Local News Articles

Two Men Charged with Promoting Manufacture of Methamphetamine

September 13, 2010
Dwayne Page
David Wayne Gaines
Bradley Shane Redmon
Justin Lynn Murphy

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has arrested two men for promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine

32 year old David Wayne Gaines of Short Mountain Street Smithville and 27 year old Bradley Shane Redmon of A.B. Frazier Road, Smithville were arrested on Wednesday, September 8th and they will appear in court on September 30th. Bond for each is $25,000

Sheriff Patrick Ray says a deputy went to Gaines' home on Short Mountain Street in answer to a complaint of methamphetamine being cooked there. After arrival, the officer received consent to search the home. Redmon, who was also present, told the officer that he had a glass pot with him. Found in a spare bedroom of the home where Redmon was staying were the glass pot, heating element, plastic bottle with liquid residue, and a plastic bag that contained new and used wet coffee filters.

A search of the bathroom turned up a black bag that held a two liter bottle, which contained black and white substances, and there was a 16 ounce bottle containing a bi-layer liquid. The officer also found fans, tools, lithium batteries, tape, lighter fluid, and other items to manufacture methamphetamine.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, 24 year old Justin Lynn Murphy of 625 Restview Avenue, Smithville was arrested on Friday, September 10th and charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, unlawful manufacture of a schedule VI (marijuana), unlawful possession of a schedule IV controlled substance (xanax), and unlawful possession of a schedule II controlled substance (morphine). Murphy is under a $9,000 bond and his court date is September 30th.

Sheriff Ray says on Thursday, September 9th detectives accompanied probation officers to the home of Murphy to check on him. Found in the kitchen inside a planter pot were three marijuana plants. One larger marijuana plant was found growing outside the home by the steps. Authorities searched Murphy and found a pocket screwdriver. When the lid to the screwdriver came off, a pill believed to be xanax was found inside. Also found on Murphy and in his bedroom were a total of five hypodermic needles and six straws. The search of the bedroom further yielded a pill believed to be morphine.

Smithville Elementary School Wildcat Fun Run Set for Friday

September 13, 2010
Dwayne Page
Dr. Bill Tanner

Students from pre-k to the second grade will help raise money for their school during the 19th annual Wildcat Fun Run at Smithville Elementary School on Friday, September 17th.

Dr. Bill Tanner, SES Principal, says the Fun Run is a project of the school's PTO. "For nineteen years, Smithville Elementary along with the PTO has put on a Fun Run. We used to do this with Northside Elementary but two or three years ago Northside decided they wanted to do something else. So now we're doing it on our own. "

"Our PTO does the whole thing on their own. It's called the Fun Run. Children go out and they get pledges from family members and friends for walking laps and then that money goes into a pot. The PTO sponsors some things for us. They've bought benches in the past. They've helped re-mulch the playground, bought computers, helped with our P.A. system that we have in the gym. This last year we added some cameras to our security system. We get a safety grant from the Tennessee government but it only buys cameras internally. Some of those cameras we put outside on the playground so we can keep an eye on what's going on outside or if somebody is on campus that doesn't need to be."

" They (PTO) have averaged from ten to fifteen thousand dollars raised during that time (Fun Run) and it comes in handy. They buy the things that we can't normally buy out of our (school) budget. You can't image how much a small amount of money that they (PTO) give helps us out during the year. Two times during the year, they give the teachers one hundred to two hundred dollars to go out and buy things for their classrooms. They feed them a couple of times during the year. Maybe a child needs some clothes, or maybe a child needs some other things. They (PTO) help pay for those things. And then the big things we need around campus like benches and other odds and ends that are normally not in our budget, the PTO helps buy those things. Twice or three times a year, they pay to have somebody come in and clean up around the campus, the shrubs that's been planted and that type of thing."

This event is held each year in an effort to raise money for the school. Students are asked to accept pledges or donations prior to the day of the run. During the Fun Run, students walk or jog on a track with each lap being recorded for each student. After the event, the students then collect money from their pledges.

October 1st Bid Letting Scheduled for Hurricane Bridge Rehab Project

September 11, 2010
Dwayne Page
TDOT Inspected Hurricane Bridge in April 2010

The rehabilitation of the Hurricane Bridge under the state's bridge bonding program is due for construction bid letting October 1st according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

State Senator Mae Beavers says she and Paul Degges, Chief Engineer for TDOT recently spoke about the project. "I talked to him to see what the status was of the Hurricane bridge. It is in this year's budget. Of course, it takes time to bid it out and they've been working on that since the first of September. The bids are due in September 17th. After that, he said it's routine that they check out all the bids to make sure they're all legitimate. That takes a little bit of time and then they'll decide what the best bid is. He said there should be a bid letting by October 1st. Then they'll be free to start construction."

