Local News Articles

More than 3,900 Vote Early

October 25, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lisa Peterson, Administrator of Elections

DeKalb County is following the trend statewide as large numbers turned out early to cast votes in the November 4th General Election.

A total of 3,979 people in DeKalb County took advantage of early voting, which ended on Thursday, October 30th. A total of 3,816 voted in person and 163 voted by mail.

Lisa Peterson, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections, says turnout locally is on pace to be greater than in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections here. "When comparing the voter turnout for this election versus the past two Presidential elections, it is clear that we are having a higher than usual voter turnout. For the November 7th, 2000 Presidential Election, the total voter turnout was 6,439. A total of 2,212 people cast their ballot during the early voting/absentee period and 4,227 voted on Election Day. In the November 2nd, 2004 Presidential Election, the voter turnout was 7,276. A total of 3,142 voted during the Early Voting/Absentee period and 4,134 voted on Election Day."

Offices on the ballot in DeKalb County are U.S. President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives (6th district), and Tennessee House of Representatives (40th district).

Peterson says the early voting process has gone smoothly so far. "I believe most people have been pleased with how fast the line is moving. We have not experienced long lines during the Early Voting period here in DeKalb County. I urge the voters of DeKalb County to take advantage of the Early Voting period. All early voting is done in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. I've had several calls from folks asking if they can early vote at their community precincts, but there is a central location for early voting and that is at the courthouse. No special reason is needed to vote during early voting, any registered voter in DeKalb County can come during the voting hours and vote."

The early voting hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

On election day, November 4th, the precincts will be open throughout the county beginning at 8:00 a.m. and they will remain open until 7:00 p.m. Anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Peterson says anyone who would like a sample ballot may view one on the election commission website at www.dekalbelections.com or you may stop by the election office in the basement of the courthouse. "We have sample ballots, voting instructions and voting schedules available in the hallways for anyone that wants one. There is also an instructional video running in the hallway that demonstrates how to use the voting machine. Our election workers are well trained and will give instructions to the voters. If anyone has any questions or problems while voting, it is important to ask the election worker for assistance before pushing the red CAST VOTE button on the machine."

Peterson says Tuesday, October 28th is the last day the election commission can receive a request or application to vote by mail. "Most of the votes cast during the early voting period are cast by machine although there are some voters who are eligible to vote by mail. The most common reasons we have seen are those that are age 65 or older, or who are outside DeKalb County during all voting periods. Tennessee does require that a person submit a written request if a person desires to vote by mail. We've had votes cast by mail from as far away as Mozambique, Japan, and Iraq for this election."

According to Peterson, "A request can serve as an application for a ballot if it contains the following: The voter's name and address here in DeKalb County where they are registered, their mailing address where we need to mail the ballot, their social security number, the election they want to vote in, the reason they want to vote by mail, and the voter's signature."

"The election statutes have several acceptable reasons including voters who are over 65 years of age, persons who have been absent from DeKalb County during the entire voting period and expect to be absent on Election Day as well, persons who are hospitalized, handicapped, or disabled or the caretaker of someone who is, persons who have a commercial driver's license and expect to be away during the entire voting period, and college students and/or their spouses."

"If anyone is in the hospital in DeKalb County, they may call the office and we will personally bring them a ballot. The request should be made before Election Day. The counting board convenes on Election Day and counts all paper ballots cast in the election. If voters are in the hospital outside DeKalb County, they can send a written request or fax a request and get a ballot mailed to them at the hospital outside DeKalb County. The address to mail a request is DeKalb County Election Commission, P.O. Box 543, Smithville, Tennessee, 37166. The fax number is 615-597-7799."

Anyone who wants more information about absentee voting can call the office at 597-4146 or refer to the election commission website at www.dekalbelections.com and from the homepage click on "Absentee Voting" from the menu on the left side of the page.

Five People Sentenced in Criminal Court Friday

October 25, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

Five people were sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday.

Judge Leon Burns, Jr. presided.

33 year old James Leduc pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated burglary, one count of theft over $10,000 and two counts of worthless check. Leduc received a six year sentence in the burglary and theft cases to run concurrently, all suspended except for 244 days to serve. Leduc received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days in each of the worthless check cases to run concurrently with each other, but consecutive to the six year sentence. Leduc must make restitution to the victims and perform 40 hours of community service work. He was given jail credit of 179 days.

