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Local News Articles

DeKalb Democrats Select District Convention Delegates

March 6, 2016
DeKalb District Convention Delegates for Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton
DeKalb District Convention Delegates for Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders

The DeKalb County Democratic Party held its county Delegate Selection Convention Saturday for the district convention to be held in Cookeville on March 19th.

DeKalb County had the opportunity to send up to 8 people including 4 men and 4 women for each Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to the district convention.

Attending the district convention as Bernie Sanders delegates will be Jack Barton, Joyce Hendrixson, and Pamela Jordan.

Those to attend the district convention as Hillary Clinton delegates are Joyce Poss, Barbara Comfort, Pamela Anderson, Billie Ann Tubbs, Jordan Wilkins, Jimmy Poss, Jack Anderson, and Jerry Comfort. The Hillary delegates from each county at the district convention will elect 2 men, 1 Woman and 1 Woman alternate to attend the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer. The Bernie delegates will elect 1 Woman delegate to attend the Democratic National Convention. These numbers are based on the Democratic Primary results.

DeKalb County Democratic Party Chairman Jordan Wilkins has filed and is running as a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention and that election will be March 19th.

Extension Office to Host Meet and Greet

March 6, 2016
Johnny Barnes, Extension Agent and DeKalb County Director

March is Extension Month in Tennessee.

Extension is a national educational program supported by USDA through the nation’s land-grant universities and administered with funding from state and local governments in Tennessee through offices in each of the state’s 95 counties.

Extension is the outreach arm of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and the Tennessee State University College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences. An integral part of the land-grant mission, Extension programs are delivered in all 95 counties in the state by subject-matter specialists, county agents and volunteers.

“Extension means ‘reaching out,’ and University of Tennessee Extension extends the university’s teaching and research missions to deliver research-based information and education to all the state’s citizens through youth and adult programs in every county,” said Tim Cross, dean of UT Extension.

Example programs available through county offices include the state’s award-winning 4-H Youth Development Program including its summer youth camps; family and consumer educational programs; and healthy living courses. In keeping with the traditional view of Extension, information to assist the state’s agricultural producers and foresters is also available.

“TSU Extension encompasses hundreds of Extension faculty members, scientists, educators, administrative staff and volunteers, all working to provide solutions for Tennesseans,” said Latif Lighari, associate dean for Extension at Tennessee State University.

Here in DeKalb County, the UT-TSU Extension office will be hosting a Meet & Greet for the public on the sidewalk, directly in front of the Extension Office on Friday, March 11 from 11AM-1PM. The office is located at 722 South Congress Blvd, Smithville in the County Complex. There will be various displays and information about what the Extension program offers as well as free hot dogs, popcorn, and drinks.

Please stop by and meet the staff during this time to find out more about what your local Extension Office has to offer.

Kate Miller Qualifies for School Board Race

March 5, 2016
Dwayne Page
Kate Miller

Another incumbent school board member has qualified for the August Board of Education Election

Kate Miller of the 4th district will be in the race to fill the remaining two years of her husband Billy Miller's unexpired term. Her qualifying petition has been returned to the election commission and verified.

Billy Miller was re-elected to the school board in August 2014 but he resigned September 30, 2014 due to his having accepted a new job with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation which does not allow him to hold public office. The county commission appointed Kate Miller in October 2014 to fill the position until the August 2016 election. She was sworn into office in November 2014.

Three school board members will be elected on August 4 including one from the 4th, 5th, & 6th districts. The terms are for four years except in the 4th district. The 4th district winner will fill an unexpired two year term.

Others who have obtained qualifying petitions to date are:
Barry Mabe in the 5th district (Mabe's petition has been returned and verified)
Incumbent W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the 5th district (Evins’ petition has been returned and verified)
Incumbent Doug Stephens in the 6th district (Stephens' petition has been returned and verified)

The qualifying deadline is Noon April 7

Meanwhile, the list of potential candidates for Smithville Alderman keeps growing.

Richard Steinbach of Bell Street is the latest person to be issued a qualifying petition to seek an alderman position in the August 4 Municipal Election. That brings to seven the number of possible candidates to fill three seats this year.

