Local News Articles

City Employees Face Monthly Surcharges Unless they Kick the Habit Under Health Insurance Program

May 5, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville employees enrolled in the city's state sponsored health insurance program who use tobacco products may be assessed a monthly $50 surcharge if they don't kick the habit.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson addressed the issue during Monday night's city council meeting. "I guess all of you who are participating in our state sponsored insurance got this letter. What it says is that as of July 1st, anyone that uses tobacco in any way, smoking, dip, or chewing, will be assessed a $50 per month charge and that's for any employee that uses it (tobacco)."

"I think what most agencies are doing is they will help you quit (using tobacco) with some medicines, patches, gum, or whatever and it will be (cost) almost nothing if you want those aids to help you quit"

"I don't know all the ramifications if you say you've quit but you haven't quit by July 1st and something happens where you would need the insurance. I don't know what happens then. That remains to be seen"

"Members who do not use tobacco will not have to pay the surcharge. Also members who quit by July 1st, 2009 will not have to pay the surcharge. However, members who use tobacco on or after July 1st will have to pay the surcharge starting January, 2010. It also goes on to say that members who pay the surcharge and then kick the habit can qualify for a quitters refund."

In other business, Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson reported that the city will only grant one sewer bill adjustment for filling up customers swimming pools this year." Usually this time of year, everybody starts filling up their swimming pools. A lot of times, we'll adjust their sewer rates because its (swimming pool water) is not going through the sewer. We've been doing it more than once a year but we're going to stop that and do it only once a year. So anybody who has a swimming pool, you will only be getting one sewer rate adjustment per year."

Hendrixson also gave a brief report on engineering plans for the water treatment plant rehab project. "We met with them (Wauford Engineering Consultants). It was just a 50% meeting. It was still a rough draft but it went pretty well. We're going to get all new pumps, three at the intake and three at the treatment plant. We will be working the water fluoridation in to it as well. They had to go back to the drawing board to work that in but I don't think it's going to be much of an issue. We'll be hearing back from them (Wauford) probably within a month at a 75% meeting."

Concerning the water fluoride issue, Mayor Hendrixson added "Until we get it (fluoride) back in the water system, if the public is concerned then you probably need to consult your dentist or your physician."

Northside Elementary School to present the musical, “I Love Rock & Roll: A Musical Time Machine"

May 4, 2009
Radio personality, "The StyckMan" holding a photograph of his on stage character

Northside Elementary School presents the musical, “I Love Rock & Roll: A Musical Time Machine,” on Thursday, May 7th at 6:30pm in the NES gymnasium. Directed by Kelly Jo Birmingham, the fifth grade students will present popular rock songs of each decade, beginning in the 1950s.

While DeKalb County does not have a theater for public performances of the arts, Northside Elementary School’s spring musical provides our students with the opportunity for artistic expression. This year’s production is comprised of approximately one hundred, seventy-five fifth grade students plus staff. “I Love Rock & Roll: A Musical Time Machine” is a student-based community project, combining the talents of Northside students, faculty, and staff, as well as the talents of several Smithville community members. Former Northside parent, and Smithville resident, “The StyckMan” of 94.7 The Country Giant, will be performing in Northside’s musical. He states, "This will be my 5th musical with Northside, however I've never been on the stage with the students until now. I will tell you this: this show will be different from anything that we've ever put on stage".

Admission is free to the public. Come support the arts at Northside Elementary School this Thursday evening!

Teen Charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery of 13 year old Female

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 15 year old boy has been charged in a juvenile petition with aggravated sexual battery of a 13 year old girl.

The boy will appear in Juvenile Court on May 6th.

Smithville Police Chief Richard Jennings released the report Monday which states that "On April 26th, it is alleged that the boy did sexually assault a female juvenile, 13 years of age, by displaying a screwdriver and forcing her onto his lap, at which time he allegedly put his hand under her shirt, fondling her breasts, and put his hand in her pants at which time digital penetration did occur."

The victim told police that on Sunday, April 26th at around 3:00 p.m, she and a female friend were at the Housing Authority park on Tommy Harold Street. On their way home, the girls passed the home of the boy on Highland Street. The victim said she heard him say "hey" and the two of them began to talk. She said the boy was holding a screwdriver in his hand. The victim said that after about two or three minutes of talking, he went down to one knee and pushed the screwdriver into the ground next to him and then pulled her close to him and forcefully sat her down on his knee. He was forcefully restraining her by holding her around her waist. She claims that he put his hand up her shirt and inside of her bra. The victim says she told the boy to stop and let her go numerous times throughout the incident but was scared to yell or use force in fear that he would hurt her with the screwdriver. She claims that the boy then put his hand down the front of her pants and inside of her panties. She continued telling him to stop. The girl told police that this lasted two or three minutes and he then released her and went back inside of his residence.

