Local News Articles

Sheriff Patrick Ray Defends Death Investigation

March 13, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Lauren Taylor Agee

The mother of a young woman found dead on Center Hill Lake almost two years ago is challenging a DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department investigation that concluded the death was accidental.

Sherry Smith, in a recent news report by a Nashville television station, said she believes her daughter Lauren Agee was murdered. But Sheriff Patrick Ray is standing by the findings of the probe and has released a detailed written statement to the local news media in response to allegations that the investigation was insufficient.

Agee, 21, had reportedly been enjoying an outing with friends known as "Wakefest" at Pates Ford Marina in July 2015 and was camping near the edge of a steep cliff overlooking the lake prior to the tragedy. Investigators believe that Agee fell from the cliff into the water resulting in her death.Several hours later Agee’s body was found in the water by a fisherman near Still Point Boat Ramp across from Pates Ford Marina. A subsequent autopsy determined the death to be accidental.

“Through the investigation, it was found that Lauren and her friends had been camping atop a narrow bluff across from Pates Ford Marina, where Lauren and another individual had tied their hammock. The body was found face-down in the water in slough behind the bluff where Agee’s hammock was found," according to Sheriff Ray's written statement.

“The medical examiners autopsy report concludes Lauren Agee’s death was accidental with the cause of death determined as “multiple blunt force injuries”. The pathologist further informed the investigating detective that Agee’s injuries are consistent with a fall. The autopsy report further shows multiple injuries to the back of her head, spine, and back, and that drowning was a possible contributing factor to her death,” the statement continued.

Another autopsy was later conducted by the family’s independent pathologist which reportedly found that Agee’s larynx was crushed. Smith told Channel 17’s Dennis Ferrier that she believes her daughter had been choked.

“As far as being choked, as a family member has claimed, the photographs taken during this investigation show no marks or bruising around Lauren’s neck, and the medical examiner’s report supports the detective’s findings. The medical examiner’s report stated the larynx was not crushed, but was intact,” said Sheriff Ray in his written statement.

Although he has no jurisdiction in DeKalb County, a least one off duty White County officer who apparently worked as private security for the marina that weekend has also questioned the results of the investigation. He raised the issue that an autopsy photo apparently shows an imprint on Agee’s midsection that could be the outline of the bow or stern of a canoe suggesting that Agee’s body may have been placed on a canoe after her death.

Sheriff Ray refutes the allegation stating that the imprint is identical to a TWRA boat storage lid where Agee’s body was placed face down during transport to the boat ramp.

“TWRA officers assisted the sheriff’s department detectives in loading the body onto a TWRA boat to transport the body back to the boat ramp. The body was placed face down on the side of one of the TWRA boats,” stated Sheriff Ray.

“There has been some question concerning a photograph taken by a DeKalb Sheriff’s Department detective, on the TWRA boat, showing a resemblance of a canoe mark on Lauren’s chest. After examining the photographs taken before transporting the body to the boat ramp, our investigation determined this mark is an identical match to the TWRA boat storage locker lid where the body was placed facedown during transport to the boat ramp,” Sheriff Ray stated.

"Lauren’s body was taken directly to the hospital in Smithville where investigators conducted further examination and made additional photographs of the body. The body was examined and photographed again. The photographs taken at the hospital did not show the storage locker lid imprint on Lauren’s chest,” Sheriff Ray continued.

“The body was then taken to Nashville to the state medical examiner’s office. Again, Lauren’s body was photographed and did not show any marks on her chest that resembled the claimed “canoe” mark,” he said.

Smith wants to know why Lauren’s friends at the campsite with her never reported her missing or contacted the family immediately after her disappearance. Last year she filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against them which remains pending in court.

The following is a complete text of Sheriff Ray's written statement released to WJLE this morning (Monday).

"First, let me say that I am a parent of a teenager. Although I have not had to bear such a tragedy as the Agee’s, I fully appreciate why the parents of Lauren Agee want closure in their daughter’s death. Additionally, I take my oath of office and accountability to our citizens and visitors seriously. With that said, I want to be as sensitive and understanding as I can while responding to the recent inaccurate statements broadcast in recent news stories by Dennis Ferrier on Fox 17 News.

