Local News Articles

County Commissioners Asked to Fund More School Resource Officers

March 23, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Billy Miller Addresses County Commissioners
Billy Miller

He is a special agent of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and a member of the DeKalb County Board of Education from the fourth district, but Billy Miller addressed the county commission Thursday night as a parent asking them to consider funding more school resource officers.

"I am an elected school board member but I have two boys that mean the world to me and that's why I'm here. I think it is my duty as a parent and as a citizen of this community to make sure that I do the best that I can by my kids and I know that's what every one of you want," said Miller.

While the county already has an SRO at the high school, Miller said he believes there needs to be at least one school resource officer in each of the other four schools as well.

Smithville Police officers have recently made it a practice of visiting schools in the city at random times during the school day. Miller said while that is good, it doesn't take the place of having an SRO at the schools who would be there at all times during the day. "A school resource officer is not just a police officer that you put into a school system. Its totally separate," said Miller.

"I think it's a good thing that the city has been out there and they've had officers out there. I think that's a great idea. The only thing with that is if a guy (shooter) is going to do you harm, he's going to wait until that officer leaves. A very few of any of your school involved shootings come from some random guy off the street. Its somebody who has taken time and studied the school and studied the movements of the teachers or knows that he can get to the path of least resistance. If you have a guy (officer) over here at Northside Elementary School for a day and then he's at the West School the next day, they (shooters) are going to figure out that pattern. I think its beneficial for every school to have one (SRO). The guy (shooter) in New Town Connecticut, he went to a school he was familiar with because his mother had taught there before. But when he was challenged by the police, he took his own life. An SRO is not going to take care of everything but used in the right manner he can greatly decrease the issues that may happen at the schools," he said.

Miller said statistics show that a vast majority of school shootings arise from domestic issues at home. But if an SRO in the school can get to the root of the problem before hand, he could perhaps prevent a tragedy. "eighty percent of all issues that come in school shootings are domestic issues. They start at home some way," said Miller. " That's where having an SRO on a daily basis that knows students can affect a student. There are examples (elsewhere) where an officer has picked up on a kid, pulled him aside, talked to him and found out if there is any kind of issue going on at home. It can save a lot of these tragedies from happening. By having an officer there all the time, every day, they know the kids. But it takes a unique personality for that. Not every officer can go in there and be a true mentor at the elementary and high school level," said Miller.

Once established in a school, Miller said SRO's gain the trust of students. "A kid confides in an SRO and might tell him if they know of a gun in somebody's locker. Its pro active policing basically. If you can stop a crime before it ever happens, you're way ahead of the game and that's what SRO's do. They are there to get that familiarity with the kid and gain his trust," said Miller.

SRO's must be certified by the state's Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission and are required to have a certain amount of training, according to Miller. "State law says that an SRO shall participate in 40 hours of basic training in school policing within 12 months of being assigned to the school. Every year thereafter a minimum of sixteen hours of training is required specific to school policing," said Miller.

Sheriff Patrick Ray, who was also at the county commission meeting added, "You can't hire someone off the street. He must have two years experience (as a law enforcement officer)," he said.

When asked about the cost, Sheriff Ray said the first year would be the most expensive. It would be $55,000 per officer to get them started like any officer. That's for their uniforms and everything to equip them plus the training," he said. The cost would then just be their salary for every year thereafter which would vary depending upon where the officers fall in the county's four tiered wage scale for the sheriff's department.

In addition to SRO's, Miller said the school system is looking at other ways to enhance security. "We've got a bricks and mortar study coming up so hopefully we can see how we can keep them (school visitors) from just coming in, a way where they would have to come in through a certain door to a room and then have to show an ID," said Miller. "We're looking at upgrading cameras in the school system. Mr. (Mark) Willoughby has looked at that. Sumner County has a really neat program and I think it would be very effective for us as well. They have an interactive program with their cameras in the school system where at the main office, you can look (view monitors) and see any school at any point and time to see if something is going on. Its not that costly to do. Not with today's technology. And if you're an officer and have a wireless access at school, if you pull up on the scene you might be able to see where that guy (troublemaker or shooter) is at in the school," said Miller.

