Local News Articles

Long Legal Battle Between DUD and City of Smithville Finally Over

May 27, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Utility District Water Treatment Plant

The legal battle between the City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District is finally over.

Chancellor Ronald Thurman has dismissed both a DUD complaint against the city and the city’s counter claim against the DUD. The order of dismissal was signed on Monday, May 22. Both sides agreed to the dismissal

The DeKalb Utility District took the City of Smithville to court in February, 2014 after the aldermen decided to raise the water rate it charged the DUD at the time from $2.67 to $5.00 per thousand gallons, the same rate that all other city water customers paid. DUD claimed the rate was excessive and would force the utility to pass along massive rate increases to its customers.

Following a two hour hearing later that month in Cookeville, Chancellor Thurman granted a DUD motion for a temporary injunction barring the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gave proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons. The ruling was only on the motion for a temporary injunction. The lawsuit brought against the city by the DUD had yet to be litigated. The case has lingered in court since.

The city then filed a counter claim in Chancery Court in March, 2014 claiming the DUD had underpaid for water purchases from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2013 and owed the city more than one million dollars. Even though the city had a water purchase contract with the DUD from March 15, 2004 through December 31, 2013 establishing the amount the DUD would pay for water each year, city attorneys claimed a 2013 water cost study found that the municipality had not charged the DUD enough to cover all of the actual costs of producing and distributing water to the DUD, and the City did not recover any of its capital costs from DUD during the period between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013. In the answer, DUD attorneys contended that the water purchase contract governed the rate to be charged over the ten year period. The counter claim was also never resolved by the court.

In the Order of Dismissal, Chancellor Thurman wrote that “It appearing to the Court from statements of counsel for the parties and a review of this matter that a dismissal of both the Complaint of the plaintiff (DUD) and Counterclaim of the defendant (City of Smithville) is warranted and proper, the Court finds that all causes of action pursued by both parties in this matter shall be dismissed with prejudice”.

“Therefore, the Complaint (by DUD) and the Counterclaim (by City), and all causes of action asserted in this cause by both parties, are hereby DISMISSED with prejudice and this case is closed. Concurrent with the dismissal of the Complaint and Counterclaim, the temporary injunction entered on May 12, 2014 is hereby dissolved and the injunction bond posted by the Plaintiff shall be released and returned to the plaintiff. Any unpaid court costs shall be assessed equally between the parties,” the order of dismissal concluded.

After DUD initiated plans to build its own water treatment plant, the City of Smithville hired a public relations firm in April 2012 to launch a grassroots campaign to try to stop the project. A petition drive was started and at least ten percent of DUD customers signed it, triggering a review by the state’s Utility Management Review Board (UMRB).

A year later, the UMRB held an all day hearing in Smithville and dismissed the petition filed by a group of DeKalb Utility District ratepayers and the city who were hoping to halt DUD plans to build the water plant. UMRB Board members said the petitioners had failed to meet their burden of proof that DUD rates or services provided were unreasonable.

The DUD petitioners and city then requested a judicial review asking Nashville Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle to overturn the decision by the UMRB board. Instead, the Chancellor, in February 2014, ruled against the DUD petitioners and city and affirmed the UMRB’s action clearing the way for DUD to begin building the water plant.

The new DUD water treatment plant is now completed and operational.


May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant presents White Rose Award to Kayley Caplinger at Graduation Friday Night
DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant presents White Rose Award to Eli Cross at Graduation Friday Night
DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant presents Citizenship Award to Luke Green at Graduation Friday Night
Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department Honor Guard presented the flags
Grads filing onto the DCHS football field Friday evening for Commencement

Graduating seniors said their farewells to DCHS as students during Friday night's commencement.

Three of the most outstanding members of the class were singled out for special recognition. This year's White Rose Awards went to Eli Cross and Kayley Caplinger while the Citizenship Award was presented to Luke Green

The White Rose is presented to a boy and girl from the class for strong academic performance and exemplary moral character. The award winners are determined by the faculty.

The Citizenship Award, chosen by the faculty, is presented to a student who exemplifies strong academic performance and contribution to DCHS and the community.

The honors, distinction, and top rank students were also recognized during the program.

