Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate for May Drops to 3.8%

June 29, 2017
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County jobless rate for the month of May is 3.8%, down from 4.9% in April and below the rate of 4.8% in May, 2016.

The local labor force for May was 7,540. A total of 7,250 were employed and 290 were without work.

Jobless rates for May among the fourteen counties in the Upper Cumberland region were as follows from highest to lowest:
Clay: 4%
Van Buren: 3.5%
Cumberland: 3.4%
Overton: 3.3%
White: 3.2%
Putnam: 3%
Warren: 3%
Smith: 2.7%

Following the lowest state unemployment rate in nearly 20 years, Tennessee’s county unemployment rates for May 2017 have decreased in 94 counties and remained the same in 1, according to data released today by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD).

Davidson County has the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate at 2.1 percent, a decline from 2.7 percent during the prior month. Knox County’s rate is 2.5 percent, decreasing from April’s 3.1 percent. Hamilton County declined from its previous month’s rate of 3.6 to 2.9 percent while Shelby County has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, a decrease from 4.4 percent in April.

“We continue to see a substantial drop in the unemployment rate of our metropolitan areas, which is great,” said TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips. “But the most encouraging numbers are coming from Tennessee’s distressed counties, many of which saw a significant drop in their unemployment rates.”

Rhea County’s 5.1 percent makes it the only area in the state with an unemployment rate above 5.0 percent in May. That figure represents a 1.5 percent drop from its revised April 2017 rate, one of the largest rate decreases for the month. The remaining 94 counties have unemployment rates of 4.8 percent or lower. Cannon County was the only area not experiencing any change.

“This shows that job growth in Tennessee isn’t exclusive to our major metropolitan areas; people are returning to the workforce in every corner of our state,” Commissioner Phillips said. “We continue to focus our resources on those Tennesseans who are still out of work, but the numbers show we are making progress.”

Preliminary unemployment rates have fallen for both Tennessee and the United States. Decreasing by seven-tenths of a percentage point, the state rate is 4.0 percent for May. The national rate fell a tenth of a percentage point to 4.3 percent for the month.

The state and national unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted, while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

State Gas Tax to Increase Saturday, July 1

June 29, 2017
Dwayne Page

Many new laws will take effect in Tennessee on July 1, but the impact you’re likely to see most directly is at the pump.

Gas taxes are going up through the IMPROVE Act, Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to work on a multi-billion dollar backlog of road projects.

The tax on a gallon of gas is going up by 4 cents on July 1, and then 1 cent each of the following two years, adding up to 6 cents total.
The tax on diesel fuel is going up by a total of 10 cents over the next three years.

There’s also a $5 increase in the cost to register your car.

The gas tax increases are offset by several other tax cuts, the most notable of which is on groceries. The tax will drop from 5 percent to 4 percent.



WJLE to Broadcast "LIVE" and "LIVE Stream" Fiddlers Jamboree

June 29, 2017
Dwayne Page

If you are a fan of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival you can listen to most of the on-stage entertainment Friday and Saturday, June 30 and July 1 LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE Streaming at www.wjle.com.

Thanks to the following advertisers who are sponsoring at least one or more hours of the LIVE coverage on WJLE this weekend:

*Potters Home Center

*Star Manufacturing International, Inc.

*Alexandria Auto Parts

*Arrow Termite and Pest Control

*Charles D. Atnip Realty & Auction Company

*Belk Grocery & Sporting Goods

*Cantrell’s Furniture & Appliances

*Close & Paschal Auction and Realty

*DeKalb County Ace Hardware

*DeKalb Dental Center

*DeKalb Farmers Coop

*DeKalb Funeral Chapel

*Dogwood Plaza

*Bert Driver Nursery

*DTC Communications

*Evins Mill

*Family Medical Center

*Face Pace Urgent Care Clinic

*Griffin’s Produce

*Janney & Associates, CPA

*Kilgore’s Restaurant

*Larry’s Discount Grocery

*Liberty State Bank

*Love-Cantrell Funeral Home

*Middle Tennessee Natural Gas

*NHC Healthcare Center of Smithville

*Optimus Pest Control

*Poppie’s Boutique

*Pichard’s Foods in Alexandria

*Sheriff Patrick Ray

*St. Thomas DeKalb Hospital

*State Farm Insurance Agent Jackie Smith

*Stonehaus Winery

*Dr. Wesley Suddarth, DDS in Alexandria

*Swallows Insurance Agency

*Three Star Mall in McMinnville

*White Possum Grille

*Wilson Bank & Trust

*Woodbury Insurance Agency

*Voyager Carpet & Floor Covering

46th Annual Fiddlers Jamboree & Crafts Festival Begins Friday

June 29, 2017
Dwayne Page
46th Annual Fiddlers Jamboree & Crafts Festival Begins Friday
Fiddlers Jamboree Starts Friday

The 46th Annual Smithville Fiddlers' Jamboree and Crafts Festival begins Friday, June 30 and Saturday, July 1st starting at 9:00 am each day and continues until the final competition has been awarded. With over 35 music and dance categories, streets full of hand-made crafts, and over a dozen food booths, there is something for everyone at the Jamboree.

