Local News Articles

City of Smithville Wins Regional TAUD "Best Tasting Water" Contest

February 19, 2012
Dwayne Page
City of Smithville Wins Regional TAUD "Best Tasting Water" Contest

The Tennessee Association of Utility Districts (TAUD) held the Region Four "Best
Tasting Water Contest" at the Cookeville Golf and Country Club on February 15th. With judges
performing two "taste-offs" to determine the winner Smithville Water and Sewer was awarded Best Tasting Water in Region 4.

TAUD Region Four consists of Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton,
Pickett, Putnam, Roane, Smith, Trousdale, Warren and White counties.

The utilities from Region Four submitting samples of their drinking water for competition were:
Bondecroft Utility District, Byrdstown Water Department, the City of Celina, Crab Orchard Utility District, the City of Crossville, Jamestown Gas and Water, Livingston Utilities, McMinnville Utilities, Red Boiling Springs Water, Smithville Water and Sewer, Warren County Utility District, and West Warren-Viola Utility District.

Cookeville Communications Radio Host Lee Wray, Amanda Mainord with Upper Cumberland
Development Districts and Michael Detwiler with Congressman Diane Black participated as judges for the contest. The drinking water samples were judged on their clarity, bouquet, and taste.

TAUD will conduct the Best Tasting Water in Tennessee Contest in each of the Association's eleven regions in upcoming months. The winner of each region will participate in a statewide competition at TAUD's Business of Running A Utility Conference at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in Gatlinburg on August 9th. The statewide winner will then compete in Washington, D.C. for the Best Tasting Water in America.

The Tennessee Association of Utility Districts is the oldest rural water association in the nation and serves as the Tennessee chapter of the National Rural Water Association. TAUD serves as a source of training, technical assistance, and advocacy to over 400 water, wastewater, and natural gas utility members within the state. For more information please visit our website at www.taud.org or contact Beth Hardiman at 615-896-9022.

(Pictured above LEFT TO RIGHT STANDING: Kevin Robinson, Smithville Public Works Director and Todd Bowman, Smithville Water Plant Superintendent. FRONT ROW: Amanda Mainord, Upper Cumberland Development District; Michael Detwiler, Congressman Diane Black's Office and Lee Wray, Radio Host, Cookeville Communications)

Three Arrested During Burglary in Progress

February 19, 2012
Dwayne Page
Rodney Hugo Gora
Brent Bernard Tolbert
Sandra Lynn Culwell
James Edward Gilles
Gennia Leigh Wilson
Melinda Beth Murphy

Three people were arrested by the sheriff's department during a burglary in progress on Holmes Creek Road on Friday, February 17.

38 year old Rodney Hugo Gora of Short Mountain Highway, Smithville; 47 year old Brent Bernard Tolbert of Walling; and 28 year old Sandra Lynn Culwell of Parsley Road, Smithville are all charged with burglary and theft of property over $500. Bond for each is $7,500 and they will be in court on March 8

Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that a deputy responded to a call of a burglary in progress on Friday, February 17 at a residence on Holmes Creek Road. Entry was made through a front door.

Upon arrival, the officer found Gora, Tolbert, and Culwell standing beside of a truck that was loaded with numerous items taken from the house including a birdcage, well pressure tank, refrigerator, jigsaw, mailbox, well pump, assorted wires, sheet metal, aluminum, and buckets of nails and screws. All three were placed under arrest and the stolen items were returned to the owner.

Meanwhile, two people, 24 year old James Edward Gilles and 24 year old Gennia Leigh Wilson both of Old Snow Hill Road, Dowelltown are each charged with animal cruelty. Bond for each is $2,500 and they are to appear in court on February 23.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Friday, February 3 a deputy responded to a residence on Old Snow Hill Road to a complaint of animal cruelty. Upon arrival, the deputy found a starved boxer mixed dog, approximately one year old. He said the animal could hardly stand. It was determined that the dog belonged to both Gilles and Wilson. While the officer was there, Gilles arrived at the residence with food for the dog. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian and as of Monday, February 13 the animal was still there needing medical attention. Both Gilles and Wilson were arrested on February 13.

