Local News Articles

DeKalb West School to Host Dedication and Open House

September 1, 2014
Dwayne Page
DeKalb West School Has New Look

DeKalb West School will be hosting a brief dedication ceremony and open house for the new addition to the building on Thursday, September 4th.

The public is invited to attend.

The dedication begins at 6:00 p.m. and tours of the school will follow at 6:30 p.m. For those who can't attend Thursday, the school will be open for tours again on Sunday, September 7 from 2-4 p.m.

The addition is located at the front of the school with a new façade and it includes new classrooms, restrooms, and hallway, most of them tornado safe shelters. The facility also features a new secure entrance to the school, an office, clinic, conference room, and a teacher work area. A new larger kitchen has been constructed as an extension to the existing building and the cafeteria is enlarged.

The school made use of their new storm shelter for the first time only two weeks when severe thunderstorms raked across the county downing trees and power lines.

Students at all schools in the county were kept about an hour longer than usual that day because of the storms as a safety precaution.

At DeKalb West School, students, staff, and parents in the pickup line were directed to the new storm shelter classrooms and hallway. "It happened around 1:30 p.m. when we started moving to the safe rooms. We had lots of space. There are seven classrooms in that area, a bathroom and a very large hallway. Each room was assigned to a grade level and they were very quickly moved to that area and they stayed there. We opened it up to the parents who were in the car line. We had probably about fifteen parents come in the building and stay with us in the hallways. As an administrator it was very comforting having them in there as we were watching over the building. It put you at ease and the parents were very pleased," said Assistant DWS Principal Sabrina Farler, who will be the new DWS principal later this month

"Everybody fit in that area without any problem and we could have had even more people come in," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. "

"In the future we're going to have plans made out so that the community can come in there (during a severe storm threat). People might want to come in there for a safe place. Hopefully we can set it up where there will be a remote way that it can be unlocked and people can come into a certain part of the building. That is one of the reasons it was designed. It is not only for the school but for the community," said Willoughby.

Although no one was hurt and the school received no storm damage from the winds, a lightning strike shut down a one thousand amp breaker at DeKalb West that day which caused schools to be dismissed early on the day after the storm and then closed the following day until the breaker could be replaced.

Mike Foster Era as County Mayor Over

August 31, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mike Foster

He had hoped to have another term in office starting today, but the 12 year era of County Mayor Mike Foster has come to an end.

"I'm going to take a week off," Foster jokingly said in an interview with WJLE Friday. "I went to fill out my social security application the other day and I have worked basically for 47 years so I'm going to take some time off," he said.

Foster was first elected County Mayor in 2002 and he was re-elected in 2006 and 2010. He lost his bid for a fourth term when he was defeated for the Democratic nomination by Tim Stribling in May. Stribling went on to win the General Election on August 7. Prior to becoming county mayor, Foster served many years as an employee and supervisor with TWRA.

Looking back on his three terms in office, Foster believes he and the county commissions he has worked with have made a positive difference for the people of DeKalb County. Although neither he nor the county commission were directly responsible for it, Foster cited among the most significant achievements, the construction of the new Sligo Bridge and the renovation of Hurricane Bridge. Foster said had those projects not been funded, DeKalb County might have suffered economically. " We certainly didn't build them but I think the best thing that happened during the last twelve years as far as affecting the most people in the county was getting the bridge (Hurricane) repaired and the new bridge at Sligo. Of course TDOT built those but we were about to be isolated in that we couldn't get industries (trucks) in and out (due to weight limits on the bridges) to the north and east because of the condition of those two bridges and it looked for a while that they (projects) might be postponed indefinitely. Our industries were really concerned about not being able to cross the bridges with loads of their products but working with them we first talked to former Governor Phil Bredesen when he was in office and later to Governor Bill Haslam and they helped make it possible to build a new bridge at Sligo and to repair Hurricane bridge," said Foster.

Among the projects overseen by Foster during his years as county mayor were:

*Developing an Emergency Communications District (911) and establishing a new centralized 911 dispatch headquarters on Mountain Street in Smithville, a move supported by the county as well as Smithville and Alexandria which eliminated police dispatching responsibilities for the sheriff's department and city police departments. The operation has also been updated over the years.

*The County assuming control of the DeKalb EMS operation and establishing a new ambulance service headquarters at the intersection of Mountain Street and Meadowbrook Drive in Smithville. For several years, the county had contracted with Sumner Regional Medical Center to operate the ambulance service but that agreement ended in 2007.

