Local News Articles

TDOT To Inspect Five Deck Truss Bridges Including Hurricane Bridge in DeKalb County

August 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)this week held an event to educate the public about the condition of bridges across the state, and the rigid inspection process designed to ensure the safety of the bridges for the motoring public.

"The tragedy in Minneapolis certainly brings the issue of bridge safety to the forefront," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "We want to assure everyone that the integrity of our bridges is a top priority at TDOT and we will continue to look for any improvements that could be made to our Bridge Program."

Tennessee's inventory of bridges includes five deck truss bridges, which are similar in construction to the bridge which collapsed in Minneapolis. TDOT will immediately inspect the five deck truss bridges. The bridges are located at:

Jefferson County - I-40 over the French Broad River (this bridge is slated for replacement)
Carter County - State Route 67 over the Watauga River
DeKalb County - State Route 56 over the Caney Fork River (Hurricane Bridge)
Sullivan County - Netherland Inn Bridge (this bridge is slated for replacement)
Knox County - Gay Street Bridge over the Tennessee River

There are 19,519 bridges on public roads in the state of Tennessee. These bridges fall into two categories for the purpose of distributing state and federal funds. On-system bridges are those maintained, owned and operated by the state. They are found on the Interstate System, the National Highway System and the State Route System and include 8,114 bridges. There are 11,405 off-system bridges on roads owned, maintained and operated by local governments.

While the department does track deficiencies in bridges this by no means indicates a safety issue with the bridges. The term "Structurally Deficient" means that components of the bridge may be damaged or deteriorated, but not necessarily to a critical point where safety is an issue. Based on inspection and evaluation of bridges, TDOT will determine whether the bridge should be posted with a weight limit or should ultimately be closed, thus ensuring the safety of motorists.

"We have 17 bridge inspection teams who work diligently to ensure that each bridge across the state is inspected at least every two years," added TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges. "If there is any indication of a serious issue with a bridge, it is closed immediately."

Tennessee has been working to improve the conditions of its bridges for the last two decades. From 1982 until 2005, TDOT dedicated more than $1.5 billion to its Bridge Program. Approximately $100 million will be placed toward bridge programs this fiscal year. Annually, approximately $6.5 Million is dedicated to TDOT's Bridge Inspection Program.

Commissioner Nicely added, "We want to assure the public that we are confident the bridges in Tennessee are safe and are working to ensure that they remain safe into the future."

Committee Nears Completion on Proposed County Budget

August 3, 2007
Dwayne Page

The budget committee of the county commission met Thursday night and voted to publish a summary of the proposed new budget in the local newspapers.

The committee may meet again to make some minor revisions before submitting the spending plan for approval to the county commission at it's next meeting on Monday, August 27th.

The committee proposes to cut the property tax rate by 20 cents from $1.90 to $1.70 per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed tax rate breaks down as follows:

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

Foster says even though the property tax rate for schools is being recommended for a sixteen cent cut, the county plans give back to schools the equivalent of sixteen cents from the local option sales tax fund or sinking fund.

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

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

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

Final Slate Of Candidates Set For DTC Election of Directors

August 2, 2007
Dwayne Page

The final slate of candidates is set for DTC Communications’ election of directors next month.

Directors will be elected in four exchanges, including the Auburntown (464), Gordonsville (683), Temperance Hall (548), and Woodland (765) exchanges.

Incumbents Roy N. Pugh, Robert Don Malone, and David Parker are running unopposed in the Auburntown, Temperance Hall, and Woodland exchanges, respectively.

The Gordonsville exchange is represented by two candidates: Incumbent James H. Dillard, Jr. and David A. Watson who qualified by petition.

Voting for directors will take place at the cooperative’s annual meeting on Saturday, Sept. 15 and during early voting Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 10-12. Thursday, Sept. 6, will be the last day to make changes to your membership for the 2007 election.

