Local News Articles

Sheriff's Department Gets $5,000 Grant

January 10, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation Governor’s Highway Safety Office.

The Sheriff’s Department has teamed with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office to reduce the number of alcohol related accidents and driving under the influence offenses in the county.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says “This grant will furnish much needed items such as traffic vests, traffic cones, flashlights, and other items used when we conduct sobriety check points here in the County. This is one of many grants that we will apply for through the Governor’s Highway Task Force.”

Sheriff Ray added that this grant is a no match grant, which means, no local tax dollars are needed to support the grant.

Opponents Circulating Petitions Against Proposed County Building Codes- Foster Believes Many People Misinformed

January 10, 2008
Dwayne Page

Petitions are being circulated in opposition to proposed building codes for DeKalb County.

County Mayor Mike Foster says he believes many people may be misinformed about the plans.

In October, the DeKalb County Commission began the process of formulating regulations for non-agricultural residential and commercial construction under the 2006 International Building Code.

The commission adopted three resolutions, as recommended by the county's building and safety committee, establishing general guidelines for construction, but specific regulations for DeKalb County at that time were not yet established. The final plan will be presented to the county commission again for passage in a few weeks after a public hearing.

Foster says the county needs a set of building codes in order to protect the homeowners. "Since I've been in office, I know of ten houses that have been built on wrong lots or partially on wrong lots. We've had houses slide off the hillside. We've had foundations fall, retainer walls fall. We had one house where the floor joists spanned seventeen feet, six inches and it turns out they were 2x6's. To span that length, it should be at least a 2x12. It's unscrupulous builders cutting corners that are costing the homeowner a tremendous amount of money. Probably the biggest investment the average person will make in their lifetime is their house. To me, the way I look at it, it's just like an insurance policy to say that we have a person (inspector) who is unrelated to the builder and unrelated to the homeowner going out there and checking to see it's done properly and safely. It's a safety issue as much as a compliance issue."

Under the plan, Foster says permits would be required for new non-agricultural residential and commercial construction. "They're based on the 2006 International Residential Building Code. You would have a site plan where you draw a little map of your land. You would mark the corners of your lot with flags to make sure it's on the right lot and then there would be a footer inspection. You would dig your footer and they would go out and check the width, depth, the soil, and the slope and everything to make sure it was what it needed to be or if you did a slab, they would check that. Then they would come back and check the foundation to make sure the foundation was square, that it had the anchor bolts in it, that it was water proof, that it had adequate openings and ventilation. Then they would come back and do the framing to make sure you had complied with the proper size framing and that your headers and everything was done like it should have been done. Then when you got your plumbing in, they would come in and cap it off and air pressure test it to make sure you don't have any leaks in your walls, or anything that would cause you a problem on down the road. They would check the mechanical and then they would come back and do a final inspection to make sure everything was correctly and safely done."

"They (codes) do not in anyway apply to any kind of an agricultural building unless it's commercial. If you build a barn, a dog house, a chicken house, or whatever you build, it does not require a permit. If you're doing routine maintenance on your house, you do not have to have one (permit). If you paint your house, put in a sidewalk, put a new roof on, put vinyl siding on, you would not need a permit. If you build a new house or if you're building an addition to your house you would need a permit simply to make sure that it was built to codes and that you are getting what you are paying for."

"Anybody can build a house for themselves or to sell, one every two years. That person could pull the permit and then hire someone to do the work. Any carpenter, whether licensed or not, can do $25,000 worth of work on that house. So somebody could come in and frame it and they don't have to have a license. Somebody could come in and hang sheet rock and they don't have to have a license. Someone could put the roof on and they don't have to have a license. But collectively, if one person does more than $25,000 worth they would have to be a licensed contractor and they would have to have liability insurance, which again protects the homeowner."

Foster says the fees generated from the building permits would go toward funding the position of a building codes inspector. "One fee would cover the inspections and if you had a question and you felt uncomfortable about it, they would come back and inspect it free. The bigger the house, the more the inspection fees because of more inspections that would be incurred. The average cost of a house built in DeKalb County is $93 a square foot and they (committee) have voted to base it on $80 a square foot as the cost and then there's a fee system set up. On a house that probably you or I would build, it would probably be in the neighborhood of $450. The bigger houses around the lake, for example, that are on steep lots, would be proportionately bigger with larger fees. It's (codes) absolutely not meant to make money. It's to pay for the building inspector, his benefits, and for a vehicle for him to come and go in.'