Jennifer Flynn, Community Relations Officer in the Chattanooga TDOT Office says the project will entail a rehabilitation of the existing bridge. " The rehabilitation project will replace the deck at the bridge. New guardrails will be installed and it will strengthen the steel structure underneath and make the bridge a lot safer and it won't have to be weight posted anymore upon completion of the project. The estimate (to do the work) is $12 to $15 million right now but we won't really know until the bids are opened on the project and let to contract.

The rehabilitation of Hurricane Bridge is among the projects to be funded through TDOT's Better Bridge bonding program in the fiscal year 2010-11 state budget, which was approved by the legislature this year

Smithville Police Charge Local Man with Auto Burglary and Other Offenses

September 10, 2010
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police have charged a 26 year old man with illegally entering someone else's car and removing property that apparently didn't belong to him. But that's not all.

26 year old Daniel R Wilson of Yulanda Hills Road was also arrested for evading arrest, possession of paraphernalia , and theft under $500, in addition to auto burglary.

Corporal Travis Bryant responded to a call at Save A Lot where an unknown man had unlawfully entered someone's car and removed their property. Upon arrival Corporal Bryant made contact with a man who identified himself as Daniel Wilson. When asked for his identification, Wilson began to flee. Corporal Bryant pursued him approx ¼ miles and was able to place him in custody. Wilson was escorted to Corporal Bryant's patrol car where he was searched incident to arrest. A syringe was recovered from his pocket. Bond for Wilson is $15,000 and his court date is September 16th.

41 year old Jeffery Lee Bates of Bright Hill Road was arrested on Saturday, September 4th for public intoxication. Officer Matt Farmer saw Bates attempting to cross South Congress Boulevard in the area of Sonic and noticed he was unsteady on his feet and appeared to be disoriented. Officer Farmer stopped and spoke with Bates and noticed he had red watery eyes and had an odor of some intoxicant coming from his person. Bond for Bates is $1,000 and his court date is September 30th.

48 year old Linda Carol Barrett of Adcock Cemetery Road was arrested recently for simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and tampering with evidence. Barrett was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a traffic violation. Barrett gave consent to search her purse and Officer Scott Davis recovered a used hypodermic needle. When Ms. Barrett was pulling out her pockets a pill fell and after she was transported to the Smithville Police Department, Officer Davis found a pill under the back seat of the patrol car that Ms. Barrett had apparently placed there. Bond for Barrett is $ 4,000 and her court date is September 30th.

23 year old Jamal Ahmad League of Smith Road was arrested on Sunday, September 5th for public intoxication. Officer James Cornelius was dispatched to a residence to answer a domestic call and upon arrival he found League banging on the front door. While speaking with him, Officer Cornelius detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from League and he was unsteady on his feet. League admitted to drinking beer. His bond is $1,000 and his court date is October 7th.

48 year old Darcie Elaine Cantrell of West Main Street was arrested for driving under the influence on Monday, September 6th. Officer James Cornelius was called to assist a stranded person (driver) of a vehicle who was in the parking lot of Denny Lamp Company. Upon arrival, Officer Cornelius noticed that the vehicle in the parking lot had run off the roadway. The driver, Cantrell, was seen walking on 56 North toward town. Officer Cornelius picked up Cantrell and took her back to the scene. He also read Cantrell her rights. She allegedly admitted to being the driver. Cantrell was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slow. She was asked to perform several field sobriety tasks but she performed poorly on them. Bond for Cantrell is $1,500 and her court date is October 7th.

23 year old Auston C. Wood of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown was arrested on Wednesday, September 8th for driving on a suspended license. Officer Scott Davis stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation on South Congress Boulevard and a check of Wood's license showed them to be suspended for failure to satisfy a citation. Bond for Wood is $1,000 and his court date is October 28th.

46 year old Jamie Lee Woodside of Turner Road was arrested on Thursday, September 9th for assault and theft. Officer Matt Farmer was dispatched to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter. Woodside had allegedly taken items from the store and concealed them in her purse. While being detained by the store managers, Ms. Woodside allegedly became combative and bit one of the managers on his left shoulder while trying to leave before police arrived. Her bond is $5,000 and her court date is September 30th.

Meanwhile, anyone having any information on the following offenses is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

On September 3rd, Officer David Phillips took a report at 740 Walker Drive where someone had scratched down the side of Jamie Woodside's vehicle. Earlier in the day, Officer Phillips took a report of a hit and run at the same location on the same vehicle.

