Local News Articles

Tenant at Smithville Golf Course To Terminate His Lease with City

July 11, 2008
Dwayne Page

The tenant at the Smithville Municipal Golf Course has given notice that he is giving up his lease with the city and will be out, as of August 8th.

In a letter to Mayor Taft Hendrixson dated July 8th, Jimmy Lewis states that "At this time with great regret, I have to terminate my lease with the City of Smithville. The Smithville Golf Club has been having trouble making a profit due to a number of reasons for some time. The most important concerns are the amount of the lease payments and the swimming pool."

"I have tried for over a year to work with the City of Smithville to amend the current lease so I could make a go of the operation and save the City lots of time and worry with having to rebid the contract; but to no avail has this been worked out."

"The Smithville Golf Club is in much better shape today than when I was awarded the contract some years ago. I am now giving my 30 days notice and I will be out on August 8th, 2008."

Mayor Hendrixon said the city's options are to either lease the golf course and pool to someone else or to hire someone to operate them.

Lewis originally had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under an amended agreement, Lewis was granted an extension of his lease through 2017 at the same rate of $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option as a consideration for his commitment " to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in order to dig a second well, to install a sprinkler system for the fairways, and to purchase golf carts". The monthly rate could have been renegotiated in 2017.

Last December, Mayor Hendrixson vetoed a city council vote to amend last year's budget and spend $215,000 to purchase and install a sprinkler system at the golf course.

The aldermen failed to overide the veto on a 3 to 2 vote.

Had it been approved, the city would have spent $215,000 taking $88,000 from the golf course checking account and $127,000 from the general fund account to pay for the project.

In March, Mayor Hendrixson proposed that the lease be amended. Under the terms, Lewis would have continued operating the golf course through the year 2017, but he would have been relieved of his responsibility for operating the swimming pool. Hendrixson proposed cutting Lewis' rent in half from $2,500 per month to $1,250 per month, but Lewis would have been responsible for all upkeep and maintenance of the golf course. Mayor Hendrixson further proposed that the swimming pool operation and maintenance be funded from the city's recreation budget.

However City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said these proposed changes were so significant that the lease, in his opinion, could not be amended. "I've looked over the lease agreement that you have with Jimmy Lewis that was entered into on March 22nd, 2006. Although it does have a provision for modifications, I don't think it's contemplated that we would make a major deviation from the current contract. Currently, Mr. Lewis is supposed to be paying $2,500 per month and there was discussion about reducing that in half and then also the (city) taking over the swimming pool which Mr. Lewis currently has to manage. My feeling is that because this is such a major deviation from the contract, the city would probably have to re-let that contract if they were going to do that and if Mr. Lewis opts to say he is going to terminate his agreement with the city then I think the city has no option other than re-letting and let others vie for that contract. You're talking about a significant deviation from the contract. This contract goes through 2017 and there is no provision to have that big a deviation so I feel like that it would be ill advised for the city to deviate and make those major changes since other people may want to vie for that contract."

Center Hill Gate Installation Rescheduled; Highway 96 Over Dam Closes August 4th

July 11, 2008

Installation of an orifice gate at Center Hill Lake has been rescheduled for August 4 due to the need for a larger crane, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Originally scheduled for July 8, a small crane was scheduled to allow traffic to pass the dam along Highway 96 while the work was underway. However, the crane’s cables were not quite long enough to lower the gate down the upstream face of the concrete portion of the dam to its position near the base of the dam. The lowering of the gate has been rescheduled for Monday, August 4th, 2008 using a larger crane with longer cables. This crane will require full road closure from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Work is continuing on the Corps of Engineers’ Center Hill Seepage remediation, a six-year, four-construction contract overall plan. The first of four large construction contracts to correct seepage problems at Center Hill Dam was not delayed by the altered schedule, but is in high production, working six days per week, two 10-hour shifts and has only halted for minor, temporary weather-related delays.

This contract will reduce seepage by a series of closely-spaced grout holes pumped into the earthen portion of the dam foundation and the left rim foundation, beginning in September and continuing for more than a year.

As part of environmental mitigation to continue a minimum flow into the Caney Fork River once the seepage is reduced, the overall seepage reduction plan includes manufacture and installation of an orifice gate. The orifice gate (photo 1) is a steel plate with open ports and will be placed over one of six 4 x 6-foot culverts called sluice gates, located at the base of the concrete portion of the dam. This orifice gate will provide an approximate 200 cubic foot per second minimum flow through the dam and will provide cold water releases and improve dissolved oxygen downstream to maintain the fishery once the seepage is cut off.