Hours and locations for early voting include:
Early Voting Hours
Mon., Sept. 10 – Noon to 7 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 11 – Noon to 7 p.m.
Wed., Sept. 12 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Early Voting Locations
Kenneth Sandlin Building, DeKalb County Fairgrounds, Alexandria
Gordonsville Clinic/DTC Conference Room, 126 JMZ Drive, Gordonsville
DeKalb County Courthouse, Room 100, 1 Public Square, Smithville
DTC Training Center (former Woodbury phone store), located beside the DTC Customer Service Center, Woodbury

On Saturday, Sept. 15, gates to the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria will open at 11:45 a.m., with voting from noon until 4 p.m. The business meeting will begin at 4 p.m. or once the last person in line at that time has voted.

Only DTC members may vote, and each member must present identification. For a single membership, only that individual may vote. Either member of a joint membership may vote, but not both. In the case of a business membership, a business affidavit is required.

For questions regarding membership and voting guidelines, refer to the by-laws section included in the current DTC phone directory, or call DTC at 615-529-2955.

One Man Seriously Injured In Tuesday Night Crash

August 2, 2007
Dwayne Page

One man was seriously injured in a one car crash Tuesday night on Highway 70 east near Sligo Bridge.

Michael Reid apparently lost control of his car and went off an embankment.

He was later airlifted from the scene by a helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with serious head and back injuries.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says a fisherman on the lake heard the crash and reported it around 10:00 p.m.

Officers quickly responded and found where the vehicle had run off an embankment. They soon discovered the car and found Reid hanging onto to a vine to keep from falling off the bluff into the lake.

A deputy helped pull him to a safer place on the embankment until more help could arrive.

Sheriff Ray says he would like to commend the DeKalb County Rescue Squad, County Volunteer Fire Department, and DeKalb EMS who were on the scene within minutes. He says they got to Reid, secured him in a basket, and brought him back up to the top of the hill.

The accident was investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

DeKalb County Jail & Annex Meet Standards For Re-Certification

August 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray says he is pleased to announce that the DeKalb County Jail and the Jail Annex have both met standards for re-certification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

According to Sheriff Ray, "On June 21st, John Hanna, Jr., Detention Facility Specialist for the Tennessee Corrections Institute conducted an inspection and on June 26th, we received our certification for both the DeKalb County Jail and DeKalb County Jail Annex."

Concerning the DeKalb County Jail, Hanna wrote in the summary of his report that "This facility is run by officers that seem to care about the conditions of the overall jail. I went through the cell areas that did not have evidence of pest or vermin. The medical section had a medical receipt system well established and the kitchen was up to date with the meal plans. I recommend continued certification of this jail."

As for the DeKalb County Jail Annex, Hanna wrote that "The annex is run similar to the main jail. The physical plant looked clean with no sign of bugs and vermin. I recommend continued certification."

Sheriff Ray says in spite of a growing inmate population at the jail, his administration has been able to maintain standards for state certification of the jail, while operating under budget. "When I took office on September 1st, there were 73 inmates who were housed at the jail. Since then, we have been housing an average of 95 per day and 113 on the weekends. We currently have 10 females and 85 male inmates incarcerated. We've also sent over 40 inmates to the Tennessee Department of Corrections in Nashville since September 1st."

With the support of his staff and the county commission, Sheriff Ray says improvements have been made to the jail. " Since September, I have been able to purchase new mats, blankets, and personal care items. We've done some painting, plumbing, and electrical work and we had a company come in and re-do some of the cell door locks. We're also in the process of buying new security cameras for the jail." All of these projects, he says, have been funded without overspending the budget.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Ray says the Tennessee Corrections Institute has granted approval for the DeKalb County Jail Annex to add 18 beds to the 88 bed facility.

D.A. Says No TBI Investigation Needed In Stufano/Ray Case

July 31, 2007
Dwayne Page

The District Attorney General's Office will not be requesting a TBI investigation into allegations of wrongdoing against Smithville Police Chief Thomas J. Stufano by Roy Ray.

