Local News Articles

Dowelltown Man Sentenced for Getting Marijuana In Mail

March 24, 2015
Dwayne Page
(Picture- Smithville Police K-9 Officer James Cornelius, K-9 Leo, Detective Jeremy Taylor, Sheriff Patrick Ray)
John Harris

A 74 year old Dowelltown man who obtained a package through the mail at the Liberty Post Office last August containing fourteen pounds of pot appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday.

John Harris of Cathcart Road Dowelltown, charged with possession of a schedule VI drug, received judicial diversion probation for a period of two years and was fined $2,000. His probation will be unsupervised. Judge David Patterson presided.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, the investigation was conducted by Detectives of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and United States Postal Service Inspectors.

In a prepared statement at the time of Harris' arrest, Sheriff Ray said "Sheriff’s Department Drug Detective Jeremy Taylor went to the Liberty Post Office on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 and met with an Inspector from the US Postal Service. Based upon US Postal Service profiles and information that was obtained by a US Postal Service Inspector about a sealed package that had been delivered to the Liberty Post Office, Detective Taylor summoned Smithville Police Department K-9 Officer James Cornelius and his K-9 Leo to the scene. Leo alerted to Officer Cornelius that an illegal substance was in the sealed targeted package".

"After the alert from the K-9 that an illegal substance was present in the package, Officers waited for someone to come and pick up the target package from the post office. After a short wait, Harris came and picked up the package. Officers then witnessed Harris attempt to take the package and place it in his personal vehicle. Officer’s then raided Harris and seized the targeted package. Harris gave permission for Officers to look inside of the package and found were approximately 14 pounds of Marijuana in 18 individual bags".

According to Sheriff Ray, “this marijuana is not the kind we regularly see here. These bags of marijuana were packaged in Ziploc bags and then were vacuumed packed. This was to hide the distinct smell that marijuana gives off. The bags weighed anywhere from 10 ounces to just over a pound. Written on each of the bags were different strains of marijuana. Purple Diesel, Blue Dream and Buddha Cheese were just a few of the strains listed. Street value for the marijuana is anywhere from $375 to $454 an ounce or $5,712.00 to $7,264 a pound.”

Detective Taylor seized cash from Harris and also his 2009 Dodge Avenger car.

(Picture- Smithville Police K-9 Officer James Cornelius, K-9 Leo, Detective Jeremy Taylor, Sheriff Patrick Ray)

Board Funds DCHS School Nurse Position

March 24, 2015
Dwayne Page
Director Mark Willoughby and four members of school board (Older Photo)

The Board of Education has found the funds to keep a full time nurse at DCHS through the end of this school year.

During Monday night's special meeting, the Board voted to transfer $12,242 from another budgetary line item in the general purpose school budget in order to fund this full time nurse through the remainder of 2014-15 year.

School officials had hoped to avoid having to come up with local funds after taking action in November to use money from the special education general purpose budget for the position.

On November 20, the Board voted to add a full time nurse at DCHS to meet the nursing needs of a student who had enrolled there earlier in the school year. Funds for the position were appropriated from the Special Education General Purpose Budget. While the nurse, Wade Ferrell served this particular student, he was also available to attend to other DCHS students with medical issues. But under terms of the arrangement, should this student move away, transfer out of the school system, or no longer need this nursing care on the advice of a physician, the school system would no longer be able to fund this nurse from Special Education.

The student and his family have now relocated to another state.

In addition to Ferrell, the school system employs four other nurses, Chandra Adcock, Kim Turner, Christie Driver, and Joanie Williams. All are registered nurses. Prior to adding a full time school nurse at DCHS, each school had its own nurse except for DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb County High School which had to share a nurse. According to Director Mark Willoughby, the state provides funding for one school nurse per three thousand students. Any other nurses must be funded locally.

Because of the growing student population and children with chronic conditions including diabetes, Dee Anna Reynolds, Coordinated School Health Coordinator said during the September school board meeting that another nurse is needed. Three parents, Darlene Evans, Ashley Bryant, and Glenda Davis, who all have children with diabetes also addressed the board that month asking the members to find the funds to hire another school nurse to help meet the medical needs of their children and others in the school system.

Since this year's general purpose school budget does not provide funding for a new school nurse position for the entire year, Director Willoughby said in September that he would assign a substitute nurse at the high school to meet the needs until the board could reach a resolution on how to fund a full time position. The substitute nurse, Ferrell, has been working there since.

