Local News Articles

State House of Representatives Rejects Judicial Redistricting

April 22, 2013

A proposal to redraw Tennessee's judicial districts for the first time since 1984 was killed on Friday when House members voted against it.

Even if the measure had passed the current makeup of the 13th Judicial District, which includes DeKalb County, would have remain unchanged. The district includes Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, and White Counties.

The State House of Representatives voted 66-28 to defeat the measure sponsored by Republican Representative Jon Lundberg of Bristol. The companion bill in the Senate was approved 27-4 earlier this month. The plan from Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, would have affected 22 counties in eight districts. The number of judicial districts would have been reduced from 31 to 29.

Most of the House members against the measure said they felt they were being dictated to by the Senate, particularly Ramsey.

The proposal would have created separate judicial districts for Rutherford and Williamson counties because of population growth in the Nashville suburbs over the last three decades.

Two judicial districts in northwestern Tennessee made up of Lake, Dyer, Obion and Weakley counties would have been merged into a single district. Meanwhile, Coffee County would have ceased to have its own district and instead be folded into one with Cannon, Warren and Van Buren counties.

Ramsey has said the changes were not expected to affect the positions of existing judges, but that the elimination of two judicial districts would reduce the positions of two prosecutors and public defenders.

He estimated the cost savings of eliminating those four positions would be more than $600,000.

State Legislature Approves New City Charter for Smithville

April 22, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Both the State House and Senate Friday adopted a rewrite of the Smithville charter, subject to final approval by the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen.

The legislation amends Chapter 486 of the Private Acts of 1941 to make changes in the city charter, as sought by the mayor and aldermen.

The measure passed in the State House of Representatives 87-0 and in the State Senate 29-0.

The resolution was passed by the Board of Aldermen in February and sent to the legislature. It will now 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 new city charter the terms of office for the mayor and aldermen will go from two to four years (beginning with the elections in June this year and in August next year). It extends voting rights to county residents that own commercial property in the city (two persons per deed), allows property rights voting to county residents who own at least 3,500 square feet of property in the city, and allows by ordinance regular city council meetings to be held only once per month.

The new charter calls for city elections 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.

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 after 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.

Relay for Life Set for May 10

April 22, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Relay for Life May 10

Everyone's reason to Relay is as unique as their own personal story. At Relay for Life, you can find healing, comfort, and support from others who have faced cancer or who have lost a loved one to the disease. You have a chance to meet people in the community who are equally as passionate about finding an end to cancer in our lifetime. No matter why you take part in Relay, however, one thing is clear: with every step you take, you are helping the American Cancer Society save lives.

Come share the Relay experience at Green Brook Park on Friday, May 10 and take pride in knowing that you are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten the lives of our loved ones or claim another year of anyone's life.

The 16th annual Relay for Life begins with musical entertainment at 5:00 p.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. featuring personal testimonies from cancer survivors and then a Survivors' Lap, during which those who have survived the struggle circle the track together to help everyone celebrate what has been achieved against cancer.

As the sun sets, Luminaria bags lining the track illuminate the night and then a hush falls over the event as Relay participants, survivors and caregivers gather together for a Luminaria Ceremony at 9:00 p.m. to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to honor those who have battled the disease.

As participants walk the track lined with Luminaria bags in reflection, a caregiver who has lost a loved one may find comfort from a fellow caregiver who has faced a similar loss. Meanwhile, a survivor gains hope and strength from others who have followed the same journey and survived. All resolve to keep fighting to save more lives so no more Luminaria bear the names of those lost to the disease.

Teams take turns doing laps, but there must be one member from each team on the track at any given time during the 12-hour relay event. While team members off the field can sleep in the tents, most don't. There is a lot of fundraising at the event as well, through concessions, games, and other activities.

As volunteers and donors, your efforts support research, education, advocacy, and services that allow the American Cancer Society to offer help and hope to people across the country when they need it most. By joining together at Relay, we celebrate life, friendship, and an opportunity to work to defeat cancer for future generations

DeKalb County to Participate to in the Great American Clean up

April 19, 2013
Ronda Butler and Suzanne Williams

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and the DeKalb County Executive’s office would like to invite residents across the county to participate in the DeKalb County Clean Up campaign on Saturday, May 18th. This event will be held in conjunction with the Keep America Beautiful initiative going on across the country. This organization’s mission revolves around a core belief that beauty is a silent but powerful force that makes communities safer, healthier and more livable.

Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, would like to remind everyone that DeKalb County’s peak tourism season is about to begin, so now is a great time to start getting things spruced up for our coming visitors. According to Williams, “I think we are all aware of the value and importance of beautification in our communities to attract newcomers and tourists to our area and to maintain a stable and growing economy.”

To get a head start on clean up, dumpsters will be set up at highly visible and convenient locations a few days prior to the main event. Dumpster locations will be at the Dowelltown Community Center, Liberty Community Center, Alexandria City Parking Lot (behind square), and the County Complex parking lot.

County Executive Mike Foster says, “We would like for people to come out and help clean our communities and roadways. Folks are welcome to pick their own locations to clean, or we will be glad to assign a safe place for each person to participate.”

DeKalb Clean Up volunteers are asked to come to the County Complex, 732 So. Congress Blvd., Smithville on May 18th between 9 AM and 10 AM to sign-in and pick up the provided trash bags, rubber gloves, and bottles of water. For early sign-up, you can stop by the Chamber, located in the Courthouse, Room 201, anytime during regular office hours by May 17th to pick up supplies. Or if stopping by is not convenient, call the Chamber office at 597-4163 to be counted as a DeKalb Clean Up volunteer -- just give your name and the general area where you will be working. Whether you’re beautifying your street, a highway, a park, ball field, a stream, or your own home, what a difference we can make through working together!

John Green Resigns from County Commission

April 19, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
John Green (Second from Right) Resigns from Commission

Having moved his permanent residence to White County, long time fifth district county commissioner John Green has submitted his resignation.

During the county commission's all-committees meeting Thursday evening, County Mayor Mike Foster informed the commissioners that Green turned in his resignation letter on Monday, April 8.

"I am writing to inform the DeKalb County mayor and county commission that I, John D. Green as of April 8, 2013, am resigning from my current position as fifth district county commissioner, " wrote Green. "As of March 30, 2013 my permanent address has changed to White County," he concluded in the letter.

Green has served on the county commission for eleven years. He was first elected in 2002 and then re-elected in 2006 and 2010.

Foster said the county will advertise for applications from persons in the fifth district interested in filling the unexpired term. The commissioners will interview the applicants and later vote to name a successor. Green's term expires August 31, 2014.

Meanwhile, Foster announced Thursday evening that Chip Cook, the director of the local ambulance service is resigning by May 15. Assistant director Hoyte Hale will be the acting director. The county will advertise the opening, accept applications, and then name a new director.

The county budget committee will begin work on the new 2013-14 spending plan for the county in a meeting on April 24 at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse. Foster said its hard to plan for the budget right now because officials are still learning about the federal Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) which will have to be implemented by next year and its effect on the county's budget. The county may have to find new money to cover possible increases in county employee health insurance costs which could rise by several hundred thousand dollars.

Still bothered by skeptics among the public opposed to adding more equipment to the fitness center at the county complex, County Mayor Foster Thursday night updated the county commission on the number of people taking advantage of the center and the money it has generated for the county. Foster said that the center has had as many as 1,041 members but that there are currently 979 active members. Since July, 2012, a total of $54,185 has been brought in through the facility at the complex. The monthly expense is about $4,200 so the county is coming out about $12,000 to the good, which would go a long way toward adding more exercise equipment.

The county commission will meet in regular monthly session on Monday night, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse. The agenda is as follows:

Budget amendments/quarterly reports

Discuss DeKalb County Complex

Discuss Ambulance Service

Discuss Commission Vacancy in the 5th District

Discuss Budget and set meetings-Insurance questions for budget

Discuss DeKalb County Cleanup Day/Groups

Any old business properly presented (Folk Dance June 13, 2013)

Notaries.

Chamber to Apply for CDBG Downtown Revitalization Grant

April 18, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams

In a continuing effort to revitalize the downtown commercial district, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is applying for a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $25,000.

If approved, funds from the grant will go toward façade improvements to eligible downtown buildings, specifically on the north and west blocks of the Smithville Public Square. Store owners in those areas who wish to participate will be responsible for funding the grant's 25% local match. There would be no cost to the City of Smithville.

(Play video below to see results from work done through previous projects)

Its all part of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development's Tennessee Downtowns program, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts.

