Local News Articles

State Representative Mark Pody responds to the Passage of the IMPROVE ACT

May 9, 2017
Mark Pody

Members of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly have officially passed House Bill 534, the “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads, and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy (IMPROVE) Act.” Governor Bill Haslam introduced the Gas Tax in January in order to help fund the state’s $10 billion backlog of road construction projects.

This raises the gas tax by 6 cents and the diesel tax by 10 cents over the next 3 years. Registration fees for most cars will also increase by $5, commercial automobiles by $10 and other large vehicles will be paying $15 extra. Electric cars will see a new $100 registration fee.

"I have always said we must find a dedicated source of funding in order to pay for our roads and bridges in Tennessee. After hearing feedback from our community voicing strong opposition to the plan and the tax increases it contains, I did not support the increase in gas taxes. Instead, I supported an alternative plan that also would have created a reliable funding source for infrastructure without raising taxes on any Tennesseans. However, a majority of my colleagues disagreed with my decision, the Gas Tax Increase passed, and Governor Haslam signed the bill last week," said Representative Mark Pody

"The passage of the new infrastructure funding bill means the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and our local governments will have more money to spend on road projects — TDOT will see increased revenue of $240 million per year. In total, counties across the state will receive $79 million and cities will see a revenue increase of approximately $35 million per year to use for local road and infrastructure projects. In DeKalb County alone, the county will receive an extra $146,539 thousand in Diesel Taxes and $409,103 thousand in Gasoline Taxes," Pody continued.

Breakdown below:

City/County Location Diesel Gasoline

DeKalb County $146,539 (Diesel) $409,103 (Gasoline)
Smithville $ 11,790 (Diesel) $ 32,729 (Gasoline)
Alexandria $ 2,514 (Diesel) $ 6,979 (Gasoline)
Dowelltown $ 924 (Diesel) $ 2,565 (Gasoline)
Liberty $ 807 (Diesel) $ 2,240 (Gasoline)

The legislation will help fund 3 projects identified by the state as needed for future development.

Route Project Description
0A095 Holmes Creek Road bridge over Fall Creek
0A330 Old Dry Creek Road bridge over Dry Creek
US70(SR26) Nashville Highway from West of Wilson County
Line to near SR-96 in Dekalb County

"The Gas tax bill does reduce taxes by more than $300 million annually. These tax breaks include a 1% reduction on the sales tax on food. The legislation will also help all Tennesseans by lowering some high taxes on Tennessee manufacturers. We need businesses that provide high paying, steady jobs here in this state. Finally this act adds a set schedule to eliminate the Halls Income Tax. I agree with all these reductions and have fought for them," said Representative Pody.

"Having all these different issues on the same bill is another reason for my opposition to the act. One big difference between Nashville and Washington, D.C. has been how Tennessee considers and votes on legislation. In Washington, they combine many issues and laws together. This makes it very hard to keep pork and special interest projects out of good pieces of legislation. We all have seen these silly and expensive projects come out of our nation’s capitol. Back home, we traditionally take up each issue individually. That process has set us apart from the rest of the nation. We did not follow that procedure on the Gas tax increase," Pody added.

"Even though we have some positive things that will come from the Gas Taxes — sadly, it also means increased taxes for each of us. The families of our community have been consistent expressing opposition to an additional tax increase throughout this entire process. In a year where we are experiencing a historic budget surplus, we should have chosen to fund our roads and bridges within our current budget and not raise taxes at the expense of Tennesseans across our state. As always, I remain committed to listening to the voice of our community throughout the remainder of the 2017 legislative session and the years ahead,"Pody said.

Mark Pody serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Consumer & Human Resources Committee. He is also a member of the House Consumer & Human Resources Subcommittee and House Insurance & Banking Committee. He lives in Lebanon and represents House District 46, which includes all of Cannon and part of Wilson and DeKalb Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Mark.Pody@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7086.