It is highly unusual for a law enforcement agency to comment on an investigation that has been closed. However, the integrity of this investigation has now been questioned by those who have not sought factual information, and put into a public forum. As a result, I feel it is necessary to share the facts surrounding this investigation that have been vetted by my department, forensic information from the state medical examiner, and the District Attorney’s office. Below are the facts that refute several inaccuracies stated in Mr. Ferrier’s “files”:

•This incident was reported on July 26, 2015 on Center Hill Lake at Pates Ford Marina where a large outdoor event, referred to as “Wakefest”, was going on that weekend.

•A body was found around 4:43 pm by a fisherman. The body was floating face down in the lake.

•The body was identified as that of 21 year old Lauren Taylor Agee.

•Through the investigation, it was found that Lauren and her friends had been camping atop a narrow bluff across from Pates Ford Marina, where Lauren and another individual had tied their hammock. The body was found face-down in the water in slough behind the bluff where Agee’s hammock was found.

•The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency also responded to the scene that day. TWRA officers assisted the sheriff’s department detectives in loading the body onto a TWRA boat to transport the body back to the boat ramp. The body was placed face down on the side of one of the TWRA boats.

•There has been some question concerning a photograph taken by a DeKalb Sheriff’s Department detective, on the TWRA boat, showing a resemblance of a canoe mark on Lauren’s chest. After examining the photographs taken before transporting the body to the boat ramp, our investigation determined this mark is an identical match to the TWRA boat storage locker lid where the body was placed facedown during transport to the boat ramp.

•Lauren’s body was taken directly to the hospital in Smithville where investigators conducted further examination and made additional photographs of the body. The body was examined and photographed again. The photographs taken at the hospital did not show the storage locker lid imprint on Lauren’s chest.

•The body was then taken to Nashville to the state medical examiner’s office. Again, Lauren’s body was photographed and did not show any marks on her chest that resembled the claimed “canoe” mark.

•The autopsy toxicology results document her blood/alcohol levels were over twice the legal limit.

•As far as being choked, as a family member has claimed, the photographs taken during this investigation show no marks or bruising around Lauren’s neck, and the medical examiner’s report supports the detective’s findings. The medical examiner’s report stated the larynx was not crushed, but was intact.

•The medical examiners autopsy report concludes Lauren Agee’s death was accidental with the cause of death determined as “multiple blunt force injuries”. The pathologist further informed the investigating detective that Agee’s injuries are consistent with a fall. The autopsy report further shows multiple injuries to the back of her head, spine, and back, and that drowning was a possible contributing factor to her death.

•During the investigation, I personally went with the detective to speak with Lauren’s mother. Her mother began to tell a story of a security officer who was working at the Wakefest event at Pates Ford Marina. The security officer told Lauren's mother he was present at the lake the evening Lauren’s body was found. She said the security officer told her a story of one of the people that was with Lauren. She said the security officer commented that this individual was on the boat with him and was starring at the security officer’s sidearm (handgun) and made a remark about wanting to get off the boat. This security officer never mentioned this to law enforcement on the scene and it created great concern for my detectives.

•After hearing Lauren's mother's comments, my detective and I immediately located this security officer who was, at this time, employed with the White County Sheriff’s Department. We met with him in Sparta and his only information to us was that he just felt like something was not right. He gave no leads or evidence of any foul play. Since that time, FOX 17 News reported that we haven’t spoken to either of the two security officers who were there. This is completely not true and causes immediate concern for this security officer’s credibility and motive.

•One of the security officers is also shown on FOX 17 News throwing a weighted dummy down an embankment. There has been no evidence provided to indicate the location where Lauren could have possibly fell. The slope below the make-shift campsite, on both sides of the narrow bluff, ranges from very steep to vertical. If the security officer knew that Lauren fell, and from which location she fell from, why would he not be cooperative with detectives by sharing this pertinent information?

•After the investigation was over, the sheriff’s department detective, who was assigned to the case, met with the district attorney’s investigator and shared all information involving this case. The district attorney’s office concluded the detective’s findings were documented and justified as being consistent with accidental death.