As part of the grant application process, the Smithville aldermen Monday night adopted a resolution designating the area eligible for the program. Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams addressed the mayor and aldermen making the request for passage of the resolution. "We're here on behalf of the Tennessee Downtowns program. The chamber is going to be applying for a CDBG block grant for downtown. Its for $25,000. Its for improvements. Its not a sure thing like the last $15,000 grant we got. There's going to be eight communities that receive this grant. I think we have a really good chance. The state says we are their poster child because we took $15,000 and did such a large amount of improvements with that. We posted our video presentation on youtube at their (state officials) request and they have been showing it to everybody. They are very excited. They think we have a good chance and they called and told me to apply. The grant does have a 25% matching fund. One of the qualifications is that we have to designate that area. It sounds terrible but its called "slum blight". The city will have to pass a resolution declaring that determined area to be blighted and that will be part of the application. It's a real broad definition. It could mean a beautiful building that is vacant. It could mean a building that's got something in there but it needs improvements on the outside," said Williams.

Smithville was one of 12 communities selected to participate in the first phase of the program several months ago. Chamber Director Williams made application on behalf of the city of Smithville and later for the $15,000 grant made available.

In the first phase, eligible downtown store owners who chose to participate received $500 for investing a minimum of $1,000 in exterior improvements of their buildings through the grant program. All sixteen mini-grant recipients were funded including The Flower Box, Cantrell's Men Store, Cantrell's Ladies Clothing, Attorney Keith W. Blair, Attorney Frank Buck, Thomas G. Janney, Henrietta Hale, Attorney Jeremy Trapp, Granny's Goldmine, Alan Webb, Attorney Gayla C. Hendrix, Richard Williams, Attorney Vester Parsley Jr., Annette Greek, Attorney J. Hilton Conger, and Gail H. Webb.

If anyone is interested in obtaining more information about this phase of the program and the CDBG grant, contact the Chamber office at 597-4163. Letters of support for this project are also requested to help in obtaining the grant.

“DeKalb’s Got Talent” Coming Up April 25

April 18, 2013
Judith Hale

DeKalb County High School’s Project Graduation Committee is hosting the First Annual DeKalb County Talent Show, “DeKalb’s Got Talent”, on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7:00pm at the County Complex Community Theater. One lucky winner will receive a $250 Cash Prize as well as an additional People’s Choice Award Winner. All proceeds will support Project Graduation for graduating seniors of DCHS.

“We are hoping for the community to come out and support the show and have a great time helping Project Graduation. The program (Project Graduation) was designed to keep students off of the road and safe from harm as they celebrate their graduation together. Project Graduation's mission is to provide a free-of-charge, safe, supervised, alcohol and drug free, all night event for each graduating class,” Volunteer Judith Hale commented, “It takes lots of business and community support to raise the money needed to make this a success for our seniors. We appreciate every dollar that is given.”

Businesses such as DeKalb Community Hospital have stepped up to the plate to do their part. “It was a no-brainer when we heard that the high school needed our help with this event”, Marketing Director, Shan Burklow commented, “It is important that our seniors have safe activities available to them on a night that symbolizes their future. We are proud to sponsor ‘DeKalb’s Got Talent’ and ask that our friends and neighbors come out to support such a worthy cause.”

Ages 6 to adult are encouraged to participate in the talent show as individuals or as a team to win the $250 Cash Prize or the People’s Choice Award based on audience response. Any family-friendly talent is permitted. Contestants are asked to sign-up at the door starting at 6:00pm. Tickets are available at the door only ($3 Adults $2 Children 12 and under). For more information, contact Judith Hale at (615) 464-7810 or Shan Burklow at (615) 594-2792.

Fire Destroys Vacant Home on Hurricane Ridge Road

April 18, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fire Destroys Vacant Home on Hurricane Ridge Road

A fire early Tuesday morning destroyed a vacant brick home at 1081 Hurricane Ridge Road, belonging to the Federal Mortgage Home Loan company.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said a neighbor saw the flames and reported it just before 3:00 a.m.

Members of the Cookeville Highway, Liberty, Short Mountain Highway, Main Station, and tanker truck responded but could not save the structure. The sheriff's department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene but no one was injured.

No one lived at the residence. The cause of the fire is undetermined.