Funding for this position is only through the end of this school year. The school board will have to revisit the issue when formulating a budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

DMS Educator to Visit Russia to Teach American Folklore (Fiddlers Jamboree)

March 24, 2015
Dwayne Page
Anita Puckett

A DeKalb Middle School educator is one of four teachers from across the United States who will be visiting Russia this summer to teach American folklore to students there. Her presentations will be about the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival.

Anita Puckett will be making the trip as part of the Russian/American Educators Exchange Program.

American Friends of Russian Folklore invited middle and high school teachers to apply for the program in which participants travel to rural Russia to collect Russian folklore by filming holiday celebrations, recording local singers, interviewing villagers about traditional lore, and photographing local handicrafts.

In an interview with WJLE Thursday, Puckett said she is looking forward to the trip and is excited to have been selected. "Some of the people of the Tennessee Council of Social Studies Teachers sent the information and encouraged me to check into it. I talked with my husband about it and then applied. In order to be chosen, you (applicants) have to share with them the demographics of your location based on the U.S. Census and how I could bring an influence from another country to a small area. They don't notify you until 60 days prior to the trip. I recently received my congratulations letter letting me know I was selected," she said.

Puckett will take a flight to New York and then fly from there to Moscow. Upon her arrival in Russia, Puckett will travel to the Smolensk province, Sevsk district where she will be residing from May 21 through June 3 during the Pentecost/Trinity Week Expedition. An expedition leader will accompany Puckett and the other teachers during their Russian visit.

Participants schedule their visits during one of three folklore expeditions. All three expeditions, Easter, Pentecost/Trinity Week, and Dormition Day traditions and first day of school traditions are timed to coincide with important holidays of the Russian traditional calendar.

During her stay, Puckett will experience Russian village life first hand, living in a village house and eating the local food. She will also visit Russian rural schools, where she will make five- 45 minute presentations through translators on American folklore and meet with Russian teachers to discuss matters of mutual professional interest. Puckett has chosen the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree and Crafts Festival as the subject of her presentations and she plans to share with the Russian students photographs along with audio recordings and DVD video highlights from the annual festival. "There is so much to talk about I knew I would have a great lesson plan because there is so many areas of folklore with the mandolin, banjo, fiddle, harmonica and more that these students may have never encountered and then there's the clogging, square dancing and crafts. There will be time for questions and answers to give them an opportunity to ask about our culture".

While she is making this journey from DeKalb County alone, Puckett is seeking support from the community as she collects mementos to take with her to share with the Russian people. "I'm trying to get as many people involved in this as I can because I want it to be a "community" event and not just a "me" event. I went to Suzanne Williams of the Chamber of Commerce and collected everything I could from her. I've contacted Jack Barton of the Fiddlers Jamboree about trying to locate any memorabilia. I have contacted the local girl scouts and they will be making scarves for me to present to the Russian teachers and other people who will be my hosts. Even some of my students have volunteered to make some scarves. I hope to bring back some pictures of the Russian ladies wearing their scarves that I can give to those girl scouts and students. I have also asked local crafter David Sharp to make ten Santa Clause ornaments. He's making me a good deal and I'm going to present those to the teachers that allow me to teach in their classroom because that's an authentic craft that they can keep and utilize every year as they teach," she said.

While in Russia, Puckett will have to adhere to the customs and culture, which is somewhat different from this country, particularly in the treatment of women. " I will have to wear a head dressing when I go to any orthodox churches and cemeteries. Clothing worn by women must be very modest and has to be longer than the knee. Over there women do have to cater to the men. The men must lead in all conversations. They sit at the table while the women must sit elsewhere."

"Here in the United States, most men cater to women. They try to help them. That is just the polite thing to do with the values and morals we have been brought up with. But over there the women pretty much have to fend for themselves. For my physical, I had to basically prove that I could walk a mile in under thirty minutes. I'll have to carry all of my luggage up and down any stairs. I'll also have to use pit toilets with no seats while I'm there," Puckett said.

"Although I don't smoke, women smokers must smoke in private. Public smoking is considered inappropriate for women. Alcohol especially vodka is deeply engrained in Russian life. I don't drink alcohol and we will not be forced to drink but must be prepared to be invited to drink repeatedly throughout the day. Those who wish to avoid alcohol are advised to consult with staff to find multiple ways to politely decline instead of using the same way to refuse to drink every time."