Those who fail to comply with the building codes would be subject to penalties. "If you built a house and you didn't have a permit, they would fine you twice what the normal permit would be, that's what other counties do. We're not to that point. The guy (inspector) that we've talked to, we've all kind of agreed that the first year would be a learning phase for everybody. They would still have to get the permit if this goes into place because we have to pay this guy to do the inspections and we don't want it to be a burden on the other taxpayers. It's kind of like a user fee. It's a user fee, insurance policy the way everybody is looking at it and a safety issue. The way we have talked about doing it, the permits would probably be purchased at the tax assessor's office."

Subject to final approval by the county commission, Foster says the proposed building codes may be implemented by spring. " The commission has voted to proceed with it. We've ordered the (code) books and they will be in the county court clerk's office on display for anybody to come in and look at. We'll put them over there and after the proper period we'll have a public hearing on it and then proceed with whatever the commission wishes to do. We're probably looking at somewhere between 60 and 120 days of getting everything in place. If they do it, it would hopefully go in place maybe by April or May, somewhere in there."

DeKalb Fire Department Releases 2007 Incident Response Summary

January 9, 2008

The DeKalb County Fire Department has compiled its 2007 Incident Response Summary.

Overall, 2007 fire incident responses in the county were up by 102 calls from 2006. In 2006, the department responded to a total of 288 fire incidents. The department responded to 390 fire incident responses in 2007. This count does not include the 394 rural medical first responder calls that county fire department personnel responded to.

With DeKalb County's rural population growing at rates higher than the cities' population growth in DeKalb County, the department continues to experience annual increases in the number of structure fires within the county jurisdiction. Also, for 2007, the extremely dry and hot weather pattern, resulted in the dramatic increase in wildland, grass, and debris fires.

The below chart provides a breakdown of each type of fire incident response that the department responded to in 2007:

Incident Type:

Structure- 66 (Year 2006) 69 (Year 2007)

Wildland/Grass/Debris- 50 (2006) 100 (2007)

Auto Wrecks- 129 (2006) 129 (2007)

Auto Fires 13- (2006) 23 (2007)

Landing Zones- 10 (2006) 11 (2007)

Extrication/Entrapment-19 (2007)

Hazmat 0 0

Alarms 17 (2006) 33 (2007)

Misc. 3 (2006) 6 (2007)

TOTAL 288 (2006) 390 (2007)

Police Chief Concerned About Traffic Congestion in SES School Zone

January 8, 2008
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings is concerned about a growing traffic congestion problem in the school zone near Smithville Elementary.

Chief Jennings, speaking at Monday night's city council meeting, said there is a large number of vehicles each day trying to get to the school on Walker Drive, from East Bryant Street and Congress Boulevard and that these automobiles often block eastbound traffic which could cause accidents.

He asked Mayor Taft Hendrixson to appoint a committee to come up with a plan to address the problem. "We've received some complaints about the traffic at the elementary school. I've been over there for the last couple of weeks in the mornings and afternoons. As you know we widened Walker Drive to accommodate the cars picking up the children in the back of the school. But also, what happens is the vehicles are out on Bryant Street and they go all the way down Bryant Street to Highway 56 and around the corner. Well what happens there is they block the whole eastbound lane of Bryant Street. So when cars are trying to go east, they get over in the westbound lane, and they almost hit head on the cars going west. I've seen them have to drive onto the grass of the church to go around and it's everyday. I think the school zone is actually in the wrong place. There should be lights on Bryant Street and Walker Drive instead of out on Highway 56. That's where I think the school zone should be. I'd like to ask you to form a committee so we could look at this problem and se if we couldn't come up with an answer."

Mayor Hendrixson appointed himself and Chief Jennings to the committee along with Aldermen Jerry Hutchins Sr. and Willie Thomas and Public Works Director Kevin Robinson. The committee will also invite Principal Bill Tanner and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby to join them in the discussions.

City Makes Plans for Proposed $1.4 Million Water Plant Rehab Project

January 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

The city is making plans to upgrade the forty year old Smithville Water Treatment Plant.

The total project cost is estimated to be $1.4 million dollars, but the city will apply for a half million dollar Community Development Block Grant, which if approved, would help fund part of the costs. The grant program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

All five aldermen voted in favor of the resolution authorizing an application for the grant, following a public hearing during Monday night's city council meeting. Officials say it may be six to eight months before the city hears back on whether the application is approved.

Vantage Consulting Services will prepare all the necessary documents for the completion of the grant application at no charge to the city and will perform all administrative services for the project, should the grant be approved.