*Expanding the size of Justin Potter Library

*Developing a Solid Waste Transfer Station (not yet completed) so that the county can eventually close its Class I landfill and have all its household garbage collected at one location and shipped out from there to the Smith County Landfill. The county plans to maintain a Class III/IV landfill for the disposal of non-household garbage including things like construction material, etc.

*Establishing a new Farmers Market beside DeKalb Ace Hardware in Smithville.

Perhaps the endeavor for which Foster will be best remembered is the county's purchase and renovation of the old Town and Country Shopping Center, which was developed into what is now called the County Complex. In fact, the county commission honored Foster just last week by naming a portion of the building the "Mike Foster Multipurpose Center". The complex has meetings rooms, a gym, game room, exercise center, auditorium, and is home to the county extension office, Motlow College classes, senior citizens center, and local UCHRA operations. Part of the building also serves as offices for four county officials, the Trustee, Register of Deeds, Assessor of Property, and County Clerk.

Although there continues to be naysayers about the complex, Foster said he believes time has proven it to have been a good investment because more and more people are making use of it. "At first I had people criticizing it, especially farmers. But later when more people started seeing it and utilizing it, I was at a meeting one day with some farmers there and they looked at me and said what did we do before we had this. We now have an exercise facility that 1,900 people (including families) are utilizing. That's a lot of people over a year's time coming and going out of there. But it's done at a cost that everybody can afford. There is something there for everybody at the complex and that's the way it should be," he said.

With the support of the county commission, Foster said the financial condition of the county has improved over the years resulting in a better bond credit rating ( going from Baa to A1) and DeKalb has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state. "Right now we have a really low per capita debt load but that was deliberate in planning for some things we knew would be coming. Over the last two years we've had school repairs, the new building at the west school, and the (school) energy efficiency project that have been done at a little over nine million dollars and those are on fifteen year notes. Take that off and the county is only in debt by about four or five million dollars. We (county) still owe five years on the Northside Elementary School. That will be paid off in 2019. The note on the complex will be paid off in nine years," he said.

Foster is also proud that DeKalb County has been able to obtain its share of grants for a variety of services from local bridge projects, to fire protection, and extension of water lines. "Nearly everything we did in some form or fashion, grants were involved. Altogether we've probably gotten approaching $20 million in grants in the last twelve years. We've gotten two million dollars in grants for the fire department to upgrade to where we have an ISO rating of 6 pretty well in the entire county. We have a really good fire department, one of the better ones in Tennessee. Of course the fire department is responsible for that. But we helped them to get the money to get the grants."

"We've received at least three million dollars in water line grants (on behalf of DUD) to serve various places across the county. One of the big pushes was to go from Liberty to Dismal, up Dismal over Tramel Branch to Lower Helton and we have done that. We've applied for another grant to come back from Tramel Branch to Highway 70 and to go up Givans Hollow and to go down Oakley Road. That whole area of the county there didn't have water. The short term goal is to get those people down there who don't have water a source of water. The long term goal is to be able to supply water to Alexandria if they ever want it and now we've got it to where they (Alexandria) could tie on if they wanted to today," he said.

"One of the projects that really helped people is the bridge on Smith Fork at Dismal. That bridge was over a million dollars and the county had to kick in a little bit for that (grant match) to help the local road department. There was another bridge project at Tramel Branch and Upper Helton and a couple on Dry Creek. These projects were several million dollars but funded mostly through grants. And we just got a quarter of a million dollar Safer Roads grant to help improve the safety of several local roads," Foster said.

Asked if he had the opportunity would he do anything differently during his years as county mayor. Foster replied, " I would have missed a meeting in Cookeville one day". Foster was referring to a UCDD board meeting in 2012 which resulted in a federal indictment charging him almost a year ago with a single count of making false statements involving the use of federal money regarding the Living the Dream project.

The controversy stemmed from Foster's tenure as the chairman of the Upper Cumberland Development District, at the same time that longtime UCDD boss Wendy Askins was allegedly diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars of agency money into that million-dollar Living the Dream facility in rural Putnam County. What was supposed to become a home for needy seniors also became Askins' home.

