Local News Articles

Early Voting Begins Wednesday, Voters Reminded to Bring Photo ID's

February 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Scott Cantrell, Bryan Keith, Timothy "Fud" Banks
A driver license is one of several acceptable forms of photo ID for voting

Early voting for the March 6 elections begins Wednesday, February 15 and for the first time DeKalb County residents will be required to show a photo ID at the polls.

Dates and hours for early voting are Wednesday, February 15 through Tuesday, February 28 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.; Thursdays from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until noon. All early voting will take place in the basement courtroom of the DeKalb County Courthouse. Closed February 20 for President's Day.

The election commission office is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the first floor of the courthouse, room 104. The phone number is 597-4146.

Remember, as a voter you must declare which primary in which you intend to vote. For example, if you declare your intention to vote in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary, you cannot vote in either the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary or the DeKalb County Democratic Primary (for Assessor of Property and Constable). Likewise, if you choose to vote in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary and the DeKalb County Democratic Primary (for Assessor of Property and Constable), you cannot vote in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary

If you choose to vote in the Republican Presidential Preference Primary you may vote for one of the following candidates:

Michele Bachman
Newt Gingrich
Jon Huntsman
Gary Johnson
Ron Paul
Rick Perry
Charles "Buddy" Roemer
Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum

The Republican ballot also lists the names of Delegates At Large for Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney (Committed and Uncommitted) as well as Delegates in the 6th Congressional District for Gingrich, Paul, Perry, and Romney (Committed and Uncommitted).

If you choose to vote in the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, the only name listed is Barack Obama and Uncommitted.

The DeKalb County Democratic Primary ballot features the Assessor of Property race. The candidates are listed as follows:

Timothy "Fud" Banks
Scott E. Cantrell
Bryan Keith

Constable candidates are on the ballot in the following districts:

3rd District:
Wayne Vanderpool

4th District:
Paul Cantrell

5th District:
Mark Milam

6th District:
Richard Bullard
Carl Lee Webb

7th District
Johnny King

Four More Defendants Charged in Grand Jury Sealed Indictments Arrested by Sheriff's Department

February 14, 2012
Dwayne Page
Michael Stewart Brown
Teddy Allen Snipes
Dennis Charles Ellis
Samuel Wade Walker
Nathan Joe Trapp
Joseph Eric Kile
Victoria Chantel Tate
Scotty Dale Farmer

Four more persons have been arrested named in sealed indictments on drug charges returned by the grand jury earlier this month as part of an undercover investigation by the sheriff's department.

The following are those defendants and their charges:

36 year old Michael Stewart Brown of McMinnville- Sale and delivery of a schedule III drug in a drug free zone ( Bond $30,000). He was arrested on Monday, February 6

35 year old Teddy Allen Snipes of Smithville- Sale and delivery of a schedule IV drug (2 counts) ($40,000 bond). He was arrested on February 6

50 year old Dennis Charles Ellis of Smithville- Sale and delivery of a schedule II drug ( $30,000 bond). He was arrested on February 6.

33 year old Samuel Wade Walker of Smithville- Sale and delivery of a schedule II drug in a drug free zone ( $40,000 bond).

In addition to the sealed indictment on the drug charge, the sheriff's department has charged Walker and another man in a separate case with theft of property over $1,000.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Walker and 29 year old Nathan Joe Trapp of Smithville went to Smithville Rental Center on East Broad Street Tuesday, February 2 and allegedly stole 940 pounds of metal racks valued at more than $1,000, taking it to a local recycling center where they sold it. Bond for each is $5,000 on this charge and they will be in court on February 16.

In other cases, 34 year old Joseph Eric Kile of Smithville is charged with violation of the sex offender registry. His bond is $25,000 and he will be in court on February 16.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, February 9 Kile was picked by a sheriff's department detective for violation of probation. An NCIC check showed that he was a violent sex offender. Kile admitted to living in DeKalb County for about a week. He violated the sex offender registry by not registering within the time mandated by law.

20 year old Victoria Chantel Tate of Smithville is charged with assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. He bond is $4,500 and she will be in court on February 23.

According to Sheriff Ray, while two correctional officers were escorting inmates on foot from court back to the jail on Thursday, February 9, a sheriff's department sergeant saw a woman, identified as Tate, run toward the inmates trying to speak to one of them. As she approached, Tate ran into one of the correctional officers, causing him to fear bodily injury. Tate was placed under arrest but as the sergeant was attempting to handcuff her, she kept trying to pull away from him. Her actions caused public alarm and safety issues.

