Local News Articles

Authorities Respond to Another Bomb Threat

May 4, 2015
Dwayne Page
Captain Steven Leffew

Local authorities responded to another bomb threat over the weekend.

The latest incident was at Federal Mogul.

In a prepared statement, Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew reported that "On Sunday, May 3 at approximately 3:17 a.m. the Smithville Police and Fire Departments were dispatched to Federal Mogul in reference to a possible threat of an explosive device. The factory was immediately evacuated. The Lebanon Emergency Response Unit was contacted. A sweep of the factory and grounds was conducted and no threat was found. Lt. Matt Holmes was able to quickly develop two suspects. The Smithville police department is working in combined efforts with the District Attorney’s office as this case remains under investigation and charges are pending at this time. I would like to extend my appreciation to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Deputies Jimmy Martin and Shane Hickman, members of the Smithville Fire Department and DeKalb EMS for their assistance. SPD officers on the scene were Capt. Leffew, Lt. Matt Holmes, Sgt. Travis Bryant and Officer Joey Myers."

Bomb threats were recently reported at Omega Apparel and DCHS. Nothing suspicious was found at either location.

In related news, Captain Leffew said the Smithville Police Department has been approved for specialized training for responding to explosive device calls. "As these types of calls continue to increase, I have been in contact with Homeland Security for assistance and coordinated training. The training is hosted by Homeland Security and FEMA. The training is free and includes all travel arrangements, lodging and meals at absolutely no cost to the City of Smithville. The Smithville Police Department is coordinating this training with the Algood Police Department and we will be attending this training together. On behalf of the Smithville Police Department, I would like to thank Mayor Jimmy Poss and Police Commissioner Jason Murphy for their support on this valuable specialized training," said Captain Leffew.

City Schedules Due Process Hearing for Randy Caplinger on Friday, May 8

May 2, 2015
Dwayne Page
Randy Caplinger

Randy Caplinger may learn if he is to get his job back as Smithville Police Chief next week.

A due process hearing has been scheduled before the Board of Aldermen on Friday, May 8 at 10:00 a.m. at city hall. WJLE plans LIVE coverage. At the end of the hearing, the aldermen are expected to take a vote on whether to sustain or overturn the mayor's termination of Caplinger

Mayor Jimmy Poss fired Caplinger on March 19 citing eight reasons for the termination.

In a letter to Caplinger, Mayor Poss wrote that "Your actions and performance has had a negative impact on the Smithville Police Department since I was first elected Mayor in 2012 and can no longer be tolerated. I have lost confidence in your ability to lead the Smithville Police Department in a positive direction. As a result, your employment as Smithville Police Chief is being terminated immediately".

Caplinger's attorney Sarah Cripps answered the Mayor's letter with one of her own requesting a hearing. "Chief Caplinger categorically denies all allegations contained in your March 19 correspondence and respectfully requests that he be afforded a full and fair due process hearing before the three-person board or commission and, in the event of an adverse ruling against him, before a plenary session of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen."

Cripps contends that Chief Caplinger is not an "at will" employee as city officials claim; that he can only be terminated for "just cause"; and that he shall only be removed by the mayor with the approval of at least two thirds (not less than four members) majority vote of the council present and voting upon the removal according to the Smithville City Charter.

The mayor placed Chief Caplinger on suspension without pay pending termination on Friday, March 13 and his decision to terminate Caplinger was expected after Cripps announced during a special meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen that the chief would not resign or accept a severance package.

Reasons for the termination cited by the mayor include the following:

*Lack of leadership and loss of morale by your officers
The Mayor claims a majority of the police officers have expressed disappointment in the direction of the department.

*Inability to work with other law enforcement agencies
Poss said other law enforcement agencies have complained about Caplinger’s inability to work effectively with them whether it be on investigations or on on-going cases.

*Violation of Smithville Personnel Policies Section X (A) (1), which deals primarily with verbal harassment. Reportedly, Caplinger is accused of verbally intimidating his officers.