On September 4th, Howard Harness reported that someone had taken a Red Power X 18 speed bike from his carport during the night at 107 Juniper Lane.

On September 4th, the Smithville Housing Authority reported that someone had thrown a brick into the window next to the front door of an apartment at 632 Andrews Street.

On September 5th, Don Stanley reported that he went into Wal-Mart and when he returned to his truck he found that someone had shot it with a BB or air gun.

On September 7th, employees of Family Medical Center reported that someone had busted out a window at the corner of the building. There was no entry..

On September 10th, Roy Ray reported that he had a black Chevy S10 at Chad's Car Sales at 317 West Broad St. Chad Hale is in the process of moving his business and this was the last vehicle to be moved. A witness told Ray that he saw someone driving the truck off the lot around 5:30 p.m. on September 9th.

The Smithville Church Of God on West Broad Street was contacted by a man identifying himself as Mark Reed, who stated that he lived on Miller Road but was stranded in Newport, Tennessee and needed $63.00 for gas to get home. Mr. Reed requested that the pastor, Micheal Farr send him a money gram from Wal-Mart. As the church tries to help people in need, Farr went to Wal-Mart where he was informed that he was the third person that morning with the same story. Wal-Mart informed Pastor Farr that no one had sent any money and there was an alert placed with Money Gram.

The Smithville Police Department requests that you be aware of anyone who may call you asking for money to get home. It could be a scam.

Any information received that will help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Dollar General Store in Smithville and South Congress BP granted Beer Permits

September 10, 2010
Dwayne Page
Dollar General Store in Smithville Gets Beer Permit
South Congress BP Gets Beer Permit

The Smithville Beer Board met briefly Thursday evening and granted permits to two city businesses, the Dollar General Store and the South Congress BP convenience market.

Representatives of both businesses attended the meeting. Mallika Patel submitted the application for South Congress BP and district manager Tim Forsythe represented the Dollar General Store.

Board members Annette Greek, Farron Hendrix, and Lloyd Black reviewed the applications and voted to approve each one. Both stores apparently met all requirements. Board members Cecil Burger and Steve Hayes were absent.

Smithville now has about ten stores citywide that have permits to sell beer.

Under the Smithville Beer Ordinance, applicants must submit an application and a fee of $250; show proof of ownership and maintain a minimum inventory of $25,000 wholesale value in grocery stock, excluding all tobacco products, gasoline, petroleum products, antifreeze, and beer.

In no event is a permit to be issued authorizing the storage, sale, or manufacture of beer at places within four hundred feet of any school, church, or other such place of public gathering and the distance shall be measured in a straight line from the primary entrance of the establishment seeking a permit to sell beer to the primary entrance of the school, church, or other place of public gathering.

No beer permit shall be issued to anyone who has been convicted for the possession, sale, manufacture, or transportation of intoxicating liquor, illicit drugs, or any crime involving moral turpitude within the past ten years.

Charles Robinson Returned as Chairman of School Board

September 10, 2010
Dwayne Page
John David Foutch, Kenny Rhody, Mark Willoughby, and Charles Robinson

Second district school board member Charles Robinson was re-elected Chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night.

The school board reorganizes each September, naming a chairman, vice-chairman, and an assistant secretary.

In addition to Chairman Robinson, the board re-elected Third district member Kenny Rhody as Vice-Chairman and First district member John David Foutch was named assistant secretary.

Chairman Robinson welcomed the board's newest member, Billy Miller from the Fourth district, who attended his first meeting Thursday night. Robinson also praised former fourth district member Joan Draper for her service on the board of education for the last four years.

Director Mark Willoughby presented his monthly written report on personnel moves since last month.

Those employed include:

Martha D. Knowles, part-time school psychologist
Melissa Vantrease, educational assistant at DeKalb West School
Cerena Craig, part-time physical therapy assistant
Denenne Willingham, school bookkeeper at Northside Elementary School
Sue Arnold, substitute cafeteria worker
Jalene Vanatta, educational assistant at DeKalb West School