The Smithville Aldermen voted 3 to 1 on Monday, July 16th to place Chief Stufano on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an independent investigation into the Stufano/Ray case. Lieutenant Richard Jennings, the senior ranking officer within the department at the time, was named acting police chief.

Two days after that meeting on Wednesday, July 18th, Mayor Taft Hendrixson sent a written notice to city attorney John Pryor that he was casting a veto of the council's action. The aldermen were also notified. As a reault of the mayor's veto, Stufano was reinstated as Police Chief.

The city board is scheduled to meet in regular session again on Monday night, August 6th, at which time the aldermen may consider trying to override the mayor's veto, which would require a two thirds majority vote, or at least four members of the five member board.

Ray has filed a federal court lawsuit against Stufano and the city claiming his constitutional rights were violated and that he was injured as the result of excessive police force during a misdemeanor traffic stop in February. He is represented by Lebanon attorney Adam Parrish.

In a letter to city attorney Pryor, District Attorney General Pro Tempore Anthony (Tony) Craighead wrote this week that "The District Attorney's Office will not be requesting a TBI investigation. There are several reasons for this decision."

Craighead's letter states that " First, the TBI's mission is to investigate criminal activities. That is those cases where a crime has been committed with an eye toward prosecution. I do not see what crime they are being called on to investigate. The incident between Chief Stufano and Mr. Ray has been fully investigated by the City of Smithville Police, and I fail to see what additional information is needed or what crime needs to be investigated. The purpose of the TBI is not to make an investigation into whether a law enforcement officer used proper procedures in making an arrest. That is not it's job. It appears that is what the City Council needs done, but that does not fall, as I understand, under the parameters of that agency."

"Second, the City Council or the Police Department did not request or believe there was a need for an investigation until a civil lawsuit was filed some five months after the incident. It appears from our discussion it was only requested when a private attorney, who has filed the lawsuit, appeared before the City Council to suggest some form of investigation. If all these facts were known at the time of the incident and no new facts have emerged, except for the lawsuit, then I am not going to have this office or the TBI drawn into a lawsuit that we have no standing in which to be involved."

"Finally, after a review of Chief Stufano's meticulous, detailed report (which I might add, I would enjoy seeing on all law enforcement cases across the district), I do not see what additional information could be gained from a formal TBI inquiry. All the facts are there, all the statements from officers are there, and I am of the opinion there are no new facts that would emerge."

"If all the facts are as Chief Stufano and his officers state, I do not see any charges that the TBI would need to substantiate."

"This is a very unfortunate situation; however because someone chooses to sue a police officer does not automatically require a TBI investigation. As in the criminal court, making allegations against someone does not make those allegations true. If the TBI was not requested or needed when the event occurred, I fail to see why they are needed now."

Annual Sales Tax Holiday Returns August 3-5

July 1, 2007
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen and Department of Revenue officials remind you that the second annual Sales Tax Holiday begins this Friday, August 3, at 12:01 a.m. and ends Sunday, August 5, at 11:59 p.m.

This holiday provides statewide sales tax exemption for school and art
supplies and clothing priced $100 or less per item and computers priced
$1,500 or less. This is the first holiday that art supplies will be
exempt, which includes clay and glazes; tempera and oil paints;
paintbrushes for artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors.
Please visit the dedicated Sales Tax Holiday Web site at
www.tntaxholiday.com ( http://www.tntaxholiday.com/ ) to learn more
about what items are exempt from sales taxes.

“This holiday is another way we can show our commitment to Tennessee
families and their children’s education,” said Governor Bredesen.
“Our Sales Tax Holiday not only helps families save on their
back-to-school shopping but is a benefit for all Tennesseans, who are
encouraged to take advantage of the savings.”

Tennesseans can enjoy tax exempt purchases in local stores, but the
exemptions also apply to purchases by mail, telephone or Internet.