35 year old Scotty Dale Farmer of Hickman is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property over $500. He was arrested on Friday, February 10. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on February 16

Sheriff Ray reports that on Wednesday, January 18, Farmer allegedly entered a residence on Hickman Road by prying open a back door. He allegedly stole a diamond ring, two silver rings, two knives, and an ipod touch with a total value of more than $500.

20 year old Clay Andrew Baine of Smithville was issued a citation for possession of alcohol by a minor after being involved in a recent traffic accident on Lakeview Drive. Upon arrival, the investigating officer made contact with Bain who had a can of Keystone lite beer in a cup holder of the vehicle. He will be in court on March 22

Habitat Seeking to Build HOPE for Another Partner Family

February 13, 2012
Dwayne Page
1st Habitat Partner Family Home on Adams Street
2nd Habitat Partner Family Home on Adams Street
3rd Habitat Partner Family Home located on Hayes Street

Members of Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County have helped build HOPE for three partner families within the last five years and they would like to reach out to another family this year.

If you would like to experience the dream of home ownership you are invited to attend an
informational meeting and application fair on Thursday, February 16 at 6 p.m. at the First United Methodist Fellowship Center in Downtown Smithville across the street from Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. Families will receive information about the Habitat Program and assistance to complete the application.

The third Habitat home on Hayes Street in DeKalb County was completed during the summer of 2010 for Kim McCowan and her grandchildren. The other two homes, completed within the last five years for the Denise Perry and Felicia Gibbs families, are located on Adams Street.

"We are seeking a partner family for 2012," said Marie Blair, chair of the Family Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County. " To help people learn all about Habitat, we are having an informational meeting to explain all about Habitat. We will help you fill out an application and let you know what will be expected if you become a partner family," said Blair.

Applications must be postmarked by March 30. "We will help you at the February meeting and if you are unable to attend the meeting you can call Habitat and leave a message. One of the volunteers will call you back. The phone number is 215-8181," said Blair.

While Habitat provides resources and assistance, partner families are expected to do their part in helping build and pay for the homes. "I want to make sure everyone understands that this is not a free house," said Blair. " The house does belong to the partner family but its an opportunity for them to buy a house at no interest. They will pay only for the house. The family gets to help select the colors of their rooms, the kind of floors they want, etc. Of course there are some guidelines. We have some different house plans depending on the size and shape of the lot but the family does get to be involved in that (selecting house plans). The way they make their down payment is called sweat equity. That means the partner family actually works on the house. The children can help. They can earn sweat equity partly by staying in school, improving their grades, and having perfect attendance. It's a whole big family project," said Blair.

"We really do need a family," she said. " If you can make a house payment of between $300 and $400 a month and you don't have lots of other debt or if you do have debt, please attend the meeting. We're starting a new program to hopefully help families who need to get their finances in order. If you have interest in owning your own home and don't want to have to think about moving again and where your children can play in their own yard, come to the meeting on February 16," said Blair.

Volunteers are also needed to help when the time comes to start construction. " If you think you don't know anything about building, we have contractors that will tell you what to do," said Blair. "But all of us can pick up the trash from the work site. We have good support from our church community. They provide lunch when people are over there working on the house. Anything you can do, we can use your help. There are people who will be willing to show you what to do. We do have construction experts that do things like the foundation, the roof, and those things. We're just looking for people of all ages who want to help so if you want to volunteer you can call that same phone number (215-8181) and say I'd like to volunteer and work on the house," said Blair.

To qualify as a partner family, applicants must meet the following basic criteria:

1. Be a DeKalb County resident for at least 1 year.
2. Be a U.S. Citizen or have permanent resident alien status.
3. Have a housing need. For example, current conditions may be overcrowded, unsanitary, unsafe, temporary or cost prohibitive.
4.Have an ability to pay. Applicants must provide proof of income and ability to pay a monthly mortgage.
5.Be willing to partner. Qualified families will participate in budgeting and home maintenance classes as well as help in the construction of their own home.

If you are unable to attend the February 16th meeting, you may call 615-215-8181 and leave your name, address and phone number. A Habitat volunteer will contact you to provide additional information and perhaps mail an application to you.