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories on Friday, June 30:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Solo); Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Old-Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event (Spoon Clacking, Jug Blowing, Washboard, Tub, Saws-Appalachian Related Only); Autoharp, Gospel Singing (Solo); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Youth Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers); Gospel Singing (Duet,Trio, and Quartet); Mandolin; and Old Time Fiddle Band.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

A United States flag and a Tennessee State flag will be presented on Friday evening. The flags, which have flown over the state capitol, go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here. The flags will be presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody.
The Community Chorus is expected to perform with a variety of patriotic songs.

Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards will be presented during the weekend for "Best of Show", "Best Appalachian Craft", "Best Newcomer", and "Best Craft Display"

On Saturday, July 1, preliminaries will be held in the following categories:
Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Flat Top Guitar; Contest Fiddle for the Neil Dudney Award; Bluegrass Band; Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back Saturday night to compete for first, second, and third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon, July 1 during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer Trophy Award and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy.

This year’s “Blue Blaze Award” will be presented to the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. The group will receive the award and perform on stage Saturday at around 5:00 p.m.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature many crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE Streaming at www.wjle.com.

To learn more visit http://smithvillejamboree.com/

DWS Student Takes Top Honors at National Junior Beta Club Convention

June 28, 2017
Bill Conger
Garrett Hayes

DeKalb West School 8th grade graduate Garrett Hayes won top honors at the National Junior Beta Club Convention in Orlando, Florida this week. Hayes, the son of Alan and Lesa Hayes, finished first in Visual Arts for his color photography entry. Garrett, the President of the DWS Junior Beta Club, is the first student in the school's history to represent the club at the national convention. He placed in the top three at the Tennessee convention last November, which qualified him to attend the nationals.

DMS Junior Beta Club Wins 3rd Place at National Convention

June 28, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club

The DeKalb Middle School Junior Beta Club won 3rd place in the finals competition Wednesday morning at the National Convention at Disney World in Orlando, Florida for its anti-bullying drama presentation called “Be the Change” after being named in the top five on Tuesday.

DeKalb Schools Offering Online Student Enrollment

June 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

The DeKalb County School System is offering online student enrollment for the 2017-18 school year.

Families are now able to register their child for back-to-school through their Skyward Family Access account. Families must have registered Skyward Family Access accounts in order to use the online registration tools.



All families are encouraged to register their Skyward Family Access account so they may keep track of their child’s school information.

“We hope parents will be excited not to fill out all of that paperwork the day of registration. If you are a parent/guardian of a returning student in our school district please take advantage of the online registration. If you do not have a Skyward account please email aprilodom@dekalbschools.net to get your account set up,” said Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder.

Registration day for the 2017-18 year at the schools is Monday, August 7 and the first full day of school will be Wednesday, August 9.

Crew installs 249-ton hydropower rotor at Center Hill Dam (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

June 27, 2017
By Lee Roberts, Nashville District Public Affairs
Kye Moss of Voith Hydro guides a 249-ton rotor during its installation into hydropower unit two at Center Hill Dam in Lancaster, Tenn., June 19, 2017. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is rehabilitating the unit and expects to bring it online in late July after the completion of its assembly and load testing. (Photo by Lee Roberts)

A work crew installed a 249-ton hydropower rotor today at Center Hill Dam, culminating weeks of safety preparations to lift and maneuver the heavy load into position to generate hydroelectricity.

With the safe installation of the rotor, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and contractor Voith Hydro expect to finish rehabilitation of hydropower unit two in mid-July once its final assembly and load testing are complete.

Jerry Lee, project engineer for the Center Hill Turbine Generator Rehabilitation Project, gave props to Steve Rodriguez, the crane operator responsible for moving the rotor from the power plant’s gallery and placing it into the hydropower unit.

“This is not something we do every day. This is the largest component in the turbine generator. It’s a capacity lift for this crane,” Lee said.

Lee explained that installing the rotor is very challenging because there’s only a nine-sixteenth inch gap between the rotor and the stator, which is a very tight fit.

“It’s got to go back in precisely. The parts that we’ve rebuilt are very expensive. We’ve spent millions of dollars here and you don’t want to bump them or damage any of the stuff going back in,” Lee stressed.

Because of the heavy load and the precise operation, the Corps of Engineers and the contractor made safety the number one priority throughout the lift and install.

Martin Parker, site manager for Voith Hydro, said the team definitely focused on the safety requirements and described the installation as “tricky” because of the tight fit. Installing the rotor into the stator without bumping or rubbing is important to prevent damaging the components, he said.

“The rotor went in nice and even and went down with a good air gap – didn’t have any problems,” Parker said. “Now they’re just bolting it up and it’s looking really good.”

Since the project began in September 2015, the contractor has rebuilt the generator’s rotor, overhauled the shaft, and replaced the stator, stator coils, wicket gates and turbine, which now features an aeration capability designed to add oxygen to the water to benefit the aquatic life downstream of the dam.

“Now we put the upper bracket in place, we do our alignment checks, and hopefully we should have it ready for wet testing by the second week of July, ready to run,” Parker said.