City Getting Pool Ready for Swimming Season

April 17, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
New Restroom Building and Showers at City Pool
Pool floor to be pressure washed before repairs are made
Pool cracks to be fixed

With the swimming season about to begin, the City of Smithville is working to get the pool ready to open.

During Monday night's city council meeting, Mayor Jimmy Poss said the Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation of Nashville has been asked to come back and fix cracks that have developed in the pool since their repair work during the spring of 2011. The city has a three year warranty and the company is apparently liable for work called for under the contract which was warrantied but not done properly. "The pool guy came up today (Monday). We had a real good meeting with him. He will call before he comes back. We told him we wanted the work done just as quick as possible. He said it would take a day and a half and he would be out of there. But we have to pressure wash it first. The pool is empty. We drained it and we'll pressure wash it,' said Mayor Poss.

Meanwhile the new restrooms and showers will soon be completed at the pool. The building will have two commodes and a sink in both the men and women's side and two showers will be installed on the outside of the structure. Most of the work on the restrooms is being done by city public works employees. "The bathrooms at the pool, we've got them dried in. We've got them basically plumbed. We've done all the work except the plumbing part. We got a certified contractor to do the plumbing. It hasn't cost us a whole lot of money," said Mayor Poss.

Pool operator Tony Poss said he is hoping the pool can be ready to open by May 11.

Liberty Mayor J. Edward Hale, A Legacy of Public Service

April 16, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mayor J. Edward Hale
Mayor Edward Hale on the steps of the old Liberty High School
Mayor Edward Hale with State Senator Mae Beavers and State Rep Terri Lynn Weaver

Having been in office for almost forty two years, Liberty Mayor J. Edward Hale holds the distinction of being the current longest serving elected public official in DeKalb County.

It was his love for the town he was born and raised in that inspired him to seek the office in 1971 and with the help of many townspeople who have served on the city council down through the years, Hale has worked to improve streets and sidewalks, restore local landmarks, and preserve history for future generations

Even before his time as mayor, Hale found other ways of serving the public. Hale spent many years as an educator in the school system and he once held a rural carrier position in the postal service. Though he is not one to brag on himself, Hale is proud of his accomplishments. It was for his years of leadership and devotion to his community and county that Hale was presented the Leadership DeKalb "Legacy Award" last week during the annual membership banquet of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce.

While he doesn't mind talking about his life, Hale would rather not mention his age. He did, however just celebrate his birthday on April 3. The son of John Hale and Sadie Bratten Hale, he was born in what is known as the old Bratten House near Salem Baptist Church. The home still stands today. When he was six months old, Hale said his parents moved to another house in town, a home that was built around 1820 and remains one of the oldest houses in Liberty.

A graduate of Liberty High School, Hale furthered his education at Cumberland College, where he received an education degree. Hale later earned his Masters Degree at MTSU.

Shortly after completing his studies at Cumberland College, Hale got his first teaching job at Pisgah, where he served for one year before joining the U.S. Air Force on his birthday in 1942. After being honorably discharged from the service in December 1945, Hale spent two years in the fruit tree business in Danville Virginia before settling down back home in Liberty where he married Gloria Hobson in 1950 and resumed his teaching career.

Hale taught at the Dismal school and then moved to Liberty High School where he became teacher and later principal. After consolidation of the high schools in the county, Hale taught at the Liberty Elementary School. During those years at Liberty, Hale even tried his hand at coaching basketball. "We won the county tournament one year. It was the first time Liberty had ever done that," he said. While he enjoyed teaching, Hale found there was more money to be made in other occupations. "I was just carried away with teaching. It got in my blood. I taught school for a pretty good while and then a rural route came available here. The pay was so low in the school business. It was so much better in the rural route. I just had to try it. So I got that job and served as a rural carrier for ten years. But I would pass a school house and see the kids playing. I felt I ought to be there with them," he said. Hale eventually returned to the school system and retired as attendance supervisor in 1992.

In the years after the high schools were consolidated, the old Liberty High School began to deteriorate to the point where it became unuseable. Concerned about restoring the building, Hale made that a priority when he ran for and was elected mayor in 1971. "The city bought it after the consolidation. But up until we started (renovating) it wasn't useable. You'd get wet in here if it rained. This building would have been gone in a little while,' said Hale. " That's really what motivated me to come in as mayor. I thought it would be terrible for that old building to just go down. When I first came in, the town didn't have any money. So I got the council to borrow some money. Everybody cooperated on it. I got a grant and got started on the building. We finally got a roof on it. One wall was gone from the leaks. Through the grants, I got a company from Nashville to come in to do restucco work. Later on, we finally got the windows put in. Eventually, we got it in pretty good shape," said Hale.

