Local News Articles

DUD Applies for TRLP Funding to Build Water Plant

January 7, 2014
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Utility District

The DeKalb Utility District, having already secured loans and grants through USDA Rural Development and the Appalachian Regional Commission to help fund the construction of its own water treatment plant is now seeking additional help through the Tennessee Revolving Loan Program rather than the bond market.

The DUD board held a public hearing Thursday night, January 2 at its office in Smithville. "The purpose of the public hearing was to solicit comments from the public for the state revolving loan fund which will partially fund the water treatment plant project instead of going to the private bond market. This is a much better deal. The interest rates are much less than what they are on the private bond market and the district would get $500,000 in debt forgiveness (grant) money. This loan program, if approved, would fund basically half of the project so from a financial point of view it's a great deal for the district," said Buddy Koonce, the DUD's utility engineer in an interview with WJLE after the hearing.

DeKalb Utility District plans to construct a water treatment plant near Holmes Creek Road with a storage capacity of three million gallons a day. The DUD has initially been approved for storage of two million gallons a day.

Over the last two years the DUD has lined up several million dollars in loan/grant funding for building the water plant and related infrastructure including a USDA Rural Development $5,000,000 loan/ $1,250,000 grant and a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

In May 2012, the DUD board adopted a bond resolution for the authorization and issuance of waterworks revenue refunding and improvement bonds not to exceed $9-million 250-thousand dollars in an aggregate principal amount for the water treatment plant project. But if the DUD is approved for funding through the Tennessee Revolving Loan Program, bonds will not be necessary. "With this money, we will not have to visit the bond market. That is taken completely out of the picture, " said DUD Manager Jon Foutch.

The State Revolving Fund Loan Program, through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, provides low-interest loans to cities, counties, utility districts, and water/wastewater authorities for the planning, design, and construction of drinking water facilities.

"The project consists of a two million gallon a day water treatment plant, raw water intake, transmission lines from the intake up to the water plant, and transmission lines out to the distribution system. As part of the project, we've got lines in basically the southern part of DeKalb County to tie in some parts of the distribution system," said Koonce during the public hearing.

"As soon as funds are released from Rural Development and as soon as we get approval from the State Revolving Loan, we expect to bid that job sometime in early spring. I expect a fourteen to eighteen month construction period. It should be finished by the end of 2015," added Koonce.

Meanwhile, the City of Smithville and DUD ratepayers are continuing their legal fight to keep the DeKalb Utility District from building the plant. An appeal remains pending in Davidson County Chancery Court. If the city is not successful with the appeal, the DUD will most likely be free to begin construction.

A robo call, apparently ordered by the city's public relations firm the Calvert Street Group, was placed to DUD customers on Thursday reminding them of the public hearing. Only one DUD customer showed up for the hearing and he did not speak.

DUD Chairman Roger Turney suggested that the robo call was misleading in that it said the meeting was going to affect rates. "Nothing that we are doing tonight in this meeting has anything to do with rates," said Turney. "In fact, with this loan and grant, the hope is that in the future its going to keep rates lower if anything. The state has already ruled that the things (rate adjustments) we have in place so far are sufficient to cover our costs and that everything is in good shape. This meeting tonight in no way is going to cause rates to go up," he said.

In anticipation of building the water plant, the DUD has already raised water rates twice, by seven percent each year in 2012 and 2013. Original plans were to raise rates again in 2014 by another seven percent.

Turney suggested if an adjustment in rates is needed anytime soon it could be blamed on the City of Smithville for drastically inflating DUD's water rates, as of January 1st. "We have received a 144% increase in the cost of our water starting this month from the City of Smithville. There may have to be some rate adjustments because of that but it would have nothing to do with this grant in anyway. The only increase that may be coming is as a result of the 144% increase from $2.05 to $5.00 per thousand gallons from the City of Smithville. That will be addressed later," he said.

In a statement released to WJLE Friday morning on behalf of DUD ratepayers, Darden Copeland, Managing Director of the Calvert Street Group said the DUD's stated purposes for the funding at the public hearing may not be the proper use of the State Revolving Loan Fund.

“The State Revolving Loan Fund’s ‘Intended Use Plan’ clearly states that these monies are not to be used for ‘Future Growth’ nor ‘Economic Development’. Yet these are some of the exact reasons given by the DUD in explaining this project to the public.” “Further, the ‘Intended Use Plan’ says that the Fund should not be used for ‘Water Rights’ issues. In some ways, this is a struggle between Smithville and the DUD over the water rights in Center Hill Lake and who should have the right to serve the customers of DeKalb county."

