Local News Articles

Husband and Wife Plead Guilty to Aggravated Burglary

June 25, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
William Berl Doop
Ismay Doop
Brandon Lynn Tallent
William A. Johnson
Joshua Kevin Vickers
Barbara Ann Covington
April Anderson
Brett Allen Anderson
Joseph Daniel Richardson

A husband and wife each pleaded guilty in DeKalb County Criminal Court Tuesday to the October aggravated burglary of a residence on Campbell Road.

32 year old William Berl Doop received an eight year sentence to serve at 35% before parole eligibility while 31 year old Ismay Doop got a six year sentence on state probation with supervision to be transferred to Rutherford County. They are to make $800 restitution to the victim. He was given jail credit from October 15, 2012 to May 29, 2013.

They were sentenced by Judge David Patterson.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, October 9 the Doop's allegedly broke into a home on Campbell Road by kicking in the front door. They allegedly stole a Honda transmission, a battery, a push mower, tire and rim, indoor heaters, a 13 inch TV, a microwave, and several other items all valued at more than $1,000. The case was investigated by criminal detectives of the sheriff's department.

The Doops were among eleven people sentenced Tuesday on burglary, theft, or vandalism related charges.

In other cases, 29 year old Brandon Lynn Tallent pleaded guilty by information to two counts of theft over $1,000 and received a four year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other all suspended to supervised probation. He is to make restitution to the victim.

Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, January 19 Tallent and a co-defendant allegedly took three tractor trailer starters and a cast iron intake from property on the Old Snow Hill Road. The items were valued at more than $1,000.

The next day on Sunday, January 20, Tallent and the co-defendant allegedly took two trailers and small gasoline engines from the same property on the Old Snow Hill Road. These items were valued at more than $1,000.

51 year old William A. Johnson pleaded guilty to theft of property over $10,000 and received a three year sentence all suspended to supervised probation.

Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, November 29 at the Handlebar II Bar and Grill on Highway 70 east, Johnson allegedly took a sixteen foot Tandem trailer with a 2011 Polaris Ranger 800 and a 2008 Honda Recon 700 four wheeler with a total value of $23,800. All the stolen items were recovered. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the sheriff's department.

31 year old Joshua Kevin Vickers pleaded guilty to burglary and received a two year sentence to serve at 30% before parole eligibility. He is to make restitution of $1,342 to the victim. He received jail credit of twenty seven days.

Sheriff Ray said that on October 12 , Vickers allegedly broke into an outbuilding on Green Hill Road in Liberty by kicking in the front door. He allegedly took a chainsaw, leaf blower, a cordless screwdriver set, battery charger and various other items including a 1997 Honda four wheeler all valued at over $1,000. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the sheriff's department.

43 year old Barbara Ann Covington pleaded guilty to two counts of theft over $500 and received two years in each case to run consecutively with each other for a total of four years. She will be on supervised probation. Covington must make restitution to the victims, jointly and severally with the co-defendant in the case. She was given jail credit from September 19, 2012 to June 25, 2013.

According to Sheriff Ray, Covington and a co-defendant allegedly broke into four vehicles parked at Four Seasons Marina on July, 29 2012. Items were taken from each vehicle.

32 year old Joseph Daniel Richardson pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, three counts of forgery, and theft of property over $1,000. He received a six year sentence in the burglary case and two years in each of the other cases all to run concurrently with each other for a total of six years to be served at 30% before parole eligibility. He is to make restitution to the victims. Richardson was given jail credit of 284 days.

Sheriff Ray said that on July 20, 2012 Richardson allegedly broke into a home on Cedar Street in Liberty. Entry was made through the garage. Richardson allegedly stole from the home, a 20 gauge and 12 gauge shotgun, muzzleloader, and pellet rifle, a gold diamond ring, gold class ring, and several other pieces of jewelry, along with a blue pyrex totebag with a total value at over $1,000.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, Sheriff Ray said that Richardson was also accused of passing forged checks at the Stop N Buy on Highway 70 at Liberty on three occasions in September.

According to Sheriff Ray, Richardson allegedly passed at the Stop N Buy a forged check in the amount of $55 on Monday, September 3; another forged check for $60 on Friday, September 7; and still another forged check for $60 on Saturday, September 8.

36 year old Crystal R. King pleaded guilty to theft under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation. The sentence is to run consecutive with her current probation.

Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that on Friday, November 9 officers were dispatched to Rite Aid Pharmacy on a shoplifting call. Upon arrival, two Rite Aid Associates told the officer that a woman identified as King had just left in a car. The associates pointed out the car to the officer and informed him that King tried to leave the store with some merchandise but when confronted, she threw the items down and ran. After stopping the vehicle, police found King in possession of drug paraphernalia.