Tim Dunn, Resource Manager of Center Hill Lake, spoke with WJLE Friday morning about the project. "Earlier this year, in late February we awarded the first construction contract which is the first of several large contracts. It's a two year contract to grout the main earthen embankment of the dam and the left rim, which are the most critical parts of the dam to take care of first. So those are currently underway. If you come by the dam now you'll see the contractors well underway with clearing the left rim hillside and actually cutting through the hillside to facilitate the grouting or to get us in there where we can do the grouting much quicker and easier. They are also building a work platform on the upstream side of the earthen embankment and building a platform on the downstream side. So you can definitely see a lot of work going on around the dam now. We should be ready to start the actual grouting, which is drilling down into the ground underneath the dam, to inject a cement type mixture into the void later this summer, probably around September of this year."

"Also as part of the environmental mitigation, we are in the process of installing an orifice gate, which is a gate that goes on the sluice gate, which is an opening at the very bottom of the dam. We're in the process of installing it so that we can allow about a 200 cubic foot per second minimum flow of water to flow through the dam to offset the seepage that we're going to be blocking with the grouting work. What this will do is ensure that we have a continual flow of good cold water for the trout fishery down stream and it will also help water quality on downstream of the Caney Fork and into the Cumberland River system."

"We actually worked on it (orifice gate) earlier last week. We attempted to use a smaller crane so that we could keep the roadway over the dam open for the public to use. However the crane we used was not quite large enough to get down to the depths that we needed to get to so we have re-scheduled for early August. Actually on Monday, August 4th from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. we're going to bring in a larger crane to set that gate. However, to use the larger crane we're going to have to close the roadway completely for about a five hour period so August 4th we recommend folks find an alternate route to cross the dam if they are down in this area. But that's just one part of the project. The other activities, the grouting and the clearing is going very well and progress is being made everyday."

"The actual rehabilitation of the dam is still well underway. There have been no changes to the plans or no disruptions to that. Just the mitigation of installing the gate has been delayed for about another three weeks or so until we can get a larger crane to set that, but that in no way hinders the actual rehabilitation of the dam project."

"We awarded the first contract in February. It's a two year contract and it was awarded for I believe $87-million. It's a very large construction contract. There will be other contracts. The total project cost is around $260-million and it will last about five years. Somewhere around 2012-2013 is when we will be finishing up the work."

"We have several risk reduction measures in place, one of those being maintaining the lake at a lower level. We're doing well with that. We're trying to target 630 as a maximum pool level and we're hoping to not go lower than the low 620's or 618 at the very lowest this winter. We're very dependant on rainfall so as long as we continue to get a few rains along we'll be doing fairly well with lake levels but if it turns off really dry we could see some really low levels this fall so again, we encourage folks to really be careful out there on the lake. It's still a very large lake, a very deep lake, but there are some areas that are shallower this time of year than what folks are accustomed to seeing so definitely use caution in those areas."

Travelers are encouraged to plan alternate routes during this time (August 4th). The closest alternate route to drive from one side of the dam to the other is to travel I-40 just north of the dam. From the east end of the dam, take HWY 96 to I-40, travel I-40 west for approximately 10 miles to exit #258. At exit #258, travel south on HWY 53 for approximately one mile before turning onto HWY 141, which leads to the west end of Center Hill Dam.

Additional information on the Center Hill Dam Seepage Rehabilitation Project may be found on the Nashville District website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/CenterHill/.

Coverkids set to Enroll Children at 9th Grade Registration

July 11, 2008

CoverKids representatives will be at the 9TH grade registration to enroll children in the comprehensive health insurance program from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.on Thursday, July 31, at the DeKalb County High School, 1130 West Broad Street, in Smithville.

CoverKids, a Cover Tennessee program, allows qualifying children 18 and under to get free, comprehensive health insurance for preventive health care services such as vaccinations, doctors’ visits, prescriptions and hospital visits.

A family of four with a $53,000 yearly income will qualify for CoverKids. They will have no monthly premiums for coverage and will pay only $15 for doctors’ visits and $5 for generic medications. Plus, they won’t have any co-pays for routine exams, labs or x-rays.

Parents and legal guardians need to bring household income information and the Social Security numbers of all children they want to enroll in CoverKids.

