Local News Articles

Stribling Re-elected Chairman of County Commission

September 30, 2015
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Tim Stribling
Larry Summers

County Mayor Tim Stribling was re-elected Chairman of the county commission Monday night.

All fourteen members voted in favor.

Seventh District member Larry Summers was returned as Chairman Pro Tempore.

The county commission must annually elect a chairman and a chairman pro tempore. The commission may elect the county mayor or a member of the body to be the chairman, although the county mayor may refuse to serve. If the county mayor is chairman, he or she may vote only to break a tie vote. If a member is chairman, the member votes as a member, but cannot vote again to break a tie. If the county mayor is not chairman, he or she may veto most resolutions of the county legislative body, but this veto may be overridden by a majority vote. The majority vote that is required for this and the passage of resolutions or other measures is a majority of the entire actual membership of the county legislative body, and not a majority of the quorum, nor a majority of the authorized membership.

The county commission consists of fourteen members, two from each of the seven districts in the county.

The make-up of the county commission is as follows:
Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Mason Carter from the first district; Jimmy Midgett and Joe Johnson from the second district; Jack Barton and Bradley Hendrix from the third district; Wayne Cantrell and Jonathon Norris from the fourth district; Jerry Adcock and Anita Puckett from the fifth district; Jeff Barnes and Betty Atnip from the sixth district; and Larry Summers and Kevin Robinson from the seventh district. Their terms are for four years.

12th Annual Habitat Chili Cook-Off and Bake Sale Friday

September 30, 2015
Tecia Puckett Pryor
12th Annual Habitat Chili Cook-Off and Bake Sale Friday

Who makes the best chili in DeKalb County? Find out on Friday, October 2nd when Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County hosts its 12th annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale at the DeKalb County Complex.

Chili will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Complex. For a cash donation, eat all the chili you want and vote for your favorite chili and the best decorated booth. Habitat plans to have ceramic bowls with the event’s logo available for a donation $20.00, which includes chili and a drink. Delicious baked goods prepared by members of local churches will also be for sale. Take out is also available.

“We are looking forward to another great day of good food and fellowship at the chili cook-off,” said Chad Driver, president of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County. “The proceeds from the Chili Cook-off will be used towards building the next house in early 2016, so we hope everyone will come out and eat lots of chili for a great cause.”

At press time, the teams competing in the Chili Cook-off are “Wonderland Chili” from the DeKalb County Board of Education; “Hot Checks Chili” from DeKalb Community Bank; “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Officials “Around the Block” from H&R Block; “Natural Gas Gang” from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; “The Bean Counters” from Janney & Associates; “No Liability Chili” from the DeKalb County Bar Association; “Laughing Gas Chili” from DeKalb Dental Center/Mitchell Tatum, DDS; and "Red Hot Chili Bankers" from Regions Bank.

Last year, “Superhero Chili” from The DeKalb County Board of Education took first as both “Best Chili” and “Best Decorated Booth”. The DeKalb County Officials followed in second place for both categories. The 2014 event raised over $3,000. This year, a “Golden Spoon” award will also be given for the team that collects the most extra cash for Habitat at their booth.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with volunteers and families in need, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged.

For more information on the Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, contact Tecia Puckett Pryor at 615-597-7370. To contact Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, call 615-215-8181.

New Property Tax Notices Sport Black and Gold Colors

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
Trustee Sean Driver Displays New Property Tax Notice
New Property Tax Notices
New Property Tax Notices (Back Page)

Property taxpayers will see a new look and format this year on their 2015 Property Tax Notices. Instead of post-card type mailings, the new notices will be on 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper and sport the DCHS school colors of black and gold.

"Since this is Tiger Country, I thought it would be fitting to use Black and Gold on the new 2015 Property Tax Notices," said Trustee Sean Driver.