•I told Lauren’s mother, step-father, and father if they obtain any additional information about this case, my department would make every effort to follow up. On September 23, 2015, we sat down in a follow up conference with the family to discuss our investigation and findings and to answer questions from the family. Lauren’s father and step-father attended the meeting, but didn’t have any questions. They picked up Lauren’s personal belongings inventoried as part of the investigation and then departed. Lauren’s mother chose not to attend the meeting.

As I said when I opened this statement, I deeply regret to have to publically respond to misinformation that has been instigated and broadcast through the Nashville news media and social media. These matters are painful to the family and friends of Lauren Agee, and I have tried my best to protect the integrity of this case and the sensitivity and privacy of this family. It has never been a practice of mine to publically reveal, through any media source, details of the DeKalb County Sheriff Department’s investigations; for this case, or any other case. However, serious, unfounded, and harmful allegations have been leveled towards my department in reference to the proper investigation of this case. I feel I owe it to Lauren, her family, and the citizens that my department is sworn to protect and serve to provide a factual rebuttal to these allegations.

It is very difficult for any law enforcement agency to conduct an investigation when the media and people using social media throw out rumors and opinions that cannot be substantiated. It’s extremely difficult and challenging for law enforcement to decipher all this information and sort out rumors from facts. When the district attorney’s office reviews a case with us, we always discuss whether or not there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed. From the beginning of this investigation until now, there is simply no evidence in this tragic case that will support Lauren’s death being considered homicide or foul play. If someone has credible information or evidence that shows otherwise, it is my duty, obligation, and desire to further pursue this investigation. I find it shameful that some of our Nashville news sources choose glamour and controversy over facts and integrity. That’s not fair to Lauren, her family, her friends, or the justice system.

With that said, I welcome and encourage the District Attorney’s Office and/or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to review this case again and make their own conclusions about my department’s handling of this case. I pledge my department’s continued cooperation.

This case is officially closed, but I can assure anyone that if any new credible information or evidence is received, it will be properly and thoroughly investigated; just as we would with any other closed or open case," concluded Sheriff Ray's statement.

Award Winning Duo Dailey & Vincent Inducted into Grand Ole Opry

March 12, 2017
Photo by Chris Hollo for Grand Ole Opry

Multi-GRAMMY® nominees and three-time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainers of the Year Dailey & Vincent were formally inducted into the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night by Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show and Jeannie Seely. The duo had been invited to join the Opry by Marty Stuart during their 100th Opry appearance in December.

Seely, who will celebrate 50 years of Opry membership later this year, presented an Opry Member Award to Jamie Dailey, while Old Crow lead singer Ketch Secor did the same for Darrin Vincent.

“I had the honor of introducing Dailey & Vincent for their first Opry appearance,” Seely began. “I thought to myself that night, ‘I hope one day I get to see them become members of the Opry one day because they epitomize everything the Opry is on stage and off.’”

“They honor the traditions and respect their elders, but most of all they entertain,” Secor said. “Tonight they join the ranks of country music’s greatest entertainers. … Welcome Dailey & Vincent to the first family of country music.”

“We love the Grand Ole Opry. It’s in our DNA,” Dailey said as he and Vincent recognized family, friends, their band, and members of their organization who’d helped make the night possible. The duo closed their Opry segment with “I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You,” a hit by one of their musical heroes, The Statler Brothers.

“We are very excited to welcome Dailey & Vincent into the fold,” said Opry General Manager Sally Williams. “Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have been proclaimed the best in their field across the board, winning awards and media acclaim for their songs, their musicianship, and their one-of-a-kind live performances. Over the past 10 years and more than 100 Opry visits, they’ve brought crowds to their feet both with country, bluegrass, and gospel standards as well as their brand new material. We look forward to Dailey & Vincent being active, beloved Opry members as the Opry looks toward the century mark and beyond.”

Among artists scheduled to play the Opry later this month are Opry members Charlie Daniels Band, Del McCoury Band, Rascal Flatts, and Carrie Underwood, along with special guests Brandy Clark, Chris Janson, The Mavericks, and Scotty McCreery. Opry Country Classics continues throughout the spring at the Ryman Auditorium with upcoming Spotlight Artist appearances by Brenda Lee, Lorrie Morgan, Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, and more.