26 year old Melinda Beth Murphy of East Broad Street, Smithville is charged with two counts of forgery. Her bond is $7,000 and she will be in court on March 1.

Sheriff Ray reports that on Thursday, February 9, Murphy forged a check in the amount of $400. The check was taken to a Smithville bank and cashed. The victim had not signed nor authorized anyone else to sign the check. On the same day, Thursday, February 9, Murphy forged another check, this one in the amount of $612.30. She took that check to an Alexandria bank and cashed it. The victim had not signed nor authorized anyone else to sign it. Murphy was arrested on February 16. Alexandria Police also have charges against her.

More defendants have been picked up by the sheriff's department in the recent drug investigation. The following have been arrested on sealed indictments returned by the grand jury:

30 year old Brandon Wayne Caldwell (AKA) Worm: Sale and delivery of a schedule II drug in a drug free zone (2 counts) Bond $80,000.

23 year old Brandon Matthew Byford (AKA) Troll of Bell Street Apartments, Smithville: Sale and delivery of a schedule II drug; sale and delivery of a schedule III drug in a drug free zone. Bond $60,000

32 year old Christopher David Hall of Bon Aqua: Sale and delivery of a schedule II drug in a drug free zone. Bond $30,000.

All will appear in criminal court for arraignment on Friday, February 24

Election Administrator Says Early Voting Going Well

February 18, 2012
Dwayne Page
Carl Lee Webb, showing photo ID, was the first person to vote early Wednesday

More than two hundred voters have taken advantage of early voting in DeKalb County for the March 6 primaries.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, said so far things have gone well. "The first four days of early voting have gone extremely well. To date, we have not had anyone come to early voting who did not have a valid photo ID. Thanks to all the publicity given by WJLE and other local media, along with the massive effort made by our state office, we believe a majority of the voters are aware of the new law, and for that we are extremely thankful," said Stanley

A total of 207 persons have voted early from Wednesday through Saturday, February 15-18 including thirty three on Saturday.

One hundred thirty three have voted in the Democratic Primaries and seventy four have cast ballots in the Republican primary.

Early voting resumes Tuesday, February 21 through Tuesday, February 28. Hours are 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.

Remember, DeKalb County residents are required to show a photo ID at the polls.

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.

Mike Foster Speaks Out On UCDD Allegations, Pody Calls for Probe

February 18, 2012
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Mike Foster

State Representative Mark Pody has called for a meeting of legislators in the Upper Cumberland to search out the facts concerning allegations against the Upper Cumberland Development District and the "Living the Dream" project.

Reports of lavish spending and possible wrongdoing surfaced this week in a NewsChannel 5 investigation and since then Representative Pody said he has been busy answering calls from concerned constituents. "My phone has been ringing off the hook," said Pody in a telephone interview with WJLE Friday. "I've had many people calling me with concerns about this. I'm getting all the legislators together that represent these fourteen counties and we're going to be meeting over the next couple of weeks. We'll be meeting with the (state) comptroller's office on Tuesday. We will be asking them to fill us in on what is going on from their point of view and any investigations they have going on so we can be brought up to date. We will then be meeting with congressional leaders including Congressman Diane Black's office. We want to know exactly what is going on. We will then be going to the board members who are actually running this (UCDD) to get their input as well so we have an understanding of what is going on. We're certainly going to be very prudent with our taxpayer's money. We're just not going to let it sit out there like that. Sometimes you just hear from one side and all we've heard from right now is just from the TV reports. We've also got to hear from the other side and see what is going on. I know we have good competent (UCDD) board members and we've got to hear from them. But the perception from the taxpayers is that this is not good. We owe it to the taxpayers to investigate this and see what is going on," said Representative Pody.

The legislators are not the only ones wanting to know more. State auditors are being brought in to investigate and the UCDD board has hired the Nashville law firm of Walker, Tipps, and Malone, PLC to look into the situation.