Smithville Elementary School Recognizes Students of Month

May 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
Smithville Elementary School Recognizes Students of Month

Smithville Elementary would like to recognize our Students of the Month for May. These students were selected for their outstanding character, academics, and other traits that make them an all-around excellent student. Selected as Students of the Month for May are:

Pre-K: Luke Pedigo
Kindergarten: Misael Matuz
1st grade: Elijah Weigele

2nd grade: Allison Estes

David Turner and Friends to Entertain during Older Americans Day

May 9, 2017
Dwayne Page
David Turner and Friends

The month of May is recognized nationally as Older Americans Month, a time when the vast contributions older adults make to their families, communities, and the nation are acknowledged.

Justin Potter Library will partner with the Alexandria and Smithville Senior Centers in the national celebration by hosting Older Americans Day. The event will be held at the DeKalb County Complex Theatre area located at 712 South Congress Boulevard in Smithville on Wednesday, May 17 at 11:00 a.m. This year's theme is "Age Out Loud".

The featured entertainment will be local ventriloquist David Turner. There will be displays, door prizes, goody bags, and sack lunches for the older adults to enjoy. Everyone who is an older American is invited to this free event. The library will be closed from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for the event.

For more information, call the library at 615-597-4359.

Legislature Approves Proposed Changes in Liberty Election Cycle

May 9, 2017
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee General Assembly has adopted legislation sought by the Liberty Mayor and Aldermen to amend the city charter changing the timing of municipal elections so that all seats are filled in the same election every four years and authorizing the mayor and aldermen to receive pay for attending monthly city board meetings.

The city charter amendments must now be approved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the legislative body of the Town of Liberty before they can take effect.

Under the legislation approved by the State House (88-0) and Senate (32-0), the next municipal election in Liberty would be on the first Thursday in August 2018, and every four (4) years thereafter, to fill the office of mayor and five (5) aldermen.

Under the existing charter, Liberty elects its city officials in a four year cycle but in back to back years. For example, three aldermen were elected in 2016 and this year (2017) a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected. Without a change the cycle would be repeated in the years 2020 and 2021.

In order to get all future city elections on a four year cycle, the Liberty mayor and aldermen want to reschedule this year’s city election to August, 2018 to coincide with the county general election.

Under the proposed city charter amendment, the mayor and aldermen so elected in August, 2018 shall hold their respective offices for a term of four (4) years and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. In order to have the elections for the board of mayor and aldermen coincide, the terms of the mayor and two (2) aldermen who were elected in the election held in August 2013 shall be extended for one (1) year to August 2018.

The board of mayor and aldermen, after each of their respective elections, shall take office on or before the first succeeding Monday night, at which time the board shall meet, organize, and begin the discharge of its duties.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen also want the power to authorize a payment to the mayor and each alderman for their attendance at meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Such payment shall not exceed forty-five dollars ($45.00), may not be paid to the mayor or to an alderman more often than once a month, and is conditioned on the mayor and alderman's attendance at the regular monthly board meeting.

If the Board votes to authorize payment to the mayor and aldermen, such payment shall not take effect until after the next regular election after such authorization vote has occurred.




Woman Found with Meth and Heroin During Probation Search

May 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Jamie Renee Ashford
David Harold Pack
Jacob Fisher Murphy
Michael Blair Lawson
James Grady Warner

A Smithville woman was found with methamphetamine and heroin during a probation search at her home last week.

46 year old Jamie Renee Ashford of Miller Road, Smithville is charged with possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) for resale. She was also cited for simple possession of a schedule I drug (heroin), and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is May 18.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_22.pdf (2.87 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on May 2 a detective and deputy went to Ashford’s home to conduct a probation search on someone at that residence. After receiving consent to search, the officers found a small camouflaged bag containing five bags of a crystal like substance, a set of digital scales, and corners of sandwich bags used to sell small quantities of drugs. The bags of drugs weighed 0.03 grams, 0.03 grams, 0.03 grams, 0.04 grams, and 9 grams. The officers also found 0.02 grams of heroin. Ashford admitted that these items belonged to her. She was placed under arrest.

55 year old David Harold Pack of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown is charged with a domestic related aggravated assault. His bond is $10,000 and his court date is May 18. Sheriff Ray said that on April 27 a deputy was dispatched to Pack’s residence due to a physical domestic. A detective conducted an investigation and found that Pack allegedly assaulted his daughter by trying to strangle her, hitting her with a bamboo stick, and pulling her hair.

