Local News Articles

DeKalb Jobless Rate Increases to 7.8% in May

June 22, 2012
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for May increased to 7.8%, up from April's rate of 7.5%, but well below the rate for May, 2011 of 10.3%

The local labor force for May was at 9,930. A total of 9,160 were employed and 780 were without work.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for May was third lowest in the fourteen county Upper Cumberland region. Here's how they rank highest to lowest

Picket County- 12.3%
White- 11.2%
Van Buren-11%
Clay- 9.5%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for May 2012, released today, show the rate decreased in three counties, increased in 87 counties, and remained the same in five counties.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for May rose to 7.9 percent, up from the April revised rate of 7.7 percent. The national unemployment rate for May 2012 was 8.2 percent, 0.1 percentage point higher than the April rate.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 6.0 percent, up from 5.8 percent in April. Davidson County was 6.7 percent, up from 6.5 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.4 percent, up from 7.0 percent, and Shelby County was 8.8 percent, up from the April unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.

Pastor Donnie Kelly to Begin New Radio Program

June 21, 2012
Donnie Kelly

Pastor Donnie Kelly of the Smithville First Assembly of God will begin a new radio program next week.

The program will be called “Inspirations For Today” with the purpose to inspire and encourage all those who listen in their “daily walk with Christ.” The program will air Monday through Friday at approximately 7:45 A.M. right after the 7:30 A.M. news.

The program will consist of devotions from God’s word as well as songs of inspiration. The musical selections will include soloist, choirs, praise and worship teams, and instrumental ensembles from the First Assembly of God and other churches in the community. Church and community activities and special events will also be announced on a timely basis.

A personal note from Pastor Kelly: “It is so great to be able to once again have a radio program on WJLE. It is also wonderful to be back in Smithville a community I enjoy ministering to so very much.”

“Thanks to all who have extended such a warm welcome to me and my family. Thanks to the Smithville First Assembly of God for inviting me to come and be their pastor, and for sponsoring this broadcast.”

“Please listen in to the broadcast of “Inspirations For Today” starting this Monday, June 25th at 7:45 A.M.”

Grand Opening of DeKalb Community Center Set for Saturday

June 21, 2012
Dwayne Page
Game Room (photo from DeKalb Community Center Facebook)
Fitness Room (photo from DeKalb Community Center Facebook)
Wii and Xbox games (photo from DeKalb Community Center Facebook)

A Grand Opening of the DeKalb County Community Center is set for Saturday, June 23 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

County Mayor Mike Foster said everyone is invited to stop by to see the complex which includes a spacious new stage and auditorium, complete with a state of the art sound system and lighting; a game room for kids, a fitness room, a gym for playing basketball or volleyball, and a community kitchen called the "Internet Café"

Tony Luna, Assistant Complex Director, said refreshments and snacks are being donated by Bumpers Drive-in (Shrek to make an appearance) and there will be lots of door prizes including a few free memberships to be given away. "We'll give away five free monthly memberships and a yearly membership to some lucky guy or gal who signs up. In our auditorium, we'll have some LIVE entertainment at the stage. Starting at 10:00 a.m., my daughter, Mercedes Luna and Daniel Martin will start first. They play a lot of acoustic stuff and I think you will really like it. Right after Mercedes and Daniel, we'll have another local band 11:00 a.m., Burning Years. They will take the stage and play for us about an hour or so. After that, we'll have another LIVE band around 12:45 p.m. 61 Seconds, which is a local band and they will close us out. All of these bands are local people and it's free," said Luna.

"The whole facility is going to be open on the community center side of the building," said Luna. " If you haven't seen the game room, we've got it altogether now. I would love for you to come out and see it. Our fitness room is up and going. We've booked over ninety members now. They've just hooked up surround sound, so you never know what kind of music we'll be pumping in there for you to work out to. Come see our Internet Café. Eventually we'll have a concession stand, where people who work out or just people who want to come and hang out can do that. We'll have a TV in there. You'll be able to buy snacks and drinks out of the community kitchen.. Everybody come out and see us. Like us on facebook. We do have a facebook page. Its DeKalb Community Center and fitness room," said Luna.