Others who have obtained petitions include:

Danny Washer( incumbent). His petition has been returned and verified
Josh Miller (incumbent). Miller's petition has been returned and verified
Shawn Jacobs (incumbent)
Wesley Nokes
Ronald D. Stanley
Gary Durham

Three aldermen will be elected on August 4th. The terms are for four years.

The qualifying deadline is Noon April 7

William A. Davis has picked up a petition for Dowelltown Alderman. Pam Redman also recently obtained qualifying papers for the office of Dowelltown Mayor.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected in Dowelltown on August 4. The qualifying deadline is Noon April 7

Persons who have obtained qualifying petitions for the Liberty City Election on August 4 are Jason Ray for a four year term as Alderman, J.D. Bratten for a one year position as Alderman, and Eddie Dwayne Blair for a four year term as Alderman.

Four alderman seats will be filled in Liberty on August 4. The qualifying deadline is Noon April 7.

Cookeville Boat Dock Pays Delinquent Property Taxes

March 4, 2016
Dwayne Page
Cookeville Boat Dock

The owners of Cookeville Boat Dock, Inc. are delinquent no more in their property tax debt to DeKalb County.

Rather than appeal a recent court order forcing them to pay their back taxes from 2004 to 2013, the marina owners today (Friday) paid off the delinquency to the DeKalb County Chancery Court in the amount of $139,815.33 which includes taxes for the years 2004 to 2013 along with all accrued interest, penalties, court costs and attorneys fees through March 4, 2016. Today (Friday) marked the last day the marina could file an appeal.

Cookeville Boat Dock also paid its 2014 and 2015 property taxes to the DeKalb County Trustee's Office on Monday, February 29. The marina paid $9,691 including interest and penalty for 2014 and $9,417 for 2015.

The written order, signed by Judge Amy Hollars, was filed Wednesday, February 3 in DeKalb County Chancery Court. The judge gave the same ruling orally on Tuesday, November 24.

The court further ordered that "DeKalb County is entitled to additional penalty of 10% on all delinquent taxes" finding that T.C.A. 67-5-2410 (a)(1)(A) is the controlling statute as to additional penalty.

"It is ordered that DeKalb County is entitled to charge a 10% additional penalty on the base amount of delinquent taxes."

"It is further ordered that Cookeville Boat Dock, Inc. shall continue to accrue on any unpaid taxes, interest and penalty as set out in T.C.A. 67-5-2410 (a)(1)(A)" the order stated.

In November, Judge Hollars again found as she had earlier in the year that Cookeville Boat Dock must pay delinquent DeKalb County property taxes, but in a new ruling she granted a motion by the marina's attorney to bar the county from collecting more than 10 years in back taxes with 10 years being a statute of limitations.

Judge Hollars announced her decision via a telephone conference call on November 24 with Vester Parsley, Jr., the county's tax attorney, and Jon Jones of Cookeville, the lawyer representing Cookeville Boat Dock. Clerk and Master Deborah Malone and County Mayor Tim Stribling were also present.

The boat dock owners had refused to pay their taxes since 1998.

Jones initially argued for the marina that Tennessee law violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against a lessee of the United States in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee. It was argued since the boat dock pays fees to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which are used, in part, to pay DeKalb County a sum of "in lieu of taxes," that having to pay property tax to the county was, in effect, double taxation.

In April, 2015 Judge Hollers ruled that the boat dock's challenge to the tax was invalid in part because the Supremacy Clause "does not prevent a state or local government from imposing a tax on an individual or a corporation 'using government property in connection with a business conducted for its own private gain."

The attorney for the marina later filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider her ruling. Jones argued that the county cannot collect taxes beyond 10 years; that the judge's ruling on the "Supremacy Clause" of the U.S. Constitution was incorrect; and that the amount of interest the county wants to charge is above what is allowed by law.

In November, Judge Hollars sustained Jones' motion on the 10 year bar based on TCA 67-5-1806 but she denied the request to prohibit the county from assessing the current rate of interest and penalty. She also affirmed her earlier ruling on the constitutionality of the tax.

DCHS Students Choose Trump and Sanders for President in Mock Election

March 4, 2016
Dwayne Page
Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders

DCHS students chose Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders for President in a Mock Election held Super Tuesday at school.

According to the DCHS Tiger Media, a total of 619 students cast ballots in the mock election including 181 who voted in the Democratic Primary and 438 in the Republican Primary.

