Local News Articles

City Hoping to Strike Last Minute Deal with DUD Before UMRB Hearing Thursday

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page

With a rate review hearing set for Thursday by the state's Utility Management Review Board stemming from the DeKalb Utility District's plan to build its own water treatment plant, the City of Smithville is offering the DUD a last minute deal on a new ten year water purchase agreement.


During Monday night's regular meeting of the mayor and aldermen, city attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said that the municipality's engineer, J.R. Wauford is recommending that the city offer to sell the DUD water at the rate of $2.20 per thousand gallons for the first five years of a new contract and that the rate increase to $2.40 per thousand for the last five years of the agreement. The DUD currently pays $2.05 per thousand gallons. The proposal would take effect at the end of the city's current contract with the DUD which expires in early 2014. "We had Mr. Wauford to do a feasibility study for us to make an offer to the DUD regarding a possible solution to this problem by offering to them a contract which would say for the first five years that we could sell water to them at a rate of $2.20. And after that for an additional five years at the rate of $2.40," said Parsley

While that is below the city's actual cost of $2.67 per thousand gallons in producing water, according to a recent study by Warren and Associates Engineering PLLC of Lebanon, Parsley said it is better for the city to have an agreement with DUD than to risk losing it's largest water customer. "I realize that's a little below what the cost study of Mr. Warren said. However, one of the factors you have to consider is if we lose DUD, we lose roughly $300,000 plus," said Parsley. "But we can sell it to them wholesale a little cheaper because of the volume that they have. Mr. Wauford felt like it was better to reduce our rates to them for the next ten years to keep them as a customer rather than lose them as a customer and have to lose probably in excess of $300,000 annually," he said.

Parsley said while no immediate action was required by the mayor and aldermen, both the city council and the DUD board of directors would have to approve this proposal. Parsley said he plans to submit the offer to DUD Attorney Keith Blair as early as Tuesday morning. "We will submit that to them tomorrow. Don't know that we'll have any answer right away," said Parsley.

If the DUD should reject or take no action on the city's proposal before Thursday, the UMRB rate review hearing will proceed as scheduled. Parsley said with so many witnesses and lawyers for both sides involved, it could last all day Thursday and possibly go into Friday. "It is possible that the hearing may go into Friday. Its expected that if we finish on Thursday it will certainly be late into the evening," said Parsley.

The meeting will be open to the public but no one will be permitted to address the UMRB. The hearing will be conducted much like a judicial proceeding as lawyers for the DUD ratepayers, the city, and the DUD call witnesses to testify. An administrative law judge will oversee the proceeding and once all the issues are presented the seven member UMRB will render a decision in the case. "The procedure would be that the board would actually make a decision then and there," said Parsley. "It will be open. They will openly discuss the ramifications of building a new plant in front of the public. The public as a whole will not be allowed to speak. The reason for that is because the administrative law judge did not want it to get into just a gripe session. We're going to be pressed for time as it is. There's about six lawyers involved and there will be several witnesses. We expect to be in testimony for six to eight hours or longer," said Parsley.

The UMRB will actually begin Thursday morning with other business at 8:00 a.m. followed at 9:00 a.m by the DUD hearing. It will take place at the county complex on South Congress Boulevard.

Opponents say that water rates for DUD and Smithville subscribers will increase if a DUD water treatment plant is built and that it is unnecessary since the city has the capacity with its water plant to sell the DUD as much water as it desires.

At a DUD board meeting last May, Chairman Roger Turney said the county would be better served by having another water plant. "One of the reasons is to be able to control our own destiny. To determine where we can go and where we can't go," said Turney. "Over the last several years, several things have happened worldwide that has made it imperative that whenever possible, it makes good sense for areas to have backup water supply systems. If you say, well nothing has happened in years, look what happened in Nashville just a few years ago. They were flooded by a one hundred year flood. They came so close. If there had not been interconnections between other utility districts around them, Tennessee would have had a disaster unmanageable. We think its beneficial for the whole county, Smithville, our customers, and everyone to have a second treatment plant in a day and world we live in today because who knows what could happen. Something might happen to both of us. Its entirely possible," he said.

