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State Senator Beavers Releases Legislative Update

January 31, 2009
State Senator Mae Beavers

With organizational tasks out of the way, the 106th General Assembly will soon reconvene to tackle the important issues facing Tennessee during the new legislative session. Topping this year's agenda will be consideration of a balanced budget in one of the worst financial years faced by lawmakers in a long time. "We cannot afford to continue to live beyond our means, as we have gone from a surplus to a massive deficit in only a few years," said Senator Mae Beavers. Being one of the only Senators to vote against Gov. Bredesen's budgets in the past, Sen. Beavers will once again scrutinize the way this state's finances are operated. Tennessee's year-to-date collections for five months are currently $407.8 million below the budgeted estimate. The state could be left to deal with as much as $780 million to a $1 billion shortfall by the end of the budget year in June.

One of the most concerning trends affecting our state's budget is the rising unemployment rate. Most lawmakers agree that Tennessee must be aggressive in bringing new jobs to better weather the economic storm. This makes economic development and job creation a top priority of the upcoming legislative session. Job losses have accelerated to around 7 percent. That number could rise to 8.5 percent to 9 percent before the economy turns around according to the state's leading economists. Almost all sectors of jobs are in decline, bringing forward the issue of how the state's unemployment fund will fare if the economy does not turn around.

Expect the solvency of the fund to be a topic for discussion this session when the General Assembly convenes. Tennessee's unemployment fund had a balance of about $517 million as of November. Experts say a drop below the $400 million level would cause great concern.

Finally, legislation is expected to be introduced again this year to provide a two-thirds majority to override Tennessee's constitutional amendment that requires state spending to stay within the rate of growth of Tennessee's economy. Called the "Copeland Cap," this amendment to the state's constitution was approved by Tennessee voters in 1978. It stipulates that state spending cannot grow faster than the rate of growth of the state's economy, measured by the growth of incomes of Tennesseans. The goal is to keep spending growth at a level where the people's income growth can afford it without a tax increase. Currently the cap can be overridden with a simple majority vote.

The state's economic downturn and the rise in unemployment provides legislators with serious challenges. The General Assembly has adjourned until February 9, 2009 to assign offices and await budget details. The governor is expected to deliver his budget address at that time.

Judicial Selection Commission -- Legislation that would continue the current Judicial Selection Commission stalled during the last legislative session, an action that puts the Judicial Selection Commission, which makes recommendations for the selection of the state's judges, in wind down this year. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Beavers will be at the center of the discussion on how to constitutionally and effectively select Tennessee's judges. At a minimum, Senate Republicans want to see a change in the way the Judicial Selection Commission functions, allowing more input from groups seeking membership on the commission. Currently members of the commission are selected from a list of special interest groups as prescribed by law.

Many legislators believe there are important constitutional issues which need to be addressed and that reform is needed to have a fairer and more open process with greater accountability. The state's constitution in Article VI, Sections 3 and 4, says judges shall be elected by qualified voters. Expect the Judiciary Committee and legislature to debate whether or not the Tennessee Plan, which does allow for a retention ('yes' or 'no') vote after a judge's term, satisfies that requirement in its current form. This issue will be one of the key matters for legislators to act upon during the 2009 legislative session.

Open Containers - Sen. Beavers will soon file a bill to curb drunk driving that is more likely to receive favorable consideration of lawmakers, due to the positive financial impact. This bill bans open containers of alcohol in vehicles in Tennessee, and would allow the state to have control over $12 million in federal highway funds. Currently, if a state does not achieve compliance with this federal program requirement, a portion of that state's federal-aid highway construction funds are redirected. Passage of this legislation would not only curb drunk driving, but provide needed flexibility with road money as revenues for transportation needs are dire.

Constitutional Amendments - Thus far, three constitutional amendments await action this year. One is a resolution that would give Tennesseans the opportunity to restore their voice in determining what state law should be regarding commonsense protections for abortions. The resolution failed in a Democrat-controlled House subcommittee last year, despite strong support among members of both the House and Senate. The election of four new Republicans in the House may boost its chances this year. Sen. Beavers pledges to fight for the unborn as she plans to once again co-sponsor the resolution.