*Violation of Smithville Personnel Policies Section IX (I) (Misuse of City Property)

It is alleged Caplinger used City Hall to teach gun permit classes without paying the required rental deposit for the facility.
*Violation of Smithville Personnel Policies Section IV (M) (Outside Employment)

The mayor claims Caplinger continues to be on the payroll of a private company (Smithport Cabinetry) and has an office at that company, a violation of city policy unless approved
*Excessive Absenteeism

The mayor alleges there were twenty seven “unaccounted for work days” during the first 10 months of 2014 and data from the E-911 office showed there were “62 work days without going ‘out of service and 10 days without going ‘in service. Also, a two month video audit of city hall from January and February 2015 showed that Mr. Caplinger was at city hall less than 20 hours a week on average.

*Misuse of the Confidential Drug Fund Debit Card

Poss also alleges Caplinger used a Drug Fund debit card to make personal purchases on two occasions but goes on to say both times the city was reimbursed and the chief claimed use of the card was “by mistake.”

*Non-Use of the two U.S. Military Surplus issued Humvees

The mayor says in his letter to Caplinger that “Since my term in office I have repeatedly asked you to put these two vehicles in service and to this date nothing has come of my requests.”

"I have been approached by a majority of your police officers since I was first elected about the lack of leadership in their department and I feel that your extreme absenteeism and lack of effort to better your department has resulted in low morale under your leadership. Your officers have expressed to me numerous times that they feel the department would be better under new leadership," wrote Mayor Poss in his letter to Caplinger.

The mayor goes on to say in his letter that, "As a result of these above mentioned issues and many more not listed here I have lost confidence in your ability to lead the Smithville Police Department in a positive direction. As a result, your employment as Smithville Police Chief is being terminated immediately".

"Pursuant to the Smithville Personnel Policy Section IX (K) you have the right to a termination hearing if you feel you have been terminated illegally or unethically by submitting in writing a request for a hearing to the Mayor within seven business days of this notice. I, Mayor Poss, will have five business days to decide if your request should go before the full Board of Aldermen at the next Mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting for a hearing unless a special called meeting is scheduled," Mayor Poss' letter concluded.

In her response to the Mayor, Cripps pointed out that Chief Caplinger has never been reprimanded or disciplined for any reason during his employment with the city. "Chief Caplinger's counsel have conducted an exhaustive review of his personnel file tendered to us by City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson on the afternoon of Monday, March 23. Significantly, the personnel file of Chief Caplinger is replete with certificates of commendation issued to him during his thirty year tenure with the State of Tennessee as a law enforcement officer with the Tennessee Department of Revenue and subsequently with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. It is noteworthy that a thorough and exhaustive review of Chief Caplinger's personnel file reveals that from May 3, 2010 until Chief Caplinger's summary suspension without pay on March 13, 2015, he has never been the subject of any disciplinary action instituted by the City of Smithville and has never been issued any written reprimands by any officials with the City of Smithville."

Marina Tax Exemption Legislation Could be Costly for DeKalb County

May 1, 2015
Dwayne Page
Tim Stribling
Hilton Conger

DeKalb County could stand to lose thousands of tax dollars each year if legislation is approved by the Tennessee General Assembly next year calling for a tax exemption for marina owners operating on federal property.

The legislation as introduced this year, exempts from property taxes, any property owned by the federal government and leased to marina owners or operators who lease the federally owned property and make in lieu of tax payments on such property. The bill, sponsored in the Tennessee House of Representatives (HB 1038) by Republican Cameron Sexton of Crossville and in the State Senate (SB 0938) by Republican Bo Watson of Hixson stalled in committee this year.

"I would urge you to contact your representatives and Charles Curtiss , Executive Director of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association, to put some pressure on these guys (state lawmakers)," said county attorney Hilton Conger during Monday night's county commission meeting. This could be huge if we lose this (tax) money from here on out," he said.

