Local News Articles

Randy Caplinger Files Lawsuit Against City of Smithville (READ ACTUAL COMPLAINT HERE)

June 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger
Sarah Cripps

Former Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger is taking his case against the City of Smithville to court.

Caplinger's attorneys Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox filed a lawsuit in DeKalb County Circuit Court on Thursday, June 4.


caplinger complaint and _001.pdf (3.22 MB)

"We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," said Cripps in an interview with WJLE Thursday.

In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking for a declaratory judgment "to construe the charter for the City of Smithville and to determine which provision controls and governs the number of votes required by the Board of Aldermen to ratify or confirm the mayor's decision to remove an employee of the city". Cripps and Cox are also urging the court to find that the Board of Aldermen violated a section of the charter by not convening a meeting to ratify the mayor's suspension of Caplinger without pay prior to the due process hearing. They are further asking that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause".

After a seven hour due process hearing Friday, May 8 the Smithville Aldermen voted 3-2 to uphold Mayor Jimmy Poss' termination of Caplinger. Aldermen Gayla Hendrix, Danny Washer, and Jason Murphy voted in favor of the mayor's action. Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Josh Miller voted against it.

But the vote itself became an issue and is one of the key components of the lawsuit.

Cripps and Cox insist that the city's charter requires a two thirds majority vote (four out of five) to confirm a mayoral termination. And Aldermen Jacobs and Miller said at the due process hearing that they had spoken with legal representatives of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) who told them that according to the city's charter, four votes were required to approve the action of the mayor.

Article III of the Smithville City Charter regarding Organization and Personnel. Section 3.01, subsection (2) states that "All officers and employees of the city, except as otherwise specifically provided by ordinance, shall be appointed and removed by the Mayor but only with the approval of at least two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Council present voting upon the appointment or removal, and the employees shall be under the direction and control of the Mayor."

But during the due process hearing City Attorney Vester Parsley cited another section in the charter, which seems to conflict with Section 3.01 in that it allows for only " a majority of the board" to approve removal of employees by the mayor. Parsley recommended that the aldermen follow this section of the charter.

The section of the charter to which Parsley referred is Section 3.08 in Article III which states that "The appointment and promotion of employees of the city shall be on a basis of merit, considering technical knowledge and education required to perform satisfactorily the work, experience in the particular or similar line of work and administrative or supervisory qualifications. The Mayor, or the City Administrator, if established by the Board, may, with the approval of a majority of the Board, make appointments, promotions, transfers, demotions, suspensions, and removal of all employees".

In the lawsuit, Cripps and Cox are asking the court to preserve both sections of the charter but to find that Section 3.01 (requiring a 2/3 super majority vote) controls because it is more specific than Section 3.08. "Essentially what we are asking the court to do here is to tell us what provision of the city charter controls the removal of officers or employees of the City of Smithville, such as Chief Randy Caplinger. We contend that Section 3.01, subsection (2) controls. We have two statutes that appear to be in contradiction to one another. What we're asking the court to do is construe both of those statues in such a way that both of them can remain standing. In other words, the scope of Section 3.01, subsection (2) is very narrow. It deals with the ultimate employment actions that anyone can take which is appointment and removal. For those ultimate employment decisions that can be made by the mayor that section tells us that those must be approved by a super majority vote by the board. Section 3.08 is much broader and more general in its scope. It is much more far reaching in that it controls appointments, suspensions, demotions, promotions, and lateral transfers from one department to another. Furthermore it differs from the prior section (3.01) in that it says these decisions can be made unilaterally by the mayor or city administrator. The third way this section (3.08) differs is that it says these decisions must be ratified only by a simple majority of the board. What we say is both of those sections can stand if the court holds that the more specific statute controls. To hold that the general statute controls would result in a complete nullification of the entirety of 3.01, subsection 2 so we wouldn't be allowing both sections to stand. We are saying that applying that concept of statutory interpretation the more specific statute controls (3.01)," said Cripps.