"The cuisine is very different there but they have lots of fruits and vegetables including potatoes, beets, cabbage, carrots, onions, apples, berries, and mushrooms, along with eggs and dairy products from neighborhood hens and cows. Meals are supplemented by breads, grains, meats, pastas, and poultry, so I'll have a large array of foods," said Puckett.

"On the website where this is hosted, I read a story of a lady who had been to Russia and found no running water at the place where she stayed. Fourteen days with no running water. Every three or four days she was able to go to the BANYA which is a local shower there. But the men were allowed to shower first. Many times by the time the women got to shower there was no more warm water. That would be a culture shock."

After she returns, Puckett will share with others curriculum materials from her trip, incorporating some elements of the Russian folklore she collects. "While I'm there, my responsibility is to interview Russian musicians and record some of their music. I will also be taking pictures and collecting art pieces and interviewing the artists as well. I have to create a Russian folklore unit or lesson so that when I bring this back to the United States, those who are funding my trip will utilize this for anyone who wants to have a good quality Russian folklore lesson to teach in their classroom. I will already have had it formulated for them including pictures, videos, etc.," she said.

Most of the trip is being funded by the sponsors but Puckett said she must bear part of the expense. "If anyone would like to make some donations, I would be so appreciative of this because everything is coming out of my pocket. I must fly myself to New York and pay for my visa. But from there, they (sponsors of the trip) are covering everything," she concluded.

School Board May Buyout Director Willoughby's Contract (VIEW VIDEO HERE)

March 23, 2015
Dwayne Page

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby may have to step down sooner than he had planned.

One week after Willoughby announced his retirement, effective June 30th, the Board of Education held a special called meeting Monday night for the purpose of "discussing the Director's Contract". At least some members of the board apparently are interested in cutting ties with Willoughby as soon as possible and offering him a buyout through June 30th. The cost of a buyout to the school system would be approximately $28,000 according to Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III.

Director Willoughby sent an electronic notice to members of the Board of Education last Monday, March 16 announcing his retirement as of June 30th, one hundred seven days in advance. But once notice is given, is the board obligated to him in any way beyond 30 days under the contract?

During the special meeting Monday night, the board voted to defer action until another special meeting on April 6 to provide enough time to obtain a legal opinion from an attorney on the meaning of a section of Willoughby's contract regarding "Contract Termination" referred to as "Unilateral Termination by the Director". That section states that "The Director may terminate this contract at any time, at his sole discretion, by giving the BOARD 30 days written notice of his resignation. In the event of such termination, the DIRECTOR shall have no right or entitlement to any severance pay and shall be entitled to the salary and benefits unpaid through the effective date of resignation or retirement".

"It's the opinion of many and as I look at it I see it myself, it (notice) doesn't coincide with the "Unilateral Termination by the Director" and all I would suggest is that we postpone this until the Monday after Spring Break, Monday April 6 so we can get an attorney to look at this and make sure we are doing the right thing by the four corners of this contract. If the attorney out of Hamilton County who deals with these contracts says it's okay to go ahead and pay the Director then we can pay the Director and go about our business and be done with it. I want to make sure we're in compliance with this contract," said Chairman Evins.

If the board does vote to buyout Director Willoughby's contract, they would have to find the money and then name someone to serve as interim director until a new director is under contract. "We need to talk to members of the county commission and county mayor and if they say it's good to go maybe we can pull this money out of the sinking fund (local option sales tax fund) and not affect our budget. That will give us an opportunity to find an interim director. I know we can go a few days without one but we can't go for very long," Chairman Evins said.

All members voted to defer action until a special meeting on April 6 at 7:00 p.m. except Jerry Wayne Johnson and Jim Beshearse, who passed.

Liberty Mom Charged With Assault For Alleged Drug Use While Pregnant

March 23, 2015
Dwayne Page
Lindsey Paulette Davenport
Andrew Wesley Wilbert

A Liberty mother is the first person to be charged in DeKalb County under a new state law, which took effect last summer that allows the state to seek criminal charges against a woman who uses illegal drugs while pregnant.

27 year old Lindsey Paulette Davenport of Woodbury Highway, Liberty is charged with the misdemeanor offense of assaulting a viable fetus as the victim. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court on April 9.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on January 21, Davenport gave birth to a baby boy whose urine tested positive for opiates. Blood drawn from the umbilical cord tested positive for Suboxone, Methodone, and Morphine.

Faced with a growing number of babies born addicted to drugs in Tennessee, state legislators enacted the new law, sponsored by Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, with the intention of reducing the problem. The law specifically relates to cocaine and heroin.

