Local News Articles

Schools to Host Parent-Teacher Conferences

March 9, 2015
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Schools will host Parent-Teacher Conferences this week.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, March 10 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 12 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Due to weather all report cards will be delayed one week

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, March 16 and at all other schools on Tuesday, March 17.

Home Health Nurse Escapes Serious Injury in Wreck on Icy Road

March 7, 2015
Dwayne Page
Home Health Nurse Escapes Serious Injury in Wreck on Icy Road

A Home Health Nurse enroute to see a patient lost control of her vehicle due to ice on Adamson Branch Road Friday morning. The 2001 GMC Yukon overturned on its side. The driver, 32 year old Margaret Becerril of McMinnville was not seriously hurt.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Becerril was driving west on Adamson Branch Road when her vehicle slid off the side of the ice covered road on a downhill grade, struck an earthen embankment, and overturned onto its side. The Yukon then slid another 30-50 feet before coming to a stop, according to Trooper Johnson.

Initial reports were that the woman may have been trapped, but Trooper Johnson said Becerril managed to get out of the vehicle on her own. County Fire Chief Donny Green and Joe Johnson of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad reached the site in four wheel drive trucks but because of the icy condition of the road, neither an ambulance nor other emergency vehicles could get there. Members of the Rescue Squad eventually were able to access the scene with a gator and used it to transport the woman back down the hill to an awaiting ambulance.

She was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. According to Trooper Johnson , the woman was not hurt in the accident, but may have sprained her ankle while getting out of the vehicle.

Senator Beavers' Resolution to Elect State Attorney General Approved in Judiciary Committee

March 5, 2015
Dwayne Page
Mae Beavers

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday that would allow Tennessee voters to decide if they want to elect the state’s attorney general. Senate Joint Resolution 63, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers would begin the process of amending the state constitution, which if approved, would go to voters in the 2018 general election.

“Tennessee is the only state in the nation in which the people have neither a direct nor indirect voice in the selection of their attorney general, and we are the only state that gives that power to our Supreme Court,” said Senator Beavers.

Senator Beavers’ resolution calls for the AG to serve a six-year term, but would limit it to two consecutive terms. The resolution requires approval by the 109th General Assembly currently in session, and the 110th which will take office in 2017, before going to voters in a statewide referendum.

"I told the committee that I believe that it was even more important now that we pass a constitutional amendment to elect the Attorney General since the people voted for Amendment 2 (last November Election) and gave away their right to select Supreme Court Justices to the Governor," said Senator Beavers in an interview on WJLE Thursday morning.

Senator Beavers said that when Tennessee’s Constitution was written, calling for nomination of the AG by the state’s Supreme Court justices, the court was popularly elected. Forty-three states already select their attorney generals through popular election. In six other states, the AG is selected by either the elected governor or the elected state legislature.

“I feel that the citizens of this state ought to have a ‘say-so’ in the highest legal office in Tennessee. Our Constitution says that the Supreme Court Justices shall be elected by the people. And then the framers of our Constitution in all their wisdom thought that it was fine for the Supreme Court to select our Attorney General. As I told the committee, the system became broken when the Tennessee Plan was passed. I believe that was unconstitutional. It did not follow the Constitution in what it said about us electing our judges. We have a body (Supreme Court) that is appointed by the Governor and we have them selecting our Attorney General. That is a huge conflict of interest for a man appointed by that body to practice in front of that body. The Attorney General is our attorney. The people's attorney," said Senator Beavers.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor where it will be heard on three readings before taking a final vote. It will then travel to the House of Representatives for approval there.

Chattanooga Radio Celebrity Returns Home to Smithville

March 5, 2015
Ralph Vaughn
Tommy Jett (aka) Tommy Reynolds
Ralph Vaughn

Tommy Jett, a legend in Chattanooga area radio broadcasting returns to his Smithville roots on Friday, March 13 to autograph copies of a new book "The Jett Age: Flying with Tommy Jett.