20 year old Jacob Fisher Murphy of Payton Lane, Smithville is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,500 and his court date is June 8. Sheriff Ray said that on May 7 a deputy was patrolling Sparta Highway by Sligo bridge when he spotted Murphy driving a red Buick. Knowing that Murphy does not have a valid driver license and that he has been stopped several times for that offense, the officer pulled over Murphy and placed him under arrest. Murphy’s license was suspended for failure to appear for a trial in DeKalb County General Sessions Court on October 19, 2016.

27 year old Michael Blair Lawson of Old Hickory, Tennessee is charged with public intoxication, domestic assault, and being a fugitive from justice. His bond totals $56,500 and his court date is May 18. Sheriff Ray said that on May 6 a deputy was dispatched to Evins Mill where a man was reported to be unruly and trying to fight others. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Lawson who was unsteady on his feet and had a strong odor of alcohol on him. Lawson’s girlfiend also reported to the deputy that Lawson caused bodily harm to her child by spanking him on the butt leaving a bruise. Lawson allegedly bribed the child saying he would buy him a fidget spinner if he would not say anything to anyone about the spanking. However, the child reported it to his mother. A computer check was conducted and revealed that Lawson is wanted in Monongalia County, West Virginia for a failure to appear for a night time burglary and a third offense of driving under the influence. Lawson is to be extradited back to West Virginia.

53 year old James Grady Warner of Big Hill Road, Liberty is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is May 18. Sheriff Ray said that on May 7 a deputy responded to a residence on Lonnie Cantrell Road due to a physical domestic. A woman told the officer that Warner pushed her into a dresser causing her to fall out of a doorway onto the ground. The woman further stated that Warner broke a dinner plate over her back and closed a truck window on her fingers dragging her about 10 feet down the driveway causing scrapes and bruises on her hands, arms, and back.

Mother Charged After Child Found Unattended on Busy Highway

May 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
Tara Jane Atnip

A mother has been charged with child abuse or neglect after her five year old child was found unattended on a busy highway near her home.

39 year old Tara Jane Atnip of Allen Ferry Road, Smithville is under an $8,000 bond and her court date is May 18.


Seagate Crystal Reports - REPOR_22.pdf (2.87 MB)

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Monday, May 1 a deputy responded to a call on Allen Ferry Road where a passerby found a five year old child running in the roadway around Mount Holly Cemetery, which is on the opposite side from the home where the child lives.

Due to the child being found running in the roadway unaccompanied by an adult and her health and welfare being in imminent danger, Atnip was arrested and charged in the case.

DCHS Senior Awards Night Set for May 22 (View Senior Photos Here)

May 8, 2017
Dwayne Page
DCHS Senior Awards Night Set for May 22

Scholarships and other awards will be presented to members of the Class of 2017 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards program Monday night, May 22 at 6:00 p.m. in the DCHS gymnasium.

Representatives of colleges, universities, branches of the armed services, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations will make the presentations.

Meanwhile, graduation for the DCHS Class of 2017 will be Friday, May 26 at 7:00 p.m. on the high school football field.

(Click link below to view DCHS Class of 2017 Senior Formals)


DWS Students Compete in Math Contest

May 8, 2017
Bill Conger
DWS Students Compete in Math Contest (Bill Conger Photo)

Ten students from DeKalb West competed in the middle school math contest at Tennessee Tech on April 27.

8th grader Jaden Johnson ranked 9th out of 61. 7th grader Victoria Rodano placed 21 out of 59 while Aly Griffith in the 6th grade ranked 12th out of 63.

Also participating in the math contest from DWS were Isaac Brown, Madison Martin, and Alex Moreno from the sixth grade; Brayden Antoniak from the 7th grade, and Ashlin Maynard, Jordan Crook, and Gracie Griffin from the 8th grade.

Pictured front row left to right are Ashlin Maynard, Jaden Johnson, Alex Moreno, and Aly Griffith.

Back row left to right are Victoria Rodano, Isaac Brown, Brayden Antoniak, Jordan Crook, Gracie Griffin, and Madison Martin.