21 year old Terry Lee Jones, III pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery to serve one year in each case, all suspended to supervised probation. The cases are to run consecutively with each other for a total of three years and concurrently with a violation of probation case against him in General Sessions Court. He is to make restitution to his father in the amount of $340.

Chief Caplinger said that Jones was brought in on a warrant for failure to appear and was questioned about a possible forgery of checks on his father's account in June, 2012. Jones allegedly admitted to forging the checks. He allegedly forged checks on his father's account, took them to a local bank, and cashed them. He admitted to taking the checks and getting the money. In one of the cases, Jones admitted to making out a check on his father's account to another person, who tried to cash this check at the bank. The check was turned down. Jones admitted to forging the check to get his friend to cash it so he could have the money. Jones was given jail credit from June 25 to August 12, 2012 and from September 15, 2012 to June 25, 2013.

30 year old April Anderson pleaded guilty to fraudulent use of a credit card and received a two year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation except for 30 days to serve on weekends. She must make restitution to the victim
Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, November 12 Anderson allegedly stole a debit card and used it several times over a six day period totaling $2,022. The card was taken from the victim's vehicle on Quail Point Drive.

45 year old Brett Allen Anderson pleaded guilty to vandalism under $500 and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days all suspended to supervised probation.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, November 13, a deputy was called to investigate a vandalism at a local residence. Upon arrival, the officer saw damage to a door. He spoke to Anderson who admitted to kicking in the door and entering the residence. The home apparently belonged to the landlord of someone Anderson had been seeing.

Local Marina Mounts Challenge in Tax Dispute with County on Constitutional Grounds

June 25, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Cookeville Boat Dock Mounts Constitutional Challenge in Tax Dispute with County
Cookevile Boat Dock

The owners of Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort Inc. haven't paid their ad valorem taxes to the county since 1998 and their attorney claims it's unconstitutional for them to be forced to pay.

Jon E. Jones of Cookeville, last Monday, June 17 filed an amended answer to the county's Chancery Court lawsuits against delinquent taxpayers including Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort along with a counter complaint seeking a declaratory judgment for his clients.

Jones contends the owners of Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort are being discriminated against in that the county is trying to force them to pay ad valorem taxes on the boat dock facility which is leased from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (federal government property) while other properties in Tennessee leased from the state or local government entities (under Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution) are exempt from payment of ad valorem taxes. This, he claims is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution making the tax assessment against Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. invalid.

County officials have said that Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc., like other marinas on the lake, conducts business on leased land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is assessed by the county only for personal property and improvements.

From 1998 through the 2011 tax year, owners of Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. have been named as defendants in DeKalb County Chancery Court lawsuits filed against delinquent taxpayers. The amount Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. owes through 2011 in delinquent taxes comes to $152,303.36 (taxes on personal property and leased property including the base tax plus interest and penalty, attorneys fees, and court costs). Further penalties are assessed each month. Additionally for the 2012 tax year, the Trustee's Office reports that Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort Inc. owes a total of $8,048 in delinquent taxes including interest and penalty through June 30th, 2013.

Typically, if someone has an issue about their taxes, they must first pay them and then file a protest or challenge. According to county officials, Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. has gone without paying all their taxes for up to fifteen years.

Each year the attorney for Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. has filed an answer to the delinquent tax lawsuits, claiming that the county can't "collect a tax on real estate" on federal property since the U.S. government pays in lieu of taxes to the state for the use and benefit of DeKalb County. That constitutes, in essence, double taxation, according to the answer.

Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. denies it owes any ad valorem taxes to DeKalb County and that the real property assessed is held in fee by the United States (federal government) and is leased to the marina pursuant to "lease for commercial concession purposes".

In the counter claim and request for declaratory judgment, Jones states that "DeKalb County asserts that this property is subject to ad valorem taxation. The claim of DeKalb County is based on Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee, which on its face allows for exemption of property leased by the State but not by the United States."

In their Trial Brief, "Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. asks the Court to declare that DeKalb County's assessment of ad valorem taxes against boat dock facilities leased by Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc from the United States is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution because Tennessee exempts boat dock facilities from taxation when the lessor is an agency of the state."

"Pursuant to Article II, Section 28, Tennessee discriminates against a lessee of the United States and in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee, its counties, or its municipalities or other local governmental entities. The constitutional provision and resulting discrimination against lessees of the United States including the counter plaintiff (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort,Inc.), violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States," according to the counter claim and request for declaratory judgment.

