Local News Articles

Former Police Chief Files Federal Lawsuit Against City of Smithville

December 16, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Richard Jennings

Former Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings and his wife June have filed a federal court lawsuit against the City of Smithville claiming he was wrongfully terminated and that his constitutional rights were violated

The Smithville board of aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, on December 7th upheld the city discipline board's decision in November to terminate Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence. Aldermen W.J. (Dub) White, Steve White, Shawn Jacobs, and Aaron Meeks all voted for termination. Alderman Cecil Burger, saying he lacked enough information, did not vote.

In the lawsuit, filed December 10th, Jennings alleges that the city never established a cause for his termination, that the city violated his constitutional due process rights, and that he was the victim of age discrimination in the dismissal.

The former police chief is asking for a jury trial, that he be awarded back pay and damages for loss of earnings and benefits in an amount to be determined at trial, that front pay be awarded to compensate him for lost employment opportunities, that compensatory damages be awarded in an amount to be determined at trial, and that he be awarded attorney's fees, expenses of the litigation, prejudgement interests, punitive damages, and such other and further relief as may be deemed just and proper."

Jennings is being represented by Murfreesboro attorney Kerry Knox.

The lawsuit states that from 1986 until his termination, Jennings was employed by the City in the Smithville Police Department; that he served as Chief from 1994 until approximately 2004; that he again served as Chief from 2007 until his termination; and that he was purportedly supervised by the "police commissioner" a member of the City's Board of Aldermen.

According to the lawsuit, "Beginning July 1st, 2009, Alderman Aaron Meeks served as the police commissioner."

"Alderman Meeks has no experience, training, certifications, or commissions in law enforcement. In fact, no alderman to hold the title police commissioner has had experience, training, certifications, or commissions in law enforcement."

"Shortly after Alderman Meeks began as police commissioner, Chief Jennings asked Alderman Meeks to discuss any issues, concerns, or suggestions with him as they arose, rather than compiling a laundry list of complaints.'

"On September 14th, 2009, Chief Jennings learned that the Board of Aldermen was going to have a "workshop" to discuss issues with the City."

"Chief Jennings asked if he should attend, and he was advised that he should but was not advised that any particular topics were to be discussed."

"The workshop quickly devolved into an interrogation of Chief Jennings, and Alderman Meeks had prepared a list of questions and complaints that he directed to Plaintiff Richard Jennings."

"On November 2nd, 2009, Alderman Meeks contacted Chief Jennings, advising Chief Jennings that he was going to move to terminate Chief Jennings at the Board of Aldermen meeting, mere hours before the meeting. Alderman Meeks gave Chief Jennings the option of retiring."

"Chief Jennings asked for more time to consider the option of retirement."

"On November 5th, 2009, Chief Jennings refused the offer to retire."

"On November 12th, 2009, Chief Jennings was suspended without pay, pending the outcome of further administrative hearings. At that time, he was provided with an ambiguous memorandum containing eleven reasons for his termination, which, according to Alderman Meeks, constituted "Dereliction of Duties/ Negligence.".

"On November 17th, 2009, a hearing was held before a three man board, consisting of Alderman Meeks, City Mayor Taft Hendrixson, and City Secretary/Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson."

"The three man board voted 2-1 to terminate Chief Jennings, with Alderman Meeks and Mayor Hendrixon voting in favor of termination."

"The November 17th meeting lasted less than ten minutes, and there was no discussion among the board members of the reasoning behind its decision."

"Chief Jennings requested a hearing before the full Board of Aldermen, which was ultimately held on December 7th, 2009."

"At the hearing before the Board of Aldermen, Chief Jennings requested the recusal of Alderman Meeks on the basis that Alderman Meeks could not consider the termination with impartiality.'

"Chief Jennings' reasonable request was denied."

"Chief Jennings additionally requested that he be allowed to question Alderman Meeks on the reasons and factual basis supporting termination."

"Chief Jennings' reasonable request was denied."

"Chief Jennings responded to the extent possible to each of the listed allegations but was unable to respond meaningfully to several of the allegations, as he did not know the basis for the allegations."

"Certain allegations from the November 12th memorandum were directly refuted and supported by documentary evidence."

