces Danny Fish
Travis Little, teacher at Northside Elementary, replaces Ashley Dean
Mary Browning-Huntington, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, replaces Rebecca Whimpey
Melissa Sliger, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, replaces Mary Henny
Tonya Roberts, Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School
Sean Antoniak, Educational Assistant at DeKalb West School
LaTonya Kleparek, Educational Assistant at Northside Elementary School, replaces Tenille Rowland.
Stephanie Turner, teacher at DCHS, replaces Donna Emmons
Justin Coats, mechanic
Katie Haggard, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, replaces Angela Johnson
Laura Martinez, English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Smithville Elementary School
Audrey Welch, teacher at DCHS, replaces Tina Fletcher
Patsy Ray, cook at Smithville Elementary School
Beverly Starnes, cook at Smithville Elementary School
Glenda Gassaway, part-time cook at Northside Elementary School
Jennifer Maxwell, cook at DeKalb West School
Christie Dies, cook at DeKalb West School

Substitutes:
Guylene Atnip, Carolyn Caldwell, Doris Cantrell, Shannon B. Cantrell, Brenda Colwell, Donna Davis, Linda Dean, Sue Driver, Suzanne Dunn, Betty Fisk, Amanda Ford, Debbie France, Vicki Haggard, Carol Hale, Charlene Hallum, Sherry Hattaway, Betty Hickey, Jean Hope, Shirley Ingram, Sabrina Kirksey, Margaret Nichols, Olivia Norton, Angela Osment, Pat Parkerson, Jessica Rackley, Judy Redmon, Joyce Robertson, Virginia Rose, Bob Smith, Michelle Snipes, Kim Taylor, Jan Thomas, Helga Thompson, Luanna Tollett, Jenny Trapp, Joy Troncoso, Wanda Vickers, Victoria Vincent, Melissa Wallace, Joshua Warren, Nicole Wright, and Crystal Young

Cafeteria Substitutes:
Tiffany Gallegos, Kiesha Farless, and Susan Matthews

Leave of Absence:
Betsy Walker, leave as requested

Transferred:
Danny Bond from Physical Education to Alternative School, replaces Marshall Ferrell
Danny Fish from Northside Elementary School to DCHS, replaces Danny Bond
Ashlee Thomason from Smithville Elementary School to DeKalb West School
Angela Johnson from Smithville Elementary to DeKalb Middle School, replaces Cassandra Binkley
Jennifer Martin from Educational Assistant to Special Education Teacher at DeKalb West School
Tiffany VanWinkle from Special Education Assistant to Alternative School, replaces Brian Reed
Talitha Looney from cafeteria to Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary, replaces Chasity Redmon
Donna Emmons from 9th grade English to RTI Coordinator at DCHS
Ester Holder from substitute to Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School, replaces Teresa Spencer
Heather Soto from substitute to Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary, replaces Debra Cunningham
Debra Cunningham from Smithville Elementary to DCHS, replaces Tiffany VanWinkle
Amy Fox from part-time to Smithville Elementary Special Education Teacher, K-2
Linda Moser from DeKalb West to DeKalb Middle School cafeteria
Connie Haggard from DeKalb Middle to Smithville Elementary School cafeteria

Resignations:
Cassandra Binkley, Tina Fletcher, Ashley Dean, and Tonya Perry

Congressman Diane Black Holds Town Hall Meeting in Smithville (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

August 11, 2016
by: 
Dwayne Page
Congressman Diane Black talking to constituents after her town hall meeting
Congressman Diane Black conducts town hall meeting
Attendees at town hall meeting
Town hall meeting attendees

Congressman Diane Black held a town hall meeting in Smithville Thursday evening where she addressed a range of issues from national security to the GOP’s vision for America in the House of Representatives called “A Better Way”.

Speaking to a room full of constituents in the first floor courtroom of the courthouse, Congressman Black said the “Better Way” plan addresses specific proposals to reform the tax code, combat poverty, rebuild our economy, replace Obamacare, protect our national security, and restore the Constitutional separation of powers.