Cripps and Cox also contend that the aldermen violated section 3.08 of the charter in that they failed to convene for a vote to ratify the mayor's unilateral suspension of Caplinger prior to the due process hearing. "We are saying that Chief Caplinger's employer, being the City of Smithville violated the provisions of the city's own charter in that they violated Section 3.08. How did they do that? Well on March 13 the mayor suspended Chief Caplinger and the Board, as required by Section 3.08 is supposed to convene a meeting and call for a vote on the question of whether or not to ratify the suspension of an officer or employee. The Board failed to abide by its own city charter. We contend therefore that this renders the suspension of Chief Caplinger a nullity and it renders it invalid," said Cripps.

"The final facet of our suit deals with a petition for other relief where we are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," Cripps concluded.

The City has not named a successor to Caplinger and Captain Steven Leffew remains as the “officer in charge” of the department.

School System Professional Personnel Hired for 2015-16

June 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Dr. Danielle Collins

Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins has signed contracts with the Professional Personnel for the 2015-2016 school year.

Dr. Collins presented a list of the employees to the Board of Education Thursday night.

Certified personnel at each school are as follows:

DeKalb County High School-
Angie Anderson, Charlotte Blaylock, Danny Bond, Amanda Brown, Kathy Bryant, Chelsea Burch, Kevin Burchfield, Kelley Burgess, Jeanine Cantrell, Todd Cantrell, Gary Caplinger, Mary Anne Carpenter, Andrew Cook, Joe Pat Cope, Carla Crabtree, Lisa Craig, Patrick Cripps, Bethany Davis, Deborah DePriest, Andrew Dixon, Brittany Dixon, Donna Emmons, Marshall Ferrell, Tina Fletcher, Amanda Fuller, David Gash, Josh Gulley, Sara Halliburton, Susan Hinton, Sonja House, William Jennings, Natasha Judkins, Dylan Kleparek, Brad Leach, Lynus Martin, Martisha Maxwell, Taylor McDaniel, Rebecca Miller, Lori Myrick, Rolando Navarro, Jenny Norris, Scott Odom, Nallely Ortega-Prater, Shelly Painter, Walteen Parker, Linda Parris, Leslie Parsley, John Pryor, Mary Anne Puckett, Jane Rice, Marilyn Roberts, Melissa Ruch, Derek Schatz, Daniel Seber, Michael Shaw, Tracy Slone, Steve Trapp, Chris Vance, Michael Whitefield, Shea Wiegele, and Sara Young.

Northside Elementary School-
January Agee, Marla Beshearse, Kelly Birmingham, Mollie Bratten, Linda Bush, Shanea Cantrell, Megan Carroll, Trent Colwell, Michael Crockett, Alisha Day, Ashley Dean, Tabitha Farmer, Danny Fish, Jerry Foster, Carrie Gottlied, Amy Green, Amanda Griffith, Jennifer Griffith, Melissa Hale, Cynthia Hale, Jessica Hale, Patty Hale, Kirsten Hankal, Jennifer Herndon, Greg Hibdon, Lorie Isabell, Karen Jacobs, Shelly Jennings, Kristy Lasser, Lisa Mabe, Jama Martin, Amanda Mathis, Libby McCormick, Elizabeth Nolt, Josh Odom, Beth Pafford, Deb Poteete, Amy Raymond, Dr. Gayle Redmon, Ashley Reeves, Melissa Roysdon, Carol Sampley, Tammy Sims, Julie Styer, Carol Tripp, Kristen Van Vranken, Betsye Walker, Ginger Wenger, and Sandy Willingham.

DeKalb West School-
Joey Agee, Jessica Antoniak, Doris Cantrell, Jenny Cantrell, Jeanna Caplinger, William Conger, Kim Crook, Martha Damron, Tonya Ellis, Janet England, Sabrina Farler, Karen France, Ricky Hendrix, Cathleen Humphrey, Regina Kent, Nadina Manganiello, Shelia McMillen, Diana Moon, Amanda Mullinax, Tammy Payne, Brenda Pedigo (part-time), Cynthia Preston, Lori Pryor, Cynthia Pulley, Kelly Pyburn, Jennifer Shores, Teresa Sullivan, Shelia Vanatta, Natasha Vaughn, Susan West, Vicki Wilson, and Amy Young.