"In the memorandum, Alderman Meeks alleged that Chief Jennings was working with an increase in budget. A review of the 2007-08 budget against the 2008-09 budget refutes that proposition."

"In the memorandum, Alderman Meeks alleged that Chief Jennings was not a "working chief", performing basic patrol duties. A review of the city's job description for Chief of Police does not state that the Chief of Police is expected to perform basic patrol duties."

"In the memorandum, Alderman Meeks alleged that Chief Jennings still had overtime for his officers in his budget, apparently for the proposition that Chief Jennings should have been performing more drug investigations. A review of the city's policy on overtime demonstrated that Chief Jennings had very little discretion to allow overtime, and he certainly was not allowed overtime for any extensive investigative/ operational purpose."

"In the meantime, Alderman Meeks criticized Chief Jennings for allowing the transportation of a civilian "out of the area of authority of the Smithville Police Department." Chief Jennings explained that the transportation was for a "police purpose" as authorized in the Smithville Police Department's handbook."

"The city's charter dictates that its employees may only be discharged "for cause".

"Chief Jennings was not an "at will" employee."

"Chief Jennings was terminated in a 4-0 vote by the Board of Aldermen, with Alderman Cecil Burger determining that he did not have enough information to cast a vote."

"The voting Aldermen did not debate the termination or offer any explanation on the cause supporting Chief Jennings' termination."

"Chief Jennings was terminated from a job he loved, has suffered irreparable damage to his reputation, has suffered and will continue to suffer tremendous financial injury, and has suffered emotional distress as a direct and proximate result of the city's wrongdoing."

"As the spouse of Chief Jennings, June Jennings has suffered and will continue to suffer tremendous financial injury, and has suffered emotional distress as a direct and proximate result of the city's wrongdoing."

"As the direct and proximate result of her husband's termination, June Jennings has suffered a loss of much of the consortium, companionship, society, and services she would have otherwise received from her husband during the normal course of their marital relationship."

"The city's conduct was willful, intentional, malicious, and reckless."

"The city's reasons for termination were arbitrary and capricious."

Jennings alleges that he was the victim of a wrongful discharge in that his termination was unsupported by "cause" and that he was entitled to statutory and contractual protections in the event that he was subjected to the employer's disciplinary procedures. Jennings claims that the city deprived him of his procedural and substantive due process rights that are guaranteed to him by the U.S. Constitution, the laws of the State of Tennessee, and the rules and regulations of the City.

In the age discrimination complaint, the lawsuit alleges that "Chief Jennings is over 40 years of age, and is therefore a member of a group which is protected by the Tennessee Human Rights Act".

"Chief Jennings was the subject of an adverse job decision."

"The City's termination of Jennings came under circumstances that give rise to an inference of age discrimination."

"Chief Jennings' job functions are now performed by someone substantially (more than seven years) younger than Chief Jennings.'

"Chief Jennings has suffered irreparable damage to his reputation, financial injury, humiliation, and embarrassment, and emotional distress as a direct and proximate result of the City's wrongdoing."

Voters Reminded to Report Change of Addresses

December 15, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission reminds voters it is important to report a change of address to the local election office.

"While verifying the names and signatures of some of the voters who signed candidate petitions I noticed some voters have changed their address and have not notified the local election office," said Administrator of Elections, Dennis Stanley. "In order for the name to count as 'valid' on
the petition, the voter's name, signature and address must match the information on file in the election commission office. The only exception is if the voter moved within the same precinct."
In addition, Stanley said updating your voter file now will prevent any problems or delays on election day.

To find out how to change your address with the election office, simply call the election office at 597-4146 or stop by the office on the lower floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse and fill out a change of address form.

Local candidates are reminded if they are seeking an office that pays $500 or more a month and they plan to spend more than $1,000 in the campaign, they must appoint a campaign treasurer. "Before any contributions can be received or monies spent (except for incidental monies spent by a person to determine if he/she is to become a candidate), each candidate must file an Appointment of Political Treasurer form with the appropriate receiving authority," Stanley said. "A candidate may appoint him/herself or another person as the political treasurer. If a candidate appoints another person to act as a political treasurer, the candidate must co-sign all reports required to be filed under the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act." "Also, a candidate or political campaign committee must open and maintain a separate bank account into which all campaign contributions must be deposited," Stanley added. "All expenditures must be made from this campaign account. Under no circumstances may any campaign money be
co-mingled with the candidate's private funds."