Federal prosecutors indicted Foster for a moment caught on television cameras where Askins gave him language asking the UCDD board to retroactively approve a bogus set of minutes in an attempt to justify a $300,000 transfer. Foster's attorney, Hal Hardin, argued that he should never have been charged with making false statements because the video showed he was being manipulated by Askins and because he had expressed some uncertainty about whether the minutes were really accurate. Faced with a motion to dismiss, federal prosecutors agreed to drop the charge against Foster in February and the federal judge signed the order to make it official.

"It's one of those things that devastates your life and you've done nothing," Foster told WJLE Friday. "I know the average person may say, well you have to have done something. Well, I didn't."

Foster said the whole ordeal hurt him politically and may have cost him re-election. "It planted a seed of doubt with people and to many perception is reality. It doesn't matter that they (prosecutors) come back later and say we couldn't find where you violated any criminal act. You accuse somebody of something and you've destroyed their life and then you say Uh Oh I'm sorry, I made a mistake. But it's too late," he said.

While he has his detractors, Foster said he has tried to do what he believes has been in the best interest of the county. "If you are in an elected office you can make friends and you can make enemies. You can't be everything to everybody. You have to do what you think is right and I have tried to do that. It's like the Farmer's Market. There are people who criticized that. But you go out there on Saturday now and it's packed. If you go to the county complex, you have to wait sometimes on certain nights to use the exercise equipment. And then you look next door and there's three hundred people at a meeting or at a play or something. And then you look on down and there's a wedding reception or something. You can't argue with that," he said.

Now that his days as county mayor are over, Foster said he will find other ways to serve the community. But don't expect him to seek public office again. "I hope I've never been a politician. I hope I've been a public servant. I want to do things to help the community that I can do. I still want to help people and volunteer my time to do things. My family has been here forever and I just feel like it's the place to be. I don't know why anybody would want to be anywhere else," he said.

Governor Appoints Smithville Woman to State Council

August 31, 2014
Dwayne Page
Tecia Puckett Pryor

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has announced the appointments of 118 Tennesseans to 52 boards and commissions including one from DeKalb County.

Tecia Puckett Pryor is a member of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

“I am honored to make these appointments, and I appreciate these men and women who are so willing to serve in this capacity,” Haslam said. “Tennessee will be well-represented on these boards and commissions.”

The governor continues to evaluate the state’s complete range of boards and commissions to identify potential reforms that might be made to ensure Tennesseans have a government that is responsive, effective and efficient.

Appointment terms are varied due to differing statutory requirements or term limits determined by specific qualifications.

The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities is an independent office in state government funded through the federal Developmental Disabilities Act.

The Council works to ensure that Tennesseans with developmental disabilities (including intellectual disabilities) are independent, productive, and included in their communities.

Responsibilities include:
•Conducting comprehensive review and analysis of state disability services
•Identifying state policies and practices that will improve outcomes for Tennesseans with developmental disabilities
•Developing goals to address unmet needs of Tennesseans with developmental disabilities using strategies that include:
. Educating policymakers and the public
. Demonstrating new approaches to services and system design
. Facilitating interagency collaboration and coordination
. Assuring citizen participation in government

The Council works with public and private groups across the State to find necessary supports for individuals with disabilities and their families, so that they may have equal access to public education, employment, housing, health care, and all other aspects of community life.

The Council encourages individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to play decision-making roles in policies and programs that affect them.

Federal-Mogul to Expand Current Operations in Rutherford County

August 29, 2014
Dwayne Page

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Federal-Mogul officials announced today the company will invest $6.2 million to expand its current distribution facility in Smyrna, Tennessee and create 135 new jobs in Rutherford County.

“We are thankful for Federal-Mogul and their continued investment in our state and the new jobs they are creating in Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said. “When companies like Federal-Mogul choose to reinvest here, it speaks volumes about our workforce and the quality of Tennessee-made products, and today’s announcement is another step toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Tennessee continues to set itself apart as a global leader in the automotive industry,” Hagerty said. “Major automotive manufacturers like Nissan, Volkswagen and General Motors support a robust pipeline of more than 900 automotive manufacturers and suppliers located throughout our state. I am pleased Federal-Mogul will continue to be a part of why Tennessee has been named the No. 1 state in the nation for automotive manufacturing strength an unprecedented four years in a row, and I appreciate the new jobs they are creating in our communities.”

“Federal-Mogul is pleased to continue investing in Smyrna,” Paula Silver, Federal-Mogul’s vice president of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, said. “We have a dedicated and hard-working team here that takes pride in distributing high quality products for our customers. We are excited to grow our Smyrna operations and create more job opportunities.”

