Local News Articles

Fire Destroys Hay Barn

January 25, 2010
County Firefighters Unable to Save Hay Barn (photo by Callie Matthews)

A fire destroyed a barn Sunday night in Lakeview Mountain Estates.

Lieutenant Brad Mullinax, Fire Prevention Officer of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department says the call came in around 6:35 p.m. " DeKalb E-911 dispatchers received multiple calls of a reported barn fire on Lakeview Drive. Upon arrival, firefighters discovered a large barn containing approximately 100 round rolls of hay belonging to Larry Summers fully involved with fire. By the time firefighters arrived it was too late to save the structure. Members of the Cookeville Highway, Short Mountain Highway, and Main stations along with the tanker truck responded and rendered aid on the scene. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this point but no one was injured. The barn and hay were destroyed.

Meanwhile around midnight, a fire was reported at 5549 McMinnville Highway and members of the Blue Springs and Keltonburg Stations responded along with DeKalb EMS and the Sheriff's Department. No one was injured. In fact, officials say the persons living there extinguished the small blaze as firefighters were enroute.

(Photo provided by Callie Matthews)

TDOT Chief Engineer Hopeful for September Hurricane Bridge Rehab Bid Letting

January 23, 2010
Dwayne Page
 TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges at Friday night Meeting

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is developing design plans for the rehabilitation of Hurricane Bridge with a possible bid letting this fall if funding becomes available.

Paul Degges, Chief Engineer for TDOT said Friday night during a meeting at Smithville City Hall that he is hopeful the project is ready in time for a September bid letting. "We are working at an accelerated pace on this project to be able to have plans available, should money become available about the same time. We will have plans ready this fall probably around the first of September. However, I want to stress that the funding of this project, while it is a top priority in the department and we know it is an important project, there is a funding component to it. We're going to have to have the funding made available to the department to be able to deliver the project to construction."

According to Degges, the price tag for the Hurricane bridge rehab project is estimated to be between $12 to $15 million, a large expenditure with limited available state and federal funds. "Our bridge funding program is pretty modest. In fact, this year we'll probably have less than $50 million dollars of federal funds available to us in our bridge program and somewhere in the vicinity of $30 million in our state bridge program."

However, Degges says TDOT's Better Bridges Program, adopted by the General Assembly last year, makes more funds available for projects like this. "Better Bridges" is a four year program approved in 2009 by the Tennessee General Assembly that utilizes bonds to pay for the repair or replacement of structurally deficient bridges in the state. The legislature must act to authorize funding each year of the program. "We were fortunate this year, the General Assembly passed a bridge bonding program to put another $87.5 million in our bridge program. So between those three components (federal, state, and bonding) hopefully in fiscal year 2011 starting July 1st, we'll have a similar program to allow us to pump a lot of money toward bridges that are in this category." Neither Hurricane bridge or Sligo bridge were included in the bridge bonding program during the first year.

Degges stressed that in order for any bridge project to be funded, design plans must first be in place."It takes a certain amount of time to do the design work. This is a pretty intricate structure. It has a lot of components and it takes a while to develop a set of plans. We actually have a consultant hired that's doing this work for us. It's moving along quite fast."

Unlike Sligo, the state will be looking to do a rehab on Hurricane bridge, not a replacement. And while both bridges remain safe to travel under posted weight limits, Degges says TDOT will likely give Hurricane bridge priority over Sligo bridge. "Certainly this bridge is one of what I would call a priority project across the state. It is very difficult to develop just a list (of priority bridges). There's a lot of different factors that come into play when you're talking about what is a relative priority but it (Hurricane bridge) is an important structure in the region. We feel that a ten ton weight limit on a bridge like this is certainly very difficult to have to live with. We want to be able to come in and put this bridge back in service at legal loads."

"This bridge (Hurricane) was built in 1944 and in the late 1970's the department came in and put a new bridge deck on it. We actually widened it. We met the design specifications at the time. Since that time, the design specifications for bridges have changed, particularly in the aftermath of the failure (of a bridge) in Minneapolis. Truss bridges in particular have been looked at a whole lot harder in the last couple of years. So we're having to go back in and based on these new design criteria, look at this bridge. This will be a rehab. We'll do a lot of work on the concrete deck. We need to narrow the shoulders a little bit and then strengthen some of the truss members underneath the bridge."