Meanwhile, Stanley said candidate petitions for next year's Smithville Municipal Election can be picked up beginning Friday, December 18th. A mayor and two aldermen seats are up for election next year. In addition, petitions for the upcoming August General Election and state primaries can be picked up beginning January 4th.

On the county level, school board candidates run as non-partisan candidates in the August
General Election and five seats are up for grabs this coming year. On the state level, candidates for state representative, state senator, governor and U.S. Congress can run for their respective party nominations in the August primaries, with the winners and any independent candidates squaring off in November.

The qualifying deadline for the August 5, 2010 elections is noon, April 1.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints During the Holidays

December 14, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Local law enforcement agencies will be teaming up for the Christmas and New Year holidays to help keep roads safer in DeKalb County

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department in cooperation with Alexandria and Smithville police Departments will be out in full force starting December 23rd through January 1st for the safety of you and your family. "The public's safety is a top concern for me and my department. We will be doing saturated patrols and sobriety check points looking for intoxicated people who choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. We will also team with the Alexandria and Smithville Police Departments to better cover areas where drinking and driving are more prevalent. "

Nearly 23,000 people are killed every year in alcohol-related traffic accidents nationwide. Statistics show one life is lost every 22 minutes in alcohol-related traffic collisions. Law enforcement uses these checkpoints as a tool to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on our highways and to diminish the amount of pain, suffering and death that results from intoxicated driving."

The Sobriety Check Points will be conducted on the following Highways: Highway 56, Highway 70, Highway 53 in Liberty and Alexandria, and Highway 146.

Meanwhile, in his weekly update on crime news, Sheriff Ray says 35 year old Jose Cruz Quiroz of East 20th Street, Cookeville was charged Monday, December 7th with leaving the scene of an accident. On November 2nd Quiroz left the scene of an accident with property damage on Highway 56 North. Quiroz has admitted to being the driver of the vehicle. Bond for Quiroz was set at $2,500 and he will appear in court on December 17th

23 year old Justin Ray Lohorn of South Mountain Street, Smithville was charged Monday, December 7th with vandalism and theft of property after he broke into a drink machine at the Mystic Market on Highway 56 South and took approximately $31.00 in cash and caused $1,800 in damage to the machine. Lohorn's bond was set at $10,000 and he will appear in court on December 17th.

Deputies responded to an accident on Evins Mill Road Tuesday, December 8th where they found 27 year old Matthew Allen Baker of Pine Orchard Road Smithville to be the driver of the vehicle. Baker was believed to be in an intoxicated state having slurred speech. He was unsteady on his feet. After failing field sobriety tasks, deputies placed Baker under arrest after which he became uncooperative, jerking away from the officers and trying to run off. Baker was loaded into the patrol car and transported to the jail. Deputies learned that Baker's driver's license was suspended for failure to maintain insurance. During the booking process at the jail, Baker became uncooperative again and a correctional officer was injured, suffering a broken finger, while trying to get him under control. Baker was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended driver's license, and two counts of resisting arrest. Baker's total bond was set at $12,500 and he will appear in court on January 14th..

21 year old Timothy William Patrick of The Loop Smithville was arrested Thursday, December 10th after a deputy spotted him driving on Midway Road. The officer had prior knowledge that Patrick's license was suspended. Patrick's bond was set at $1,500 and he will appear in court on December 30th.

Also on Thursday deputies responded to a call of an unwanted guest on Coconut Ridge Road Smithville. Officers spotted people leaving the residence and noticed that the vehicle they were in was swaying in the roadway. After stopping the automobile, deputies found 46 year old Charles Wayne Smithson of Dogwood Place Smithville to be the driver.. Smithson appeared to be intoxicated. Deputies administered field sobriety tasks until Smithson became uncooperative and then combative. Smithson was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Bond for Smithson was set at $5,000 and he will appear in court on December 17th. A passenger in the vehicle, 51 year old Thomas David Hullett of Poplar Place Smithville was charged with public intoxication after he tried to get out of the vehicle and back into the driver's side seat. Sheriff Ray says he refused to do what the deputies were asking him to do. Hullett's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on December 17th.