The case was later reported to Smithville Police and the Department of Children Services.

Meanwhile, in another case, two people were arrested by Smithville Police Saturday after allegedly creating a disturbance at a local restaurant.

31 year old Joel Thomas Hayes of Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication, unlawful possession of a schedule II controlled substance (hydros), and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court May 28th.

33 year old Karen Lynn Welsh of Dowelltown is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court May 28th.

Officer Travis K. Bryant reports that he responded to City Café on Saturday, May 2nd where two subjects, Hayes and Welsh, were intoxicated and causing a disturbance. Upon speaking to Hayes, Officer Bryant noticed his speech to be very slurred and he was very unsteady on his feet. Hayes stated that he had taken hydros earlier in the day. During a search, incident to arrest, Officer Bryant found on Hayes one yellow pill in a blue pill crusher and fourteen and a half yellow pills in a Playdoh container, all believed to be hydros. He also found an ink pen tube with powder residue inside it.

In his report, Officer Matt Holmes states that upon speaking with Welsh, he noticed that she had very slurred speech and she was very unsteady on her feet. Welsh told the officer that she had taken two hydros by mouth and had snorted one about an hour before.

46 year old Kimberly Ann Baker of Liberty is charged with public intoxication. Her bond is $1,000 and she will be in court May 28th.

Officer Matt Holmes reports that on Saturday, May 2nd he responded to Subway where a female, Baker, was intoxicated. Upon arrival, Officer Holmes observed a male and female inside Subway and the male was holding up the female by her belt. The female, Baker, was very unsteady on her feet and she had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her person. Upon speaking with her, Officer Holmes noticed her speech to be very slurred. Baker admitted to being intoxicated.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoints on Graduation Night

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
Sheriff Patrick Ray

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Smithville and Alexandria
Police Departments will be out in full force combating drunk driving on our roads during the upcoming high school graduation.

As part of the effort to combat drunk driving, Sheriff Patrick Ray says his department regularly coordinates sobriety checkpoints in DeKalb County. "Our goal is to have a safe night for not only the graduates, but also their friends and family members who are traveling on our roadways. My department and I will also be at the graduation to assist you in anyway and also to support our graduating seniors."

According to Sheriff Ray the areas where the checkpoints will be conducted on graduation night, May 22nd are Highway 70, Highway 56, Highway 146, and Highway 53 in Liberty and Alexandria. "If you come upon one of the checkpoints, you need to be on alert for officers standing in the roadway and be prepared to stop. If you see what you think might be a drunk
driver, gather as much information as possible such as a description of the vehicle and a tag number and then call the central dispatch at 215-3000 or dial 911."

Sheriff Ray says grant funds help pay for equipment needed for these type of enforcement efforts. "My department and I , in conjunction with other area law enforcement agencies, often conduct sobriety check points in the county. I have applied for grants from the Governor's Highway Safety Office to buy equipment such as traffic cones, traffic vests, flashlights, blue lights for the patrol cars, and other items so that the deputies may have the equipment needed to perform these types of check points. We have already received two grants to purchase this type of equipment and I have applied for another grant that we hope to get soon".

Under the law, Sheriff Ray says these checkpoints must be publicized in advance. "Many of our checkpoints are mobile. This means the checkpoints that we do are set up at certain locations for a few hours, and then move to other locations. As a law enforcement leader, I am required by law and department policies, to advise the public where and when we will be doing the check points . Our department also performs saturated patrols within the county which means we target certain roads where we see increasing arrests for drunk drivers, accidents where alcohol may be the contributing factor, or maybe a road where we are getting a lot of complaints about drinking and driving. We try to have these type of checkpoints when traffic is at a higher rate
than normal for the safety of the public."

Sheriff's Department Makes Three DUI Arrests

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page
John Robert Lucas

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department arrested three people in separate drunk driving offenses last week and found a baggie of marijuana during one of the investigations.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says deputies arrested 30 year old John Robert Lucas of West End Avenue,
McMinnville last Wednesday, April 29th after he was stopped on Highway 56 South for weaving.
The officers detected an odor of alcohol on Lucas' person. He was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. Lucas submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Upon receiving consent to search Lucas' vehicle, deputies found under the seat, a baggie containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.

Lucas was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and simple possession of
marijuana. His bond was set at $3,000 and he will appear in General
Sessions Court on May 28th.