Today, the building houses the town's senior center, library, meeting room for the mayor and aldermen, and a History room which contains old photographs, newspapers, and other historical artifacts pertaining to the city and county. Hung along the walls in the main hallway of the building are old Liberty High School class pictures dating as far back as the 1920's.

Improving streets and sidewalks also ranked high on Hale's to do list when he first became mayor. "At that time, the town hadn't had any repairs in a long time. The sidewalks were all broken up. Streets were in bad shape. With the help of the council, we did great things with the little town in building it back up. It was going down pretty bad. We got the sidewalks built on both sides all the way up main street. We did our roads and we've kept the streets up in pretty good shape. Now, they're pushing babies on strollers and walking in pretty weather up and down the streets here. Meeting each other. Its really made it nice," he said.

Through his association with UCHRA, UCDD, and other entities, Mayor Hale has taken advantage of many grant opportunities for funding city projects over the years. "I got interested in the UCDD and UCHRA. Every program that came along, I was there trying," said Hale. "We got a program way back called the Green Thumb. A man (who worked in the program) would come around town and see to the needs of several people who were shut in and a few were blind. He would check on them everyday or take them to the store or wherever they needed to go. That was his job. It was a great help to the community," said Hale.

"At one time the people didn't have any place much to meet. We got the idea of a community center. It was probably the first one in the county. I got with my council. We called a community meeting and designed the community center. Its turned out real well. People come here from outside of the area now and rent it a lot. We've kept it up in pretty good shape," said Hale.

Liberty also has its own fire engine and fire hall thanks to the leadership of Mayor Hale.

While he and the council have agreed on most projects over the years, there have been times when Mayor Hale has resorted to a little friendly persuasion to make things happen. "We had a retired preacher on the council one time. He didn't want to spend any money. I got the money to build this tennis court down here through a grant. When I brought it up, he said no I'm not going to vote to waste money on a tennis court. I said okay, Alexandria will get that money and they will have a nice tennis court. He said well go ahead and get it then," he said.

The city has also established zoning in recent years, which doesn't always sit well with some town folk. "We've set up a zoning board. That's tough in a little town," said Mayor Hale.

Some may consider Mayor Hale himself to be a little conservative when it comes to spending local funds, but he doesn't necessarily mind that brand. "I guess they've tried to tack onto me that I'm slow to spend money. But I want to spend on things that will be worth something and when I go out as mayor I want there to be money to use because there wasn't when I came in," he said.

Mayor Hale said while much has been accomplished in his four decades as mayor, he would like to have seen more services provided. "We don't have sewage. We tried to get it during the days of Model Cities. We had a survey run but it was too expensive. That just killed our chances of getting it. We do share a water system with Dowelltown. We had one well furnishing all the water we needed but the state wanted us to dig another one so we have two now," he said.

"We were never able to get the financing it takes to develop the upstairs (of the Liberty High School building)," said Mayor Hale. "The seats up there are in good shape. It seats a hundred people or more. I had an idea of trying to develop that and I had a committee to work with me to have a community meeting place but we had to have an elevator so I gave up on that part of it," he said.

Even with all the improvements that have been achieved over the years, Mayor Hale is perhaps most proud that Liberty remains a quiet, peaceful town of good neighbors. "We have these old houses up and down main street. A lady visited here from Oklahoma one time and we took her around over town. She said you know, this main street is a Norman Rockwell picture," he said.

"Its been a good little place to live. If you live here, you can't imagine the turmoil going on in the rest of the world," said Mayor Hale.

Pages

Follow Us


facebook.jpg

News Feed
feed.png

WJLE Radio

2606 McMinnville Hwy
Smithville, TN 37166

Phone: 615 597-4265
FAX: 615 597-6025
Email: wjle@dtccom.net

Local News

6:30 A.M.
7:30 A.M.
8:55 A.M.
12:00 NOON
4:00 P.M.
9:45 P.M.

DTC Communications

Fiddlers Jamboree