Federal-Mogul is expanding its existing Worldwide Aftermarket Distribution Center in Smyrna, due to the recent purchase of part of Affinia’s product line. Affinia is a leader in the manufacturing and distribution of automotive replacement products.

As part of this expansion, Federal-Mogul will increase its Smyrna footprint from 600,000 square feet to 800,000 square feet. This larger warehouse and distribution capacity will allow the facility to become more productive.

“Today’s announcement of 135 new jobs by Federal-Mogul is great news for the Town of Smyrna and Rutherford County,” Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed said. “The Town of Smyrna continues to experience positive job growth and we thank Federal-Mogul for their confidence in our community for this additional investment.”

Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation is a leading global supplier of products and services to the world's manufacturers and servicers of vehicles and equipment in the automotive, light, medium and heavy-duty commercial, marine, rail, aerospace, power generation and industrial markets. The company's products and services enable improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and enhanced vehicle safety.

“TVA and Middle Tennessee Electric congratulate Federal-Mogul on its announcement to expand in Smyrna, Tennessee,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “We are pleased to partner with the state of Tennessee, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, and city and county officials to assist Federal-Mogul’s additional investment to create new jobs.”

In addition to its Smyrna location, Federal-Mogul has operations in Smithville and Sparta, Tennessee. In total, approximately 1,000 people are employed at Federal-Mogul’s three Tennessee locations.

People interested in applying for these new jobs in Smyrna should contact Missy Rogers, human resources manager, at Missy.Rogers@federalmogul.com.

About Federal-Mogul
Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: FDML) is a leading global supplier of products and services to the world's manufacturers and servicers of vehicles and equipment in the automotive, light, medium and heavy-duty commercial, marine, rail, aerospace, power generation and industrial markets. The company's products and services enable improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and enhanced vehicle safety. Federal-Mogul operates two independent business divisions, each with a chief executive officer reporting to Federal-Mogul's Board of Directors.

Federal-Mogul Powertrain designs and manufactures original equipment powertrain components and systems protection products for automotive, heavy-duty, industrial and transport applications.

Federal-Mogul Motorparts sells and distributes a broad portfolio of products through more than 20 of the world's most recognized brands in the global vehicle aftermarket, while also serving original equipment vehicle manufacturers with products including braking, chassis, wipers and other vehicle components. The company's aftermarket brands include ANCO® wiper blades; Champion® spark plugs, wipers and filters; AE®, Fel-Pro®, FP Diesel®, Goetze®, Glyco®, Nüral®, Payen® and Sealed Power® engine products; MOOG® steering and suspension parts; and Ferodo®, Jurid® and Wagner® brake products.

Federal-Mogul was founded in Detroit in 1899 and maintains its worldwide headquarters in Southfield, Michigan. The company employs more than 45,000 people in 34 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.federalmogul.com.

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
Tennessee was named “2013 State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Find us on the web: tn.gov/ecd. Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tnecd.

Smithville Mayor and Aldermen-Elect to Take Oath of Office

August 29, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mayor Jimmy Poss Sworn In for the First Time in 2012

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen-Elect will be sworn into office in a brief ceremony Tuesday, September 2 at city hall starting at 3:00 p.m.

Mayor Jimmy Poss and Alderman Jason Murphy were each re-elected August 7. Gayla Hendrix, a former alderman, was elected to fill Tim Stribling's alderman position. Each of the terms is for four years.

Other members of the city board of aldermen are Shawn Jacobs, Danny Washer, and Josh Miller.

Meanwhile the regular monthly meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen for September will be Monday, September 8 at 6:00 p.m.

Sabrina Farler to Become Principal at DeKalb West School

August 28, 2014
Dwayne Page
Sabrina Farler and Mark Willoughby

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby has named Sabrina Farler to succeed Danny Parkerson as Principal at DeKalb West School.

Farler, who has been assistant principal at DeKalb West School for the last three years, will become principal upon Parkerson's retirement on September 10. She will be only the fifth principal at DWS in the 40 year history of the school. In addition to Parkerson, the others were Woodrow Frazier, Jean Hayes, and Eddie Hobson.

In an interview with WJLE Thursday, Farler said she is looking forward to this new chapter in her life. "This is an honor and privilege. I'm very excited for this opportunity to build on the successes already achieved at DeKalb West School. DeKalb County has a wonderful school system and each of the schools I have worked for in my fifteen year career have allowed me to gain strength in areas to flourish in a pre-K through 8th grade setting," she said.