We know that most industries like to have backups because if something happens to the water treatment plant that supplies them water, if they shut down, they lose. They love to have a backup. That would be a benefit," said Turney

According to Turney, other cities would like to have access to Center Hill Lake for their water supply and if the DUD doesn't take advantage of this opportunity, some other utility may. "Center Hill Lake, I think, is the best water supply in the State of Tennessee. The Corps of Engineers, over the years, is getting more and more restrictive because a lot of people are drawing out of that lake. Cookeville and other areas want more and more water all the time. We looked that over and decided if we don't get in line and get our piece of the pie in reserve, it may be gone. If we don't do this now, ten years from now we may say we want to build a plant, and the Corps of Engineers could say I'm sorry there's no water allocated for you and you can't do it. That could well happen," said Turney.

Smithville is represented in the case by city attorney Vester Parsley along with former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell and Nashville Metro Councilman Jason Holleman who are law partners. Purcell and Holleman are also representing the ratepayers who are opposed to a DUD water plant. The DeKalb Utility District is represented by DUD attorney Keith Blair and Nashville attorney Dewey Branstetter.

Drunk Driver Found with Weapon

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jose Oscar Pena
Christopher Ward Smith
Calvin James Wilkerson

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested a man Sunday for allegedly driving under the influence with a weapon in the vehicle.

34 year old Jose Oscar Pena of Sparta Highway, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and possession of a weapon while under the influence. He was also issued a citation for violation of the implied consent law and for having a wrong address on his drivers license. His bond is $4,000 and he will be in court on May 23. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Sunday March 31 on Highway 70, Pena was observed operating a Chevy Avalanche. He allegedly crossed the center double yellow lines several times and then crossed the white line, almost hitting the guardrail, A deputy stopped him and found that Pena had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. Pena refused to submit to field sobriety tasks and a blood test. The officer asked Pena if he had a weapon in his vehicle. He replied yes. Pena told the deputy where the weapon was located in the vehicle. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

40 year old Christopher Ward Smith of Morrison is charged with simple assault. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 4. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday March 28, Smith got into an argument with the owner of a residence on Short Mountain Road and allegedly hit him in the head with his fist causing a laceration on his forehead. The homeowner was transported to the hospital by EMS.

23 year old Calvin James Wilkerson of Walker Drive Apartments, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued a citation for driving on a suspended license and failure to maintain his lane of travel. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on May 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday March 30, Wilkerson was observed operating a Dodge truck on Highway 70 out of his lane of travel. He allegedly crossed the center double yellow lines numerous times. A deputy stopped Wilkerson and found that he had an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. His eyes were red and watery and he was unsteady on his feet. Wilkerson submitted to but performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test. Wilkerson was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

TDOT Inspecting Sligo Bridge

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
TDOT Inspecting Sligo Bridge

The Tennessee Department of Transportation Region 2 Bridge Inspection and Repair team began conducting their regular inspection on the Sligo Bridge over Center Hill Lake today (Monday). In addition, they will be performing some routine maintenance to the structure, according to Jennifer A. Flynn, TDOT Regional Community Relations Officer in an email to WJLE.

During the inspection, the team will be replacing and repairing nets underneath the bridge and cleaning out the debris caught in them. They will also do some patching and repair on the bridge deck surface.

This work will be done during non-peak hours (between 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.) on Mondays - Thursdays until the inspection and maintenance is complete. TDOT maintenance crews will assist with traffic control. At least one lane of traffic will be maintained at all times. This inspection will take a couple of weeks, and maybe longer if rain causes them to lose any days. They should be done on or before April 18.

Easter Sunday Traffic Accident Causes Natural Gas Leak

April 1, 2013
Dwayne Page
Dusty and Joe Johnson work to cap gas leak (photo by Donny Green)

A motorist struck and ruptured a high pressure natural gas line on Dale Ridge Road causing some tense moments Sunday morning.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said 20 year old Brittaney Wheeler of Smithville was driving a 2001 Kia Sportage north on Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road) when she went off the right side of the road. Wheeler overcorrected and the vehicle came back across the highway, went off the left side of the road, and struck a mailbox and an above ground gas line pressure reducer near the Memorial Baptist Church, rupturing the line causing a massive gas leak. The vehicle came to rest on top of the broken line. Wheeler grabbed a two month old infant who was in the vehicle with her and they got out safely.


