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DeKalb August Jobless Rate at 9.5%

September 23, 2011
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County August unemployment rate was at 9.5%, down from 9.7% in July but up slightly from 9.4% in August 2010.

The local labor force in August was at 10,120. A total of 9,160 were employed and 960 were without work.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for August tied with Cannon for fourth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland region as follows:

Pickett County- 14.2%
White- 11.6%
Van Buren- 11.5%
Warren- 11.4%
Fentress- 11.2%
Clay- 11%
Jackson- 10.7%
Overton- 10.6%
Cumberland- 10.5%
Cannon- 9.5%
Macon- 9.3%
Smith- 9.1%%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for August show that the rate decreased in 57 counties, 28 counties increased, and 10 counties remained the same.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for August was 9.7 percent, down from the July revised rate of 9.8. The national unemployment rate for August 2011 was 9.1 percent, unchanged from the July revised rate.

Lincoln County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, up from the July rate of 6.2 percent, followed by Williamson County at 6.8 percent, up from 6.7 percent. Scott County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.7 percent, down from 19.8 percent in the previous month, followed by Obion County at 17.2, up from 11.4 percent in July.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.7 percent, up from 7.5 percent in July. Hamilton County was 8.6 percent, up from 8.4 percent the previous month. Davidson County was 8.8 percent, up from 8.5 percent in July, and Shelby County was 10.4 percent, down from the July unemployment rate of 10.5 percent.

MOAA Seeks Cell Phones for Soldiers

September 23, 2011
Dwayne Page

The Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America is asking for your help in support of the Cell Phones for Soldiers Projects.

Cell Phones for Soldiers hopes to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas in 2008. To do so, Cell Phones for Soldiers expects to collect 50,000 cell phones each month through a network of more than 3,000 collection sites across the country

The phones are sent to ReCellular, which pays Cell Phones for Soldiers for each donated phone – enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad.

"Americans will replace an estimated 130 million cell phones this year," says Mike Newman, vice president of ReCellular, "with the majority of phones either discarded or stuffed in a drawer. Most people don't realize that the small sacrifice of donating their unwanted phones can have a tremendous benefit for a worthy cause like Cell Phones for Soldiers."

"What our organization is trying to do is collect a lot of phones to be able to donate to "Cell Phones for Soldiers" and say we're going to provide soldiers with five hundred hours or so of free phone time," said Wendy Bottomley, a member of the Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.

"We're working with our communities to go out and get people to donate their phones. We'll be working on this project through the end of the year. We're going to try for the next two to three months to collect as many phones as we can. Probably the first week in December, we'll collect all the phones and send them in. We'll erase them for you if you can't erase the stuff on there. You don't have to have all the attachments. We'll send them in," said Bottomley.

In Smithville, cell phones can be dropped off at Liberty State Bank, First Bank, Regions Bank, DeKalb Community Bank, the office of State Farm Agent Jackie Smith, and at the Verizon Phone store.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.

"Cell Phones for Soldiers started as a small way to show our family's appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed the day-to-day contact with their own families to serve in the U.S. armed forces," said the teens' father, Bob Bergquist. "Over the past few years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. But, we have also seen the need to support our troops continue to grow as more troops are sent overseas for longer assignments."

Through increased fundraising efforts, the Bergquist family hopes to raise more than $9 million in the next five years to fund new programs, such as providing video phones with prepaid service to allow soldiers abroad to see their families on a regular basis.

Bottomley said the Upper Cumberland Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America supports veterans in many ways. "We work with different groups in providing funds for veterans, such as those veterans who can't afford to pay their electric bills, or need help in building a house, etc. we have funds for that. We also have scholarships in our high schools. We have the JROTC program where high school kids learn about the military and all that it means and we provide scholarships that we give away each year to a student who is going to college. Its just an organization of veterans helping veterans, "said Bottomley.

DeKalb Health Department Has the Flu Vaccine

September 22, 2011
Dwayne Page

Influenza or the flu season is right around the corner and the DeKalb County Health Department is ready to offer flu vaccine to area residents. A mass flu vaccine clinic will be held at the Health Department located at 254 Tiger Drive on Friday, October 21 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. No appointment is required. This clinic is designed to allow people to be able to get in and out quickly.