Cover Tennessee is a multi-pronged effort that extends health insurance to uninsured individuals in Tennessee through three insurance programs and a pharmacy assistance program. CoverTN is an affordable and portable health insurance initiative for working Tennesseans who are uninsured. Comprehensive insurance for children is provided through CoverKids, and chronically ill adults are eligible for AccessTN, a high-risk pool. CoverRx is a statewide pharmacy assistance program designed to assist those who have no pharmacy coverage, but have a critical need for medication. More information on all Cover Tennessee programs is available at www.CoverTN.gov or by calling 1-866-COVERTN.

Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award

July 11, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Chamber of Commerce has presented a Community Improvement Award to Jane
Evins Leonard for her efforts in saving and restoring Smithville's oldest house. This historic treasure dates back to 1837 and is located at 404 West Main Street, Smithville.

Community Improvement Awards are initiated by public nominations. If you know of a deserving DeKalb County residence or business which has made significant improvements to their property, please stop by the Chamber office at 301 N. Public Square, Smithville or call 597-4163 to request a nomination form.

Pictured from left: Suzanne Williams, Chamber Executive Director; Taft Hendrixson, Smithville Mayor; Jane Evins Leonard, homeowner; Tim Hintz, Chamber Board Member.

School Board Adopts Fuel Reimbursement Policy for School Field Trips & Other Activities

July 10, 2008
Dwayne Page

Because of the ever increasing cost of fuel, the DeKalb County Board of Education has adopted a policy for the upcoming school year seeking reimbursement from groups for the costs of bus transportation to and from school field trips and extracurricular activities.

Under the policy, adopted by the Board of Education Thursday night, sponsors of field trips and extra curricular activities will have to pay the bus driver, as in the past. However, beginning this fall, they will also have to reimburse the school system for the cost of fuel as well as the cost of wear and tear on the bus.

The calculation is figured on the cost of fuel per gallon based on the last delivery costs, divided by average bus mileage of 6.5 miles per gallon, rounded to the nearest whole cent, and then doubled for the wear and tear of the bus, multiplied by the number of miles traveled.

For example, the current cost of fuel, based on the latest delivery, is $4.34 per gallon. Divide $4.34 by 6.5 miles per gallon and the cost is figured at 67 cents per gallon. Then add another 67 cents for the cost of wear and tear and the total cost per mile is $1.34.

Based on this calculation, if a field trip were taken today at 108 miles round trip, then the cost to the sponsor or group using the bus would be $144.72.

The costs would fluctuate somewhat with the changing price of fuel, but the wear and tear costs would never drop below 50 cents per mile.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says he regrets having to enact such a policy "but with the cost of fuel we have to do something. It's just going to be more expensive to run buses. We actually estimated the cost of fuel at $5.00 per gallon for diesel for this next school year, but after talking to the distributor, he said we might have felt a lot safer estimating the cost at $6.00 per gallon."

"The extracurricular activities that we use our buses for and for the field trips, all those are very important educational tools. What we are going to do is look at where we go a lot closer and we will be more creative with field trips. We might do field trips that are closer to home. The TSSAA has already looked at next year's (football) schedule on revamping the teams that we would play so the teams would not have to travel as far. We've been doing two field trips per teacher a year but there's a possibility we might have to cut back to one trip. It's not something we want to do but I believe we're going to have to look at some reality here with this fuel cost."

Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins III added that "As best as I can calculate it with 180 days of school and what we put in the budget, it's going to cost the school system about $2,000 a day to run our buses or $10,000 a week."

Third district member Kenny Rhody responded " That's versus $400 or $500 a day two years ago. The costs are eating it (budget) alive and that's just for fuel. The costs of tires, oil, and everything else has gone through the roof too."

In other business, Director Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel. Those employed for 2008-09 since last month are as follows:

Orlando Guzman, Shop Foreman
Peggy Pursell, Transportation Manager
Jonathan Wright, Band Director
John Pryor, teacher at DeKalb County High School
Lyndsey White, teacher at DeKalb West School
Cynthia Pulley, teacher at DeKalb West School
Shelly Jennings, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Cynthia Hale, teacher at Northside Elementary School
Taleen Lambert, teacher at DeKalb Middle School

April Hines, teacher at Smithville Elementary School, has resigned
James Wilkerson, mechanic, has resigned

Kathy Bryant, teacher at Northside Elementary School, was granted a leave of absence as requested.