Approved substitute teachers:
Ellen Ammons, Guylene Atnip, Brenda Bandy, Lacey Beshearse, Jennifer Braswell, Carolyn Caldwell, Nancy Cantrell, Shannon Cantrell, Matthew Carpenter, Brenda Colwell, Julie Cook, Donna Davis, Linda Dean, Bob DePriest, Cynthia Dias, Betty Fisk, Debbie France, Ann Frazier, Holly Frazier, Kelly Frazier, Wayne Fuson, Sherrie Giles, Johnna Goff, Doris Graham, Natalie Green, Vicki Haggard, Judith Hale, Amber Hawkins, Gayla Hendrix, Ester Holder, Darnette Hibdon, Shirely Ingram, Milinda League, Jennifer Lewis, Kelly Merriman, Sharon Moffett, Diana Moon, Joel Moore, Joel Moss, Eden Nokes, Jamie Nokes, Carol Northcutt, Angela Osment, Lisa Patterson, Elaine Perricone, Ivadell Randolph, Rachel Seal, James Stanton, Mary Nell Summers, Jessica Sims, Peggy Sutton, Amanda Trapp, Tayla Turner, Wanda Vickers,Tom Werling, Holly Woodside, and Kim Young.

Karen Caplinger, school bookkeeper at Northside Elementary School.

In other business, the board adopted a resolution of appreciation honoring bus drivers.

The resolution states that "Whereas, School bus drivers frequently deal with challenging situations including bad weather and road conditions, sometimes misbehaving students and irresponsible drivers in traffic around their bus; and

Whereas, school bus drivers are the first representatives of the school system to greet our students and the last to see them each day and many drivers use the opportunity to make encouraging comments to our students and lift the spirits; and

Whereas, our school bus drivers, may be characterized as Safe, Welcoming And Trustworthy (S.W.A.T) team consistently providing the highest level of diligence to their task of transporting our community's most precious cargo; and

Whereas, they have established an outstanding record of accident-free trips as they drive our school buses transporting our children to school safely and making our school buses the safest way for students to get to school; and

Whereas, Schol bus drivers continuously dedicate time to learning and increasing their knowledge about new rules, regulations, and safety procedures in order to keep our transportation system among the best in the state; and

Whereas, the superintendent and school board appreciate the commitment and dedication of our school bus drivers and wish to honor them for their service to our students, parents, teachers, and the school district.

Therefore, be it hereby resolved that the DeKalb County Board of Education hereby establishes September 16th, 2010 as Bus Driver Appreciation Day in DeKalb County Schools; and

Be it further resolved that the Board encourages the students and staff to join us in expressing appreciation for what they do in recognizing our S.W.A.T. team as the driving force behind our schools."

The board also adopted a resolution recognizing Child Health Week 2010.

The resolution states that " Whereas, healthy lifestyles of Tennessee children today will fortify the welfare and progress of the state in the future; and

Whereas, reducing the burden of health problems like infant mortality, childhood obesity, asthma, and preventable injury and illness requires us to work collectively and proactively as a state; and

Whereas, numerous state and local partners are collaborating to offer community driven support and the proper resources to families while fostering healthier choices among Tennessee's children and residents of all ages; and

Whereas, Tennessee has a longstanding history of promoting child health- from being the first state in the nation to pass child safety seat legislation to recent recognition as a national leader in the areas of childhood immunization and school vending policies; and

Whereas, Child Health Day is a national event first proclaimed by President Calvin Coolidge in 1928 that celebrates its 83rd observance this October; and

Whereas, dedicating a week to the health and well being of children will encourage a lifelong pattern of healthy living; and

Whereas, all Tennesseans can positively impact the well being of children through the encouragement and promotion of healthy lifestyles;

Now, therefore, I, Phil Bredesen, Governor of the State of Tennessee, do hereby proclaim the week of October 4-10
as "Child Health Week" in Tennessee and encourage all citizens, agencies, and organizations to join me in this worthy observance to secure a healthier future for all of Tennessee's children."

The theme will be: "Healthy Youth, Healthy Future"

School Board Grants Request to Allow Vickers Children to Finish School Year at DeKalb West

September 9, 2010
Dwayne Page
Bobby and Kimberly Vickers Address School Board
Kiersten Vickers (Eighth grader at DeKalb West)
Kolten Vickers (Third grader at DeKalb West)

Bobby and Kimberly Vickers, who reside on the Wilson County side of Goose Creek Road near Alexandria, have been granted permission by the Board of Education to keep their children enrolled in the DeKalb County School System through the end of the 2010-11 school year, but no longer.

The school board voted Thursday night to waive the non-resident policy in the case of the Vickers family so their 13 year old daughter Kiersten can complete her eighth grade year at DeKalb West School. Her brother, eight year old Kolten, will also be allowed to complete his third grade year at DeKalb West.

Next year, the Vickers will have to enroll their children in the Wilson County School system, if they continue to reside at their current address.

In making his appeal to the board, Mr. Vickers said he hated to see the children have to change schools now, especially his daughter. " I'd just like for my kids to attend DeKalb County schools at least for this year if they could. My daughter is in the eighth grade and it would be kinda hard on her to go from eighth grade here to another school and then next year start high school."