A second constitutional resolution would amend the Tennessee Constitution by protecting the right to hunt and fish, while a third would clarify the current prohibition of a state income tax. The amendment specifies that the legislature as well as Tennessee counties and cities shall be prohibited from passing either an income tax or a payroll tax, which is a tax on employers that is measured by the wages they pay workers. A payroll tax has been proposed by elected officials in Shelby County and elsewhere as a way around an income tax ban. "I will continue to take every measure possible to ensure that the people of the 17th District and this state do not reap the devastating consequences of a state income or payroll tax," said Sen. Beavers.

Alderman Sullivan Wants Action on Rehab Project at Water Treatment Plant

January 29, 2009
Dwayne Page
Smithville Water Treatment Plant
Water Intake Pumping Location
Water Plant Location
Water Plant Location 2

Smithville Alderman Tonya Sullivan believes the Smithville Water Treatment Plant is long overdue for rehabilitation and if it doesn't come soon, she is concerned about the quality of the drinking water, the safety of city employees working there, and the availability of water in case of a power failure without backup generators.

On Monday night, Alderman Sullivan says she will bring up the issue during a meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. "I will be asking the board for a re-evaluation of the Smithville water treatment plant by Wauford Engineering and a full written report to be given. I will also ask for the board to take immediate action to make the repairs. Currently, the City of Smithville has approximately $4 million that can only be spent on water and sewer. Nothing other than water and sewer. The time to replace and repair is now. It is state mandated. There can be no more excuses."

City officials say approximately $200,000 was spent updating water filter valves and for a new telemetry system during the 2007-08 budget year.

In January, 2008, Mayor Taft Hendrixson presented a resolution, adopted by the aldermen, authorizing an application for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to help fund the proposed $1.4 million rehabilitation project at the water treatment plant. Mayor Hendrixson, at the time, said the city planned to fund the local share of $900,000 over a three year period from the Smithville Water & Sewer Revenue Fund at approximately $300,000 per year in each of three years. Later in the year, city officials learned that the grant application was not approved.

In November, 2008, Mayor Hendrixson again presented a resolution, adopted by the aldermen, authorizing the application for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to address water system needs including adding a portable pump to support the raw water intake to make it capable of drawing water during periods where the lake water level is drastically lowered and for improvements to address the renovation of the existing water treatment facility.

Alderman Sullivan says she has always been an advocate for safe water, but she became even more concerned after reading a January 2008 preliminary engineering report on the water treatment plant by Wauford Engineering. She decided to speak out on the issue again, after visiting the plant on January 19th, 2009 and discovering for herself the conditions there. " Safe water has been at the root of my service to this community. My first interest in the city government was sparked five years ago when my own water had rusty fibers and solids running through my pipes. From that point on I decided to get involved and make sure the citizens of Smithville and DeKalb County would have quality water. But today, I'm taking this time to inform the citizens of a situation that could very well be a crisis situation. The Smithville water treatment plant is in a critical state. The state of Tennessee reported eleven infractions in February, 2007. Following that report, the board asked the Wauford Engineering firm to report on the conditions of the water treatment plant and to recommend in a written report their findings to the board. Improvements to be made by Wauford did overlap with that of the state mandated improvements. The state gave a time line as to when the repairs were to be made. The City of Smithville has ignored the mandates and neglected to make repairs needed and this may have jeopardized the quality and safety of the water."

" It appears that the conditions of the existing facility are currently below average. I took the opportunity to tour the water treatment plant myself on Monday, January 19th, 2009. The plant, in it's current condition is unsafe for the employees due to standing water and high voltage electrical panels. All drains are collapsed and allowing water to be standing and they appear to be irreparable without running new lines. Pumps and equipment are outdated. Some as far back as 1967. And it is pot luck as to which pump will actually function on a given day."

" The state scored the water treatment plant at a 76 which is a provisional score. That was in February, 2007. The provisional score means that infractions were to be completed in order to raise the score. These infractions to date are still incomplete. As a matter of fact, this issue has been swept under the carpet. Not until the CDBG grant, that was applied for failed, did this board decide to seek further information confirming our suspicions. Some of the excuses given for not taking action on this is expense and costs. The Wauford report states in 2008 that the cost would run approximately $1.4 million for repairs. Now that this has been neglected, the cost will have to be re-evaluated. Repairs and replacements are even more extensive now and more expensive."