Last month, the school board voted to ask the County Commission for an additional $200,000 in funding for the 2008-09 school budget, based on information from the state

Thursday night, the board voted to rescind the action making the request based on new information from the state.

The total State Basic Education Program (BEP) Funding allocation for DeKalb County for 2008-09 is $12,083,000 including instructional, classroom, and non-classroom funding. The total required local matching funds for DeKalb County is $3,921,000. The total BEP funding for DeKalb County including state and local funding is $16,004,000.

School Board members and the Director were under the impression that since the local BEP match requirement was $3.9 million and the tentative budget showed local operating revenues for schools at only $3.7 million, then the county would have to add another $200,000 to the school budget or risk losing state funding for schools.

However, Director Willoughby said Thursday night he learned last week from state education officials that the county can count it's appropriation of debt service funding for schools toward the local match, which is significantly more than $200,000.

The school board also adopted a resolution seeking participation in the Local Government Energy Efficiency Loan Program administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

The resolution must also be adopted by the county commission before the school system can participate.

Under the program, the school system may apply for interest free loans in order to improve energy efficiency at all five schools. Money saved through energy conservation measures would be used to repay the loans.

Maintenance Supervisor Earl Jared says if the program is approved most of the work would involve replacing lighting. " A lot of our light fixtures are going to be obsolete by 2010. This would get all those changed out. For example, the gymnasium at the high school has 1,000 watt incandescent bulbs. They pull around 10 amps. The flourescents that I have found that we could put up there pull 2 amps and give more light."

Early Voting Begins July 18th for August Elections

July 9, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Election Commission has set the dates and times of Early Voting for the August 7th elections.

Early Voting will be held Friday, July 18th through Saturday, August 2nd from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays. All Early Voting will be in the basement courtroom of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

Meanwhile, the election commission has released a sample ballot for the DeKalb County General Election, Tennessee Democratic and Republican Primaries, and the Dowelltown and Liberty Municipal Elections to be held on Thursday, August 7th.

The first page of the sample ballot reveals the names of Democratic candidates for the United States Senate including Mark E. Clayton, Gary G. Davis, Kenneth Eaton, Leonard D. Ladner, Wm Mike Padgett, and Robert D. Tuke.

Incumbent Bart Gordon is the only Democratic candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the 6th Congressional District.

The second page of the sample ballot shows the names of Democratic candidates for the Tennessee House of Representatives in the 40th Representative District including Cleveland Derrick Bain, Jeff Barrett, Steven K. Cantrell, Gayla C. Hendrix, Carl (Hix) Jones, Dean Sircy, and Sarah Marie Smith.

Spaces are on the ballot for DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee member from each district and precinct but there are no candidates.

The sixth page of the sample ballot includes the name of incumbent Lamar Alexander, the only GOP candidate for the United States Senate.

Two GOP candidates are listed for the Tennessee House of Representatives in the 40th Representative District including Nicky Rittenberry and Terri Lynn Weaver.

There is no GOP candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the 6th Congressional District.

The seventh page of the sample ballot reveals the names of candidates for Assessor of Property, School board member in the 5th and 6th district, and constable in each district.

Candidates for Assessor of Property include Democratic incumbent Timothy (Fud) Banks, Republican John David Foutch, and Independent Sandy C. Brown.

Candidates for school board member in the 5th district are Larry Evans and Incumbent W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, both Independents.

In the 6th district, candidates for the school board are Incumbent Linda Louise Fuston and Bruce Parsley, both Independents.

Constable candidates are Republican Incumbent Reed Edge in the 2nd district, Democratic Incumbent Wayne Vanderpool in the 3rd district, Democrat Paul Cantrell in the 4th district, Democratic Incumbent Mark Milam in the 5th district, Democrat Cantrell Jones in the 6th district, and Democrat Johnny King in the 7th district. All are unopposed. There is no candidate for constable in the 1st district.

The ninth page of the sample ballot includes names of candidates in the City of Dowelltown and City of Liberty elections.

In Dowelltown, Incumbent Mayor Gerald W. Bailiff is unopposed and Aldermen candidates are Incumbent Joe L. Bogle and Elizabeth A. Redmon, also unopposed.

In Liberty, three aldermen will be elected. The candidates are Todd Dodd and incumbents Jerry W. Johnson, Dwight Mathis, and Paul M. Neal.