"I've talked to Senator Mae Beavers and State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody several times about it and they're the ones who told me it got put off until 2016. We need to stay on top of it," said County Mayor Tim Stribling.

Under the legislation, "If any federally owned property is leased to any taxpayer that owns or operates a marina, yacht club, dock, or similar property located on the federally owned property, and the taxpayer has entered into a payment in lieu of tax agreement with the United States or an agency of the United States, then the federally owned property, the taxpayer’s marina or similar property, and any leasehold interest in these properties, shall be exempt from taxation".

“Payment in lieu of tax agreement” means an agreement requiring that the taxing authorities receive payments or other charges directly from a lessee of the property or from any other sources on account of the property".

"The exemption shall be provided in the same manner as exemptions from taxation for property owned by this state or political subdivisions and leased by private lessees making in lieu of tax payments".

This proposed legislation arises as the county tries to collect back taxes from the owners of Cookeville Boat Dock who have refused to pay their ad valorem (property) taxes since 1998. Their total tax bill now exceeds $200,000 including interest and penalties.

As WJLE first reported last month, Circuit Court Judge Amy V. Hollers recently found the boat dock’s claims that such a tax was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and was discriminatory under Tennessee’s Constitution are not valid. In her ruling, Judge Hollars wrote “neither the Supremacy Clause nor any principle of state law prevents DeKalb County from assessing Cookeville Boat Dock for its ownership interest in the boat dock facilities. The court must reject Cookeville Boat Dock’s constitutional challenge to the assessment of ad valorem taxes on its property.”

The boat dock had argued such a tax could be characterized as “double taxation” since it pays fees to the United States Army Corps of Engineers which are used, in part, to pay DeKalb County a sum in lieu of taxes. The owners of the dock further argued a section of Tennessee’s Constitution “violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution of the United States by discriminating against a lessee of the United States in favor of lessees of the State of Tennessee.

The judge said the boat dock’s attempt to “raise a ‘double taxation’ argument fails because the amount received by DeKalb County from the lease payments to the federal government is not a tax by the county.”

She went on to rule that “it is well-established that 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.’”

In conclusion, Judge Hollars ordered that the boat dock “pay the unpaid ad valorem taxes assessed for all years in question, together with all applicable penalties and interest.”

The owners of Cookeville Boat Dock could still appeal the judge's ruling. "I checked with the (county) tax attorney Friday and he said he had talked with the boat dock's attorney and they haven't made up their mind whether they are going to appeal it. Their appeal time hasn't run yet," said County Attorney Conger.

Chamber Presents Milestone Award and Welcomes New Business

April 30, 2015
Chamber Presents Milestone Award
Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce Has Ribbon Cutting

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce presented a Chamber Milestone Award to DeKalb County Ace Hardware, 702 South Congress Boulevard, Smithville celebrating 30 years of business in this community.

Meanwhile, the Chamber had a Ribbon Cutting for new member Tidy Pets Groomers, 624 East Broad St., Smithville. Tidy Pet offers professional dog grooming and in-home boarding. For more information, call Jean Hall at 1-615-210-6658.

(TOP PHOTO: Pictured l-r: (see attached pic)

Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Chamber President Jeff Crips, Dewain Hendrixson
- owner, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Chamber Board Member Kathy Hendrixson, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Pictured l-r: (see attachment)
Barbara Hale, Gina Wheeler, Abbie Wheeler, Inga Johnson, Sierra Johnson - Groomer, Jean Hall - Tidy Pets Groomers Owner, County Mayor Tim Stribling, Chamber Board Member Kathy Hendrixson, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Chamber President Jeff Crips, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams

Caney Fork Electric Issues Scam Alert

April 30, 2015
Caney Fork Electric Issues Scam Alert

Caney Fork Electric Cooperative has been made aware of a scam In the CFEC service areas. A member was called and informed “their electric bill is due to be cut off for non-payment and to avoid any interruptions the member can make a payment over the phone using a credit/debit card or could give checking account information for an automatic withdrawal.”