41 year old Larry David Luna of Johnson Chapel Road, Sparta was arrested Friday on a sealed indictment charging him with manufacturing marijuana (more than 20 plants). Luna's bond was set at $5,000.

Also on Friday, 31 year old James "Freddy" Summers of Hodges Road Smithville and 21 year old Christopher Allen Summers of Dale Ridge Road Dowelltown were both charged with failure to report on time to the DeKalb County Jail to serve their weekend sentences. Both men showed up on Friday after their 6:00 p.m. check in time. Bond for both was set at $1,500 each and both will appear in court on December 17th.

24 year old Jennifer Colleen Rhoades of Short Mountain Highway was charged Sunday with a first offense of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, and reckless endangerment of a child. Sheriff Ray says officers found Rhoades on New Home Road in Dowelltown passed out behind the wheel of a car with the vehicle's engine running and her foot on the brake. An eight year old child was in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Rhoades appeared to be intoxicated. She was unsteady on her feet and had an odor of alcohol on her person. When deputies asked Rhoades where she thought she was, she stated that she was at Brush Creek. Bond for Rhoades was set at $6,000 and she will appear in court on January 14th. The Department of Children Services was also contacted.

Congressman Bart Gordon to retire from Congress after his current term

December 14, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Congressman Bart Gordon to Retire

After more than a quarter-century of public service to his home state of Tennessee, U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon announced his plans to retire from Congress when his current term ends in 2010, in a news release issued Monday morning.

"I feel honored that the people of Middle Tennessee have allowed me to serve them for the past 25 years", said Gordon. "Every decision I have made in Congress has been with their best interests in mind." I hope the people here at home feel that I have served them as well as their good advice and views have served me."

"When I was elected, I was the youngest member of the Tennessee congressional delegation; now, I'm one of the oldest. In fact, I have members of my staff who weren't even born when I took office. That tells me it's time for a new chapter."

Gordon, the dean of the state's congressional delegation, said he made his decision after consulting with his wife, Leslie. Gordon was first elected in 1984 succeeding then Congressman Al Gore, Jr. when he gave up the seat to run for the U.S. Senate.

"Turning 60 has led me to re-evaluate what's next.? I have an 8-year-old daughter and a wonderful wife who has a very demanding job. I am the only child of my 83-year-old mother, Margaret. They have made sacrifices to allow me to do what I love by serving in Congress, and now it's my turn", said Gordon.

Strengthening families has been a common thread throughout Gordon's time in Congress. During his service, he has consistently worked to improve the quality of life for working families by providing greater access to higher education; allowing workers to keep their jobs while managing a family emergency such as a sick child, spouse or parent; and working to preserve the American dream by ensuring today's students have the strong math and science skills they will need for the jobs of the future.

His constituents have repeatedly recognized Gordon's efforts by sending him back to the U.S. Capitol to represent them - in 13 elections, Gordon has never lost any of the 15 counties in his district. In recent years, he has won re-election handily, earning 64 percent of the vote in 2004, 67 percent in 2006, and 74 percent in 2008.

The son of a farmer and schoolteacher, Gordon was named chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee in 2007, becoming Tennessee's first full committee chairman in 30 years. The congressman said he is grateful for the opportunity it presented to author landmark legislation such as the America COMPETES Act, but his goals in Congress have always remained the same.

"My dream for kids growing up in Middle Tennessee is the same that I have for my daughter, Peyton for them to grow up in a safe neighborhood, get a quality education, and be able to find a good job close to home", said Gordon. "I hope I've been able to make that dream more of a reality for the next generation."

While Gordon's congressional efforts may be coming to an end in a year, his legislative efforts and first-rate constituent service will continue in the meantime.

"I will be focusing on the work to be done in the year ahead. Our country is facing extraordinary challenges, and I will continue to work to be the best congressman I can be. My doors are open in Murfreesboro, Gallatin and Cookeville, and my staff and I will continue to listen to people's concerns and help them cut through government red tape. Staying in touch with the people I represent has been my number one priority. That will remain true throughout my last year in Congress", said Gordon, who has held more than 2,000 open meetings, call-ins and listening sessions during his service.