The hydropower unit at Center Hill Dam is the first of 28 units at nine projects that will be rehabilitated. The Nashville District awarded a $47.25 million contract to Voith Hydro in June 2014 to rehabilitate three Center Hill Dam hydropower units. The contractor mobilized to the dam in July 2015 and began the rehabilitation of unit two. Unit one will then be rehabilitated followed by unit three.

Center Hill Dam is located on the Caney Fork River and contributes to the electrical power supply of the area through the generation of clean, safe and efficient hydroelectric power. A single hydropower unit at this location supplies enough electricity to power 12,000 homes, which reduces the cost of electricity during peak periods of the daytime. All three hydropower units can supply the needs of an average city of 125,000 people.

The Nashville District operates nine multi-purpose projects in the Cumberland River Basin. Electricity is marketed by the Southeastern Power Administration and then sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority and other preference customers in the region.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2000, Section 212, authorized the Corps to accept and expend funds from power preference customers to perform rehab work on hydropower equipment. Under this provision of the law, funds that would normally be returned to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury are used to maintain the hydropower generating equipment. Over the life of the program SEPA looks to direct more than $1.2 billion into the Cumberland River System Hydropower Rehabilitation.

County Establishes Cost Sharing Fees to Cities for Reappraisals

June 27, 2017
Dwayne Page

The cities of Smithville, Alexandria, and Liberty will have to share more of the costs for county property reappraisals and personal property audits beginning July 1.

The county commission Monday night voted 11-2 to establish fees for the cities but to keep the municipalities from having to pay the full amount this year the costs will be phased in over a three year period. All voted in favor except commissioners Kevin Robinson and Julie Young. Commissioner Anita Puckett was absent.

Based on 2016 numbers, Smithville’s entire portion would have been a total of $16,232 ($14,718 for real property parcels and $1,514 for its share of personal property auditing). Liberty’s costs would have totaled $1,301 ($1,295 for real property parcels and $6.00 for personal property). Alexandria’s total share would have been $2,834 ($2,814 real property and $20.00 for personal property).

The total extra revenue to the county derived from these fees would have been $20,367 this year.

To lessen the burden on the cities, the county commission adopted a motion by second district member Joe Johnson to charge the cities only one third of their share this year. The cities will have to pay two thirds of their share next year and the entire amount of their share will be due the following year and from then on.

Smithville will be required to pay this year approximately $5,410. Liberty’s share this year will be about $434. Alexandria will be billed for approximately $944 this year.

The new cost sharing fees will be implemented with passage of the 2017-18 fiscal year county budget in July.

Although DeKalb County has never enforced it, a state law was passed in 1989 requiring municipalities that collect a city property tax to ante up more for the county’s costs of real property reappraisals and audits of personal property, unless an agreement is reached to waive the charge.

Mayors Jimmy Poss in Smithville, Dwight Mathis in Liberty, and Bennett Armstrong in Alexandria sent letters to County Mayor Tim Stribling and to the County Commission asking that the county waive the fees saying they are struggling with their own budgets and that the proposed assessment fees are “unreasonable and unnecessary”. The mayors argue that city residents, who are also county taxpayers, already pay for the costs of county reappraisals and that an extra cost sharing fee to them is unfair.

In the letter, the mayors wrote, “We the mayors of the City of Smithville, Town of Liberty, and Town of Alexandria would like to state our opposition to a proposal requiring the towns to pay one half of the reappraisal dues within the town limits of each municipality. Each municipality feels that the attempt to collect this fee is both unreasonable and unnecessary. Each municipality is struggling with their own budgets and do not need another assessment for the citizens. Therefore we respectfully request that the county commission refrain from approving this reassessment fee against the towns,” the letter stated.

Under state law, local costs of reappraisal of real properties within a city shall be paid one half by the county and one half by the city, unless there is an agreement between the city and county to waive the fees. Any city paying one half of local costs of reappraisal shall pay those costs directly to the county government with jurisdiction over the property being reappraised and shall pay those costs during the fiscal year in which the reappraisal is finalized. The cities of Smithville, Alexandria, and Liberty would be affected since they collect city property taxes. Dowelltown does not have a city property tax rate and would not be affected.

State law also requires cities to be responsible for sharing in the county’s costs of contracted personal property audits.

Under state law, cities have the option of paying the real property reappraisal costs on a yearly basis or in a lump sum in the fifth year of the reappraisal cycle.

Fire Destroys Residence

June 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Residence

A fire Monday destroyed the residence of Robert Moore on Rolling Acres Road off Cookeville Highway.

DeKalb County Fire Chief Donny Green said Moore and his grandson were there at the time when they heard a loud boom, went to investigate, and discovered that the deck on the eastside of the house was completely on fire. They ran outside. Moore tried to go back in to retrieve some things but was unable due to the heavy smoke. He then called 911.

Firefighters arrived and found about half the house to be fully involved in flames. They were only able to do an exterior attack of the fire. The home and all the family’s belongings were destroyed. No one was injured.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, Midway, Main Station, and Temperance Hall Stations responded along with mutual aid backup from the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department. The Sheriff’s Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.


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