Concerning compensation to DeKalb County for lost Ad Valorem revenue, the trial brief states that "In 1940, Congress recognized that the taking of lands for flood control purposes would reduce the local property tax base. Congress also recognized that some of the property acquired would be developed and used for recreational purposes through concessions/leases. Congress decided that the United States should pay 75% of all monies received by the United States from leasing of lands acquired for flood control purposes to the State in which such property is situated...for the benefit of public schools and public roads of the county or counties, in which such property is situated, or for defraying any of the expenses of county government. Seventy five percent of Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.'s annual payment substantially exceeds the taxes assessed," according to the trial brief.

The counter claim of Cookeville Boat Dock and Resort states "Unless this court declares that Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee, and the resulting discrimination against the counter plaintiff (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.) as a lessor from the United States are violations of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States, counter defendant (DeKalb County) will continue to illegally assess ad valorem taxes against property leased to Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. and this will encumber and confuse counter plaintiff's (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.) use of said property".

"Wherefore, counter plaintiff (Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc.) asks the court to declare that Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee is invalid and that the real property subject to the counter plaintiff's lease for commercial concession purposes is exempt from ad valorem taxation. The counter plaintiff asks that the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee be made a party to this litigation for purposes of defending the constitutionality of Article II, Section 28 of the Constitution of Tennessee".

Former Chancellor Vernon Neal recused himself from hearing the delinquent tax case against Cookeville Boat Dock & Resort, Inc. in 2002 citing a personal conflict. Former Circuit Court Judge John Turnbull was designated and appointed to hear the case to its conclusion. After Turnbull retired from the bench, the case was passed on to Judge Amy Hollars but it still has not been settled in court.

Last December, the county commission approved a motion by second district member Jack Barton to "give this priority number one in our unpaid taxes that our (tax) attorney is going after," he said.

The case was to be on the Chancery Court docket last Thursday, June 20 but it was delayed apparently due to the Tuesday filing of Cookeville Boat Dock's amended answer and counter complaint for declaratory judgment. No new court date has yet been set in the case.

Vester Parsley, Jr. is the county's tax attorney.

Woman Charged with Five Counts of Forgery

June 25, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chief Randy Caplinger

Smithville Police have charged a local woman with five counts of forgery.

21 year old Kristen Nicole Waggoner is under a $25,000 bond and she will be in court June 27. Chief Randy Caplinger said Waggoner allegedly passed forged checks on five occasions including four times on May 28 and once on May 30 at a local grocery store. The total amount of the checks comes to $271.82.

40 year old Sandy Deone Wheeler was arrested for public intoxication and cited for possession of drug paraphernalia on Sunday, June 9. Wheeler was observed by an officer walking on the side of the road. She was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. The officer obtained consent to search Wheeler's personal belongings and found in her bag were a hypodermic needle, straw, and a spoon with burn marks on it. Wheeler's bond is $1,500 and she will be in court June 27.

21 year old Carlos Emmanuel Santos was arrested on Sunday, June 9 for possession and delivery of a controlled substance, simple possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Santos was operating a motor vehicle when stopped for speeding. Before pulling him over , the officer saw Santos throw a package of rolling papers from the vehicle. The officer detected a strong odor of raw marijuana coming from inside the car. He requested and received consent to search and found .8 ounces of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana along with a black pouch containing approximately one gram of a white powdery substance in a baggie believed to be cocaine and a set of digital scales. In the center console, a crusher was found believed to have been used to crush marijuana. Santos told the officer that he was making a delivery of the cocaine to a buddy. His bond is $8,000 and he will be in court June 27.

A theft investigation resulted in a charge against 24 year old William Joseph Kitchen and a citation for his girlfriend 22 year old Jordan Elizabeth Lasky. According to police, Kitchen and Lasky went into a local computer repair business on Monday, June 10. The two apparently aroused suspicion when Lasky began asking several questions of the clerk, as Kitchen kept going in and out of the store. Kitchen was spotted on store video surveillance putting a Samsung tablet inside the front of his pants and then walking out without paying for it. Bond for Kitchen is $2,500. Kitchen has already made his first court appearance. Lasky will be in court on August 8.

29 year old Daniel Ray Wilson and 21 year old Victoria Tate were recently arrested for theft . Police said a government employee, working at the courthouse, briefly left her purse lying in the circuit court room. The room was empty at the time. When the woman returned to the courtroom, she discovered that someone had gone through her purse. Wilson was observed on video surveillance taking items out of the woman's purse. Later, on video surveillance at Wal-Mart, Tate was observed walking through the store with belongings from the victim's purse. The stolen items were later recovered from the suspects' residence. Bond for Wilson is $5,000. Tate's bond is $1,500. They will be in court August 15.