Jett (aka) Tommy Reynolds, and Ralph Vaughn, the author, will be at F.Z. Webb & Sons Gifts from 2:00 until 6:00 p.m. to personally sign each copy. The price is $20.

The book is a collaboration between the two men which began almost three years-ago after Jett had a near-death experience from a traffic accident. Vaughn said, "Tommy and I dedicated the book to God for giving him a miracle. Our prayer is that every reader will be blessed from reading the biography."

Vaughn adds, "The Jett Age was a period in time when Tommy ruled the airwaves in the Chattanooga/Mid-South radio market. He was almost bigger than life; flamboyant personality; witty charm; keen sense of music; knowing exactly what the audience wanted to hear; cool words that captured the imagination of listeners; a believability that listeners bought into because his salesmanship was from someone who was trusted.

"At Live concerts, sock hops and personal appearances, Tommy Jett stood above the crowd. There was no doubt that he was geared for show biz with rings on every finger and sunglasses. His persona made him THE MAN.

"The Jett Age: Flying with Tommy Jett weaves a story of a young man who loved the world of music and entertainment; found his identity behind a microphone; built a fan-base that was almost unbelievable.

"His career was further celebrated in 2013 when Tommy was inducted into the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.

"Both Tommy and I look forward to seeing family and friends. It will also be a "homecoming" for Tommy, who left Smithville 50-years ago to make a name for himself in radio."

Chamber Banquet Set for April 14

March 5, 2015
Becky Magura

The annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet is set for Tuesday, April 14 at the DeKalb County Complex in Smithville.

“We are excited to again host this enjoyable and informative event. We invite the all the public to share in this fun-filled night of dining, entertainment, and Chamber video presentation of the past year’s events and activities as well as other updates including the introduction of our new Board, 2015 Officers and recognition of our retiring board members,” says Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams. “A common misconception is that this is an event for Chamber members only,” says Williams. “All are welcome to come. This is a wonderful networking opportunity and a great way to see some of the positive things that are happening in our county.”

The special evening begins at 5:30 PM with a “Silent Auction.” The dinner and program start at 6:00 PM. Dinner music will be performed by Tomomi McDowell. Josh Issac will sing the National Anthem as Boy Scout Troop #347 presents the flags. The delicious meal will be prepared by Chef Jason Evans of The Inn at Evins Mill. Leadership Director Jen Sherwood and the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2015 will serve the meal. “No Strings Attached” from New Hope Baptist Church, Alexandria will perform.

The keynote speaker for the evening will be WCTE TV President/CEO, Becky Magura. With over 32 years of experience in production, educational outreach and management at public television station WCTE, Becky brings to any project a level of commitment necessary for success. In 2006, Magura became WCTE’s 4th General Manager and has led the station team through digital transition in transmission and production as well as securing a second WCTE satellite studio. Nationally, she serves as a member of the National PBS Board and on the Association of Public Television Stations Board of Trustees.

At press time, Corporate Sponsors for this event are Caney Fork Electric, Cumberland Insurance, DeKalb Community Bank, DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications / DTC Wireless, Fast Pace Urgent Care, Federal Mogul, FirstBank, Liberty State Bank, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas “Project Hometown Help,” NHC Healthcare, Regions Bank, Tenneco, and WalMart.

Being a Corporate Sponsor is not only a great way to support the Chamber and its many programs, but a wonderful marketing opportunity for you. The cost of corporate sponsorship is $250. Please see some of the advantages below:

•As a Corporate Sponsor, your business’ name will be included in the Chamber Banquet Tabloid which will be distributed to thousands of homes as an insert in the Smithville Review and used as the program at the banquet.

•Corporate Sponsor employees will be recognized during the banquet.

•Corporate Sponsors will be highlighted in the video presentation.

If you would like to place an ad in the Chamber Banquet Tabloid, it will be inserted in the April 8th edition of the Smithville Review plus used as the night’s program. Deadline to place your ad in the tabloid is March 13th. To donate a silent auction item or door prize, place an ad in the tabloid, or become a Corporate Sponsor, contact the Chamber office at 615.597.4163 or email dekalbtn@dtccom.net.