Also on Wednesday, deputies were on patrol in the Dowelltown and Liberty area of
the county when they spotted a vehicle driving erratically on Highway 70. An officer activated his blue lights but the vehicle continued going. After officers got the automobile stopped on Main Street in Liberty, they found 35 year old Luther Odell Miles of Granada Avenue, Nashville to be the driver. They also noticed that Miles had an odor of alcohol on his person. Miles submitted to
field sobriety tasks which he failed.

Miles was charged with a first offense of driving under the influence. His bond was set
at $1,500 and he will appear in General Sessions Court on May 28th.

On Saturday, deputies responded to a hit and run accident on Cookeville Highway and spotted the vehicle that had left the scene about three miles from where the mishap occurred. After stopping the vehicle, officers detected a strong odor of alcohol. The driver, 51 year old David William Boyd of Puckett's Point Road, Smithville, submitted to field sobriety tasks which he failed. Deputies also checked Boyd's driver's license and discovered that it was suspended.

Boyd was charged with a second offense of driving under the influence, a fourth offense of driving on a suspended license, and leaving the scene of an accident. Boyd's total bond was set at $9,500 and he will appear in General Sessions Court on May 28th

Hagan Home Heavily Damaged by Fire

May 4, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Sunday evening fire caused extensive damage to the home of Tony and Frankie Hagan at 220 Holmes Creek Road.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says the Hagans were at home at the time and reported the fire around 7:32 p.m. They escaped unharmed.

Chief Parker says the fire heavily damaged the kitchen and utility room area on the first floor and caused some damage to the second floor. The residence also received some smoke and water damage.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

DCHS Senior Awards Day set for May 15th

May 3, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

Thousands of dollars in scholarships will be awarded to members of the Class of 2009 at DeKalb County High School during the annual Senior Awards Day program, set for Friday, May 15th at 8:30 a.m.

Representatives of colleges, universities, businesses, civic groups, and other organizations will be making the presentations.
WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

In addition to the awards by colleges and universities, local scholarships expected to be presented include the following:

DeKalb Community Hospital, DTC Communications, Jolly Angels, Smithville Women's Club, DeKalb Retired Teachers, Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, The Elzie and Nell McBride Memorial Scholarship, The DeKalb Farmers Coop, The Kyle and Kenny Robinson Memorial Scholarship, The Lucille Stewart Memorial Scholarship Award, The Hunter Davis Memorial Scholarship, Courtney Pirtle Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb County Republican Women's scholarship, the Beecher and Wilma Moss Scholarship, AmVets Scholarship and AmVets Auxiliary Scholarship, The DeKalb County Soil Conservation District Scholarship, The DeKalb Firefighters Association Scholarship, the Liberty State Bank, DeKalb County Scottish Rite, Love-Cantrell Funeral Home, Alan Hooper Memorial Scholarship, Eddie Crips Memorial Scholarship, DeKalb Funeral Chapel, Smithville Rotary Club, First Bank, Class of 1966, Class of 1969, the Jeff Garrett Memorial Scholarship, the Middle Tennessee Times Scholarship, the Charlene Morrison-Johns Memorial Scholarship, and the Agee Oil Company Scholarship.

State Senator Mae Beavers’ Legislative Update

May 3, 2009
State Senator Mae Beavers

Legislation that would change Tennessee’s current process for selection of state’s Supreme Court judges was approved by the Senate Government Operations Committee this week. Sponsors say the bill reflects the intent of the constitution that judges are to stand for contested elections.

The legislation provides for the governor to select Supreme Court justices without being filtered and narrowed down to a panel of three selected by the Judicial Selection Commission. The Judicial Selection Commission is made up of members of special interest groups. The legislation also envisions passage of a Constitutional resolution that would allow the people to decide on how judges should be selected in the future, by retention or by popular vote.

The action comes as a result of last year’s vote not to continue the Judicial Selection Commission, the central provision of the state’s current “Tennessee Plan” for selection of Supreme Court and appellate judges. Under the Tennessee Plan, which was adopted in 1994, the governor must choose from three candidates for the state’s appellate and Supreme Court from a list presented by the Judicial Selection Commission. After appointment, the judges then stand for yes-no retention votes at the end of their terms.

Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers said that she looks forward to discussing the bill further in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. “I believe our current system of selecting judges does not remove politics from the system, but only allows the politics of specific interest groups to be represented,” said Beavers. “I hope we can have a system where the most qualified judges are selected and accountable to the people of Tennessee, as well as a system that adheres to our Constitution.”