To be considered, completed and signed applications must be postmarked by Friday, March 30, 2012.

The purpose of Habitat is to build houses and sell them at no profit and no interest to families who could not otherwise afford their own home. This Christian ministry is financed through private donations using volunteer labor and donated materials whenever possible.

Saving Lives Officially Underway

February 13, 2012
Chase Ferrell, DeKalb County Relay for Life Promotions/Media Chair
Saving Lives Officially Underway

The Relay for Life season is officially off to a great start! The DeKalb County Relay for Life Kickoff was this past Tuesday (February 7th) at the “Coaches vs. Cancer” basketball game at the high school, and I must say I was truly impressed with the amazing turnout! The DeKalb County basketball teams showed their breast cancer awareness support by wearing hot pink shirts saying “Hoops for Hope” and Cannon County sported light pink tees with the official breast cancer awareness ribbon on the front. A large majority of the crowd also showed their support for not only the basketball game but also for awareness of the terrifying disease that takes the lives of many men, women and children every year. Our Relay Committee set up a table outside the gym and sold pom-poms, bracelets and signed up teams on a constant basis throughout the night. I can’t thank you enough for your incredible support!

You may be wondering where the money goes that you donated; well, many people do not realize that Tennessee spent 10.2 million dollars last year on breast cancer research. This research goes to finding a cure, and doctors and scientists work around the clock to speed up the process in order to save as many lives as possible. Breast cancer does not only affect women as many men are diagnosed each year so it’s important for EVERYONE to get screened on a regular basis. The death rate for breast cancer has gone down an incredible amount since last year so it’s vital that we continue to support the American Cancer Society to insure they have the funds they need to save lives. My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor and she lived a wonderful life until God called her home in September of 2010, therefore, this organization has a special place in my heart. I will do my best to keep all of you updated (via newspapers, WJLE, Facebook and email) with information on all our upcoming events. You’ll be shocked with all the awesome ideas we’ve come up with!

If you are a business that would be interested in promoting the DeKalb County Relay for Life then please email us and let us know so we can get information to you! You, in return, will get free publicity on our end as a Relay Sponsor.

For more information on how you can get involved with the DeKalb County Relay for Life, or to see all the photos taken at the events (which you are more than welcome to tag yourself in), please visit: www.facebook.com/DeKalbRelay or email: dekalbrelay@gmail.com

Remember, every step we take is one step closer to finding a cure! Let’s get DeKalb County excited about saving lives!

State and U.S. Flags Presented to Corey Tate of U.S. Air Force

February 13, 2012
Dwayne Page
Terri Lynn Weaver, Timothy Tate, Corey Tate, Christie Tate Brown, Mae Beavers

Family and friends gathered at the Midway Community Center Sunday to welcome home Corey Tate who recently joined the U.S. Air Force.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and State Senator Mae Beavers were also on hand for the occasion to present Tate a Tennessee State flag and a United States flag which were both flown over the state capitol recently in his honor with certificates signed by Governor Bill Haslam.

Tate, son of Timothy Tate and Christie Tate Brown, joined the U.S. Air Force three and a half months ago and has been stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Tate completed his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and then attended Tech school at Fort Sam Houston.

Tate, who returned home over the weekend, is here until February 20 and then he will be leaving for the Aviano Air Base in Italy. Tate will complete his first tour of duty in two years.

Sligo Bridge Project on Hold Until Right of Way Issue Resolved

February 12, 2012
Dwayne Page
Sligo Bridge
Paul Degges
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

The state is ready to proceed with plans to build the new Sligo bridge but can't move on the project until a disagreement over right of way acquisition is resolved.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation, which has been in negotiations with the Corps of Engineers and its lessee Sligo Marina, recently made another offer to purchase right of way for the bridge and is now waiting for a response. An answer is expected by the end of the month. Terms of the offer have apparently not been publicly disclosed.

As WJLE first reported on December 29, TDOT had hoped to have the new Sligo bridge project ready for bid letting by now.

Although the Corps is the only property owner involved, TDOT apparently has to take into consideration concerns of Sligo Marina, which is located next to Sligo bridge.

According to TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges, one of the major concerns is that the marina owners want the state to pay for "potential loss of business"to them during the construction of the bridge. The problem is the state cannot legally pay for those types of damages.

