Local News Articles

Commission to Cut Property Tax Rate and Adopt Budgets Monday Night

August 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Expect a property tax cut when the county commission votes on the proposed new budget Monday night.

The county budget committee will recommend to the commission that the property tax rate be cut by 20 cents from $1.90 to $1.70 per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed tax rate breaks down as follows:

County General Fund- 62 cents (a cut of five cents from last year)
Solid Waste- 19 cents (an increase of one cent from last year)
Debt Service- 29 cents (the same as last year)
Highways- 3 cents (the same as last year)
General Purpose Schools- 57 cents (a cut of 16 cents from last year)

The total county budget comes to $32,717,412.

County Mayor Mike Foster says the proposed budget includes a pay raise of 25 cents per hour for county general employees and a $250 bonus for employees with five years of service. Employees with up to ten years of service would get an extra $50 bonus for each year of service from five to ten years.

Foster says the Assessor of Property, who has two employees, would get a third under the proposed new budget. "They (budget committee) have proposed putting one extra position in the tax assessor's office. The thinking is that within a short time, there will be building safety codes and that they should be administered (with this new employee) out of that office."

The Assessor, however, may also use the extra employee for other duties in the office.

According to Foster, "We are experiencing several builders coming in here that are not used to building on these steep lots. Since I've been in office, ten houses have either been built on the wrong lots or partially on the wrong lots. There's got to be some safety devices in place to take care of the innocent home owners."

"On these really steep lots, they (developers) need to have an engineer that they pay for who can come in and say ‘this is how you need to engineer this foundation so your house doesn't slide off this hill'. We need to know where your lot lines are before you build your house and that your builder complies with codes. It's a safety thing for the homeowner."

In the Sheriff's Department budget, Foster says the county plans to seek a grant to purchase surveillance cameras for the jail. "We're trying to get a small grant, a Community Enhancement Grant, to put in surveillance cameras all through the jail to make it a safer place for everyone. It would involve about $25,000. We feel like this really needs to be done for the safety of the employees and to keep inmate to inmate violence down."

Sheriff Ray says the commission has already approved the purchase of the cameras. If the grant is approved, it is expected to save the county some money.

Foster says the department also plans to purchase patrol cars to replace older vehicles. "Sheriff Ray bought four cars last year, including one new one and three used cars. The used cars , which came from Missouri had 40,000 to 50,000 miles on them and the county paid $10,000 to $11,000 dollars for them. This year the plan is to purchase about four more cars to replace older ones. There's only probably about sixteen cars (in the department)"

In the County Fire Department, Foster says funds are included to provide shelter for a couple of tankers. "There's a little bit of money in there to try and fix a place to store a couple of tankers that are now outside, so if we had a freeze (this winter) they would be in a closed up building."

Meanwhile, Foster says he is proud of the new fire station in the Austin Bottom Community. "It is really nice. The people over there did a great job in helping us get that done. It's also going to be a voting place and a very small community center. The building is 1,600 square feet. It will store two fire trucks and could keep an ambulance there overnight if needed. If there was a boating event, you might want to keep an ambulance there over night."

On the landfill, Foster says money is being carried over from last year to develop a new cell site, once the state grants the permit for construction. "We still have that money in there that was appropriated in 2007 to do the new cell. We borrowed that money as by law we are required to do. Once you do your budget, you only have six months to borrow that money. So we borrowed it and put it in the bank and it's actually making a little bit of money right now. We're waiting for approval to expand a cell and that money will be used for it. We're very close to running out of space. We have already talked to another county about, if we run out of space before the permit is issued, could be work out a deal with them to haul some of our garbage to that county. We're trying to recycle cardboard, plastic, and paper on a small scale. We are recycling about 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of cardboard a month which is not going into the landfill, along with tires and burned oil. We ship about three truck loads of tires a month out of the county, which costs about $3,200 to $3,300 a month to do so."

Foster says funds are also included in the solid waste budget to purchase a new garbage truck.