UCDD's executive director Wendy Askins is at the center of the controversy. Askins lives rent free at the Living the Dream facility and questions have been raised as to whether she has misappropriated funds. In the four month investigation by NewsChannel 5, Askins reportedly made out UCDD checks to herself or to cash for questionable reimbursements such as meals, drinks, and gifts. Minutes of a UCDD board meeting were also altered.

Living the Dream is an upscale retirement home for seniors on an eleven acre estate between Baxter and Cookeville in Putnam County. The home is reportedly foreclosure property which was purchased specifically for the purpose of developing a retirement facility for seniors. Almost everything was already in place when the property was bought, including the house and fence. Small apartments were later built behind the main house. Most of the main house is meant to become a common area shared by the residents. Askins was apparently living there to help get the project off the ground since the home only had a few residents renting and not enough money was being generated to hire a manager to stay there all the time. Once complete, the home is intended to serve approximately twenty residents with the rent ranging from $500 to $2,000 per month, based on their income.

DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster, who is chairman of the UCDD, met with WJLE and the Smithville Review Friday morning. During the interview, Foster said he suspects there has been some "lavish" spending but can't comment in detail because of the investigation. "I do believe there has been some lavish spending but I'm on the committee that has been appointed to investigate this and until we have more details, I don't think we need to point the finger at anybody. That's one of the reasons some of my statements (to Channel 5) look kind of goofy because we were told immediately before doing the (TV) interview that we should not make any negative or even positive comments about anyone in particular or any behavior they might have had until the investigation is over. We've got two sets of accountants looking at it. The comptroller is looking at it and the attorneys are looking at it," said Foster.

Although the Living the Dream project comes under the umbrella of UCDD, Foster said a separate board oversees the operation of it and he knew very little about it. " Living the Dream is a separate corporation, a 501C3 that was set up to build housing for elderly and disabled people," said Foster. " It was set up to be a group home for residents who have to be ambulatory. They couldn't be in a wheel chair (and live there). Sometime in the last couple of years LTD bought the house that a contractor had built and had lived in while he was building it. He later became disabled and died. The house then became vacant for a while. It was sold at auction and the LTD corporation purchased that existing home which was a pretty good sized, elegant looking house, but in reality is not very big on the ground floor especially. It's a very moderate sized house. But it had a big white fence around it and it had a barn built back behind it and it looks very luxurious. They were asking $700,000 for it but it brought around $370,000 to $390,000 at public auction. So the LTD corporation bought that house to use as a home similar to like the Fiddlers Manor that we have here in Smithville and some of those kinds of retirement homes. Then they were going to build on living quarters, about twenty rooms, behind it with a connecting atrium that connects them. The main house would be used as a common quarters where all the people who live there would come into that area to eat and do community type functions," said Foster.

"The board that I'm on (UCDD), we never saw anything about it (Living the Dream) until 2011," said Foster. " There was a loan approved by the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation (CAIC). It was just approved by the committee that I am on. Other than that, we didn't know much about the operation of this other than some transfers and a couple of loans that they had made. We had seen pictures of the house. But there is another board, the LTD corporation which is a 501C3 that sits on that (oversees Living the Dream). The only thing that we as the UCDD board did was approve some of the money that had been approved by another board and just acknowledge it. That's really all we knew about it. But we (UCDD board) started hearing about these questions(concerning Living the Dream) in December. Channel 5 was there at a meeting we had one day and several of us went out there to see the house (Living the Dream). That was the first time that I had ever seen it. At that time, it (house) was still not complete. Its my understanding that the LTD board had received a transfer of $300,000 of unrestricted money to do the start up and they had borrowed something like $730,000 from a bank in Putnam County. I think they had also borrowed like $225,000 from CAIC to get it all up and going. It was to provide living quarters for about twenty two people. The total was to be about a million and three or four hundred thousand dollars and it would be self supporting. It would refund the debt itself," said Foster.