Farler is beginning her 16th year as an educator. She has nine years of teaching experience and six years in administration. Farler graduated from DCHS in 1996 and furthered her education at Tennessee Tech where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education in 1999. She earned her Master's Degree in Instructional Leadership in 2003 and in 2011 received an Educational Specialist ( Ed.S degree) at Tennessee Tech.

Her teaching career began as a first grade educator at Smithville Elementary in the 1999-2000 school year. During the past fifteen years, Farler has taught at every school in DeKalb County except for DCHS. "I started teaching first grade in a team teaching situation at Smithville Elementary and when Northside opened I moved there and taught fourth grade for three years (2000-2003). While at Northside I completed my Masters Degree knowing that I wanted to move up at some point. I later asked for a transfer back to Smithville Elementary and I worked there for three years (2003-2006) teaching second grade," she said.

Farler then transferred to DeKalb West School where she taught first and second grades for two years (2006-2008) before moving to DeKalb Middle School six years ago to become Assistant Principal. "I worked with Principal Randy Jennings there for three years (2008-2011) and then when the evaluation process started, I asked for and was granted a transfer back to DeKalb West School to become Assistant Principal in 2011," she said.

Director Willoughby told WJLE that Farler's background and experience makes her well suited for the principal position at DeKalb West. "She has actually served in all schools except the high school so she knows what happens at each grade level and having served also as an assistant principal in a pre-K school through eighth grade school, Sabrina has the experience to make some good things happen. She has been successful and everywhere she has been planted, she has bloomed. I'm real proud that she applied for the job and I think she is going to do a good job being the principal," he said.

Farler and her husband Keith Farler have been married for almost twelve years. They reside in Dowelltown and have two children , Anniston Jane Farler, a fourth grader and Marshall Austin Farler, a third grader. Both children attend DeKalb West School. Keith is a co-owner of FM Construction. Farler is the daughter of Donnie and Patricia Bratcher of Smithville and she has two sisters, Karen Knowles and Tina Pack, both of Smithville. Knowles is the Assistant Principal at Smithville Elementary School.

Farler's successor as Assistant Principal has not yet been named.

Dowelltown Man Busted After Picking Up Package of Pot through Mail at Liberty Post Office

August 28, 2014
Dwayne Page
(Picture- Smithville Police K-9 Officer James Cornelius, K-9 Leo, Detective Jeremy Taylor, Sheriff Patrick Ray)

An investigation into the illegal distribution of marijuana in DeKalb County has resulted in the arrest of a 74 year old Dowelltown man who obtained a package through the mail at the Liberty Post Office containing fourteen pounds of pot.

John Harris of Cathcart Road Dowelltown is charged with Sale of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana). His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on September 11.

He was taken into custody Wednesday by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the investigation was conducted by Detectives of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and United States Postal Service Inspectors.

In a prepared statement, Sheriff Ray said "Sheriff’s Department Drug Detective Jeremy Taylor went to the Liberty Post Office on Wednesday and met with an Inspector from the US Postal Service. Based upon US Postal Service profiles and information that was obtained by a US Postal Service Inspector about a sealed package that had been delivered to the Liberty Post Office, Detective Taylor summoned Smithville Police Department K-9 Officer James Cornelius and his K-9 Leo to the scene. Leo alerted to Officer Cornelius that an illegal substance was in the sealed targeted package".

"After the alert from the K-9 that an illegal substance was present in the package, Officers waited for someone to come and pick up the target package from the post office. After a short wait, Harris came and picked up the package. Officers then witnessed Harris attempt to take the package and place it in his personal vehicle. Officer’s then raided Harris and seized the targeted package. Harris gave permission for Officers to look inside of the package and found were approximately 14 pounds of Marijuana in 18 individual bags".

According to Sheriff Ray, “this marijuana is not the kind we regularly see here. These bags of marijuana were packaged in Ziploc bags and then were vacuumed packed. This was to hide the distinct smell that marijuana gives off. The bags weighed anywhere from 10 ounces to just over a pound. Written on each of the bags were different strains of marijuana. Purple Diesel, Blue Dream and Buddha Cheese were just a few of the strains listed. Street value for the marijuana is anywhere from $375 to $454 an ounce or $5,712.00 to $7,264 a pound.”