Vickers, when asked about his residential status, explained that he owns property on the DeKalb/Wilson County line but that his home is on the Wilson County side. " I own land in DeKalb and I own land in Wilson County. I own over four acres in DeKalb and about two acres in Wilson. My home is in Wilson County but I pay taxes in both counties. But my children have been going to school here. We are registered to vote in DeKalb County at the Sandlin Center in Alexandria. That was our address that we were given when we bought the place about five years ago."

First district board member John David Foutch asked Vickers whether the previous owner or resident of this property had sent his children to Wilson County Schools. Vickers said he was not sure. Foutch said he believed he had.

Foutch then asked Vickers "Now you're only requesting that your children stay in the school this year, is that correct"?

Vickers replied, "That would help us a whole lot. Next year we might own a home in DeKalb County. Who knows what might hold next year.'

Foutch further asked "If your residence doesn't change between now and next year, what are your plans? Do you want your children to remain in DeKalb County schools then?"

Vickers responded, "If they can, but if not then that will be okay."

Foutch continued, "But this is the specific year that you're wanting your children to stay because this is your daughter's eighth grade year at the West School?"

Vickers replied, "Yes."

Board Chairman Charles Robinson explained that prior to passage of this non-resident policy in 1995, the DeKalb County School System had open enrollment. He said the reason the policy was adopted was primarily to curb student overcrowding at DeKalb West School. "It's my understanding that the board at that time passed this policy because prior to that it was an open enrollment county where anyone could come into DeKalb County and attend school. But due to a large number of students attending DeKalb West School, the board had to prematurely build on to the school to accommodate the overcrowding that was from a majority of students that lived outside the county."

Fifth district member W.J. (Dub) Evins, III added, "that's when we entered into a number of reciprocal agreements with the different counties that they don't admit students from DeKalb County and we don't admit students from those counties."

Evins, while commenting that he was sympathetic to the Vickers' situation, said that he was also concerned about making exceptions to board policies, especially this one and the precedent it might set. "In my opinion, we have to consider what's happened in the past. I don't know that we ever have deviated from the policy, but if we do (I'm concerned about) the repercussions that may have from what has happened in the past or what may happen in the future."

First district member Foutch reminded the board about another family who owns property on both sides of the Smith and DeKalb County line and who wanted to send their children to the Smith County School System at the beginning of this school year, but had to enroll them in DeKalb County because their home is here.

Fourth district member Billy Miller asked if the school system has a procedure for verifying residency status, other than using a physical address.

In response, Director Wiloughby said "To say we check (verify) 100% of the time, no sir we don't. Should we? Yes sir, we probably should ask for identification, such as light bill, phone bill, maybe two or three ways of identifying the residents and then go by the 911 address. Brand new students are scrutinized more than those already in the system. Why this situation got to this point, I can't explain it."

The board policy regarding "Attendance of Non-Resident Students" states as follows:

"Effective August 12th, 1995, no child shall be permitted to attend DeKalb County Schools unless that child's parents physically reside in DeKalb County or the child is in the official custody of a person who is a physical resident of DeKalb County."

"A child enrolled in DeKalb County Schools on August 11th, 1995, may continue to attend DeKalb County Schools until the child graduates or transfers to another school system. Siblings of currently enrolled students will be permitted to enroll once they are of school age effective with the 1998-99 school year."

"Should any child presently enrolled in the DeKalb County Schools transfer to another school system, then the child's parents or person having official custody of the child must be physical residents of DeKalb County before the child can be re-admitted to DeKalb County Schools."

Mrs. Vickers told WJLE on Monday night that when her daughter, Kiersten was enrolled in Kindergarten at DeKalb West School in 2002, the family lived on Highway 53 at Liberty. The next year, the Vickers moved to Statesville and the child was enrolled in school at Watertown. Then during the 2004-05 school year when the family left Statesville and moved to where they live now, Kiersten was enrolled as a second grader at DeKalb West school and has remained in school there since. She is now thirteen years old and in the eighth grade.

Meanwhile the Vickers' younger child, Kolten who was enrolled at DeKalb West as a pre-school student four years ago, is now eight years old and in the third grade at DeKalb West School.

The Vickers children are transported to and from school by the family.

Mrs. Vickers says she and her husband got a call from Attendance Supervisor Clay Farler on the first day of school in August informing them that there was a problem. "The first day of school they (the children) went (to school). Then I came home about 11:30 a.m. or twelve o'clock and I got a phone call from Clay (Farler) who said that we had to move our children because we are in Wilson County. He said somebody had turned us in.."