“At the first of the year, our leadership asked all of our committees to take a look at the issues that we felt could move us forward. We came up with six different major issues and with each issue we were tasked with bringing a plan together about how we would implement those,” said Congressman Black, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and Budget Committee.

“Our tax code is far too large. Its far too complicated. It has not been reformed in 30 years. Its very expensive for families to figure out the tax code and how to file their taxes. We want to modernize our tax code. We want over 90% of the people to be able to fill out their tax returns on a single post card. Back and front. We want to reduce the size of what is in the code for everyone. Our plan is to eliminate the death or estate tax. We also want to take the standard deductions and increase those so you don’t have to gather up all those little slips of paper you have to save in order to show what you can deduct off of your taxes. We want to bring the corporate tax rate down to 20% so we’re competitive with countries all over the world. Right now we’re at about 36% on the federal government side. Some states also have an income tax which increases that tax burden. If we can bring that down to 20% it would make ourselves more competitive around the world,” said Congressman Black.

In addressing poverty, Congressman Black said able bodied people receiving entitlements should be working. “There are two indicators we’re hoping to get people out of poverty. One is education and the other is work. If you don’t have an education you probably don’t have a job. They go hand in hand and our program will address that issue. We now have more percentage of our population in a poverty situation than we did 50 years ago when the so called War on Poverty was launched by President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. Today we measure our fight and success on poverty by how many people get on a program rather than how many people get off a program. We lose human capital when people don’t reach their full potential. When somebody doesn’t know what God given talents they have because they are stuck in poverty, it doesn’t help our country. We’re not having those good minds think about things that are creative and inventive. We’re seeing that in other countries but we are not seeing it here in the United States," she continued.

Reducing federal regulations on businesses is another issue the “Better Way” plan seeks to address. “We want to rebuild our economy. I hear it from businesses all over my district whether its a banking or manufacturing industry. They say the government is in our way. With all of the regulations we can’t do our job because its so over regulated. Cutting those regulations down and letting those businesses do their work will allow the economy to burst wide open,” she said.

“We want to replace Obamacare with something that is more patient friendly. Something that gives you the opportunity to say what you need rather than what the federal government says you need. We want to allow more competition in the marketplace which will bring costs down. And we have a way to take care of those people who have pre-existing conditions who have difficulty getting insurance,” said Congressman Black.

“We further need to restore our Constitutional separation of powers. In Congress when we pass a bill and it gets signed into law, it goes to the administration and they write the regulations without any say from us (Congress). It never comes back to us for a discussion or vote. Here we have an administration (President Obama) that’s on steroids with writing all these rules and regulations and when they can’t get something passed in the House of Representatives and Senate, they decide to do it by rules and regulations. A good example of that is coal. They really tried very hard to pass bills in Congress to deal with the coal industry because they want to shut down the coal industry. They were unable to do it. So the President has done it by regulation. What we want to do is take back some of that control and put it back in the House of Representatives where our founding fathers really meant it to be,” added Congressman Black.

On other issues, Congressman Black addressed the need to get smart about our nation’s border security, to stop illegal amnesty, and to combat sanctuary cities. She co-authored the SMART Border Act which requires the Department of Homeland Security to achieve operational control of the border within one year. The Act also mandates that the Department of Defense make 10,000 National Guard available for deployment upon request by border state governors until control is achieved. It further authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to deploy “Smart border technology” (such as seismic detectors and UAV’s) to areas of the border in which operational control has not been achieved.

Congressman Black said she also authored and passed an amendment to this year’s Energy & Water Appropriations Bill defunding sanctuary cities; authored the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act which withholds key federal funding streams from cities that fail to enforce immigration laws; and co-sponsored Kate’s Law instituting mandatory minimums for those who re-enter our nation after being deported.

After addressing the audience, Congressman Black talked with constituents about their concerns individually following the meeting.

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