DCHS students chose Sanders over Hillary Clinton 141 to 40. Trump won with 225 votes over 115 for Marco Rubio, 56 for Ted Cruz, 36 for Ben Carson, and 6 for John Kasich.

Students were also asked to participate in Exit Polling. A total of 377 participated. Two questions were asked.

1) Who did you vote for?

Democrat (99 participated)

Bernie Sanders 81.8%
Hillary Clinton 18.2%

Republican (278 participated)

Donald Trump 55.0%
Marco Rubio 27.0%
Ted Cruz 9.0%
Ben Carson 8.3%
John Kasich 0.7%

2) What influenced your vote the most? (324 participated)

No reason/ I don't know - 50.9%
Education/ Free College - 18.5%
Terrorism/ Homeland Security - 10.8%
Religious Beliefs/ Morals - 8.0%
Economy/ Jobs - 7.1%
Other - 4.6%

"I am extremely proud of the participation of the students in our DCHS Super Tuesday mock election," said Social Sciences Teacher Nate Kennard whose students helped him facilitate the mock election. " We had an amazing 619 that voted and also had 377 that answered questions in our exit polls. It was an incredible day and it gave me an opportunity to answer many questions concerning the procedures of voting, the differences between primaries and general elections, and what candidate was in each party. The students in my classes that helped me facilitate the election did a great job and learned how instrumental exit polls are for the media when calling elections or understanding what influenced the voters the most. I was very happy with the turnout and the stories from students that went home after school Tuesday and paid attention to the actual Super Tuesday and its results," said Kennard.

Preliminary Construction Plans for Smithville Bridge Forwarded to TDOT

March 3, 2016
Dwayne Page
Preliminary Construction Plans for Smithville Bridge Forwarded to TDOT

Preliminary construction plans have been forwarded to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for a new bridge on Holmes Creek Road over Fall Creek in Smithville.

In an email to city officials, the engineer for the project, Kyle Hazel of Professional Engineering Services of Sparta wrote that final construction plans for the bridge will be prepared and sent to TDOT for final review and approval once TDOT approves the preliminary plans. "Once all necessary approvals, permits, right-of-way, and utility coordination has been accomplished we will advertise and the project will be bid," wrote Hazel.

The bridge, at the bottom of town hill behind Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, has been closed since October 30.

The state forced the City of Smithville to close the bridge due to a Tennessee Department of Transportation Evaluation Report which detailed various bridge deficiencies making it potentially unsafe.

The project is being funded under the state's 1990 Bridge Grant Program. The Tennessee Department of Transportation was to pay for 98% of the costs to replace the bridge. The local matching portion was to be 2%. However, according to Hazel the matching cost to the city could be 8%

"At this time the bridge grant funds available for this project are approximately $500,000 and we anticipate that an additional $168,000.00 will be added this July 2016. This will not be enough to cover the bridge's maximum percentage of 98%, but closer to 92% according to my overall project cost based on the estimate. Therefore the City of Smithville will need to be prepared to fund approximately 8% +- of the total project cost at this time," wrote Hazel.

City officials have said it may be next fall before the new bridge is completed.

Until then residents in the area and other motorists will have to continue making a detour by way of Riley Avenue or Allen's Ferry Road.

Representative Weaver announces passage of “National Guard Force Protection Act of 2016”

March 3, 2016
Dwayne Page
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Tennessee House of Representatives Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) announced today that the Tennessee House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that allows for homeland security upgrades that the Tennessee Military Department will implement at armories and recruiting stations around the state. The “National Guard Force Protection Act of 2016” was introduced to ensure the safety of Tennessee National Guard service members in the wake of the Chattanooga attack in July of 2015. The legislation is sponsored by Representative Charles Sargent (R-Franklin).

“Each day, our service members put themselves in harm’s way to ensure we are safe and secure. The safety of our military men and women, as well as the general public, is of the utmost importance,” said Speaker Beth Harwell. “I was proud to cast my vote in support of this legislation.”

The enhancements at armories and recruiting stations throughout the state will include mobile ballistic shields, shatter resistant film for windows and doors, barriers in front of the buildings, cameras, and more.

“The Chattanooga attack was tragic and senseless. I am proud that we are making the implementation of these safety features a priority in the House of Representatives this year,” said Representative Weaver. “I thank all our Tennessee National Guardsmen and women for their service.”