In the meantime, Degges says TDOT and the county have come up with a plan to limit weight loads on Hurricane by escorting trucks with heavy cargo across the bridge. "The department came up and met with the business officials, business leaders, and local elected officials up here about a month and a half or two months ago. What we agreed to do was sharpen our pencils and go back and look at our analysis and make sure that we were where we needed to be on the weight posting. We also committed to looking at the feasibility of putting a traffic signal on the bridge and allowing one lane at a time to go. So we went back and did that and found that we were right on target on our weight posting. We might could squeak another couple of tons out of it but that really didn't solve what the industries needs were."

"We looked at putting a one lane scenario up with a traffic signal but we felt that while we could double the weight load of a truck going across the bridge, there was a lot of negatives to it including a lot of delay time. You have people coming down the big hill, coming in from I-40. So what we came up with was, "what if there was only one vehicle on that bridge at a time?" What we found was that we can carry a full legal load across the bridge. So what we starting talking with the (county) mayor about was, how about us coming in and working with law enforcement of some sort, and basically escorting vehicles across the bridge one at a time. By doing that, industries could bring a full load across the bridge. We wouldn't have any significant delays to any other motorists using the bridge. So we think we have a solution that will work. We've worked with the county mayor to make sure that we've come up with a working solution that the county can live with. Right now, we're in the final stages of mapping that scenario out, seeing if there is a way we can fund it working with the county, what are the logistics, and who are the industries that are going to be doing this, so that's where we are. We are in the final throws in trying to get this solution. We think it will work and then ultimately we're going to have to come in and do the construction work on the bridge. When we finish the construction work, it'll be ready for a full legal load."

Once construction begins on Hurricane bridge, Degges says short term lane closures might be required. "We might have to have some short term total closures but what we think what we'll be able to do is to end up with a scenario where we put up a traffic signal and go down to one lane on it. We know that's going to be difficult but one of the things we want to come and do is before we make a final decision on traffic control, we want to come back up to the community and talk to the residents and business owners about the different options we have in traffic control and what would be the best scenario for this community."

Few attended the meeting Friday evening, which was intended primarily for local and state officials and industry representatives. Still, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, who helped set up the meeting, said it was a good forum. "It's another venue of communication. I had a meeting in my office last week with Paul Degges and he said I would like to come to your area and have a meeting. We called the industry people and let them know we were having a meeting here so he could address them and keep the communication moving forward. This is not a political issue. It matters not what side of the aisle you're on. It matters that we get the bridge done and that's why I think it's important to keep the community informed."

State Senator Mae Beaver, who was also at the meeting, said she is encouraged by the progress that's being made on the bridges. "I think it gives everyone a glimmer of hope that we are just about ready to get underway with these bridges. TDOT has helped figure out a way to get the traffic across the bridge temporarily, all the heavy loads and looking at a September letting on the Hurricane bridge so I think that's really good news for everyone. It looks like things are moving right along. Of course on the Sligo bridge, Terri Lynn and I met with Senator Lamar Alexander's staff and he is working on getting the rest of the money. We have $1.5 million now setting over at TDOT waiting to be used that they can start on. We're just looking for the rest of the money and we think it will be forthcoming."

Woman Cited for Shoplifting at Wal-Mart

January 23, 2010
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have cited a local woman for shoplifting at Wal-Mart.

32 year old Amy Jeanette Lawson of 1243 Haley Road was cited for shoplifting at Wal-Mart on Saturday, January 16th. She had $7.88 worth of merchandise in her possession. Her court date is February 11th

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

On Tuesday, January 19th at 856 Cooper Street, someone took firemen equipment out of a tool box attached to the bed of Jeremy Neal's truck.

On Sunday, January 17th someone took some jewelry from Ms. Mary Hughes' room at NHC. Jewelry consists of a solid flat white gold heart with diamonds on a gold chain and one pair of matching earrings.

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

State Senator Mae Beavers Legislative Update

January 22, 2010
State Senator Mae Beavers

The following is a legislative update from State Senator Mae Beavers

Three contentious topics were addressed during a special two-week “Extraordinary Session” called by the Governor, including issues concerning worker’s compensation insurance, higher education reform, and K-12 reform. Senator Mae Beavers and the General Assembly addressed a law that went into effect on January 1 of this year that required small contractors to carry worker’s compensation insurance. In addition, the General Assembly passed a higher education reform bill that attempted to allow more Tennesseans to pursue a post-secondary education that fits their academic and workplace needs. Finally, Senator Beavers was one of only three senators to vote against President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” stimulus fund bill, a bill that was rushed through the legislature and one that Sen. Beavers and others feared would heap unfunded mandates onto our local schools and teachers, all in order to apply for the possibility of stimulus dollars and stray further from Tennessee’s ‘pay-as-you-go’ economic history.