According to the NewsChannel 5 report, Askins transferred the first $300,000 from UCDD money to Living the Dream two years ago. Recently, the UCDD board called a special meeting to retroactively approve that $300,000 seed money, saying they could find no documentation in the agency's official minutes that the board had ever actually voted on it. But, according to the report, Askins' office had provided a bogus set of minutes (to Channel 5) for February 2010 showing that the Living the Dream money had been approved.

Foster said the revelation of the "bogus" minutes is troubling to him. "He (Channel 5 reporter) asked me before this interview if I had anything that concerned me. I said yes I am concerned about some minutes that appear to have been changed. We talked about specifically what minutes they were. I don't know who changed them (minutes) but there is a set of minutes that we approved and there is a different set of minutes that have been inserted," said Foster.

As for allegations that funds may have been spent on wining and dining and possibly at political events, Foster said he has not personally participated in any such UCDD activities. "I was not at any of those things. I have attended some functions at Delmonaco which is a winery, but its like a meeting place. In fact, I've been there probably three times with our county commission with the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS). I guess they (CTAS) rent that and have the CTAS training sessions there. I have been there to that. There's also been some comments about me saying I had never seen any of the UCDD board members drink a lot. We're never in that situation. We're either at a meeting in the UCDD building or at Leslie Town Center or at maybe one of the counties here. I won't say never, but rarely are we ever in a setting to where there is alcohol," said Foster.

Channel 5's investigation further revealed purchases of gifts for UCDD board members by Askins, allegedly at the expense of taxpayers. Foster said he has never received any such gifts.

Foster said he is bothered how that all these revelations did not turn up in the annual UCDD audit which was recently released. According to Foster, the auditor noted no findings but made seven recommendations which have already been adopted by the UCDD board. Among them was a recommendation that "consideration be given for requiring board approval of special projects to be undertaken by the agency. At the present time, the executive director (Askins) has the authority to engage in these projects as long as they comply with the purpose of the development district as defined by Tennessee Code Annotated."

Foster said he expects that the board will also appoint a chief financial officer to give regular updates to the board in the future. "One of the things we have talked about that I think you will see happen, there will be a CFO appointed or hired. A financial officer that will handle all the financial aspects of this organization and report directly to the board. Right now we (UCDD) board members are there maybe an hour and a half every two to four months. By law, we have to meet four times a year. We're volunteers. We are a part time board and receive no pay. We serve a legal or technical purpose but we don't have access to any of these papers (financial documents). We just don't do it. We don't have time to. If there are as many gross things wrong as Channel 5 says, why didn't he (auditor) pick it up and why did he not tell us? If there's this many obvious things wrong, it should have been picked up and reported. That's all we have to go by. We can only go by what the audit says because we all have things to do in our home counties," said Foster.

UCDD serves Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, Warren, and White counties.

Foster said UCDD serves the counties in a variety of ways. "The people on the board I am on are primarily concerned with grants, trying to help the elderly, and trying to do things that benefit the individual communities. They apply for Community Development Block Grants. That's the main thing we're concerned with. Many of the other programs are under their own separate corporations and boards," said Foster.

According to the UCDD website, the agency has programs that serve the Older Adult population through the Area Agency on Aging and Disability. UCDD serves children and families with the Relative Caregiver Program and Special Projects Department. It meets infrastructure needs with the Community and Economic Development Team. The Housing Department addresses housing needs for underserved populations. Through the Research Department the agency seeks new and innovative programs to better serve communities. UCDD works to preserve the unique cultural and natural assets of the region through Cultural Resources Management. The Cumberland Area Investment Corporation helps develop small businesses, and it helps local communities plan transportation projects through Rural Planning Organizations.

Woman Injured in One Car Crash Cited for Texting While Driving

February 17, 2012
Dwayne Page
Car hits utility pole guide wire and overturns on Allen Ferry Road

An 18 year old Smithville woman, allegedly texting while driving, was injured in a crash on the Allen Ferry Road Friday afternoon.