"Charlie Parker (DeKalb Emergency Management Agency Coordinator and Smithville Fire Chief) came up with the idea of having blue prints of the schools made as an interactive map so that if you do have officers that need to respond, you can get on line and see the outline of the school buildings. There's officers who have never been in the school system and that would be helpful to them," said Miller.

"If we combine all these efforts, its going to greatly decrease someone coming in and harming our kids and kids in a safer environment are going to learn better," said Miller.

Although no vote could be taken because it was only a committee meeting, County Mayor Mike Foster later asked the county commissioners for their input on the issue. "I know this is way, way early and we've got a lot of things to talk about concerning the budget but what are your feelings about the in-school officers? Do we need to get more information and work on it? What's your thinking?

The commissioners made no commitments but most seemed receptive to at least obtaining more information.

No Serious Injuries in Friday Morning Mishap

March 22, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
2003 Lincoln LS driven by Brandon Hamlet
2003 Ford Explorer, driven by Destinee Mayo

A two vehicle accident on Highway 146 near Pirtle's Nursery Friday morning resulted in only minor injuries.

Trooper Bobby Johnson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said that 21 year old Brandon Hamlet of Smithville was driving south in a 2003 Lincoln LS when he attempted to turn left into a private drive, crossing into the path of a northbound 2003 Ford Explorer, driven by 26 year old Destinee Mayo of Morrison. Inside the vehicle with Mayo were two children, an eighteen month old and a six year old. After impact, Mayo's vehicle went off the right side of the road and struck a ditch

Mayo was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law. Hamlet was cited for violation of the financial responsibility law, failure to yield, and for not carrying a drivers license.

All were checked out at the scene by DeKalb EMS but no one had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance.

Lewis and Atnip Receive DCHS Basketball MVP Awards, Cantrell Named MVC

March 22, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chad Kirby, Chelsea Lewis, Braxton Atnip, Kaylee Cantrell, Shelia Kirby
Tiger Basketball Award Winners
Lady Tiger Basketball Award Winners
DCHS Basketball Cheerleader Award Winners
Tiger Fans of the Year Joyce and Wallace Johnson

Seniors Chelsea Lewis and Braxton Atnip were named the 2013 DCHS basketball Most Valuable Players Thursday night at the annual team banquet, while Senior Kaylee Cantrell was selected as the Most Valuable Cheerleader. The awards were presented by Chad Kirby of Love-Cantrell Funeral Home. The MVP and MVC awards are named in memory Chad's grandfather, Allen D. Hooper.

Atnip, who went over 1,000 points in scoring for his career at DCHS during the Chattanooga Howard game in the sectionals or sub-state, also received the best rebounder and smartest player awards

In addition to winning the MVP honor, Lewis took home awards for best foul shooter as well as the hustle award.

DeKalb County's Sonni Fullilove, who scored 1,641 points for his high school career, was named the boy's Defensive Player of the Year in District 8 AA while Tiger Coach Lynus Martin was the Boy's District Coach of the Year. In addition to taking the Defensive Player of the Year award, Fullilove was also named to the All-District's 1st Team along with Braxton Atnip. Stephen Howell was named to the 2nd Team. Ethan Roller made the 3rd Team and Lucas Phillips and Will Molander received Honorable Mention.

Loren Cripps of the Lady Tigers made the All-District 3rd Team. Ashley Chew and Morgan Pedigo were selected to the All Freshman Team and Chelsea Lewis received Honorable Mention.

Tiger Coach Lynus Martin reached a milestone late in the season earning his 200th career coaching win.

The season for the DeKalb County Tigers ended with a loss at Chattanooga Howard in the sectionals or sub-state. The Tigers concluded the 2012-13 campaign with an over-all record of 30-7, the most ever wins in a single season in school history. They were also regular season district champs and runners-up in the district and regional tournaments.

The DeKalb County Lady Tigers wrapped up their season losing to Livingston Aacademy in their opening game of the District 8 AA basketball tournament at Cookeville. The Lady Tigers finished with an over-all record of 16-16.