Management Restructuring Announced for Upper Cumberland Capella-Saint Thomas System

June 20, 2012
Bill Little
Bob Luther

A management restructuring has been announced for the four hospitals that are now part of the Capella-Saint Thomas health system, according to Mark Medley, President of Hospital Operations for Capella Healthcare.

“In May, we celebrated the new partnership between Saint Thomas Health and Capella’s four Upper Cumberland hospitals, launching our first steps towards creating a dynamic health system to expand services and access in the Upper Cumberland. This week, we’re initiating a management restructuring that will help us move to the next level.”

Effective immediately, Bill Little is full-time CEO for Highlands Medical Center (HMC) in Sparta (formerly White County Community Hospital). With the hospital’s million dollar renovation project starting later this year, the growing hospital needed the focus of a full-time executive. Little served as CEO for DCH and SRH for several years, adding HMC in July.

“Bill has done an excellent job dividing his time between the three hospitals and now we want to take full advantage of his expertise at HMC,” Medley said. “This enables the hospital to move forward without delay with the significant opportunities ahead,”

Effective Monday, June 18, Bob Luther became Interim CEO for DeKalb Community Hospital and Stones River Hospital. Physicians, hospital employees and community members may remember Luther as he previously served as CEO for DCH and SRH for three years, from 2006-09. Prior to that, he was with Attentus Healthcare as Senior Vice-President for Regional Operations, with responsibilities for five rural hospitals. He has also served as CEO for a number of other facilities including 300+ bed Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ; 194-bed Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster, SC; and 25-bed Colorado River Medical Center in Needles, CA.

“We’re delighted Bob has agreed to lead these two hospitals during this transitional time. He is a seasoned healthcare executive and will help us continue to make progress even as we are seeking the right person to take us into the future,” Medley said.

Additionally, Medley announced the creation of a new position, Market Chief Financial Officer (CFO), which will serve all four facilities. A nationwide search to identify the ideal candidate for this role as well as the new Chief Executive Officer for DCH and SRH has been launched this week.

“This restructuring and the creation of these new positions will help us fully realize the opportunity before us as we work together to continue expanding access to physicians and services, improving quality of care, and enhancing patient satisfaction for people throughout the Upper Cumberland region.”

About Capella Healthcare

Capella Healthcare partners with communities to build strong local healthcare systems that are known for quality patient care. With the philosophy that all healthcare is local, Capella collaborates with each hospital’s medical staff, board and community leadership to take care to the next level.

Capella and Saint Thomas Health formed an innovative joint venture partnership in May of 2012 to improve healthcare throughout Middle Tennessee. Based in Nashville, Saint Thomas Health includes five hospitals affiliated with Ascension Health Ministry, a Catholic Ministry that is the largest non-profit health system in the United States. Capella Healthcare, based in Franklin, operates 13 hospitals in seven states, including five in Tennessee. Together through Capella-Saint Thomas, they jointly own four hospitals in the Upper Cumberland region of Middle Tennessee, including River Park Hospital in McMinnville, Highlands Medical Center in Sparta (formerly White County Community Hospital), DeKalb Community Hospital in Smithville and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury. Capella is the managing member and the majority partner as well as the exclusive development partner for Saint Thomas Health across Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.

TWRA Announces Operation Dry Water Weekend for June 22-24

June 20, 2012
Dwayne Page
TWRA Announces Operation Dry Water Weekend for June 22-24

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be participating in Operation Dry Water, June 22-24. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) education and enforcement directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.

Members of the TWRA, Sheriff's Department, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met Wednesday morning at Hurricane Marina on Center Hill Lake to make the local announcement.

Operation Dry Water is held on a weekend near the July 4th holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season. The TWRA is teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard and the State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Operation Dry Water is being held for the fourth year after being launched by the NASBLA in 2009.

TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with the use of life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the effects and ramifications of alcohol use. The TWRA will be intensifying efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"Our TWRA officers attempt to identify and apprehend impaired operators throughout the year to ensure our waterways stay safe," said Matt Majors, Investigator for TWRA's Boating and Law Enforcement Division. "Without their dedication to perform this task, it would be certain that many more boating accidents would occur. Our officers will be out in force night and day, looking for people who did not heed the warning to ‘Never boat under the influence.' "

Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. Penalties may include fines, jail, boat impoundment and the loss of boat driving privileges.

Statistics show that more than 20 percent of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.

(Pictured left to right: TWRA officers Nick Luper, Marty Griffith, Tony Cross, Chief Deputy Don Adamson, Sheriff Patrick Ray, Gary Bruce of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and TWRA officers Jon Ryan, Jason Miller, and Kyle Walling)

Poss elected Mayor, Stribling and Murphy Win Aldermen Seats, City Voters Say No to Liquor

June 19, 2012
Dwayne Page
Tim Stribling, Jason Judd Murphy, and Jimmy Poss

The City of Smithville has a new Mayor and two new Aldermen.

After serving three terms as Mayor of Smithville, Taft Hendrixson was defeated by challenger, Jimmy W. Poss in Tuesday's Municipal Election. Poss tallied 415 total votes (52.53%) to Hendrixson's 375 votes (47.47%) to claim the mayoral seat.

Meanwhile, Tim Stribling and Jason Judd Murphy won seats on the city board, defeating incumbent Stephen White and fellow challenger, Scott Davis. Stribling earned 541 total votes (38.56%) - the most of any candidate on the ballot - while Murphy was next with 463 votes (33%). White finished a distant third with 313 votes (22.31%), while Davis totaled 84 votes (5.99%) in the council race. Incumbent Alderman Cecil Burger chose not to seek re-election.

Two-year terms for Poss, Stribling and Murphy will begin on July 1. They will be sworn into office within the next two weeks.

Smithville city voters also denied an attempt to place liquor by the drink in qualifying city restaurants. By a vote of 402 (54.69%) to 333 (45.31%) city voters said "No" to the liquor by the drink referendum, which would have given city restaurants the opportunity to apply for a license from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission to serve wine and other mixed alcoholic beverages to its patrons.

Poss had to overcome a deficit on Election Day, however, to win the election. Hendrixson held an 11-vote edge after the early and absentee votes were totaled. Hendrixson won 296 early and absentee votes, while Poss only garnered 285 early and absentee ballots. Poss made up the deficit on Election Day, however, garnering 130 votes to Hendrixson's 79 votes to claim the mayoral seat. Hendrixson has served as Smithville Mayor since 2006. "I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people that helped me through this campaign," said Poss. "I really appreciate them. I can't call all of their names. We had a good race. Whether it's one or a hundred, it's a good win. I look forward to serving the people. I wish to do a lot of things for Smithville. Kids is a priority. It has been all through my campaign. If we can work with the kids and parents, we have a body (city council) that we can work with. There's a lot of things out there that we need to work on. I'm ready to go to work. We've got good people to work with. The good people of Smithville. I want to see downtown grow. A lot of people do but we've got to have some people come in and open businesses up. We've got to have something for them somewhere," said Poss.

Mayor Hendrixson thanked the people of Smithville for the privilege of having served them for six years. "I would like to say that I have enjoyed the past six years serving as your mayor. A lot of things have happened in Smithville that I am proud of. I congratulate Mr. Poss. I know he'll do a good job. I know our two aldermen-elect will do a good job. Just bear in mind to keep the welfare of the city at all times in your hearts. I appreciate the good turnout today and I appreciate the ones that voted. I appreciate the ones who voted for me. I thank you for being your mayor for six years. I've done the best I know how. Thank you," said Hendrixson.