Banquet tickets prices are $25 per person and can be purchased by calling the Chamber at 615.597.4163 or from the Chamber Board of Directors. Or, you can stop by the Chamber office located in the DeKalb County Courthouse, Room 201. You don’t have to be a Chamber member to attend. Everyone is welcome!

Special thanks to our Annual Banquet Committee Members: Shannon Atkins, Joan Barrett, Jane Brown, Shan Burklow, Beth Chandler, Sherry Harris, Kathy Hendrixson, Jen Sherwood, Susan Young, and Julia Cantrell Vanderpool for all the work they do to ensure a successful night. We are also so grateful to Tenneco and Appalachian Center for Craft for co-sponsoring the banquet decorations and to DTC Communications for providing the eco-bags.

"We are going to have a great time and hope you can be a part of the Chamber’s 52nd Anniversary," said Williams

Jim Judkins to End His Tenure as DeKalb Democratic Party Chairman

March 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Jim Judkins

After serving as Chairman of the DeKalb County Democratic Party for the last five years, Jim Judkins has decided not to seek another term.

Judkins, who is completing his third term, will pass the gavel to his successor when members of the party convene on Saturday, March 21 for a re-organizational meeting at the courthouse.

The local attorney said while he has enjoyed the privilege of leading the party, he needs to devote more time to his growing law practice. "I've enjoyed it. I've tried to reach out and let Democrats know they are welcome to participate in local party politics. But being chairman of a political party is a whole lot more work than people think. I've been in for three terms and I think that's a pretty good run but my law practice is growing and for the time being I need to spend more time at work. But I'll be around if they need me," Judkins told WJLE.

While he is pleased that Democrats still hold most public offices in DeKalb County, Judkins said he would like to see the party have more success on the state level. "In my time we have tried to focus on the state and local party and especially on local county candidates. Fortunately, the party still has a stronghold on the majority of DeKalb County offices. The local and state offices are where I would like to see the local party continue to put efforts in. We're still running good here in the county but certainly we would like to have the state legislature back," he said.

Judkins also points to passage of state legislation repealing an antiquated law on the selection of local party leaders as perhaps the most significant achievement during his tenure as chairman. "In 1949 the legislature passed a private act and what that said was the DeKalb County Democratic Party Executive Committee had to consist of 40 members and those members had to run from districts, many of which today no longer exist, and they had to run every two years. Before that act was repealed if you wanted to serve on the executive committee, which is like our board of directors, you had to go to the election commission and get a petition to run. The problem we had with that is sometimes we could not find people to run. But when we could, your name would be placed on a ballot and voters voting in the Tennessee Democratic statewide primary would elect you. We certainly had problems with that so we received an Attorney General opinion and he stated that the legislature cannot tell a political party how they should choose their leaders. During the last session, the state legislature repealed that old private act. They overturned it. It was a great showing of bipartisan cooperation because it was done so unanimously or very close to being a unanimous vote in both houses. Essentially what that means is that we can now caucus instead of being required to have countywide elections to elect our leaders. That's what we're doing on March 21. We'll be having a re-organization convention and we'll be caucusing and choosing our new executive committee members and the new officers of the party, " said Judkins.

Judkins is among six people who have served as chairperson of the DeKalb County Democratic Party over the last century. The others were Tom Webb, Ed Fuqua, M.T. Puckett, Fay Fuqua, and Judkins' grandfather McAllen Foutch.

And like his grandfather, who once served in political office as a state legislator and was Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Judkins would also like to have a career in politics someday. "I definitely have aspirations to seek political office at some point in the future," he said.

The Biennial Re-organizational Convention to elect new DeKalb Democratic Party leaders will be Saturday, March 21 at 10 a.m. The meeting will take place at the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Local Democrats will elect a new Chairperson, Vice Chairperson(s), Secretary, Treasurer, and the executive Committee for DeKalb County for a two-year term.