General Assembly Delays Law Requiring the Purchase of Worker’s Compensation Insurance by Small Contractors

Senator Mae Beavers helped pass a worker’s compensation law that would seek to delay the implementation of a 2008 law that required all sole proprietors to carry worker’s compensation insurance. Beavers also plans to present a bill during regular session that would outright delete the 2008 law, a law that would force the purchase of insurance on single individuals and small companies that could account for expenses high enough to put them out of business.

“We cannot expect small businesses, particularly those sole proprietors and small contracting companies, to emerge from what has been a devastating few years in the economy and housing market if the state and federal governments continue to burden them with regulations and fees,” said Sen. Beavers. “Self-employed contractors are hurting enough as it is; the state doesn’t need to help put them out of business.”

The particular law addressed was a bill passed in 2008 that required all contractors and subcontractors – even those sole proprietorships whose owner is the only employee – to carry additional workers compensation insurance.

Beavers was one of only five senators who voted against the bill on the floor last session, and the only Republican to do so. “You have to be aware of the economic climate and what effects that state mandates will have when the legislature passes bills,” said Beavers. “I believe many legislators were quite short-sighted when they passed this law.”

Beavers urges everyone to call their legislators and ask them to support the bill she will be filing to repeal the 2008 law, in particular those who voted “aye” for the 2008 bill.

General Assembly Passes Higher Education Reform

Tennessee ranks 40th in the nation in completion of college bachelor’s degrees and 45th in associate degrees. Our dismal college attendance and graduation rates are not only educational problems, but in an ever-expanding and competitive global economy, they are proving to be an economic problem as well.

The higher education bill passed this week, called the "Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010," revises the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s master planning responsibility to increase college completion, address economic development needs and differentiate institutional missions to increase collaboration and efficiency between Tennessee’s post-secondary schools. The legislation also hopes to gear state funding for colleges based more on graduation and retention rates, rather than purely based on enrollment.

The legislation also hopes to make credits earned at community colleges easily transferrable to four-year college institutions. This system will provide a clearly designated path for students to further their education after completion of an associate degree in the state’s community colleges.

Finally, the bill originally had provisions regarding transferring authority over adult education programs to another department, a move that possibly would have financial consequences. However, Sen. Beavers and other legislators expressed concern over meddling in many programs in District 17 that are quite successful and serve to provide job training and career enhancement opportunities for adults, and therefore the provision was removed from the final bill.

Senator Beavers Votes to Refuse Federal Dollars and Mandates on our Local Schools

Senator Beavers was the sole Republican alongside two Democrats to vote against Governor Phil Bredesen and President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” education bill last Friday. The bill was introduced in a special extraordinary session called by the Governor that lasted approximately three days in order to rush through Washington-mandated and open-ended legislation to compete for federal stimulus dollars.

“By not spending the necessary time debating and coming up with sound conservative education reform – reform that gives more choice to parents and students and that enables local school boards to dictate what is best for their schools – we instead wrote the governor a blank check that includes federal guidelines in order to receive money that will bring this state further away from its ‘pay-as-you-go’ history,” said Beavers. “The last thing Tennessee’s students and teachers need is to be bribed into more centralized bureaucracy that enacts what President Obama thinks is best for all American schools.”

Another primary reason for Beavers’ opposition to the bill comes from the fact that many of the ‘reforms’ are initiatives that have been in place for many years now, as well as others that could have been enacted by the legislature during regular session. The bill contained many nonspecific guidelines, using words such as ‘may’ and ‘could’ instead of ‘shall,’ making many conservatives weary of what exactly the bill hoped to accomplish that could not be accomplished by the Republican-controlled legislature later in the year. A large portion of the federal guidelines and stimulus preconditions would be contained in the Governor’s “Race to the Top” application, which was kept hidden from the legislature when voting on the bill.