"Most of the equipment has outlived it's usefulness. Renovation is necessary to provide safe and potable water. Some of the infractions that were reported by the state are: filter underdrain replacement, a new air scour blower, new standby backwash pump, (A failure of this pump for any period of time will result in citizens being without water), a new plant and system telemetry control, (The current one is antiquated, prone to failure, and creates an emergency condition). Modification of a 1967 clearwell, modifications to chemical storage and feed equipment, and new standby diesel generators are needed at the intake and water treatment plant in case of power outage."

"The consequences of citizens not having potable water are dire. Without renovations, it is anticipated there will be turbidity violations that would require citizens to boil their water. Failure to address these problems place every citizen in Smithville and DeKalb County and all those that drink this water in a state of danger. There are state and federal regulations that require this protection for all citizens. For safety, the water is being independently tested and it has been reported that there are no e.coli present in the water. However, testing for metals, turbidity, and other characteristics are due in soon. All the information that I have reported for the citizens comes directly from the Wauford Engineering firm's findings and from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Office from their report."

The January 2008 Wauford report states that " The purpose of this is to report recent findings at the Water Treatment Plant which indicate that the basic facilities are in good shape but that there is a significant amount of equipment and other items which have outlived their useful life and for which parts are no longer obtainable. Renovation of this plant is necessary to ensure an adequate and safe supply of potable water for the citizens of Smithville."

"Regulatory Action: A sanitary survey was conducted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Supply personnel on February 20th, 2007 at the Smithville Water Treatment Plant. Several issues were raised during the survey resulting in a survey score of 76 which is considered in the "Provisionally Approved" category by TDEC. Some items discovered during the inspection include turbidity violations, chemical storage and feed problems, improper chlorine ventilation, and painting and renovation at the raw water intake."

"Proposed Improvements: The improvements proposed to the Smithville Water Treatment Plant consist of filter underdrain replacement, a new air scour blower, new standby backwash pump, new plant and system telemetry and SCADA system, modifications the 1967 clearwell, modifications to chemical storage and feed equipment, and new standby power at the intake and water treatment plant."

"In March of 1993, an ice storm raged across Tennessee and caused the City of Smithville to be without power for an extended period resulting in the City nearly running out of potable water. The outage time for Smithville is exacerbated by the fact that DeKalb County consists of a very wooded hilly terrain which results in numerous power line failures due to falling trees. Although this is an infrequent condition; the consequences of Smithville running out of potable water are dire. For this reason, standby diesel generators are proposed at the raw water intake and at the plant to maintain water production during power failures. These renovations are estimated to cost $1.4 million."

"Conclusion: The Smithville Water Treatment Plant is in serious need of renovation to continue to produce a plentiful safe supply of drinking water. The condition of the existing facilities is below average. Without renovation, it is anticipated that the plant will experience more turbidity violations that could result in boil water advisories for the citizens of Smithville. It is recommended that the Smithville Water Treatment Plant undergo renovations estimated to cost $1.4 million."

(Alderman Sullivan made pictures during her visit to the Smithville Water Treatment Plant and Water Intake Location on January 19th, 2009) Click the following link to view those pictures.

PDF icon Engineering Report.pdf14.88 MB

DeKalb County Unemployment Rate Rises to 9.2% in December

January 29, 2009
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's jobless rate in December rose to 9.2%, up from 8.2% in November, and a big jump from 5% in December 2007.

DeKalb County's Labor Force for December was 10,180. A total of 9,240 were employed and 940 were unemployed.

Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 7.9 percent, 0.9 percentage point higher than the November rate of 7.0 percent. The United States unemployment rate for the month of December was 7.2 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for December 2008, released today, show that the rate increased in all 95 counties. All counties also recorded over-the-year unemployment rate increases.

Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 5.0 percent,
up 0.5 percentage point from the November rate. Perry County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 20.1 percent, up from 17.8 in November, followed by Lauderdale County
at 15.3 percent, up from 13.9 percent in November.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate at 5.7 percent, up 0.5 percentage point from the November rate. Davidson County was 6.0 percent, up 0.6 from the previous month. Hamilton County was at 6.5 percent, up 0.5 percentage point from the November rate, and Shelby County was 7.5 percent, up from the November rate of 6.9 percent.

UCHRA Seeks Matching Funds for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

January 29, 2009

The UCHRA is seeking matching funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

“I am pleased to announce that with the additional funds UCHRA has been awarded through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, UCHRA will be able to serve approximately 9,500 low-income households with energy assistance in the 14-county service area this year,” announced Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director. “That is a significant increase over the 4,544 served during the past program year,” she continued, “However, we are still falling short of providing assistance to all eligible applicants.”

“When the direct services budget of UCHRA’s 14- county Low Income Home Energy Program, which provides one-time per year energy assistance to low-income households, was increased by the Department of Human Services effective December 1, 2008 from $1,230,327 to $3,084,980, more than 150%, it was hoped every eligible household that applied for assistance this year could be served,” explained Lee Webb, Community Services Director. However, as the economy has worsened and more jobs lost, the requests for assistance, especially from first-time applicants, have sky rocketed. Today, more than 80% of the available funds have been used to assist households with energy payments, and some counties have exhausted their LIHEAP allocations, which are distributed to counties based upon a formula provided by the State.

When UCHRA’s LIHEAP budget was amended in December a new category, “Leveraging Fund” in the amount of $300,836, was added by the State to the budget. For every $1 of non-federal funds that UCHRA can document as being spent to assist LIHEAP-eligible households, UCHRA will receive $2 from the Leveraging Fund to assist additional clients with LIHEAP energy assistance. The leveraging budget represents almost 860 additional eligible households that could be served. LIHEAP eligibility is based simply upon documentation of the fact that the applicant’s household income does not exceed 125% of the federal poverty guideline (e.g., $26,500 for a family of 4). The fact that a household has received LIHEAP assistance does not prohibit claiming additional non-federal dollars used to assist them as matching funds.

The non-federal funds do not have to flow directly through UCHRA. If for example, if a church assists a household with paying its utility bill, and it documents the income and reports the amount of the assistance to UCHRA, the LIHEAP Program can draw down double that amount in leveraging funds. Some utility companies generate funds, though a “round-up” or voluntary contribution program, which are allocated to community-based organizations to assist families in crisis to pay utility bills. In order for UCHRA to be able to use those non-federal funds for leveraging, organizations would have to (1) document that the household served meets the 125% poverty guideline and (2) report the household name and amount of assistance to UCHRA. Even if the organization chooses to also serve households above the 125% poverty level it could report to UCHRA only those that meet the income guidelines.

“With the critical need for energy assistance funds during this financial crisis it will be a shame if UCHRA is unable document $150,418 in non-federal energy assistance being spent to assist LIHEAP-eligible households in order to receive an additional $300,836,” stated Bennett. “We request that utility companies, community-based organizations, churches, and individuals utilizing non-federal funds to assist families with energy expenses to contact the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency. “Our staff will work with businesses, organizations, and individuals to determine if it will be possible to use their energy assistance funds to leverage additional federal dollars, so that even more low-income households in need of energy assistance may be served,” stated Webb.

Interested parties may contact Sandy Carter, LIHEAP Manager, at UCHRA’s Central Office at 931-528-1127 or the DeKalb County UCHRA Office at 615-597-4504.

New Filing Method to Speed Filing of Lack-Of-Work Claims

January 28, 2009

Beginning Thursday, Jan. 29, Tennessee workers will have another means for filing initial claims for unemployment insurance. This new service is a temporary measure to help relieve the state’s overloaded telephone network for processing claims.

“In addition to using telephone, Internet, or paper claims forms, claimants will now be able to go to one of 22 Career Centers across the state to take part in a small group session to file their claim,” said Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley. “Our phone lines have been overwhelmed by the volume of claims we are processing. Offering another means for filing initial claims will help us serve those who have lost their jobs more efficiently.”

