Local News Articles

Republican Candidates Announce for Public Offices During GOP Mass Meeting (VIEW VIDEOS HERE)

January 11, 2014
Dwayne Page
Butch Agee for Road Supervisor
Chris Smithson for County Mayor
Mingy Bryant for General Sessions Judge
Sheriff Patrick Ray seeks Re-election
Trustee Sean Driver seeks Re-election
County Commission Candidates Bobby Joines, Jerry Adcock, and Mason Carter
Jennifer Winfree and Mae Beavers Present Plaque to Kenny Edge
Chris Tramel and Lee Plummer running for Vacant Constable Seats

The DeKalb County Republican Party may have as many as five candidates for county offices in the August General Election along with three candidates for the county commission and two candidates for vacant constable positions.

Members of the party met Saturday morning at the courthouse to select delegates to the DeKalb County Republican Party Convention and to give candidates an opportunity to announce their intentions.

In addition to Sheriff Patrick Ray and Trustee Sean Driver, who are each seeking their third terms, three other candidates announced for other offices during the mass meeting.

Butch Agee, local supervisor for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, asked for the party's nomination to run for DeKalb County Road Supervisor to succeed Kenny Edge, who is not seeking re-election.

Former County Commissioner Chris Smithson is seeking the Republican Party nomination for County Mayor while local attorney Mingy Bryant is looking to become the GOP candidate for General Sessions Judge.

Incumbent Republican County Commissioners Mason Carter in the first district, Bobby Joines in the second district, and Jerry Adcock in the fifth district also spoke during the mass meeting and asked for the party's nomination to run for re-election in August.

Two Republicans, Chris Tramel in the second district and Lee Plummer in the first district are seeking the party's nomination to run for vacant constable positions. Jonathan Low also announced plans to run for constable in the second district but he has already filed his qualifying petition with the election commission to run as an Independent. The terms of the vacant constable positions expire in 2016.

Republican candidates for offices in the 13th Judicial District also made announcements Saturday including Gary McKenzie of Putnam County for Criminal Court Judge Part I, Jonathan Young of Putnam County for Circuit Court Judge Part II, Wesley Bray of Putnam County for Criminal Court Judge Part I, Bryant Dunaway of Putnam County for District Attorney General, Shawn Fry of Putnam County for District Attorney General, and John Meadows of White County for District Public Defender. They will be seeking the Republican nomination for those offices in the May 6th GOP Primary in the 13th Judicial District, which includes DeKalb and six other counties.

In making his announcement to run for Road Supervisor, Agee named members of his family and spoke of his qualifications for the job. "I would like to be your candidate for Road Supervisor. I am the son of the Johnnie Agee Taylor and the late Grady Agee. My step-father was C.B. Taylor. I have one sister, Wanda. I am married to the former Cynthia Cook of Alexandria. She is the daughter of Jean Cook and the late Buddy Cook. She has one brother. We live in Liberty and attend Salem Baptist Church. We have two sons, Josh and Joey. Josh is married to the former January Zaderiko and they have one daughter. Joey is married to the former Casey Bogle and they have two daughters. I have been with TDOT for seventeen years. I have been supervisor for thirteen years. I have had all kinds of training and certifications. I did get my certification from the Tennessee Highway Certification Board," he said.

Agee also praised Edge for the job he has done as Road Supervisor. " I'd like to say that Mr. Edge has done an excellent job and whoever gets this job, whether it be me or someone else, has some big shoes to fill," said Agee.

Smithson promised to run an office that would be open and transparent, if elected County Mayor. "I promise you'll have an open and transparent county government where anybody who wants to know what is happening can find out". Smithson also said he'd like to "keep our tax increases to a minimum."

In announcing her candidacy for General Sessions Judge, Bryant spoke of her family and educational background. "I am a resident of DeKalb County and have been since I was seventeen years old. I have a law practice here across the street from the jail. I am married to Chad Bryant. I am a Republican and so is he. I am running for General Sessions Judge of DeKalb County. I am here today asking you as delegates to choose me. I graduated from MTSU with a Bachelors Degree. I went to the Nashville School of Law where I achieved my Doctorate of Jurisprudence," she said.