“I feel like leaders across the state need to take a step back and see why the country is in the shape that it is in – and I guarantee you that the mess we are in is not because of fiscal or constitutional conservatives who refuse to leave our grandchildren in the financial hole in order to placate President Obama and his stimulus dollars,” said Beavers “I did not vote against this bill because I disagreed with some of its conservative goals – I voted against it because it was rushed policy that not even every legislator understood that required more centralized control of our school system in the hands of the Governor and Washington…all in order to possibly receive stimulus dollars that will then not be there in a few years.”

Senator Beavers is eager to work with other legislators during the regular session to examine the effects of this legislation and help pass further meaningful reforms that will not be tied to federal stimulus mandates. In addition, if the state does not receive the federal stimulus money, lawmakers will have to cope with yet another new law and program that the state will have to fund with current revenues during this economic recession.

USDA Releases Payments for Tobacco Transition Payment Program

January 22, 2010
Donny Green

Donny Green, County Executive Director of the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency, announces that annual payments for the Tobacco Transition Payment Program,
for the 2010 payment year, were released Wednesday, January 20. DeKalb County quota holders and producers will receive $483,405.90 in 2010 program year payments. Green says that direct deposit transactions should arrive in bank accounts within 3 business days while mailed checks should arrive within 10 business days for quota holders and producers who have enrolled in the program.

The Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP), also called the "tobacco buy-out," helps tobacco quota holders and producers transition to the free market.

The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-357), signed by President Bush on Oct. 22, 2004, ended the Depression-era tobacco quota program and established the TTPP. The program provides annual transitional payments for 10 years to eligible tobacco quota holders and producers. Payments began in 2005 and continue through 2014. Payments are funded through assessments of approximately $10 billion on tobacco product manufacturers and importers. The remaining payments will be made in 4 annual installments that will be issued in January of each year.

For more information on the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, please contact the DeKalb County Farm Service Agency at 615-597-8225, extension 2.

Fire Damages Shop/Garage Building on West Broad Street

January 21, 2010
Dwayne Page
Fire Damages Shop/Garage Building
Smithville Fire Department Responds to Fire at 633 West Broad
Fire Photo by Steven Laxton

A fire Thursday night caused extensive damage to a shop/garage building at 633 West Broad Street belonging to Darrell Gill, which served as an annex for DeKalb Tire and Service. The building is located across from Gordon's Hardware.

Central Dispatch received the call at 6:51 p.m. and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and the Smithville Police Department rushed to the scene.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says Gill was working in a shed at the rear of the building when the fire started and he escaped unharmed. "He was in the back part of the building and had turned on a compressor when he heard a noise. When he came back up (through the building), he discovered the fire. When he discovered it, the flame was pretty good (intense) and the smoke was already getting heavy. He got out through the front door and just barely in time too. He was pretty lucky."

Chief Parker says the cause of the fire is undetermined but it started in a storage room at the rear of the building and spread to the ceiling and roof. "It started in the back of the building, in a room back there. The building has a double ceiling inside of it and a newer roof on top of an older roof. The fire got in between the roofs and there's block around the edges so it was not burning through. Half of the building is pretty extensively damaged. There was one vehicle belonging to a customer in the bay that was damaged and two more vehicles in the back of the building, belonging to Gill which were not damaged."

Smithville Police officers diverted traffic while firefighters were on the scene. No one was injured.

(Bottom Photo provided by Steven Laxton)

Habitat for Humanity Announces Board Members

January 21, 2010
Dwayne Page
Habitat Board Members and Officers

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County held its annual meeting on Tuesday, January 19th. The meeting was held at The Inn at Evins Mill. Board members for January 2010-2011 are: Mike Antoniak, Michael Carpenter, Glenda Davis, Robin Driver, Sharon Evans, Lisa Garrison, Larry Green, Gayla Hendrix, Tom Janney, Nancy Lewis, Adela McGeehin, Hearon Puckett, Pam Restrepo, Laura Stone and Kim Wheeler.

Pictured in photo are officers and new board members (L-R): Co-Treasurer Kim Wheeler, Vice President Sharon Evans, President Tom Janney, and new board members Gayla Hendrix and Nancy Lewis, who is also serving as Secretary. Not pictured is Co-Treasurer Glenda Davis.

Five School Board Members to be Elected this Year

January 21, 2010
Dwayne Page

If you want to run for a position on the school board, you have until April 1st to qualify.

Five of the seven seats on the Board of Education will be filled in the August 5th DeKalb County General Election.