During the meetings claimants will complete their required forms and learn how to certify their eligibility on a weekly basis, either online or by phone. Weekly eligibility certification is required as long as they are receiving unemployment benefits. At the end of the session, staff will review and process the claims onsite.

Commissioner Neeley emphasized the new option is limited to those who are filing simple lack-of-work claims. Other types of claims, such as voluntary quit or discharge, will not be processed in these sessions.

In order to file during a group meeting, the claimant must have been laid off from his job due to lack of work and must have a separation notice or letter from the employer stating that the separation was because of lack of work or reduction in force (sometimes written as furloughed).

Tennessee employers are urged to provide each of their employees a separation notice stating separation due to lack of work. The separation notice form can be found at

Times of Sessions

Mass claims sessions will be held at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. local time on Mondays and Thursdays and at 8:30 a.m. on Fridays. It is not necessary to make an appointment. Meeting rooms will accommodate a limited number of claimants. Weekly mass claims sessions will continue as long as necessary.

What You Will Need

You will need to have the following requirements to participate in a mass claims session:

Must have been separated for lack of work or reduction in force

Worked only in Tennessee for the last 18 months

Has a separation notice or letter from employer stating lack of work as reason for layoff

Two forms of ID – driver’s license or state photo ID card and a second form of identification, such as a birth certificate or utility bill in your name

Social Security Number

Address and telephone number

Separating employer's name, address and telephone number

Last day worked and places of employment for the last 18 months


The following Career Centers are offering mass claims sessions in this area:
Cookeville 3300 Williams Enterprise Drive
McMinnville 107 Lyon Street
Murfreesboro 1313 Old Fort Parkway

Parker and Chapman Awarded at Chamber Banquet

January 28, 2009
Dwayne Page
Aaron Meeks Presents Community Leader of Year Award to Charlie Parker (Photo Provided)-
Shawn Jacobs Presents Legacy Award to Ben Chapman (Photo Provided)

The winners of the annual Leadership DeKalb Alumni awards were honored Tuesday night during the Chamber of Commerce Membership Banquet at the Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church.

Charlie Parker received the Community Leader of the Year Award and Ben Chapman was presented the Legacy Award.

The Community Leader of the Year award goes to someone who has made a significant and positive impact on the county, specifically during 2008 and in a capacity beyond their commitment to their profession. Parker was recognized for his service as Fire Chief for the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and Director of the DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency.

Other nominees for the award were Nancy Lewis and Laura Stone

The Legacy Award goes to the person who has made a significant and positive impact on DeKalb County over a considerable period of time and in multiple or lasting ways. Chapman and his wife founded the Lighthouse Christian Camp where he serves as the President of the ministerial team that provides camps and special programs for disadvantaged children in DeKalb County and throughout Tennessee.

Other nominees for the award were Frank Buck, George and Pat Bullard, and Leon Stribling.

The guest speaker was former Murfreesboro Riverdale Girls Basketball Coach and motivational speaker Michael Burt..

The retiring members of the Chamber board are Adam Barnes of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, Sandy Brown of SCB Enterprises/Tennessee Barn Builders, Kerry Davis of Averitt Express, Jason Evans of The Inn at Evins Mill, and W.J. "Dub" Evins of Evins Mill Nursery.

New members are Michelle Burklow of the Board of Education, Tom Duggin of WJLE and the Smithville Review, Les Greer of DTC Communications, Kathie McGlamery of the Appalachian Crafts Center, and Rob Willingham of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas.

Other members of the Chamber Board are Gina Denman of Denny Lamp, Elmer Ellis, Jr. a county commissioner in the first district, Kelley Garrett of Garrett Insurance, Chris Griffith of DeKalb Farm Bureau, Charlie Parker of Smithville Builders Supply, Robin Driver of Center Hill Realty, Tim Hintz of Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour, June Keith of DeKalb Community Bank, Valeria Laprad of the Middle Tennessee Times, and Judy Sandlin of the DeKalb County Fair Board.

The 2009 officers are President Robin Driver, Vice President Tim Hintz, Secretary Valeria Laprad, Treasurer Kelley Garrett, and Immediate Past President Kerry Davis.