Meanwhile, Foster says a new location still has not yet been found to replace the garbage collection convenience site on Highway 56 south. " We were leasing it from Ernie and Betsy Lynam. It was a very handy place and the people are missing it, but the state bought it and they gave us until August 1st to be off of it. We had to move the equipment to the landfill where we have stored it until we find a place to put it. We have about three places we've been looking at. All of them are impacted by the new road and we don't know exactly how much of those lots are going to be left and how much access there is going to be to them. We are trying very hard to locate one (new convenience center site) because it is an inconvenience to the people."

Foster says the new budget includes funds to purchase property next to the county jail, which could be used for parking at the jail and Justin Potter Library. If the county can't come to terms with the owner, it could initiate imminent domain proceedings. "We have been looking at the building next to the jail (house and lot) for future and current needs. It sold before we could buy it and we're trying to negotiate with the new owner to purchase it. We are interested in it partially for the security of the jail, parking for the jail, and parking for the library."

The new budget breaks down as follows:
General Fund- $5,781,689
Courthouse & Jail Maintenance- $80,425
Local Purpose Fund- $1,962,776
Drug Control- $20,908
Highways- $2,060,868
General Purpose Schools- $17,172,300
School Cafeteria Fund- $1,154,200
Debt Service- $1,264,,216
General Capital Projects- $784,210
Solid Waste- $2,435,821 (Includes a six year note for up to $1,225,000 to build a new cell at the landfill- a carry over project from last year)

The county commission will vote on the new budget and set the property tax rate Monday night at 6:30 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. A public hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

County Budget Committee Votes to Recommend Passage of Amended Spending Plan for Schools

August 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The county budget committee met Monday night and voted to recommend approval of the revised school budget to the DeKalb County Commission.

The new budget is expected to be adopted Monday night.

Members of the school board are concerned that the county commission plans on cutting the local property tax for schools by sixteen cents from 73 cents to 57 cents per $100 of assessed value, but County Mayor Mike Foster says the county is more than adequately funding schools with a combination of money from local property taxes and the local option sales tax fund.

Some claim they were under the impression that the entire sales tax increase, as approved by the voters in the May referendum, would immediately go directly to schools, in addition to the current property tax rate for schools, but Foster claims that was never the case. While the exact amount of the tax cut to schools wasn't made specific before the sales tax referendum, Foster insists that it was explained to the public that property tax payers would be getting an overall 19 or 20 cent property tax break, with the passage of the sales tax referendum. "You will see that the school property tax rate (57 cents) is lower than the general fund (62 cents) and other parts of the budget. The reason for that is almost two million dollars is coming out of the sales tax fund and going to the schools. That was the intent. It was the design that the sales tax would take the place of part of the property tax rate for schools. We made that clear in the meetings and when it (referendum) was voted on and that's exactly what has been done. That's why you've seen a decrease of sixteen cents in the property tax rate for schools, but you've seen the sales tax (for schools) go up to almost two million dollars rather than $1.1 million. Even though there was a cut in the current property tax rate of sixteen cents, which actually cut $505,000 or thereabouts from the current property taxes for schools, there was an increase in the local purpose tax (sales tax) of $588,000 to schools, so there was a net increase of about $80,000 to the funds that they (schools) actually received. As far as actual dollars, the maintenance of effort was increased by $45,000 and according to the schools, it was increased by $36,063 but there was still an increase in the maintenance of effort, as there has been for many years."

Under state law, county governments cannot fund schools at fewer local dollars than the previous year. That requirement is referred to as "maintenance of effort".

Foster insists that local tax dollars earmarked for the school's debt service should also be taken into consideration. "Debt service for the schools is $678, 747. A lot of that is for the Northside Elementary School, for the roof at Smithville Elementary School, and some other things. A total of $403,000 is coming from the local purpose tax fund (sales tax) and a little over $275,000 is coming from the (debt service) property tax which equates to eight cents more for schools. It's not really counted toward schools because it's in debt service, but no matter how you count it, the schools are still getting the eight more cents, plus the 57 cents, plus the local option sales tax. To put it in very simple terms, if you have a bucket of money over here and a bucket of money over there, and you have the school's money in the middle bucket, it doesn't matter which bucket the money comes out of, they (schools) are getting what their asking for and their actually getting $80,000 more. Property tax (for schools) was cut but the local purpose tax fund (sales tax money) was increased for schools. According to the whole equation, they (schools) are winding up getting $45,000 more and their numbers say $36,063 more."