Smithville Elementary School-
Misty Agee, Ashley Barnes, Renee Beaty, Kelly Birmingham, Lindsey Bouldin, Whitney Brelje, Beth Cantrell, Alyssa Conger, Tiffany Cowart, Vicky Duke, Melba Farmer, Tina Gash, Sydney Gremmels, Vicky Hawker, Bradley Hendrix, Holly Hendrix, Mary Henny, Tanya Howard, Kelly Huling, Ana Jarvis, Amanda Johnson, Angela Johnson, Jennifer Judkins, Karen Knowles, Carrie Lee, Leah Magness, Kristen Malone, Adrienne McCormick, LeVaughnda Midgett, Hannah Mummert, Lisa Neal, Macy Nokes, Allison O'Conner, Susan Palmer, Joy Parker, Layra Parker, Jane Ramsey, Amanda Rhoady, Allison Rigsby, Bethany Rigsby, Heather Shehane, Jessica Styer, Carol Tallent, Ashlee Thomason, Janet Trapp, Carol Tripp, Julie Vincent, Sherian Waggoner, Tiffany Wheatley, Kristy Williams, Janet Woodward, Christie Young, and Crystal Young.

DeKalb Middle School-
Josh Agee, Lori Alexander, Suzette Barnes, Cassandra Binkley, Amee Cantrell, Nancy Cowan, Margaret Coyle, Amanda Dakas, Tena Davidson, Courtney Davis, Jenny Elrod, Holly Espinosa, Amy Farler, Jason Farley, Suzanne Gash, Lesa Hayes, Lori Hendrix, Cecilia Jenkins, Randy Jennings, Bryan Jones, Michelle Jones, Amy Key, Natalie Kintz, Michael Lewis, Michael Littrell, Martha Melching, Debra Moore, Justin Nokes, Emily Phillips, Justin Poteete, Anita Puckett, Cody Randolph, Candice Scrabo, Penny Smitty, Tonya Sullivan, Kitty Thomas, Felicia Warden, Tad Webb, Jennifer West, Rebecca Whimpey, Kathryn Wisinger, and Alicia Wittenberg.

Central Office Staff-
Gina Arnold, Katherine Ballard, Lisa Bell, Michelle Burklow, Dr. Danielle Collins, Lisa Cripps, Amy Fox, Amy Lattimore, Joey Reeder, Dee Anna Reynolds, and Lori Rogers.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education voted to grant a professional license to the following teachers upon the recommendation of Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins:

Molllie H. Bratten, Megan Carroll, Bethany Davis, Amy Key, Mary Ann Puckett, Julie Styer, Sara Young, Kelley Burgess, Trent Colwell, Suzanne Gash, Diana Moon, Michael Shaw, Ashlee Thomason, Amee Cantrell, Gary Caplinger, Sara L. Halliburton, Joshua Odom, Heather Shehane, and Jalene Vanatta.

According to Dr. Collins, these teachers have successfully completed the statutory apprentice period of three years as required for license advancement. "It is my recommendation that these teachers be recommended for professional license," wrote Dr. Collins

Meanwhile, those who have resigned or retired since last month are as follows:

Mike Eaton, resigned, maintenance worker
Carl Malone, retired, custodian, DCHS
Dorothy Colvert, resigned, teacher, Northside Elementary School
Sharon Washer, retired, cook, Northside Elementary School
Susan Palmer, retired, teacher, Smithville Elementary School
Hannah Mummert, resigned, teacher, Smithville Elementary School
Tara Smith, resigned, County-Wide
Dan Hooper, resigned, teacher, Northside Elementary School

Support Staff Hired for New School Year

June 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Dr. Danielle Collins

Interim Director of Schools Dr. Danielle Collins has employed the support staff for the 2015-2016 school year.