The positions are currently held by John David Foutch in the first district, Charles Robinson in the second district, Kenny Rhody in the third district, Joan Draper in the fourth district, and Johnny Lattimore in the seventh district. Each term is for four years.

The DeKalb County Election Commission reports that the following school board candidates have picked up petitions:

First District
John David Foutch (picked up petition)

Second District
Charlie Robinson (picked up petition)

Third District:
Kenny Rhody

The fifth and sixth district school board seats are not available this year. W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the fifth district and Bruce Parsley in the sixth district were elected two years ago. Their terms will expire in 2012.

School board candidates run as non-partisan candidates

Meanwhile 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 5th State Democratic and Republican Primaries, with the winners and any independent candidates squaring off in November.

The qualifying deadline is noon, April 1.

State Representative:
James Hale (picked up petition) DeKalb County
Jamie Winkler (picked up petition) Smith County
Sarah Marie Smith (picked up petition) Smith County

Tommy Hay of DeKalb County has qualified to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Sixth District

Smithville Municipal Election set for June 15th

January 20, 2010
Dwayne Page

Candidates interested in running for mayor or alderman in the Smithville Municipal Election this summer may now pick up qualifying petitions at the DeKalb County Election Commission Office in the courthouse.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, says candidates have until Thursday, March 18th to qualify.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected on Tuesday, June 15th. The positions are currently held by Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Stephen White and Cecil Burger. Each term is two years.

The election commission reports that the following candidates have picked up petitions:

Steve White (picked up petition)

Cecil Burger (picked up petition)

Taft Hendrixson (picked up petition)

Bruce Medley (picked up petition)

Election Administrator Reminds Potential Candidates of Qualifying Deadlines

January 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
Dennis Stanley

The DeKalb County Election Commission reminds potential candidates for local offices of the approaching qualifying deadlines.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections says noon on Thursday, February 18th is the qualifying deadline for the May 4th DeKalb County Democratic Primary.

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.

Independent candidates have the same qualifying deadline, Noon, February 18th..

The following persons have picked up and or returned petitions to run for local public offices in the May DeKalb County Democratic Primary

County Clerk:
Mike Clayborn
Glynn Merriman
Chris Smithson

Road Supervisor:
Jimmy Sprague

County Mayor:
Mike Foster
David C. Redmon (picked up petition)
Robert (Bob) Snyder

Register of Deeds:
Jeff McMillen
Clarence R. Trapp

Circuit Court Clerk:
Katherine Pack

Candidates for county offices running as Republicans or Independents in the August General Election:

Patrick Ray (Republican)

Sean Driver(Republican)

Road Supervisor:
Kenny Edge (Republican)

County Commission Candidates in May Democratic Primary (two can be nominated from each district to run in August)
First District:
Elmer Ellis, Jr.

Second District:
Jack E. Barton, III

Third District:
Jerry Scott
Roy Merriman
Bradley Hendrix
Johnathan W. Willoughby (picked up petition)

Fourth District:
Wayne Cantrell
Ronald H. Rogers
David L. McDowell
Jesse Baker

Fifth District:
Johnny Ringo Colwell
Randy Braswell
Bobby R.Taylor
John D. Green

Sixth District:
Jeff Barnes
Marshall Ferrell

Seventh District:
Larry A. Summers
Jimmy W. Poss

County Commission candidates running either as Republicans or Independents in the August General Election (Two to be elected from each district in August)

First District:
Mason Carter(Republican)

Second District:
Bobby Joines (Republican)

Fifth District:
Jerry Adcock (Republican)

Fifth District:
Lloyd Emmons (Independent)

Seventh District:
Richard Kinsey (Independent)

School Board:

First District:
John David Foutch (picked up petition)

Second District:
Charlie Robinson

Third District:
Kenny Rhody

Seventh District:
Johnny Lattimore (picked up petition)

Smithville Alderman:
Steve White (picked up petition)

Smithville Alderman:
Cecil Burger (picked up petition)

Smithville Mayor:
Taft Hendrixson (picked up petition)

Smithville Mayor:
Bruce Medley (picked up petition)

State Representative:
James Hale (picked up petition) DeKalb County
Jamie Winkler (picked up petition) Smith County
Sarah Marie Smith (picked up petition) Smith County

Tommy Hay of DeKalb County has qualified to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Sixth District


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