51 year old Pat Wall Briggs was arrested for driving under the influence and cited for a violation of the open container law on Friday, June 14. Police received a call of a person who was passed out in a vehicle at the Dollar General Store parking lot. Upon arrival, the officer found Briggs slumped over on the console. The vehicle was in drive and the engine was running. The officer awoke Briggs and found her with glazed eyes, an odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. She was disoriented and unsteady on her feet. She submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. An open 12 ounce can of Bud Light Lime A-Rita was in the center console. Her bond is $1,500 and she will be in court July 25.

Police were called to Kwik N Ezy on Wednesday, June 12 where store video surveillance showed 35 year old Eureatha Leighanne Cripps had driven into the parking lot of the business. Cripps, who had a child in the vehicle with her, was believed to be intoxicated. She was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred. Cripps submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Her bond is $1,500. She made her first court appearance on June 20.

19 year old Arrion William Matthews was arrested Saturday, June 15 for driving under the influence and cited for underage consumption and violation of the implied consent law. Police received a call of a possible drunk driver who had hit the guide wires of a utility pole and left the scene. The officer saw a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect's car pulling into Mapco Express on East Broad Street. While speaking to the driver, Matthews, the officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol on his person and his eyes were bloodshot Matthews submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to take a blood test. Bond for Matthews is $1,500 and he will be in court June 27. Passengers in the car, 20 year old Chad Taylor, 18 year old Billy G. Tate, and 20 year old Ethan Shane Matthews were all cited for underage consumption as it was discovered that all three had been drinking beer earlier that night.

36 year old Carly Chaundra Jones was arrested for driving under the influence on Sunday, June 16. An officer responded to a call at the Marathon gas station on highway 56 where someone had passed out in a vehicle at the gas pump. When the officer arrived, EMS workers were already there. They found Jones passed out in the driver's seat of her vehicle. She had an odor of alcohol on her person. She attempted to undergo sobriety tasks but performed poorly. Her bond is $3,000 and she will be in court July 11.

41 year old Patrick Olan Lewis was arrested for domestic assault on Monday, June 17. Police responded to a 911 call concerning a domestic violence complaint at East Side Inn. Upon arrival, an officer spoke to Lewis. Police said Lewis had been in a conversation with the victim when the incident turned physical. As the victim was trying to leave, Lewis allegedly threw her onto the bed and got on top of her. She began screaming and scratched Lewis trying to get away. Bond for Lewis is $2,500 and he will be in court on June 27.

Police were called back to East Side Inn the next day, Tuesday June 18 after Lewis and the woman were together arguing again. Lewis was charged with violating the conditions of his bond on the domestic assault charge for making contact with the victim again. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on June 27.
Anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

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

Fireworks Shows Scheduled on Center Hill Lake

June 25, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fireworks Shows Scheduled on Center Hill Lake

Five Fireworks Shows are scheduled Independence Day weekend on Center Hill Lake.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross said fireworks shows will be held starting as darkness sets on the following dates and locations:

July 4: Cookeville Boat Dock

July 5: Sligo Marina and Hidden Harbor Marina

July 6: Pates Ford Marina and Hurricane Marina

"There will be a lot of folks I'm sure wanting to come out and watch some of the fireworks shows. If you go in a boat make sure before you get out there that your navigation lights are working. You have to display those lights while you are on the water," said Officer Cross.

Animal Rights Activists Seeking to Stop "Giggin' for Grads" in DeKalb County

June 25, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Animal Rights Activists Seeking to Stop "Giggin' for Grads" in DeKalb County

An upcoming frog giggin' contest to help send high school graduates to college is drawing the ire of animal rights activists including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who are seeking to get the event canceled.

The DeKalb County Young Farmers and Ranchers "Giggin' for Grads", sponsored by the Farm Bureau, is an event aimed to provide a DeKalb County High School senior with a scholarship depending on who has the heaviest bag of dead frogs. The frogs are to be taken with a "Gig.

Though the fundraiser is not sanctioned by the DeKalb County School System, a petition to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps asks for supporters to voice their concern.

On its website, Forcechange.com. says gigging frogs, while legal, is a cruel killing of wild frogs. " An upcoming “Giggin’ for Grads” fundraiser in DeKalb County may help a high school senior defray college costs, but it also means the cruel killing of wild frogs. Raising money for college and protecting wild animals are by no means mutually exclusive concepts. Sign the petition and urge DeKalb County to come up with a more humane fundraising idea."