Bryant also spoke of her convictions as to how a judge should serve. "I believe a judge should be neutral and to leave out all biases when they approach the bench. They should apply the laws fairly across the board no matter what station in life you come from. I believe if you're given a chance and the opportunity to be on probation and you violate that opportunity then you should serve the time that you did originally. I don't believe that people who violate probation or bond should be allowed to continue to run around on the streets. I believe our community and county should send a strong message to criminals that if you want to continue in your life of crime you should pick a new county because DeKalb County will not tolerate it," said Bryant.


In making a bid for another term, Sheriff Ray thanked the party faithful for their trust and confidence in him. "I consider it a true honor to be able to work as your Sheriff. I want to thank you for your support and the confidence that you've shown me, not only at election time but throughout my tenure thus far. Today, I ask for your continued support and trust by allowing me to be your candidate for the office of Sheriff. My pledge to you remains unchanged. I promise and commit myself to direct the Sheriff's Department with honesty, integrity, and in the professional manner that you expect and deserve. I humbly ask for your support for the nomination of Sheriff in the August General Election," he said.

Trustee Sean Driver, in making his announcement for another term, spoke of the conveniences he has brought to the office. "When I ran in 2006, a lot of the voters wanted the office automated. We've got it fully automated now. Voters wanted to see on-line payments. We have established that now through the office at www.tennesseetrustee.com. We also accept partial payments in the office. When this term finishes September 1, I will have brought in to the county with your tax dollars and other monies over three million dollars in investment and interest monies," he said.

Driver thanked the party for its support as he asked for the nomination to run again. "I look at myself first and foremost as a servant to this county but I would like to thank this party because you have stood behind me and I would appreciate the nomination once again to run for DeKalb County Trustee," said Driver.

A plaque was presented by the DeKalb County Republican Party to Road Supervisor Edge for his twenty four years of service to the county. The plaque reads as follows: "Presented to Kenny Edge, Road Supervisor 1990-2014. In appreciation for your loyal and dedicated service to the citizens of DeKalb County and your loyalty to the DeKalb County Republican Party. Retirement is a time to look forward. Yet we look back at your many accomplishments with pride and admiration. Thank you for a job truly well done".

"I want to thank the Republican Party," said Edge in a brief address at the Mass Meeting. "I've really enjoyed serving everybody. Once you get elected, politics don't matter. You've got to serve each and everyone. I've enjoyed working with the people of this county. Like I've said, I don't own the highway department. It's theirs (the public) and it's their services. I've tried to do it the best that I can. I thank each of you," said Edge.

Meanwhile, Party Chairperson Jennifer Winfree announced that she will be a candidate for Republican State Executive Committeewoman in the 17th Senatorial District during the Tennessee Republican Primary this August.

The DeKalb County Republican Convention will caucus next Saturday, January 18th at 10:00 a.m. at the courthouse to formally nominate GOP candidates to run for offices in the August General Election. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Evaluations Scheduled for School Board and Director

January 10, 2014
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education will conduct its annual performance evaluation of the Director of Schools and a School Board self evaluation on Tuesday, January 28 at the Board of Education Building.

A workshop on Director Mark Willoughby's evaluation will be held first at 6:00 p.m. followed at 7:00 p.m. by a special called meeting on the board's self evaluation.

The evaluations are performed annually in January in accordance with board policy and Director Willoughby's contract. The board has used the same basic instruments for making the evaluations and itself for several years.

Willoughby's contract states that the evaluation of the Director shall occur no later than January 31 each calendar year during the term of the contract. The board will review the Director's performance, progress toward established goals, and the working relationship between the two parties.

During the workshop, the school board members will evaluate Director Willoughby on his relationship with the board, community relationships, staff and personnel relationships, educational leadership, business and finance, and strategic planning skills. Board members are to make a check mark on the four page evaluation form in each of 52 areas, if they determine expectations have been met. Spaces are also provided on the form for board members to write comments.

Willoughby's current contract with the board is scheduled to expire June 30th, 2014. He has served as Director of Schools since July 1st, 2006.

In the self evaluation, each board member will be asked to rate the board's performance on a scale from one to six in team building, decision making, governance, school improvement, community, planning, communications, motivation, influence, and policy. A score of "one" is the lowest and a score of "6" is the highest. They are also to rate themselves on how much is being done now in each of 46 areas and how important those issues are to them.