ABOUT DAILEY & VINCENT:
Five-time GRAMMY® award winners individually, three-time GRAMMY® award nominees collectively, four-time DOVE Award winners, and winners of 35 IBMA Awards altogether (including 3-time IBMA Entertainer of the Year Award winners and 3-Time Vocal Group of the Year Award winners), Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, backed by one of the best bands on tour today, are some of the most reputable and elite entertainers in American music; bluegrass, traditional country and gospel music. The concoction of the fantastically instinctive vocal blends of Dailey’s tenor and Vincent’s reedy harmonies has gained them well-deserved praise for their own distinctive style and worldwide recognition as American Music gold. Dailey & Vincent has garnered world-wide attention with their first national, top-rated television series, “The Dailey & Vincent Show,” on RFD TV and over 500 airings of their PBS special “Dailey & Vincent ALIVE - In Concert.” Their most recent CD, Dailey & Vincent ALIVE, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts and remained at the top position for over 15 weeks. For more information, visit daileyandvincent.com.

ABOUT THE GRAND OLE OPRY:
The Grand Ole Opry® is presented by Humana®. Opry performances are held every Friday and Saturday of the year, and Tuesday Night Opry shows will return February 14, 2017. To plan an Opry visit, call (800) SEE-OPRY or visit opry.com. The Opry presents the best in country music live every week from Nashville, Tenn. Marking more than nine decades of entertainment, the Opry can be heard at opry.com and wsmonline.com, Opry and WSM mobile apps, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and its flagship home, 650 AM-WSM. The Grand Ole Opry is owned by Ryman Hospitality Properties (NYSE: RHP). For more information, visit opry.com.



March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month (View Video Here)

March 11, 2017
Governor Bill Haslam
Tecia Puckett Pryor

Governor Bill Haslam has signed a proclamation designating March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Governor Haslam and the Tennessee disability community wish to recognize the valuable contributions made by individuals with developmental disabilities who live, work, play, vote, volunteer and build relationships in our local communities.

Tecia Puckett Pryor of Smithville and Dawn Fry of Cookeville represent the Upper Cumberland area as the Governor’s appointed members on the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

“At our last meeting, the governor-appointed council members were included in a video in which we read the Governor’s proclamation of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month," said Tecia.

It is shown on this link:

Governor Haslam shared, “I’m proud of our state’s commitment to increasing opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to pursue their goals, contribute to their communities and live quality lives. From inclusive higher education programs on college campuses, to the Employment First focus of state and community agencies, to the new ABLE TN savings program led by the Tennessee Department of Treasury, there are countless examples of state agencies, community organizations and families working together to make sure Tennesseans with developmental disabilities have the chance to thrive.”

The proclamation states “Tennessee is committed to recognizing that every person, regardless of perceived ability, has valuable strengths, infinite capacity to learn and make decisions, and the capability to make important contributions to their communities if given opportunities to do so”. Many individuals with developmental disabilities and their family members still face enormous barriers in accessing needed services and supports they need to be active and included members of their communities alongside their neighbors without disabilities.

“Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month provides an opportunity to reflect on recent public policy successes that are raising the bar for how Tennessee supports and empowers individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Wanda Willis, executive director of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. “Tennessee’s new Employment and Community First program, administered by the Bureau of TennCare, has begun serving hundreds of newly-eligible individuals with developmental disabilities by helping them achieve their employment and community living goals through long-term services and supports. We also applaud the continued efforts of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to transform and improve how disability services can support individuals with developmental disabilities to work and be fully included in their communities. Tennessee has much to celebrate this March!”

Local Realtors Awarded

March 11, 2017
 June Bilbrey, Josh Miller, and Melissa Miller of Sunbelt Realty

Local realtors, June Bilbrey, Josh Miller, and Melissa Miller of Sunbelt Realty recently received the Eastern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors 2016 Awards of Excellence, thus joining the Million Dollar Club with sales of more than $1,250,000 in real estate. Sunbelt was voted Best of the Best in 2015 and 2016

To date, 800+ REALTORS® from the Eastern Middle Tennessee Association join forces with the 28,000+ REALTOR® members of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS®. Along with the National Association of REALTORS, they have a driving force of 1.3 million members working for and protecting the rights of America's property owners.