“We doubt the state wants to chose sides in this local matter, especially when there is no evidence the new DUD water treatment plant will substantially increase the service area for water customers. In fact, there is evidence the water rates will go up for both city of Smithville residents, as well as DUD customers, which seems run counter to the intent of the SRF.”

“It is unclear whether the state believes this project is necessary. On a scale of 20 to 100 ‘Priority Points’, the DUD project received a low score of 25. It is unclear if or when this project will get funded," wrote Copeland.

Attempts to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes Sparks Fire

January 7, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chief Donny Green

A Smithville property owner learned the hard way Monday night how that trying to thaw a frozen water pipe with a heat source can cause a fire.

County Fire Chief Donny Green told WJLE that firefighters were called to a vacant home on Robinson Road where the owner, Jerry Scott had inadvertently caught a floor joist on fire while trying to thaw a pipe. No one was living there at the time. The home was being used for storage. " He had gone there Monday afternoon and discovered his water pipe had frozen," said Chief Green. "He was trying to thaw the pipe using a heat source when he inadvertently caught a floor joist on fire. It spread inside the house to an interior wall behind the kitchen sink. Firefighters were able to reach the fire and kept it contained to the kitchen wall around the sink," Chief Green continued.

The fire damage was minor and confined to a 4' x 4' area although some smoke spread through the house. Members of the Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded.

Chief Green admonishes all homeowners to exercise extreme caution when thawing water pipes and if you have questions as to what should be done, contact a professional plumber for advice.

Meanwhile on Friday night, county volunteer firefighters were called to 1841 Vandergriff Hollow Road off Dry Creek Road where a truck parked inside a barn had caught fire. The barn contained a living quarters in the upper portion of the building. "We got on the scene and found the truck fully involved. The flames were endangering the barn," said Chief Green. "We got the fire out and pulled the vehicle away from the barn. The truck was destroyed but the barn only had minor charring to the interior. There was some damage to the living quarters but no one was hurt," he said.

Members of the Liberty and Main Stations of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Departments responded along with the tanker truck and DeKalb EMS.

Old Time Country Community Radio Show moves to Fridays

January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chris Tramel and Reed Vanderpool
Old Time Country Community Radio Show Moving to Fridays

The Old Time Country Community Radio Show has a new format and is moving to Fridays at 8:00 A.M. With new hosts, Chris Tramel and Reed Vanderpool, the show now focuses on traditional country music favorites, as well as offering local interviews, special guests and comedy skits.

The show first hit the airwaves on WJLE in the mid-80s and has carried on, in one form or another, to its present day format. Produced by local retired school teacher and former host of the show, Ben Herman, the show still has the hometown feel it’s been known for, but now with a fast-paced radio show set-up.

Over the years the show has seen many hosts, including Ralph Vaughn, Dwayne Page, Luther Luna, Ben Herman, and Sandy C. Brown. Tramel and Vanderpool bring new life to the show, offering their own brand of humor, as well as playing the classic hits that have made country music what it is today.

The show’s announcer and reporter, Steve Quick, also offers interviews with people from around the county, as well as those involved with the music industry in Nashville and the surrounding area. Other contributors to the show include Steve Merriman, Lou Ann Sanders, and Julia Cantrell.

The Old Time Country Community Radio Show can be heard Friday mornings at
8:00 on WJLE 101.7 FM/1480 AM, or be heard through live streaming at www.wjle.com. Past shows can be heard through WJLE’s archive at www.wjle.com. The show also has a following on Facebook, where photos, links to country artists, and comments are shared.

Icy Road Conditions Contributes to Traffic Accident on Braswell Lane

January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chevy Tahoe driven by Anthony Black
2010 Chevy Equinox driven by 17 year old girl

Icy road conditions contributed to a traffic accident Monday afternoon on Braswell Lane.

Captain Steven Leffew of the Smithville Police Department told WJLE that a 17 year old Smithville girl was driving east in a 2010 Chevy Equinox when she apparently slid on an icy spot in the road while trying to negotiate a curve. Her car turned sideways in the street and into the path of a westbound 2007 Chevy Tahoe, driven by 58 year old Anthony Black of Smithville. Both vehicles went into a ditch after impact.

Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and DeKalb EMS came to the scene but there were no injuries.


January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page








Arrests Made for Burglary, Theft, Vandalism, and Domestic Assault

January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page
Edward Lee Judkins, Sr.
Michael Anthony Leichtfuss
Chrissy Michelle Evans

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has made arrests in recent days for burglary and theft, vandalism, and domestic assault.

51 year old Edward Lee Judkins, Sr. of Jefferson Road, Smithville was arrested on December 30 and charged with burglary and theft of property over $500. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on January 9th. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on November 20 Judkins allegedly broke into a shed at a residence on Adamson Branch Road. Entry was made by force and the door to the shed was damaged. Judkins allegedly took various weight equipment from the shed. The weight equipment was recovered from behind Judkins' camper trailer where he lives on Pea Ridge Road. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

22 year old Michael Anthony Leichtfuss of Old Eagle Creek Road, Smithville is charged with vandalism under $500. His bond is $1,000. He will be in court on January 30. Sheriff Ray said that on December 8, Leichtfuss allegedly vandalized property on Johnson's Ridge Road, causing over $300 in damage to a door and door frame. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

40 year old Chrissy Michelle Evans of West Main Street, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $5,000 and she will be in court on January 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, January 5 a deputy was dispatched to Evans' residence on a domestic violence call. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with the victim, Evans' husband. He had a cut on his left ear and scratches on his hand and back. He told the officer that he had been attacked by his wife. When the deputy spoke with her, Evans allegedly admitted to attacking him. She was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Roads Remain Hazardous

January 6, 2014
Dwayne Page

All roads in DeKalb County, primary and secondary roads, remain hazardous, according to Brad Mullinax, Director of the Central Dispatch/911 Center.

He advises motorists to stay at home unless travel is necessary. For updates on state road conditions, contact the Tennessee Highway Patrol at 931-526-6143. For other public assistance call Central Dispatch at 215-3000 or 911 in an emergency.

DeKalb Woman Gives Birth to First Baby of 2014 in Warren County

January 5, 2014
Dwayne Page
Aleisha Bunch with her newborn son Elliot

A DeKalb County couple are the proud parents of the year's first baby born in Warren County.

Elliot Bunch, son of Richard and Aleisha Bunch of Smithville, arrived at 7:54 a.m. on New Year's Day at River Park Hospital in McMinnville. The child reportedly weighed seven pounds and twelve ounces and was twenty one inches long. The baby boy was delivered by Dr. Vanessa Streicher.

The family received gifts from several local businesses in Warren County.


January 4, 2014
Dwayne Page
Schools to Re-Open


The remainder of the school calendar is as follows:

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20 and for President's Day, Monday, February 17.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 24-28

No school for students on Good Friday, April 18 and Memorial Day, Monday May 26.

The following are designated as Early Release dates: Friday, February 14; Friday, March 7, and Friday, March 21
Students will not attend on Tuesday, May 27. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Wednesday, May 28. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, March 11 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 13 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

Report cards to be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, January 7. DCHS report cards to be sent home Monday, March 10 and at all other schools Tuesday, March 11.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 4

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3-7.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 28 through May 9

Road Supervisor Kenny Edge Will Not Seek a Seventh Term

January 2, 2014
Dwayne Page
Kenny Edge to Retire After Current Term as Road Supervisor

After working for the people of DeKalb County as their Road Supervisor for almost 24 years, Kenny Edge has decided the time has come to retire when his current term expires August 31.

The six term incumbent has announced that he will not be a candidate for re-election in 2014.

"They (supporters) beg me every day to run again. It's not that I don't love them and don't want to do the work. It's just I'm not as young as I used to be. I've enjoyed working for them (people of the county). I'm still their friend. I just feel like this is a time in my life that I need to retire and do the things I want to do," said Edge in an interview with WJLE Thursday.

Edge was first elected Road Supervisor in 1990 and he was re-elected in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010. Prior to 1990, Edge served the county in other capacities. "I've got 43 years in working for DeKalb County and I've enjoyed every bit of it. (Then County Judge) Billy J. LaFever hired me in 1971 when the new courthouse and new school houses were being built. I did the maintenance and electrical work. He wanted me to do all the mechanical work so I worked for the county as well as the school system together up until 1990 when I ran for this office," he said.