Signed by Governor Bill Haslam, the law became effective July 1,2014. It allows prosecutors to pursue criminal assault charges and potential jail terms if women bear children who are addicted or suffer other injuries because of the mom’s drug use. The Governor said at the time that the new law had been carefully considered and is intended to encourage law enforcement officers and prosecutors to push pregnant women with substance abuse issues toward treatment.

Representative Weaver said this year she is seeking passage of an amendment to the law to include methamphetamine.

Meanwhile, 26 year old Jennie Nelson of Blue Springs Road, Smithville is cited for violation of registration, simple possession of a schedule III drug (Suboxone), and possession of drug paraphernalia (hypodermic needle). She will be in court August 16. Sheriff Ray said a detective stopped Nelson's 1995 Cadillac Deville on Highway 56 north for failure to maintain lane of travel. While Nelson was showing the detective her medications, he spotted a hypodermic needle in her bag. Nelson said she had used the needle the previous night. The detective searched Nelson's purse and found a Suboxone Strip, which is a schedule III drug. Nelson did not have a prescription for the drug or hypodermic needle.

36 year old Andrew Wesley Wilbert of Vandergriff Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with driving under the influence. He was further issued citations for violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance) and for violation of the implied consent law. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court April 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, March 21 a deputy was dispatched to a traffic accident on Petty Road. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Wilbert, who had wrecked his pickup truck. Wilbert had a strong odor of alcohol on his person. He was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Wilbert refused to submit to a blood test but he did undergo field sobriety tasks and performed poorly.

Unpaid 2013 Property Taxes to be Turned over to Chancery Court for Collection

March 23, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sean Driver

If you haven't paid your 2013 property taxes, you may want to catch up before April 1.

Although interest and penalties are already accruing, if the 2013 taxes remain unpaid by the end of the month, the Trustee's Office will turn them over to the Chancery Court for collection. Your last day to pay is March 31. "When it leaves the Trustees Office there is 21% interest and penalty added to your 2013 taxes plus all the court fees through the Chancery Court. Don't miss out on getting those 2013 taxes paid," said Trustee Sean Driver.

"Remember we do have different options to pay your property taxes. You may come by the office in person or you may mail in your payment. Make sure the mail-in is post marked by March 31. We also have an on-line bill pay service at www.tennesseetrustee.com. Just go in there and select DeKalb County and follow the directions. If you do pay online there is a 2.75% fee added to your total tax bill for using a debit or credit card. You may also send an e-check for $2.50. The online service accepts Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. These fees are not collected by DeKalb County. It is through Business Information Systems which is our vendor that handles our online bill pay. We also accept partial payments through March 31," said Driver.

The Trustee's Office is located at 732 South Congress Boulevard in room 103 at the county complex. Phone 615-597-5176.

Jordan Wilkins Elected Chairman of DeKalb Democratic Party

March 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
Jordan Wilkins (Photo by K Renee Photography)
Retiring Party Chairman Jim Judkins (Right) passes gavel to New Chairman Jordan Wilkins
Party Officers: Treasurer Myra Miller, Chairman Jordan Wilkins, Secretary Joyce Hendrixson, and Vice Chairman James Hale
Members of DeKalb Democratic Executive Committee
Young Democrats Officers are: Katie Parker President, Hannah James- Vice President; and Delaney Johnson- Secretary/Treasurer.

The DeKalb County Democratic Party has a new chairman.

Jordan Wilkins, who has been serving as one of the Vice Chairmen, was elected as the new party leader during Saturday's Biennial Reorganization Convention at the courthouse. Jim Judkins, the retiring chairman who held the post for five years, did not seek another term.

Wilkins is a 2014 graduate of DeKalb County High School and currently a Freshman at Tennessee Tech University. Active in Democratic politics since he was a child, Wilkins thanked the group for placing their trust in him to lead the party.

"Without each of you, this wouldn't be possible for me and without each of you it wouldn't be possible to have such an active and strong party in DeKalb County," said Wilkins in his first address to the party faithful as chairman.

"I have been active (in the party) since I was really young. I got started in the sixth grade, getting the Young Democrats together. I realized the importance of government. I realized the importance of young people being involved to educate the next generation and for them to carry on the legacy of the Democratic Party. I continued to be involved. I worked on Mr. (James) Hale's (State Representative) campaign and local campaigns when we had our nominees. I learned a lot. I got the experience of interning at the Tennessee Democratic Party. It was a great experience for me. I had an opportunity to go down and visit with our Democratic state legislators. Just last week I spoke to the House Democratic Caucus. I gave them ideas. They wanted my opinions on what they need to do to beat (State Representatives) Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody. We discussed that. Our new TNDP Chair Mary Mancini is working hard to fund raise for us. She's working hard to recruit good candidates. I really feel like this next year we're going to see some big changes going on specifically in the state of Tennessee," he said.