Alexandria Beer Board Grants Two Permits

January 27, 2009
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Beer Board at Tuesday Night Meeting
Alexandria Mayor Ria Baker and City Attorney Vester Parsley

Two business owners have been granted a permit to sell beer in Alexandria.

The Alexandria Beer Board, made up of the city aldermen, voted 4 to 0 Tuesday night to grant Bobby Kenneth Clayborn's application for a permit at his convenience store, C & C Market at 212 Brush Creek Road or Highway 53.

Aldermen Eddie Tubbs, Charles Griffith, Derrick Baker, and Tony Tarpley voted to approve the application. Clayborn's wife Shelia, who is an alderman and member of the beer board, abstained from voting. Another member, Maureen Tubbs, was not present during the vote.

The second application, filed by Robert Simpson, owner of Big Rock Storage on Nashville Highway or Highway 70, was also approved. All five members present voted in favor including Tubbs, Griffith, Baker, Tarpley, and Clayborn.

Prior to the vote, City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. explained that "state law requires the city to approve them (applications) if they (applicants)have met the requirements. From what we see, they have technically met the requirements by state law and by the city ordinance."

Two concerned citizens, Robert Walker and Stein Prichard, raised questions prior to the vote and Prichard had petitions bearing 340 signatures including names of 148 Alexandria city residents who he says are in opposition.

The following is a summary of the discussion:

Robert Walker: "What about the citizens of Alexandria that don't want beer in this town? We have 148 signatures here."

City Attorney Parsley: "There's always going to be someone who doesn't want beer but if they (applicants) meet these requirements then it's up to the aldermen. It's not up to me."

Walker: "I think if you're going to go against 148 citizens of the City of Alexandria then I think everyone of you should resign. They didn't have three readings on that (ordinance). They didn't post it in the paper or anything."

Alderman Eddie Tubbs: Yeah, we had three readings and we posted everything in the paper."

Mayor Ria Baker: You're representing 149 people. There are more than 149 people in the city of Alexandria. There's about 700 people in Alexandria."

Walker: "Why do you want to sell beer in this town? It's not going to give you much more revenue. You're going for two people and two people only."

At this point, Mayor Baker was ready to move the meeting along and to allow Stein Prichard to speak for two minutes, but Walker wanted more time. The following is a summary of the discussion:

Walker: "I have a right to talk"

Parsley: "The mayor can decide whether you've used your time up and if she says you have, then you either stop or you'll be escorted out, one or the other."

Walker: "That's not right. I'm a citizen of this town."

Parsley: "I understand you are and she has given you a right to talk but you don't have an exclusive right to just talk all night. We're not going to be here all night. If she says she's going to end your part of it she can go to the next one and go as far as she wants to."

At this point in the meeting, Mayor Baker gave Stein Prichard an opportunity to speak:

Prichard: "I just want to ask the board if they think that everything that has been done to bring beer into the city, if it's completely legal and if everything has been done according to the law. Everything that brought beer into the city, if it was done right?"

Alderman Charles Griffith: "If we didn't, we wouldn't do this Stein.

Mayor Baker: "What we have done, we have done right."

Prichard: "Do you feel like you are representing the people of Alexandria as aldermen and the beer board? You haven't asked the people."

Griffith: "I think we're doing what's within the law. It's in our charter now."

Prichard: "Are you representing the people? You haven't asked the people. Are you representing them as aldermen of the town of Alexandria?"

Alderman Tony Tarpley: "Stein, I've asked several people and I've had some yes's and some no's. A lot of them feel like we are losing revenue to towns that are close to us. If people are going to buy beer, they're going to go and get their beer. It would probably actually keep people from being out here drinking and driving, if they're going to Watertown or Gordonsville or wherever to buy it."

Prichard: "I just want to know if you feel like you're representing the people because you didn't have a vote, you didn't ask them and this is a major thing that you are doing. You should really as a vote, you should ask the people."

Griffith: "There's so many things we have to do. We just can't ask the people on everything."

Prichard: "But this is a major thing. You had to change several things to make this come about and you still didn't ask the people. It doesn't seem that you're representing the people at all when you don't ask them."