NHC Smithville Observes National Nurses Week

May 8, 2017

NHC Smithville is excited about honoring National Nurses Week, which is celebrated annually from May 6th, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

NHC Smithville would like to recognize and thank our highly skilled, dedicated nurses that exemplify the best in their profession. The Director of Nursing at NHC Smithville is Melinda Wilson. The Assistant Director of Nursing is Paulette Nichols.

Registered Nurses (RN):
Brian Cripps, April Dearmon, Alisha Hale, Molly Merriman, Cheryl Myers, Julie Sullivan, Jacqueline Taylor, and Cindy Wolter

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN):
Monica Baker, Nicole Burris, Amanda Carter, Nanci Drennan, Shalyn Eaton, Nioakah Hickman, Jessica Holland, Rebekah Johannsen, Amber Judkins, Thomas Mahler, Arianna Matthews, Cindy Milford, Kalee Mullican, Sabra Murphy, Abby Onkst, Justine Pettit, Brandon Sullivan, Julie Vincent, Angie Walker, Christy Ward, Margaret Watkins, Lindsy Winfree, Sharon Yocum, and Vicki Yost

Community Health Adventure Launches Free Summer Activity Program

May 7, 2017
Martial Arts
Yoga Classes
Senior Chair Volleyball
Watercolor Classes
Walking Club

Earlier this year, the DeKalb Prevention Coalition received a $12k grant from Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital funded by community benefit dollars to support a ‘Community Health Adventure’ for DeKalb residents. This program currently provides free healthy activities throughout the year for all ages. To date, the program has impacted 900 participants in various free activities that promote physical and emotional health including: yoga classes, art instruction, martial arts, tai chi, healthy cooking demonstrations, senior chair volleyball, senior chair yoga, walking clubs, nutrition education, along with classes provided for teens and adults with disabilities. The upcoming summer schedule will help to support summer safety including the addition of free swimming classes and water aerobics.

“The immediate success in the massive participation of the Community Health Adventure shows the great need for healthy activities that families and individuals can afford. Many families have multiple children, face income limits, or even shy away from trying new things that may pose an unnecessary financial burden to start.” said Shan Burklow, Regional Community Relations Coordinator for Saint Thomas Health, “It is our hope that this program will continue to evolve and grow to meet even more health and wellness needs that arise from communicating with the current participants. Future goals that support emotional and physical health will focus on free music instruction, life health coaches, personal training sessions, swimming lessons, and dance classes. It is so exciting to see people of all ages get healthier mentally and physically without the strain of a financial burden of any kind. Every class provided by the ‘health adventure’ is 100% free of charge including any supplies, uniforms, or special equipment that may be needed. Improving the health of the community is such an important part of what Saint Thomas Health is all about, and this program is a shining example of how we can all work together towards this goal.”

For more information on the Community Health Adventure, to volunteer, or to sign-up for available classes, call DeKalb Prevention Coalition or Justin Potter Library. Current classes are listed on the community calendar, and are updated monthly.

The DeKalb Prevention Coalition is an anti-drug coalition working to reduce dependence on harmful and potentially lethal substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. The coalition has recently broadened its reach to include the overall improvement of community health by promoting health/nutrition education and wellness activities, and they would like to thank Saint Thomas Health for making this goal possible.

Upcoming Free Health Adventure Activities & Classes:

Wednesday, May 10 at 12 noon: Community Wellness Walk - meet on Smithville City Hall side of the Courthouse

Wednesday, May 17 at 11:00 am: Older Americans Day in the DeKalb County Complex

* Wellness Wednesdays in the DeKalb County Complex:

·8am: Walking Club

·9am: Chair Volleyball

·10am: Art Classes – contact the Library to reserve your spot

·10am: Sewing Classes – contact the Library to reserve your spot

·4pm: Gentle Yoga for beginners

·5pm: Martial Arts – every Wednesday and Friday (Free in May/June – includes free uniform)

·6:30pm: Power Yoga for beginners/intermediate

·June 2017: Swimming Classes –- contact the Library to reserve your spot

·June 2017: Water Aerobics/Senior Water Aerobics - time/date TBD


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