Central dispatch was notified and alerted county volunteer firefighters. County Fire Chief Donny Green said he received the call at 10:39 a.m. Members of the Liberty and Main Stations responded along with county deputies and DeKalb EMS.

According to Chief Green, there was no fire from the gas leak but as a precaution the highway was closed to traffic from both the north and south within three hundred feet of the scene and one home was evacuated as a precaution until the leak was stopped. No one was at the church.

Chief Green said a special thanks goes to Joe and Dusty Johnson, local contractors who do work for the gas company. He said they responded quickly and capped off the high pressure gas leak.

Trooper Johnson said Wheeler was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance)

Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Pageants Set for Saturday

March 31, 2013
Dwayne Page
Liz Abigail Qualls of Smithville, the reigning Junior Miss
Little Miss Isabella Faith Rackley
Little Mister Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson

The annual Little Miss & Mister and Spring Blossom Pageants will be held Saturday, April 6 beginning at 4 p.m. at the DCHS gymnasium.

The Little Miss & Mister will feature children between the ages of four and six and the Spring Blossom will include young ladies in grades six through eight.

Fifteen year old Liz Abigail Qualls of Smithville, is the reigning Junior Miss.

Qualls is the daughter of Brad and Kim Trapp and Jason and Stormy Qualls.

The retiring Little Mister is six year old Carter Matthew-Mikel Benson of Smithville, the son of Karey and Chris Benson.

The reigning Little Miss is five year old Isabella Faith Rackley of Smithville, daughter of Jessica and Gordon Rackley

All contestants are to attend the pageant rehearsal on Friday, April 5, beginning at 6 p.m. for the Little Miss and Mister contestants and at 7:30 p.m. for the Spring Blossom contestants.

Studio Six Limited will be offering portrait packages the night of event. Pageant photos will begin at 3 p.m. Admission is $3 (excluding contestants only) for anyone four and older. Concessions will be available throughout the evening.

The pageants are sponsored by the Smithville Women’s Club

WJLE Radiothon Raises Over $4,500 for DCHS Class of 2013 Project Graduation

March 29, 2013
Dwayne Page
Some of the DCHS Seniors who participated in Radiothon

More than $4,500 was raised during a three hour radiothon Friday morning on WJLE for the DCHS Class of 2013 Project Graduation.

DCHS teacher Chris Vance hosted the program and parents of high school seniors who serve on the Project Graduation committee answered phones, taking pledges during the drive. Several seniors also made an appearance on the radiothon to talk about their school activities and future plans and to ask for pledges.

Parents and students wish to thank everyone who supported the radiothon.

Project Graduation is an all night drug-free, alcohol-free graduation party for members of the DCHS Class of 2013 committed to having a safe, wholesome, yet entertaining celebration together for the last time as a class.

The DCHS Graduation is set for Friday, May 24

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 8% in February

March 29, 2013
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County unemployment rate for February was 8%, down from 8.6% in January and below the rate of 8.4% in February, 2012.

The local labor force for February was 9,510. A total of 8,740 were employed and 760 were unemployed..

DeKalb County's February unemployment rate was fourth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland Region.

Here's how they ranked from highest to lowest:
Pickett County: 13.1%
Van Buren County: 11.7%
White County: 11.5%
Clay County: 10.8%
Jackson County: 10.2%
Cumberland County: 10.2%
Warren County: 9.6%
Fentress County: 9.5%
Overton County: 9.5%
Smith County: 8.5%
DeKalb County: 8%
Macon County: 7.9%
Putnam County: 7.7%
Cannon County: 6.9%

County unemployment rates for February 2013 show the rate decreased in 87 counties, increased in five, and stayed the same in three.

Davidson County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.3 percent, down from 6.5 percent in January. Knox County's February rate of 6.4 percent was down from 6.5 percent in the prior month. Hamilton County was 7.7 percent, down from 8.0 percent, and Shelby County was 9.3 percent, down from 9.7 percent in January.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for February was 7.8 percent, which increased one tenth of one percentage point from the January revised rate of 7.7 percent. The national unemployment rate for February 2013 was 7.7 percent, decreasing by two tenths of one percent from the previous month.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

County Mayor and Commissioners to Receive John S. Wilder Rebuild Tennessee Award

March 28, 2013
Dwayne Page
DeKalb County Complex

County Mayor Mike Foster and a few of the county commissioners will be in Nashville next Thursday to receive the John S. Wilder Rebuild Tennessee Award presented by The Tennessee Development District Association and The Upper Cumberland Development District.