Griffith: "Like Tony said, we've asked some people and it varies."

Alderman Eddie Tubbs: "When they brought liquor in at Gordonsville, did you go over there and voice your opinion on it?

Prichard: "I don't have anything to do with Gordonsville."

Tubbs: "You live in Smith County."

Prichard: But I work here. I'm here all the time and I go to church here. I don't have any ties to Gordonsville."

Decline in Sales Tax Revenues Could Affect County Budget

January 27, 2009
Dwayne Page
County Mayor Mike Foster at County Commission Meeting
Members of County Commission Meeting Monday Night

Sales tax revenues in DeKalb County were down in September and October compared to those same months in 2007.

County Mayor Mike Foster says if that trend continues, it will have an affect on the county budget.

During Monday night's county commission meeting, Foster asked that the local legislative body take action asking all county department heads to come before the commission before making any major purchases. The commission approved Foster's request.

Foster gave a break down on the gross receipts of sales taxes for the actual months of June through October.

June 2007 (Reported in August)- $300,920
June 2008 (Reported in August)- $308, 904

July 2007 (Reported in September) $220, 863
July 2008 (Reported in September) $302, 757

August 2007 (Reported in October) $308, 593
August 2008 (Reported in October) $313, 094

September 2007 (Reported in November) $271, 257
September 2008 (Reported in November) $262, 934

October 2007 (Reported in December) $279, 250
October 2008 (Reported in December) $252, 463

"That's about a 10% decline for October and 8% the month before" said Foster. " We need to ask all the departments to really scrutinize their purchases and anything above $5,000 needs to come before the full commission for them to look at it before we go through the bidding process. We need to be careful not to assume that the money is coming in at the rate we projected, when we know it started to decline in September. What we are concerned about is how much did November and December decline?"

If the Congress passes an economic stimulus package, the DeKalb County Commission would like to use any available money locally for water line extension and improvements in portions of the county.

Monday night, County Mayor Foster asked the commission to authorize an application for Community Development Grant through the Upper Cumberland Development District, if funding becomes available. "Depending on if and when the stimulus happens, we want to be ready in case there is some money that comes out early for CDBG grants."

Foster says grant funds would benefit several local families with improved water services. "This is a request for water line improvements from Liberty to Dismal Road, from Henley Hollow to Tramel Branch to Highway 70 and across Tramel Branch to Lower Helton. It's a total of 6.3 miles and would serve 37 houses."

"Another one is Dry Creek Road east from Dry Creek Baptist Church 1.2 miles on up to the old metal bridge at the upper end of Dry Creek. It's 1.2 miles and would serve seven houses."

"Other projects include Oakley Road which goes north to northeast from Fuller's Chapel. It's 2 miles and there's eight houses; Long Branch off of Highway 96 down near Center Hill Marina. It's 3 miles and would serve 21 houses; Turner Road from Old Blue Springs Road near Shiney Rock store over to Jacob's Pillar Road. It's 1.1 miles and there's eight houses; Givens Hollow is 1.5 miles with 16 houses; and Cook Hollow is 6 houses and .5 miles"

The commission voted to seek the grant funding.

And on a separate issue, the commission Monday night adopted a resolution seeking loan/grant funds to purchase a new ambulance and related equipment. "We're applying for a grant to buy an ambulance and ambulance equipment" said Foster. " If it is granted, we would be given a $17,000 grant. We would also be loaned $83,000 to finish out the purchase of that equipment at a rate of 4.5% and we would match the grant of $17,000 with $14,000 in local money."

In other business, the commission voted to request the Tennessee Highway Patrol to conduct a study and recommend a safe speed limit for Holiday Haven Road and the Old Sparta Highway as requested by local residents there.

The commission also voted to ask TDOT for authorization to have installed caution and stop lights at the intersection at Highway 70 and Highway 83 near Kilgore's Restaurant. County Mayor Foster says this intersection is dangerous and fourteen wrecks have occurred there in recent months. The request is for stop lights to be installed on Highway 83 and caution lights on Highway 70.