During Thursday night's meeting, seventh district board member Johnny Lattimore asked Director of Schools Mark Willoughby when the issue of the Vickers' residency status came to his attention.

Director Willoughby replied, "probably the last of July, maybe the third week of July. The first day of school was around the first of August."

Mrs. Vickers then spoke up saying, "I called Mr. Willoughby that day myself (first day of school)."

Willoughby continued, "They (Vickers) did ask if they could appeal (the decision) to the board, but it was already past the ten days that we require (deadline for getting it on the agenda). Bobby asked me if the kids could stay in school until this board meeting and I said yes. But (I told him) if the board votes that the kids can't stay (in school here) then I would ask that they be transferred to Wilson County schools on the following Monday. That's why it's drawn out this long."

Lattimore then made a motion that the children be allowed to finish the school year here since the Vickers weren't notified about the residency issue until the first day of school and since transferring the children now might create a hardship on them, especially the older child. "I think this is kind of a sticky situation to be in for everybody that's involved. I agree with Mr. Evins and Charlie that it's board policy that you have to live in DeKalb County in order to go to school in this county. But they're kinda in a sticky situation that their daughter wants to finish school at the West School. I think that (transferring her) would probably upset her basket a little too much and I don't have a problem with letting them continue for the rest of this year but not one day past the rest of this (school) year. Then the understanding is that next year they would have to either go to Wilson County or move into DeKalb County."

Third district member Kenny Rhody, who offered a second to Lattimore's motion, said he believed allowing the children to stay in school here another year would be best for them, especially the eighth grader. "That's the part that's bothering me is her. Eighth grade, and this far into school, I just feel it would upset her too much to ask that kind of change right now."

Sixth district member Bruce Parsley said the fact that the Vickers are property owners in DeKalb County should be taken into consideration and suggested that the board revisit the existing policy and possibly make some changes. "I know the policy says that they have to physically reside in DeKalb County, but their farm is split and two thirds of the farm is in DeKalb County. If the house was on the other side of the farm, this discussion wouldn't even take place. So to me, the policy may need to be changed because it's ridiculous to pay two thirds of your taxes in DeKalb County and your kid have to go somewhere else to school, just because your house is sitting on the (county) line. Fifty feet to me doesn't make that much difference."

Debris Fire Causes Structural Damage to Dismal Bridge

September 8, 2010
Dwayne Page
Debris from May Floods lodged underneath Dismal Bridge
Debris Fire Damages Dismal Bridge (Photo by Donny Green)
Firefighters Called to Debris Blaze at Dismal Bridge (Photo by Donny Green)

While it remains open to traffic, the Dismal bridge on the Alexandria to Dismal Road over Smith Fork Creek may have received significant structural damage during a fire which was set there Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday at 4:56 p.m. Central dispatch received a report of a fire at the bridge. Someone had set fire to the driftwood and debris underneath the bridge, which had washed up and lodged there during the May floods.

The debris has remained there since the floods, pending issuance of state permits giving the road department the authority to proceed with the cleanup.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said members of the Liberty and Temperance Hall stations and a tanker truck from the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene upon receiving the call and when they arrived, firefighters found a roaring blaze coming from under the bridge. "It was a very large fire," said Green. " Flames were leaping out from around both sides of the bridge, probably ten feet high above each side."

Firefighters even had to use a floating pump to draw water from the creek to help put out the blaze.

Green said the fire was so intense that it caused sizeable chunks of concrete to break apart from the bridge. Road Supervisor Kenny Edge was called to the scene to assess the damage.

Edge told WJLE Wednesday night that a witness saw a vehicle parked near the bridge just before the fire started. "He said he was out in a field and he saw an old truck with a camper on it setting there but there wasn't any fire or smoke, but after a few minutes he heard what sounded like somebody shooting a 22. It kept popping so he went over there and found the smoke and fire rolling out from under the bridge. Somebody had set that huge drift on fire."

The debris would have already been cleaned up but according to Edge, the EPA required the road department to obtain permits from the state before the cleanup work could be done. "We (Road Department) had attempted to remove it (debris) after the flood. We had removed about an eighth to a fourth of it but the EPA told us we couldn't without the proper permit because it (repair and cleanup) was going to be covered under this FEMA disaster relief program so we had to stop. We were waiting on the permit but it hadn't come in yet."