Other individual cheerleading awards included:

Most Spirit: Chloe White

Most Improved: Chloe White

Best Jumps: Kara Kanipe

Best Dance: Katie Roehner

Best Stunts: Victoria Vincent

Best Overall Attitude: Kaylee Cantrell

STAR Award (Spirit, Team, Attitude, Respect): Kaylene Ferguson

Leadership Awards: Emily Webb, Kelsey Hale, and Erin Cantrell-Pryor

Other Lady Tiger basketball awards were as follows:

MVP: Chelsea Lewis

Best Foul Shooter: Chelsea Lewis

Hustle Award: Chelsea Lewis

Charge Award: Abbey Caldwell

Coaches Award: Abbey Caldwell

Best Rebounder: Lydia Foutch

Defensive MVP: Lydia Foutch

Most Improved: Morgan Pedigo

Sixth Woman: Ashley Chew

Best Passer: Paige Winningham

Best Three Point Shooter: Loren Cripps

Offensive MVP: Loren Cripps

Tiger Award: McKenzie Poteete

For the Tigers,

MVP: Braxton Atnip

Smartest Player: Braxton Atnip

Best Rebounder: Braxton Atnip

Best Passer: Will Molander

Hustle Award: Ethan Roller

Best Practice Player: Aaron Patterson

Most Improved: Justin Bone

Sixth Man: Justin Bone

Best Athlete: Stephen Howell

Best Ball Handler: Stephen Howell

Best Attitude: Eli Lomas

Best Foul Shooter: Sonni Fullilove

Best Defensive Player: Sonni Fullilove

Meanwhile, Wallace and Joyce Johnson were named the Tiger basketball Fans of the Year.

The annual DCHS basketball banquet was held at the Smithville First Baptist Church Life Enrichment Center.

(TOP PHOTO: Left to right- Chad Kirby, Chelsea Lewis, Braxton Atnip, Kaylee Cantrell, and Shelia Kirby)

(SECOND PHOTO FROM TOP: Left to right seated- Will Molander, Braxton Atnip, and Ethan Roller: STANDING Left to right- Aaron Patterson, Justin Bone, Stephen Howell, and Eli Lomas)

(THIRD PHOTO FROM TOP: Left to right seated-Lydia Foutch, Chelsea Lewis, and Abbey Caldwell; STANDING Left to right-Morgan Pedigo, Ashley Chew, Paige Winningham, Loren Cripps, and McKenzie Poteete)

(FOURTH PHOTO FROM TOP: Left to right seated-Kara Kanipe, Kayee Cantrell, and Victoria Vincent; STANDING Left to right- Emily Webb, Kaylene Ferguson, Chloe White, Katie Roehner, Kelsey Hale, and Erin Cantrell-Pryor)

(BOTTOM PHOTO: Joyce and Wallace Johnson

Another Fire Destroys Trailer Home

March 21, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Another Fire Destroys Trailer Home

A fire Thursday morning destroyed a single wide mobile home at 157 Cecil Hale Road.

The fire was reported to central dispatch at 8:52 a.m.

The home belonged to Comer Bratcher but Geronimo Soto lived there. Soto was at work when the fire started but was notified at the local nursery where he is employed.

A neighbor and a passing motorist spotted the fire. It was then reported to 911.

Members of the Short Mountain Highway, Blue Springs, and Main Station responded along with the tanker truck of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said the fire started in a bedroom but the cause is undetermined. Soto lost most of his belongings in the fire.

Six to Run For Alderman in Smithville Election

March 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Gayla Hendrix
Aaron Meeks
Anthony Scott
Shawn Jacobs
Josh Miller
Danny Washer

The Smithville Municipal Election will have six candidates in the race for three aldermen seats on June 18.

The three incumbent aldermen up for re-election, Gayla Hendrix, Shawn Jacobs, and Danny Washer will be seeking another term. Three others, Josh Miller, Anthony Scott, and Aaron Meeks are also running.

Noon today (Thursday, March 21) was the qualifying deadline.

The election will be held on Tuesday, June 18.

The deadline for voter registration in time for the election is May 20.

Early voting will be May 29 through June 13 at the courthouse. Times have not yet been set.

The terms of the three elected will begin July 1 and run through August 2016. The aldermen-elect will serve a one time- three year term. Thereafter, the terms of office for these three positions will be for four years beginning with the city election in August 2016, subject to final approval of proposed changes in the city charter.