"It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine so its a good idea to get the vaccine as soon as its available," said Frances Reece, County Director. "However, we will continue to vaccinate residents through the winter or as long as we have vaccine available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months of age and older get their yearly flu vaccine as soon as vaccines become available in their community."

Flu shots (and/or) FluMist nasal spray vaccine will be provided during the vaccination clinic. There will be a charge of $32.00 for adults and $13.70 for children. The Health Department will bill traditional Medicare and TennCare.

To ask questions about flu vaccine, call the DeKalb County Health Department at 597-7599.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awards Center Hill Dam Barrier Wall Construction Contract

September 22, 2011
Barrier wall to be installed in earthen portion of Center Hill Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District announces today the award of a $106 million contract to Bauer Foundation Corporation to install a barrier wall at Center Hill Dam, which was officially awarded late yesterday.

"This important construction will provide a barrier to protect the earthen portion of the main dam from seepage problems. The barrier will significantly improve the long-term reliability of the dam and public safety" said Project Manager Linda Adcock.

Most of the construction will be accomplished below ground and requires specialized equipment as well as close monitoring.

The main components of work are:

Enlarge a work surface along the upstream (lake) side of the main dam earthen embankment
Construct approximately 200,000 square feet of concrete panels and columns in two phases through the embankment extending downward 120 feet into foundation rock to form a minimum 2-foot thick continuous barrier wall
Highway 96 across the dam is planned to remain open, as well as Long Branch Campground downstream of the dam, throughout the two and one-half year contract. The Center Hill Dam has been identified by the Army Corps of Engineers as a high risk dam due to foundation seepage. A 2008-2010 grouting contract was an important first step to reduce the seepage and to prepare the foundation for construction of the barrier wall.

"We are currently studying the appropriate improvements for the saddle dam, a smaller earthen dam northeast of the main dam" Adcock said.

The saddle dam work will be the third large contract. A final small contract will be required for site restoration.

To read more on the project, the seepage problem and the fix, visit the Nashville District webpage at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/CenterHill. For more information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and http://www.facebook.com/centerhilllake, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.

Defendants Sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court

September 21, 2011
Dwayne Page

Several defendants appeared for sentencing Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court before Judge David Patterson.

35 year old Larry Murphy pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule II controlled substance and received a four year sentence in the community corrections program. He was given jail credit from June 9 to September 19, 2011. He must pay a $2,000 fine.

44 year old Thomas Somoza pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and possession of a handgun by a felon. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days in the DUI case to serve 75%. Somoza got a two year sentence in the handgun case. Both sentences are to run concurrently. He was fined $365. Somoza was given jail credit from February 20 to September 19, 2011.

41 year old Michael E. Brown pleaded guilty to a second offense of driving on a revoked license. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days at 75% to serve 10 days on weekends with the balance on supervised probation. He was fined $50 and his drivers license has been suspended for two years.

30 year old Edgar Adrian Saldivar Hernandez pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving on a revoked license. He received a six month sentence suspended to probation. He was also fined $50. Hernandez' probation will be supervised by CPS for three months and the remaining three months he will be on good behavior probation.

23 year old Lesley Ann Lawrence, charged with sale and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance, was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding for a period of two years. Lawrence must abide by all terms and conditions of her probation including performing 40 hours of community service work.

Rochefort Sentenced to Six Years in Shake and Bake Meth Lab Case

September 21, 2011
Dwayne Page
Robert Rochefort

A 44 year old man, arrested almost a year ago in a "shake and bake" meth lab case, was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday.

Robert Rochefort pleaded guilty to attempted initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Judge David Patterson sentenced Rochefort to a six year term and fined him $2,000. He was given jail credit from October 7, 2010 to September 19, 2011.