Members will also discuss the party’s agenda and events for 2015. This meeting will be open for all attendees to express their ideas and thoughts about the future.

All Democratic residents who are eligible voters of DeKalb County are urged to attend.

For more information, contact Chairman Jim Judkins at 615-597-9777.

US Postal Service to Adjust Hours at Dowelltown and Liberty

March 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Notice Posted at Dowelltown Post Office
Dowelltown Post Office
Liberty Post Office

Several months after reducing the daily operating hours in a cost saving measure, the U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to tinker with the schedule again at the Dowelltown and Liberty Post Offices, effective Saturday March 21.

This time the move is being done not to further reduce retail window hours but to adjust them to comply with recent updates to collective bargaining agreements, according to David Walton spokesman for the Tennessee District of the U.S. Postal Service. The Smithville and Alexandria Post Offices will not be affected.

"The Dowelltown and Liberty Post Offices are adjusting their hours because of recent updates to our collective bargaining agreements and transportation network changes," Walton told WJLE.

Still, postal customers might find these new hours less convenient for them.

Notices have been posted at both locations but no public hearings will be held this time. "Public meetings were held when we reduced hours at these offices. However, in this case we’re not reducing any hours, only making minor adjustments to the current retail hours," said Walton.

New hours effective March 21:

Dowelltown Post Office
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 and 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday (Currently morning hours are 8-11 a.m. and afternoon hours are 12:30- 3:30 p.m.)
8:00 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday (no change)

Liberty Post Office
7:45 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:45 p.m. Monday thru Friday (Currently afternoon hours are 1:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m. Monday-Friday)
7:45 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday (no change)

Last year the Postal Service changed both the Dowelltown and Liberty Post Offices from a full eight hours to six hours a day at the retail windows with no change in Saturday hours. A similar plan was enacted earlier at the Alexandria Post Office.

Benefit Scheduled for Family of Two Year old Child Who Died Tragically Sunday

March 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Kayden Ray Fults
Kayden Ray Fults

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a benefit spaghetti dinner and silent auction for the family of two year old Kayden Ray Fults, who died Sunday after apparently suffering an injury in a fall from a bunk bed at his Smithville home. The child was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital where he passed away.

Fults is the son of Mark Johnson, a DeKalb County Firefighter from the Short Mountain Station, and Kaycie Lynn Fults.

Funds raised from this benefit will help with the funeral expenses.

The event is set for Saturday, March 21 from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the DeKalb County Complex at 712 South Congress Boulevard. The price is $6.00 at the door or tickets may be purchased in advance for $5.00 each. Any and all donations including items for the silent auction will be accepted and greatly appreciated. Dinner will include spaghetti, salad, bread, drink, and dessert of your choice.

All proceeds collected will go directly towards paying for funeral expenses.

If you would like to make a monetary donation, please send a check or money order to: Woodbury Funeral Home, 504 W. Main St, Woodbury, TN. 37190. Please make sure to note in the memo that donation goes to Kayden Ray Fults funeral expenses.

For more information or tickets please contact: Robin Summers (615-605-9783) or Chief Donny Green (615-464-7176)

In addition to his parents, Kayden is survived by siblings: Landon & Adrian Fults, Karlee & Joshua Johnson, Brooklyn Barnes all of Smithville; Grandparents: Jacky Fults of Smithville, Melissa Foster (Kenny) Young of Shelbyville, Kathy Johnson (Rick Hindsley) of Smithville; Great Grandparents: Viola Foster of Woodbury; Martha Fults of Smithville; Carmine Bain of Dowelltown; Special Cousins: Matt, Angie, Jacob & Emma Campbell of Woodbury; Uncles and Aunts: Cody & Tyler Fults of Shelbyville, Mary Johnson of Woodbury, Fairy Johnson of Smithville and Angela Ferrell; Cousin: Bridget Fults.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Bobby Johnson and great grandfather, Roy Fults and Max Foster.

