Local News Articles

Senator Corker Explains Vote on Rescue Plan During Town Hall Meeting

October 16, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
U.S. Senator Bob Corker at Smithville Town Hall Meeting

U.S. Senator Bob Corker, during a town hall meeting Wednesday in Smithville, provided details of the $700 billion dollar "rescue plan" and the reasons why he voted for it.

Corker, a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, says constituents who contacted his office prior to the vote were overwhelmingly opposed to the plan, but he says action by the Congress was needed to prevent the financial crisis from getting worse and resulting in damage to the broader U.S. economy.

The senator says Wall Street, regulatory agencies and policymakers in Washington failed America and too many Americans borrowed money for houses they simply couldn't afford. "There's no doubt that the federal government has encouraged home ownership and there's no doubt that, in some cases, homeownership was not the right thing. But I think to say that this is the essence of the problem would be a little bit of a stretch but no doubt it exacerbate the problem and made it worse. We have a lot of policies, for instance the Community Reinvestment Act, where banks are basically are asked to go out into places that have typically been difficult for loans to be put in place and encouraged to make that happen. Some of that is good so we've got to balance it. What happens whenever we have a crisis, sometimes we try to react with a ready, fire, aim mentality. I think what we'll do in January is come back with cooler heads. Certainly the policies that took place with Freddie and Fannie. Those were absolutely abusive and excessive and need to end. Those we need to solve. There are some other policies that encourage home ownership that are actually good so what we need to do is to leave the good ones in place and then take out these excessive cases of bad behavior that were certainly very prevalent in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae."

Corker says regardless of how we got here, the troubled financial system must be stabilized. He says this is not a "bail-out of Wall Street," but an unprecedented effort to avert a catastrophe that would devastate Main Street.

He says the plan will restore stability and confidence to the credit markets, and enable the financial system to continue financing the needs of American businesses, consumers, homeowners and students.

Corker says this plan provides accountability and oversight, and limits exorbitant executive pay. It will actually strengthen the banking system in Tennessee by allowing the FDIC to insure deposits up to $250,000 for one year, a significant increase from the current $100,000.

Through this rescue plan, Corker says we will purchase assets that will hopefully produce gains, and 100 percent of any income made will go toward paying down the debt. He says if our resources are invested properly, the federal government will get all of its money back and taxpayers may even see a return on the investment.

Senator Corker says the reckless way Wall Street has taken risks and made choices that have pushed our credit markets to a breaking point is reflective of the way Washington has run up the federal deficit and refused to control spending. "I am hopeful that passage of this plan will be the beginning of a strong focus on cleaning up the mess in Washington and on Wall Street."

Governor Appoints Amy Hollars as Special Circuit Court Judge for 13th Judicial District

October 15, 2008

A physical disability has forced Circuit Court Judge John Turnbull to take a temporary leave of absence from the bench.

Governor Phil Bredesen has appointed Judge Turnbull's daughter, Amy V. Hollars of Livingston, to serve as special circuit court judge for the Thirteenth Judicial District in his absence, effective immediately. The Thirteenth Judicial District includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam and White Counties.

Hollars, who is currently a solo practitioner in Overton County, is a former partner in the Knoxville firm Hodges, Doughty and Carson.

“I appreciate Amy’s willingness to step in and serve the state as special judge during the absence of Judge John Turnbull,” Bredesen said. “I believe her skills, education and practice experience will serve her well in this temporary capacity.”

Judge Turnbull submitted a notice of physical disability due to a ruptured disc in his neck and back surgery. Tennessee law provides a process for the appointment of a special temporary judge in the event sickness or disability prevents a state judge from carrying out his or her duties. TCA Section 17-2-116 (a)(1) states: “the governor shall appoint and commission a special judge who shall have the same qualifications as the regular judge to attend and hold such courts for and during the absence or disability of any such judges.”

Hollars, 41, holds degrees from the University of the South and Vanderbilt University and received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Since 2002, she has served on the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. She and her husband James Hollars have three children.

“It is an honor to have the confidence of Governor Bredesen, and I am happy to be able to help out by serving in this capacity on a short term basis,” said Hollars. “I will bring to this appointment a strong work ethic and a commitment to fairness and good work for the people of the Thirteenth Judicial District.”

Winter Heating Bills Could be Higher for Natural Gas Customers Compared to Last Year

October 15, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Leslie B. Enoch, II

Although natural gas prices have declined since the summer, your heating costs may still be higher than last winter.

Leslie B. Enoch II, CEO of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District, says natural gas prices are currently higher than last year, though they have been trending downward in recent weeks. "We've watched a lot of different factors. We've been watching the recent turmoil in the financial markets and hurricane activity but neither of those has seemed to have had an impact on natural gas prices. We're pleased that natural gas prices, at the national level, have declined significantly since the record highs of the summer months. They've stabilized at a lower level. They're still higher than they were at this time last year, but just like gasoline prices, the trend is in the right direction, it's down and we're encouraged by that."