Meanwhile, Stribling and Murphy carried the ticket, both in early and absentee voting and on Election Day in the race for the City Council. Stribling had 413 early and absentee votes, while claiming 128 votes on Election Day. "I just to thank everybody who came out and voted today," said Stribling. " This is the process that the City of Smithville has. The people have spoken. I'm just very proud that the people have elected me. I'll try to do what's right. We're not going to make everybody happy all the time. We all know that. But we'll just try to move the city forward and go from there," he said

Murphy tallied 339 early and absentee votes and 124 on Election Day. White garnered 225 early and absentee votes and 88 votes on Election Day, while Davis tallied 50 early and absentee votes and 34 votes on Election Day. "I'm very excited," said Murphy. "I'm very thankful. I'd like to thank everybody that supported me. My family and my friends. The people that voted for me. Even the people that didn't vote for me. I'm glad they voted because I think voting is very important. I hope everybody will say a prayer for me and all the others on the city council that we continue to make smart decisions and carry the city forward in the future. I hope to help move the city more into the 21st century and to improve the life of citizens of the City of Smithville," said Murphy.

White was denied a seventh term on the Smithville City Council. He was first elected to the council in 2000. "I want to thank everybody that has supported me down through the years,' said White. " I'm disappointed tonight but that's the way it goes. The public spoke. I've always, the whole time I was on there (city council) did what I felt in my heart was right. I always stood up for family morals and other things like that. I always promoted Smithville. I love Smithville. Its my home. I plan on it being my home forever. I was born here. I really have no regrets. I've fought for what I thought was right. That's the only thing that we can do. I want to congratulate the others. They will be in my prayers. They will be leading the city forward and they're going to need it (prayers)," said White.

A total of 817 Smithville voters cast ballots in Tuesday's Municipal Election. 597 of those voters cast early or absentee ballots, while 220 city voters voted on Election Day.

The new city government leaders will include Mayor Jimmy Poss and Aldermen Tim Stribling, Jason Judd Murphy, Danny Washer, Shawn Jacobs, and Gayla Hendrix. The seats of Washer, Jacobs, and Hendrix will be up for election next June.

Justice Dept Transfers 1,000 Acres of Land in Cannon County to State of Tennessee

June 19, 2012

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice has transferred to the state of Tennessee approximately 1,000 acres of undeveloped land in Cannon County, Tenn., as a result of a federal criminal conviction of two individuals for distribution of marijuana.

The transfer was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge Harry S. Sommers of the Atlanta Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Marshal Denny W. King for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The land, located on Short Mountain in Woodbury, Tenn., will be managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and will be known as the Headwaters Wildlife Management Area. Short Mountain is a critical habitat for plant and animal species, and contains the headwaters for three Tennessee watersheds. The property will be open to the public for small game hunting, hiking and wildlife viewing.

The land was forfeited to the United States as part of the 2007 federal criminal convictions of Morris Roller and Jeffory Carl Young for distribution of marijuana. Roller and Young are currently serving federal sentences of 200 and 224 months, respectively. The transfer was made under a law that allows the Justice Department to convey forfeited property to states for public use for recreation or conservation purposes upon request by the governor or chief executive officer of the state.

The Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division coordinated the transfer. The federal criminal investigation was assisted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; Tennessee Alcohol Control Board; Warren County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Department; Hamilton County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Department; and Chattanooga, Tenn., Police Department.

“This land transfer highlights the benefits of asset forfeiture as a crime-fighting tool,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Our law enforcement efforts put an end to illegal drug production on this land and secured its preservation for years to come.”

“The transfer of this property was accomplished through the cooperative efforts of local, state and federal government agencies,” said U.S. Attorney Killian. “This historic conveyance of forfeited property, which is the largest transfer for conservation purposes in the past 15 years by the federal government to a governmental entity, will leave a lasting legacy of this wildlife management area for the state of Tennessee and its citizens. Now, rather than being used for growing marijuana or violating other laws, it will be used for recreational activities such as hiking, fishing and hunting. Russ Dedrick, my predecessor as U.S. Attorney, is to be congratulated for arranging this donation of land.”

A dedication ceremony was held last Wednesday on the land.