"The future plans I have for the party include going into each community. We're going to have to educate people. We've allowed FOX NEWS to name us and label who we are. We need to go into each community center and educate on what is going on at the state and let people know what they're doing to teachers. Let people know what they're doing to women, Let people know what they're doing to senior citizens. I can tell you our message is the winning message. We've just got to get that out to people. I really feel like if we go into these community centers and we invite the people in that area they will realize that the Democratic party is the one standing up for them and their values," he said.

Wilkins and all the other officers of the party were elected by acclamation without any opposition and they will serve for two years.

James Hale is the new Vice Chairman. Joyce Hendrixson was re-elected Secretary and Myra Miller remains Treasurer.

Members of the new DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee were also selected during the convention, each to serve two years. Those named to the committee are as follows:

First District: Luke Willoughby and Pat Parkerson

Second District: Ronnie Redmon and Debbie France

Third District: Jack Barton and Deborah Goodwin

Fourth District: David McDowell and Billie Ann Tubbs

Fifth District: Dennis Boland and Beth Gill

Sixth District: Gary Prater and Deana Green

Seventh District: Tommy Webb and Joyce Poss

Ex-Officio members are: Carelis Garcia- Hispanic representative; Katie Parker- Young Democrats representative; and Billie Ann Tubbs- African American representative.

Young Democrats Officers are: Katie Parker President, Hannah James- Vice President; and Delaney Johnson- Secretary/Treasurer.

District 17 State Executive Committee Man and Woman Aubrey and Rachel Givens were among those attending Saturday's meeting.

Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale Receives Smithville Fire Department Award

March 21, 2015
Dwayne Page
Hoyte Hale receives "Highest Attendance Award" from Chief Charlie Parker
Cody Fults Receives "Rookie of the Year Award" from Chief Charlie Parker
Dalton Roberts Receives "Rookie of the Year Award" from Chief Charlie Parker
Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department at appreciation and awards dinner Friday night (Photo provided by Greg Bess)

Smithville Volunteer firefighter Hoyte Hale received the "Highest Attendance Award" Friday night during an appreciation dinner for city firefighters at the Smithville First United Methodist Christian Fellowship Center.

The award was presented to Hale by Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker.

Hale, currently deputy chief and a 30 year veteran of the department, attended the most incidents, training, and activities during 2014. "Because we are a small department, it's hard for us to pick one firefighter of the year due to the dedication shown by all our members so we've taken the position that the firefighter who makes the highest attendance of calls, trainings, etc. we will mark their accomplishments. You can look at that as dedication because they are dedicated to rolling out of bed in the middle of the night, taking off work in the middle of the day, and leaving family dinners, etc. We mark their accomplishment as being one of the most dedicated by being the highest respondent to incidents and training. Out of the 220 incidents we had, Hoyte made 172 of them so that shows the dedication he had to the department," said Chief Parker.

Other firefighters with high attendance responses to their credit were Lieutenant Jon Poss with 148 calls, Randall Hunt 146, Lieutenant Danny Poss 141, and Captain Jeff Wright attended 95 calls.

Two firefighters, Cody Fults and Dalton Roberts, were recognized as "Rookies of the Year". "We want to recognize them for their extra work and dedication. They walked in off the street and wanted to know what it would take to be a firefighter. We started from there. That's a real good accomplishment these days to have somebody this young who is that interested and dedicated," said Chief Parker.

Meanwhile city firefighters were recognized for years of service including the following:
C.J. Tramel- 1 year
Dalton Roberts- 1 year
Cody Fults- 1 year
Bradley Johnson-1 year
Patrick Edge-2 years (in his 2nd tenure with department)
Becky Atnip-2 years
Shawn Jacobs-(Alderman and Auxiliary member)
Tyler Ludwig-2 years
Kevin Adcock- 4 years (2nd tenure with department)
Cory Killian- 4 years
Glen Lattimore- 7 years
Stephanie Wright- 9 years
Randall Hunt- 10 years
Gary Johnson-10 years
Wallace Caldwell (Chaplain)-11 years
Wink Brown- 17 years
Greg Bess (Photographer)- 20 years
John Poss (Lieutenant)- 24 years
Jeff Wright (Captain)- 29 years
Hoyte Hale (Deputy Chief)- 30 years
Donnie Cantrell (Lieutenant)- 35 years
Danny Poss (Lieutenant)- 35 years
Charles Parker (Chief)- 35 years.