As for this winter, Enoch says expect to pay a little more on your monthly heating bill. "We believe at this point and time that the projected increase will be lower than we originally expected. If the weather is the same as last year, gas bills should be about 10% higher but that's substantially less than we thought it was going to be with the high energy prices we were seeing earlier in the summer. There's still room for natural gas and petroleum prices to go down and we're optimistic that will continue."

Enoch says the utility makes every effort to keep prices down. " We're very fortunate to have a very robust storage capability which helps stabilize prices for our customers. We have the opportunity to put natural gas in storage in several different locations around the country. We buy a lot of our gas in the summer and put it in underground storage, then we also buy some gas on the futures market. We're pretty well set. We have about 50% of our supply already ready and available and we'll buy the balance of it as we go into the winter based on how the temperatures change."

Enoch adds that natural gas customers can save money on their monthly heating costs by winterizing and conservation. "There are several ways to reduce energy usage and lower gas bills. We encourage our customers to winterize their homes by improving insulation, applying weather stripping, changing filters, and setting the water heater to a lower temperature, maybe to 120 degrees. One of the most important ways to do it (conserve) is to keep your heat at a lower, but comfortable level. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you can save about three percent on your heating bill. The district appreciates it's customers and provides free safety inspections and pilot lighting. We encourage our customers to go ahead and call us to set up those appointments. Call 597-4388."

Woman Airlifted After Tuesday Morning Traffic Accident

October 14, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 48 year old woman was injured in a one vehicle traffic accident around 4:30 a.m. this morning (Tuesday) on the Cookeville Highway.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says Valerie Helms Rodriguez of Beaufort, South Carolina was driving north on Highway 56 in a 2009 Chevy HHR when she failed to maintain the proper lane of travel, entered a ditch on the east side of the road, struck a driveway culvert and overturned twice. The vehicle came to final rest upright on it's wheels on the east side of the highway.

Rodriguez, who was in the area visiting relatives, says she was going to the store at the time of the accident.

She was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force helicopter ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

Fisherman Drowns in Caney Fork River

October 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 51 year old fisherman drowned in the Caney Fork River in the area of Happy Hollow boat ramp Sunday morning.

Officials of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department and TWRA say Roman S. Grzybowski of Antioch, Tennessee was in the river trout fishing, wearing waders, when he apparently stepped in a hole. Water filled the waders and dragged him down.

According to the Herald Citizen, 28 year old Nathan John Wilson and his brother, 30 year old Nicholas R.T. Wilson both of Smyrna told deputies they were fishing when they noticed a man who was fishing downstream from them fall.

The two men took off their waders and swam to the man but by the time they got to him, he had stopped moving. They pulled him out of the water and began CPR. Paramedics later arrived

The victim was taken to Cookeville Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department received the call around 7:47 a.m..

9th Annual Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour

October 13, 2008
by: 
Donna B. Emmons
Christine Colombarini Vessel
Claudia Lee- Paper
Tim Hintz-Chair

Enjoy unique demonstrations, engaging conversation with some of this area's premier craftspersons and the opportunity to purchase beautiful works of art at the 9th annual Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour, set for Friday, Oct. 24 - Sunday, Oct. 26, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm in nearby DeKalb and Cannon counties. This year the tour has added an extra day and extra hours as well as a new studio and new guest artists to surprise and entertain their visitors. A detailed map available by mail or on the website will serve as a guide to a weekend of leisurely touring the beautiful fall settings in rural middle Tennessee.

Bigger and better than ever, this free and fun-filled event includes 11 professional, private craft studios simultaneously open to the public for this one special weekend. Visit over 26 award-winning artists as they demonstrate their unique talents and explain how they create their stunning designs in wood, glass, pottery, jewelry, metal, concrete, textile arts, paper, fabrics, mixed media, and architectural ceramics.

Included in this year's tour is the hospitality center located at the eclectic Stella Luna Art Gallery in Smithville where visitors can see a stunning collection of distinctive crafts, while enjoying demonstrations and light refreshments.

Among this year's award-winning and published artists are William Kooienga, wood sculpture; Tim Hintz, ladderback chairs; Susan DeMay, clay; Claudia Lee, paper and books; Tom Fuhrman, glass; Meredith Novak, textile art; Louis and Christine Colombarini, clay; Arlene Knaak, clay; Cheryl Ludwig, fibers; Kem Alexander, concrete; Chery Cratty, pulp painting; Amy Potter, architectural ceramics; Breanna Rockstad-Kincaid, fibers art; Rob Harvey, clay; Randy Johns, wood furniture; Sherri G., clay; Sarah McClary, jewelry; John Sellberg, clay; Damon MacNaught, glass; T. J. Edwards, clay; Dee Vanek, concrete sculpture; Ed Wooten, glass and Shaker boxes; Sharon Kooienga, fibers; Sandre Krikke, fabrics; Timothy Weber, clay; and Sande Krikke, fabrics.

For more information or to receive a detailed brochure with map, visit www.smithvilletn.com/studiotour, email obp@smithvilletn.com, or call Tim Hintz at (615) 597-8770.

Brochures and information will be available at the Habitat for Humanity Chili Cookoff on Friday, October 24th on the square.