The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program allows for the transfer of federally forfeited real property to serve various purposes including: supporting state recreational, preservation or historic purposes; supporting a continuing federal purpose; and assisting a state or local government, or a non-profit entity, in carrying out educational, drug treatment, rehabilitation, housing and other community-based initiatives. Through these real property transfers the Asset Forfeiture Program contributes to our communities nationwide.

Aldermen Adopt New City Budget, Mayor Again Warns of Deficit Spending

June 18, 2012
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night adopted on second and final reading an $8.2 million dollar budget ordinance for the 2012-13 fiscal year which includes a 3% cost of living pay raise for employees, larger pay hikes for the police chief, secretary-treasurer, and airport manager, the creation of one new full-time fire department administrator position, a part-time court officer position for the police department to relieve overtime, and funding for a new fire department ladder truck. A new eight step wage scale will also be established for employees in the police department, while all other city employees will remain under the current four step wage scale.

The budget calls for no increase in the city property tax rate (.6490 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value) and no increases in water or sewer rates.

The budget ordinance passed on a 4 to 1 vote. Alderman Cecil Burger, who had voted "yes" on the first reading of the budget on June 4, voted "no" on the second reading Monday night saying this is "too much budget for Smithville". Alderman Steve White, who had voted "no" on the budget two weeks ago saying he needed more time to study it, voted "yes" on the second reading Monday night.

No one spoke out either for or against passage of the budget during the public hearing, held prior to the vote.

As he did two weeks before, Mayor Taft Hendrixson warned that the city could be forced to dip deep into it's general fund surplus for recurring expenses, if it does not hold the line on spending during the year. According to the budget, an appropriation of $975,233 from the surplus will be needed to support the general fund, just to balance the budget without a property tax increase. "In this budget, if we spend it all we're going to be taking $312,000 out of our savings account (surplus), not counting the fire truck and not counting the $150,000 going into the airport (grant match for an airport runway and apron overlay (paving) project). Those two (combined) are $656,000 coming out of reserve. But if we spend all this budget there's another $312,000 that will come out of our reserve. In other words, we won't be taking in enough money to spend what we propose spending. I'll try my best, if I'm still here, not to spend all that, but there is a possibility it could be (spent)," said Mayor Hendrixson

During the June 4th meeting, Alderman Shawn Jacobs said he felt comfortable going ahead and approving this spending plan, since budgets in the past have projected red ink and actually ended up in the black, due to sound financial management practices during the fiscal year.

If the city discovers later in the year that changes need to be made in the budget, Alderman Gayla Hendrix said during the June 4th meeting that amendments can be adopted. "We can make amendments to the budget after its passed. If we get six months down the road and realize we have made a huge error we can come back and make amendments," she said.

The city's financial advisor, Janice Plemmons-Jackson, said Monday night that she had made some minor revisions in the budget, including revising downward projected increases in health insurance costs from seven percent to five percent. She said the actual increase may only be from 2.5 to 3%.

Alderman Steve White asked why the new budget showed no funds for school patrol. Mayor Hendrixson said the city is committed to spending $3,000 and that funds will be allocated from another line item. Under an agreement, the city, county and school board are to cost share to provide manned traffic control in the busy school zones at Northside Elementary School and DeKalb Middle School.

Alderman White also asked that the budget document reflect that any new employment during the budget year will have rates, approved by the board, established by the "Commissioner" of the department affected along with the Mayor and Secretary/Treasurer and not JUST the Mayor and Secretary/Treasurer.

Under the budget, a new fire administrator position will be created. The salary is to be set at $35,000 plus benefits. No other full time fire department positions have been included in this budget, but others may be considered if a grant is obtained to fund them.

The budget also increases the salaries of three other department heads or managers as follows:
Secretary-Treasurer: regular pay to be increased from $49,896 to $56,000 per year
Police Chief: regular pay to be increased from $48,204 to $55,000 per year
Airport Manager: regular pay to be increased from $29,818 to $35,000 per year

Each of these four positions, fire administrator, secretary-treasurer, police chief, and airport manager, like all other city employees are budgeted to receive a one percent bonus at Christmas time, and they receive a health insurance benefit equating to $7,905; along with an $85 life insurance and $276 dental insurance benefit, paid by the city.