Members of the organization reach further than just REALTORS®, they are also comprised of brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry.They join forces and engage each through the profession for the purpose of professional development, research and exchange of information among each other, the public and government for the purpose of preserving the free enterprise system and the right to own real property.

Poss and Panter Win Most Coveted DCHS Basketball Awards, Rogers Named MVC

March 10, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Allison Rogers (MVC), Tanner Poss (MVP), Hannah Panter (MVP)
DCHS Basketball Award Winners: Marshal Evins, Colter Norris, Trey Jones, Tanner Poss, Alan Munoz, Chandler Vincent, and Gentry Harpole.
DCHS Basketball Award Winners: Front Row: Nicole Coffey, Hannah Panter, Madison Parsley, Joni Robinson; Back Row: Lydia Brown, Macy Hedge, Abbi Taylor, Sophie Cripps,  Megan Walker, Emme Colwell, and Mya Ruch
DCHS Basketball Cheerleader Award Winners:  Zoe Maynard, Haley Dies, Holly Evans, Allison Rogers, Hannah Evans, Maegan Harris, and Malia Stanley

Sophomore Tanner Poss was named the DCHS Tiger basketball Most Valuable Player Friday night at the annual team banquet, while Senior Hannah Panter received the Lady Tiger MVP honor. Senior Captain Allison Rogers is the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were sponsored by Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory of Allen D. Hooper.

In addition to being named MVP, Poss received the team's Best Offensive Player award. He was also named to District 8AA 2nd team All-District. Panter was named Best Offensive Player for the Lady Tigers and made the District 8AA 2nd team All-District in addition to the Team MVP honor.

The season for the DeKalb County Tigers ended with a loss to Smith County last month in the District Tournament at Cookeville. The Tigers finished with an overall record of 7-20

The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up their season losing to York Institute in the District Tournament. They closed out the campaign with a record of 11-16.

Other individual cheerleading awards included:

MVC: Allison Rogers
Most Spirit: Haley Dies
Best Stunts: Zoe Maynard
Best Jumps: Malia Stanley
Best Dance: Holly Evans
Best Cheer: Maegan Harris
STAR Award (Spirit, Team, Attitude, Respect): Hannah Evans

Other Lady Tiger basketball awards were as follows:
MVP: Hannah Panter
Best Offensive Player: Hannah Panter
Best Defensive Player: Madison Parsley
Best 6th Man: Madison Parsley
Best Free Throw Shooter: Macy Hedge
Smartest Player: Macy Hedge
Best Rebounder: Emme Colwell
Most Improved: Sophie Cripps
Best Passer: Mya Ruch
Best Ball Handler: Mya Ruch
Best Practice Player: Lydia Brown
Best Attitude: Abbi Taylor
Best Athlete: Nicole Coffee
Toughest Player: Megan Walker

District 8AA 2nd Team All-District: Hannah Panter
All District Honorable Mention: Macy Hedge
All District Honorable Mention All Freshman Team: Emme Colwell

For the Tigers,
MVP: Tanner Poss
Best Offensive Player: Tanner Poss
Best Defensive Player: Bradley Miller
Best Athlete: Bradley Miller
Toughest Player: Trey Jones
Best Rebounder: Trey Jones
Most Improved: Trey Jones
Best Free Throw Shooter: Gentry Harpole
Best Ball Handler: Marshal Evins
Smartest Player: Marshal Evins
Best Practice Player: Alan Munoz
Hustle Award: Alan Munoz
Best Passer: Colter Norris
Best Sixth Man: Chandler Vincent
Best Attitude: Chandler Vincent

District 8AA 2nd Team All District: Tanner Poss
All District Honorable Mention: Trey Jones

State Fire Marshal: Check Smoke Alarms When Changing Clocks this Weekend

March 10, 2017

The State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) reminds Tennesseans to take the time to check their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when setting clocks forward one hour this Sunday morning, March 12, 2017.