In a telephone interview with WJLE in December, Degges said this has been the primary sticking point in the negotiations. "The Corps of Engineers has leased this property to a lessee (Sligo Marina). They're wanting to be paid for some things. In particular, he (lessee) wants to be paid for some potential loss of business due to loss of some of his parking and the impact of construction. Under state law in Tennessee, we (TDOT) are prohibited from paying those types of damages. So since we're kind of in a disagreement," said Degges.

State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver has weighed in on the issue saying, in an interview on WJLE Friday morning February 10, she is concerned that the bridge project is being delayed. "When we noticed that the (bid) let wasn't taking place, I just happened to call and say ‘okay what's the deal'?. I had not known there was actually some meetings with the Corps and the owners of the marina and their lawyers. So there were some back and forth offers being made. Apparently, the problem is that the owners of the marina fear that they are going to lose business while this bridge is being constructed. TDOT has already appropriated two million dollars, and they didn't have to do that, to build a retaining wall to keep those (marina) parking places they were worried about. The bridge will be built (a few feet away from) the old existing bridge so there is still going to be ample space to maneuver. Plus, they will be doing the heaviest construction during the winter months when the marina won't have as much traffic," said Representative Weaver.

Normally, when an agreement cannot be reached on right of way acquisition, the state can resort to imminent domain proceedings. But in this case, condemnation is not an option because the state cannot condemn federal property.

"Our process is, and this is all in state law, that for any typical project we do an appraisal," said Degges. " We make an offer and if the property owner thinks it's a fair price then we buy the property. If they don't think that the price is fair, it goes to the attorney general's office for condemnation. Probably about 75% of the property we buy in a given year, we negotiate and people negotiate with us. About 25% of what we buy goes through the condemnation proceedings. There's nothing bad about condemnation. It's just that's the process used to make sure that people have the ability to feel that they're getting the appropriate value for their real estate. In this particular case, since the property is owned by the Corps of Engineers, the United States government has sovereign immunity over the state of Tennessee. In other words, we cannot condemn the federal government. So since we're kind of in a disagreement, the question is can we condemn the property? The Corps of Engineers has determined that we cannot condemn their lessee. So that's kind of got us in a situation here. Not only is the project contingent on us getting the right of way, but the Corps of Engineers also issues us water quality permits. So we can't finish up the permitting process nor can we get the right of way to actually build the project until the issue is resolved," said Degges.

Representative Weaver said it isn't right for any business to hold a road or bridge project "hostage" in this manner. "Any business, whether you're having a highway built in front of you or a bridge, its maybe going to be a little inconvenient for you. That's just a part of life. What a marina or any business cannot do is hold the Department of Transportation hostage and say ‘well I'm not going to let you do this (build a bridge) because I'm going to miss "x" amount of money in business. That is unconstitutional. But if something like that could proceed then its almost as ludicrous to say ‘okay now that the bridge is done or now that the new road is in, you as a business now need to pay the Department of Transportation for all the new business and the increased traffic you will get'. That's not going to happen," she said.

According to Representative Weaver, if the stalemate continues the bridge project, which has already been funded in the state budget, could be delayed another year. She added that further delays could also impact the Corps' decision on whether to renew Sligo Marina's lease, which comes up for renewal next year. "The Corps is involved because of the land where the marina is. We don't foresee this but the worst case scenario would be if they can't come up with any agreement, which would be unfortunate for everybody, then in 2013 the (marina's) lease is up for renewal. The Corps could deny the lease. If that were to happen then they (marina) would lose and we lose because it would take another year to get that (bridge project) going. Plus the two years it would take to build the bridge. So everybody would lose out on that. I don't want that to happen. This bridge is vital. It needs to be moving along. We have the money budgeted for it and we need to proceed for the good of everyone concerned. I'm hoping they'll see this and move forward," said Representative Weaver.

The Sligo project, which was funded in the 2011-12 state budget, calls for replacement of the existing overhead truss bridge which is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The new bridge will be located a few feet to the north of the existing bridge, which will remain open to traffic during construction. The new bridge will be a continuous welded plate girder design with a composite concrete deck slab and will be 1,545 feet in length. The project typical section is two-12 foot lanes with 10 foot shoulders. The total estimated cost of the project including engineering, right of way, and construction is $31-million.