The DeKalb County Board of Education last Thursday night adopted a revised school budget for the 2007-2008 this fiscal year, making $113,274 in cuts from the previous proposed budget passed on June 26th.

The proposed cuts will be made in the categories of legal services- $15,000, liability insurance- $18,694, workman's compensation insurance- $45,280, natural gas- $16,800, building and contents insurance- $10,000, diesel fuel- $5,000, and vehicle and equipment insurance- $2,500.

Funds for proposed pay raises for school system employees and new positions will not be cut.

The spending plan for schools is more than seventeen million dollars.

County Commission To Decide Future of Ambulance Service Monday Night

August 16, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

County Commission To Decide Future of Ambulance Service Monday Night

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night is expected to decide whether the ambulance service should be brought back under the county's control.

County Mayor Mike Foster says two private companies, Pro Med and Trans Med were interested in contracting with the county and recently presented proposals for the Emergency Services Committee to consider. However, Foster says committee members felt more comfortable with the county running the ambulance service and will make that recommendation to the county commission Monday night. Trans Med wanted a $300,000 a year supplement and Pro Med asked for a $65,000 supplement to operate the ambulance service.

Sumner Regional, which has been operating the DeKalb Ambulance Service for a $163,000 supplement per year, will be giving up the operation this fall.

Foster says the proposed budget includes an expenditure of $1.2 million to operate the ambulance service this coming year with proposed revenues at between $800,000 and $900,000, should the commission vote for the county to assume control of the EMS service. The budget includes funds to pay a staff of nine paramedics, five EMT's, a director, a secretary, and to buy a new ambulance, equipment and to pay for utilities and other costs. "We want to make sure that we have a good, solid ambulance service, that we charge very reasonable rates, and that we continue to have competent people. We want to try to keep as many of these people as want to work."

The county commission will meet in special session Monday night at 6:30 p.m. in the basement of the courthouse to vote on the future of the ambulance service. A public hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m.. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Two Escape Serious Injury In Tuesday Wreck

August 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two people escaped serious injury in a traffic accident on the Old Blue Springs Road Tuesday.

Lieutenant Brian Lawson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 20 year old Johnathan Keith of New Home Road, Smithville was not injured but 42 year old Betty Lawson of 302 Big Woods Road, Smithville was taken by Warren County EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital with minor injuries. She was treated and released.

According to Lieutenant Lawson, Keith was driving north on the Old Blue Springs Road in a 1997 Olds and partially crossed into the southbound lane while negotiating a curve which caused the two vehicles to sideswipe.

Lawson's vehicle, a 2001 Ford Explorer, overturned on it's top in the middle of the road. Keith's car came to rest in the northbound lane.

Members of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department also came to the scene to assist.

Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts. There were no charges or citations.

Marijuana Found In Helicopter Fly Over of DeKalb County

August 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Governor's Task Force on Marijuana Eradication and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department found and destroyed 453 marijuana plants Monday during a helicopter fly over in portions of DeKalb County.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says some of the marijuana was found off of Short Mountain Highway and in one area off Indian Creek that could only be reached by boat. Officers of the TWRA assisted at that location.

Sheriff Ray says some of the marijuana was found growing in patches and some was scattered.

If you have any information that could help authorities find more marijuana or solve other crimes, contact the Sheriff's Department at 597-4935.

Meanwhile, another person has been picked up on sealed indictments returned by the Grand Jury last week.

Sheriff Ray says 29 year old David Allen Neisz, Jr. of Green Pasture Road, Alexandria is charged in sealed indictments with four counts of aggravated statutory rape and three counts of theft of property over $1,000 and two counts of burglary.

Bond for Neisz is set at $75,000 and he will be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday, August 20th.

Three Charged in Trespassing, Vandalism, & Theft Case

August 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Three Charged in Trespassing, Vandalism, & Theft Case

Two juveniles got into more trouble than just playing hooky from school Monday.