Funeral Services will be 2 pm Friday at the Chapel of Woodbury Funeral Home with Bro. Greg Mitchell officiating. Interment will follow in the Hale Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be from 4 pm to 8 pm Thursday. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Woodbury Funeral Home to help the family with funeral expenses.

Sheriff Looks to Strike Better Deal with Corps for Lakesite Patrols

March 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

For three decades the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has contracted with and compensated the county to provide extra sheriff's department patrols at designated lake sites during the summer.

The Corps is proposing to continue the partnership this year but Sheriff Patrick Ray is concerned that the number of patrols and rate of compensation has been dropping over the last couple of years.

Sheriff Ray met with the county commissioners in an All-Committees workshop on Thursday, February 19 and with the commission's emergency services committee Monday night, March 2 to discuss the issue further.

According to Sheriff Ray, while no contract has yet been presented for approval by the commission, the Corps is proposing 219 patrol periods this year from May 4 through September 7 which includes five lake sites. The county would receive a total of $35,040 to provide the service. That is down from the 229 patrol periods in 2014 and 236 in the year 2013. The Corps rate of compensation to the county has also declined going from $37,760 in 2013 to $36,640 last year.

"The last two years we've lost about $2,720 because of them reducing the amount of days (patrol periods) but salaries and gas have gone up. We get $32 per place (lake site) we go to and it's 68.5 miles from the jail to run them all and right back. So like in this year's budget if we thought we were going to get $36,640 we're not going to get that this year we'll get $35,040, that's $1600 difference," said Sheriff Ray.

The sheriff's department must only use full time POST certified officers to conduct the patrols during designated time periods specified by the contract.

During Monday night's meeting the emergency services committee recommended that Sheriff Ray ask the Corps to increase the rate of compensation from $32 to $40.50 per lake site in the proposed new contract which would be $202.50 per patrol period or $44,347 for the year.

City Expects Results of New Water Cost Study Soon

March 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Hunter Hendrixson

The City of Smithville is expected to receive a report soon from a North Carolina company which is doing another water cost study.

City officials want more up to date figures on how much it costs to produce water so they can determine whether another rate increase to the DeKalb Utility District is justified.

"I talked to the firm out of Charlotte, North Carolina who is doing our water rate study. I think they are about done. He's got a verbal report but not a numerical report. I've been waiting for a couple of months so hopefully we'll know here by the next meeting what they have assessed our water rates (to be). Then we can assess our situation," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson during Monday night's meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

In January, 2014, the city increased the rate it charged the DUD to purchase water to $5.00 per thousand gallons. But DUD challenged the increase in Chancery Court and during a hearing a year ago in Cookeville, Chancellor Ronald Thurman ordered the city to reduce the water rate to the DeKalb Utility District from $5.00 to $2.67 per thousand gallons, which a 2013 water study found to be the city's actual cost to produce water at that time.

Chancellor Thurman granted a DUD motion for a temporary injunction barring the city from continuing to impose its $5.00 rate until the city gives proper notice to DUD and justification for raising the rate above $2.67 per thousand gallons. The rate has remained in place since that ruling.

But according to Hendrixson, the DUD has made an adjustment in minimum usage to its own customers. "I've been asked if we have raised our water rates, which we have not (raised rates) to our city customers and not to DUD since about a year ago whenever the judge (made his ruling).
I think there has been some confusion. I don't think they (DUD) have raised their water rates but they (DUD) lowered their minimum from 2,000 gallons to 1,500 gallons. It's a rate adjustment without raising the rates," he said.

Meanwhile, DUD is still pursuing plans to build its own water treatment plant and will apparently continue to purchase water from the City of Smithville until it can produce its own supply. "Concerning DUD, I have been asked several times in the last month or two where they're at. I have no idea. I know they have not broken ground. They are still purchasing (water) from the City of Smithville and they probably will be for a while," said Hendrixson.


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