The personnel report was submitted to the Board of Education during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting

Those employed at DeKalb County High School are:
Rena Adcock, Vicky Atnip, Wanda Bradford, Kathy Chapman, Kenderly Cripps, Debbie Eaton, Regina Estes, Beverly Ferrell, Darnette Hibdon, Melissa Hicks, Deborah Magness, Thomas Maney, Charles Martin, Marsha Martin, Paulette McDonald, Rhonda Merriman, Sara Parker, JoAnn Pittman, Brian Reed, Denise Rutland, Vicky Sandlin, Carol Swope, Norman Underhill, Tiffanie VanWinkle, Jamie Wright, and Debbie Young.

DeKalb Middle School:
Sue Arnold, Jennifer Benton, Pauline Braswell, Anita Conley, Tammy Ferrell, Fay Gilreath, Doris Graham, Jeremy Haas, Connie Haggard, Debbie Knowles, Tammy Maynard, Angie Moore, Chris Moore, Lisa Norton, Paula Pinegar, Pauletta Ruffner, Mary Sanders, Teresa Spenser, Vicky Walker, and Polly Wilkins.

Smithville Elementary School:
Janis Barnes, Brenda Beth Cantrell, Katherine Collins, Debora Cunningham, Cindi Dias, Darlene Evans, Jennifer Gay, Betty Griffith, Jean Hayes, Milinda League, Sara Lomas, Talitha Looney, Pat Milam, Tera Mooneyham, Eden Nokes, Michelle Overstreet, Holly Owens, Rebecca Parker, Rhonda Pelham, Amelia Phillips, Freeda Phillips, Lori Poss, Stephanie Reeder, Brenda Rigney, Jennifer Roller, James Storie, Peggy Sutton, Amanda Trapp, Mary-Margaret Tripp, Tammy Tyler, Danny Van Dyne, and Celia Whaley.

Northside Elementary:
Pam Baines, Sue Close, Evril Cubbins, Tena Edwards, Terrie Ford, Robbie Joan Frazier, Gary Good, Phyllis Hallum, Sherry Judkins, Melinda Lattimore, Sunshine Martin, Thelma Martin, Rebecca Moss, Lynn Pichey, Jo Dean Redmon, Tenille Rowland, Ruby Thomason, JoAnn Vanatta, Kim Violet, Deneene Willingham, and Rita Young.

DeKalb West School:
Holly Bain, Brenda Bandy, Donna Driver, Dorothy Duggin, Janet Fish, Pauline Frazier, Stephanie Fuson, Shelly Gibson, Lisa Hale, Donna Hale, Jennifer Martin, Nancy Mulloy, Faye Nixon, Tina Paschal, Rhonda Pilgrim, Elizabeth Redmon, Beverly Starnes, Kristi Sullivan, and Rena Willoughby.

County Wide Positions:
Chandra Adcock, Heather Billings, Teresa Billings, Chance Bomen, Kristen Braseel, W.C. Braswell, Cindy Childers, Tommy Clark, Christie Colwell, Billy Curtis, Bettye June Dodd, Christie Driver, Wade Ferrell, Julie Fitts, Greg Frasier, LeAnne Frasier, Yvonne Hale, Rebecca Hawkins, Terry Hicks, Lois Hilderman, Earl Jared, Freda Johnson, Tammy Judkins, Jenean Lawson, Debbie London, Shirley Mathis, Brelle McCormick, Donna McManus, Elsie Miller, April Odom, Shirley Ours, Walter Phillips ,Danny Pirtle, Jr., Melissa Pirtle, Jo Dean Redmon, Joyce Robinson, Roger Sharp, Cindy Taylor, Kimberly Turner, Barbara Vanatta, Jamie Vickers, Robin Warren, Judy Wiggins, and Joannie Williams.