They are facing charges of vandalism, burglary, and theft, while an adult, 40 year old Sandra Kay Thomason of Restview Avenue, Smithville is charged with criminal trespassing. Her bond is set at $3,500 and she will be in General Sessions Court August 30th.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says the two juveniles, instead of going to school Monday, allegedly stole a couple of bicycles on Restview, Avenue and rode them all the way to a home on Blue Springs Road, where they allegedly entered and stole a Rugar 9 millimeter handgun. The gun was later found hidden under the Bethel Church on Bethel Road.

After leaving the home on Blue Springs Road, the juveniles then went to a house on Bethel Road, where the owner is in the process of remodeling the dwelling to be sold. Finding no one there, the boys allegedly entered the house and broke out windows, lights and light fixtures, a commode, and knocked holes in the walls.

The boys called Thomason on a cell phone and she arrived later. While they were there, the prospective buyer of the home showed up. One of the juveniles immediately fled and the other one left after the man came into the house. The man briefly spoke to Thomason, and while he was on the phone contacting the owner of the property and later law enforcement, Thomason left the house.

Sheriff Ray says she was picked up by officers just down the road from the house.

The parents or guardians of the boys were contacted and later arrived with them at the jail.

Juvenile Court Judge Bratten Cook II has signed an order for the boys to be placed in Juvenile Detention in Putnam County, pending their court date.

Sheriff Ray says one of the boys has been under house arrest before for engaging in similar behavior.

The boys may also face charges by Smithville Police.

Anderson Charged with Simple Possession In Grand Jury Sealed Indictment

August 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Four persons were named in sealed indictments returned by the DeKalb County Grand Jury last week and one of them has been arrested.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 19 year old John David Anderson of Tramel Branch Road is charged under a sealed indictment with simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance. His bond is set at $1,000 and he will be arraigned in Criminal Court on Monday, August 20th.

Meanwhile in other crime news, Sheriff Ray says 30 year old Christopher Daniel Gibbs of Crowley Lane, Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication. Gibbs, who is serving weekends at the DeKalb County Jail for driving under the influence, reported to the jail on Friday in an intoxicated state. He will appear in General Sessions Court on the public intoxication charge on Thursday, August 23rd. His bond is $1,000.

23 year old Jose Martinez of West Colonial Street, Woodbury has been charged with driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, and reckless endangerment.

According to Sheriff Ray, a DeKalb County Sheriff's Department Detective was driving on Highway 56 south late Friday night and met Martinez who was traveling in the opposite direction. Martinez veered over into the detective's lane and ran him off the road.

Sheriff Ray says before the detective could get turned around to get in behind Martinez, he had forced two other vehicles off the road.

The officer eventually pulled over Martinez and placed him under arrest.

His bond is set at $7,000 and he will be in General Sessions Court on the charges on Thursday, August 23rd.

In another case, 23 year old William Loftis of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville was charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

Sheriff Ray says Loftis wrecked his vehicle Saturday night on the Alexandria to Dismal Road. After hitting a ditch, his vehicle overturned and came to rest back on it's wheels. Loftis got out of the car and set out on foot to find a residence where he could place a phone call. According to Sheriff Ray, Loftis went to several homes, but no one let him come in to use their phones. In the meantime, the Sheriff's Department was contacted and officers responded, but could not find Loftis, who stayed hidden until the next morning when he was spotted walking on the Alexandria to Dismal Road.

His bond is set at $1,000 and he will be in General Sessions Court on the charge August 30th.

Attorney Calls Allegations Against Richard Jennings "Preposterous"

August 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Lebanon attorney Adam Parrish predicts that former Smithville Police Lieutenant Richard Jennings, who was fired on Thursday, will soon be vindicated and he calls the allegations against his client "preposterous"

Jennings was terminated from the Smithville Police Department for alleged violations of police department policies and procedures as well as possible violations of state and federal law. He is accused of removing weapons, inventory files, ammunition, and other items from the police department, some of which were allegedly found in his personal possession.

Parrish, in a telephone conversation with WJLE Friday afternoon, said " We think the allegations against Mr. Jennings are preposterous. They are nothing more than an attempt to discredit and humiliate him, simply because Mr. Jennings is privy to information that is particularly damaging to Chief (Tom) Stufano and the department. It's our belief he will be completely vindicated before the five man board."

Jennings was placed on suspension with pay pending termination on Friday, August 3rd, following an internal police department investigation.

On Thursday afternoon, the case against Jennings was presented to the city's discipline hearing authority, which is made up of Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Cecil Burger, and City Recorder Burnace Vandergriff. After hearing the evidence, the vote was 3 to 0 to terminate Jennings.

Neither Jennings nor his attorney were present for Thursday's hearing. Jennings was aware of the hearing but Parrish notified city attorney John Pryor that Jennings was waiving his right to appear before the three member discipline board and would appeal his case to the entire board of mayor and aldermen, which has the final say, at the next meeting on Monday, August 20th at 7:00 p.m.

Board of Education Forced to Make Cuts in Proposed New School Budget

August 14, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night adopted a revised school budget for the 2007-2008 this fiscal year, making $113,274 in cuts from the previous proposed budget passed on June 26th and submitted to the county budget committee for approval.

The proposed cuts will be made in the categories of legal services- $15,000, liability insurance- $18,694, workman's compensation insurance- $45,280, natural gas- $16,800, building and contents insurance- $10,000, diesel fuel- $5,000, and vehicle and equipment insurance- $2,500.

Funds for proposed pay raises for school system employees and new positions will not be cut.

The spending plan, with expenditures totaling $17-million ,059-thousand, 026 dollars, is based on the proposed local property tax rate for schools of 57 cents per $100 of assessed value, a cut of 16 cents from last year. However, the county plans to give back to schools an amount equivalent to 16 cents from the local option sales tax fund (sinking fund).

Three members of the seven member school board were absent Thursday night which meant all four members present had to vote unanimously to adopt the amended budget. However the vote was only 3 to 1 for passage. Board members Johnny Lattimore, Joan Draper, and Kenny Rhody voted in favor while board member Charles Robinson voted no.

Realizing that the vote failed, Chairman Lattimore called for a recess. After the meeting was recalled to order, Robinson reluctantly changed his mind and decided to vote for passage of the amended budget. In a prepared statement, Robinson expressed his concern that the county commission is not willing to give schools more money. "The original budget proposed called for no tax increase using figures provided by the county mayor. Every year, when we as a board come to this process, we must look at the future of education. Far too many times, we take steps backwards or march in place. We must march forward. I am realistic. I know we can't afford a Cadillac school system, but we should be able to have a loaded Ford. The county commission cut property taxes 20 cents and 16 cents (of the cut) is from education. Mr Willoughby has stated that these proposed cuts will not affect students."

The Board of Education previously requested in local taxes $3-million 834-thousand 900 dollars, however the county commission will only agree to fund in local taxes $3-million 694-thousand, 357 dollars for schools, a difference of $140,543 dollars. However, the school board has added back $27,269 from State Basic Education Program funds to keep the actual budget cuts at $113,274.

Total revenues for schools comes to $16-million 405-thousand 226 dollars versus total expenditures of $17-million 059-thousand 026 dollars. To make the budget balance, the school board plans to appropriate $653,800 of the Basic Education Program Reserves

The budget includes a state salary increase for certified personnel of 3%; an increase for teachers based on their years of service as per state scale; an increase for those who have earned a degree advancement as per scale; and a local increase in the teacher salary as per scale. Teachers with six to ten years of service would get a local increase for the year of $150. Those with 11-15 years would get a local raise of $200. Teachers with 16-20 years can expect a $250 raise. Those with 21-25 years would get an increase of $300 and teachers with 26 years of service or more would get a local pay raise of $400. Elementary and Secondary Principals, Assistant Principals, and Supervisors would not get a local pay raise this year.

The budget includes a local 3% pay raise for support staff as well as a local step increase as per scale. One lead custodian per school would receive a 25 cent per hour increase and one lead maintenance worker would be paid based on the mechanics pay scale, giving him a pay raise. Support staff would be allowed to use two sick leave days per school year as personal days if needed. However, they would receive no additional days.

Golf and Tennis Coach positions at DCHS would receive an additional $1,000 in supplement pay.

Pay scales would be rounded, as presented.

Social Security and Medicare percentage rates will remain the same; the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System retirement percentage for certified staff will increase to 6.24%, with no increase in the retirement percentage for support staff.

Medical insurance costs are budgeted to increase by 10% and the cost to update the school web site would be $1,000.

The budget includes $80,000 for two additional teaching positions at DCHS for the freshman academy; $80,000 for two extra teaching positions if needed; $40,000 for one teaching position needed at Smithville Elementary School; $80,000 for two teaching positions needed at Northside Elementary School; and $20,000 to increase a half time English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching position to a full time position.

Under the special education program, the budget includes $40,000 for one additional teaching position at DCHS; one vision position retained in the budget; one speech language position retained in the budget; and additional costs have been included for anticipated Leave of Absences and possible degree advancements.

The budget includes $20,000 for one county wide Attendance Clerical position and an increase in benefits for a support staff position.

The spending plan includes a Coordinated School Health Grant of $90,000 for a coordinator, a clerical position, along with benefits and supplies.

An increase has been figured into the budget for increased utility costs, supplies, fuel, etc.

The amended budget will be presented to the county budget committee for approval. The county commission is scheduled to adopt the new budgets and set the property tax rate on Monday, August 20th at 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel to the board Thursday night.

Those employed for the 2007-2008 school year since last month include:

Shelly Painter, Guidance Counselor at DCHS. She replaces David Gash who transferred to an Assistant Principal position at DCHS; Amelia Phillips, cafeteria worker at Smithville Elementary School; Wendy Green, Educational Assistant; Rebecca Satterfield, Educational Assistant in Special Education at DCHS; Lynn Pichey, substitute teacher and or substitute cafeteria worker; Barbara Johnson, teacher at DeKalb Middle School in Special Education. She replaces Joe Ruch who resigned; Melissa Thurman, Educational Assistant in Special Education at DeKalb Middle School. She replaces Dee Dee Miller who resigned; Heather Cornelius, Educational Assistant at Northside Elementary School; Jennifer Agee, Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary School. She replaces Cathy Beltz who resigned; Dianne Page, Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School; Trent Colwell, Special Education Assistant at Northside Elementary School; Clay Dickerson, Math teacher at DCHS; Eric Helton, Math teacher at DCHS; Lori Page, English teacher at DCHS; Daniel Seber, Special Education teacher at DCHS; Renee Beaty, teacher at Smithville Elementary School; Michael Crockett, teacher at Northside Elementary School; Jenny Stephenson, teacher at DeKalb Middle School 6th grade Social Studies, Nathan Thomason, football assistant; Linda Vickers, cafeteria worker at DeKalb West School; Amy Fletcher, English as a Second Language (ESL) Educational Assistant; Kenderly Cripps, Educational Assistant at DCHS; Lillian Purnell, Teacher of Pre-School at Smithville Elementary School (a new position-newly funded in the Pre-K program); Dee Anna Persinger, School Health Coordinator (a new position-newly funded by a state grant); and Samuel Vantrease, DeKalb Middle School Football Assistant.

Transfers are as follows:

Annie Walker, Educational Assistant, transferred to the Regular Pre-School Program at Smithville Elementary School; Layra Crook, Teacher, transferred to Smithville Elementary School Pre-School; Penny Bilyeu, Teacher, transferred from DCHS to the Special Education Pre-School at Smithville Elementary School; Carrie Lee, Teacher, transferred from Special Education Pre-School to a regular teaching position at Smithville Elementary School; Beth Pafford, Teacher, transferred to a regular first grade position; Misty Franklin, Teacher, transferred to Kindergarten. She replaces Lynda Luna who retired; and Amy Young, Teacher, transferred to Pre-School at DeKalb West School.

Resignations:

Dorothy Fay Adkins, custodian at Northside Elementary School

Leave of Absence, as requested, Kimberly Crook, 4th grade teacher at DeKalb West School.