Having passed unanimously in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the legislation is headed to Governor Haslam’s desk for his signature. More information about the bill can be found here:

DeKalb County Health Department Honored with TNCPE Interest Award

March 3, 2016
Dwayne Page
Left to right: Katie Rawls, TNCPE President and CEO; Michael Railling, MPH, DeKalb County Health Department Director; and Rebecca Hunter, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources

DeKalb County Health Department Honored with TNCPE Interest Award

The DeKalb County Health Department was honored at the 23rd Annual Excellence in Tennessee Awards Banquet, held on Wednesday, February 24, 2016. The TNCPE Interest Award is the beginning level for organizations interested in adopting and applying performance improvement principles.

The Interest Award was presented by Rebecca Hunter, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources, State of Tennessee, and TNCPE President and CEO, Katie Rawls. More than 450 business and community leaders from across Tennessee packed the ballroom of the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs to salute the winners. 44 organizations representing high-performing businesses, government agencies, nonprofit and education organizations were recognized for their commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.

For more information, visit

Photo Credit: George Walker
Left to right: Katie Rawls, TNCPE President and CEO; Michael Railling, MPH, DeKalb County Health Department Director; and Rebecca Hunter, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources

DeKalb West School Throws a Big Reading Party

March 3, 2016
Bill Conger
Speech Teacher Katie Stutts is decked out as book character, "Pete the Cat" for Family Literacy Night at DWS.
Students camp out for a reading adventure at Camp Read S'More during the first-ever Family Literacy Night for the county held at DWS. Librarian Amanda Mullinax coordinated the event.
Bailey Redmon (left) and Elizabeth Redmon (right)
Christy Sullivan and Natasha Vaughn

Mary Poppins, The Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and even Moses turned out to DeKalb West School for a big reading party for the community. The first-ever Family Literacy Night on Tuesday brought in parents, students, and other people across the county to celebrate reading.

"I was elated by the way families turned out, the community support that we had, and the way the children were behaving, enjoying, learning, and loving everything that they saw," said DWS Librarian Amanda Mullinax, who spearheaded the event.

Children's author Michael Shoulders, who read and entertained the children, encouraged parents to make reading fun and turn it into a family affair.

"I don't think they should look at their kid and say, 'You're supposed to read 20 minutes," Shoulders said. "Get in your room right now and read 20 minutes, and if I come in there, you better be reading. That's the wrong approach. It should not be a chore. It should be fun. Let me read it with you. It's about celebrating books and having fun with them. That's why I throw in a magic trip or a throw in a rap. I want them to think I had a good time with books."

During the two-hour event, families put stakes down at Camp Read S'More, hung out with Pete the Cat, went on a different version of a cake walk with literacy as the theme, explored hidden gems in a treasure chest, checked out their children's Literacy Fair projects, and of course, read together.

"I would say it's important to come out to something like this to show the children that reading, writing, and anything literacy related is just as important as anything else that we can go and do for fun, like go to the movies or go shopping or go to a sporting event," added Mullinax.

"I think the most important thing that you could take away from tonight is what we have been promoting all year long," Mullinax adds. "We've been calling it the "20 for 20" program. He didn't call it a program. He just said it needs to be part of our daily life and twenty minutes a day doing something where your child is interacting with reading and you are too as a family. I just think that's very important."

Sheriff's Department Gets New Grant Funded Fingerprint Machine

March 3, 2016
Dwayne Page
Sheriff's Department Gets New Grant Funded Fingerprint Machine

Thanks to a grant the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office recently purchased a new fingerprint machine.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said the grant covered the $15,000 cost of the machine with no local funds required for the purchase. The new machine replaces an older one the department had been using.

"We fingerprint every inmate who is booked including those arrested by the Sheriff's Department, Smithville and Alexandria Police Departments, Tennessee Highway Patrol, or any other agency or officer who makes state arrests.

"As soon as the correctional officer books them in and does the fingerprints, it (machine) automatically sends them to TBI and FBI to see if they match fingerprints on file taken in other crimes or from outstanding warrants entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)," said Sheriff Ray.

"We are proud and very fortunate to have been able to get that grant to purchase this fingerprint machine," he added.


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