Danny Bond, Dwayne Cantrell, Shara Cowan, Suzanne Dunn, Debbie Eaton, Ricky Edwards, Marshall Ferrell, Julie Fitts, Tina Fletcher, Linda Fowler, Bill Fowler, Lynn Griffith, Orlando Guzman, Donald Haggard, Darnette Hibdon, Melissa Hicks, Kathy Jacobs, Danny Jenkins, Dwight Knowles, Daniel Lawson, Donnie Lewis, Bobby Martin, Roy Merriman, Michael Merriman, Ronald Merriman, Linda Gail Pack, Melissa Peranteau, Jimmy Poss, Myron Rhody, Corine Seifert, Jimmy Sprague, Carol Swope, Ken Taylor, Bobby Taylor, B.J. Thomason, Tony Trapp, Danny Washer, and Angela Wilkerson.

New Industry Off to Great Start

June 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Chris Vanatta (left) and Tim West
Cabinets made by Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc
Kitchen Cabinets made by Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc

Smithville's newest industry is off to a great start

After only eight months in operation, Master Custom Cabinetry of TN. Inc. is already preparing to relocate to a larger facility within the next two weeks.

The company, manufacturer of custom cabinets, began operations in October after renting the old popcorn factory building on Miller Road. The owners, President Tim West and Vice President Chris Vanatta soon realized that the facility would not be large enough to meet the growing demands for their products. They have since purchased the old Texas Boot building just down the street.

Both West and Vanatta spoke with WJLE in an interview Tuesday.

"We opened October 1, 2014 and began setting equipment. We started with Chris and I and two other employees setting equipment. In November 2014, we started up production with one set. In December we began taking on two or three sets per week (smaller jobs). By January 1 we were in full production. We're outgrowing this location. This building (old popcorn factory) is 32,000 square feet. We're using 23,000 square feet of it. We're going to need more square footage in order to be able to hire the people and put in the extra processes to get the job done," said West.

"Within the next week or two, we'll be relocating to the old Texas Boot building. We're currently moving things but we won't be completely up there for probably two weeks," added Vanatta.

According to West, the company currently employs around twenty five people but plans are to add hundreds more over the next few years. "Our first year is going well. We started laying foundations in the very beginning in putting things in place. But the sales grew so fast that between Chris, myself, and another office person we could not keep up with it so we've had to bring extra people in to do separate jobs. We were trying to wear many hats and do several different jobs. It didn't take but a few months to outgrow that. Our ultimate plan is going to be like a seven to eight year plan. We'd love to get to a $50 million dollar a year company, which would employ 350 plus people based on those sales," he said.

While the industry is capable of dealing directly with the consumer for custom work, they primarily sell to distributors and designers. " It's mainly custom cabinets but we do basically any type of cabinetry or wood work that they need for their house including trim, book cases, entertainment centers, vanities, etc. People can come by and tell us what they need. We would need a set of drawings and any pictures of what you would like. We can show you some door styles and color blocks but we're not a design house. We are doing a few local jobs but most of ours is through distributors," said Vanatta.

Master Custom Cabinetry currently does business in six states. By bringing in revenue from other places, West said the company is contributing to the economy in Tennessee. "We're currently selling in six states and bringing in revenue from other states that is distributed a lot here in Tennessee not only with employment, but we deal with local businesses, hardware, and supply places. We try to do everything we can locally as far as buying from local vendors. The majority of the other vendors we do have as far as hardwoods and plywood and things of that nature. They are all Tennessee based. So we are distributing the money back into the state of Tennessee," West said.

Master Custom Cabinetry is an equal opportunity employer and while skilled laborers are preferred, on the job training is available. "We have some people that have training in a specialized field. For example, in our finish department, we have people with training in finish, but we also have hired people we are training in finish," said West.

"We want to start training people three deep. For example, if you have one guy that's over the cutting department, we want him to train two other people so that if he gets sick or goes on vacation, it's not a big deal. He can leave without having to worry about the job getting done. If you've got two other people filling in for him, it keeps the production and flow going. We don't want people to work harder. We want to make it to where they can work smarter and enjoy what they are doing," West continued.