The tenth and eleventh pages of the sample ballot ask for a "yes" or "no" vote on the retention of two state supreme court judges, William C. Koch, Jr. and Gary R. Wade; two court of appeals judges (middle division), Andy D. Bennett and Richard H. Dinkins; court of appeals (western division), Steve Stafford; court of criminal appeals (eastern division), D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.; and court of criminal appeals (western division), Camille R. McMullen.

To view an actual sample ballot, visit www.dekalbelections.com

DeKalb County Schools Re-Open Next Month

July 9, 2008
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County Schools go back into session next month.

Registration for all students will be Tuesday, August 5th from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. That will be an abbreviated school day.

Thursday, August 7 will be an administrative day at all schools and all teachers must attend from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Students will not attend.

The first full day of school for all students will be Wednesday, August 6

A system wide professional development day will be Thursday, July 31st at DCHS and all teachers from all schools must attend from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

All teachers will report to their individual schools Friday and Monday, August 1st & 4th from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. each day.

Incoming freshmen students from DeKalb West and DeKalb Middle Schools and their parents are invited to attend Freshmen Orientation Night on Thursday, July 31 at 6:00 p.m. Students will receive their schedules and attend an orientation session with their home room teachers. Students who attend Freshmen Registration night will not be required to attend school on the regular registration day on August 5th

This Orientation Night is only for Freshmen transferring from DeKalb West and DeKalb Middle Schools.

Students new to DeKalb County are invited to registration during regular school hours July 23rd-25th or call for an appointment with the counselor at 597-4094

Meanwhile all high school students who are new to the DeKalb County School System are invited to come by the DCHS guidance office and register July 23-25th from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Students new to the school system are strongly encouraged to register during this time to avoid long registration lines during the first week of school and to allow the guidance office staff time to send for your records which will help determine which classes you need to register for.

This registration period is only for students new to the school system and not for freshmen transferring from DeKalb West or DeKalb Middle Schools.

Freshmen students transferring from DeKalb West and DeKalb Middle Schools and their parents are encouraged to attend Freshmen Registration Night on July 31st starting at 6:00 p.m.

A Social Studies Make and Take Workshop will be held Wednesday, July 16th at DeKalb Middle School as part of an optional inservice day for teachers.. Registration is at 8:00 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. This is especially for teachers in grades K-5. Nicole King will be the presenter.

August Sales Tax Holiday Approaching

July 9, 2008

Tennessee’s third annual August Sales Tax Holiday, which gives back-to-school shoppers the opportunity to purchase certain clothing, school and art supplies, and computers free of Tennessee sales tax, will begin on Friday, August 1.

“Getting ready to go back to school is a busy, important time for families to prepare their children for success,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “This Sales Tax Holiday is an opportunity for families to enjoy savings on those items that kids need to be ready for a successful
school year.”

The long weekend of savings begins at 12:01 a.m.on Friday, August 1 and ends on Sunday, August 3, at 11:59 p.m.The state’s dedicated Sales Tax Holiday Web site, www.tntaxholiday.com, has been updated with new materials, including information about exempt items, frequently asked questions and more.

During the designated three-day weekend, consumers may purchase select clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less without paying Tennessee's state and local sales tax on
the items. The tax holiday also includes purchases of qualified items sold via mail, telephone, e-mail or Internet if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the exemption period for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after
the exemption period.

“During the 2008 August Sales Tax Holiday, Tennesseans can purchase qualified items free of sales tax as they prepare for the upcoming school year,” said Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. “This annual Sales Tax Holiday, which Governor Bredesen established in 2005, has
provided an excellent tax savings opportunity for all Tennessee shoppers and we are pleased to help further his tax-saving initiative.”

Please visit the Sales Tax Holiday Web site at www.tntaxholiday.com to learn more about the items exempt from sales tax. The Tennessee Department of Revenue also offers assistance to consumers via e-mail, Salestax.Holiday@state.tn.us, and through its toll-free statewide
telephone hot line, (800) 342-1003. Staff is available to answer questions Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.Central Time. (Out-of-state and Nashville-area callers, please dial (615) 253-0600.)

Examples of exempt items include:Clothing:Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms whether athletic or non-athletic and scarves School Supplies:Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons,
erasers, folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and scissors

Art Supplies:Clay and glazes; acrylic, tempera and oil paints; paintbrushes for artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors Computers:Central processing unit (CPU), along with various other components including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and preloaded software (Note: While the CPU may be purchased separately, other items must be part of a bundled computer package in order to be eligible)

The Sales Tax Holiday is an ideal way to prepare your children for a successful school year, but school supplies are not all that is needed.