Two Persons Allegedly Found with Drugs After Traffic Stops by Sheriff's Department

October 13, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Traffic stops by the Sheriff's Department last week led to the discovery of drugs and charges against two people.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 42 year old Lisa Michelle Pyles of Jones Mill Road, Smithville was stopped Monday, October 6th on Antioch Road by Deputies who were conducting an investigation. While deputies were trying to pull her over on Antioch Road, Pyles continued to drive approximately one mile before she pulled over. After pulling over and talking with the officers, Pyles gave consent to search her vehicle. Found under the seat of Pyles' vehicle was Suboxen, a schedule III drug. Pyles was arrested and charged with simple possession of a schedule III drug (Suboxen) and evading arrest. Pyles' bond was set at $2,000 and she will appear in court on October 23rd.

In another case, deputies received a call Friday from dispatch about a reckless driver on Highway 70 West. Sheriff Ray says officers pulled over the vehicle on West Main Street, which matched the description of the reckless driver. Deputies asked for consent to search the vehicle which was driven by 23 year old Joshua Wade Graham of McMinnville Highway, Doyle Tennessee but he refused to let deputies conduct the search. K-9 Banshee was then led around the vehicle and the dog alerted on Graham's vehicle. Graham then told deputies that he had drugs on him, which officers found in the console of his vehicle including Suboxone, Methadone, and Percocet pills. Graham was charged with simple possession of a schedule III drug (Suboxone), simple possession of a schedule II drug (Methadone), and simple possession of a schedule II drug (Percocet). Graham's bond was set at $4,500 and he will appear in court on October 23rd.

Meanwhile, detectives arrested 31 year old Wendy Michelle Steinbach of Keltonburg Road, Smithville Tuesday for theft and forgery. Steinbach allegedly stole a book of checks from a residence on Keltonburg Road. Steinbach then took approximately 25 checks to local businesses in DeKalb County and forged the victim's name to the checks and cashed them. Steinbach has been charged with five forgery counts and theft of property under $500. Steinbach's blanket bond was set at $5,000 by Judge Bratten Cook on October 9th and she is scheduled to reappear in his court on October 16th. Steinbach is expected to be charged with more forgeries at a later date.

Chapman Mobile Home Damaged in Fire-Outbuilding Destroyed

October 12, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

A fire Saturday afternoon destroyed an outbuilding and damaged a mobile home belonging to Jesse Chapman at 9907 Short Mountain Highway.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says members of the department were called to the scene at 5:02 p.m."Upon arrival, we found an outbuilding on fire and fully involved. It spread to a single wide mobile home that was located about 10 feet from the outbuilding. We got the fire under control at the mobile home though it spread into a back bedroom. The fire was contained to the bedroom, but the rest of the home received extensive heat and smoke damage."

Chief Green says Chapman, who is handicapped, and his wife were at home at the time of the fire, along with two grandchildren.

A passerby saw the smoke and called 911. He also stopped and assisted the Chapman's in getting out of the trailer.

Chapman and his wife were transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital just as a precaution to make sure they were okay.

Chief Green says the outbuilding and all it's contents were destroyed.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Blue Springs, and Main Station pumpers responded along with the department's service truck, DeKalb EMS, and officers of the Sheriff's Department, who helped with traffic control.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker to Hold Open Meeting on the Financial Crisis

October 11, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
U.S. Senator Bob Corker

You're invited to a very important and timely meeting regarding America's financial crisis with United States Senator Bob Corker. Don't miss this meeting that's open to the public on Wednesday, October 15th from 2:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. at city hall, downtown Smithville. The meeting is being hosted by the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster, and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson. Senator Corker, who sits on the Senate Banking committee, Energy committee, as well as the Foreign Relations committee, will discuss the financial crisis and answer your questions.

HOPE for Homeowners Program Could Help Many of the 67,000 Tennesseans Facing Foreclosure

October 11, 2008

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is urging the nearly 67,000 Tennesseans with overdue mortgages to contact the HOPE for Homeowners program which could help them refinance their loans.

“With a single phone call, many of the nearly 67,000 Tennesseans facing foreclosure may be able to keep their homes,” Alexander said. “HOPE for Homeowners is a way for homeowners to refinance delinquent mortgages if their lenders agree to participate. This program is a good step toward boosting confidence in the housing market and helping preserve the American dream for the millions of people facing possible foreclosure.”

HOPE for Homeowners, a voluntary initiative to help distressed borrowers refinance their mortgages, was established as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). Alexander voted for HERA, which was signed into law in July.

This program could help many of the nearly 67,000 Tennesseans who had delinquent mortgages in the second quarter of this year and are at risk of losing their homes to refinance their mortgages if their lenders agree to participate in the program. Only certain owner-occupants would be eligible to refinance their primary residences – no investors or investment properties would qualify. Homeowners must certify that they have not intentionally defaulted on their loans. Loans must have originated earlier than 2008. And borrowers are required to retire any debt on the home (such as a home equity line of credit).

HOPE for Homeowners is temporary, and will run from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2011.

Alexander said that those in trouble or behind on their mortgage payments should immediately call 1 (800) CALL-FHA, visit www.FHA.gov or speak to a counselor from a local community housing group to determine the best course of action.

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