Sixth district member Doug Stephens also wants the school board to hold a workshop soon to establish long term goals and future plans of the school system.

Youth Sports Concussions Policy Adopted by School Board

January 10, 2014
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night adopted a policy on second and final reading as recommended by the Tennessee School Boards Association intended to reduce concussions in youth sports and increase awareness about the traumatic brain injury.

The policy is not just an option. A new state law, which passed last April and took effect January 1, makes learning about the dangers of concussions a prerequisite for competing, while also implementing safeguards to ensure that children who suffer a concussion don't return to play until they are healed.

Under the policy, it is up to local youth leagues for all sports, not just football, to put the procedures into practice. The law applies to public and private school teams and to recreational leagues for children under 18 that require a fee.
It has three key components.

It requires administrators, coaches, parents and youth athletes to be educated about the dangers of concussions and to sign a sheet stating they understand those dangers before competing. Any athlete who displays the symptoms of a concussion would be required to be removed from competition. And any athlete suffering a concussion could not return to play or practice until cleared by a doctor, osteopath or neuropsychologist.

Last month, board members had questions as to the liability regarding youth leagues who use school facilities but are not affiliated with the schools.

An attorney of the Tennessee School Boards Association has said the school system is not liable. Loniel Greene, Assistant Director of Policy Services and Staff Attorney for the TSBA, in an email to Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder, wrote that "Based on my interpretation of TCA 68-55-502 (state law), each LEA (school system) is only responsible for system sponsored athletic activities. Thus, there is no responsibility for youth leagues that are not sponsored by the system."

National Federation of State High School Associations has developed a free 20 minute course online
entitled "Concussion in Sports-What You Need to Know". The course may be accessed at www.nfhslearn.com.

The Tennessee Department of Health has concussion information available online at http://health.state.tn.us/TBI/concussion.htm.

School Board to Allow Electronic Attendance

January 9, 2014
Dwayne Page
School Board (Older Photo)

School board members who are unable to attend regular or special meetings due to a family emergency, military service, or a work related absence will soon be able to participate through electronic attendance.

The DeKalb County Board of Education adopted the new school board meetings policy on first reading Thursday night as provided for in state law.

Under the policy, an absent board member may attend a regular or special meeting by electronic means as often as he or she is able to do so if the absence is because of military service. However, a board member may not participate electronically more than two times per year for absences due to work and or family emergencies. A quorum of the Board must be physically present at the meeting in order for any member to attend electronically.

Any member wishing to participate electronically must do so using technology which allows the Chair to visually identify the member.

The responsibility for the connection lies with the member wishing to participate electronically. No more than three attempts to connect shall be made, unless the Board chooses to make additional attempts.

This new policy could possibly allow third district board member Kenny Rhody to participate in school board meetings electronically when he becomes able to do so. Rhody has been battling a serious medical condition for the last several months and has been unable to attend any school board meetings.

Second district member Charles Robinson proposed the new policy with Rhody in mind. "I know I can't speak for Mr. Rhody, but I know Mr. Rhody is very serious in his duties and responsibilities as a school board member," said Robinson. "I think this might interest him in being able to attend school board meetings electronically due to the fact that with his medical condition it might be a long process before he can actually attend a school board meeting. I would like to make a motion that we adopt it on first reading because it will make us in compliance with state law and it would give a board member an opportunity to participate if he wishes," added Robinson.

Sixth district member Doug Stephens offered a second to Robinson's motion. All members present voted in favor of passage on first reading.

The policy provides for electronic attendance due to a family emergency. The member must be absent due to the hospitalization of the member or the death or hospitalization of the member's spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, step-son, step-daughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.

Electronic attendance is also provided due to a work related absence. Under the policy, the board member must be absent from the county due to work. The member wishing to participate must give the Chair and director at least five days notice prior to the meeting of the member's desire to participate electronically.

Small Fire Forces Evacuation at Tenneco Automotive

January 9, 2014
Dwayne Page
Small Fire Forces Evacuation at Tenneco Automotive
Smithville Firefighters at Tenneco Automotive

Employees were evacuated after a small fire at Tenneco Automotive around noon on Thursday.