Ensure a healthy school year for your children by enrolling them in CoverKids, Tennessee’s free health insurance program for children 18 and under. Please visit www.covertn.gov to learn more or enroll.

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 92 percent
of total state tax revenue.

During the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the department collected $11 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, $1.9 billion of local sales tax was collected by the department for local governments during the 2006-2007 fiscal year. Besides 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.Tennessee.gov/revenue.

Police Chief Asks for More Officers- Says Department Overworked and Understaffed

July 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings, saying his department is understaffed and over worked, came before the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night asking that two additional certified officers be hired.

Chief Jennings says the city's policy of having the officers work 12 hour shifts, as opposed to 8 hour shifts, is increasing the workload on officers and creating a lot of overtime.

According to Chief Jennings, funds are in the budget to hire one other officer, a position which has remained unfilled since last summer. He says a second additional officer could be hired to fill officer Callie Matthews position while she remains on unpaid medical leave. "The bottom line is, I'm understaffed. When the prior chief left, there was one full time slot left unfilled. I have another officer out on medical leave and that leaves me with another slot. I'm asking the board to approve the advertising for two full time officers. One full time officer would fill the slot that was never filled when the prior chief left. The other would come in for a temporary position to work in Matthews' place until such time as she may be able to come back to work. If she is able to come back to work, that officer would understand he would have to give up that position so she could come back and take the position as road officer. If Ms. Matthews, for whatever reason, is unable to come back to work, then that position would be offered to that person full time. The addition of those two officers would improve the operation of my department, cut down on the long hours, extra hours the officers have to work, and it's better to pay straight time to people of about twelve dollars than it is to pay overtime to officers that are employed here which runs into eighteen to twenty five dollars an hour."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson admits the overtime issue is a concern but says the police officers he has talked to prefer 12 hour shifts, and that most of the law enforcement agencies in the area also work on 12 hour shifts. Plus, he says when an officer is out, the chief and investigator should take up the slack. "Last year we spent in the neighborhood of $60,000 or $70,000 for overtime. We can't continue going on doing that. We do work 12 hour shifts in the police department and about all the departments I know of around us do. And everyone of the officers I've talked to like this because one week they'll work three days a week, one week they'll work four days. One week they work 36 hours, one week they work 48 hours. In all departments, you may have somebody out sick but we have a chief and an investigator that I think they should fill in when an officer is out. I think that is part of it as road officers."

Chief Jennings says both he and Detective Sergeant Jerry Hutchins, Jr. are willing to fill in for others but he believes the investigator should spend his time trying to solve crimes. "We have one chief, one investigator, and nine road officers, but one of them (Matthews) is out on medical leave. That leaves just enough officers to cover the shifts. In the event that an officer is out, my investigator fills in. In the event my officers get backed up on calls during the day, dispatch calls me and I go out and help out. I'm available to come in during any emergency situation, day or night. It makes no difference. I have one part time officer who helps out but he can only work 20 hours per week because he's not certified. The investigator works (as road officer) when he's asked, but crimes are increasing continuously and his job is to investigate crimes. When he works a 12 hour shift, he cannot do that. He has solved a lot of cases but it impairs his ability to do investigations when he has to work 12 hour shifts as a road officer."

Jennings says before he took over as chief, the city had one chief, ten road officers, one investigator, one part time officer, and one school traffic guard and the officers worked eight hour shifts. " Before I took over as chief we were only working eight hours but when the prior police chief left several officers left with him and left the department short handed. They went to 12 hour shifts because they were really short on personnel. We have enough officers now to fill the 12 hour shifts but that's if nobody is out sick or nobody has to be off. But as you know that is not a possibility. We're going to be out, we're going to have overtime, people are going to be sick, they're going to be off for various reasons, vacation, sick days, and sometimes they have personal problems and have to be off. So you really don't know from one week to the next exactly what kind of situation you're going to run into. It's a situation that you deal with daily."

Chief Jennings added that when an officer is overworked it can affect his safety and job performance which could lead to accidents and increased liability to the city. " Let's say an officer works at six o'clock at night to six in the morning. He has to go to court at nine o'clock. He sits in court from nine a.m. until two or three in the afternoon, then he's got to come back at six that night and work until six the next morning. That creates stress and fatigue which can cause the officer's reaction time to slow down and his decision making process to be impaired. It can shorten his patience, he can become irritable, and that can affect his job performance."