Faye Leonard of Vantage Consulting Services says the city has been fortunate to receive several CDBG grants in the past for improvements to the city's sewer system but the grant program is much more competitive these days with more applications and fewer dollars to go around. "The city has been fortunate to receive four of these block grants in the past for sewer rehab over the last several years and a lot of work has been done on the sewer system as a result, but it's getting much more difficult. There's less and less grant money, and it's becoming more competitive. Just to let you know how competitive this has gotten, this past fiscal year, 2007, there were 150 applications submitted statewide and there was only enough money to approve about sixty of those. So the grant funds are getting less and less and there's more and more applications so it's very competitive. We'll do the best we can with the application. Due to the age of the plant and the need for the project, we hope that it will score well. I'm guardedly optimistic about it. It's really a needed project but since it is so competitive and there are such few grant dollars, there's no guarantee. I just wanted to be clear about that. The last grant that was applied for under this program for sewer rehab here was not successful."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson says the city proposes to fund the local share of $900,000 over a three year period from the Smithville Water & Sewer Revenue Fund. " This $900,000 that we have proposed here as the city's share, that will be in three different budget years. It will be in the 2008-09 budget, the 2009-10 budget, and the 2010-11 budget. I talked with the engineer today and he said it will probably be late in the year 2009 before this would be a viable project ready for bid. So it would be approximately $300,000 per year in each of three years. That way you don't have to come up with all the money at the same time. This water plant is forty years old. We're doing some emergency repairs on it this year. It's something that had to be done. There has been very little repairs done on the water plant. There's not even a back up generator system down there for the intake or the water plant. That's something that I think is necessary. At least we're showing the State of Tennessee that we are willing to put money in to get their money. That plant has been good to us for a long time but it's going to have to be repaired."

J.R. Wauford & Company will produce a preliminary engineering report for the proposed project at no charge to the city. Should the grant be approved, Wauford will design plans, inspect the construction, and perform other required engineering services for the project.

The total estimated project cost is $1.4 million dollars broken down as follows:

Renovate Filters with New Underdrains and Media- $250,000
Blower and accessories for Air Scour- $40,000
New 40 HP Backwash Pump, Rebuild Existing Pump for Standby- $90,000
Convert Filter Instrumentation including Water System Telemetry- $300,000
Modifications to Existing 1967 Clearwell- $10,000
New Chemical Bulk Storage and Containment- $60,000
Electrical Work- $200,000
New Standby Generator at Intake and at Plant- $200,000

Engineering: Design- $95,000
Construction Administration and Observation- $80,000
Administrative- $23,500
Environmental- $1,500
Project Contingencies- $50,000

Jimmy Walls Recognized for Many Years of Service on Planning Commission and BZA

January 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

A long time member of the Smithville Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals has resigned.

Jimmy Walls was presented a plaque of appreciation by Mayor Taft Hendrixson during Monday night's city council meeting. "This plaque is presented to Jimmy Walls in appreciation of twenty five years of loyal and dedicated service to the Smithville Planning Commission and twenty years of the same loyal and dedicated service on the Smithville Board of Zoning Appeals. Mr. Walls has been a valuable asset to both the Smithville Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. His years of service to our city and community have been greatly appreciated. On behalf of the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the Smithville Planning Commission, and the Board of Zoning Appeals, we would like to thank you, Mr Walls, for all your hard work and unrelenting dedication. We wish you the best in everything you do. You will be missed."

Walls served on the Smithville Planning Commission from December, 1982 through December 2007. He also served on the Smithville Board of Zoning Appeals from December 1987 through December 2007.

In his letter of resignation, effective December 21st, 2007, Walls thanked the present and past mayors for their support. "I wish to thank Mayor Waniford Cantrell for appointing me to the commission and Mayor Dewey Love, Mayor Bruce Medley, Mayor Cecil Burger, and Mayor Taft Hendrixson for allowing me to serve my city and community on the planning commission for the past twenty five years. Thanks to the members of the commission, past and present, for electing me your chairman for a total of fourteen years."

Walls also expressed his thanks for the opportunity to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals for twenty years.

The aldermen voted five to nothing to approve Mayor Hendrixson's appointment of Sandra Wall to serve out Jimmy's Walls' unexpired term on both the Smithville Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Alexandria Water System Experiencing Low Pressure-Customers Asked to Conserve Usage

January 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Alexandria Water System is currently experiencing low water pressure.

The supplier that provides water to Alexandria is experiencing system problems and the supply could be limited reducing the amount of water to supply the storage tanks of the Alexandria Water System.

An emergency plan has been put into place.

If you are experiencing a loss of water supply you may bring containers to the Alexandria City Hall and they will be filled during this emergency.

Everyone in Alexandria is asked to conserve the use of water during this crisis.

For more information, please call 615-529-2171.

Cannon County Crash Claims Reeder

January 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 19 year old DeKalb County man died and two others were injured in a one vehicle crash Friday night in Cannon County.

Dead is Chad Jonathon Reeder of Big Hill Road, Smithville.