"No one will deny that college is expensive these days and that scholarship opportunities are not quite as plentiful as one would hope. The DeKalb County Young Farmers and Ranchers’ upcoming “Giggin’ for Grads” fundraiser aims to provide a high school senior with a scholarship based on the proceeds from the event. All the participants have to do is impale and kill fifteen frogs each over the course of one night. The heaviest bag of dead frogs wins a percentage of the money raised from the event."

"There are a number of problems with this scheme. First and foremost is the nature of the competition itself, which is based on the widespread hunting of wild animals. (Gigging, while legal, is subject to hunting and fishing regulations in most states.) The method of hunting—using a sharp, pronged stick called a gig—is also unnecessarily cruel. In the rush of the contest, it is unlikely that any speared frogs will be put out of their misery; instead, they will slowly die of their wounds. A large group of people hunting frogs will also disrupt other area wildlife and have the potential to damage natural habitats as contest participants blunder around in the dark. The current fundraiser also poses a large risk to participants, who are essentially all running around in the dark with sharp sticks, and risks alienating potential donors who feel uncomfortable with the frog-killing aspect of the fundraiser."

"Bright, young, college-bound students should be discouraged from acts of cruelty, not taught to benefit from them. Sign the petition and urge DeKalb County to come up with a positive, cruelty-free way of supporting its graduating students."

"College is a daunting financial burden for many students, and the DeKalb County Young Farmers and Ranchers’ desire to offer aid to students is admirable. What is not at all acceptable, however, is the method of raising the money. The proposed “Giggin’ for Grads” fundraiser propagates completely unnecessary acts of animal cruelty, poses a safety risk to participants, and risks alienating potential supporters."

"Gigging is an unnecessarily inhumane method of hunting frogs. Once speared, the frogs suffer slow, agonizing deaths. (It is unlikely, in the heat and rush of competition, that any frogs will be “put out of their misery” once they have been caught, as participants will be trying to find enough large frogs within the contest’s given time limit.) The fundraiser should celebrate the accomplishments of DeKalb County seniors, not the wholesale torture and killing of small wildlife."

"Furthermore, the nature of gigging does not foster the safest competitive environment; contest participants are essentially blundering around in dark, marshy areas while carrying sharp weapons—and they are surrounded by other people doing the same. The potential for accidents is enormous, and the nature of the competition creates an unnecessary safety liability for contest organizers."

"Finally, it is entirely possible that the contest will alienate donors who would love to support DeKalb County students but have a problem with the event itself. Given these points, I urge you to reject the “Giggin’ for Grads” fundraiser and replace it with one that focuses the attention where it belongs: on the students and their own accomplishments, rather than on animal cruelty."

"Reeling in the Years" to Air Friday Night on WJLE

June 24, 2013
Shawn Jacobs and Dennis Stanley

Many of us have often had a longing for the past, a yearning for yesterday. With nostalgia in mind, another edition of "Reeling in the Years" will air on WJLE the night of June 28th.

Former WJLE announcers Dennis Stanley and Shawn Jacobs host the program that will primarily feature the pop/rock music and artists of the 1970s.

"We'll be playing many of the songs that today's 50 to 60 year old residents remember as teens and young adults, " said both Jacobs and Stanley. "The music you will hear on our show will bring back many fond memories. We've made sure our playlist includes songs that were popular during the summer years of the decade. We're even going to play the Number 1 song of the week of June 28, 1974. It's those little details we want to incorporate into our show to make it even more enjoyable."

The program will also showcase the diversity of the pop/rock music scene during the decade.

"During those days WJLE and radio stations throughout the country were playing music that ranged from soul, rock, southern rock to disco music. All of those genres were mixed within the same program, and ironically, it worked," said Jacobs.

"In addition, the 70s was the last decade in which announcers were as much a part of the program as the music," added Stanley. "We hope to bring that kind of entertainment back to life with our show."

The June 28 program will air from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on WJLE-FM 101.7. It is the second "Reeling in the Years" show with the first having aired in December last year and two more are planned for this year.

"We've tentatively agreed with WJLE to do shows again in September and December," the two announced. "The exact dates will be announced closer to show time on WJLE and WJLE.com."

Sales Tax Rate on Food to Decrease Beginning July 1, 2013

June 23, 2013

On May 13, 2013, Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a reduction in the state sales and use tax rate on sales of food and food ingredients. Effective July 1, 2013, the state sales and use tax rate on sales of food and food ingredients will be reduced from 5.25% to 5%.