The Wilder award is presented for a special project in each of the state's nine development districts. The DeKalb County Complex was selected as the project worthy of this year's award in the UCDD. Each recipient will receive a commemorative plaque that recognizes their achievements.

The plaques will be presented by the East, Middle, and West Tennessee Development District Association Vice-Presidents at the TDDA Annual Rebuild Tennessee Awards Breakfast on April 4th at the downtown Sheraton in Nashville. The observance is part of the 2013 Annual TDDA Annual Conference and Business Meeting April 3 & 4.

"The John S. Wilder Rebuild Tennessee Award is selected by each development district," said Teresa Sanders, Coordinator for the Conference and Annual Meeting. "Tennessee is divided into nine development districts and each one chooses a project in their district to be recognized. It can be a project they are affiliated with or it can be a project that is beneficial to that region overall," said Sanders.

The following is a description of the DeKalb County Complex project submitted for award consideration:

"The DeKalb County Commission saw that there was a major need for a multi-use community facility in their county seat, Smithville. To meet that need, DeKalb County purchased an abandoned strip center about two blocks from the courthouse on Hwy 56 South. This property is 5.5 acres of land and a 63,000 square foot building. The county conducted numerous meetings with people of different organizations, ages and agendas. After a year of planning they began working with architects, builders and the general public to develop the layout for the new facility".

"Development and construction of a 4,000 square foot Farmer's Market facility on the property commenced soon after the purchase. Last year the Farmer's Market had about 40 vendors in peak season".

"The development of the 63,000 sq ft building was split into three phases. The County developed approximately 4,500 sq ft of space for rental to the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency for offices. Office space was prepared to relocate the DeKalb County Register of Deeds, County Court Clerk, Trustee, and Property Assessor from the courthouse. A large County Archives and records space, kitchen, and approximately 3,000 sq ft for a future DeKalb County History Museum completed the first phase".

"The second phase included seven meeting/classrooms including a computer lab that will be utilized by Motlow State Community College, DeKalb County GED Program, Art Revolution, Workforce Development, and the American Red Cross. There is a section for use by the UT Extension Service, a kitchen, and a meeting room for 80 with an overhead projector. The DeKalb County Senior Citizens has an area of approximately 4,000 square feet with a meeting/dining room, kitchen, card room, storage room, and office space".

"Phase three connected the Senior Citizens with a 2,000 sq ft room used by 70 seniors for silver sneakers exercise during the day and parties, meetings, and dances as needed. There is a fitness center that house about 40 treadmills, elliptical, stationary bikes, upper and lower body machines, weight machines, benches, and other exercise machines. There is a 2,000 sq ft game room equipped with pool tables, air hockey, tables, computer games, Wii games, X-Box 360 games, traditional pinball and video games, and many other game machines".

"The auditorium seats about 400 and has a large 44'x27' stage with dressing rooms, lighting and a sound system for up to 36 microphones. This area has a projector for movies and local industry training events with a 13'x8' screen. Storage on each side of the stage has capacity for approximately 450 chairs and 80 tables".

"A café is the center of this section with seating for 100, a full community kitchen, and office space. The café has a big screen TV and wrap-around music. There is also a snack bar available".

"Total project cost was just over $3.2 million. DeKalb County received $63,000 in grant funding from USDA Rural Development, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Archives, and

"The project has been a huge success for the county giving both the old and young a safe place to gather, improve their fitness, socialize, and become a more active participant in their community".

"Some of the highlights from the first year that the DeKalb County Complex has been open include:

*Five Plays performed by the Brentwood Theater Group
*Two Ballets, the Nutcracker and Carmen, performed by the Nashville Dance Theatre
*Channel 4 Weather training with 450 people attending
*Monthly movie night
*Monthly band and Songwriter's night
*Monthly Senior's Dance
*Basketball Training 4 nights/week
*70 Senior's Exercise Silver Sneakers 2 times/week
*Fitness Membership currently has 1,010 paying members

Two Students Attend Youth Leadership Summit

March 27, 2013
Jordan Wilkins and Laura Reed

Two students recently attended a Youth Leadership Summit for Juniors in High School sponsored by the (TECA)Tennessee Electrical Cooperative Association.