The Smithville Mayor and Aldermen adopted a resolution Monday night, February 18 to make changes to the city charter including having the terms of office go from two to four years, extending voting rights to county residents that own commercial property in the city (two persons per deed), allowing property rights voting to county residents who own at least 3,500 square feet of property in the city, and allowing by ordinance regular city council meetings to be held only once per month.

The resolution, passed unanimously by the aldermen, has been sent to State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody and State Senator Mae Beavers asking that they introduce an act in the legislature to amend in its entirety the city charter, which is Chapter 486 of the Private Acts of Tennessee for 1941 and to replace it with the new charter.

After the resolution is adopted by the General Assembly, it must return to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a second reading where it must receive a vote of not less than two thirds of the entire membership of the board before it can take effect.

Under the proposed new charter, city elections will be held every two years, on the first Thursday in August to coincide with the county general election and state primaries. Terms of office for the mayor and aldermen will go from two to four years. City elections are currently held on the third Tuesday in June and the mayor and aldermen races are the only offices on the ballot.

The terms of office for the mayor and aldermen are staggered. For example, three aldermen are to be elected this year (2013) and a mayor and two aldermen are to be elected next year (2014). Currently the terms of office are for two years. The office holders are elected on the third Tuesday in June and their terms of office begin on July 1.

There will be no change in the date of the city election this year. The election will be held on Tuesday, June 18. The three aldermen elected this year will serve for a three year term until the August election in 2016. From then on three aldermen will be elected to serve four year terms. .

Next year under the proposed new charter, a mayor and two aldermen will be elected on the first Thursday in August. Those elected will serve for four years.

The proposed new charter states that " The Election Commission of DeKalb County shall hold a municipal election on the third Tuesday in June of 2013 for the purpose of electing three aldermen to serve until the first Thursday in August of 2016 or until their successors are elected and qualified. At the municipal election of the first Thursday in August of 2014 a Mayor and two aldermen shall be elected to serve until the first Thursday in August 2018 or until their successors are elected and qualified. Thereafter the terms of the Mayor and aldermen shall be four year terms. The Mayor and aldermen shall be elected at large. Any elector who has been a resident of the city for at least one year may be qualified as a candidate for Mayor or Alderman by a nominating petition submitted to the DeKalb County Election Commission in the time and manner determined by the general laws of the State of Tennessee".

Currently, persons who live in the county may qualify as a city property rights voter in municipal elections if they own property in the city of at least 7,500 square feet. The proposed new charter changes that to 3,500 square feet and it allows property owners to count multiple floors toward the total square footage requirement. Anyone who lives in the county but owns commercial property of any size in the city may also register as a property rights voter with a limit of two persons per deed. The proposed new charter states that " any person owning property within the corporate limits of the municipality and residing outside such limits but within DeKalb County may register and vote in municipal elections, if such property ownership is of a residential lot size of not less than thirty-five hundred (3500) square feet or any person owning a commercial property of any size as long as there are not more than two (2) persons per deed in either property classification. Multiple floors shall count towards the total square footage residential requirement Such nonresident shall furnish to the Registrar's office proof of ownership and lot size and location by submitting a copy of the municipality's tax notice or such other document deemed acceptable by the Registrar. Such nonresident shall not be eligible to hold any municipal office or serve on any municipal board or commission."

For more information about the Smithville Municipal Election contact the DeKalb County Election Commission Office at 597-4146.

Calf Perishes in Barn Fire

March 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

A Wednesday afternoon fire destroyed a barn belonging to Tony Davis at 3750 Seven Springs Road.

Central dispatch was notified at 1:50 p.m.

Members of the Blue Springs and Main Station of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department responded but could not save the barn. A bottle fed calf also perished in the fire.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said the cause of the fire is undetermined but may have been electrical.

Meanwhile, county firefighters saved a mobile home in a Tuesday afternoon blaze at 1100 Allen Bend Road in the Belk Community.

Central dispatch was called at 5:32 p.m.

The mobile home belongs to Crystal Moore but she didn't live there. The persons who did occupy the home had recently moved out although some home furnishings remained.

According to Chief Green, the fire started from a bedroom and spread from the trailer to the yard and field in front of the structure. The cause of the blaze is undetermined. Chief Green said firefighters were able to contain the trailer fire to the bedroom but the rest of the home received heat, smoke, and water damage. A large area of the front yard was scorched by the flames.