With the change, food and food ingredients will be subject to a reduced state sales and use tax rate of 5% plus the applicable local sales and use tax rate. Prepared food, dietary supplements, candy, alcoholic beverages and tobacco continue to be subject to the general state sales and use tax rate of 7% plus the applicable local sales and use tax rate. Existing laws defining which items are considered food and food ingredients remain unchanged by the new legislation.
Businesses selling food items subject to the reduced rate of sales and use tax are advised to begin making the necessary changes to allow for the new rate beginning July 1, 2013. Changes to cash registers and accounting systems should be completed by the July 1, 2013 effective date. Businesses must continue to collect and remit the existing 5.25% tax on sales of food and food ingredients made through June 30, 2013 to the Department of Revenue.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 87 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2012 fiscal year, the department collected $11.4 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, the Department of Revenue collects taxes for local, county and municipal governments. During the 2012 fiscal year, local government collections by the Department of Revenue were $2.2 billion. In collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.

State Reduces Unemployment Benefits to Strengthen Trust Fund

June 23, 2013

Since June 2010, eligible unemployment insurance claimants supporting minor children have been receiving $15 per child, to a maximum of $50, as a dependent allowance added to their weekly unemployment benefit amount. Those dependent allowance payments will end soon as a result of legislation signed by Governor Haslam that becomes effective July 1, 2013.

In 2009 Tennessee received one-time federal funds in the amount of $141,808,031 as an incentive grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to strengthen the rapidly depleting Trust Fund and continue providing unemployment insurance payments, including the dependent benefit. Those provisions were enacted as permanent law that could only be discontinued by repeal by the Tennessee General Assembly.

“This action taken by the legislature is another step that will increase savings to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The healthier the Trust Fund, the lower the tax table that determines premium rates for Tennessee employers,” said Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips. “The Trust Fund balance is currently $799 million and is on a positive path to maintain solvency and stability in the event of another recession. Tennessee, unlike 22 states in the nation, has no outstanding loan from the Federal Unemployment Account.”

For claimants currently receiving unemployment, the last payable week to receive dependent benefits will be the week that ends June 29, 2013. Claimants filing new claims for unemployment benefits on June 30 may be eligible to receive only one week of dependency benefits – for the week that ends July 6, 2013; any unemployment payments for weeks ending after that date will not include dependent allowances.

Other provisions included in the legislative repeal affecting claimant eligibility are these:
•After June 29, 2013, Tennessee will no longer use the Alternate Base Period to establish unemployment claims for claimants who did not earn enough in wages to establish a claim using the traditional base period.

•Beginning with the week that ends July 6, 2013, claimants will be ineligible for benefits for weeks in which they seek, apply for, or accept only part-time work instead of full-time work if their employment has been customarily full-time.

The Department of Labor & Workforce Development will notify affected claimants when they conduct their weekly certification to continue their benefits. For updated information on this and other unemployment issues please visit the department’s Web site at
http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/.

42nd Annual Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Set for July 5 & 6

June 21, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Rocky Top Revue of Franklin at 2012 Fiddlers Jamboree

Thousands will be flocking to Smithville for the 42nd annual Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival Friday and Saturday, July 5 & 6.

The musical competition kicks off on Friday morning, July 5 at 9:00 a.m.

Preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Old Time Appalachian Folksinging (Solo); Flat Top Guitar; Junior Clogging (ages 13-39); Junior Buck Dancing (ages 13-39); Old-Time Appalachian Folksinging (Duet, Trio, Quartet); Dobro Guitar; Mountain Dulcimer; Hammer Dulcimer; Novelty Event (Spoon Clacking, Jug Blowing, Washboard, Tub, Saws-Appalachian Related Only); Autoharp, Gospel Singing (Solo); Country Harmonica; Old Time Banjo; Youth Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers); Gospel Singing (Duet,Trio, and Quartet); Mandolin; and Old Time Fiddle Band.

The top three acts in each category will be called back for the finals on Friday night and a first, second, and third place will be awarded.

All first place winners get $125, except the Old Time Fiddle Band, which gets $525 for first place and Youth Square Dancing which is awarded $400.

Second place winners get $100 and third place winners receive $75. The Old Time Fiddle Band second place winner gets $425 and $325 for third place. The Youth Square Dance second place team is awarded $300 and $200 goes for third place.

The Community Chorus is also expected to make a return appearance on Friday evening, July 5.

