Local News Articles

Landfill Not Full Yet

February 24, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
New Solid Waste Transfer Station
Solid Waste Transfer Station behind Tenneco Automotive
Solid Waste Transfer Station Still in Development

Although plans are underway to build a solid waste transfer station, there appears to be no rush to have it operational anytime soon now that the county's consulting engineer has determined that the existing Class I landfill still has a remaining life of more than two years.

In a report to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Solid Waste Management dated January 27, 2015, Ronnie Reece of Professional Engineering Services of Sparta wrote that the remaining life of the Class 1 Landfill for the DeKalb County Felts Cell "D"/Vickers Tract Phase 1 is two years and three months. The landfill is estimated to be filled to capacity during the month of March 2017.

County Mayor Tim Stribling made the county commissioners aware of the report during last Thursday night's All-Committees workshop and again during Monday night's regular monthly meeting. He also made available to the commissioners copies of Reece's report to TDEC.

"The landfill life calculations are based on projected amounts of waste received and an estimated compaction rate. If any of these projected quantities change during the continued operation of the Class 1 Landfill facility, so will the life of the landfill," according to Reece's report.

Last August, the county commission voted to enter into a five year contract with Smith County to dispose of DeKalb County's solid waste at the rate of $29.00 a ton after the transfer station becomes operational. During Monday night's meeting, County Mayor Stribling said the engineer is recommending that the county use more of the existing landfill site still available before paying another county to take its solid waste. "Our engineer suggested to use some of this landfill that we still have instead of paying to have it hauled and put in somebody else's landfill. It's not like that we've got to have a transfer station up and going in a month or two. We've got some time to gradually cross over," he said.

Meanwhile, work will continue toward completing the transfer station so that it will be ready when needed. " The transfer station work should be done probably the first of March. That's as far as the buildings are concerned. We've still got some utilities to be put in. The water and gas have to be installed. Probably sometime during the latter part of this year we'll try to get the transfer station up and going but we still have some equipment that will have to be bought. We've still got to have a loader and things like that for the transfer station. We've still got to have some utilities installed in order to get the buildings up and going," said County Mayor Stribling.

The commission last August awarded a bid to Elk Mountain Construction of Cookeville to build the transfer station, which is located in the Smithville Industrial Park on Highway 70 east behind Tenneco Automotive. Elk Mountain's base bid was $1,308,092 with a deductive alternate of $425,077 from the base bid for road work into the proposed facility.

After the transfer station is in operation the county will close its existing Class I landfill but develop a Class III/IV site on the same property for the disposal of construction material, household furniture, and other non-household garbage.

DeKalb Fire Department Seeks Purchase of Backup Generator

February 24, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
County Fire Chief Donny Green

The DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department wants to use excess funds from a FEMA grant to help fund the purchase of a stationary natural gas-powered backup generator at the Main Station on King Ridge Road.

During Monday night's county commission meeting, County Mayor Tim Stribling read from a letter by County Fire Chief Donny Green making the request. But since the county would have to come up with approximately $6,500 to help pay for it County Mayor Stribling suggested that the budget committee consider it first and make a recommendation to the full commission next month. Stribling's recommendation was approved on a voice vote by the commission. Second District Commissioner Joe Johnson voted against waiting fearing the county might risk losing the extra grant funds since the project has to be completed by July 16.

Chief Green made his initial request to the county commission last Thursday night during an All-Committees workshop. He said the left over FEMA grant money was from the purchase of equipment for the county fire department. "We had a 2013 FEMA grant that we bought equipment with. Through competitive bidding we had some money left over from the grant project. They're pretty strict about what you can do with it. In the project, we had bought some exhaust fans, hydrant gate valves, hose, etc. We bought pretty much what we needed to equip all our trucks the way they needed to be. When we got done, we had $12, 598 left. We have three options. We can increase the quantity of items purchased under the grant. We can send it (excess grant money) back to them (FEMA), or seek a grant amendment and do a critical infrastructure facility improvement which has to benefit multiple agencies," he said.