Each of the 23 Cooperatives selected a male and female student to participate in the trip.

Jordan Wilkins and Laura Reed were chosen by the DCHS guidance office to represent Caney Fork Electric Cooperative. They participated in leadership activities, met with state legislators, took a tour of Nashville, and enjoyed an ice cream social with Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders and Miss Tennessee.

An awards ceremony was held and Wilkins was chosen second out of about 50 students across the state as demonstrating the best leadership.

Police Chief Releases Report on Recent Arrests and Citations

March 27, 2013
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Randy Caplinger

In his latest report on city crime news, Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger reports that 28 year old Michael Brandon Redmon was arrested Friday, March 1 for falsifying a drug test. The warrant states that Redmon came into the Community Probation Office to do a required drug test and he had a bottle of urine in his underwear in an attempt to falsify the test. His bond is $5,000.

21 year old Gregorio Cruz Vanloo was arrested on Friday, March 1 for public intoxication. The warrant states that an officer was dispatched to the Community Probation Office in response to an intoxicated person. Upon arrival, the officer found Vanloo sitting in a chair nodding in and out of sleep. Vanloo allegedly admitted to taking drugs. He was unsteady on his feet and had red and watery eyes. His bond is $1,500

39 year old Jeffery Lynn Sanders was cited for shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia on Saturday, March 2. Police were dispatched to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter. An officer made contact with Sanders and recovered the merchandise. Upon speaking with Sanders, the officer observed a syringe in his left hand.

50 year old Marla Jean Trammel was cited for simple assault on Wednesday, March 6. An officer was dispatched to Omega Apparel in response to a fight. The officer spoke with the victim who stated she was struck in the face by Trammel. Witnesses confirmed the incident.

27 year old Justin Ray Lohorn was arrested for two counts of theft of property on Friday, March 15. The day before, on Thursday March 14 police received a call from a complainant on Cooper Avenue concerning a man who was seen running from a residence. While on patrol, one of the officers spotted a man fitting the description enter a house on Gentry Avenue. Police went to the residence to do a follow up and made contact with Lohorn who allowed the officers to enter the residence to speak with him. While inside, the officers saw items that had been reported stolen earlier from a job site on Love Lane. A search warrant was issued and items from at least two victims were discovered. His bond is $10,000.

Tara Jane Atnip-Summers was arrested for DUI and reckless endangerment on Friday, March 15. The warrant states that police were dispatched to the area of Holmes Creek to a possible drunk driver. The officer found a vehicle illegally stopped in the roadway. He made contact with the driver, Summers who had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. Her speech was slurred. Summers was asked to exit the vehicle. She submitted to but performed poorly on several field sobriety tasks. Summers had a small child in the vehicle with her at the time of arrest. She will be in court on March 28. Her bond is $7,000.

30 year old Cassandra Nicole Estes was cited for shoplifting and trespassing on Tuesday, March 19. A Wal-Mart employee saw Estes put items in her purse and then try to leave the store without paying. Estes had signed a form on February 16, 2012 saying she would not come back in Wal-Mart. Her court date is April 4.

41 year old Willard Darrell Brown was arrested for public intoxication on Tuesday, March 26. According to the warrant, police responded to an attempted break in on Morgan Drive. Upon arrival, the officer found Brown at the scene. He was unsteady on his feet and he had slurred speech. Due to Brown's level of intoxication and being a danger to himself and the public he was arrested and taken to jail. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on April 4.

37 year old Tiffany D Hendrixson was arrested for theft and cited for possession of drug paraphernalia on Tuesday, March 26. The warrant states that police were dispatched on a shoplifting call at Wal-Mart and spoke with an employee who had detained Hendrixson. He had allegedly witnessed her taking items out of packages and putting them in her purse. Several items belonging to Wal-Mart were recovered from her purse along with two ink pen tubes containing powder residue. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on April 11.

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 would help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense would be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.


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