Trooper Dewaine Jennings of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that Josie Danielle Culwell was driving north in a 2003 Nissan Maxima when she abruptly went off the road to the right and into a ditchline at the edge of a field. The car struck a utility pole guide wire, slid around, and then rolled over on its top near the ditch. Culwell climbed out of the car through an open window. She was later taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

Culwell was issued citations for not wearing her seatbelt, failing to maintain her lane of travel, and for texting while driving.

In addition to DeKalb EMS and Trooper Jennings, members of the Smithville Police Department, the Cookeville Highway Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department, and workers of local electric and telephone utilities were on the scene.

Change of Address Required for Some Residents Due to 911 Mapping Updates

February 16, 2012
Dwayne Page
Brad Mullinax

In order to correct anomalies in the local 911 map, the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District has announced that the addresses of approximately five hundred locations are being changed as the state converts to the new Next Generation 911 digital system, a move which is expected to mean more reliable service throughout Tennessee.

Letters are being sent to DeKalb County residents who will be affected by the changes.

Brad Mullinax, Director of the DeKalb County Emergency Communications District (911 center), told WJLE Thursday that the state is requiring that these changes be made. "We have some addressing anomalies that have been brought to our attention by the state. We're undergoing some major changes with 911 in Tennessee and these changes will make for difficult times for some people in our community. The end result is going to be good but it will be a little bit of an inconvenience to some of our citizens. Basically we have to send our maps to the state Geographical Information Systems (GIS) office. We did that but they have sent those maps back to us after checking them. We started out with about 2,100 addressing anomalies across the county but we've been able to sort through and fix about 1,600 of these without having to change people's addresses. Unfortunately we found about 500 addresses that are so bad and so wrong that we're having to change them. I know this is not popular with folks and it's a time consuming process for people to have to change their address but unfortunately we don't have any choice. These changes are necessary in order to comply with the new state mandated NG911 ," said Mullinax

Last September, the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB) announced the completion of the first phase of the state's conversion to Next Generation 911 (NG911). "We're going through an upgrade right now and it's called Next Generation 911," said Mullinax. " Its basically going to be a large IP based network that will connect all 911 centers in the state of Tennessee. With that change, the calls are actually going to be routed out of Nashville. Our maps are going to have to be correct at the selective router in Nashville for them to decide which county the calls should be routed to. We're having to fix these addressing anomalies so that the state computer will know which way these calls need to be routed," said Mullinax.

According to Mullinax, the DeKalb ECD has the authority to change the numbers of street addresses but not road names. That is left up to the county and the cities. "We're granted that power (address changes) by state law. Its very systematic the way we do these addresses. We go out and measure each road. We have a formula that we plug the measurements into to come up with your address," said Mullinax. "What we're changing is just the numbering itself. We do not have the authority to change road names, that has to be acted on by the county commission or the city of Smithville, whichever governing body oversees those streets. We do have some road names that have been changed by the county commission. We're sending out letters notifying folks of these street name changes and then we're giving them a new address with their new street name. But we (DeKalb ECD) are not changing any street names. We don't have the authority to do that. We're just passing on and re-addressing those numbers based on these new street names," said Mullinax.

In many cases, the so called "anomalies" involve odd numbered addresses on the side of the roads where even numbered addresses are supposed to be and vice versa. "Its all over the county," said Mullinax.. "There is no particular area. They go from the city of Smithville all the way from the east to the west and from the north to the south. We're running into problems all over the county. Many of these are numbers that we found that are addressed on the wrong side of the road. For instance, we have an odd number on the even (number) side of the road or an even number on the odd (number) side of the road. Basically what that means is that if you're going up a road, the odd numbered (addresses) should be on the lefthand side of the road and the even numbered (addresses) should be on the right. So if we have a mixture (of odd and even numbers on the same side of the street) we have to correct those because they will not map," said Mullinax.