Alderman Steve White, who is now police commissioner, said he wanted more time to study the issue but Alderman Tonya Sullivan later made a motion that the city advertise for the hiring of one certified police officer. "I make a motion that we advertise for a full time officer to try to alleviate the $60,000 to $70,000 spent per year in overtime. Alderman Willie Thomas seconded the motion and Alderman Jerry Hutchins, Sr. voted with them. Aldermen White and Cecil Burger voted "no".

Meanwhile, in other business, the aldermen voted unanimously to approve Mayor Hendrixson's appointments to various city boards.

Alderman Burger was appointed to serve as the city council's representative on the Smithville Electric System Board while Dr. W.E. Vanatta was re-appointed to a new term as a citizen member. Burger will serve for two years, through June 30th, 2010 and Vanatta for four years, through June 30th, 2012.

Alderman White was appointed to serve as the city council's representative on the Smithville Planning Commission for two years and Wallace Caldwell will serve as a citizen member for four years.

Paul Hardeman was named to the Board of Zoning Appeals as a citizen member through June 30th, 2012

Alderman White was also appointed to serve as the city council's representative on the E-911 board for two years.

The council gave approval for the city to include seized and surplus property to be sold at auction along with the Sheriff's Department's surplus sale to be held on September 27th.

Alderman Sullivan moved that the city obtain specs for playground equipment for the city park on Smith Road, since funds are in the budget for the project. The vote was unanimous.

Sullivan also thanked the city employees including Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, Public Works Director Kevin Robinson, and the police department " for the excellent job performed during the Jamboree. We appreciate their efforts and work. It wouldn't be successful without the help of the city workers."

Mayor Hendrixson added his thanks saying "they did a wonderful job and I appreciate them too."

Hunter Hendrixson also thanked the volunteer fire department and expressed his appreciation to Riverwatch and Evins Mill Nursery for allowing the city to use their carts for the trash detail during the Jamboree.

County Fire Department Has Busy Week

July 7, 2008
Dwayne Page
County firefighters battle blaze at the home of Nichole Boehm

County firefighters battle blaze at the home of Nichole Boehm

The DeKalb County Fire Department has had a busy week.

A Wednesday night fire destroyed a single wide mobile home at 705 Johnson Chapel Road, belonging to Barbara McHugh. She had the home rented to Nichole Boehm.

Boehm was not at home when the fire started. She had already left to go to work.

Someone at the Cedar House Restaurant nearby saw smoke coming from the home and called 911.

Members of the Midway, Cookeville Highway, and Short Mountain Highway Stations responded along with the fire department's equipment truck. The Cassville Fire Department from White County provided mutual aid assistance with a tanker truck.

The home and it's contents were lost in the fire. The cause of the blaze is undetermined.

County Firefighters answered four calls on Friday.

Members of the Blue Springs Station responded to a report of a structure fire at 5:13 p.m. at the home of Jewel Redman at 7592 McMinnville Highway. A small fire started in a breaker box, but Mr. Redman quickly extinguished it with a pan of water. There was apparently no significant fire damage but firefighters ventilated the house.

Also on Friday, at 7:20 p.m., a fire was reported in a detached garage at the residence of Wayne and Doris Malone at 802 Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown. The Liberty Station responded. The fire apparently started in a trash can from an unknown source, but the Malone's were at home and were able to extinguish the blaze with little damage.

Later that night, at 9:48 p.m., firefighters responded to the home of Andrea Restrepo at 1024 Cook Road, Liberty, where a blaze had begun in the kitchen. Firefighters were able to contain the fire and there was no other damage to the home. Restrepo suffered smoke inhalation and was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS before being transported to DeKalb Community Hospital for further treatment.

The Liberty, Short Mountain Highway, Dowelltown truck (main station), tanker, and equipment truck came to the scene.

Firefighters from the Johnson's Chapel Station were called to set up a helicopter landing zone at 10:20 p.m. Friday night after a 66 year old woman suffered a snake bite on her left ankle near the cabin where she was staying in the Sligo area. She was airlifted from near the scene and flown by a helicopter ambulance to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. Her name was unavailable.

(Photo provided by Fire Department Photographer Callie Matthews). Click on picture to see larger image.


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