A United States flag and a Tennessee State flag will be presented on Friday evening. The flags, which have flown over the state capitol, go to the persons who travel the greatest distances, both from inside and outside the country, to get here. The flags will be presented by State Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody.

Fiddler's Jamboree Craft Awards will be presented on Saturday, July 6 for "Best of Show", "Best Appalachian Craft", "Best Newcomer", and "Best Craft Display"

On Saturday, July 6, preliminaries will be held in the following categories:

Junior Fiddlers (ages 13-39); Junior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance (ages up to 39); Senior Old Time Appalachian Flatfoot dance ( ages 40 and over); Senior Buckdancing (ages 40 and over); Senior Clogging (ages 40 and over); Bluegrass Banjo; The Fiddle Contest for the Neil Dudney Award; Bluegrass Band; Senior Fiddlers (ages 40 and over); and Square Dancing (4 Couples-8 Total Dancers).

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be called back Saturday night to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prize money in most categories is $125 for first place; $100 for second place; and $75 for third place.
Awards for Junior Fiddlers and Senior Fiddlers are $225 for first place; $175 for second place; and $150 for third place.

Prizes for Bluegrass Band are $525 for first place; $425 for second place; and $325 for third place.
Awards for Square Dancing are $400 for first place; $300 for second place; and $200 for third place.

The winners of the Junior and Senior Fiddling competition will square off for the Grand Champion Award, the Berry C. Williams Memorial Trophy at the conclusion of the festival. The winner gets $300.

Meanwhile, the National Championship for Country Musician Beginners will be held Saturday afternoon, July 6 during the Jamboree featuring competitions for children, up to age twelve, in the categories of Buck Dancing, Clogging, Dobro Guitar, Mandolin, Five String Banjo, Flat Top Guitar, and Fiddle.

Preliminaries will be held in each event and then the top three finalists will be brought back to compete for first, second, and third place.

Prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second place; and $50 for third place. One child will receive the Best Overall Instrumental Entertainer Trophy Award and $125 and the top fiddler will get the James G. "Bobo" Driver Memorial Trophy and $175.

In addition to the on-stage musical entertainment, the Fiddlers Jamboree will feature dozens of crafts, plenty of delicious food; and lots of shade tree picking around the public square.

WJLE will broadcast most of the on-stage entertainment LIVE on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and LIVE Streaming at www.wjle.com.

School Board Trims More from Proposed Budget

June 21, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
School Board and Director of Schools

The DeKalb County Board of Education has cut $113,000 from its proposed budget but still anticipates having to use up to $1.4 million in reserves to balance by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year next June.

The board held a budget workshop followed by a special meeting Thursday night to revise the proposed spending plan which will be sent back to the county commission's budget committee for approval.

Earlier this month, the school board voted to ask the county to appropriate another $350,000 from the special school sinking or local option sales tax fund for school operation next school year. The county budget committee rejected the request fearing the risk of depleting the sinking fund over time. The county already appropriates from the sinking fund $1,540,000 annually for schools along with $605,620 this year to meet certain school debt service obligations.

The school board Thursday night voted to remove the request for an additional $350,000 from the sinking fund and to cut proposed expenditures in various line items by a total of $113,000. No current positions or programs would be cut.

Board Chairman Johnny Lattimore asked Teresa Miller, Central Office Payroll/Bookkeeper, to outline the proposed cuts made in the budget. "Revenues have been reduced by the $350,000 that we had asked additional dollars from the sinking fund. That is the only revenue adjustment. Regular Instruction Programs has been reduced by $54,260. Special Education Program has been reduced by $3,200. Vocational Education Program has been reduced by $4,000. Attendance Category has been reduced by $13,195. Other Student Support has been reduced by $2,000. Regular Instructional Staff has been reduced by $8,500. Board of Education has been increased by $29,288. That's due to increases in insurance premiums (liability insurance and workers compensation). Office of the Principal has been reduced by $17,000. Fiscal Services has been reduced by $1,400. Operation of Plant has been reduced by $19,000. We reduced Maintenance of Plant by $9,700. Transportation was reduced by $11,000. That brings our anticipated expenditures to $20,626,800. Our revenues are at $19,182,340, which would leave $1,444,460 to be balanced with reserves or fund balance," said Miller.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said the proposed budget could not stand anymore cuts without affecting personnel and programs. "I think we've done a good job going through and cutting some things that we could. It gets down to operating a barebones budget again like we have done year after year and we're fortunate we've been able to offer the services that we have and to cut a lot more, I'm afraid we would not be able to offer the services our children need," said Willoughby.