It's not yet known whether whoever set the fire was up to no good or thought they were being helpful in destroying the debris but it has caused a lot of damage. In fact, Edge claims that at least a third of the bridge may have to be replaced. " By the time the fire fighters got there, it (blaze) had got so huge that it had busted sections of the concrete off four inches up into those girder beams as far as twelve to fifteen feet in length and it popped a lot of concrete off the side of those beams three feet up on the beams. If we do have to tear down a third of it (bridge) it could run four to five hundred thousand dollars to replace it. About twenty percent of one end of the bridge is damaged but the bridge is split up into three sections. It goes from the abutment over to the first pier and we'd have to replace those four concrete beams and they reach from the abutment to the first pier which is one third of the bridge."

Edge plans to bring in an engineer to assess the damage to the bridge. " We'll get the proper engineer down here that can diagnose how many degrees of heat that it took to bust that much concrete off. Those beams are just concrete beams. They've got steel cables that run through them from one end to the other. They're stretched on a wenching system and when they're set on that concrete those steel cables help support the concrete beams. Right now some of those steel cables are showing. It busted the concrete all the way off back to some of those cables."

Even with the damage, Edge believes the bridge is still safe to travel. ‘I believe it's safe for automobiles. I got under it after they got the fire put out and we drove a fire truck across it so it might last for years but as far as knowing the structural damage, we're going to get an engineer up here to look at it and if we have to replace those four beams the bridge would have to be down for a while. We don't know for sure how we're going to handle it right now but the highway department can't afford it (repair). The county would have to pitch in and help me do it or we'll have to put in (apply) for a federal grant. That's what built it, eighty percent federal money. It cost $1.1 million to build it. I built that with eighty percent federal government money. I applied for a grant and they (federal) paid eighty percent of it. The highway department paid for fourteen percent and the county general paid six percent."

Edge says the Dismal bridge, which is perhaps the largest on the county road system, was completed just two years ago.

If you have information that could help find the person or persons who started this fire, please contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 597-4935.

City Budget Adopted on First Reading- Water and Sewer Rates to Increase

September 8, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mayor Taft Hendrixson

Water and sewer rates for Smithville customers will increase with the passage of the 2010-11 city budget.

The proposed budget, totaling $6-million 160-thousand 768 was adopted on first reading by the Smithville Aldermen Tuesday night. Second and final reading passage will be scheduled following a public hearing at a special meeting on Thursday, September 16th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

City officials say the water and sewer fund is currently running in the red and if that continues two years in a row, the state will adjust the rates if the city doesn't act. The state requires municipal water and sewer systems to be financially self supporting. City leaders say Smithville has not raised water rates since 1998.

According to the current water and sewer rates, a customer with a minimum monthly bill pays $7.12 plus tax. Under the new rates, the same customer with a minimum monthly bill would pay $10.00 plus tax.

If a customer uses 4,000 gallons per month, he now pays $30.60 plus tax. Under the new rates, the same customer using 4,000 gallons per month would pay $40.00 plus tax.

Specifically, the rate for city water customers would increase from the current level of $3.50 to $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus a $1.50 increase from the current rate of $3.50 to $5.00 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Outside city rates would increase to $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, would increase from the current level of $3.62 for a flat usage rate to $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of usage plus a $1.75 cent increase from the current rate of $3.25 to $5.00 per thousand gallons thereafter.

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District for water is $1.90 per thousand gallons but would increase to $1.95 beginning with January 1st, 2011 sales.

Water tap fees for customers inside the city limits would jump from $400 to $600 for a three quarter inch water line and the sewer tap fee would go from $400 to $600 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, the fees will continue to be cost plus 10%.

For customers outside the city limits, water tap fees would increase from $525 to $800 for a three quarter inch line. Fees would go from $525 to $800 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, then the fees will continue to be cost plus 10%.

The new budget calls for the property tax rate to remain the same at almost 62 cents ($.6194 cents) per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed budget calls for city employees with up to four years of service to get their automatic step pay increases as defined in the wage scale and a cost of living increase of 3.4% . City employees with more than four years of service, who have topped out on the wage scale would only get the cost of living increase.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $795,000. The largest single category is $400,000 for a used ladder truck.

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

Parks and Recreation-$5,000 to pave a basketball court, $15,000 for a 1.5 mile walking trail, and $5,000 for a fence

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

City Hall Building - $25,000

Fire Protection- $15,000 for a compressor, $10,000 for a used vehicle and unspecified and $400,000 for the used ladder truck

Street Department- $10,000 for downtown beautification and $10,000 unspecified

Police Department- $25,000 for a police car, $7,000 for a security camera system, $2,500 for a car camera, and $5,500 unspecified

Swimming Pool- $10,000 unspecified

Airport- $190,000 for grant projects completion and $10,000 unspecified

Animal Shelter- $5,000 unspecified; Sanitation Fund- $5,000 and Drug Fund- $10,000 unspecified.