The accident occurred around 9:09 p.m. on State Route 281.

According to a report filed by Trooper Monty Terry of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Reeder was driving west in a 1991 Nissan pickup truck when he lost control while negotiating a curve. The truck went into a yaw, ran off the left shoulder, overturned, and struck a utility pole, ejecting Reeder and two passengers.

20 year old Zachary D. Turner of Pea Ridge, Liberty and a 17 year old boy were injured in the accident.

Neither of the three was wearing a seatbelt.

Turner has been charged with not wearing a seatbelt, underage consumption of alcohol, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Sheriff Warns of Scam

January 6, 2008
Dwayne Page

Sheriff Patrick Ray says if anyone asks you to make a donation so that bullet proof vests can be bought for deputies, don't contribute. It's a scam.

According to Sheriff Ray, several people have contacted him in recent days about phone calls they have received, asking them for contributions so that bullet proof vests can be purchased for deputies.

Sheriff Ray says the Sheriff's Department is not conducting any such fundraiser.

If you should be contacted, obtain as much information as possible from the caller, and then contact the sheriff's department so that the scam can be stopped and those responsible may be prosecuted.

But above all, do not send money.

Meanwhile, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, since last Wednesday, has arrested one person for theft and forgery, a sex offender, and two people on drug charges.

25 year old Elizabeth (Beth) Chalfant of Hurricane Ridge Road Smithville was arrested on Wednesday for theft of property under $500, seven counts of forgery, and failure to appear.

Sheriff Ray says detective learned through an investigation that Chalfant had stolen checks from a residence on V.L. Wilson Loop Smithville on November 10th. Chalfant then went to the Smithville Wal-Mart where she paid for items with the stolen checks. After she paid for the merchandise, Chalfant returned the items to Wal-Mart. The store then gave her back the cash. Chalfant was also charged with failure to appear after she did not show up for court on unrelated charges.

Her bond was set at $45,000 on the theft and forgery charges and no bond was set on the failure to appear.

Meanwhile, on Friday 48 year old Lloyd Earl Wadsworth of Sparta Highway, Sparta was charged with violation of the sexual offender law.

Sheriff Ray says Wadsworth was convicted in 1990 in Oklahoma for a sex offense against a child. Detectives learned that Wadsworth was living in Ragland Bottom Motel on or before December 21st and had not registered as a sex offender in DeKalb County. Wadsworth's bond was set at $50,000 and his court date is January 10th.

In another case, county deputies went to 834 Gentry Avenue, Smithville on Friday to execute two violations of probation warrants on 28 year old Jamie Edward Carroll.

Sheriff Ray says when officers entered Carroll's home, they found 45 year old Edward Judkins in the bathroom of the home. A syringe and a spoon that contained cocaine were also found on the vanity of the bathroom. Sheriff Ray says deputies believe that Judkins was getting ready to "shoot up" or to inject the cocaine into his body.

Officers also found 22 loose percocet pills in Judkins' pocket and $198 in cash. Also in Carroll's bedroom were crushed straws, which had been used for crushing pills, and a plate that contained a white powdery residue.

In addition to the two violation of probation warrants, Carroll was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Total bond was set at $4,500.

Judkins was charged with possession of a schedule II drug (cocaine), possession of a schedule III drug (percocet), and possession of drug paraphernalia (needle and spoon).
Total bond for Judkins was set at $11,000.

Both will appear in court on January 31st.

The $198.00 in cash was also seized.

UCHRA Conducts Re-Certification for Commodity Distribution

January 3, 2008

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released new Temporary Emergency Food Program products for the 2008 Commodity distributions announced Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency’s Executive Director Phyllis R. Bennett.

Commodities are surplus agricultural items that are given back to American families through government agencies.

In the Upper Cumberland region, the UCHRA distributes commodities in Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Van Buren, Warren and White Counties. “UCHRA holds distributions every other month with several hours of distribution at each location,” said Commodity Director Rebecca Harris.

Recertification must be complete before the 2008 distribution. This recertification process is scheduled for January 2 through January 15, 2008 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at your local UCHRA office located at 527 West Main Street in Smithville.

You are encouraged to bring the appropriate documentation and make arrangements to come by during the above dates. Individuals and families receiving commodities through the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency have to be recertified each year to maintain their eligibility. Those persons who receive either Food Stamps, Families First, SSI, LIHEAP or who live in public housing must bring proof that they participate in these programs, and they are automatically eligible for commodities and/or completion of a signed, self-declaration income statement that the total amount of household income is below 150% of the current income poverty guidelines. Individuals who wish to have someone else do their recertification must send a note with the person authorizing them to do so.

The USDA's Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program is available to all recipients regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap.


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