Local News Articles

City Leaders at Odds Over Allowing Public Comments at all Council Meetings

November 3, 2008
Dwayne Page

Should the public be allowed to speak at a city council meeting?

For years, the public has been given the opportunity to speak near the end of most, if not all, regular Smithville City Council meetings. However, Mayor Taft Hendrixson and City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. said Monday night that the council does not have to open the floor for public comments, except during a public hearing, which has been advertised. The mayor, at his discretion, may also grant a request from individuals to be included on the agenda, in advance, if they wish to speak to the board during a meeting.

Monday night as the aldermen concluded their business, Mayor Taft Hendrixson sought a motion to adjourn without asking for public comments. A move that didn't set well with three of the aldermen, especially Tonya Sullivan.

Alderman Steve White made a motion to adjourn and Alderman Cecil Burger offered a second to the motion, but when it was put to a vote, Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. voted against adjourning the meeting. So for nearly twenty minutes, the meeting remained in session as the mayor and aldermen sat quietly around the meeting table with no business left to transact.

The discussion began as follows:

Mayor Hendrixson: "Since the board has nothing else, do I have a motion to adjourn?"

Alderman Sullivan: "No, I think you have to open it up to the public."

Mayor Hendrixson: "No ma'am, I don't have to."

Alderman Sullivan: "Is there some reason we're changing the format from what we normally do?"

Mayor Hendrixson: "When you open the floor, you need to probably announce, and Mr.(city) attorney you can tell me if I'm wrong on this, for a public hearing. When you open the floor, you have a public hearing. You have to advertise that you're going to have a public hearing and we haven't advertised that we're going to have a public hearing tonight on anything."

Alderman Sullivan: "I'm not sure why we're changing our format. That's all I'm asking. I wasn't aware we were changing that. I don't have anything else to add but we typically open it up to the floor. You normally give them three minutes to speak."

Mayor Hendrixson: "I think we may have been in error on that."

Alderman Sullivan: "For years?"

City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr.: " There's no reason that we have to open the floor to anything. If people want to put something on the agenda, I think you could have a policy to allow them, at some time before the meeting, to ask to be put on the agenda, but there's absolutely no reason to open it up. It may have been a custom but there's no law that says we have to open it up to the public."

Alderman Sullivan : "We tend to want people to be involved and then we don't want to allow any opportunity."

Mayor Hendrixson: "I think from here on out, If you want on the agenda just let me know and I'll get you on the agenda. You'll be on the agenda and we won't have to have a public hearing."

Alderman Sullivan : "That's normally at your discretion."

After the nearly twenty minute stalemate, Alderman Sullivan made the following motion. " Mr. Mayor, I make a motion that we allow the public to speak. I put that in the form of a motion that they are allowed at least five minutes to speak at the end of each meeting, when properly called upon. I put that in the form of a motion. If we need to advertise for a public hearing then we need to be advertising. These meetings are advertised and I will not be a part of silencing the audience or the citizens of Smithville. It's always been our policy that you allow, through the most heated times during my year of service, you have allowed the public to speak under your tenure and I will not be a part of you silencing them for whatever reason."

Mayor Hendrixson : "I'm not silencing them. They can get on the agenda if they like."

Alderman Sullivan : "Yes sir, but normally you call for people to speak, if they like to and I'm putting that in the form of a motion at this time. I've been here for the most heated discussions in a year's time and you never silenced anyone. You allowed everybody to speak. I've stayed here to nearly eleven o'clock at night at times to hear the public. That was their prerogative and their right and we need to be listening. I don't know if there's anybody here that has anything to say, but I think it is wrong to adjourn this meeting without giving the opportunity."

Mayor Hendrixson: "I think most every meeting from the state legislature on down, if you want to speak you need to get on the agenda."

Alderman Sullivan : "I put this in the form of a motion, to allow, at the end of a meeting, the public to ask questions if they desire or to speak if they desire (for) five minutes. You (mayor) limited them to three (minutes). Roberts Rules of Order says they can have up to ten (minutes). I think five minutes would be appropriate."