Rochefort was one of two people accused of conducting a shake and bake meth lab on October 7, 2010. They were arrested during a traffic stop on Coconut Ridge Road

Sheriff Patrick Ray said Rochefort and the woman, 39 year old Sandra L. Clark were each charged with initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

According to Sheriff Ray, a deputy was on routine patrol on Coconut Ridge Road when he saw a vehicle stopped in the road. When the officer stopped, the vehicle began to leave. The deputy then activated his lights signaling the vehicle to stop. After making the traffic stop the officer spoke with Clark, who was driving. Rochefort was a passenger. He said they appeared to be nervous. The deputy received consent to search but when Rochefort got out of the automobile, the officer saw him place something on the ground. There, the deputy found a two liter bottle with a three layered substance which is normally used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Rochefort emptied his pockets and produced a two liter Pepsi label. A plastic bag was found inside the vehicle. The bag contained 30 pseudoephedrine pills and four lithium batteries, which are also normally used in the manufacture of meth. Several other items used to make meth were also in the vehicle, including turkey basters, Ph test strips, coffee filters with residue, salt, water, and more.

Clark was in court last month on a charge manufacturing a schedule II controlled substance, methamphetamine. She pleaded guilty and received a six year sentence, suspended to probation with community corrections and then state probation. Clark was fined $2,000 and given credit for time served.

Carroll Gets 30 Year Prison Sentence as Career Criminal

September 20, 2011
Dwayne Page
Scott B. Carroll, Jr
Francisco Bustamonte

Two men convicted in a meth lab case last month were sentenced by Judge David Patterson Monday in DeKalb County Criminal Court

30 year old Scott B. Carroll, Jr received a 30 year sentence as a career criminal while 20 year old Francisco Bustamonte was handed an eleven year term in the local case to run consecutively to a six year sentence in a Cannon County case for the same type of offense.

A criminal court jury of seven men and five women, on Friday August 19, handed down a guilty verdict against the two men, who were charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and reckless endangerment.

Carroll and Bustamonte were accused of engaging in a process to make methamphetamine at a residence at 200 the Loop Circle in the Midway Community on January 23, 2011. The reason for the reckless endangerment charges was because the men were allegedly cooking meth in the presence of Carroll's sixteen year old sister-in-law, a juvenile, placing her in danger of serious bodily injury from the chemicals which produce a strong odor that is toxic. Another man, 19 year old Wesley J. Hayes, is also charged in the case but he did not stand trial with the other two men. His case remains pending in court.

During the sentencing hearing Monday, probation officer Jessie Paschal testified that Carroll has prior convictions for aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, and worthless checks. The robberies occurred within three days of each other from August 25-28, 2001.

Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong asked Judge Patterson to give Carroll the maximum sentence as a career offender, 30 years because he has a previous history of criminal convictions; that he was a leader in the commission of an offense involving two or more criminal actors (in this case); and that he had no hesitation about committing a crime where the risk to human life was high.

Allison Rasbury, the Assistant Public Defender, argued that Carroll should not be sentenced as a career offender because the D.A.'s office failed to meet the deadline prior to the initial trial date for filing with the court the "enhancing factors" or reasons for the harsher sentence. She claimed the range of punishment should be the same as for Bustamonte, eight to twelve years. Rasbury also rebuffed claims that Carroll was the leader in the commission of this crime, pointing out that all three men were in the same room together and they were all wearing protective gloves when officers arrived. As during the trial, Rasbury further stressed that Carroll had not intended bodily harm to anyone, citing the fact that the sixteen year old female, who was in the house at the time, was not anywhere near the bathroom where the alleged hazardous components were found.

Since Bustamonte's criminal history is apparently not as significant as Carroll's, he did not qualify for career criminal status..The range of punishment for Bustamonte is eight to twelve years. Assistant D.A. Strong essentially gave the same reasons as with Carroll why Bustamonte should receive the maximum sentence, which in his case is twelve years.

During the hearing, probation officer Pascal testified that Bustamonte had been convicted in December 2010 of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine in Cannon County and that he had been granted judicial diversion. Only weeks later on January 23, 2011 Bustamonte was charged in this case. He is also awaiting disposition of an assault case against him which has occurred since his arrest. Bustamonte's judicial diversion probation has since been revoked.