Members of the Belk, Blue Springs, Keltonburg, Main Station, Short Mountain Highway, and tanker truck all responded along with DeKalb EMS and officers of the sheriff's department.

Judge Hands Down Sentences in Meth, Burglary, and other Drug Cases

March 20, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Judge David Patterson

Judge David Patterson sentenced seven people on drug charges and two others for burglaries in DeKalb County Criminal Court Monday, March 18

20 year old James Dillon Mitchell and 19 year old Amy Elizabeth Mullican pleaded guilty to attempted initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine. Each received a six year sentence, all suspended to judicial diversion supervised probation and were fined $2,000. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, September 20, 2012 a drug detective stopped a vehicle on Highway 70 east for having a headlight out. Mitchell, the driver, had very slurred speech and he kept dropping things in the car. The detective noticed a strong chemical odor coming from the automobile. Mitchell was asked to get out of the vehicle. He submitted to a search and the detective found in Mitchell's coat pocket, rubber tubing taped to the lid of a bottle. In Mitchell's pants pocket, the detective found a sock which contained a scale, glass pipe, and aluminum foil. Mullican, the owner of the vehicle and a passenger, gave consent to search the automobile and the detective found a plastic bottle, a one pot lab, in the front floor board along with two small plastic containers that held lye, three cut hoses, and empty blister packs. Mitchell said that the one pot lab belonged to him. Mullican admitted to knowing the one pot lab was in the car. A female correctional officer was called to the scene to search Mullican. Found in Mullican's bra was a small plastic baggie with a white powdery substance believed to be methamphetamine.

25 year old Amanda Brooke Washer pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and received a three year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. The sentence is to run concurrently with a sentence she is now serving in Warren County. She must also make restitution if applicable. Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that on Saturday, June 9, 2012 Washer allegedly broke into the residence of Eulain Poley Shelton on Gentry Avenue and took several items from the house including pieces of jewelry, cash, and other items, all valued at over $1,000

33 year old Jamie Edward Carroll pleaded guilty to promotion of methamphetamine. He received a five year sentence, suspended to 243 days of time served with the balance on TDOC supervised probation. Carroll must complete a long term residential drug rehab program. He was also fined $2,000. He was given jail credit of 243 days. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, July 19, 2012 officers went to Carroll's residence at 834 Gentry Avenue due to high traffic volume there. After receiving consent to search, officers found four hypodermic needles and several items used to manufacture methamphetamine including Aleve D Cold tablet boxes (in a kitchen garbage can); a 20 ounce plastic bottle, partially filled with a solid substance; a cold pack, partially burned in the back yard; and another cold pack which was found cut on the carport area of the home.

40 year old Scott Lynn Sykes pleaded guilty to attempted initiation of methamphetamine. He received a six year sentence to serve at 30% before his release eligibility date. His probation in another case was also revoked and he must serve the balance of a four year sentence in that case. The two sentences are to run concurrently with each other. Sykes was given jail credit from November 11, 2011 to November 24, 2012 and from January 1, 2013 to March 18, 2013. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on New Year's Day a sheriff's department drug detective came to Sykes' home on Alexander Street to do a welfare check on a small child. Sykes gave the detective consent to search the residence. In Sykes' bedroom, the detective found rubber tubing, a 20 ounce Pepsi bottle, acid, ice compresses (cold packs) that had been cut open, a plastic baggie with a white substance believed to be lye, and pliers and cutters. In the kitchen, the detective found a two liter bottle partially filled with lighter fluid, an empty quart Kingsford fluid container, and a sixteen ounce bottle partially filled with acid. These components are used to manufacture methamphetamine. Sykes admitted that these items belonged to him. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking. The house was placed under quarantine.