"We're going to build what we call a steel plate girder bridge with a concrete deck," said Degges. " Right now, the bridge is a truss. The truss has quite a bit of age on it. I believe it's right at 80 years old. The steel of that vintage, when it starts to deteriorate, deteriorates pretty fast. So its time for us to put a new bridge in there. The bridge is somewhat narrow. The new bridge we're going to put in here will have twelve foot lanes and ten foot shoulders. It will be what most people would consider a traditional bridge in that the beams of this bridge will be under the deck. One of the challenges here is that the water is over one hundred feet deep at this location which makes the construction of the bridge somewhat more challenging. Just think about trying to pour concrete one hundred feet under water. Its a pretty tough proposition. We don't have a whole lot of that type of work in Tennessee, but we do have some. We'll build the new bridge adjacent to the existing bridge. It's a vital artery for this part of the state of Tennessee. DeKalb County is very interested in this project. This county is split by the river and transportation is a key component of the economy there. So we want to make sure we get this bridge replaced before we have to do any additional repair work to the bridge," added Degges.

Fire Claims One Life

February 11, 2012
Dwayne Page
Fire Claims One Life on Hurricane Ridge Road
One Dies In Fire On Hurricane Ridge Road

A fire at 831 Hurricane Ridge Road Saturday morning has claimed one life, according to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

The name of the deceased has not yet been released.

County firefighters were dispatched at 11:06 a.m. and three minutes later the first station arrived on the scene. Members of the Cookeville Highway, Liberty, Main Station, and other units of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with the Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS. The blaze was reportedly well underway by the time firefighters arrived and the home could not be saved.

According to County Fire Chief Donny Green, three people were in the home at the time of the fire, Barbara Arnold, a resident there; Brad Driver, a family member; and the victim. Driver and Mrs. Arnold escaped unharmed. The victim who reportedly tried to extinguish the fire, didn't make it out. Driver went across the road to the home of relatives to call for help.

The origin and cause of the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal. Mrs. Arnold and Driver have told officials they believe the fire started from a portable electric heater.

No foul play is suspected but the body of the victim will be sent to Nashville for an autopsy to make positive identification, before the name is released.

The home and all belongings were lost in the fire. Chief Green said members of the local chapter of the Red Cross have provided food and clothing for Mrs. Arnold. She is now staying with family members.

State Readies for Fourth Round of TennCare Standard Spend Down

February 11, 2012

The TennCare Standard Spend Down program will again offer open enrollment opportunities to new applicants on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 beginning at 6 p.m. CST.

Standard Spend Down is available through a waiver to the Medicaid program for a limited number of qualified low income individuals, or those with high, unpaid medical bills who are aged, blind, disabled, or the caretaker relative of a Medicaid eligible child. Eligible individuals must have enough unpaid medical bills to meet the “spend down” threshold to qualify for coverage.

“We are pleased to again to be able to open enrollment in the Standard Spend Down program,” said DHS Commissioner Raquel Hatter. “This program offers additional assistance to qualified low-income individuals or those with very high medical bills who are not already on TennCare.”

A special call-in phone line through DHS has been set up for interested applicants. The only way to request an application is by calling the toll-free number -- 1-866-358-3230 -- which will be open between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. CST on Feb. 21. Operators will close the phone line once 2,500 applicants call in. In previous open enrollment periods, 2,500 calls had been taken within one hour. If 2,500 calls are not received on Feb. 21, the phone lines will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on subsequent weekdays until 2,500 interested applicants call in.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to check eligibility qualifications before calling in. More information on the Standard Spend Down program and more detailed eligibility criteria are available here.

The toll-free number system is used to ensure equal access to Tennessee citizens interested in this program. The Tennessee Department of Human Services will send applications to all callers who are not already on TennCare and will review their eligibility for any open Medicaid categories and the newly opened Standard Spend Down category. Advanced notifications will be made to the public and other stakeholders prior to subsequent openings of the application request line.

Standard Spend Down Eligibility:

In addition to being aged (65 or older), blind*, disabled,* or a caretaker relative,
An individual must meet certain income restrictions, or be able to “spend down” qualifying unpaid medical bills to that limit. (*To be considered blind or disabled, an individual must meet standards set by the Social Security Administration.)

The following shows the income limits:

Household Size 1 (Monthly Income $241)
House Size 2 (Monthly Income $258)
House Size 3 (Monthly Income $317)
House Size 4 (Monthly Income $325)
House Size 5 (Monthly Income $392)
House Size 6 (Monthly Income $408)

Applicants also must not have resources that:

Exceed $2,000 for a family of one and $3,000 for a family of two with an additional $100 added per additional individual in the family.
A person’s unpaid medical bill must have been accrued within the past 90 days. Medical bills paid by the applicant within the past 30 days may count towards meeting an applicant’s spend down requirement.
Pregnant women and children still are eligible for the Medically Needy Spend Down program.

The ONLY way to request an application for the TennCare Standard Spend Down Program is through the toll free number (1-866-358-3230). Individuals interested in accessing the Standard Spend Down call-in line who are deaf/hard of hearing/speech impaired and using a TTY (text telephone) device should first call the Tennessee Relay Service at 1 (800) 848-0298. They will be prompted to enter the number they are trying to reach (the call-in line #) and a communications assistant will act as the go-between. Those wishing to apply for other TennCare categories should contact their local Department of Human Services county office, call the Family Assistance Service Center at 1-866-311-4287 during normal business hours, or visit www.tennessee.gov/humanserv/.


A look at the Tennessee Legislature

February 11, 2012
Terri Lynn Weaver
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Greetings, Folks of the Fortieth! Almost a month into the second half of session and we are beginning to see committees fill with legislation that is active and moving. Please take advantage of the user-friendly Tennessee General Assembly website where you can watch the committee meetings live on video stream, www.legislature.state.tn.us.

Communication is paramount between the folks I represent and the issues at hand here at the state level. I do appreciate the emails I receive when it comes to the legislation you are passionate about.

Your voice is being heard, for apparently Governor Haslam is opening up more discussion on SB2210 that would allow school districts to establish teacher salaries and use maximum class sizes rather than average pupil-teacher ratios in the school district. It is good to know that teachers are in those discussions as efforts to get feedback from various schools across the state continues. Remember, bills that are introduced go through changes in the committee process before they even come to the House Floor for a vote, and even then can still be tweaked.

The TennCare Standard Spend Down Program is available again and open for enrollment for new applicants on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 beginning at 6 p.m. This program comes to us through a waiver to the Medicaid program for only limited qualified low-income individuals. Eligible persons must have enough unpaid medical bills to meet the “spend down” limit in order to qualify for coverage. Call this toll free number, 1-866-358-3230, which is open from 6 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. CST on Feb.21. Previous enrollment periods had taken some 2,500 calls within one hour. Go to the eligibility criteria on TennCare’s website, www.tn.gov/TennCare, for more information.

HB2638, heard in House Judiciary this past week, prevents people from LIVING on publicly-owned property not designated for residential use and prohibits people using publicly-owned property from posing a health hazard or threat to the safety and welfare of others. This bill makes it a class C misdemeanor to those who would violate. As one who supports our constitutional rights that gives us the right to protest, living, setting up residence, or camping should not be allowed on public property. Come to the plaza to express your concerns in protest then go home and return. Freedom of speech is essential and most be protected and by no means are we taking that freedom away by supporting this bill.

I look forward to seeing you in the district this weekend, and as always, it is such an honor to serve you. Call my office 615-741-2192 and Grace will assist you. Blessings!

Area Master Beef Producer Program Offered

February 11, 2012

There will be a Master Beef Producer Program to be held in Sparta at the White County Extension Office. The first meeting will be on Thursday, February 16th at 5:00 P.M. The courses will meet over 9 sessions between February 16 and finish on March 20. Perceived as the most extensive educational project ever conducted for the Tennessee cattle industry, the Master Beef Producer program is designed to help individual producers improve their profitability and competitiveness.

The MBP program will focus on 12 issues facing the beef industry. These topics include managing and planning for success, marketing, genetics, carcass traits, feeding and managing the cow herd, forage production, reproduction, herd health, cattle handling and behavior, environmental concerns and food safety. A beef quality assurance (BQA) certification or recertification session will also be included. Specialists and agents with University of Tennessee Extension and faculty of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine worked together to develop the MBP program. The project is part of the overall effort of the Tennessee Beef Cattle Improvement Initiative and enables participants to apply for 50% cost-share through the Tennessee Ag Enhancement program. Along with a sign, participants will receive a certificate recognizing their training and a Master Beef Producer cap. A registration fee of $50 will cover the cost of the course materials, including a beef production reference manual. Interested producers should contact the local Extension office in Smithville at 615-597-4945 or the White County UT Extension Office at 931-836-3348.


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