According to Driver, the State of Tennessee developed this new Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal System called IMPACT and its now available through most of the state’s Property Assessor’s offices. "The new system prints property tax notices on an 8 ½ X 11 sheet of paper that will be mailed to property owners this 2015 Tax Year. The Trustee’s office is responsible for the design of the new property tax notices and we hope you approve. So, no more postcard-type property notices will be mailed," said Trustee Driver.

The notices will have information property owners have come to expect including the dates when taxes may be paid, October 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016; the Trustee's mailing address; the office hours; and the amount of your taxes. But additional information is included on these new mailings.
"The new information is what’s exciting to us in the Trustee’s office and we hope you will approve. This year you can see (on the notices) all of our payment options we have available in the office.

For 2015 you can:

1.Come in person to pay at the office.

2. Mail in your payment.

3. Pay online at tennesseetrustee.com then select DeKalb. Our Vendor accepts Discover, MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. A Vendor convenience fee of 2.75% on the total tax bill may apply and fees are subject to change for using credit/debit cards. Also, a $2.75 fee will be assessed on an e-check payment of any amount.

4. We do have a Dropbox located on the outside of the building for your convenience after hours or on weekends.

We do accept and offer Partial Payments and you the taxpayer sets the amount to pay. Partial payments were implemented in 2012," said Driver.

"Next, you will see a complete breakdown of the appraisal values concerning your property. These values are how your tax amounts are figured. Many have asked, “How can I figure my property tax bill?” Property taxes in DeKalb County are calculated utilizing the following 4 components:

*Total Appraised Value=Land & Improvement Values

* Assessment Ratio

* Assessed Value

* Tax Rate

1. The Total Appraised Value will be the $ amount of the land plus any structures(improvements)that may exist on your property.

2. The Assessment Ratio is established for the different classes of property as follows: 25%-Residential and Farm, 30%-Personal Property through a Business, and 40%-Commercial/Industrial.

3. The Assessment Value is calculated by multiplying the Total Appraised Value by the Assessment Ratio.

4. The Tax Rate for each county is set by the county commission based on the amount of monies budgeted to fund the provided services.

Looking at your tax bill, you will see land value based at $15,000 and improvement value based at $115,000. Add the 2 values together to get $130,000. This amount is the Total Appraised Value. Since all residential homes are based at 25% Assessment Ratio, take $130,000 and multiply by 25%. Your new Assessment Value will be $32,500. Take this amount and multiply by the County Tax Rate(1.78% of @$100 Assessment Value). This amount will be the amount of property taxes you will pay rounded to the nearest dollar($579.00).

$15,000 + $115,000 = $130,000
25% x $130,000 = $32,500
$32,000 x 1.78% = $579.00 Tax Amount to be Paid

On the back of the new property tax notice, it has some additional information showing a pie chart of where the 2015 Taxes are levied.

For example:
General Purpose Schools-.57c
County General-.94c
Debt Service-.12c
General Capital Projects-.11c
Highway/Public Works-.04c
Total $1.78

The Property Tax Base for 2015, in DeKalb County, will be over $8,500,000.00

"Last, but not least, you will be able to see some new information about the Tennessee State Tax Relief Program. This program was implemented in 1973 and the program will have a few changes every year. So, for the 2015 Tax Year, you can qualify for Tax Relief if:
(a)Your DeKalb County home is your primary residence

(b)You are 65 years old(or older) as of December 31, 2015, or you are totally and permanently disabled as rated by the SSA or another qualifying agency.

(c.)Your 2014 annual income of all persons on the deed and their spouses did not exceed $28,690.00. If the State of Tennessee qualifies you for Tax Relief, then you can receive a rebate up to $106.00.

Also, new for 2015 Tax Relief is the requirements for Disabled Veterans. Eligibility for New applicants this year will include an income limit.

Combined 2014 annual income for you, your spouse and all other owners of the property cannot exceed $60,000. **It is important for disabled veterans and qualified widow(er)s to note that applicants currently on the Tax Relief Program will not have an income limit. The Trustee’s office will start accepting applications for Tax Relief October 1, 2015 going through April 5, 2016.