34 year old James Frederick Summers pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule VI drug for resale and possession of a prohibited weapon. He received a two year sentence on the drug charge, all suspended to probation except for 180 days to serve. He was also fined $2,000. Summers received a one year sentence on the prohibited weapon charge, all suspended to supervised probation. The two sentences are to run consecutively for a total of three years. He was given jail credit of 158 days. Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that on Thursday, September 20, 2012 as he was driving north in his patrol car on Tramel Street going toward West Main Street, a 2000 model Hyundai, driven by Summers, was approaching him, coming south on Tramel Street. He said the car almost hit him head-on. Summers pulled into the parking lot of DeKalb Community Bank. Chief Caplinger stopped the vehicle and detained Summers. A passenger of the car, 28 year old Joshua Cripps, got out and fled on foot. He was picked up later at another location in the county and was charged with evading arrest. Officer Chip Avera and Corporal Travis Bryant arrived to assist Chief Caplinger at the scene. Found in Summers' car were 40 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana wrapped in paper along with some drug paraphernalia. A check of Summers' driving record revealed that he was driving on a revoked license. His license had previously been revoked for driving under the influence in Warren County and for two DUI's in DeKalb County. Summers was taken into custody and his car was seized by police. Summers had in his possession a prohibited weapon (brass knuckles).

29 year old Daniel Ray Wilson pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and received a three year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other and with General Sessions cases against him. The sentence was suspended to supervised probation except for 120 days to serve and he must make restitution if applicable. Wilson was given jail credit of 115 days. Smithville Police Chief Randy Caplinger said that on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at Taco Bell, Wilson allegedly broke the passenger side window of the victim's vehicle with a brick and then reached inside and took her purse. Wilson was arrested again on Thanksgiving Day after allegedly breaking into a vehicle at NHC. Entry was made by breaking the back side glass out and taking items from the automobile.

35 year old Gary Ashford pleaded guilty to sale of a schedule IV controlled substance and received a three year sentence, all suspended to supervised probation. He was fined $2,000. He also pleaded guilty to a violation of probation in another case and received a sentence of 120 days to serve. The sentences are to run consecutively. Ashford was given jail credit from November 27, 2012 to March 18, 2013 along with 21 days of previous jail credit.

37 year old Greg Patton pleaded guilty to attempted initiation of the manufacture of methamphetamine and evading arrest. He received a four year sentence to serve at 30% in the meth case and 11 months and 29 days to serve for evading arrest. The sentences are to run concurrently with each other. Patton was fined $2,000.

City Property Owners Admonished to Keep their Lots Free of Junk and Clutter

March 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Weeds and Brush Up Around Vacant Home on Gentry Avenue
Dilapidated House on Hayes Street

City officials are admonishing property owners to keep their lots maintained free of junk and clutter and to remove any dilapidated and unsafe structures.

During Monday night's city council meeting, Mayor Jimmy Poss said there are clear violations of the city's property maintenance ordinance across town. "There is property in town that has got a lot of junk in the yard. We've looked at it. It's not only one spot. Its more than one spot. It entails a lot of property. I can take you to houses that has been abandoned. Its grown up. The houses need to be torn down. I want to give the property owners a chance to clean it up," said Mayor Poss.

Those who don't clean up their properties could risk civil penalties. "I just want to make everybody aware that sooner or later we're going to have to send out some citations, "said Mayor Poss.

The city's "Minimum Property Maintenance Requirements" states that "no person owning, leasing, renting, occupying, including vacant lots, shall maintain or allow to be maintained on such property, except as may be permitted by any other city ordinance, any of the following conditions visible from any public street or alley:

Junk, litter and trash;

Outdoor nuisances dangerous to children, including but not limited to abandoned, broken or neglected equipment, machinery, or any appliance with a latching door;

Shopping carts in any front yard, side yard, rear yard or vacant lot of any property;

Dead, decayed, diseased or hazardous trees, or any other vegetation a majority of which (excluding vegetation located in flowerbeds, or trees, or shrubbery or existing hayfields) exceeds twelve (12) inches in height, or which is dangerous to public health, safety, and welfare, located in any front yard, side yard, rear yard, or upon any vacant lot".

"Has the city notified them (property owners in violation) by letter?," asked Alderman Tim Stribling.

"No we haven't done it. I have talked to family members of one house and they're okay with it," answered Mayor Poss.

"I talked with Mr. (Eugene) O'Neil (city building codes inspector) over a year ago and there are a few (unkept properties) over by you (mayor) that we looked at," said Alderman Danny Washer.

"We did send out notices on those," responded Mayor Poss.