Detective Taylor seized cash from Harris and also his 2009 Dodge Avenger car.

(Picture- Smithville Police K-9 Officer James Cornelius, K-9 Leo, Detective Jeremy Taylor, Sheriff Patrick Ray)

Long Career of Road Supervisor Kenny Edge Coming to a Close

August 27, 2014
Dwayne Page
Kenny Edge

After working for the people of DeKalb County as their Road Supervisor for 24 years, Kenny Edge will be stepping down when his term expires August 31.

The six term incumbent, who chose not to seek re-election this year, will be succeeded Monday, September 1 by Wallace Butch Agee who won the general election earlier this month. " I had a heart attack the year before last and had cancer took out of my jaw in December. I had thirty six treatments in January, February, and March so I think it's time to quit," said Edge during Monday night's county commission meeting.

Edge announced in January that he would not run again. WJLE interviewed him at that time. The following is the WJLE news story from that interview which was broadcast and appeared on our website almost eight months ago:

"They (supporters) beg me every day to run again. It's not that I don't love them and don't want to do the work. It's just I'm not as young as I used to be. I've enjoyed working for them (people of the county). I'm still their friend. I just feel like this is a time in my life that I need to retire and do the things I want to do," said Edge.

Edge was first elected Road Supervisor in 1990 and he was re-elected in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010. Prior to 1990, Edge served the county in other capacities. "I've got 43 years in working for DeKalb County and I've enjoyed every bit of it. (Then County Judge) Billy J. LaFever hired me in 1971 when the new courthouse and new school houses were being built. I did the maintenance and electrical work. He wanted me to do all the mechanical work so I worked for the county as well as the school system together up until 1990 when I ran for this office," he said.

In spite of tight budgets, Edge said he has been able to manage his resources over the years to maintain as many roads and bridges as possible. "The roads in DeKalb County are better than they have ever been. Almost all roads are either paved or oiled and chipped but there are certain roads you can't spend that kind of money to upgrade, knowing when the first flood comes it is going to destroy it. But basically all of the roads are in good shape," said Edge.

"The bridges are basically in real good shape. Since I've been in office, I don't know how many federal bridge programs I've participated in. The last big one I built was on Smith Fork. I believe it was a $1.1 million project. We've built bridges across the county including several under the hill because most of the water problems are under the hill," he said.

Edge said he appreciates the support he has received from county mayors and county commissions over the years in helping the road department fund certain projects. " They have been good to work with me. They bought me a new wheel loader for the crusher and a new road grader in 1995. I also borrowed a million dollars and paved forty miles of road across this county. It took me ten years at $100,000 a month to pay it back but I've paid it all back," he said.

Asked if he had any regrets , Edge said he wishes he could have had the money to hot mix more roads. "Everybody loves hot mix and I do too. I'd like to have done more asphalt work instead of oil and chipping. I'd hot mix every road in this county if I had the money to do it. The average life of a good paved road is twenty years before you need to put a top on it. The average life of an oil and chipped road is about eight years. We (road department) can oil and chip a road, but we can't hot mix it because we have to contract it out. We don't have the equipment. Right now it costs right around $100,000 to pave a road twenty feet wide, two and a half inches deep, a mile long," said Edge.

"My total budget (revenues) is less than two million dollars. I carry over about a half a million dollars every year (fund balance) and budget it. I'll average $120,000 to $130,000 of new money (revenue) each month. I get it monthly. But if you bought $130,000 worth of hot mix each month then you wouldn't have enough to pay your hands, buy fuel, or do anything. You've got to keep your operation going," said Edge.

By saving where he could, Edge said he has been able to hot mix a few more miles of roads while meeting other needs of the department. "You've got to save as much as you can during the year so that maybe you can hot mix five or six miles of road. Sometimes you have to do that over a two year period. It just depends on what breakdowns you have or what equipment you need to buy. The last two new dump trucks I bought cost $121,000 each. Tires are also expensive. It's hard to operate on what money we get especially with the economy like it is," he said.

For the 2014-15 fiscal year, the DeKalb County Road Department is budgeted to receive almost two million dollars in revenues, including over $1.4 million from its largest source, state gas tax revenues and more than $400,000 from the state aid program. The county budgets three cents of the property tax rate or $128,860 along with a mineral severance tax of $15,474. The department's fund balance (carry over from last year) was more than $378,000. Total appropriations for this budget year are projected to be $2.1 million.