In addition to the firefighters and their spouses, the event was attended by Mayor Jimmy Poss and Aldermen Danny Washer, Gayla Hendrix, Josh Miller and Shawn Jacobs and members of their families. City officials expressed appreciation to the firefighters for the work they do and their commitment to helping improve the operation of the fire department to keep residents safer.

County Approves New Contract with Southern Health Partners for Inmate Medical Care

March 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
County Commission at Thursday Night Workshop

The DeKalb County Commission will enter into a new agreement with Southern Health Partners to provide inmate medical care at the DeKalb County Jail. The cost to the county will increase by 4% going from $96,463 to $100,322 per year.

The commission approved the contract during Monday night's regular monthly meeting.

During a workshop meeting with the County Commission Thursday night, Sheriff Patrick Ray said it's time for a renewal of the contract but that Southern Health Partners is asking for a 4% increase. The county currently pays $96,463 for the service each year. With the increase, the cost to the county would go to $100,322 per year.

According to Sheriff Ray, the county could choose not to pay the 4% increase, but if it exercised that option, the county would have to pick up the tab for all the inmates major prescription drug costs while in jail, an expense Southern Health Partners currently covers. "Our current contract is for $96,463. They want us to do either a 4% increase and them cover major drugs or keep it the same that we have it and let us cover the drugs. Those drugs are medications used to treat HIV AIDS, Renal failure, Hepatitis, Cancer, MS, Crohn's disease, tissue organ rejection drugs, etc. I asked them to go back and look over this last year and see how much they were paying for those type drugs. We had an inmate during that time in jail who stayed there quite a few months who had one of these major diseases. Their (Southern Health Partners) costs was over $3,400 a month. You can see that a 4% increase would be less than $4,000. It would probably be cheaper on the county to do a 4% increase than to take a chance on inmates coming in with these type diseases if we have to furnish their medication. Any inmate that we have that comes in, whatever their disease is we have to treat," Sheriff Ray told the county commission.

Southern Health Partners provides medical, dental, and mental health services to inmates in county jail facilities including on-site nurse staffing and regular physician visits— both of which also remain on-call.

The county commission could take no action Thursday night because it was only a workshop.

Sheriff Negotiates New Deal with Corps on Lakesite Patrols

March 20, 2015
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray
Thursday night County Commission Workshop Meeting

Sheriff Patrick Ray has negotiated terms of a new contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide extra patrols at five designated lake sites this summer.

The commission approved the agreement during Monday night's regular monthly meeting.

During a workshop meeting with County Mayor Tim Stribling and members of the County Commission Thursday night, Sheriff Ray said that while there will be fewer patrols and the overall revenue from the deal will be less this year, the county is to receive more money per patrol. The contract runs from May 4 through September 7. "I got with the Corps and negotiated back and forth and came to an agreement. We're looking at somewhere around 95 patrols at $202.50 each which comes to around $19,440 for the year or $40.50 per site. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays their crowds down there are near nothing through the week. Weekends is when they have most of their camping and things like that. We will only run one time on Fridays, two times on Saturdays, two times on Sundays, and then Labor Day and Memorial Day we'll be running two times. On Friday before the 4th of July, we'll run twice that day. Of course, If they have trouble we'll go anyway," Sheriff Ray told the county commission.

For three decades the Corps has contracted with and compensated the county to provide extra sheriff's department patrols at certain lake sites.

Sheriff Ray said the new terms are better than the deal originally offered by the Corps for the upcoming year which would have reduced the number of patrols as well as the rate of compensation to the county. The Corps had proposed 219 patrol periods this year at five lake sites. The county would have received a total of $35,040 to provide the service. That would have been down from the 229 patrol periods in 2014 and 236 in the year 2013. The Corps' rate of compensation to the county has also been declining in recent years going from $37,760 in 2013 to $36,640 last year.

The sheriff's department must only use full time POST certified officers to conduct the patrols during the designated time periods specified by the contract.

During February's county commission workshop meeting, the emergency services committee recommended that Sheriff Ray ask the Corps to increase the rate of compensation from $32 to $40.50 per lake site in the proposed new contract which would be $202.50 per patrol period.


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