Alderman Washer said the problem with some is that the owners of abandoned properties are difficult to locate. "You send them (notices) out to the last known property owner and get no response. That's what he (O'Neil) told me," said Alderman Washer.

Alderman Stribling asked about sending out more notices. "Mayor, on these houses that you're saying you can't find them (property owners), can the city send out the letter that they're supposed to send out and within so many days if they (property owners) don't do it (respond), can the city clean it up and then put a lien on the property?"

"I'm not sure," replied Mayor Poss.

Alderman Washer said according to Mr. O'Neil, if the property owners don't respond to the notices, the city could clean up the properties and charge them for the cost. "I might be wrong but I think what Mr O'Neil told me was that all we can do is add it (city's cost of cleanup) on to their taxes if they don't do nothing," said Alderman Washer.

"I think we need to start by sending out notices to all the city property owners that's not meeting the ordinance requirements," said Alderman Gayla Hendrix. " We could possibly put a fine and a lien on it. I'm not saying fine them up front. You could give them notice that they have so much time to get the property in order to meet the requirements of whatever the ordinance states and let them know that its punishable by a fine if its not cleaned up in a certain amount of time. But we definitely need to give people notice especially if they own property here and maybe live away from here and might not realize the condition (their property) is in. So give them notice. Give them an opportunity to fix it and if they don't then impose a fine," she said.

Alderman Washer said the problem is not just with abandoned houses. " Its also people that do live there and they still junk it up. It ridiculous. We have a lot of people coming into our city that goes right by (some of these properties). It's shameful. I can point you out cars that have set there and not been touched in probably fifteen years. They're just setting there. They do nothing with them. Its not just one (vehicle). They keep adding to it. Next year you'll have another one, and then another one. It just keeps multiplying. It an eyesore. And tires. We're fixing to come into hot weather. That needs to be cleaned up," said Alderman Washer.

Concerned citizen Faye Fuqua suggested having a city cleanup day and to encourage residents throughout town to participate. "I know some people are going to have to be forced (to clean up their properties) but maybe the whole city could have a clean up day and encourage everyone on each street and in each community to do that," said Fuqua.

Alderman Hendrix also encouraged anyone knowing of unkept property to contact city hall or the mayor. "If you have a problem in your neighborhood with property that's not kept notify city hall because sometimes we can't get around to every area," she said.

Mayor Poss said he liked Fuqua's idea of a city cleanup day and may explore that possibility. "Maybe we need to have a city cleanup, like the county has a cleanup. Maybe we need to set a date. We'll see what the people think and try to go with it," he said.

The city's property maintenance ordinance provides for enforcement stating that "It shall be the duty of the Building Inspector of the City of Smithville to serve notice upon the property owner of record in violation. The property owner shall be notified in writing specifying the nature of the violation, specifying the corrective measures to be taken, and require compliance within not more than 30 days. The notice may be served upon the owners of the premises where the violation is located by:

Posting notice in plain view on the property in violation, or sending notice by mail

The date the notice is posted or received by the offender shall serve as the beginning of the specified time period allowing for corrective action."

The ordinance further states that "Failure by the property owner to take corrective action to bring the property within compliance shall constitute a violation and be a civil offense."

"Any person violating this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of $50 for each separate violation of this chapter. Each day the violation of this chapter continues shall be considered a separate violation," according to the ordinance

Smithville Releases Results of Water Cost Study

March 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Water Treatment Plant

How much does it cost the City of Smithville to treat and supply water?

$2.67 per 1,000 gallons according to the results of a water cost study by Warren and Associates Engineering, PLLC of Lebanon.

(CLICK PDF LINK BELOW TO READ THE ENTIRE REPORT)

Smithville Cost Study March 2013.pdf (327.54 KB)

According to the report, Based on the data reviewed provided by the City of Smithville, and based upon documented revenues, calculated expenses, and calculated capital expenditure
allowances, the average cost to treat and supply 1,000 gallons for the City is:

• Average Cost to Treat and Supply 1,000 Gallons: $2.67

The current rates charged by the City of Smithville to their customers are as follows:

• City of Smithville Customers: $5.00/1,000 gallons
• DeKalb Utility District: $2.05/1,000 gallons

The City of Smithville currently sells water to the DeKalb Utility District for $2.05 per thousand gallons and under terms of the contract, the rate increases by five cents per thousand gallons in January of each year. The two parties entered into the contract in 2004 and it expires in 2014. Even if the DUD builds its own water plant, it will apparently still need a new water agreement with the city to serve certain areas.