As for wages, West said the industry is competitive with others in the area and plans to offer attractive benefits to employees. "We're trying to be competitive. Our wages depends on their experience as to where we start them out at. Our very entry level jobs start at $8.50 per hour. We look at it at 30 days as far as how fast they progress and then every six months we review their performance and set goals for them. As long as they make the goals and they're at work like they should be then they will get their raises every six months until they top out. We're still in the process of determining where that top out is. We also want to try and give the employee a bonus two times a year for the person who is working on the floor. We want to be able to give them a bonus at Christmas and when they take their vacation," added West.

"One of the best benefits we're going to try to do as a company is we're only going to shut down during the Christmas holidays. We will probably shut down for three or four days during the Christmas season to let the whole company off. As far as the summer vacation, what we're going to do for the employees is let them plan a time when it is convenient for them and their spouse or family. They'll be able to plan their vacation when they need it or when it will be best for them. We're going to work with them on that. After they are here for one year, they will have one week of paid vacation. Probably after three years, they'll get two weeks. We're still trying to determine where that three week vacation mark will be. We haven't decided on that," said West.

Currently , the company works one shift but it may have to alter that as the business continues to grow. "When we go up there (new location) our main goal is to have one shift but there will be times when we will be running either a split shift or two shifts and we may even work toward having a full second shift at some point," said Vanatta.

"Our normal work schedule week is Monday-Thursday. We work 10 hour days. That's our 40 hours. If we have overtime to do, we have Friday left for that. At this point we've had to work about every Friday," added West.

Both West and Vanatta said they want their company to be family friendly and supportive of the community. "We try to create a family atmosphere. In the morning, we have meetings for those who want to participate. We actually have a prayer meeting. We pray for any family needs they have. We want to be a Christian based company and put God first in everything we do. We truly want to be a community based company. We want to support the community. We want to give back to this town and the people," West concluded.

Corps offers guided tours of Center Hill Dam Power Plant

June 4, 2015
Corps offers guided tours of Center Hill Dam Power Plant

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is offering the public free guided tours this summer of the Center Hill Dam Power Plant. Approximately one and a half hours in length, the tours are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, July 18 and Aug. 29.

Tour size is limited and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. All guests including minors are required to submit a request form at least five business days prior to the tour and receive confirmation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District. Registered tour participants will be required to check in at the lock located at 270 Lancaster Road in Lancaster, Tenn. and receive a brief introduction prior to visiting the powerhouse.

Center Hill Lake Resource Manager Kevin Salvilla said that the Corps provides the public an opportunity to see how hydropower provides the region with “green” energy and to learn more about the benefits that the lake provides such as flood risk reduction, recreation and water supply.

“We have two tours scheduled for this summer so we encourage people to sign up and come see Center Hill Dam and the powerhouse,” Salvilla said.

Center Hill Dam on the Caney Fork River is one of the multipurpose projects that make up the Corps of Engineers’ system for development of the water resources of the Cumberland River Basin. The dam and Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the River and Harbor Act of 1946. The project was completed for flood control in 1948. Three power generating units provide a total hydroelectric capability of 135,000 kilowatts.

To request a tour registration form and to learn more about the tours’ rules and details, please call the Center Hill Lake Resource Manager’s Office at (931) 858-3125, or visit the Center Hill Lake website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/Lakes/CenterHillLake/OpenHouseTo.... Registration forms can be filled out in-person at the Center Hill Lake Resource Manager’s Office at 158 Resource Lane near the dam in Lancaster, Tenn.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also visit Center Hill Lake’s Facebook

Candlelight Vigil Ceremony for Colten May Set for Saturday

June 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Colten Alexander May

A memorial service for 23 month old Colten Alexander May featuring a candlelight vigil and balloon release is set for Saturday, June 6 at 6:00 p.m. at Evins Park across from the Post Office downtown Smithville.