In his letter requesting an informal meeting with County Mayor Stribling and the County Commission's Emergency Services Committee, Chief Green wrote that the purpose was to discuss a plan to install a stationary natural gas-powered backup generator at the Main Station on King Ridge Road. "This generator is needed to allow essential equipment functionality when electrical power service is interrupted. This facility, if equipped with a backup power source, could easily be used as a public shelter, an alternate site for 911 Dispatch Center operations, and/or a location for EMS to operate from during electrical power interruptions".

"We have $12,598 in excess funds from an active FEMA grant that we have been authorized by FEMA to use to install this generator. Additionally, we have worked to secure some community grants to help us fund this project including a Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District "Project Hometown Help" Grant for $1,000 and a Walmart Community Grant for $350".

The project cost to purchase a 25kW 120/240 volt, natural gas fueled generator with automatic transfer switch and installation of the generator and all components to make it "turn-key" ready is estimated to be $20,438. That would leave a budgeting shortfall of $6,489 which would be needed to fund it.

According to Chief Green's letter, "if we do not take action to complete this project by July 16, 2015, we will lose the $12,598 in FEMA excess grant funds."

County Mayor Stribling said there is ample time for the budget committee to consider this and for the entire commission to possibly vote on it in March and then bid it in April.

No More "Snow Days" For DeKalb School System

February 24, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County School System has run out of "snow days".

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said as of Monday, February 23 no more "snow days" remain and starting today (Tuesday, February 24) and any further days missed will have to be made up either during or at the end of the school year. Students have missed a total of eleven days of school due to inclement weather counting today.

Ten days are built into the school calendar each year for "snow days" or inclement weather and three days are included for so called "stockpile" or "early release" days which are used as professional development. On the stock pile day, teachers have in-service but students do not attend. Students are sent home early on "early" release days. The school system has already used its stock pile day and all but one of its early release days for the school year.

If more days are missed between now and May 26th, the school board will have to decide how to make them up. State law requires students to be in school a certain number of days each year. Director Willoughby said he plans to ask the State Commissioner of Education to grant a waiver on at least three snow days while Tennessee has been under a state of emergency due to the winter weather.

The remainder of the school calendar for the year is as follows:

Schools will be closed for spring break March 30 through April 3

No school for students Memorial Day, Monday May 25.

The last early release day is Friday, March 6

Students will not attend on Friday, May 22. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. Friday, May 22 is also graduation day at DCHS. The last day of school will be Tuesday, May 26. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, March 10 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, March 12 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, March 9 and at all other schools on Tuesday, March 10.

2014 Property Taxes Due Saturday

February 23, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
 Trustee Sean  Driver

The Trustee's Office would like to remind you that Saturday, February 28 is the last day to pay the 2014 property taxes before penalties start accruing March 1.

Since the deadline falls on Saturday, Trustee Sean Driver said the Trustee's office will be open that day from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The Trustee's Office is also open regular hours from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday- Friday. "Remember, if the last day comes and you can't make it to the post office to postmark your payment, we do have a drop box on the outside wall of the county offices section of the county complex. If you choose to use the drop box that weekend (February 28) we will gather the mail on Monday, March 2 from the drop box and no penalties will be applied to your 2014 tax bill," said Driver.

Driver said you have four options for paying 2014 property taxes. "You can come by in person at the Trustee's Office or you may mail in your payment. We also offer online bill pay at www.tennesseetrustee.com. You go to that website and select DeKalb County and then follow the instructions. Business Information Systems has set this up for Trustees across the state and there is a fee to use your debit or credit card. If you do pay online the fee to use your debit or credit card is 2.75% of your total tax bill. Or you can use an e-check for $2.50 on any total. Online accepts Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. Business Information Systems collects the fees, not DeKalb County" said Driver.

"We are also accepting partial payments in any amount. Remember, whatever portion of taxes is unpaid for 2014 using the partial payment plan, only the portion left unpaid will accrue at 1.5% penalty and interest per month starting March 1. The office can still receive partial payments on 2013 delinquent taxes up until March 31" said Driver.