If you would like to inquire more about a possible tax relief, come by the County Complex in the Trustee’s office at 732 S. Congress Blvd-Room 103, Smithville, TN 37166 or call us at 615-597-5176," Trustee Driver concluded.

Smithville Elementary Honors Staff and Bus Drivers for Their Response During Bomb Threat (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
Grateful parents and children greet bus drivers and SES faculty and staff (Photo by Jimmy Sprague)
Tribute Paid to Bus Drivers and Staff of Smithville Elementary
Bus Drivers and SES educators at Heroes Luncheon:  Seated: Marshall Ferrell, Gayle Pack, Melissa Wallace, Jimmy Sprague (Transportation Supervisor); Standing: Tiffany Wheatley, Bobby Taylor, Ricky Edwards, and Tony Trapp
Smithville Elementary Teachers at Heroes Luncheon: Tanya Howard, Janet Trapp, Kristy Williams, and Kelly Huling

Smithville Elementary School was the site of a community tribute Tuesday for bus drivers and staff who helped get students to safety during a bomb threat Friday.

Grateful parents, children, and community leaders greeted bus drivers, faculty and staff as they arrived at school Tuesday morning and many held signs bearing messages such as "Thank You", "You're My Heroes", and "We Love Our Bus Drivers".

The school also hosted a "Heroes Luncheon" for the bus drivers and school staff later in the day.

"Today we are celebrating the heroes at Smithville Elementary School and the bus drivers. There are parents who wanted to do a special thank you for our faculty and staff and the bus drivers for the fantastic job they did on Friday getting all the students out and to Northside. The community really came together. The ambulance workers, the firemen, the police. Everybody pitched in. It was just amazing. When you can unload a building of 570 students and almost 100 faculty and staff members in ten minutes time that's an amazing feat. We say a big thank you to everyone for all that they did," said Julie Vincent, Principal at Smithville Elementary School.

"This morning we had several parents and students here that had big signs that said "Thank You" and "We Appreciate You" for the bus drivers and the faculty and staff to see as they came in. I've had several of them really emotional and in tears for just how much that meant to them to see the parents show support for what they did and how well they took care of their children. We're very blessed to have all the faculty and staff and bus drivers that we have. It was amazing," added Vincent.

Several members of the Board of Education and Central Office Staff also attended to show their support.

A bomb threat Friday morning at Smithville Elementary forced administrators to bus the children to Northside Elementary School for the rest of the day. A search of the building on Friday and again with a dog on Saturday turned up nothing suspicious.

Twenty Nine Pounds of Unwanted Drugs Collected During Take-Back Day

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
(Pictured: Carrie Farmer, Barbara Kannapel, Kyle Farley, Susan Grey, Elisa Allen, Norene Puckett, Rita Bell, Kate Miller, Kay Quintero, Sue Conley, Steven Leffew)
 Permanent drop off box for unwanted medicines inside Smithville City Hall at the Police Department

Twenty nine pounds of unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs were collected Saturday during the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, sponsored locally by the DeKalb County Prevention Coalition.

"The Take-Back was a very huge success. We took back twenty nine pounds on that day from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.," said Norene Puckett, Vice President of the Coalition.

Although National Drug Take Back Day is officially over, local residents may continue to dispose of their old or expired drugs anytime at the permanent drop off box inside Smithville City Hall at the Police Department . "Anyone can come and utilize the drop box during normal business hours at the police department free of charge, " said Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department.

"Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital also wants citizens to know that they cannot accept any medicines there (for disposal). The medicine needs to be brought here (city hall). On the front of the (collection) box, it tells what things they are not allowed to accept," said Puckett.

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Prevention Coalition is seeking new members. "The DeKalb Prevention Coalition welcomes any citizens to join. Our coalition meets the last Tuesday every month at Haven of Hope starting at noon.