The congressman said his achievements wouldn't have been possible without the support of many people very close to him, including his parents.

"I couldn't have asked for more supportive and inspiring parents. My mother and my late father always stood by my side throughout the years", said Gordon. "I've also been blessed with a talented, hard-working staff that has helped me do a better job. And I will be forever grateful to the friends and volunteers who have given their counsel and support over the years."

Educated in Rutherford County public schools, Gordon graduated with honors from Middle Tennessee State University in 1971 and later received his law degree from the University of Tennessee. He served in the Army Reserves from 1971-1972. Gordon is married to Leslie Peyton Gordon, who is a partner with Korn/Ferry International, and they have one daughter.

Body of Woman Found inside Overturned Vehicle in Rain Swollen Creek

December 13, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lisa Adcock Tatrow Johnson

The body of a 49 year old woman was found inside her car in a rain swollen creek off Bright Hill Road Sunday morning.

Dead is Lisa Gail Johnson of 814 Four Seasons Road.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Johnson was driving a 1996 Pontiac Bonneville south on Bright Hill Road. The car left the road just south of the intersection of Bright Hill Road and Dearman Street, struck a concrete bridge retaining wall, and then overturned into the creek. The car came to rest upside down partially submerged in the water.

A passerby spotted the car in the creek and reported it to the sheriff's department at 10:37 a.m.

Trooper Jennings says he and another officer initially went into the creek but were unable to get inside the car. Tow trucks from J.R.. Motors and Tim's Truck service came to the scene and lifted the vehicle from the water, and the woman's body was found inside. She was removed and transported by EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Trooper Jennings says the exact time of the crash is unknown. Johnson was an employee at Hardees in Smithville and reportedly had gotten off work Sunday at 6:00 a.m. Again, the vehicle was spotted in the water just before 10:37 a.m.

An autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death.

Among those on the scene in addition to Trooper Jennings, were Sheriff Patrick Ray and Deputies Bobby Johnson and Brandon Donnell of the Sheriff's Department, Officers Matt Holmes and Travis Bryant from the Smithville Police Department, DeKalb Fire Chief Donny Green and members of the Short Mountain Station and the Extrication and Rescue Team of the DeKalb County Fire Department, DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and DeKalb EMS.

A Bloomington Springs woman was injured in a one auto accident Friday on the Cookeville Highway.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings says 25 year old Sabrina Branham was driving a 1996 Chevy Blazer south on State Route 56 when she failed to properly negotiate a curve to the right, left the roadway to the left, and made impact with a culvert at Puckett's Cemetery.

Branham suffred a severe cut to her chin but she refused treatment at the scene. She was taken by private vehicle to Cookeville Regional Hospital. Branham was reportedly transported later to Vanderbilt Hospital. Charges are pending against her.

Another personal injury accident occurred on Saturday morning on Highway 56 south near Mystick Market.

Trooper Jennings says 29 year old Jared Atnip was driving south on Highway 56 in a 1992 Toyota Landcrusier when he left the roadway to the right, entered a ditchline, and made impact with a culvert. The vehicle then overturned, coming to rest on it's top in the middle of the roadway. The highway had to be closed for 45 minutes to an hour during the investigation and cleanup.

Atnip's mother Guylene Atnip was a passenger in the vehicle along with a three year old female child. All were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital. Trooper Jennings says the child was properly restrained in the vehicle and only had a bump on the head.

Charges are pending against Atnip.

Santa Makes Another Appearance in DeKalb County During Alexandria Christmas Parade

December 12, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Santa and Mrs Claus in Alexandria

Santa and Mrs. Claus made another appearance Saturday during the annual Alexandria Christmas parade.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver served as Grand Marshal of the Parade.

The Dowelltown United Methodist Church took first place among the float entries. The Brush Creek United Methodist Church float received second place and third place went to the Girl Scouts float.

Brad Driver was awarded first place in the vintage car category for his 1969 red Camaro while Trent and Amber Hawkins received first place for best vintage truck with their 1948 green Chevy truck.

Taylor Hale received first place for best four wheeler.

Chris Hale took first place for best tractor with his 1952 John Deere

Smoke House Barbeque received first place for best motorcycle.