Caney Fork Electric DOES NOT ask for this type of information over the phone. The fake caller even gave a phone number that went to an answering service saying they were Caney Fork. Please forward to as many friends and family members, so they will know not to give out any information to someone claiming to be from CFEC asking for a payment over the phone using a credit, debt card or wanting checking account information. CFEC will ask that you come to the office to make payment or to use our website payment. Please call 808-505-3030 if you want to call about the status of your bill if you receive a call.

Commission Seeks Change in State Coon Dog Training Law for DeKalb County

April 30, 2015
Dwayne Page
Elmer Ellis, Jr. (Older Photo)
Hilton Conger (Older Photo)

A local raccoon hunter is seeking a change in state law that currently prohibits him from training coon dogs on certain land in DeKalb County except for 30 days prior to the raccoon hunting season.

The hunter, Jimmy Williams has discussed his concerns with at least one member of the county commission, Elmer Ellis, Jr. who raised the issue during Monday night's county commission meeting.

The restrictions apply to a small portion of the county identified under Tennessee Code Annotated where coon dog training is not allowed year round.

The law (Tennessee Code 70-4-122) states that it is unlawful for any person or firm to train coon dogs by chasing raccoons in that part of DeKalb County lying south and west of state highway No. 96 and U.S. Highway No. 70, except during the thirty (30) days immediately preceding the opening of the season under general laws of the state for hunting raccoons.

According to TWRA officials, this part of DeKalb County was added to the law approximately forty years ago after a property owner complained that hunting dogs were harming his livestock. County officials apparently petitioned state lawmakers to take action at the request of the property owner, who has since reportedly passed away.

In order to exclude DeKalb County from the law, the county commission will most likely have to adopt a resolution asking the Tennessee General Assembly to intervene. But the legislature has adjourned until next January.

During Monday night's meeting, Ellis made a motion for the county commission to get the measure rescinded. "There is a strip of land between DeKalb County and Cannon County on Highway 96 that was by a proclamation back some years ago that is still in effect where these coon hunters train their dogs. During hunting season it wasn't illegal to be on that land. But when it's not hunting season it's illegal to be on it. The dog recognizes no boundaries. Jimmy Williams has brought this to my attention two or three times and he talked to (former TWRA officer) Ben Franklin and Franklin told him that it was still in effect but they haven't enforced it because the man who had it done has apparently died. I would like to make a motion that we rescind that proclamation because it was done by the county court and will have to be undone by the county court," said Ellis.

County Attorney Hilton Conger said he had checked but was unable to locate such a proclamation or private act addressing this issue. The action taken by the commission Monday night was to ask the legislature to rescind any private act that might exist prohibiting the training of coon dogs in DeKalb County.

Since Monday night's meeting, county officials have learned that the regulation pertaining to DeKalb County was not enacted by a private act but included in a provision of Tennessee Code Annotated (state law) and that it would have to be changed by an act of the Tennessee General Assembly.

The law states as follows:

Tennessee Code 70-4-122. Coon dog training

(a) (1) It is unlawful for any person or firm to train coon dogs by chasing coons in West Tennessee and the following counties: Carter, Claiborne, Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, and that part of DeKalb County lying south and west of state highway No. 96 and U.S. Highway No. 70, except during the thirty (30) days immediately preceding the opening of the season under general laws of the state for hunting coons; provided, that none of the provisions of this subsection (a) shall apply to Shelby County or the counties of McNairy, Fayette, Hardeman, Decatur, Dyer, Carroll, Henry, Weakley and Chester.