The 177 graduates received their diplomas during the commencement, each one shaking hands and posing for pictures with Director of Schools Patrick Cripps and DCHS Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant as their names were called by Assistant Principal Jenny Norris.

In her remarks, Valedictorian Rachel Fuson urged her classmates to “always do your best and never quit regardless of adversity”.

Quoting Inky Johnson, a motivational speaker who once played as a defensive back for the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Fuson said “People quit because they don’t have pride in what they do. People stop because they’re selfish and it’s just about them. Whatever you start, you make sure you finish. And the problem with the world today is people get involved with things and if they don’t like a certain person, they don’t like the process, if it’s not what they thought it was, they quit. The process is more important than the product. It’s about can you take pride in what you do as an individual and every night, can you look in mirror knowing that you gave everything you had to it. We have to get to the point where we’re willing to impose our will on certain things. At a certain point in life, it can’t just be about you, and the moment that we understand that everyday we wake up is a blessing and that life is a gift, and that if you were to check out today, how would you want to be remembered? It’s bigger than you.”

“I believe that this quote by Mr. Inky Johnson encompasses what we need to remember in our everyday lives,” said Fuson.

M2U02433 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

In closing, Fuson added “I’ve been anticipating this day for a very long time, just as everyone else has I’m sure, but I have never liked endings. But endings are always bound to happen, and today is an ending for us. We have to say goodbye to everything we’ve known and everything that is normal to us. But just because we are leaving and saying goodbye, that doesn’t mean we have to forget the people that have made us who we are. They’ll be with us for as long as we are alive. They are our foundation and our compass. They are the angel on our shoulder that will be in our hearts forever,” Fuson said.

MAH00044 from dwayne page on Vimeo.

Madison Butler, Class President, admonished her friends to take five minutes to reflect on their high school years but to look ahead and “follow your dreams”. “ Graduates, before you leave tonight I urge you to take just five minutes to say goodbye to this place, because today is the day you leave behind twelve years of comfort to step out into the world and figure out what’s next. Figure out who YOU are, Figure out YOUR plan. Follow YOUR dreams. My favorite quote says, “Ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving- your life is about breaking your own limits and outgrowing yourself. You are not in competition with anyone else.” Go out into the world and find new adventure. When one ends, move on to another. And remember, its okay to give yourself just five more minutes. But then, move on to greater things,” she said.

The DCHS Band opened the program with Pomp and Circumstance as the graduates filed onto the field.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department Honor Guard presented the flags and then Hunter Robinson led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The remainder of the program was as follows:

Invocation by Luke Green, member of the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes)

Alma Mater by the DCHS Band and Chorus

Music by the DCHS Chorus" "How Do I Say Goodbye" written and performed by Erica Birmingham and then "Humble and Kind", McKenna, performed by the Vocal Music II Class accompanied by Brady Driver and Erica Birmingham.

Introduction by Class President Madison Butler

Address to the Class by Valedictorian Rachel Fuson

Recognition of Honors and Distinction students by Guidance Counselor Lori Myrick

Recognition of Top Rank and Service by Guidance Counselor Shelly Painter

Presentation of White Rose and Citizenship Awards by Principal Dr. Kathy Bryant

Presentation of diplomas by Principal Bryant and Director of Schools Patrick Cripps

Benediction by Steven Jennings, FCA member

Recessional by DCHS Band

Class of 2017 Remembers Jacob Davis Billings

May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
Empty chair with balloons tied to it marks the spot where Jacob Davis Billings would have taken his place at graduation between Brittany Nicole Bennett (left) and Erica Lyn Birmingham (right). Billings died in a tragic accident four years ago.

Excitement was in the air at the DCHS graduation ceremony Friday night where members of the Class of 2017 celebrated an important milestone in their lives

There was also an air of sadness due to the absence of a classmate Jacob Davis Billings, marked by balloons tied to a chair along with a framed photo of him and a cap and gown where he would have sat among the graduates.Billings died tragically in a bicycle collision with two motor vehicles four years ago. Billings was 14 years old when he died and would have been a senior this year.

During her welcome address, Class President Madison Butler paid tribute to Billings and called for the graduates to stand and observe a moment of silence in his memory.