“Back-to-school shopping costs can add up, and we are happy to
provide this special tax savings opportunity to Tennesseans,” said
Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. “I encourage everyone to visit our
Web site and make a list of the items your family needs so they can be
ready to take advantage of the Sales Tax Holiday.”

Consumers and retailers can call a designated toll free hotline at
(800) 342-1003, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for more
information. The hotline will also be available for extended hours on
Saturday, August 4, from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m. CDT and Sunday, August 5, from
10 a.m.to 4 p.m. CDT. Questions can also be asked via e-mail at

The Sales Tax Holiday is an ideal way to prepare your children for a
successful school year, but school supplies are not all that is needed.
Ensure a healthy school year for your children by enrolling them in
CoverKids, Tennessee’s free health insurance program for children 18
and under. Please visit www.covertn.gov ( http://www.covertn.gov/ ) to
learn more or enroll.
Examples of exempt items include:

Shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves and mittens, hats and caps,
hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms whether athletic or
non-athletic and scarves

School Supplies
Binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers,
folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, rulers and

Art Supplies
Clay and glazes; acrylic, tempera and oil paints; paintbrushes for
artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors

Central processing unit (CPU), along with various other components
including monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables to connect components and
preloaded software
(Note: While the CPU may be purchased separately, other items must be
part of a bundled computer package in order to be eligible.)

Second Annual Education Celebration Set for Monday

July 30, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Second Annual Education Celebration for DeKalb County has been set for August 6th from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. downtown around the courthouse square.

The celebration is being organized by DeKalb County Board of Education Federal Programs Supervisor Michelle Burklow along with committee members Jennifer Mitchell, Angela Johnson, Pamela Poss, Suzette Barnes, Gina Denman, Melissa Pirtle, and Jamie Vickers.

This Education Celebration is nationally known as First Day of School America and is held annually in a lot of the bigger cities in the United States. Since 1997 the First Day Foundation organization has been assisting schools, families and communities to come together for a celebration on the First Day of each new school year to support education and begin a year-long partnership to promote student success. This is also a time that parents and students can become more familiar with the faculty, staff and PTO of the school that they are entering.

The community can support First Day in a number of ways. Community based organizations can provide materials and resources to parents to make them aware of services available to them in the community. Community leaders- mayors, city council members, clergy, businesses, corporate leaders and others can visit the schools and events and show their support. Local businesses partner with schools by donating products, services and volunteers to the First Day Celebration.

All five schools in DeKalb County will have a booth and be displaying a photo board with their staff and their individual credentials. Each school will also be represented by their school's PTO about what the PTO does and how parents can help. The Lion's Club Vision Screening van will be available that day for vision screenings, the DeKalb County Health Department will be represented with information, and the Tennessee Voices for Children and many other organizations will be there. There will be refreshments, inflatable jumping balloons and FREE school supplies.

If you would like to help with this event please call Michelle Burklow at 215-2107.

This celebration is totally free of charge to those who attend so make plans now to join the celebration, downtown Smithville on August 6th.

Dr. Cliff Duke
Love Cantrell Funeral Home
Dekalb Telephone Cooperative
DTC Wireless
Middle Tennessee Natural Gas
Federal Mogual Corp
Cumberland Nursery
Dr. David Foutch
Denny Lamp
Janney and Associates
TKEON Orthodontics
DeKalb Community Bank/Wilson Bank and Trust
Vickers Grave Service
Liberty State Bank
Smithville OES—Eastern Star
Danny and Melissa Pirtle
Cohutta water distributed by ABC Ice
Griffin's Fruit Market