Any 2013 unpaid property taxes will be turned over to the Chancery Court on April 1 for collection. "We have mailed out a reminder for those taxes that are left unpaid for 2013. If those taxes for 2013 are not paid before April 1 we will be sending that file to the Chancery Court on April 1. We can still receive partial payments on 2013 taxes up to that date," said Driver.

The Trustee's Office also offers the State of Tennessee Tax Relief. "If you would like to check on a possible tax relief for 2014, come and see us at 732 South Congress Boulevard, Room 103 or call us at 597-5176," said Driver. " The last day to sign up for tax relief is April 6.

UCEMC Members Targeted by Utility Scam

February 23, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (UCEMC) cautions members to be on alert for a telephone scam that is plaguing UCEMC’s service areas.

Scam artists are calling a home or business posing as a co-op or utility employee and threatening to shut off service unless the consumer provides immediate payment using a credit card. The caller may also request that members call a 1-888 number to provide their credit card information.

“The calls sound official, and the caller ID may even display the utility name,” says Jimmy Gregory, General Manager of UCEMC. Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to indicate to the receiver of a call that the originator of the call is a station other than the true originating station. For example, a Caller ID display might display a phone number different from that of the telephone from which the call was placed. The term is commonly used to describe situations in which the motivation is considered malicious by the speaker or writer. “This scam is particularly harmful to consumers because there is no way to track or recover the money.”

Officials stress that UCEMC will:

•NEVER call members to request credit card, banking or other financial information over the telephone.
•NEVER call members threatening immediate disconnection unless a payment is made. Some co-ops do give members with a first time delinquent account a courtesy call prior to disconnection.
•NEVER ask to enter your home unless you initiate the request for co-op personnel to perform a specific service. Co-ops do this only by appointment and with a member’s prior knowledge.

“We are asking co-op members to be wary of any phone calls,” Gregory says. “If in doubt, hang up immediately, and contact your local UCEMC District Office at: Carthage 615-735-2940; Cookeville 931-528-5449; Gainesboro 931-268-2123; Livingston 931-823-1213 or 800-261-2940. Be certain you are dealing with an official representative of the cooperative.”

UCEMC is a cooperative owned by its members. It distributes electric power through more than 4,500 miles of lines to more than 47,000 meters located primarily in Jackson, Overton, Putnam, Smith Counties and northern DeKalb County, with additional members served in the fringe areas of Clay, Fentress, Macon, Pickett, White and Wilson. Visit www.ucemc.com to learn more.

Pirtle Charged with Filing False Police Report

February 23, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
James Hearl Pirtle
Clayton Allen Moore
Caleb Shain Parker

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has charged 80 year old James Hearl Pirtle of Whorton Springs Road, Smithville with filing a false police report. Pirtle's bond is $5,000 and he will be in court March 12.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Pirtle reported the theft of his 2000 model Jeep taken from his nursery in DeKalb County when he knew that the vehicle wasn't stolen. According to Sheriff Ray "On Wednesday, February 18 a sheriff's department detective was investigating a theft report made by Pirtle. He (Pirtle) reported that his 2000 model Jeep had been stolen from his nursery in DeKalb County. Through the detective's investigation, it was found that the Jeep was not stolen from DeKalb County. Pirtle came to the sheriff's office on February 18 to speak with the detective about the report he had made. The detective read Pirtle his Miranda warnings (rights). Pirtle admitted that the vehicle was not stolen from DeKalb County but that he had let someone borrow the Jeep and allowed them to take it to another county. During this interview, Pirtle answered several of the detective's questions with false statements. He was placed under arrest," said Sheriff Ray.

32 year old Clayton Allen Moore of Lakeview Circle Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court March 5.

Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, February 20 a deputy was dispatched to a vehicle accident on Cookeville Highway. There he found a black Dodge Ram 1500 that had been driven by Moore. The officer observed Moore walking down Highland Avenue. He had a strong odor of alcohol on his person, slurred speech, and he was unsteady on his feet. Moore performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He was arrested and taken to the emergency room of the hospital for a blood withdrawal and then to the sheriff's department for booking. Moore's first conviction for DUI was in Putnam County in 2008.

21 year old Caleb Shain Parker of Nashville Highway, Alexandria is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court March 5.

Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, February 22 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Nashville Highway, Alexandria for a possible domestic. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with a woman who said that she and Parker had been arguing and that he had kicked her in the thigh while she was in a bedroom sitting in a chair. Parker allegedly admitted to kicking the woman. He was placed under arrest.

Man Injured in Weather-Related Accident

February 22, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Man Injured in Weather-Related Accident (Bobby Johnson Photo)
County Firefighters Work to Get Joshua Dewitt Out of SUV (Donny Green Photo)

A 34 year old man was injured when his SUV slipped off an ice and snow covered road and over an embankment on Indian Creek Youth Camp Road Friday.

Joshua Dewitt was traveling north down the steep narrow road, which runs off Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road), when he met another vehicle coming up the hill. Dewitt's 2000 Chevy Tahoe slid off an embankment, coming to rest on its passenger side about twenty feet off the road.
Dewitt was trapped in the SUV.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Rescue team, who were alerted to perform extrication, had to access the scene by a utility terrain vehicle and four wheel drive pickup due to the slippery condition of the narrow road. After the SUV was stabilized, Dewitt was removed from the back hatch and placed in a stokes basket. Members of the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad then transported Dewitt on a gator from the scene to the top of the hill at Highway 96 to meet an awaiting ambulance. Dewitt was taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital with a possible back injury.

According to Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Dewitt was enroute to make a delivery of groceries to members of his family and that his relatives were in the other vehicle coming up the hill at the time of the accident.

Harlem Wizards Returning Tuesday Night

February 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Harlem Wizards Returning Tuesday Night

The Harlem Wizards will bring their trick-hoops and alley-oops back to DeKalb County on Tuesday night, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. but this year the event will be held at the DeKalb Middle School gym. Gates open at 6:00 p.m.

The Wizards, a show basketball team, will play local personalities to raise funds for the DeKalb Middle School Softball Team field construction.

"The Harlem Wizards have been here twice at DCHS and both years we sold out and I expect this year to sell out as well" said DMS teacher Suzette Barnes. "Proceeds from this event will go to the DeKalb Middle School Softball Team. We started construction of a softball field on the campus of DeKalb Middle in 2011. We played our first game there in the spring of 2012 and if you have driven by and seen the field we still have a long way to go. We are still in need of a concession stand and press box area with restrooms and facilities like that. Eventually we will need lights. So this is a fundraiser for our softball team to complete the project we started," Barnes said.

(SEE PROMOTIONAL VIDEO BELOW)

At a Harlem Wizards game, fans witness amazing basketball talent combined with hilarious comedy. When you're in the stands, you're more than a spectator, you're part of the show with loads of audience participation throughout the game.

Fans will experience a magical display of tricks, coordinated ball handling, fancy passing, and aerodynamic athleticism combined with high-energy comedy and audience interaction. The experience can only be summed up in two words: Awe-Inspiring!

General admission tickets will be available in advance or at the door. A limited number of tickets are available for purchase in advance for reserved seats as well as courtside plus seating. "For this fundraiser we have 850 tickets available at DeKalb Middle School. It's a little smaller seating capacity than the high school. We're doing it a little bit different on ticket prices this year. All of our general admission tickets are $10.00 in advance or $12.00 the night of the event. General admission is first come, first served as far as seating. Something new this year is we're adding reserved seats. We only have 100 of these tickets available and they are $15.00 purchased in advance. They will not be available the night of the event. We're also offering courtside plus. With courtside plus, you get courtside seating along with a meet and greet with the Wizards players before the game and a free poster. We only have 25 of those tickets and they are $25.00 each. Tickets may be purchased from any DMS softball player or at Kilgore's Restaurant, DC Fitness beside Food Lion, or if you are an employee at Star Manufacturing contact Sonya Parsley or Jamie Cripps at SW Manufacturing. Tickets may also be purchased at DMS after 3:00 p.m." said Barnes.

Ticket order forms will be sent home with students at SES, NES, and DeKalb West."Those will be sent home with the students around mid-February, about a week before the event. So if parents want to order tickets, they may fill out the ticket order form and then send back to the school with their child the ticket order form and a check made to DeKalb Middle School Softball. We will pick those up and send the tickets back home with the child. We're trying to make this very easy and convenient for people to pick up tickets, " said Barnes.