“The class of 2017 wants to honor one of our own. Jacob Davis Billings was a part of us. Jacob was the sweetest and happiest people most of us have ever had the chance to know. He was the kind of friend everyone should have. Tonight, Jacob has a chair among the graduates, because he is one of us. Jacob will forever be in our hearts. To end, I want to ask all the graduates to stand as we honor Jacob with a moment of silence,” said Butler.

Smithville Work Camp Returns June 19-22

May 26, 2017
Smithville Work Camp Returns June 19-22
Members of the Smithville Church of Christ rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to help show their Christian love for others

Members of the Smithville Church of Christ will be rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to help show their Christian love for others during the congregation's fifth annual Work Camp scheduled for June 19-22.

The Work Camp is an annual home rehabilitation/beautification project organized by the Smithville Church of Christ. The church began the Work Camp as a means of helping less fortunate residents of the county do some fix up and cleanup projects around their homes. The Smithville Work Camp concentrates its efforts in the Smithville-DeKalb County area.

If you would like to have your house considered for the project contact the church at 615-597-4159 by Saturday, June 10 to acquire an application and release form.

DeKalb County Schools Art Exhibit Set for Saturday

May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
Last year Leah Payton Clark won first place and “Best of Show” in the 9th through 12th grade division of the DeKalb Art Exhibit

The DeKalb County Schools Art Exhibit featuring art from the students of DeKalb County will be Saturday, May 27 from 1-3 p.m. at the DeKalb County Complex, 712 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville.

According Susan Hinton, Art Chairman, 211 pieces of art will be on display. For more information contact Susan Hinton 615-597-9300. The event is sponsored by the Smithville Study Club.

Last year Leah Payton Clark won first place and “Best of Show” in the 9th through 12th grade division of the DeKalb Art Exhibit

Applications Available for Emergency Food and Shelter

May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
Applications Available for Emergency Food and Shelter

The DeKalb County Senior Center, 718 Congress Blvd., Smithville, TN has received funding to assist eligible residents in DeKalb County with emergency food and shelter. Pam Redmon, the Senior Center Director is taking applications Monday thru Friday, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. If you have questions, please call (615) 597-7575.

Valedictorian Rachel Fuson to Address Class of 2017 Hoping to Inspire Fellow Grads

May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
Rachel Fuson

Rachel Fuson has received her share of honors at DCHS but perhaps none is more special than being the Class Valedictorian.

Tonight, she will deliver an address during the commencement that she hopes will inspire the grads.

Fuson said being the Class Valedictorian is a high honor. She earned the distinction by having the highest grade point average of any student in her class. “They look at your GPA after fall semester of your senior year. The spring semester this year didn’t count toward class rank. They look at your GPA and whoever has the highest GPA is the Valedictorian. Mine was 5.016 as of December,” said Fuson.

Rachel explains how the GPA is calculated. “Your regular classes are just four points toward your GPA. Your honors and dual enrollment classes which are taken mostly through Motlow State Community College also count as honors credits and those are worth five points. And then your advanced placement classes count toward the GPA. You have to take a test at the end of the year to get college credit through AP. Those are more accelerated in the learning rate and those are worth six points toward your GPA,” she said.

During her senior year, Rachel has served as a captain of the DCHS Football cheerleading squad, the Vice President of the BETA and Climate Crew clubs, President of the Science Club, and was named Miss DCHS.

She has received thousands of dollars in scholarships and will be attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville this fall. “ I am planning to study Biology when I arrive there. I am hoping to get my degree in three years because I have done several classes through Motlow. I want to study abroad while I am in college and then I am hopefully going on to optometry school in Memphis,” she said.

Fuson has already earned 12 hours of college credit through dual enrollment (equivalent to one semester of college work).

Rachel is the daughter of Joe and Melissa Fuson.

DCHS Senior Class President Madison Butler Excited about Graduation

May 26, 2017
Dwayne Page
Madison Butler

Excited but a little nervous!

That’s how Madison Butler describes her feelings at this moment.

As President of the Class of 2017 at DeKalb County High School, Butler will be standing before her classmates and hundreds of proud parents and other relatives and friends to deliver introductory remarks during tonight’s commencement on the football field.