(2) As used in this subsection (a), “West Tennessee” includes that portion of the state lying west of the Tennessee River where it enters the state from the states of Alabama and Mississippi and emerges into the state of Kentucky, but “West Tennessee” does not include Benton County, Gibson County, Madison County, Henderson County or Hardin County. The provisions of this subsection (a) also apply to the following counties located in other parts of the state: Carter, Claiborne, Greene, Johnson, Morgan, Sullivan, Unicoi, and that part of DeKalb County lying south and west of state highway No. 96 and U.S. Highway No. 70.

"It (law) specifically lists DeKalb County along with a number of other counties where they (state) has regulated this," said TWRA Officer Tony Cross in an interview with WJLE.

"If I have been told right, it was passed years ago because a certain farmer was having trouble with dogs getting into his goats. I don't know if that's a fact," he said.

During Monday night's commission meeting, County Attorney Conger said that it was his understanding that TWRA officers had indicated that this law pertaining to DeKalb County was not being enforced. "I have talked to Tony Cross and to some of the game and fish officers now and they say they don't enforce it. But I think Mr. Williams is afraid that at some point in time somebody might come along and enforce it," said Conger.

Officer Cross told WJLE that any notion the TWRA is not enforcing a law is not correct. "I have either been misunderstood or misquoted as saying we don't enforce it. Let me clarify that. We have not had any specific type of issue but we can't say that we don't enforce it. It is a law and if it comes down to it we would have to enforce it," he said.

New Sligo Bridge Ahead of Schedule

April 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
New Sligo Bridge Ahead of Schedule
Excavation on the Smithville side of Sligo bridge along side  Highway 70

Almost two years after construction began, the new Sligo bridge project is progressing at a good pace. In fact, it is ahead of schedule, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

"The project is currently ahead of schedule, so the completion date of June 30, 2016 is definitely very attainable. Work is going well on the project, and they should be doing some bridge deck pours in the near future," said Jennifer A. Flynn, TDOT Region 2 Community Relations Officer.

The contractor is Massman Construction Company, Incorporated of Kansas City, Missouri. Work began on May 23, 2013. The cost to build the new bridge is $39.2 million

TDOT To Open Bids in December for Highway 56 Project

April 29, 2015
Dwayne Page
TDOT to open bids in December on Highway 56 improvement in stretch of road where a fatal crash occurred just last week near Magness Road in DeKalb County

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is scheduled to open bids in December on a project to reconstruct State Route 56 from south of the Warren County line to Magness Road in DeKalb County.

A TDOT official told WJLE Monday that funding for the construction, $6.8 million, is included in the state's 2015-16 budget under the general Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) category of the 2015-17 three year work program. However, the new stretch of highway to be built will look different from TDOT's original, more costly plan.

According to TDOT officials, the rate of severe crashes on this portion of Highway 56 is (0.250) double the state average (0.128) for rural two lane routes but that the decision to scale back the project was out of financial necessity. Just last week, one person was killed and two others injured in a three vehicle crash on the same stretch of highway where TDOT plans to make the improvements.

Instead of building a four lane divided and five lane road, TDOT now proposes to build a new two lane road (typical section) with twelve foot lanes and ten foot paved shoulders and passing lanes along the 3.25 mile existing alignment. The plans also include adding extra safety features on the new road, such as guardrails, better road signage, pavement markings, and center line rumble stripes. The total projected cost is approximately $6.8 million. That would be a savings to the state from TDOT's original plans for this portion of Highway 56, which would have cost $20.4 million.

Original Project

•The original project was for a 3.25 mile rural 4-lane divided roadway.

•Right-of-way was purchased for this design.

•The estimated cost of the construction for this design was approximately $20.4 million

•The original design was not funded for construction

EPD Project (The stretch of highway to be constructed)

•The new Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) project is for a two-lane roadway to be constructed within the ROW purchased for the initial 4-lane design. The design also includes passing lanes in some areas.

•Basically, this new road matches the elevation and vertical profile of one-side of the initial 4-lane design. TDOT went with this design in case the state ever wanted to add the other half in the future to make this a 4-lane divided section. Future expansion would require little if any changes to the EPD design.