Proposed water and sewer fund Fixed Asset Additions: Automatic meter readers project- $360,000; update of water plant and engineering fees- $2,700,000; sewer rehabilitation camera $125,000; Debt repayment-principal: bonds- $233,560.

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: $3,022,500
Special Revenue Fund-Sanitation: $277,350
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,141,808
Drug Fund: $5,250
Appropriation of Surplus- General Fund: $528,951
Appropriation of Surplus-Drug Fund: $34,000
Appropriation of Surplus-Water & Sewer Fund: $154,909

Total Revenues: $6,160,768

General Fund: $3,551,451
Special Revenue Funds Sanitation: $271,315
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,292,717
Surplus in Sanitation Fund: $6,035
Drug Fund: $39,250

Total expenditures: $6,160,768

City Fathers Support Plan to Share Costs of Directing Traffic at Northside Elementary

September 7, 2010
Dwayne Page
Alderman Aaron Meeks
Alderman Shawn Jacobs
Alderman Steve White

The Smithville Aldermen Tuesday night voted to participate in a partnership with the county and the school system to appropriate up to three thousand dollars a year toward the cost of hiring someone to direct traffic in the school zone at Northside Elementary, with the understanding that the county and school board will each fund one third of the cost as well.

The aldermen also voted for the city to assign someone to go ahead and start directing traffic there in the meantime, until the school board and county commission can take action on this proposal.

Last Thursday, several county and city officials held an informal meeting at the courthouse to discuss the plan which calls for the County, the City of Smithville, and the Board of Education to share in the cost of funding the position of one crossing guard or officer to direct traffic in the mornings and afternoons for a total of approximately four hours a day, Monday through Friday, in the school zone at Northside Elementary School. County Mayor Mike Foster said the cost is estimated to be eight to nine thousand dollars per year, which could be split equally between the county, city, and school system. In addition, Foster said the school board would be asked to employ the person to do the job, preferably someone who is trained and already knows how to direct traffic.

Neither of the school board members nor Director of Schools Mark Willoughby were present at the Thursday discussion because they were already scheduled to attend another meeting.

During last night's special city council meeting, Mayor Hendrixson brought the issue up for discussion. "What the city and Mayor Foster's office discussed is to hire someone to do like two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon at Northside with a cost of approximately eight thousand dollars per year. We came to the conclusion maybe that the fair way to do it is split it three ways. We're talking in the neighborhood of no more than three thousand dollars a year for the school board, the county, and city of Smithville."

Alderman Aaron Meeks recommended that one of the county's constables be considered for the position, if funded. "Johnny King is a constable. He has done this in the past. He is very well qualified and if he needs additional training I'm sure he would be glad to go and get additional training. He would be covered under the county's liability policy. So liability would not be an issue. He would like to do the job. In fact he indicated that he probably wouldn't need four hours a day. He could probably get it done in three. But if we need four, he could do the four. I think the conclusion of the people present at the meeting (Thursday) was that a three way split was a fair and equitable way of handling the problem and it leaves our police officers to do their job and or run radar to slow the people down who are coming through school zones at a high rate of speed, which they can't do if they are standing out in the middle of the street. I think it's a very fair and equitable way of handling it."

Alderman Meeks later made a motion that the city fund one third of the position. "For the city's part, we would be glad to participate on our one third portion of it. Details can be worked out."

Mayor Hendrixson added, "All we can do is our one third and then it's up to the school board and or the county commission to do whatever they want to do."

The motion was adopted unanimously.

Alderman Steve White then went further, suggesting that the city proceed immediately to have someone direct traffic at Northside until the county and school board act on their part of the proposal. " I believe we need someone out there directing traffic even if we use John (Johnny King). I think we have in the budget for a part time officer anyway. If it's where our officers couldn't do it then they could get him to do it. I think it's very urgent that we do have someone out there."

Alderman Shawn Jacobs agreed saying"Let me tell you gentlemen what I'm hearing, and I'm hearing it a lot. That if we can have somebody out there running radar, we can have somebody directing traffic"

Mayor Hendrixson responded, "I think why they run the radar is to slow the traffic down."

Alderman Jacobs answered, "I understand that but the perception of the public is we're just against directing traffic in the school zone. My point is, I agree with Steve, I think we need to get the issue resolved until the county and school board work it out. If we come to an impasse we may have to readdress it later."

The aldermen voted unanimously to have someone direct traffic in the school zone at Northside Elementary at least for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon until the county and school board act.


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