“Tonight is the night that we have all been waiting for but I have been nervous because in all honesty the word “speech” scares me. So I just want to talk to them about something that might inspire them a little,” said Butler.

Madison said its been an honor to have served as class president.” The way you’re chosen as class president is you turn in an essay to the teachers and administration of the school and they read it. They look at your transcript and take everything into consideration and then they make their selection”.

“ My duties included making sure everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing as far as Project Graduation and other activities. I ran a lot of social media sites and let all the seniors know about everything that was going on. Of course I have a speech at graduation and I will be in charge of the class reunions,” Butler continued.

Madison has received a scholarship from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and will be attending there this fall. I’m a pre-med major and as soon as I finish under graduate school I am applying to medical school for plastic surgery,” she said.

Butler has already earned 12 hours of college credit through dual enrollment (equivalent to one semester of college work).

Madison said she enjoyed her senior year and will miss the high school experience. “I loved senior year. I know we joked that we ruled the school but we had a lot more freedom. I think they treat us like adults when you are seniors and I liked that part”.

In addition to being Class President, Butler also served this year as a baseball manager, a member of HOSA, Student Council, FFA, and the National BETA Club at DCHS.

Madison is the daughter of Ronda Butler McAbee and Dennis Butler.

“My parents have been very supportive of me and I am very blessed to have them,” Madison concluded.

DWS Student Nominated for the John W. Harris Leadership Award

May 25, 2017
Bill Conger
Photo provided:  Garrett Hayes, a regular volunteer at the Webb House, plays piano for the residents there. He led the Junior Betas in playing Christmas carols for the residents.

DWS Junior Beta President Garrett Hayes was the local nominee for the Beta Club’s Most Valuable Player trophy. Unfortunately, the 8th grader
didn’t make the final cut for the John W. Harris Leadership Award at the national level, but he still stands as a worthy contender. Not only has Garrett excelled academically, the gifted student also consistently demonstrates outstanding character with his compassion, dedication, and reliability in his service to others.

Garrett’s compassion is evidenced in part by his service to the Webb House Retirement home in Smithville where he volunteers twice monthly. “He has taken the time to get to know many of our residents, learning what they enjoy,” said Jenny Abernathy, Webb House Retirement Center Activities Director. “He spends time in our memory care unit with a lady who enjoys his piano playing and being read to. For our residents who have dogs, he lends a hand by taking their pups for a walk around the building. He helps the puzzle group with their latest jigsaw puzzle and even assists the kitchen staff by clearing tables after lunch. His service has not only been welcomed but greatly appreciated.”

Garrett’s dedication is displayed at his church home, Prosperity Baptist Church, where he performs with the group’s drama team as part of his service. “We can always depend on Garrett for cooperation, faithfulness, and dependability,” says Youth Leader Linda Hayes. “It is immediately clear that he has compassion for others and is always willing to raise his hand to answer, pray , or help another member of the group. Hayes says Garrett displays courage and loyalty among his peers and demonstrates “good Christian morals and leadership traits”

Garrett has shown initiative at school, helping to start our first-ever STEM Club. He assists with the care of younger students prior to the start of the school day. He regularly helps with Beta service projects and with outside projects like volunteering for the setup for the county fair and working during the county fair.

Besides Garrett’s academic talents, he has a flair for the creative. Entering the Visual Arts category for two years at the Tennessee Junior Beta State Convention, he placed second in Color Photography this school year, qualifying him to be the school’s first contestant to compete at the national level. He’ll be competing next month at the Junior Beta National Convention in Orlando, FL.

DeKalb County Insurance Again Earns Erie's "Founder's Award"

May 25, 2017
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Insurance Again Earns Erie's "Founder's Award"

For the 2nd consecutive year, DeKalb County Insurance, Inc. is one of a select group of agencies honored by Erie Insurance Company with the Founder's Award. Erie's Founder's Award is a measure of quality agency performance and service to customers.

DeKalb County Insurance, Inc. offers a full line of property & casualty products, as well as business, farm and life insurance.

The agency is located at 307 N. Public Square, Smithville. To learn more call: 615-597-0660


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