All other city employees are to receive any step pay raises due them, plus a 3% cost of living increase, under this budget.

Step increases will be given on the hire anniversary date, rather than July 1 of each year, beginning with this budget.

New employees will receive the full amount of the starting pay for their positions when put to work, instead of their pay being increased after a sixty day probationary period.

A part-time court officer to work twenty hours is to be added to the police department, with overtime reduced for the other officers by approximately 52 hours per officer.

The proposed budget, totaling $8-million 297-thousand 195, calls for no increases in water or sewer rates or the property tax rate, of .6490 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value. But in order to balance the budget, the city is appropriating to the general fund $975,233 from the surplus. The city property tax rate generates approximately $790,000 a year.

Water customers will continue to pay $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $5.00 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Outside city rates are $7.50 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $7.50 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage.

The rate for city sewer customers, under the new budget, will continue to be $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of usage plus $5.00 per thousand gallons thereafter. In addition, all sewer customers will continue to pay the $3.62 cent per month flat rate usage fee.

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District for water is $2.00 per thousand gallons but will increase to $2.05 per thousand gallons beginning with January 1, 2013 sales.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $2,382,667.

Specific projects are as follows:
Financial Administration:
$25,000 unspecified

Parks and Recreation:
$10,000 unspecified
$5,000 for a fence

Public Works/Buildings and Grounds:
$15,000 for a trailer

City Hall Building:
$25,000 unspecified

Fire Protection:
$10,000 unspecified
$496,000 for ladder truck payments

Street Department:
$20,000 for a chipper truck
$20,000 for a vehicle
$15,000 for traffic lights

Police Department:
$25,000 for a police car
$25,000 unspecified

Swimming Pool:
$15,000 unspecified

Golf Course:
$5,000 unspecified

$1,666,667 for the runway and apron overlay (90% of that funded by grants with a 10% local match by the city)

Animal Shelter:
$5,000 unspecified

Sanitation Fund:

Proposed water and sewer fund Fixed Asset Additions: Automatic meter readers project- $410,000; Capital improvements-paint water tank- $80,000; Sewer plant improvement study & engineering fees- $18,000; Sewer plant updates- $250,000; Sewer rehabilitation camera- $125,000
Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.

The proposed budget breaks down as follows:

General Fund: $4,424,570
Special Revenue Fund-Sanitation: $283,000
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,378,000
Drug Fund: $7,050
Appropriation of Surplus- General Fund: $975,233
Appropriation of Surplus-Drug Fund: $11,750
Appropriation of Surplus-Water & Sewer Fund: $217,592

Total Revenues: $8,297, 195

General Fund: $5,399,803
Special Revenue Funds Sanitation: $282,927
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,595,592
Drug Fund: $18,800
Total expenditures: $8,297,195

Meanwhile, in other business, the board voted to hire Gail Winne, Jr. as a full time employee in the sanitation department, since he has completed his 60 day probationary period. His pay will increase from $10.66 to $11.36 per hour.

City Adopts New Eight Step Pay Scale For Hourly Employees of the Police Department

June 18, 2012
Dwayne Page
Police Chief Randy Caplinger

The City of Smithville has established a new eight step wage scale for all hourly employees in the police department, effective with the 2012-13 fiscal year beginning July 1st

All other hourly city employees will remain under the four step scale, meaning those with up to four years of service will get their automatic step pay increases as defined in the wage scale plus a 3% cost of living increase in the new budget, as approved by the aldermen. City employees with more than four years of service, who have topped out on the wage scale will only get the cost of living increase.

Police Chief Randy Caplinger proposed the new eight step wage scale for his department after comparing what Smithville pays its officers with law enforcement agencies in other towns. Smithville has lost officers in recent years to departments in other cities for better pay, and Chief Caplinger said he was concerned that his department could lose more personnel, unless the city keeps wages competitive.