Edge still makes use of the county rock crusher but it's mostly used on a seasonal basis now with a smaller staff to help man the department. "The rock crusher is in excellent shape. We use it but I don't run it 100% of the time because my work force has gone from twenty five to fifteen employees. They crush in the fall and winter but as soon as the grass gets up, I'll have them go to mowing," he said.

Like all public officials, Edge has his critics but he believes most people appreciates the job he has done. "I try to help everybody. I try to listen to them and try to do everything they ask me to do. I realize it's their highway department. Anybody who calls here and they need a tile put in, if they're building a house, I'll put them a tile in and fix them a driveway. I do it for everybody. It don't matter who they are or where they live in the county. I gravel every road to every cemetery. I always have. I fix everybody an entrance off a county road anywhere they want to" Edge continued.

In recent years, state auditors have noted findings in yearly audit reports concerning such practices by the county road department but Edge defends his work for the public. "I get wrote up saying you can't do that. It's frustrating how that the state has such a problem with me putting gravel or a tile in a driveway, but sees nothing wrong with the state putting down hot mix and installing guardrails to a dead end on private property in the midst of a cedar thicket on the side of a hill along side a state highway (referring to property at the foot of Snow Hill on Highway 70). I wish they would operate under the same law they want me to," he said.

Edge said he is thankful to the people of DeKalb County for supporting him all these years. "I want to thank all the people of this county for their trust in me and for voting for me. I love them all and I'll still help them anyway I can," he said.

As for his retirement, Edge said he has no particular plans. "I've got a farm I can play around on and do like some of the rest of them, run out here to Hardees every now and then and get me some coffee and a ham and biscuit," concluded Edge.

County Clerk Office to be Closed Friday through Labor Day

August 27, 2014
Dwayne Page
Mike Clayborn

The County Clerk office will be closed Friday, August 29 through Labor Day, Monday September 1. The office will reopen on Tuesday, September 2.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn said since an audit is planned for Friday, no more cash transactions can be received through the office after Thursday, August 28. "Thursday will be our final day to receipt money. We will be closed on Friday to do our final state audit and won't reopen again until Tuesday, September 2. If you are in need of renewals or title work please try to come in on Thursday so we can take care of that for you," he said.

Clayborn is leaving office this week, completing twelve years and three terms. He addressed the county commission Monday night, thanking them and the public for their support. "I want to thank you (public)for the years that you've given me to be able to serve you. I'm thankful to the good Lord for the health and strength to be able to do it. I feel like we've come a long way. When I first started we wore out a lot of pens and pencils. Now we can get your information (pull a record) in just a few seconds. The county complex has been a great asset to our senior citizens and young mothers who have kids in car seats. They come through there (drive through window) and we can do their work for them. We can now print a title where used to you had to go out of the county to do that. I counted it up one time and there's about seventeen different things that we do out of that office (county clerk). A lot of people say all you do is sell car tags. They need to come in there and look. These girls (deputy clerks) do a lot. I want to say this about the ladies that work for me and work for you. You could look anywhere you wanted to look and you would not find three better. They know what they're doing. They know what the law is and if they don't know something they do not care to get on the telephone and find out what's going to be the best for you. I appreciate everything that people have done for me. When I first came into office I had some hard times in my life and people stuck with me. I could never say thank you enough. I do appreciate each and every one of you from the very depths of my heart. Thank you very much," said Clayborn.

His successor, James L. "Jimmy" Poss has already been sworn in and takes over September 1. Again, the office will be closed Monday for Labor Day.

Michigan Truck Driver Injured in Early Morning Wreck

August 26, 2014
Dwayne Page
Photo by Tim Pyles of Tim's Truck Service & Towing
Photo by Tim's Truck Service & Towing

A Michigan truck driver received minor injuries early Tuesday morning after his tractor trailer truck went off the road on Highway 56 at Center Hill Nursery.

Trooper Brandon Jackson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 42 year old Darron Fleming was enroute from Columbus, Ohio to Morrison, Tennessee hauling brake parts when the passenger side tires went off the highway, causing the truck to lose control. The mishap occurred around 1:13 a.m.

According to Trooper Jackson, the truck went off the highway and down an embankment before flipping over on its side and sliding some fifty yards. The rig remained intact as it came to rest about 100 yards off the highway on the property of the nursery.

Fleming was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital where he was treated for lacerations to his arms and head.


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