Jim Judkins, attorney for Bustamonte, argued that while his client exercised bad judgement because of his youth, he played only a minor role in this case and that he caused no bodily injury to anyone. He asked the judge to take these mitigating factors into consideration and to impose a lighter sentence.

After weighing the arguments of each attorney, Judge Patterson said Carroll does qualify as a career offender and handed down the 30 year career sentence against him. Instead of the twelve year maximum, Judge Patterson sentenced Bustamonte to eleven years but ordered that the term must be served consecutively to the six year case against him in Cannon County.

In addition to the prison terms, Carroll and Bustamonte must each pay a fine of $27,500 as imposed by the jury. That's $25,000 each for initiation and $2,500 for reckless endangerment.

Motions for a new trial for the two men will be heard on November 16th.

City Okays Residential Uses in Central Business District

September 20, 2011
Dwayne Page

Residential apartments have shared space with commercial establishments in the central business district of Smithville for several years, but the Smithville zoning ordinance has apparently never been amended to legally provide for it.

To make the update, the Smithville aldermen Monday night approved an amendment on first reading updating a section of the zoning ordinance to provide for residential uses within the B-3 Commercial Zoning District.

Second and final reading passage will be scheduled following a public hearing at the next meeting on Monday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said "there is quite a bit of interest in some of the vacant buildings downtown being turned into residential units. Our zoning ordinance does not address that so we need an amendment to that. It has been passed by the planning commission".

The proposed ordinance reads as follows: "Now therefore, be it ordained by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen of Smithville, that the following sections shall be amended in the Smithville Zoning Ordinance:

Section 106.10.1
"After public notice and hearing, subject to appropriate safeguards and conditions, the Smithville Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) may permit construction of a new building or rehabilitation of an existing building in the Central Business District for Residential or Mixed Commercial-Residential Use. In reviewing applications for such uses or conversions of buildings, the Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the overall effect of the proposal to the area and surrounding properties so that there will not be a detrimental effect to the stability and viability of the Central Business District. In making this determination, this board must evaluate the availability of utilities, number of units proposed, city's capacity to respond effectively to emergencies, and availability of off-street parking".

Section 106.10.2
" The following conditions must also be met:
A. Submit site plan and floor plans for BZA review.

B. Provision of some off-street parking spaces for new residential construction that meets the parking requirements for the R-3 Residential Zoning District. Parking for existing structures being rehabilitated/converted to a residence shall be provided on public lots if none are available on site

C. Landscaping of the property if new residential construction

D. Minimum square footage of dwelling units of 650 square feet for one-bedroom unit, 900 square feet for a two-bedroom unit, 1100 square feet for a three-bedroom unit.

E. All new residential construction shall meet R-3 requirements on number of units and setbacks

F. Adherence to requirement of the 2006 International Residential Code and later amendments/updates."

In other business, Mayor Hendrixson said the city has been awarded an airport grant from the state in the amount of $61,000. The city's matching portion is $15,000. The funds have been used to purchase an 83 horsepower John Deere tractor, a 15 foot John Deere bushhog, a front end loader, and a zero turn commercial mower. He added that about seven thousand dollars will be left from the grant to purchase another commercial mower.

Meanwhile, Mayor Hendrixson reported that city officials may know by next month whether an application filed last year for a one million dollar sewer rehab disaster grant will be approved. "I went to an Upper Cumberland Development District meeting last week. We applied for the grant last year and we should hear from that by next month. We were able to show where (groundwater) infiltration into our (sewer) lines has caused an overrun in our sewer plant. Hopefully we'll get the grant or at least a portion of it," said Mayor Hendrixson

The city is seeking up to one million dollars in Disaster Recovery CDBG Funds from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to ensure that much needed rehabilitation of the sewer system is met to avoid any problems that may arise in the event of severe flooding. The UCDD filed the application on behalf of the city.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs asked again for city officials look into putting in a sidewalk on at least one side of Anthony Avenue near Walmart to keep people from walking in the street, going to and from the store. Jacobs said it is a safety concern, especially at night if pedestrians are wearing dark colored clothing, making it more difficult for motorists to see them. Mayor Hendrixson said constructing sidewalks there will be a challenge because of deep ditches on either side of the street but he will check this week to see what can be done. Walmart officials may also be contacted to see if they want to support the endeavor in some manner.