•The estimates for the EPD project total approximately $6.8 million.

•TDOT is currently on schedule and working on construction plans.

•The construction funding is in the budget year 2015/2016 under the general the EPD category of the 2015-2017 3-year work program.

•Bids are slated to be opened in December 2015.

Omega Apparel: Growing and Diversifying

April 28, 2015
Dwayne Page
Omega Employee stands next to new screen printer which can print 1,000 items per hour
Omega Employee operates new machine which can fasten an entire row of buttons at a time
New machine can fasten an entire row of buttons at a time
 Omega Employee operates precise laser cutter
Omega Employee operates machine making precision cuts for shirt pockets
Omega Employee working in sewing department working on military pants
Omega Employee pressing military pants
Omega Employee pressing bridal gown
Among New Apparel being Produced at Omega

Omega Apparel is on the move again.

For twenty years the Smithville based manufacturing company had just one customer, the U.S. Military. Today, in addition to supplying dress trousers, slacks, and skirts for the nation's men and women in uniform , Omega is doing business with thirty six other clients producing almost everything from oxford shirts and satin robes, to bullet proof vests. Recent clients include Nashville bridal designer Olia Zavozina and actress Reese Witherspoon, who will launch a clothing line, Draper James, later this spring.

With the military downsizing in recent years, Dean Wegner, Omega President and CEO, told WJLE Tuesday he knew it was only a matter of time before it affected his operation. " What has been painful over the last eighteen months is the contraction in our business. When I bought Omega three years ago we had one customer. It was a great customer. The military. The Department of Defense. I'm sure you've read about a shrinking military and shrinking contracts. We have not been immune to that. Our military business has been off by fifty percent. And for somebody that loves job creation and is passionate about creating jobs, it has been painful because we've gone from 220 jobs at a peak, down to 128. We saw that coming. We didn't sit idly by and wait for it to happen. We put a strategy in place to expand and diversify beyond just the military. Beyond just dress pants and skirts. That strategy is now starting to come to fruition which is why we're now looking to add more jobs. We are now currently up to 165 jobs. Over the last few months we've added another 30-40 jobs and I believe over the next three to six months we'll add another 50-100 jobs. What is really fueling that growth is the diversification from one to 37 customers," said Wegner.

To meet the demand, Wegner said Omega has added new equipment, much of which has been purchased within the last few months. One machine can fasten an entire row of buttons at a time. Another, a screen printer, can print 1,000 items per hour. There's a massive embroidery machine as well as a precise laser cutter. Another device can digitize any pattern or object and create a pattern. Each machine bears a sticker reading, "Sew it and own it." It's a testament to the pride Wegner wants each employee to take in his or her work.

In addition to expanding his production capabilities, Wegner has incorporated cutting-edge technology and a pod concept that will allow for smaller batches. "We've now added a capability to design and develop prototypes and samples for new customers who are in the middle of that process which usually takes them three to four months to go through that process," said Wegner.

While his previous output averaged 5,000 to 7,000 items of clothing per week for one customer, he now has a couple dozen clients, with runs starting as low as 50 items per week.

Last week, the DeKalb County Industrial Development Board approved new loans through UCDD for Omega totaling $550,000 to purchase more new equipment for the Smithville operation. "They are purchasing $500,000 in new equipment to upgrade and this will allow them to be more productive and profitable. They have two loans with us now, EDA and USDA. Our new loans will be for $250,000 USDA and $300,000 EDA. This is new funds plus their payoffs on their current loans. Our Loans are to the DeKalb Industrial Development Board with guarantees from Omega and Dean Wegner. Our Collateral will be the same as the first loans, first on two buildings owned by the IDB, first on all the equipment with the exception of an automated cutting machine that is leased through US Bank," said Wallace G. Austin, Program Director for the Cumberland Area Investment Corporation.