(Pictured: Carrie Farmer, Barbara Kannapel, Kyle Farley, Susan Grey, Elisa Allen, Norene Puckett, Rita Bell, Kate Miller, Kay Quintero, Sue Conley, Steven Leffew)

Rescue Squad and EMS Come to Aid of Crash Victim

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
Joe Johnson (Older Photo)

Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad and DeKalb EMS put their training into action Monday to help an elderly woman whose automobile plunged off a steep embankment on Ford Road in the Austin Bottom Community.

"We got a call at 11:06 a.m. that a woman (Pamela Mather) had a wreck and went off the road and down a steep embankment approximately 75-100 feet," said Joe Johnson, member of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad.

"She got off the edge, backed up and went off backwards, hit a tree and spun around. She went almost straight off the embankment. It was so steep you could not walk up or down it," Johnson continued.

"When we got there, DeKalb EMS had her out of the vehicle and she was sitting on the ground beside it. The vehicle was on its wheels sitting on an incline and someone had chained it to a tree to keep it from turning on over," said Johnson.

"She wasn't badly injured but she was elderly and could not walk back up the hill under her own power. The incline was so steep we had to use ropes, winch, and a stokes basket. We placed her in the basket and brought her up to the road. We had about 12 rescue squad members and three trucks over there. It was a very successful rescue and our rope training from about two weeks ago was very helpful in handling this particular incident," Johnson said.

The crash was investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. A county deputy was also on the scene.

Judicial Commissioners Appointed

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page

Three judicial commissioners were appointed by the county commission Monday night to serve for the next year.

As recommended by the judicial committee, the county commission approved the appointment of Taft Hendrixson, James Harvey Barnes, and Tammy Ashburn. Each will serve a one year term. Hendrixson was reappointed. Barnes and Ashburn will replace Hoyte Barrett and Jerry Taylor, who were not recommended for reappointment by the judicial committee.

The county commission voted on each appointee separately. All fourteen commissioners voted for Ashburn. All but Wayne Cantrell voted for Barnes. Hendrixson's appointment was approved on a 9-5 vote. Kevin Robinson, Betty Atnip, Jeff Barnes, Joe Johnson, and Bradley Hendrix voted against him.

Other applicants for the three positions not recommended by the judicial committee were Felisha Oakley, Joan Washer, Richard Mielke, Scotty Colwell, McClure Cantrell, and Sandy Brown.

The judicial committee is made up of the General Sessions/Juvenile Court Judge, Sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk, County Mayor, and a representative of the District Attorney General's Office.

Judicial commissioners are responsible for the issuance of criminal arrest warrants upon finding probable cause. They are subject to call at all hours of the day and night. Judicial commissioners serve at the pleasure of the county commission and their terms of office can be one year to four years.

County Appropriates $75,000 for New Animal Shelter

September 29, 2015
Dwayne Page

One month after pledging $75,000 toward construction of a new animal shelter, the county commission Monday night adopted a budget amendment to appropriate the funds with conditions.

The commission voted 9-4-1 to transfer the $75,000 from the county's fund balance. Those voting in favor were Jack Barton, Anita Puckett, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Jonathon Norris, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, Bradley Hendrix, and Wayne Cantrell. Mason Carter, Betty Atnip, Jeff Barnes, and Jimmy Midgett voted against it. Elmer Ellis, Jr. passed.

Members of the DeKalb Animal Coalition for the Humane Treatment of Animals, who will be running the new shelter, had been pushing for a financial commitment from the county for months. Although the county's appropriation of $75,000 will only fund half the estimated construction costs of $150,000, the City of Smithville has also budgeted $75,000 for the project.

During the August meeting, Third District Commissioner Jack Barton moved that the county allocate the $75,000 but with conditions. "This is a one time donation of $75,000 by DeKalb County earmarked for the construction of an animal shelter by the DeKalb Animal Coalition. This donation is conditional. The county will not be responsible for the hiring and payroll of any employees relating to the animal shelter and will not be responsible for the operation of the shelter or the future funds needed to operate the shelter. Also the Coalition will pick up animals for the county when a request is made from the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department at a fee of $100 and $50 for a dead head if they fail to pick up an animal. That will be paid by the county to the coalition for those animals that are requested by the county mayor's office or the sheriff's department," said Barton.

Barton's motion passed on an 8-5 vote.

Since last month some commissioners have posed new questions including the length of the agreement and if fees to the county will increase over time for animal pickup.

County Attorney Hilton Conger said a memorandum of understanding will be prepared between the county and animal coalition."There was a question that came up at the workshop (last Thursday night) about any time limit on the fee for pickup. We do need a memorandum of understanding with the coalition and I've talked with Sue Puckett, their attorney, and they are agreeable to putting a suggested four year (term) under which they would operate under this arrangement being $100 for pickup and $50 for a dead head. A suggestion was then made at that time (after four years) we (county) would increase that fee by ten percent. There were some other conditions that were mentioned at the time the donation was approved and that was that we wouldn't be responsible for the hiring or payroll of any employees at the animal shelter. We also want to make it clear that this is a one time donation. The coalition is meeting on Thursday night, but Sue told me she had contacted their steering committee and they were agreeable to these terms. With that understanding, I feel comfortable if you want to go ahead and make that budget amendment tonight. Obviously we're not going to hand them a check until they sign our agreement," said County Attorney Hilton Conger.

The shelter is to be built on a four acre site near the solid waste transfer station, behind Tenneco off of Highway 70 east. The property, owned by the Smithville Industrial Development Board, has been deeded to the city, which will enter into a 99 year lease with the Coalition, a 501 (c) 3 charity organization.

The goal of the coalition is for the county to have a permanent and safe location for neglected, abandoned and abused animals; to provide an alternative low-kill policy so these animals receive medical attention, reduce overpopulation, and be cared for until they can be placed in permanent homes.

Smithville Man Charged with Four Counts of Forgery

September 28, 2015
Dwayne Page
James Mitchell Johnson
Kevin Troy Coe
Dana Annette Kennedy

A 40 year old Smithville man is charged with four counts of forgery for allegedly passing forged checks at local businesses earlier this month.

James Mitchell Johnson of East Bryant Street, Smithville is under a $40,000 bond and he will be in court October 8. He was arrested on September 22.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Johnson passed forged checks on the following dates: Friday, September 11 at Wilson Bank and Trust in the amount of $300; Sunday, September 13 at DeKalb Market in the amount of $100 and at Save-A-Lot for $125; and on Monday, September 14 at Walmart for $21.81.

54 year old Kevin Troy Coe of Auburntown is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and issued citations for violation of the implied consent law, violation of the light law, violation of the financial responsibility law, and violation of the open container law. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court October 1.

Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, September 23 a deputy spotted a red Chevy S-10 traveling east on Nashville Highway with a brake light out. He conducted a traffic stop and spoke with the driver, Coe who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person. Coe submitted to field sobriety tasks but performed poorly. Two open containers of beer were found in the vehicle. Coe refused to take a blood test. He was placed under arrest.

43 year old Dana Annette Kennedy of McMinnville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on October 29.
Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, September 26 Kennedy allegedly assaulted her sister by punching her in the face causing cuts to her face and a busted lip. The incident occurred at a location on Blue Springs Road. Kennedy was determined to have been the primary aggressor and was placed under arrest.

Old Sligo Bridge Gone (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

September 28, 2015
Dwayne Page

Except for the columns, the old Sligo bridge is no more.

Demolition of the remaining spans of the 1948 truss bridge were taken down this morning (Monday) shortly after 11:00 a.m.

TDOT is nearing completion of a $39 million project to replace the truss bridge with a new welded steel plate girder bridge. The new bridge opened to traffic on Saturday, August 8. Demolition of the old bridge began Tuesday, September 15 and is an important phase in the project. The project is slated for total completion in June 2016, but it is very likely that it will be finished ahead of schedule.




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