As a comparison, rates charged by other selected utilities in the Middle Tennessee area were
checked, according to the study. Following is a summary of the amount per 1,000 gallons charged.

Comparative Rates from Other Utilities as follows:
District/Utility Providing
District/Utility Purchasing
Price/1,000 Gallons

Town of Carthage Cordell Hull UD/25 UD $4.01
Smith Utility District Town of Alexandria $2.88
Smith Utility District Southside UD $3.75
Hartsville/Trousdale Water Cordell Hull UD $2.75
Hartsville/Trousdale Water City of Lafayette $2.75
Hartsville/Trousdale Water Castalian Springs UD $2.75
Hartsville/Trousdale Water Southside UD $2.75
Lafayette UD Red Boiling Springs $4.32
Cookeville UD Jackson County UD $3.71
Gainesboro UD Jackson County UD $2.82
Livingston UD Jackson County UD $2.99
Red Boiling Springs UD Jackson County UD $4.22

The city paid $7,500 to have the study done.

The City of Smithville and DeKalb Utility District were expected to share in a cost of service study as the two sides looked toward possibly making a deal on a new water contract. But the DUD opposed the city's selection of Warren and Associates.

In a recent letter to city officials, signed by Board Chairman Roger Turney and manager Jon Foutch, DUD officials wrote that the city and DUD were to have agreed on the selection of an unbiased entity to perform the study. DUD officials claim that Warren and Associates is not unbiased in that it has been hired by the city and officials of the company will be presenting evidence against the DUD on behalf of the City of Smithville at the April 4 Utility Management Review Board (DUD rate review) proceeding in Smithville.

Smithville Cost Study March 2013.pdf (327.54 KB)

Mayor Concerned About Dogs Running Loose

March 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

City officials are asking residents to keep their dogs from running loose

Mayor Jimmy Poss, during Monday night's city council meeting, said dogs are running wild in the city and some people have been bitten. "We've been trying to catch one dog that's done bit two people," he said.

Mayor Poss is urging city residents to abide by the leash laws. "I know everybody has probably seen dogs running in the communities. There is a law in the city. There is a leash law on dogs. Its the owner's responsibility to keep them in a pen or on a chain. A lot of people don't like to do that but I just want everybody to know we're trying (to solve the problem) and if anybody has dogs, I would ask them to tie that dog up. Any (dog) we catch out here running loose, we're going to take to the pound. If they (dog owners) come over there (to the pound) then they will have to (pay the fee) to adopt them back. I believe its $10 or $20. Its something we've got to do as a community. I know it's a touchy subject but we have people who are being bit. We don't need biting dogs in the community," said Mayor Poss.

"I know its in our ordinance but its also state law," said Alderman Gayla Hendrix. "There's a leash law in the state of Tennessee and people can take a warrant out if someone's dog is running at large and bothering them. Of course the best thing to do if you're in a neighborhood, if someone's dog is bothering you and you know who it belongs to is to ask them first to keep the dog put up and if they continue to let the dog run and it becomes a nuisance then you can go to the sheriff's office," she said.

"If you're going to be a pet owner then you need to be a responsible pet owner," added Alderman Jason Murphy.

"You've basically got two types of dogs. You've got those dogs that are not trained that are just running wild and then you have those dogs that are pets," said Alderman Tim Stribling. " People need to keep them (pets) confined, on a leash, or in their homes because the weather is warming up, people are walking and running. If somebody runs by somebody's house and a dog is out in the yard, it's kind of protective of that area. Sometimes it (dog) goes after those people that are exercising," said Alderman Stribling.

"At least if they (owners) put collars on them (dogs) we would know whose they are," said Mayor Poss.

"Still, they shouldn't be running loose," responded Alderman Stribling

"If they don't have a collar on we can assume that they're wild. That would help us determine if they are somebody's dog," concluded Mayor Poss.

Alderman Danny Washer said if the city plans to enforce the laws on dogs, then city residents should be made aware of the laws they are expected to abide by.

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