County Mayor Tim Stribling told the Industrial Board that the UCDD loan committee and CAIC board of directors have also approved the loans.

Wegner said as the Smithville facility continues to grow, he is looking to expand by opening another location in Nashville. "We are looking to max out our facility in Smithville and that will probably be about 200-250 teammates at Omega but we are also looking to open up a second facility in Nashville," he said

Company Overview: Omega Apparel Incorporated is military veteran owned and the #1 supplier of dress trousers, slacks, and skirts for the US Military. Over a 20-year partnership with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Omega Apparel earned a reputation as one of the most consistent, dependable, and high quality producing manufacturers for the US Military. Omega has a long history of always delivering on time and with the highest level of quality. Omega’s production facility is located in Smithville, TN, and includes a highly trained workforce of skilled operators and supporting staff. Omega is a principles and values based organization centered on 5 Foundations of Ownership, Customer, Quality, Efficiency, and Teamwork. In 2013, Omega leveraged their depth of knowledge and expertise in the military apparel industry to enter the commercial market and provide a full range of cut and sew manufacturing capabilities to service multiple industries. In 2014, Omega established a Dress Shirt Production Line and an Assembly Division. Omega will continue to be 100% Made in the USA.

Wegner, a resident of Brentwood, TN is a 1993 graduate of West Point and a 7-year Army helicopter pilot and Army Ranger veteran.

County Commission Asks State to Fund Highway 70 Project

April 28, 2015
Dwayne Page
Highway 70 where the 4 lane ends past Highway 96 at Liberty

It's been several years now since the Tennessee Department of Transportation completed the widening and improvement of Highway 70 from Smithville to Highway 96 at Liberty. But TDOT's plans for extension of the project from Highway 96 to just west of the Wilson County line has apparently been put on hold due to funding.

Although TDOT completed right-of-way (property) acquisition in November 2009, the project is not in the previous or current 3 year work program for construction funding, according to a TDOT spokesman.

In an effort to try and jump start the project, the county commission Monday night adopted a resolution asking members of the Tennessee Congressional delegation and Tennessee State Legislature to appropriate funds for the highway and for TDOT to let bids in its next round of contracts.

According to TDOT, the proposed project entailed reconstruction of State Route 26 (U.S. 70) from west of the Wilson County line to near State Route 96 in DeKalb County

TDOT's description of the project is as follows:
•The project is 6.2 miles in length.

•Right-of-way (property) acquisition was completed in November 2009.

•The project is not in the previous or current 3 year work program for construction funding.

•The design of the project calls for two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, and 12-foot shoulders.

•Within the city limits of Alexandria, the design calls for two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, a 12-foot continuous center turn lane, 10-foot shoulders, curb and gutter, and 5-foot sidewalks on each side.

•The original preliminary construction estimate as of July 2014 is approximately $26.3 million.

The resolution, as adopted by the county commission Monday night, is as follows:

"Whereas, the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation has identified Highway 70 near State Route 96 to a point 2,967 feet west of the Wilson County line as being in need of widening, and

Whereas, the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation has designed plans and acquired the necessary right-of-way to make the improvements described in the aforementioned roadway project, and

Whereas, many land owners and businesses have been displaced and affected by the acquisition of right-of-way through the power of eminent domain, and

Whereas, the State of Tennessee Department of Transportation has yet to let the construction for the roadway project and has delayed the project for more than 10 years, and

Whereas, the improvements are sorely needed for the safety of the traveling public, and to promote economic development of the region, and

Whereas, funds for highway projects such as this are derived from both state and federal sources.

Now, therefore be it resolved that the Board of County Commissioners, in regular session assembled, hereby requests and implore the Tennessee Congressional Delegation and the Tennessee State Legislature to appropriate funds for the completion of the project and further requests and implore the State of Tennessee Department of Transportation to let the construction for the roadway project in its next round of bid letting," the resolution concluded.


Follow Us


News Feed

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree