Local News Articles

Fire in Austin Bottom Community Leaves Family Homeless

January 27, 2016
Dwayne Page

A fire destroyed a two story home in the Austin Bottom community of DeKalb County Tuesday evening.

The residence at 1000 Sunny Point Road belonged to Eric and Linda Westin. The family lost the home and all their belongings including two dogs and a cat. The fire is estimated to have caused $450,000 in damage.

David Agee, Assistant DeKalb County Fire Chief, told WJLE that Mr. Westin was home at the time and discovered the blaze in the basement when he went to check on his dogs after he heard them barking. He was unable to save the animals.

As firefighters were enroute, Mr. Westin tried to extinguish the blaze himself and suffered second degree burns to the tops of both hands. He was treated at Cookeville Regional Medical Center.

Mrs. Westin, director of the Friends of Cookeville/Putnam County Animals, was not at home at the time of the fire.

The Austin Bottom Fire Station was the first to arrive. Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Midway, Johnson's Chapel, Tanker 1, and Equipment Truck also responded from DeKalb County along with Putnam County Fire Department who sent a tanker and volunteers through the counties’ mutual aid agreement.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Chamber Holds Ribbon Cutting for Poppie's Boutique

January 27, 2016
Chamber Holds Ribbon Cutting for Poppie's Boutique

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce recently had a Ribbon Cutting for new member, Poppie’s Boutique, 660 W. Broad St., Smithville (next to O’Reilly Auto Parts).

Poppie’s Boutique is a uniquely vintage-inspired mix of quality boutique clothing, boutique & handmade accessories, & one-of-a-kind gifts carefully handpicked for their customers! Owners Hunter and Sarah Collins stated, “Our boutique line has done so well with our Airstream boutique & Facebook sales, we couldn’t resist opening a storefront in our hometown. We offer excellent brands & extended plus sizes, as well.” They also feature almost 20 handmade & local artisans including handmade candles, goats milk soap & lotion products, antique spoon jewelry, reclaimed barn wood signs, monogramming, chalk paint, pillows, pottery & more. In addition, they offer chalk paint classes, essential oils courses, and “Poppie’s Parties,” where customers can invite friends after hours & earn free merchandise! Sarah and Hunter say, “We have loved being out on the road with our Airstream boutique, which we will still be doing, but we are so thankful & blessed to be able to have this storefront opportunity in Smithville!” Store hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 9 AM to 6 PM.

See attached pic.
Lots of family, friends, & community folks showed up to congratulate Poppie’s Boutique owners, Hunter and Sarah Collins, including County Mayor Tim Stribling, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, and Chamber Board Members Kathy Hendrixson, Jacob Young, Dwayne Cornelius, Jane Brown, and Connie Tjarks.

Alexandria Seeks to Change City Election Cycles to Save Money

January 27, 2016
Dwayne Page
Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen

Alexandria currently elects its city leaders in odd years during the month of September

But the Alexandria mayor and aldermen have begun the process of changing the city charter regarding the municipal election, having it to run in conjunction with the August County General Elections in even years to save the city money. The change will extend the terms of the present board of mayor and aldermen by at least one year to adjust their election cycles.

During Tuesday night's monthly meeting, the aldermen unanimously adopted a resolution seeking to amend the city's charter, an action which will have to be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.

The terms of Aldermen Kelly Pyburn, David Cripps, and John F. Suggs currently run through 2019 while the terms of Mayor Bennett Armstrong and Aldermen Randy Payne, Danny Parkerson and Matt Boss are to expire in 2017.

Under the proposed amendment to the charter, a mayor and three aldermen are to be elected on the first Thursday in August, 2018, who will serve a four year term through Thursday, August 2022 or until their successors are elected and qualified. Those positions are currently held by Mayor Armstrong and Aldermen Payne, Parkerson, and Boss.

The proposed amendment to the charter further provides that at the municipal election on the first Thursday in August 2020, three aldermen are to be elected who will serve a four year term ending on the first Thursday of August 2024 or until their successors are elected and qualified. Those positions are currently held by Aldermen Pyburn, Cripps, and Suggs.

City attorney Vester Parsley told the mayor and aldermen that changing the dates of the municipal elections will keep the city from having to spend two thousand to three thousand dollars each election cycle.

Once the charter amendment is adopted by the state legislature, the Alexandria Aldermen will have to adopt it again by at least a two thirds majority.

In other business, the aldermen voted to opt in to the state residential building codes program. According to Tim Planer, who works for the State Fire Marshal's Office as a State Residential Building Supervisor, the city has three options: to opt in to the state program; to adopt a plan of its own; or to opt out altogether. Planer addressed the Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday night.

"After each election there is a 180 day period for a jurisdiction to opt out of the state standard building codes. Each jurisdiction has three options as far as building codes. The first one is to opt out in which there are no building codes in the area and there are no inspections. Because of that there are no certificates of occupancies that are issued against the properties," said Planer.

"The second option is to be an exempt jurisdiction in which you have your own building department. Your own inspector. You hire them and they work for the city," he said

"The third option is to opt in to the state building code program. The statewide standard for building codes is that the state supplies the building that sells the permit. The state supplies the inspectors and we do the inspections and issue the certificate of occupancy on new construction. This new construction is for new housing and for additions only. Outbuildings and sheds are not required to have permits or inspections. Nor are detached garages. The only time is if you are changing the footprint of the house and that is either going out or up. That is the only time a building permit is required for those. In most cases there are three or four inspections required including footing or foundation; roughed in, which is roughed in framing, mechanical, and plumbing, and a final inspection. Upon passage of all these inspections, a certificate of occupancy is issued," he concluded.

The aldermen chose the third option.

County Property Tax Collections Up Over This Time Last Year

January 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Trustee Sean Driver

As of Monday, January 25th the DeKalb County Trustee's Office had collected 47.07% of the $8.5 million in 2015 county property taxes to be collected by February 29, 2016. That includes property, residential, commercial, personal, and public utility taxes.

In a quarterly report to the county commission Monday night, Trustee Sean Driver said collections to date are up over last year's collections of 44.81% by this date (January 25). The tax base this year is also larger because of the sixteen cent property tax increase adopted by the county commission last summer for this fiscal year. Trustee Driver said the county's tax base this year has expanded to $8,578,328, an increase of $835,000 over last year's tax base of $7.7 million.

Monday, February 29 is the last day to pay the 2015 property taxes before penalties start accruing March 1.

For 2015 you can:

1.Come in person to pay at the office.

2. Mail in your payment.

3. Pay online at tennesseetrustee.com then select DeKalb. The Vendor accepts Discover, MasterCard, Visa, or American Express. A Vendor convenience fee of 2.75% on the total tax bill may apply and fees are subject to change for using credit/debit cards. Also, a $2.75 fee will be assessed on an e-check payment of any amount.

4. A Dropbox is also located on the outside of the county complex building (where the Trustee's Office is located) for your convenience after hours or on weekends.

Partial Payments are accepted and you the taxpayer may set the amount to pay.

You may also qualify for the State of Tennessee Property Tax Relief Program The last day to sign up for tax relief is April 5. If you would like more information come by the County Complex in the Trustee’s office at 732 S. Congress Blvd-Room 103, Smithville, TN 37166 or call at 615-597-5176.

The Trustee's Office is open regular hours from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday- Friday.

Any 2014 unpaid property taxes may be paid with interest and penalty through March 31. However any 2014 unpaid taxes will be turned over to the Chancery Court on April 1 for collection. The Trustee's Office will soon be sending out a notice to those still delinquent.

County Changes Name of Road to Honor the Late Porter Webb

January 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Porter Webb

The name of a road in the sixth district is being changed to honor a man in that community who passed away last year.

The county commission Monday night voted to change the name of Mason Cemetery Road to Porter's Way upon the recommendation of the planning commission. The request was initiated by property owners in the area as a way to remember the late Porter Webb.

"A couple of months ago we were approached by some people who had bought some property from the estate of Porter Webb who were wanting to change the name of Mason Cemetery Road to Porter's Way. They wrote a letter to the county mayor's office which says "the landowners along Mason Cemetery Road including D &J Farming, Jonathon Puckett, Charles Webb, Greg Driver, and David and Nancy Womack respectfully ask to have the name of the road changed to Porter's Way. We are all in agreement for this change to honor the late Porter Webb" and they all signed it. I passed this along to the county commissioners in that area Betty Atnip and Jeff Barnes. The planning commission met last Monday night and recommended the name change. There are no structures on this road so there will not have to be any 911 addresses changed," said County Mayor Tim Stribling.

County to Apply for CDBG Grant

January 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Grant Writer Amanda Mainord

The DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution authorizing the filing of an application to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for a Community Development Block grant to help fund the extension of water lines to a portion of DeKalb County.

The county has applied for and been denied the grant twice within the last two years. But this time in order to improve its chances, the county plans to ask for a little less grant money while the DeKalb Utility District has committed to ante up more. The total project cost would be the same.

If approved, the grant would be $501,000 with a $120,000 local match by the DeKalb Utility District.

Amanda Mainord of Grassroots Planning & Consulting, grant administrator, said the project would serve around 40 households on Tramel Branch, Oakley Road, Carter Lane, Old Givens Hollow, and the Dismal to Alexandria Road. Officials say many of these residents have to live with poor quality water or little or no water.

"I have been contacting residents who live on those roads and the utility district will be doing well testing again to check for bacteria in the water. We will then compile all that information in an application for the grant at the end of February," said Mainord.

"The goal of the Community Development Block Grant is to serve low income communities. We have to prove that at least 51% of the area is low income. The more people who live in the area makes our costs per person lower. Last year's survey showed about 40 families in the area or about 113 people. I've recently traveled the road and found that there's about five extra houses than there were last year. The more people we have on the road the better we will score (for the grant). We're up to about 137 people right now so this water line extension is greatly needed," Mainord continued.

The grant application is due by the end of February. "I'll submit the application to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The staff there will review the applications and rank them in comparison with other grant applications for water line extension projects. They will go out and visit the area and count the number of houses. After ranking the list, they will submit it to the Governor's office. In 2014 about twelve water line extension grants were approved. In 2015 they only approved seven," Mainord concluded.

It may be fall before its known if the grant is approved.

Green Reappointed County Fire Chief

January 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Chief Donny Green
Assistant Chief David Agee

County Fire Chief Donny Green and Assistant Chief David Agee will serve in those positions for another year.

The county commission Monday night gave its approval.

County Mayor Tim Stribling read a letter to the commission from Chief Green stating that he and Agee were recently recommended for re-appointment by the county firefighters. "The membership of the DeKalb County Fire Department met January 3, 2016 for our annual election of officers. The following were nominated unanimously by the membership for your approval: Donny Green, Fire Chief and David Agee, Assistant Fire Chief for a one year term to end on January 8, 2017".

DAC to Present "Slavery & After in DeKalb County"

January 26, 2016
Dwayne Page
Thomas G. Webb

The DeKalb Animal Coalition will present "Slavery & After in DeKalb County" by local Historian Thomas G. Webb on Friday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the county complex auditorium. Admission is $10.00 and all proceeds will benefit the DeKalb Animal Coalition, a tax deductible organization dedicated to building a new animal shelter for our community.

Discover how DeKalb slaves were treated. Where the majority of the slaves lived. How former slaves were treated following the Civil War. Why the black population steadily declined since 1865. And black and white attitudes toward interracial marriage.

Robert Sartin named DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year

January 23, 2016
Donny Green & Dwayne Page
Captain Anthony Boyd presents DeKalb Firefighter of the Year Award to Robert Sartin of the Main Station (Right)
Chief Donny Green presents Captain Jay Cantrell (left) the DeKalb County Fire Department’s 2015 Officer of the Year Award
Captain Jay Cantrell  presents the "Git R Done Award" to Andy Pack (right)
Assistant Chief/Training Officer David Agee presents firefighter Matt Adcock (right) the "Rookie of the Year Award"
Lieutenant Brian Williams (3rd from left) presented pins for years of service to Captain Jay Cantrell (15 years), Jerry Wayne Johnson (40 years) and Andy Pack (5 years)
Chief Donny Green presents Station Commander Jeremy Neal (left) and Joe Johnson with Honorary Lifetime Membership awards.

The 2015 DeKalb County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year is Robert Sartin of the Main Station

Sartin received the award Saturday night during the Department's Annual Awards Banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex.

Meanwhile, Captain Jay Cantrell was named the DeKalb County Fire Department’s 2015 Officer of the Year and Andy Pack, Station Commander of the Belk Station, received the Department’s 2015 “Git R Done" award. The "Rookie" award went to Firefighter Matt Adcock of the Belk Station.

Sartin was nominated and received the Firefighter of the Year Award taking into consideration his fire call response, training attendance, and community service participation. "The fire calls and training attendance stand for themselves. He excelled in both of those areas. As for his community service, Robert has demonstrated outstanding community service by participating in fire prevention and education activities throughout the year,” said Captain Anthony Boyd in presenting the award. "The DeKalb County Fire Department attempts to recognize firefighters who reflect a positive image of the department in the community, and there’s absolutely no doubt that Robert has earned the honor of being named DeKalb County Fire Department’s 2015 “Firefighter of the Year", said Captain Boyd.

Captain Cantrell earned the "Officer of the Year Award" for his achievements in training attendance, incident response, and community service. "Jay demonstrated an outstanding level of community service to our department and our citizens by sacrificing countless hours of his time and skills to oversee the maintenance our entire fleet of vehicles and 11 buildings across the county. Jay’s exceptional level of volunteer service saves DeKalb County’s citizens thousands of dollars every year, and our firefighters always know our equipment is ready to go on the next call,” said Chief Donny Green in presenting Captain Jay Cantrell the award.

The "Git R Done Award" goes to a firefighter who demonstrates exceptional sacrifices by going above and beyond responding to calls and attending training. “Firefighter Pack has led his station in fundraising successes and built strong community relations by planning and organizing events within his community that enhance fire prevention and safety. Andy’s commitment to sacrifice his personal time while leading with a positive “Git R Done” attitude, clearly shows why he is being recognized as our 2015 recipient of this award," said Captain Jay Cantrell in making the presentation to Andy Pack.

Firefighter Matt Adcock was presented the "Rookie of the Year Award" based on his hours of training. " This award goes to a firefighter who completed his/her basic recruit training during 2015. The department feels that the most important thing we can do for our new recruits is to give them basic training and reinforce the importance of training. Consequently, training is the sole criteria used in the “Rookie of the Year” selection," said Assistant Chief/Training Officer David Agee who presented the award. "From January through December 2015, Matt had 247.17 hours of training, including completion of the 64 hour Basic Firefighter Training. In addition to his Basic Recruit training, he has completed extra training to improve his firefighting skills. “We certainly want to recognize recruits who demonstrate an outstanding level of commitment to training. Our department is fortunate to have an excellent group of recruits who have contributed to our department being recognized with elite training awards for 7 consecutive years. We are proud of all of them and we are honored to name Firefighter Matt Adcock as our “Rookie of the Year” for 2015,” said Asst. Chief Agee.

Lieutenant Brian Williams recognized and presented the following 5 members with pins for their years of service:

*5 years of service: Jacob Bond (Short Mtn. Hwy. Station) and Andy Pack (Station Commander of the Belk Station) Bond was unable to attend the banquet.

*15 years of service: Captain Jay Cantrell and Anthony Johnson (Liberty Station). Johnson was unable to attend.

*40 years of service: Jerry Wayne Johnson (Station Commander of the Liberty Station)

Honorary Lifetime Member Jeff Williams presented Station Commander Jeremy Neal and Joe Johnson with Honorary Lifetime Membership awards.

Neal, a newly appointed Lieutenant and former Station Commander at the Blue Springs Station, has been a member for 10 years. "He has provided significant contributions to building renovation and construction projects," said Williams.

Johnson a current county commissioner and Chairman of the Emergency Services Committee, was recognized and awarded for previous service with the department. "He previously served nearly 10 years on the Cookeville Highway and Short Mountain Highway stations while he provided maintenance and service on the department’s fleet. Most recently, Johnson volunteered to design and install a new generator at the department’s Main Station. We like to recognize people who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to our department and these two individuals have absolutely done this,” said Williams.

Thirty three individuals of the department were recognized with “Jamboree Backdraft” awards for going above and beyond in the Department’s 2015 Jamboree Food Booth fundraiser.

Chief Green recognized partners who have provided special support to the department during the year. The DeKalb County Fire Department’s Spring and Fall 2015 Citizens’ Fire Academy classes, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, DeKalb Tire and Service, DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (DTC), the local Red Cross representatives, WJLE Radio Station, the Smithville Review Newspaper, Tim’s Truck Service, the Tennessee Division of Forestry, Mayor Tim Stribling and his office staff, and the DeKalb County Commission.

To conclude the ceremony, Chief Green officially announced a recent officer selection. Station Commander Jeremy Neal has been promoted to the rank Lieutenant.

The DeKalb County Fire Department’s Annual Awards Banquet began with a delicious meal and entertainment from Jim Gossett, a comedian and celebrity impressionist. Approximately 175 people were in attendance including firefighters, their families, local and state officials, graduates of the 2015 Citizens’ Fire Academies (Spring and Fall session), and community partners. County Fire Chief Donny Green presided over the ceremony.

TDOT Employees Involved in Crash

January 23, 2016
Dwayne Page
TDOT Truck shown here collides with TDOT Salt Truck. Picture by Gary Johnson
TDOT Employees Involved in Crash

The winter storm Friday caused several traffic accidents in DeKalb County including a collision between a Tennessee Department of Transportation pickup truck and a TDOT dump truck.

The crash occurred on Highway 56 north (Cookeville Highway).

Trooper Chris Delong of the Tennessee Highway Patrol told WJLE that 40 year old Jeremiah Clinard of Gainesboro, a TDOT supervisor, was driving south in an F250 pickup truck when he lost control in a curve due to the snow and ice. The truck turned sideways and crashed into a northbound TDOT dump truck driven by 60 year old Jerry Cantrell of Smithville. The dump truck was hauling salt and had a scraper blade attached to the front. 45 year old Creed Sorrelle of Cookeville was a passenger of the Clinard truck. All three TDOT employees involved in the wreck escaped without injury.


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