Some residents affected have already received their letters and have expressed an unwillingness to go along with the changes, according to Mullinax. "We've had some people say they're not going to change their address. You probably could have gotten by with that a few years ago but with the new advances in technology at the postal service, the way they deliver mail is directly affected by the address that we (DeKalb ECD) give the post office so it is crucial for you to change your address when we stipulate for you to do so because if you don't there is a chance you won't get your mail. It may get sent back. We are notifying everyone (affected) and once you get that letter, its pretty clear on the date when the address (change) is supposed to be effective. We're also sending a copy of that letter to their post office. We're encouraging people to notify their utilities of their changes. We're giving everybody at least a thirty day notice to change these addresses. I want to apologize to the citizens of our county for having to do this but we are doing it for their best interest. We want to be able to find them in the event of an emergency and for there not to be any kind of delay in finding them." said Mullinax.

In its September media release, the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB) announced that the core infrastructure of the Next Generation 911 (NG911) will allow individual 911 centers across the state to connect to NG911.

"The completion of Phase I of the NG911 project is a significant milestone," said TECB Chair Randy Porter. "We want to thank our partners at AT&T and TCS for their efficient and effective work. We're now ready to test the core and move forward with the next phase – connecting local 911 centers to the core."

NG911 is essentially a digital version of 911 transmitted over the State of Tennessee's existing statewide Internet Protocol (IP) network, NetTN. The conversion is similar to converting televisions from analog to digital. In this case, 911 trunks are being converted from antiquated, copper-wire technology to the latest in digital communications capability.

"NG911 will mean more reliable 911 services for our citizens," said TECB Executive Director Lynn Questell. "It will allow for uninterrupted service in the case of power outages and other disasters that may knock out a 911 center. Call transfers will be seamless and the system will have 100 percent redundancy – essentially meaning that if one center goes out, a fully functioning backup will be available. The bottom line is NG911 will mean the very best technology is being deployed to keep Tennessee citizens safe."

The core infrastructure of the NG911 network includes four centers to aggregate emergency communications traffic. These centers are in Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. Additionally, two centers provide traffic routing of 911 calls.

The Tennessee Emergency Communications Board ensures that every citizen can effectively access the life-saving power of 911. The TECB is composed of nine members from across the state of Tennessee – including five 911 professionals and representatives of cities, counties and the general public. It is administratively attached to the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/

"Budding Authors Publishing Party" Held for First Methodist Pre-School Students

February 16, 2012
Dwayne Page

A "Budding Authors Publishing Party" was held for students in the Smithville First United Methodist Church Pre-School Thursday night at the Christian Fellowship Center.

The students, their parents, and teachers celebrated the release of a hardback book featuring writings and illustrations of the students themselves.

During the party, each child was asked to point out or read from the things he or she had written and drawn on their pages of the booklet.

Emily Bass, director of the pre-school, said the project was about two months in the making. "Tonight we've been enjoying a night of listening to the children read stories they have written about things they love and enjoy. This was a project put together by one of our parents, Mandy Dakas. The kids each took time and wrote in their very own handwriting and illustrated all by themselves. Each one did a page. We then had them (pages) compiled and printed together into a class hardback booklet. This class is made up of our pre-kindergarten kids, ages four and five, and they will be graduating in May and going on to kindergarten. So this (book) is a special keepsake for them and their parents," said Bass

Students (publishers) participating were Avery Agee, Landon Colwell, Caroline Crook, Andrew Dakas, Annabella Dakas, Milas Driver, Dallas Kirby, Madeline Martin, Melody McConnaughey (absent Thursday night) Addison Miller (absent), Layla Newby, Katherine Knowles, Emily Robinson, Owen Snipes (absent), Braelyn Teachout, and Tiara Patrick.

Teachers are Reta Steffe and Lauren Hansard.

New County Clerk's Office Soon to Offer Duplicate Title Printing Service

February 16, 2012
Dwayne Page
County Clerk Mike Clayborn Greets Customer at Drive Through Window
Clerk Employees Tammy Pack (Left), Leslie Tramel (Center), Krissa Beers (Right)
Customers at Counter in County Clerk Office
County Clerk Office Waiting Area

The DeKalb County Clerk's Office is prepared to begin printing duplicate titles once authorization is given by the state.