"Will the passage of this budget affect children directly?" asked Board member Charles Robinson.

"If we cut much more then we're cutting human capital," replied Director Willoughby. " We're afraid that we would be cutting personnel. We don't want to cut personnel because that we think we have in there what our students need. I really wouldn't feel comfortable cutting any more," he said.

Willoughby added that the school system could do much more for children, if it did not have to be concerned with budget constraints. "There are several things that would improve the education of our children that some school systems already have. We would like to have had math coaches, language art coaches, graduation coaches, and more guidance counselors. These are things that some systems already have. We would like to have audio enhancements in all of our rooms. These are things that are research based that have been proven to help children achieve more. We know as children achieve more, the opportunities for children increase tremendously. Yes, there are other things, if we had the money we would have in this budget," said Director Willoughby.

All seven board members voted for the revised proposed budget including fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III who seemed frustrated that the school system could not do more. "I would like to make it clear to everyone that this budget once again requires no tax increase request as far as property taxes are concerned. It's unfortunate we have to balance this budget with our reserve. I still disagree with the fact that we can't take $350,000 to $400,000 out of the sales tax (sinking fund). The implication of cutting personnel, that's an insult to the integrity of the people who are responsible for taking care of 3,000 students. We don't have anyone to my knowledge sitting around with nothing to do. We could use more people. We're sitting on a budget once again that's just something we're getting by with. It's nothing fancy, no frills and no enhancements that other schools have. We're still falling behind other schools in the district and we will continue to until we make some changes. Any substantial cuts are not there to be made (in this proposed budget). It's unfortunate we have to balance the budget with the reserve. I do disagree with the funding mechanism but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes. But again, there's no property tax increase request. I don't know how the system has run as efficiently as it does. We haven't had a property tax increase in quite a while and the cost of living goes up every year. Health care costs go up every year and we're still sitting on the same budget. I understand that the budget committee turned our budget down. I would hope that the full commission would look at this budget and consider all the circumstances and the discussion we've had. Once again, we're sending a budget over there with no tax increase and we're not here to cut personnel and I don't intend to. I would hope the full commission and our county mayor would look at this long and hard because we're not asking them for one dime. We're asking them for their consideration for this budget to be passed so we can move forward," said Evins.

In order to meet requirements of the federal Affordable Health Care Act, the budget includes funds to offer single coverage health insurance to all full time classified employees (support staff) who want it, beginning January 1, 2014. Employees who take the school system up on its offer will have to pay ninety dollars per month. The school system will cover the rest. No additional insurance benefit will be offered to certified personnel.

"If our guidelines change of course we would have to come back and change this, " said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby in a previous meeting. "We still do not know what the Affordable Health Care Act is going to entail. We'll be learning more about that as the months go on. I don't think there is anyone in Tennessee that really knows how this is going to affect them," he said.

The revised budget calls for certified employees to receive a one time bonus instead of a 1.5% pay raise. Director Willoughby said in a previous meeting that approximately $40,000 in state funds will pay for the bonuses which comes to about $160 per employee. "What I am recommending at this time is the 1.5% pay raise for certified employees to be as a bonus and to take that $40,000 that we receive from the state and split that among all certified employees. That is nothing from local money. If it comes in $41,000 then we'll split $41,000 but it's all straight flow through money from the state," said Director Willoughby.

The budget includes funding for two new teacher positions at DeKalb Middle School: $90,000 total

One new P.E. teacher at Northside Elementary School: $45,000

One new extra teacher position (instead of two) which may or may not be needed depending upon enrollment at the elementary school level: $45,000 (position not to be filled if not needed)

Two federal teacher positions moving to general purpose schools (local budget): $90,000 total

Under the Gifted Education Program: One new gifted position: $45,000

Under Special Education Program: A half time psychologist: $27,000

Other new positions included in the budget:

Assistant band director (working primarily at DeKalb West School), $5,000.

Two new Middle School Soccer Coaches: $2,785 each

One baseball coach at DeKalb West School: $2,785

Two new assistant soccer coaches at DCHS: $2,785 each

One new Cross Country Running coach: $2,785

The budget also includes a $4,150 pay raise for the Transportation Supervisor.

Although it was not specifically addressed in the budget, Director Willoughby said in a previous meeting that the school system might be able to come up with funds for one school resource officer, if the county could fund three new positions. That would put an SRO at each school in the county. Willoughby said $15,000 could be available through a Safe Schools grant to help fund an SRO. The school system, he said, could probably come up with another $15,000. The cost to fund an SRO for the first year would be around $30,000.

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