Under the new wage scale, Smithville police officers would top out after eight steps, rather than the four steps in the city's current wage scale. Chief Caplinger said he came up with a plan for his department, after surveying other towns, averaging the starting and top out pay for each position in their police departments and using that as a model " It doesn't make us the highest paid but it doesn't make us the lowest, we're just in the middle of our surrounding area. It puts us comparable with our competition around and gives an incentive for the officers to stay," he said.

The city budget will not be drastically impacted, according to Caplinger because the raises are spread out over eight years instead of four. "It really didn't hurt the budget of the city because the raises were basically the same, it just extended it out further but gave a higher top out, which is an incentive to keep employees. Nobody is getting a big raise. In fact, a couple of officers may be getting a little less raise (under the new plan) than they would otherwise have received July 1 (under the current wage scale)," said Chief Caplinger

The proposed new eight step wage chart for the police department (including a 3% cost of living increase) this year is as follows (hourly rate) and (Annual Pay-No Overtime)
$13.88 (Step1)- $28,879
$14.98 (Step2)- $31,150
$16.07 (Step3)- $33,421
$17.16 (Step4)- $35,692
$18.27 (Step5)- $38,006
$19.36 (Step6)- $40,277
$20.46 (Step7)- $42,548
$21.63 (Step8)- $44,990

$15.30 (Step1)- $31,814
$16.71 (Step2)- $34,749
$18.12 (Step3)- $37,684
$19.53 (Step4)- $40,619
$20.94 (Step5)- $43,554
$22.35 (Step6)- $46,490
$23.76 (Step7)- $49,425
$25.17 (Step8)- $52,360

$16.10 (Step1)-$33,485
$17.62 (Step2)-$36,656
$19.15(Step3)- $39,827
$20.67 (Step4)-$42,997
$22.20 (Step5)-$46,168
$25.25 (Step7)-$52,510
$26.77(Step 8)-$55,680

$20.41 (Step1)-$42,462
$21.83 (Step2)- $45,397
$23.24 (Step3)- $48,332
$24.65(Step4)- $51,267
$26.06 (Step5)- $54,202
$27.47 (Step6)- $57,137
$28.88 (Step7)- $60,072
$30.29(Step8)- $63,007

Since the Captain's pay, under this wage scale, tops out higher than what the police chief currently earns, city officials have said the captain's job may be changed from an hourly to a salaried position to keep his salary below the chief's pay.

Smithville Police Make Two Arrests in Meth Case

June 18, 2012
Dwayne Page
Matthew A. Murphy
Holly Cikalo
Amanda Brooke Washer

Smithville Police have charged two people in a meth lab investigation.

Chief Randy Caplinger told WJLE Monday that 20 year old Matthew A. Murphy is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and 20 year old Holly Cikalo faces a promotion of methamphetamine charge. They will be in court on July 19. Bond for Murphy is $25,000 and $15,000 for Cikalo

According to Chief Caplinger, police were called to a residence on Woodlawn Street last Thursday, June 14 where Murphy had reportedly hidden components used to make methamphetamine in the back yard. Officers searched the premises and found muratic acid, drain cleaner, lighter fluid, ice compress, lithium batteries, and claritin D. Upon questioning Murphy admitted to the officers that these items belonged to him and that he intended to use them to make methamphetamine.

Cikalo, who was also at the residence with a young child, allegedly admitted to buying the lighter fluid and cold packs knowing that Murphy was planning to make meth with these items. The Department of Children Services was notified and the child was removed from the home.

24 year old Amanda Brooke Washer is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and aggravated burglary. Her bond is $10,000 and she will be in court on July 19. Chief Caplinger said that on Saturday, June 9, Washer allegedly broke into the residence of Eulain Poley Shelton on Gentry Avenue and took several items from the house including pieces of jewelry, cash, and other items, all valued at over $1,000.

35 year old Dana Taylor is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. She will be in court on June 28. Chief Caplinger said she was stopped for a possible traffic violation and gave police consent to search her vehicle. Taylor told the officer that she had used hypodermic needles in her pocket book. The needles were recovered along with a cut straw. Taylor allegedly admitted to injecting Dilaudid earlier in the day.