First Assembly of God
First United Methodist Women
Alexandria Church of Christ
Jacobs Pillar
New Home Baptist Church
People's Missionary Baptist Church
Snow Hill Methodist Church
Smithville Church of Christ
Tabernacle The Baptist Church
Grace Bible Church
New Union Baptist Church
Light House In-Home Ministry
Salem Baptist Church
Keltonburg Methodist Church
Bright Hill Methodist Church
Indian Creek Baptist Church
Real Life Community
St. Gregory's Catholic Church
Church of the Nazarene
Real Life Community
St. Gregory’s Catholic Church
Covenant Baptist
Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian
Cooper’s Chapel
Johnson’s Chapel
Keltonburg Church of Christ
Elizabeth Chapel
Dowelltown Methodist
Calvary Baptist
Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Dowelltown Baptist Church
Smithville Free Will Baptist
Liberty Hill Presbyterian
First United Methodist
Banks Pisgah Church
Smithville First Baptist Church

Traffic Stop Results in Three Drug Arrests

July 30, 2007
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department made a traffic stop last Wednesday which led to the arrest of three people on drug charges.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says 28 year old Donald Bart of Old Eagle Creek Road Smithville was pulled over on Highway 70 East for a traffic violation and when the deputy asked who he was, Bart gave a fictitious name. Upon further investigation, the deputy learned the man's real identity. Bart said he gave the deputy a fictitious name because he was wanted in Texas. Bart was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after the deputy found a syringe in Bart's belt line.

Meanwhile, 52 year old Thomas Pavone of Old Eagle Creek Road, Smithville was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and 32 year old Tracy Schunke of Foster Road Smithville was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and simple possession of a schedule II drug (Dilaudid).

Both Pavone and Schunke were in the vehicle with Bart.

Sheriff Ray says when Pavone was asked to exit his vehicle, he voluntarily gave a syringe to the deputy and Schunke had in her possession a syringe and a half of a Dilaudid pill.

Bond was set at $3,500 for Bart; $1,000 for Pavone; and $2,500 for Schunke. Pavone and Schunke will be in court on August 2nd.

Bart pleaded guilty to his charges on July 26th and received a six month sentence to serve.

Meanwhile, in other another case, 18 year old Anthony Tramel of Oakley Road Liberty was charged with burglary on Thursday.

Sheriff Ray says Tramel went to a residence that had burned in Liberty and broke into a detached garage, but he was unable to steal anything because a witness had caught him in the act.

Bond for Tramel was set at $5,000 and his court date is August 2nd.

43 year old Mateo Perez of Bluff Springs Road, McMinnville was arrested on Wednesday for No Drivers License. Perez was driving a 1998 Jeep Cherokee on Banks Pisgah Road when he lost control of his vehicle while negotiating a curve and hit a ditch. Perez was unable to produce a Valid Drivers License. Bond was set at $1,500 and his court date is August 23rd..

23 year old Nichole Gilley of White Street Smithville was charged with DUI, Driving on a Suspended Drivers License, and No Insurance. While on routine patrol, a deputy noticed Gilley's vehicle weaving on Highway 56 South. Gilley admitted to the Deputy that she had been drinking and smoking Marijuana. Her bond was set at $3,500.

DeKalb County Fair Draws to Close Saturday Night

July 28, 2007
Dwayne Page

If you haven't been to the DeKalb County Fair this week, today (Saturday) is your last chance.

The week long fair will draw to a close late tonight.

Today's events are as follows:

A performance of the DCHS Band at 5:00 p.m.; DeKalb Idol Final Competition at 6:00 p.m. followed by a performance by Joanie Compretta at the Lions Club Pavilion; a Horse Shoe Tournament at 3:00 p.m. at the barn; and a Super Tractor and Truck Pull at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Arena. On the Memory Lane Stage, Southern Dream will be performing at 8:00 p.m. The Sympathetic Scarecrow Band, which was scheduled to perform, will be unable to attend.

There will be no cash drawing tonight. All the prize money has been given away.

Rides on the Midway will be provided by the Family Attractions Amusement Company. Unlimited rides will be available for $14.00.

The fair will feature lots of delicious foods and many commercial, agricultural, and women's exhibits.

Admission to the fair is $3.00 per person. Children under age four will be admitted free! Gates open at 4:00 p.m. Parking is Free!

For more information, call 529-FAIR or visit on-line at www.dekalbcountyfair.us or dekalbtn.com.


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