The program is being held in remembrance of the child who died last month and to promote child abuse awareness. Jennifer Wilkerson, Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center will be the guest speaker. Chris Moore of the Smithville Church of God will serve as moderator. LIVE music will also be part of the program.

Dana Poss, organizer of the event, urges everyone to attend to show support for this effort. More white tapered candles are needed. If you would like to make a donation of candles call Dana at 615-597-4745 extension 4 at city hall. Attendees are also asked to wear blue shirts in recognition of child abuse awareness

2016 To Be Active Election Year

June 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
2016 To Be Active Election Year

After a busy election year in 2014, DeKalb County voters get a break this year except in Alexandria where town leaders will be chosen in September. But the campaign season will gear up again in 2016 with a Presidential election along with several local races.

In DeKalb County, the Assessor of Property Office and all seven constable positions will be up for election. The incumbents are Assessor Scott Cantrell and Constables Chad Curtis in the first district, Chris Tramel in the second district, Travis Bryant in the third district, Paul Cantrell in the fourth district, Mark Milam in the fifth district, Carl Lee Webb in the sixth district, and Johnny King in the seventh district.

Party nominees and any Independents for the offices of Assessor of Property and Constable will be on the August 2016 General Election Ballot along with school board candidates in the fifth and sixth district as well as in the fourth district (to fill the remaining two years of an unexpired term). All terms are for four years. Those school board seats are currently held by W.J. (Dub) Evins, III in the fifth district, Doug Stephens in the sixth district, and Kate Miller in the fourth district (appointed to fill two years of her husband Billy Miller's unexpired term).

The Smithville, Liberty, and Dowelltown Municipal elections will also be held in August 2016. Again, all terms are for four years.

In Smithville, voters will elect three aldermen. The incumbents up for re-election are Shawn Jacobs, Josh Miller, and Danny Washer.

A mayor and two aldermen will be elected in Dowelltown. The positions are currently held by Mayor Gerald Bailiff and Aldermen Joe Bogle and Kevin Kent.

Liberty voters will choose four aldermen. Three of them to serve four years and the fourth to fill the remaining one year of an unexpired term. The three positions up for election to new four year terms are now held by Jason Ray, Paul Neal, and Todd Dodd. The person elected to the fourth seat will serve the last year of an unexpired term. J.D. Bratten currently holds that position.

In this year's Alexandria election, three aldermen are to be elected, each to serve a four year term. Meanwhile, a mayor and two other aldermen are to be elected to fill vacancies or the remaining two years of unexpired terms. The sitting members are Mayor Tony Tarpley and Aldermen Pat Jackson, David Cripps, John Suggs, and Bennett Armstrong. All are serving as appointees except for Jackson, who was elected in 2013 and still has two years remaining in his term.

Free Fishing Day Set for Saturday

June 3, 2015
Free Fishing Day Set for Saturday

Tennessee’s annual Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 6 when anyone may fish free without a license in the state’s public waters.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the free day in hopes of increasing interest in fishing. The day allows anyone the opportunity to try this great outdoor sport, especially children. In addition, children ages 15 and younger may fish without a license beginning on Free Fishing Day through the following Friday (June 12).

Meanwhile, the annual Pea Ridge Kids Fishing Rodeo will be held at the big pond in the Pea Ridge Wildlife Management Area on Saturday, June 6 from 7:00 a.m. until noon. Kids through age fifteen may participate. Lunch, soft drinks, and prizes will be available for the kids.

The day and week are annual events in Tennessee and are great opportunities to introduce children to the enjoyment and excitement of a day on the water catching fish. The TWRA is among several organizations planning special fishing events, primarily for youngsters. The TWRA annually stocks several thousand pounds of fish for various events.