“As Daylight Saving Time begins, we encourage citizens to change the batteries in their smoke alarms if necessary and check the age of these important devices,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Any smoke alarm 10 years old or older should be replaced entirely as it may not function properly in the event of an emergency.”

Smoke alarms more than 10 years old no longer offer a reliable level of safety and are often the source for nuisance alarms. The SFMO urges all residents to determine how old their smoke alarms are (the date of manufacture is located on the back of the alarm). If they’re 10 years old or older, they should be replaced immediately. This includes smoke alarms that use 10-year batteries and/or are hard-wired.

State fire data indicates that 70 percent of Tennessee residential structure fires in 2016 occurred in homes where no smoke alarm was known to have been present. In addition, 46 percent of smoke alarm failures during that period were due to missing or dead batteries in the device.

Both state and national data reflect that many fatal fires occur at night while the victims are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a fire can cause people to sleep more deeply, narrowing the chances of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a fire in their home.

The SFMO shares the following safety tips on residential smoke alarms:

·Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home. For best protection, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside sleeping rooms. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.

·For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor alarms. Interconnect the alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.

·Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are available and are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps on these units, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.

·For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year (preferably twice a year during daylight saving time). If that alarm chirps, replace only the battery.

·Remember, even alarms that are hard-wired into your home electrical system need to have their battery back-ups maintained in case of electrical power outage.

·Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.

·Test alarms once a month using the test button. Replace the entire alarm if it's more than 10 years old or fails to sound when tested.

· Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.

·When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 911.

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist. Tennessee residents can request a free smoke alarm by visiting www.tn.gov/fire.

Clerk Reminds Business Owners of License Renewal Deadline

March 10, 2017
James L. (Jimmy) Poss

Business licenses must be renewed by April 15.

DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss is urging business owners to get their renewals completed before the deadline.

“I would like to remind all Business owners of standard business license renewals due April 15, 2017 and most expire May 15, 2017. However, a slim number of business owners are licensed with a minimal business license which expire different and are obtained through our local office annually. Few people qualify for a minimal license, but in cases where a business will gross $9,999,00 or less annually this person is eligible for a minimal license. Again, very few people qualify for this license,” he said.

“Also, a reminder for those still with questions filing. The taxes on all standard business license accounts are collected at the state level and the license is issued at the local level. Basically, the owner submits payment to the state, in return the state will email us clearance to issue the customer a new license. Once we receive clearance we in return mail out the new business license,” Poss continued.

“The Department of Revenue mandated this process and began this procedure in 2014. Since then we have been able to assist many in establishing their online account. Some filing from 2014 forward and in many cases assisting several with late filing paper versions which was required prior to 2014. We have had and still see individuals we are assisting filing previous years with penalty and interest 5 and 6 years late. Anyone still having difficulty or questions establishing an online account is welcome to stop by our office and see me as I am currently the only one assisting customers with account set up. Individuals may also do this from home by going to tn.gov and follow the instructions or pick up a How-to manual from our office,” he said

“For those who are planning to no longer pursue the business previously operated. You must be sure to file the year you close and mark this payment and return as Final return. Should you fail to file and mark Final return the state will continue to keep your business active resulting in a minimum charge with penalty and interest added even you claim $0 as gross income.”

“Also to complete the transaction for a new business license you must have the previous year total gross income and if you own the place of business the property tax paid,” Poss concluded.

State Senator Mae Beavers Takes on Porn as Public Health Hazard

March 10, 2017
State Senator Mae Beavers

A resolution sponsored by State Senator Mae Beavers that recognizes pornography as a public health hazard has cleared the Senate and is heading to the House.

Senate Joint Resolution 35, which passed 32-0, states that “due to advances in technology and the universal availability of the internet, young children are exposed to what used to be referred to as hardcore pornography at an alarming rate [and] this is leading to low self-esteem and eating disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages and an increased desire to engage in risky sexual behavior as young adolescents.”

It also declares that “pornography use has a detrimental effect on the family as it is linked to lessening desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage, and infidelity.”

The resolution is non-binding and does not create new laws. It does, however, proclaim that the “State of Tennessee is acknowledging the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level to address the epidemic that is harming the people of our State and our country as a whole.”