The Wizards will take the court against a DeKalb Middle School team which will include DMS Principal Randy Jennings, DMS teachers Tad Webb, Justin Nokes, Josh Agee and Justin Poteete; DeKalb West Assistant Principal Joey Agee; SES teachers Leah Magness and Ashley Barnes; NES teachers January Agee and Mike Crockett, DCHS SRO Officer Keneth Whitehead, DeKalb County School Board member Shaun Tubbs, TWRA Officer Tony Cross, DeKalb County School Bus Supervisor Jimmy Sprague; NHC Administrator Clint Hall, Jason Winningham of Legacy Athletics; Casey Agee of DeKalb Community Hospital; Jonathan Norris of Southern Landscape Supply and Fourth District County Commissioner; and Helping Hands Foundation and three time Grammy nominated Bluegrass Entertainers of the Year Dailey and Vincent.

For students who can't attend the show, the Harlem Wizards will be making a personal appearance at four of the schools in DeKalb County for a gym assembly program on the day of the event. Members of the Wizards will be at Northside Elementary and Smithville Elementary Schools at 1:00 p.m. and at DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb West School at 2:00 p.m.

New Hunting and Fishing Licenses Now on Sale

February 21, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
New Hunting and Fishing Licenses Now on Sale

The 2015-16 Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses are now on sale. Licenses are available at Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) regional offices, license agents and on the TWRA website, www.tnwildlife.org.

The new licenses annually go on sale each Feb. 18. The 2015-16 licenses are valid through February 2016. License sales provide the primary funding for the TWRA, which does not receive any funding from the state's general fund (i.e. state sales tax). The 2014-15 licenses expire Feb. 28. Licenses purchased before July 1 are available at current prices.

Resident licenses may be purchased by persons who possess a valid Tennessee driver’s license; persons who have lived in Tennessee for 90 consecutive days with the genuine intent of making Tennessee their permanent home; military personnel on active duty in this state and their immediate families, who reside with them, regardless of resident status; students who are enrolled in a Tennessee school, college, or university for at least six months. A Social Security number is required to purchase a Tennessee hunting or fishing license.

Licenses may also be purchased online at TWRA’s website: www.tnwildlife.org or the TWRA On the Go App and charged to a credit card. Licenses may also be ordered by telephone and charged to a credit card by calling 1-888-814-8972. All licenses purchased by credit card will be charged a processing and handling fee. The fees over the telephone are $7.50 for those licenses mailed and $6.25 for those not mailed. Through the internet, charges are $4.25 for those licenses mailed and $3 for self-prints.

To expedite telephone orders, the caller should have ready the name, address, physical description, Social Security number, driver’s license number, TWRA ID number (if renewal), and credit card number.

Licenses are printed on a special tear-resistant, water-proof paper. In case of a lost license, duplicate licenses can be obtained from any REAL license agent for a $7 fee.

County Firefighters Respond to Call in Holiday Haven Area

February 20, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Firefighters use chainsaw to open wood casing around flue (Donny Green photo)
Burned insulation from fire inside wood casing around flue(Donny Green photo)

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department quickly snuffed out a fire Tuesday afternoon at 195 Wildwood Drive off Cookeville Highway in the Holiday Haven area.

The home belongs to Teresa Riedley.

According to County Fire Chief Donny Green, the family has a fireplace in the home and noticed smoke coming out around the top of the ceiling. Thinking the flue was on fire, they called 911.

Firefighters arrived and discovered the fire to be coming from inside a wooden casing around the flue on an outside wall of the home. "We inspected the flue but didn't see any flame. We went outside and saw smoke coming from the wood casing around the flue. We used a thermal camera to detect the heat source and a chainsaw to open the wood casing. Flames shot out from inside the casing where some insulation had caught fire," said Chief Green.

The fire was extinguished with no damage to the inside of the home. No one was injured

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Main Station, Short Mountain Highway, and tanker of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded along with manpower from the Midway station.

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