Aldermen Sullivan, Thomas, and Hutchins voted in favor of the motion.

Mayor Hendrixson then asked Sullivan, since her motion passed, if it went into effect immediately or at the next meeting.

Alderman Sullivan responded, "I won't adjourn this meeting until the public has an opportunity to speak."

Mayor Hendrixson then relented saying "I'll open it this one time, but I'm going to get directions from the attorney on whether it's considered a public hearing or not, before I will do it again."

Alderman Sullivan answered, "If it turns into a public hearing and we need to advertise then that's what we need to do. We don't need to change things in the middle of the stream."

Mayor Hendrixson then turned to the audience and asked if anyone wanted to speak to the board. No one did.

The meeting was then adjourned on a 5 to 0 vote.

County Fire Department Offers Home Heating Safety Tips

November 3, 2008
Bradley Mullinax

With the cold temperatures on the way and rising energy costs some people may resort to burning wood in fireplaces and wood stoves for home heating this winter

Bradley Mullinax, Lieutenant and Fire Prevention and Safety Officer for the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department offers some helpful tips for the prevention of Chimney Fires.

Get an annual chimney check. Have chimneys inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a qualified professional chimney service technician. This reduces the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or obstructions in the chimneys.

2. Keep it clear. Keep tree branches and leaves at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney.

3. Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of the chimney.

4. Choose the right fuel. For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well seasoned wood that has been split for a minimum of six months - one year and stored in a covered and elevated location. Never burn Christmas trees or treated wood in your fireplace or wood stove.

5. Build it right. Place firewood or firelogs at the rear of the fireplace on a supporting grate. To start the fire, use kindling or a commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids.

6. Keep the hearth area clear. Combustible material too close to the fireplace, or to a wood stove, could easily catch fire. Keep furniture at least 36" away from the hearth.

7. Use a fireplace screen. Use metal mesh or a screen in front of the fireplace to catch flying sparks that could ignite or burn holes in the carpet or flooring.

8. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Place detectors throughout the house and check batteries in the spring and fall. When you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, remember to check your batteries.

9. Never leave a fire unattended. Before turning in for the evening, be sure that the fire is fully extinguished. Supervise children and pets closely around wood stoves and fireplaces.

10. Annual inspections are recommended, performed by Certified Chimney Sweeps. These chimney sweeps have earned the industry's most respected credential by passing an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. The National Fire Protection Association also recommends that all chimneys are inspected on an annual basis.

Sheriff Reports Quiet Halloween Night in DeKalb County

November 3, 2008
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Halloween night was relatively quiet in DeKalb County.

Deputies answered only 13 calls Friday night. Sheriff Ray says those calls included two burglar alarms, two vehicle lockouts, one domestic call, six investigation calls, one reckless driver call, and one loud music call.

The Sheriff's Department also conducted saturated patrols Halloween night across the county and joined the Smithville Police Department in setting up Sobriety Check Points. A road block was set up on Highway 70 East where a total of 57 vehicles came through. There was one arrest and 4 citations issued..

Sheriff Ray says 23 year old Raymundo Desirena Gilberth of West Spring Street Smithville was arrested for no driver's license. Gilberth was also issued a citation for an open container of beer in his vehicle. Gilberth's bond was set at $1,000 and he will appear in court on December 4th. Citations were also issued after K-9 Officer Patrick Britain and the dog "Banshee" searched for drugs around vehicles at the check point.

Those receiving citations were 51 year old David Seabolt of Johnson's Chapel Road Sparta for simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana). Banshee alerted on Seabolt's vehicle and detectives found a small amount of marijuana and a pair of hemostats.

44 year old James Douglas Weston Jr. of Darky Springs Road, Sparta was issued a citation after Banshee alerted on his vehicle. Deputies found an unlabeled pill bottle containing a small amount of white pills believed to be Xanax. Weston was issued a citation for simple possession of a schedule IV drug (Xanax).

Elderly Woman Awakened by Smoke Alarm

November 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

An elderly woman was awakened by a smoke alarm Saturday night after a fire started in the laundry room of her home from a clothes dryer.

County Fire Chief Donny Green says Virginia Jones, who lives alone at 242 Delong Road, off Jefferson Road was in bed when she was awakened by a smoke alarm in her home. She discovered that the house was filled with smoke and that the clothes dryer in the laundry room was on fire. She called 911 and firefighters were dispatched to the scene.

Chief Green says firefighters, upon arrival, saw heavy smoke coming from the house and fire in the laundry room and clothes in the dryer were on fire.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire but heat and smoke damage spread to areas of the home near the laundry room.

Jones was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital for observation.

Chief Green says it appears the clothes dryer overheated due to an obstructed vent which sparked the fire.

Members of the Keltonburg, Belk, and Blue Springs Stations responded along with DeKalb EMS and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Moss Named Fall Fest Queen

November 1, 2008
Dwayne Page
Fall Fest Queen Whitney LaRay Moss
Fall Fest Queen and Attendants
Fall Fest Miss Congeniality Ashlee Michelle Whitehead

17 year old Whitney LaRay Moss of Alexandria is the 2008 Fall Fest Queen

She was crowned Saturday night at the conclusion of the annual pageant held at the DeKalb County High School gym, sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.

Moss, daughter of Greg and Wendy Moss, succeeds the 2007 Fall Fest Queen, Martha Alan Webb, the 16 year old daughter of Alan and Lora Webb of Smithville.

First runner-up in the pageant was 17 year old Rosemary Apple, daughter of Nick and Claire Apple of Smithville.

15 year old Katelyn Lou Ann Goodwin, daughter of Joey and Kathy Goodwin of Smithville, was named second runner-up

Laura Caroline Carter was third runner-up. She is the 16 year old daughter of John and Laura Carter of McMinnville.

14 year old Victoria Dawn Tatrow was the fourth runner-up. She is the daughter of Corey and Vickie Funk of Smithville and the late Shauna Tatrow.

Meanwhile, 14 year old Ashlee Michelle Whitehead was named Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Kenneth and Tina Whitehead of Smithville.

Rounding out the top ten were Jasmine Marie Dimas, the 14 year old daughter of Lynda Hamilton of Smithville; Trista Atnip, the 17 year old daughter of Twana and Jonathan Green and Barry Atnip of Smithville; Lauren Kemp, 17 year old daughter of Randy and Tonya Crutcher of Alexandria; Kara Elizabeth Young, the 17 year old daughter of Ronny and Nancy Young of Smithville; and Macy Celeste Felts, the 18 year old daughter of Kendra and Rick Guinn of Smithville.

Twenty one young ladies participated in the pageant.

(Group picture- left to right: Laura Caroline Carter, Rosemary Apple, Queen Whitney LaRay Moss, Katelyn Lou Ann Goodwin, and Victoria Dawn Tatrow)

Estes Crowned First Ever Autumn Princess

November 1, 2008
Dwayne Page
Autumn Princess Brooklynn Storm Estes
Autumn Princess and Attendants
Autumn Princess Miss Manners Alannah Rose Musick-Morris

The first ever Autumn Princess is 8 year old Brooklynn Storm Estes.

Estes, daughter of Chris and Shanna Bogle of Dowelltown, was among twenty three contestants in the pageant held Saturday night at the DCHS gym.

The new pageant, featuring girls ages 7 to 10, was sponsored by the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club.

First runner-up in the pageant was Kyra Agee, the 8 year old daughter of April Davis and Donny Agee of Smithville.

Second runner-up was Tyra Grace Graham, the 10 year old daughter of Kyle and Doris Graham of Smithville.

Destiny Franklin, the 9 year old daughter of Jennifer Franklin and Charlie Ware of Smithville, was named third runner-up.

Abigail Hope Taylor was the fourth runner-up. She is the 8 year old daughter of Ken and Cindy Taylor of Smithville.

Rounding out the top ten were Kayla Jayne Belk, the 8 year old daughter of ChrisAnne Belk and Wendell Belk of Smithville; Hannah Elizabeth Evans, the 8 year old daughter of Mike and Amy Estes of Alexandria; Taylor Lee Parker, the 7 year old daughter of Tarron Johnson and Chris Parker of Smithville; Macy Elizabeth Hedge, the 8 year old daughter of David and Trina Hedge of Smithville; and Alannah Rose Musick-Morris the 7 year old daughter of Celena Musick and Grover Morris of Smithville.

Alannah Rose Musick-Morris was also named Miss Manners.

(Group picture- left to right: Abigail Hope Taylor, Tyra Grace Graham, Queen-Brooklynn Storm Estes, Kyra Agee, and Destiny Franklin)

DeKalb Tigers to Meet McMinn Central in First Round of TSSAA Football Play-offs

November 1, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tiger Football team will travel to Englewood near Athens in east Tennessee to take on the McMinn Central Chargers Friday night, November 7th in the first round of the TSSAA playoffs.

McMinn Central, the runner-up in Region 3-3A, finished the regular season at 9-1, losing their only game to Howard 33 to 14 Friday night.

The winner of the DeKalb/McMinn Central game will meet the winner of the Whitehouse/East Ridge contest on November 14th.

Meanwhile, Sycamore will face Howard in the first round of the playoffs while Station Camp will take on Polk County . The winners of those two games will meet on November 14th.

McMinn Central defeated the following teams this year:

Loudon, 34-13
Oliver Springs, 48-13
Meigs County, 55-0
Sequoyah 28-12
Notre Dame 42-0
East Ridge 17-16
Tellico Plains 49-13
Grundy County 55-6
Polk County 16-0

The DeKalb County Tigers finished the regular season at 8-2

DeKalb County defeated the following teams this year:

Warren County 42-25
Watertown 31-14
Greenbrier 46-27
Cannon County 63-20
Pearl Cohn 28-6
Upperman 40-37
Sycamore 20-6
Macon County 35-7

The Tigers lost to Station Camp 51-27 and to Whitehouse 49-35

DeKalb County Wins Battle of the Cats at Macon County 35-7

October 30, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigers defeated the Macon County Tigers 35 to 7 at Lafayette Thursday night to conclude the regular football season at 8-2 overall and 4-2 in Region 4-3A.

DeKalb County will enter the TSSAA playoffs next week. The Tigers will travel to either McMinn Central or Chattanooga Howard. Those two teams play Friday night for the Region 3-3A championship.

Macon County, meanwhile, concludes their season with a 1-9 record, 1-5 in region play.

Neither team got on the board in the first period and the only score in the second quarter came with 24 seconds left before half time as Nick Lester caught a four yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hunter Poteete to give DeKalb County a 7-0 lead after Zach Taylor converted on the P.A.T.

That was the half time score.

DeKalb County got the ball to start the third period and marched 75 yards for another score. Quarterback Hunter Poteete found Abram Edwards on a 24 yard touchdown pass play. Zach Taylor converted on the P.A.T and with 9:15 left in the third quarter, the Tigers led 14-0.

After stopping Macon County on a fourth down play at the DeKalb 12 yard line, the Black and Gold Tigers moved 88 yards in two plays to score their third touchdown of the night. Quarterback Hunter Poteete raced 63 yards on the first play in the drive and Matthew Lawrence went the rest of the way on the second play, scoring on a 25 yard touchdown run with 3:41 left in the third period. Zach Taylor converted on the P.A.T. and DeKalb County led 21-0.

That was the score at the end of the third period.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, DeKalb County scored their fourth touchdown on a nine yard quarterback keeper by Hunter Poteete. Zach Taylor converted on the P.A.T. and DeKalb led 28-0 with 11:54 left in the game.

After getting the ball back on a turnover, the Tigers scored again, this time on a 24 yard pass play from quarterback Hunter Poteete to Abram Edwards. Zach Taylor converted on the PA.T. and DeKalb County led 35-0 with 11:25 to go in the fourth quarter.

Macon County finally got on the scoreboard with 3:28 left on a 22 yard touchdown pass play. The P.A.T. was good and DeKalb County's lead was cut to 35 to 7.

The final score was DeKalb County 35, Macon County 7.

J.J. Herriott had a huge night on defense for the Tigers, as he intercepted four Macon County passes. Herriott dropped a potentil fifth interception in the first half, on a fourth down pass play deep in Tiger territory. Hunter Poteete completed 5-of-14 passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 161 yards on 15 carries with another score. Matthew Lawrence ran the ball 10 times for 79 yards with one touchdown.

Almost 4,000 People Voted Early

October 30, 2008
Dwayne Page

Almost four thousand people turned out for early voting in DeKalb County for the November 4th election.

The DeKalb County Election Commission reports that 3,979 persons voted from October 15th through October 30th including 3,816 in person and 163 by mail.

That beats the November early voting turnout of 2,212 in 2000 and 3,142 in 2004.

All early voting was conducted at the courthouse, but the election commission can break down the numbers of early voters by precinct.

The numbers of voters by precinct are as follows:

Alexandria 253
Temperance Hall 97
Edgar Evins State Park 21
Liberty 185
Dowelltown 123
Snow Hill 205
Middle School 757
Cherry Hill 36
Rock Castle 32
Courthouse 623
Johnson's Chapel 134
Elementary School 488
Belk 82
Keltonburg 217
Blue Springs 187
Church of Christ Annex 539

Total 3,979

If you did not vote early and are an eligible voter, you may cast ballots on Tuesday, November 4th. All sixteen precincts will be open for voting from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Be sure to vote Tuesday and then tune to WJLE Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. for LIVE election return coverage at the courthouse on FM 101.7, AM 1480 and LIVE audio streaming at www.wjle.com Also check out our election tables with voting results by precinct for all races at www.wjle.com

The following are the daily results of early voting at the courthouse.

Wednesday, October 15th- 250 voted in person and 5 by mail for a total of 255

Thursday, October 16th- 352 in person and 3 by mail for a total of 355

Friday, October 17th- 262 in person and 5 by mail for a total of 267

Saturday, October 18th- 142 in person and 5 by mail for a total of 147

Monday, October 20th- 213 in person and 5 by mail for a total of 218

Tuesday, October 21st- 240 in person and 21 by mail for a total of 261

Wednesday, October 22nd- 194 in person and 5 by mail for a total of 199

Thursday, October 23rd- 319 in person and 15 by mail for a total of 334

Friday, October 24th- 263 in person and 7 by mail for a total of 270

Saturday, October 25th- 159 in person and 6 by mail for a total of 165

Monday, October 27th- 229 in person and 3 by mail for a total of 232

Tuesday, October 28th- 298 in person and 8 by mail for a total of 306

Wednesday, October 29th- 281 in person and 8 by mail for a total of 289

Thursday, October 30th- 590 in person and 11 by mail for a total of 601

Prior to the start of early voting 56 voted by mail and 24 voted in person at the nursing homes and retirement homes for a total of 80.

Chamber Milestone Award Goes to New Frontiers

October 30, 2008
Lou Ann Sanders, Chamber Adm.Asst., New Frontier owners Larry and Lori Nellist, Suzanne Williams, Chamber Director

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce recently presented the Chamber
Milestone Award to New Frontiers celebrating 20 years of service in DeKalb

According to owners Larry and Lori Nellist, "New Frontiers ministers to people throughout the world teaching them to think metaphorically, to live intentionally and to seek the emergent truths that God speaks to them."

New Frontiers is located at 3939 Old Snow Hill Road in Dowelltown. You can see their website at www.newfrontiers.org or visit them on November 16th between the hours of 2 PM and 6 PM at their Open House.

(Pictured left to right: Lou Ann Sanders, Chamber Adm.Asst., New Frontier owners Larry and Lori
Nellist, Suzanne Williams, Chamber Director)


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