Under the bill approved last week, once the current Tennessee Plan process expires in June, the governor would be allowed to make the appointment solely at his discretion until 2014 when the judges could face challengers at the end of their terms. The next step would be the referendum vote to allow Tennesseans to decide whether to amend the constitution to restore the current system of retention elections for Supreme Court justices. This bill would bridge that time gap by giving the governor the sole authority to select and appoint vacancies on the high court in the meantime.

Meanwhile, The Senate Finance Committee has approved a resolution claiming Tennessee’s “sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” The proposal, SJR 311, is designed to send Congress a message that the federal government has overstepped its Constitutional bounds by mandating a massive amount of federal policies upon the states.

The federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states, not vice-versa. It was such an important point with the founders that they specifically provided for this sovereignty in our Constitution.”

The resolution also points out that Article IV, Section 4 says, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” In 1992, the United States Supreme Court ruled in New York vs United States, that Congress may not commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states.

The resolution concludes by giving “notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.” Upon passage, the resolution will be sent to the President of the United States, Congressional leaders and the Tennessee Congressional delegation.

Twenty-eight states have approved similar resolutions.

Bills in Brief

Confiscation of Weapons / Martial law -- Legislation limiting the power of government to confiscate firearms and restrict the sale of ammunition during martial law was approved this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, SB 1992, prohibits the confiscation of weapons from law-abiding citizens or restricting the ability to purchase guns and ammunition during times of martial law. The law already makes that provision in cases of a natural disaster or declared emergency.

Escape from police custody -- Legislation that strengthens penalties against those who escape arrest was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. The bill, SB 388, provides that a person commits the offense of escape if they knowingly escapes the lawful custody of a law enforcement officer. A violation of this bill would be a Class A misdemeanor regardless of whether the person was being held for a misdemeanor, civil offense, or felony.

Aggravated Robbery -- Legislation was approved by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee would make offenders who commit aggravated robbery ineligible for parole or early release. The bill, SB 241, requires the offender to serve 100 percent of the their sentence if, on or after July 1, 2009, the person commits aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, regardless of whether he/she has a prior conviction for aggravated robbery.

Charter Schools – Legislation that strengthens Tennessee’s public charter school law was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week. The legislation, SB 2133, widens eligibility, clarifies funding and addresses rules for renewal of the public charter schools. Tennessee currently has one of the most restrictive public charter school laws in the nation.

Relay for Life set for Friday

May 2, 2009
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb Countians will rally in the fight against cancer during the 12th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life Friday, May 8th at Greenbrook Park.

More than 30 Relay for Life teams will be set up offering food and lots of fun filled activities. A large silent auction will also be held.

Over $100,000 was raised last year.

In this overnight family-oriented event, participants walk relay-style around the track and take part in fun activities off the track. Cancer survivors will take center stage around 6:00 p.m.during the opening ceremony to receive medallions and to give a personal testimony as to just how long they've been a survivor.

The walking track will also be lined with luminaria in honor or remembrance of those who have battled cancer. This ceremony of light symbolizes the hope and courage with which we all continue to fight cancer

Chris Summers, Community Representative with the American Cancer Society says "Relay For Life is a unique opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those we've lost, and fight back against the disease. Many of the participants are cancer survivors."

Funds raised at Relay For Life will enable the American Cancer Society to support local services and resources for cancer patients and their families. Funds also support critical cancer research and community education programs designed to teach people how to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

For more information, please contact Ivadell Randolph at 597-5296

DeKalb and Cannon Awarded $830K for Water Extension Projects

May 1, 2009

The current economic downturn has forced many counties across Tennessee to put much needed infrastructure improvement projects on hold. However, Congressman Bart Gordon announced today that DeKalb County and Cannon County will together receive $830,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for several water extension projects.

“There are too many residents in DeKalb and Cannon who do not have access to clean public water services and have to rely on wells and springs,” said Congressman Gordon. “While this money will allow the counties to extend water services to more households, I am committed to obtaining the additional money needed so that every household has access to public water services.”

The USDA’s Rural Development (USDA-RD) agency awarded DeKalb and Cannon $625,000 in federal loans and $205,000 in grant money – together, this totals $830,000 for the water projects. In DeKalb, the money will be used to extend more than 10 miles of water lines. The extensions will occur along Dry Creek Road and Alexandria to Dismal Road. In Cannon, more than 6 miles of water lines will be constructed along Hurricane Creek Road and Bryson Hollow Road.

DeKalb and Cannon received the funds from the Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants program at the USDA-RD. The mission of this program is finance the construction, extension, or improvement of water and waste disposal systems in rural areas and towns.

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