County Clerk Mike Clayborn said this service will be an added convenience to the people of DeKalb County. "We've been working on this for some time now. Probably about a year. We have all of our equipment in place including all of our computers and printers but we're waiting on the state to send us the title paper and the numbers. We've hit a snag. At the present time the state is not sending out any new contracts. We have to contract with the state to do this and right now it (delay) has something to do with funding. There are other counties that are in the same boat we're in. They're waiting to be able to do this for their people. We're waiting on the state to give us a contract to do that. I've been assured by the state that as soon as they can they will. I was hoping to get this thing up and going by March. I had everything in place to do that and I never really dreamed that I couldn't get a contract but I can't get one right now. We're waiting but I've been assured that in the near future we'll have one. When they give us a contract we'll be able to print your duplicate titles and you won't have to go out of town to do it. So we're ready and have the equipment in place and the people ready to do it. Now we're just waiting on the state to give us the okay and we'll be up and running," said Clayborn.

Remember too that the county clerk's office is now on South Congress Boulevard. Even though the office was relocated from the courthouse to the new complex in August, Clayborn said many people still don't know. "We're having some problems with people finding us. They're still going to the courthouse. But we've not been at the courthouse since August 23. I would like for everyone to understand that we have moved to the new county complex. We're in the first room on the right when you enter the new building. We're located at 732 South Congress Boulevard. That's on the end nearest the old Peking Restaurant. We still have the same hours of operation, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. The only time we're not open on Saturday is when a holiday weekend falls on a Friday or Monday," said Clayborn.

The new clerk's office also features a drive through window. "We're certainly proud of our new drive through window. We ask that people take advantage of it because its for renewals only. Current renewals. You don't have to get out of your car. You don't have to climb any steps. Just pull up to the window and give us your renewal form and we can do it (process) for you in about three to four minutes and then you'll be ready to do. More people are finding it. But if you want to get out and come in to see the new county complex, we welcome you to come in. But if its rainy or bad outside and you don't want to get out of your car, just come up to the drive through window and we'll be more than glad to wait on you there,' said Clayborn.

Magistrate Dismisses Certain Claims In Federal Lawsuit Against County

February 14, 2012
Dwayne Page

A U.S. Magistrate Judge has granted defense motions to dismiss certain claims in a federal court lawsuit against DeKalb County over the death of an inmate while in the custody of the Sheriff's Department two years ago.

Doris Hullett filed the lawsuit over a year ago in the death of her son, Jackie Lee Snider, who was arrested December 31, 2009 and died on January 30, 2010 after being taken from the jail to DeKalb Community Hospital. According to the lawsuit, "the medical examiner reported that Snider died of pancreatitis, which is an extremely painful and serious medical condition. If Snider's pancreatitis had been treated on or before the morning of January 30, 2010, Snider would have survived without permanent, long term consequences".

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated Snider's constitutional rights when they denied him reasonable medical care for his serious medical condition, thereby causing him extensive pain and suffering and ultimately death.

Based upon a finding that the federal court lacked jurisdiction, Magistrate Judge John S. Bryant recently dismissed Hullet's claim under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, her wrongful death claim, and her claim for medical negligence without prejudice but stated in the order that she could "pursue these claims in Tennessee Circuit Court". Hullett's claim under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act was also dismissed for lack of standing and failure to state a claim. The Court will retain jurisdiction of Hullet's state law claims for civil conspiracy and outrageous conduct as well her claim for punitive damages. The case is set for trial in December.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include DeKalb County; Patrick Ray, individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff; Kenneth Ray, Rick Smith, Jim Hendrix, Mark Nichols, Ernie Hargis, Kyle Casper, individually and in their official capacities; John Does 1-4; Renee Riddle, LPN; Robert Alan Stultz, PA; and Southern Health Partners, Inc.

Hullett is seeking compensatory damages against all defendants, jointly and severally in the amount of $750,000; an award, including loss of consortium in the amount of $750,000; punitive damages in the amount of $1,250,000; attorney fees and litigation expenses in an amount to be determined at trial; and treble damages; plus such other and further legal and or equitable relief to which she may be entitled or the court deems proper.

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


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