18 year old Garrett M. Johnson is cited for following too closely, violation of the open container law, a window tint violation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and simple possession. He will be in court on July 19. Chief Caplinger said police observed Johnson traveling on North Congress Boulevard following very closely to a vehicle in front of him. He was stopped. The officer noticed that the window tint was very dark. Inside the vehicle were Johnson, the driver, and three minors. A beer can had spilled on the floor and there were 12 unopened beer cans in the vehicle along with a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

18 year old Cheyenne Daniels is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on June 21. Chief Caplinger said that an officer responded to a residence on South College Street in reference to an assault. Upon arrival, he spoke with Daniels, who said she had come to her aunt's house to confront her. They began arguing. Daniels allegedly pushed her aunt when she got up out of a chair and as the aunt raised her arm, Daniels said she lost her cool and physically assaulted the woman, punching her. Officers determined Daniels was the primary aggressor and placed her under arrest.

40 year old Richard Turner is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on June 21. Chief Caplinger said an officer responded to a residence on Andrew Street to a possible break-in. Upon arrival, he found a man on the porch. Upon speaking with him, the man was found to be Turner. Officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person. Turner said he had relatives who lived there and he was bringing them food and beer. Turner was very unsteady on his feet. No one was home at the residence. He said he had consumed 40 ounces of beer. Officers found on the porch in a brown paper bag, an empty 40 ounce beer and three- 40 ounce full beers. Due to his safety, he was placed under arrest for public intoxication.

36 year old Lynda Neville is charged with public intoxication and she was issued a citation for possession of a schedule III controlled substance. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court on June 21. According to Chief Caplinger, police responded to Foutch Industries on Sparta Highway to a report of an intoxicated female. Upon arrival, an officer spoke with Neville and noticed that her speech was very slurred and she was very unsteady on her feet. When asked if she had consumed any intoxicating beverages, Neville replied no saying she had taken nothing. Neville was asked to remove everything from her pockets and from her front right pocket was a cellophane wrapper containing three pills believed to be hydrocodone. For her safety and due to her being under the influence at work, she was placed under arrest for public intoxication.

32 year old Rebecca Andrews is charged with a fourth offense of driving under the influence. Her court date is June 21 and she is under a $3,000 bond. Chief Caplinger said that on Sunday, June 10 an officer was dispatched to a possible drunk driver traveling north on South Congress Boulevard. The vehicle turned west on Broad Street, then onto Juniper Lane, Bell Street, and Atnip Street. The officer subsequently stopped the vehicle and found that the driver was Andrews. He noticed that her speech was slurred, that she had red watery eyes, and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. She submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. Andrews also submitted to a blood alcohol test. She has three prior DUI convictions on her record.

21 year old Eduardo Petriz is charged with a first offense of driving under the influence and evading arrest. His bond totals $4,000 and he will be in court on June 28. Chief Caplinger said that Petriz was traveling west on East Broad Street, weaving on the roadway. The officer got behind the vehicle, activating his blue lights and siren. The vehicle stopped at a traffic light, which was green, and then proceeded through the light, turning onto Short Mountain Highway. At one point, Petriz attempted to pass another patrol car in front of him. Petriz traveled about three blocks and then pulled into a driveway. He was placed under arrest. Meanwhile, a passenger of the vehicle, 22 year old Jose Lopez is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,000 and he will be in court on June 28. Chief Caplinger said Lopez had a very strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was very unsteady on his feet. He also had trouble speaking. He was placed under arrest due to his intoxication level and for his own safety.

27 year old Amanda Maxwell is cited for shoplifting. She will be in court on June 21. According to Chief Caplinger, an employee of Walmart stated that he observed Maxwell concealing items in her purse. She left the store without paying for those items. She was asked to stop, but refused. Police pulled up to her SUV and Maxwell appeared to be hiding the items inside the vehicle. The owner of the SUV gave police consent to search and the officer found the stolen goods behind the backseat.


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