According to Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker, two employees were reportedly treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. One of them was later transported to the hospital by DeKalb EMS.

The fire apparently started and was confined to a welding work station in the plant as sparks ignited some work material.

Chief Parker said maintenance employees of the plant used fire extinguishers to bring the fire under control. Members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department quickly responded to make sure the blaze did not spread.

The plant's ventilation system helped clear the smoke from the building.

Drug Court Graduates Celebrate a New Beginning

January 9, 2014
Dwayne Page
Drug Court Graduates Celebrate a New Beginning

Seven adults, along with their families, friends and mentors, gathered to celebrate a new beginning Wednesday evening as they graduated from the DeKalb County Drug Court program.

The observance was held at the county complex. Each of the graduates, Roxanne White, Heather Yoskovich, Ryan Sullivan, Thomas Owen, Clent Shehane, Jordan Adams, and Billy Griffith received a framed diploma certificate noting their completion of the drug court program through which participants commit to becoming clean and sober.

"The graduates have had over seven years collectively being clean, "said Norene Puckett, Coordinator of the DeKalb County Drug Court in an interview with WJLE. "We really hope they will now become productive members of society like graduates from the past who have come here tonight to be with us. They have all stayed out of trouble and they are all giving back to their community in various different ways," said Puckett.

The drug court program provides an alternative to incarceration for eligible non-violent offenders.

"Tonight we had seven people graduate. Five young men and two young women. These people went through an average of about eighteen months," said General Sessions Judge Bratten Cook, II in an interview with WJLE. "Generally the drug court program consists of four different phases, about three months in each phase which equals a year but hardly ever does anyone graduate in less than fifteen months," he said.

Eligibility for the program is determined through assessments. "We do an addiction severity assessment as well as a risk and needs assessment," said Puckett. "Regardless of what they are charged with, if the assessments show it's a high risk, high needs offender who is substance dependant, that's the type of person we are looking to help because those are the people who are in and out of the system," she said.

The adult drug court program began in DeKalb County about six years ago after the success of the juvenile drug court . "I was convinced along with the other team members that this was a beneficial program for the community. We all decided several years ago that instead of having the revolving door philosophy of the criminal justice system and just punishing these people, let's see if we can treat the non-violent offenders and try and have them convert themselves into responsible, productive members of society. That's what the drug court is all about. It's really a win-win proposition for everyone," he said.

Statistics show that the cost of housing an inmate is more than $20,000 per year versus $3,000 per participant in the drug court program. "The math is real simple," said Judge Cook. "But more important than that are the lives of these people. Most of them are young people. Many of them are young people who have lost their children to DCS (Department of Children Services) as a result of their drug and alcohol issues. By their participation in drug court, they end up turning their lives around, becoming productive members of society, obtaining employment, paying their fines, court costs, child support, and getting their kids back. In fact, during the course of the adult drug court program, we've had five drug free babies born to participants. Otherwise, I think these children would have been born with drug problems," said Judge Cook.

Drug court team members who oversee the program locally in addition to Judge Cook and Drug Court Coordinator Puckett are Sheriff Patrick Ray, Assistant District Attorney General Greg Strong, John and Kay Quintero from Haven of Hope, primary treatment providers; Assistant Public Defender Allison Rasbury West, Case Manager Thomas Sliger, Probation Officer Ashley Lasser.

Front row: Roxanne White, Heather Yoskovich, Ryan Sullivan, Thomas Owen, Clent Shehane, Jordan Adams, and Billy Griffith.

Back Row: Assistant Public Defender Allison Rasbury West, Case Manager Thomas Sliger, Probation Officer Ashley Lasser, Drug Court Coordinator Norene Puckett, Judge Bratten Cook, II, and Sheriff Patrick Ray

Residents Seeking Water Services Attend Public Hearing on CDBG Grant Application

January 8, 2014
Dwayne Page
County Residents Seeking City Water
County Mayor Mike Foster & Grant Administrator Amanda Mainord at public hearing

Several residents showed up for a public hearing Tuesday night at the courthouse expressing their desire for water services.

The county is making plans to apply for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, which if approved would assist the DeKalb Utility District in extending water lines into certain areas of the county not already served.