Meanwhile, the Senate has adopted another Joint Resolution sponsored by Beavers that urges “President Donald J. Trump and the United States Congress to enact legislation to distribute funding to the states by block grant.”

Pointing out that “federal highway funds are now diverted to a multitude of non-road purposes through federally-legislated mandates and earmarks that dictate how states can expend the funding they receive,” the measure calls for a different approach to distributing such funds.

The resolution states that “One remedy to address this critical fiscal issue would be the development of a block grant distribution plan whereby each state would receive from the federal highway trust fund a block grant equal to the fuel tax revenues raised within its borders and would be entitled to spend such grant on transportation priorities of its own choosing.”

If passed, the resolution would be forwarded to appropriate federal officials and states “this General Assembly urges the enactment of legislation to repeal all federal mandates, either by statute, rule, or policy, that dictate the expenditure of federal transportation funding.”

The House Transportation Committee is the next stop for the resolution.

DCHS Senior Myranda Bailiff Makes Appeal for Project Graduation Donations

March 10, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Myranda Bailiff

Members of the DCHS Class of 2017 are asking for your support of Project Graduation.

Myranda Bailiff, a DCHS Senior, urges you to stop by any DeKalb County branch office of Liberty State Bank to make a donation.

“I am a member of FFA, HOSA, the BETA Club, and the softball teams at DeKalb County High School. More importantly, I am a member of the 2017 graduating class. We are raising funds for our Project Graduation event that will take place the night of graduation in May. We will have food and fun activities. It is designed to keep us safe from the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol. In order to hold this event, we must raise funds and request the community’s help. Please stop by your local branch of Liberty State Bank in Alexandria, Liberty, or Smithville and make a donation to our account. All help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support,” said Bailiff.

March is Extension Month in Tennessee

March 10, 2017
by: 
Johnny Barnes, Extension Agent & County Director
Johnny Barnes, Extension Agent & County Director

March is Extension Month in Tennessee. Extension is a national educational program supported by USDA through the nation’s land-grant universities and administered with funding from state and local governments in Tennessee through offices in each of the state’s 95 counties.

County Extension offices across the state are planning various celebrations and commemorations for the state’s 107-year-old Extension program. Here in DeKalb County, the UT-TSU Extension office will be hosting a Meet & Greet for the public on the sidewalk, directly in front of the Extension Office on Friday, March 24 from 11AM-1PM. The office is located at 722 South Congress Blvd, Smithville in the County Complex. There will be various displays and information about what the Extension program offers as well as free hot dogs, popcorn, and drinks.
An integral part of the land-grant mission, Extension programs are delivered in all 95 counties of the state by subject-matter specialists, county agents and volunteers associated with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and the Tennessee State University (TSU) College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.

“UT Extension ‘extends’ the university’s teaching and research missions to deliver research-based information and education to all the state’s citizens through youth and adult programs in every county,” said Dr. Delton Gerloff, interim dean of UT Extension. Dr. Latif Lighari oversees TSU Extension faculty as associate dean for Extension at TSU.

In addition to the traditional agricultural production recommendations available through county Extension offices, services for all citizens include the state’s award-winning 4-H Youth Development Program including its summer youth camps; family and consumer educational programs; and healthy living courses.

UT Extension also performs services for the state’s citizens, including managing the statewide Soil, Plant and Pest Center through which clients can have the quality of their soil and forage analyzed and any insect pest or plant diseases identified. Extension also trains clients in the proper use of pesticides and even operates commercially-certified kitchens where small scale vendors can prepare food items for sale while meeting state guidelines for food safety.

Tennessee Extension programs can be seen as an excellent investment of public resources. The statewide educational programs in 4-H youth development, agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, and community economic development are estimated to impact the state’s economy by more than $512 million from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016. This amounts to a return of investment of $8.03 for every $1 in public funds invested in Tennessee Extension.

Many of UT Extension’s educational resources are also available online. From the UT Extension website choose the link to “publications” and enter the topic for which you need information to search the database of available resources. Most are available free of charge. A publications page is also available on the TSU website, which includes a list of available publications by program area. Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu.

Please stop by on March 24 from 11AM-1PM and meet the staff during this time to find out more about what your local Extension Office has to offer.

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