In spite of tight budgets, Edge said he has been able to manage his resources over the years to maintain as many roads and bridges as possible. "The roads in DeKalb County are better than they have ever been. Almost all roads are either paved or oiled and chipped but there are certain roads you can't spend that kind of money to upgrade, knowing when the first flood comes it is going to destroy it. But basically all of the roads are in good shape," said Edge.

"The bridges are basically in real good shape. Since I've been in office, I don't know how many federal bridge programs I've participated in. The last big one I built was on Smith Fork. I believe it was a $1.1 million project. We've built bridges across the county including several under the hill because most of the water problems are under the hill," he said.

Edge said he appreciates the support he has received from county mayors and county commissions over the years in helping the road department fund certain projects. " They have been good to work with me. They bought me a new wheel loader for the crusher and a new road grader in 1995. I also borrowed a million dollars and paved forty miles of road across this county. It took me ten years at $100,000 a month to pay it back but I've paid it all back," he said.

Asked if he had any regrets , Edge said he wishes he could have had the money to hot mix more roads. "Everybody loves hot mix and I do too. I'd like to have done more asphalt work instead of oil and chipping. I'd hot mix every road in this county if I had the money to do it. The average life of a good paved road is twenty years before you need to put a top on it. The average life of an oil and chipped road is about eight years. We (road department) can oil and chip a road, but we can't hot mix it because we have to contract it out. We don't have the equipment. Right now it costs right around $100,000 to pave a road twenty feet wide, two and a half inches deep, a mile long," said Edge.

"My total budget (revenues) is less than two million dollars. I carry over about a half a million dollars every year (fund balance) and budget it. I'll average $120,000 to $130,000 of new money (revenue) each month. I get it monthly. But if you bought $130,000 worth of hot mix each month then you wouldn't have enough to pay your hands, buy fuel, or do anything. You've got to keep your operation going," said Edge.

By saving where he could, Edge said he has been able to hot mix a few more miles of roads while meeting other needs of the department. "You've got to save as much as you can during the year so that maybe you can hot mix five or six miles of road. Sometimes you have to do that over a two year period. It just depends on what breakdowns you have or what equipment you need to buy. The last two new dump trucks I bought cost $121,000 each. Tires are also expensive. It's hard to operate on what money we get especially with the economy like it is," he said.

For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the DeKalb County Road Department is budgeted to receive almost two million in revenues, including over $1.4 million from its largest source, state gas tax revenues and more than $400,000 from the state aid program. The county budgets three cents of the property tax rate or $128,860 along with a mineral severance tax of $15,474. The department's fund balance (carry over from last year) was more than $378,000. Total appropriations for this budget year are projected to be $2.1 million.

Edge still makes use of the county rock crusher but it's mostly used on a seasonal basis now with a smaller staff to help man the department. "The rock crusher is in excellent shape. We use it but I don't run it 100% of the time because my work force has gone from twenty five to fifteen employees. They crush in the fall and winter but as soon as the grass gets up, I'll have them go to mowing," he said.

Like all public officials, Edge has his critics but he believes most people appreciates the job he has done. "I try to help everybody. I try to listen to them and try to do everything they ask me to do. I realize it's their highway department. Anybody who calls here and they need a tile put in, if they're building a house, I'll put them a tile in and fix them a driveway. I do it for everybody. It don't matter who they are or where they live in the county. I gravel every road to every cemetery. I always have. I fix everybody an entrance off a county road anywhere they want to" Edge continued.

In recent years, state auditors have noted findings in yearly audit reports concerning such practices by the county road department but Edge defends his work for the public. "I get wrote up saying you can't do that. It's frustrating how that the state has such a problem with me putting gravel or a tile in a driveway, but sees nothing wrong with the state putting down hot mix and installing guardrails to a dead end on private property in the midst of a cedar thicket on the side of a hill along side a state highway (referring to property at the foot of Snow Hill on Highway 70). I wish they would operate under the same law they want me to," he said.

Edge said he is thankful to the people of DeKalb County for supporting him all these years. "I want to thank all the people of this county for their trust in me and for voting for me. I love them all and I'll still help them anyway I can," he said.

As for his retirement, Edge said he has no particular plans. "I've got a farm I can play around on and do like some of the rest of them, run out here to Hardees every now and then and get me some coffee and a ham and biscuit," concluded Edge.


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