In addition, the commission is seeking authorization from TDOT for the installation of street lights to better illuminate the intersections of Highway 70 and Dry Creek Road and at Highway 70 and Hurricane Ridge Road.

The DeKalb County Fire Department has re-elected Donny Green as Fire Chief and Roy Merriman as Assistant Chief for the year. The county commission voted to approve the appointments.

The commission adopted a resolution proclaiming January "Radon Action Month" to help educate persons about the dangers of radon exposure and encourage actions to identify and to address radon problems in the home.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can seep into homes through cracks and openings in their foundations. It cannot be seen, tasted or smelled, but in concentrated levels, radon can pose a threat to human health. The EPA estimates that approximately 70 percent of Tennessee's population lives in high risk or moderate risk radon areas. According to the EPA, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

The best time to test is during consistently cold weather, usually from October to March. This is the time of year when doors and windows are shut, so test results are more representative of in-home exposure. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost comparable to that of many common household repairs, such as painting or installing a new water heater.

In Tennessee, radon test kits can be purchased at most local hardware and home improvement stores.

Nunley Gets 12 Year Sentence for Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Child

January 26, 2009
Dwayne Page
Homer L. Nunley

A 70 year old man pleaded guilty to the aggravated sexual battery of a child Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Homer L. Nunley, who was originally charged with rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, entered the plea to the one charge under a negotiated settlement and received a 12 year sentence to serve. The range of punishment for this offense is 8 to 12 years.

Judge David Patterson presided.

Nunley must comply with all sex offender requirements and have no contact with the victim.

He was given jail credit from August 6th, 2008 to January 26th, 2009

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Nunley was arrested on a sealed indictment returned during the August term of the Grand Jury for rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. Nunley was accused of raping a child and the aggravated sexual battery of a child under 11 years of age on July 6th, 2008. Sheriff Ray says Nunley was convicted in Florida on April 9th, 1991 on a charge of sexual battery of a child by an authority figure. Nunley is currently registered here in DeKalb County on the TBI’s sexual offender registry.

Meanwhile, in other cases Monday, 47 year old Anna Darlene Cahill pleaded guilty to forgery and received a three year sentence, all suspended to DOC probation. She must make restitution of $10,000 and perform 100 hours of community service work.

32 year old Carla Chapman pleaded guilty to attempted sale of a schedule II controlled substance. She received a two year sentence, all suspended to DOC probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with a White County case against her. Chapman must make restitution of $35 and perform 50 hours of community service work. She must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment and follow the recommendations.

33 year old Cyndi Heinz pleaded guilty by information to four counts of prescription fraud and two counts of worthless check. She effectively received a three year sentence, all suspended including two years in the prescription fraud cases combined and 11 months and 29 days in the worthless check cases combined. The prescription fraud sentence is to run consecutively with the worthless check sentence and consecutively with a Wilson County case against her. Heinz must also make restitution on all checks and make a contribution of $150 to the economic crime fund.

Sheriff Ray Warns of Scams

January 26, 2009
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray is asking local residents to beware of scams being reported in the county.

According to Sheriff Ray "The first one is where an automated service calls the victim and tells them their credit or debit card has had numerous unauthorized transactions on it and then the service asks the victim to punch in their card numbers. This has happened to at least two DeKalb County citizens. Neither of the two citizens entered their card numbers."

In another scam, Sheriff Ray says a senior citizen received calls on two different days and the scammer called the victim by name.

"The scammer called the first day from a restricted phone number and told the victim that there was a survey being conducted here. The scammer asked personal questions of the victim and then asked for their social security number and their credit or debit card numbers. The victim refused to give out the numbers to the caller."

"On the second day, another scammer called the same victim and advised that there was a grant that had been applied for by the city where the victim lives and asked for personal information such as the victim's monthly bills, how much money the victim draws each month, and the victim's social security number and credit or debit card numbers."

In each case, Sheriff Ray says all of the victims did the right thing. "They hung up and reported the scams to law enforcement. Luckily we have not had any victims to report where they have given personal bank account numbers or social security numbers to the scammers. You should never give personal information out over the phone. If you think you have been a victim of a scam, you should contact law enforcement immediately."


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