Smithville Rotary Club Fish Fry October 1

September 20, 2011
Dwayne Page
George Oliver

The 38th annual Smithville Rotary Club fish fry is set for Saturday, October 1 starting at 5:00 p.m. at Greenbrook Park.

George Oliver, President of the Smithville Rotary Club, invites you join in. "We'll have fish for the adults and hot dogs for the kids. Our tickets are $35.00 each for the family. But you can feed the family on one ticket. We look forward to people coming out and supporting us because we use funds that we generate from our fish fry for the scholarships and lots of other community projects that we do," said Oliver

In addition to the food and fellowship, Oliver said you have a chance to win prizes. "After the meal, we'll have a drawing. We'll draw all 250 tickets. The next to the grand prize is $500 and the grand prize is $1,000."

To purchase a ticket, contact George Oliver, Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack, Alan Webb at F.Z. Webb & Sons Pharmacy, Brenda Cantrell at First Bank, Chad Colwell of DeKalb Community Bank, Julia Cantrell at My Team Insurance or any other Smithville Rotarian

DeKalb Board of Education Represented at TSBA Fall District Meeting

September 20, 2011
Kenny Rhody, Johnny Lattimore, Charles Robinson, John D.Foutch, Mark Willoughby

Local boards of education heard updates on education reform in Tennessee, earned honors for their professional development activities, and recognized a dedicated school volunteer and an outstanding student at the Tennessee School Boards Association's (TSBA) Upper Cumberland Fall District Meeting, held Sept. 15 at Livingston Academy in the Overton County School District.

Members of the DeKalb County Board of Education attended including Board Chairman Charles Robinson, Kenny Rhody, Johnny Lattimore, and John David Foutch. Director of Schools Mark Willoughby was also present.

The Upper Cumberland District meeting was one of nine similar sessions held
annually in each of TSBA's development districts. The evening's program included an update on this year's session of the Tennessee General Assembly, a discussion of moving from collective bargaining to collaborative conferencing, a review of the new teacher and principal evaluations and an update on tenure reform. The meeting also included recognition of school board members who have achieved honors over the past year, a school volunteer who is a finalist for a grant to their school of choice and a local student who is a finalist for a college scholarship.

Each year TSBA honors one student from each of its nine districts who has achieved distinction in the areas of academics, community leadership, and engagement as part of its Student Recognition Award program. One of those nine students will win the statewide Student Recognition Award to be presented at the TSBA Annual Convention in November, which will include a $2,000 scholarship. The 2011 Upper Cumberland Student Recognition Award
Winner is Abigayle Claflin of Cumberland County.

This year TSBA will honor one school volunteer from each of its nine districts who have distinguished themselves by demonstrating exceptional commitment to volunteerism in a local school district. The district winner has exhibited exemplary leadership, creativity, cooperation and hard work in their service to a school. One of those nine volunteers will win the statewide School Volunteer Recognition Award to be presented at the TSBA Annual Convention in November, which will include a $1,000 grant to the school of their choice. The 2011 Upper Cumberland School Volunteer Recognition Award winner is Guy Pinckley of Allardt, TN.

Several Upper Cumberland District school board members earned TSBA Boardsmanship Awards in 2011. The awards are presented to individual board members who have achieved one of five levels of boardsmanship standards over the past year. The program is designed to recognize school board members for participation in board activities beyond the local level through a commitment to training, willingness to participate in workshops and a volunteer spirit. The Boardsmanship Award honors not only the quantity, but also the quality of participation. Levels I-IV are given at Fall District Meetings, while Level V Boardsmanship is awarded at the association's annual convention in November.

A statewide, nonprofit organization, the Tennessee School Boards Association is a federation of all the state's school boards. TSBA's mission is to assist school boards in effectively governing school districts. Through the years,TSBA has helped school boards and their members reach their highest potential through Association programs, meetings and services. TSBA also provides school board members a collective voice in matters of legislation and public education concerns. For more information about TSBA, visit our website at: www.tsba.net.


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