Free Fishing Day and Week apply to Tennessee’s public waters, TWRA owned and operated lakes, and state park facilities. Some privately owned pay lakes continue to charge during this special day and week. Anglers may consult with lake operators if there are any questions about a particular facility

No Property Tax or Water Rate Increases Anticipated in Smithville

June 3, 2015
Dwayne Page
Seated: Mayor Jimmy Poss and Alderman Gayla Hendrix; Standing: Danny Washer, Jason Murphy, Josh Miller, and Shawn Jacobs
Hunter Hendrixson

Although the Mayor and Aldermen have not yet held their first budget discussions for the 2015-16 fiscal year, the City Administrator and Smithville's financial consultant have been at work.

"We're not looking at any property tax increase this year and no water rate increase for city residents," said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson during Monday night's regular monthly meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

"Janice Plemmons-Jackson (City Financial Consultant) and I have been working on the budget. We're about 85% complete with it as far as the day to day operations and line items. The only thing left is any type of pay wage increase and any capital outlay projects for this coming budget year," Hendrixson told the mayor and aldermen.

"I think we can have you a rough draft (proposed budget) by the end of the week. That way you will have time to look over it. I am still waiting on a couple of departmental heads to get me their wish list. I'll send that to you with the costs and what they are looking for. I can send it electronically. If you want to set up a budget workshop or we could open up the meeting and have a workshop/ meeting where you can vote on the budget if you choose to that same night," Hendrixson continued.

While the state wants the city to have a new budget approved by July 1, Hendrixson said a continuing resolution could be adopted until final passage if the aldermen don't meet the deadline. "The state requires you to pass a budget by July 1 of each year. If you don't you're required to pass a continuing budget resolution. We've had to do that once before. I think it was in 2010. It's not the end of the world or anything but we prefer to have one passed by July 1 if at all possible," said Hendrixson.

The mayor and aldermen Monday night set a budget workshop/special meeting for Tuesday, June 16 at 4:00 p.m. at city hall. "Once you pass it on first reading you can always tweak it. You can't pass it no less than seven days from the first reading. You would be looking at no less than June 23 before we could have another meeting. We'll see what the departmental heads request. We'll meet on June 16 and go from there," Hendrixson concluded.

Cookeville Boat Dock Asks Judge to Reconsider Tax Ruling

June 2, 2015
Cookeville Boat Dock Asks Judge to Reconsider Tax Ruling

Cookeville Boat Dock is asking a judge to reconsider a recent ruling that it must pay over $200,000 in DeKalb County property taxes, interest and penalties.

The boat dock has refused to pay the taxes since 1998 and Judge Amy Hollers ruled in April that the dock’s challenge to the tax was invalid.

The boat dock’s attorney now argues 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 the motion for “additional consideration of issues,” attorney Jon Jones points to a Tennessee law that states, “All taxes assessed against real property and personal property in this state shall be barred, discharged and uncollectible after the lapse of 10 years from April 1 of the year following the year in which such taxes become delinquent, whether suit be brought within that time or not to collect the taxes…”

As for the interest issue, the defendants argue “prejudgment interest may be awarded by courts or juries in accordance with the principles of equity at any rate not in excess of a maximum effective rate of 10 percent per annum.”

The motion states that the county “has not provided a breakdown regarding its proposed computation of prejudgment interest. However, defendant (boat dock) expects the county will claim prejudgment interest at a rate of 18 percent per annum. This exceeds the maximum rate of prejudgment interest this court is allowed to award.”

The defendant goes on to suggest the interest rate “should correspond with the interest rate DeKalb County has paid during the relevant time.” Showing documentation the county borrowed money or issued bonds in recent years at rates varying from one to 5.5 percent, the defendant claims “these rates should provide the upper limit on an award of prejudgment interest that the court may make in this case.”

In relation to the “Supremacy Clause,” the defendant asks the court “to reconsider its opinion in this regard.”

Initially the defendant had claimed a section of 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.

Judge Hollers ruled last month the Supremacy Claus “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 defendant now claims “the court ‘short circuited’ the issue of whether” the state law “is reconcilable with the Supremacy Clause.”


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