The DUD would be responsible for paying the grant's local 20% matching requirement.

County Mayor Mike Foster said surveys have been made to determine which areas could benefit from this project. The public hearing was also held as part of the grant application process. "We have to conduct this public hearing to get input from the public to know where the wants and needs are. That's why we're here tonight to determine that," he said.

According to Foster, many of the residents in the targeted areas have to live with poor quality water or little or no water. "I think it's a really important thing that we try to get water into some of these areas. Some of them (residents) have sulfur water and salt water. Some have no water. They are using cisterns . Some haul water and put it in a tank. Some just have seasonal water. When the spring gets dry in the summer they don't have water. Others have no water pressure much. It's in an area that really does need help. I've heard of them digging wells several hundred feet deep and not getting water. It's primarily on Oakley Hollow, Tramel Branch, Alexandria to Dismal, the Lower Helton area that goes over to Temperance Hall, Green Pasture, which is by Dry Branch, and a little bit up Dry Creek and Givens Hollow. We have done surveys on all but about three of the roads and we know how many houses are on each road," said Foster.

A similar grant was approved two years ago to extend water lines to a portion of this area but that project did not include everyone who needs water. "We did one grant that went (extended lines) from Liberty to Dismal. One went about half way up Dismal. Another one went up Dismal to Tramel Branch and turned right. It's just in sections that we've been trying to piece all this together. Now we want to come back down Dismal toward Oakley Road in that area," said Foster

Amanda Mainord of Grassroots Planning & Consulting will be the grant administrator. Those who have received a survey concerning this project are asked to please fill it out and send it into the county mayor's office as soon as possible. The grant application is due by the end of February.

"We will send in the application in February. We'll probably be notified in October (if the grant is approved). If we get the money, we'll get started on this project," said Foster.

There are no guarantees that the grant will be approved. "There will probably be 125 applications. Last year they (state) funded 65 so we have about a 50/50 shot of being approved," Foster concluded.

City May Again Require Paper Ballots for Property Rights Voters

January 7, 2014
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Aldermen are being asked to consider adopting an ordinance to keep city property rights voters from possibly having to go to two places to vote in all future Smithville Municipal Elections which will be held in conjunction with the August County General Elections and or State Primaries starting this year.

The aldermen adopted a similar measure for the city liquor referendum in November 2012, but that was just for the one ballot issue.

Administrator of Elections Dennis Stanley made the request during Monday night's city council meeting. "If you recall back in 2012 when there was a referendum during a county wide election in November I came to you and asked you to pass an ordinance to allow property rights voters to vote by paper ballot so they would not have to go to two or three different voting places on election day," said Stanley. "You did that but you did it for that election only. Now that your election has moved from June to August, it will always fall on a county wide election so I am here tonight asking you to consider adopting an ordinance and then notifying us of that adoption for us to allow property rights voters to vote by paper ballot. They do need to have their property registered with us. They have to come by and register as a property rights voter," he said.

No action was taken Monday night, but an ordinance will be prepared for the aldermen to consider at an upcoming meeting.

Under such ordinance, city property rights voters could only vote by absentee or paper ballot in all future city elections, beginning this August. They would still be free to vote in person at their own precinct or during early voting for other offices on the county general or state primary ballots

Without such an ordinance, the city's property rights voters would likely have to go to two places to vote on election day in August. They would vote at their regular precinct by machine in the county wide election and state primaries, and then would have to come to one of the four precincts in Smithville to vote just in the city election. This process would only apply to property rights voters, those who live outside the city in DeKalb County but who have property inside the city and are qualified to vote in a city election.

In June, the aldermen ratified a new city charter, as approved by the Tennessee Legislature that changes the city elections from June to August and makes the terms of office for the mayor and aldermen, four years instead of two.

The new charter also extends voting rights to county residents that own commercial property in the city (two persons per deed) and allows property rights voting for county residents who own at least 3,500 square feet of property in the city.

DUD Applies for TRLP Funding to Build Water Plant

January 7, 2014
Dwayne Page
DeKalb Utility District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attempts to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes Sparks Fire

January 7, 2014
Dwayne Page
Chief Donny Green

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

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

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

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

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

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


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