Richard Jennings Fired from Police Department- Plans Appeal to the City Council

August 13, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Lieutenant and former Chief Richard Jennings has been fired from the Smithville Police Department for alleged violations of police department policies and procedures as well as possible violations of state and federal law. He is accused of removing weapons, inventory files, ammunition, and other items from the police department, some of which were allegedly found in his personal possession.

Since last Friday, August 3rd, Jennings has been on suspension with pay pending termination, following an internal police department investigation, and Thursday afternoon, the case against him was presented to the city's discipline hearing authority, which is made up of Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Police Commissioner Cecil Burger, and City Recorder Burnace Vandergriff. After hearing the evidence, the vote was 3 to 0 to terminate Jennings.

Neither Jennings nor his attorney were present for Thursday's hearing. Jennings was aware of the hearing but his attorney, Adam Parrish of Lebanon, notified city attorney John Pryor that Jennings was waiving his right to appear before the three member discipline board and would appeal his case to the entire board of mayor and aldermen, which has the final say, at the next meeting on Monday, August 20th at 7:00 p.m.

WJLE was unable to reach Jennings Thursday afternoon, but he returned our calls Thursday night. Jennings would not make any comment about the allegations against him or his termination and he referred all questions to his attorney. Mr. Parrish was in court Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

The statement of violations (allegations) against Jennings are as follows:

Violation of the Smithville Police Department Policies and Procedures Section 4- 803 (2)- Failure to take proper care of city equipment, or theft of city property.

(1). The removal of (1) AR-15 machine gun and (3) concussion hand grenades and a 14 inch tactical shotgun from the department armory and found in (Jennings) personal possession (personal vehicle, personal residence).

(2) Smithville Police Department Official Inventory files, inclusive of dates April 20th, 2007- July 29th, 2007.

(3). Removal and personal possession of miscellaneous items depicted on Smithville Police Department Evidence Receipts 3044-3051 to include: (905) rounds of .223 ammunition, (97) shotgun rounds (various calibers), H&K parts, tools and (1) machine gun streamlight laser/flashlight from the Smithville Police Department.

Violation of the Smithville Police Department Policies and Procedures Section 4-803 (11)-Intentional deviation from established work procedures without authorization from the Supervisor.

(1) Did take numerous items from the Police Department without authorization (all items listed above)

(2) Assigned to maintain logistical support of department's equipment inventory and did not maintain inventory control logs for departmental inspection.

To be filed:

Violation of TCA (state law)- Possession of an unauthorized machine gun and explosives.

(1) Lieutenant Jennings was acting out of the scope of his assigned duties and employment by removing a city owned federally registered machine gun from city property without authorization, to his personal possession.

(2). Lieutenant Jennings was acting out of the scope of his assigned duties and employment by removing (3) concussion hand grenades from the police department armory and keeping them at his personal residence without authorization.

Violation of TCA (state law)- Theft of Property.

(1.) Lieutenant Jennings did take without permission of the owner (City of Smithville):

(1) AR-15 machine gun and (3) concussion hand grenades, and Remington Tactical Shotgun.

(2) (905) rounds of .223 ammunition, (97) shotgun rounds, (10) AR-15 clips, and miscellaneous tools were taken from the police department without permission. Items were later turned over by Lieutenant Jennings with a receipt being signed by Lieutenant Steven Leffew, Evidence Custodian.

(3) Lieutenant Jennings did remove a Tactical Police Radio from the police department without authorization.

(4) Lieutenant Jennings did remove Smithville Police Department Official Inventory Files, inclusive of dates April 20th, 2007- July 29th, 2007.

In accordance with TCA (state law), the officer must be notified of the charges and sanctions and given an opportunity to respond with counsel.

Before any dismissal, demotion, suspension without pay or transfer for punitive reasons, the officer shall be notified in writing of all charges, the basis therefore, and the action which may be taken.

The police officer shall be given an opportunity, within a reasonable time limit after the date of the written notice provided, to respond orally and in writing to the charges. The time limit shall be determined by the agency, but in no event shall it be less than (5) calendar days unless agreed to by the police officer.

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