Drawings for prizes were held after the parade.

To see pictures of the Alexandria Christmas Parade, click the following link:

http://www.wjle.com/node/9368

Colwells Charged with Child Neglect

December 12, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Police Department has charged two people with child neglect.

39 year old Johnny and 31 year old Heather Colwell of 253 Hayes Court were arrested on Friday, December 11th. The arrests were made by Detective Jerry Hutchins and Corporal Travis Bryant According to the warrants "On or about June 13th, 2009 the Colwell's 6 ½ month old child pulled a candle warmer onto himself causing injury. According to Johnny Colwell someone came to see his wife, Heather who was in the bedroom and that they were in there when the injury happened. According to Heather Colwell she and her husband, Johnny were involved in illegal drug sales and were both intoxicated on this date, therefore neglecting the child. Bond for each is set at $5,000 and their court date is January 7th.

In another case, 24 year old Timmy Wayne Hale of 704 Short Mountain Highway was arrested for vandalism on Tuesday, December 8th.

Smithville Police Officer Matt Holmes reports that Roy Wilkey of Big Hurricane Road had parked his vehicle at Timmy Hale's residence (with his permission) and that Mr. Hale was seen trying to break into Mr. Wilkey's vehicle on November 28th. Officer Holmes was conducting a follow up investigation on the incident and met with Timmy Hale at the Smithville Police Department where he was asked about the vandalism. According to Officer Holmes, Hale admitted to attempting to gain entry to the vehicle by using a hanger causing damage to the window trim. Bond for Hale is $1,000 and his court date is December 17th

29 year old Jared Scott Atnip of 206 Bybee Ranch Road McMinnville was arrested on Monday, December 7th for public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia. Officer Matt Holmes was called to a local business in answer to a complaint of possibly an intoxicated person. Atnip was sitting at a table inside of the business and when he was questioned Atnip did not immediately reply. After being asked a second time to reply, he said yes. Officer Holmes requested that Atnip step outside. Officer Holmes noticed Atnip’s eyes were droopy and his speech was slurred. Atnip was asked if he had taken any medication and he replied he had taken his prescribed medication, Xanax before getting dropped off at the business. Atnip was arrested for public intoxication and transported to the Smithville Police Department where he informed Officer Holmes that he might have a syringe in his jacket pocket. A search revealed a used hypodermic needle in the inside pocket of his jacket and he was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for Atnip was set at $2000 and his court date is January 7th.

Meanwhile, anyone having any information on the following offense is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

On Thursday, December 10th at approximately 6:45 a.m, Officer Matt Holmes responded to Royal Oak Apartments where he met with James Gibbs who said that when he went out to start his truck for work, he noticed his door was unlocked. Gibbs said after he got inside he saw that his glove box was open and after further investigation he found his radio, two matching wedding rings, a promise ring, two memory cards, 26 CD's and a pocket knife were missing from his vehicle.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police solve this or any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

The Smithville Police Department will be stepping up patrols during this holiday season for impaired drivers in an effort to keep our roadways safer. The Smithville Police Department will also team up with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department to conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints during the New Year's eve holiday.

More Potential 2010 Candidates Picking up Qualifying Petitions

December 11, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Several people have picked up petitions at the DeKalb County Election Commission Office for next year's elections.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn has qualified to seek re-election in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary next May. Clayborn has picked up and returned his petition

Glynn Merriman has qualified as a candidate for County Clerk in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary. He has picked up and returned his petition.

County Commission candidates who have qualified to run in next year's elections are as follows:

Third District- Incumbent Jerry Scott

Fifth District- Johnny Ringo Colwell, Randy Braswell, and Bobby R.Taylor

Seventh District- Richard Kinsey (Independent)

Other candidates who have obtained petitions to run in the May Democratic Primary or as Independents in the August General Session are as follows:

County Mayor Mike Foster, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Register of Deeds Jeff McMillen, First District County Commissioner Elmer Ellis, Jr., Second District County Commissioner Jack Barton, Third District County Commission Candidate Roy Merriman, Fourth District County Commissioner Wayne Cantrell, Fifth District County Commissioner John Green, Fifth District County Commission Candidate Lloyd Emmons (Independent), Sixth District County Commissioner Jeff Barnes, Sixth District County Commissioner Marshall Ferrrell, Seventh District County Commissioner Larry Summers, Seventh District County Commission candidate Jimmy W. Poss.

The Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board has certified Kenny Edge's qualifications to be a candidate for Road Supervisor. Edge plans to seek re-election as Road Supervisor, subject to receiving his party's nomination in January at the DeKalb County Republican Convention.
Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars has submitted a certified copy of her qualifying petition to the election commission office.

Offices eligible for the May ballot are County Mayor, County Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk, Trustee, Register of Deeds, Road Supervisor, and Sheriff, county commissioners in districts one through seven, 13th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Part 1 and District Attorney. The judge and D.A. elections are to fill unexpired terms.

Qualifying petitions may now be picked up and the qualifying deadline for the May 4th Primary is noon on Thursday, February 18th, 2010. There is another important date for potential Sheriff and Road Supervisor candidates to remember, February 4th.

Sheriff candidates must file "affidavits of qualification" with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission no later than February 4th, 2010. Road Supervisor candidates must file their affidavits of qualification with the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board no later than February 4th, 2010.

Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th, 2010. The Republican Party, which usually selects its nominees by caucus, must certify its candidates by the same date and time.

Online Application Available for Extension of Unemployment Benefits

December 10, 2009

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is on schedule to complete the online applications for the latest federal extension of unemployment benefits. The application will be available on the Tennessee Department of Labor’s Internet site on December 11, and the first benefit payments are expected to be mailed December 18, 2009.

“This project has been given the highest priority, and the department’s Information Technology division has worked nights, weekends and holidays to do the extensive programming required of our systems to extend these benefits,” said Labor Commissioner James Neeley. “Those who have already exhausted their benefits should look for instructions in the mail this week with the status of their claim.”

The online application will be necessary for claimants who have exhausted all prior benefits. Additionally, those who exhausted benefits prior to the February 27, 2009, deadline for State Extended Benefits may also be eligible and are encouraged to apply.

Tennesseans who exhaust their State Extended Benefits (EB09) after December 17, 2009, will automatically transition into the new program without having to reapply.

“During this slow economic period, we have seen an unprecedented number of Tennesseans staying on unemployment until they exhaust their benefits,” said Neeley. “This will give those who are still looking for work more time to cover their expenses through the holidays and into 2010.”

This federally funded extension is the fourth announcement of benefits beyond the initial 26 weeks of unemployment compensation provided by the state. While the intent of the bill was to add 20 weeks of payments, an oversight in the way the federal law was structured prevented individuals from receiving the maximum weeks of entitlement. Depending on an individual’s initial claim eligibility, wage history and subsequent employment status, the maximum entitlement for the latest extension of unemployment benefits is 14 weeks.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development has posted details of the extension with an extensive list of frequently asked questions on their Internet home page at www.tn.gov/labor-wfd. For Tennesseans without Internet access, Tennessee Career Centers throughout the state are available at no charge. To find a Career Center in your area please go to www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/cc/cccounty.htm or call 1-800-576-3467.

DeKalb Farmers Eligible for Federal Agriculture Relief

December 10, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

With extreme rainfall and flooding damaging DeKalb County farms in September, Congressman Bart Gordon announced today that the U.S. Agriculture Department declared DeKalb County a federal agriculture disaster area. The designation comes after Gordon joined his Tennessee colleagues in urging USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to grant the disaster declaration.

“The storms destroyed crop yields across DeKalb County, significantly affecting the livelihood of farmers and their families,” Gordon said. “With this disaster declaration, the many affected farmers can begin to rebuild and prepare for the start of the next farming season.”

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s disaster declaration enables qualifying farmers to apply for federal farm disaster assistance programs, including supplemental farm revenue payments and low-interest emergency loans.

“This federal assistance will not only help the countless farmers and their businesses that were affected by the rain and flooding,” Gordon added, “but it will also help the local county economies.”

DeKalb County is among the 42 Tennessee counties covered under today’s disaster declaration. Affected farmers in DeKalb County should contact the Farm Service Agency office in Smithville for more information. The office’s phone number is (615) 597-8225.

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