34 year old Tracy D. Schunke pleaded by information to three counts of forgery and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. She received a two year sentence in each forgery case to run concurrently, all suspended except for 120 days to serve. The sentence is to run consecutively to the drug case, in which Schunke received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days. Schunke must make restitution of $490 and pay a fine of $150.

25 year old April Lynn Anderson pleaded guilty to auto burglary and received a two year sentence on supervised probation by DOC. She must make a $100 contribution to the economic crime fund. Anderson was given jail credit of 11 days.

28 year old Crystal Thompson pleaded guilty to casual exchange and received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days. She will be on unsupervised good behavior probation and must pay a $250 fine.

59 year old Harold G. Blackwell pleaded guilty to compounding and received a sentence of six months of supervised PSI probation and six months of unsupervised probation. He was fined $50 and must perform 10 hours of community service work.

DeKalb County Tigers Beat Sycamore War Eagles 20-6 at Pleasantview

October 24, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Tigers defeated the Sycamore War Eagles 20-6 at Pleasantview Friday night to run their season record to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in Region 4-3A. With the win, the Tigers have earned a spot in the State Play-offs in two weeks.

The Tigers took the opening kick and marched 58 yards in six plays to score the first touchdown of the game. Quarterback Hunter Poteete threw an eight yard touchdown pass to Matthew Lawrence. Zach Taylor converted on the P.A.T. and DeKalb County led 7-0 with 9:59 left in the first period.

After a stalled Sycamore drive, the Tigers got the ball back and scored on their second offensive series. Nick Lester caught a three yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Poteete, capping a 48 yard drive and with 4:04 left in the first period, DeKalb County led 14-0 after Taylor converted on the P.A.T.

The score at the end of the first period was 14-0, DeKalb County.

After intercepting a DeKalb County pass, Sycamore moved 60 yards in 12 plays to get on the scoreboard late in the second period. The War Eagles capped the drive on a 9 yard touchdown run. The P.A.T. attempt was no good and DeKalb County's lead was cut to 14-6 with 49 seconds left before half time.

The Tigers, facing 4th and 15 from the Sycamore 28 yard line, attempted a 45 yard field goal just before the end of the second quarter, but Zach Taylor's kick fell short.

The halftime score was DeKalb County 14, Sycamore 6.

Neither team scored in the third quarter and the score remained DeKalb County 14, Sycamore 6 to start the fourth period.

DeKalb County stretched their lead with 8:36 left in the game. Facing fourth and goal from the one yard line, Matthew Lawrence took it in for the score. Taylor's P.A.T. attempt was no good but the Tigers led 20-6.

The final score, DeKalb County 20, Sycamore 6.

The Tigers will conclude the regular season next Thursday night, October 30 at Macon County. The State Play-offs begin in two weeks.

In other region play this week, Whitehouse defeated Station Camp 21 to 20 and Greenbrier beat Macon County 14 to 6. Pearl Cohn had the week off.

The current standings in Region 4-3A are as follows:
Whitehouse: 8-1 overall (5-0 in region play)
Station Camp: 6-3 (4-1)
DeKalb County: 7-2 (3-2)
Sycamore: 5-4 (3-3)
Greenbrier: 5-4 (2-3)
Macon County: 1-8 (1-4)
Pearl Cohn: 1-8 (0-5)

Habitat for Humanity Chili Cook-off Results

October 24, 2008
by: 
Tecia Puckett-Pryor
DeKalb Board of Education Wins Both Best Chili and Best Decorated Booth Awards at Cook Off
Courthouse Gang Takes Second Place In Best Chili Contest at Cook Off
Bradley Printing Takes Second Place In Best Decorated Booth Contest at Habitat Cook Off

Approximately 300 people enjoyed chili and delicious baked goods Friday at Habitat for Humanity’s Fifth Annual Chili Cook-off and Bake Sale, which was held at the First Methodist Church CFC due to the rainy weather. “Chili Fever” from the DeKalb County Board of Education won the “Best Chili” award, and “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Courthouse followed in second place. In the decorating contest, “Chili Fever” from the DeKalb County Board of Education placed first, followed by “Great Bowls of Fire” from Bradley Printing in second place.

According to Tecia Puckett Pryor, Habitat Chili Cook-off committee member, the event raised approximately $3,200.00, which will be used toward the building of the third Habitat house in DeKalb County. “We were really pleased with the turnout, especially in light of the weather,” said Pryor. “We are grateful to all the chili teams for their hard work and dedication to this event and to all those who made the delicious baked goods. The bake sale alone raised over $1,100.00 and is vital to the success of this event.” Pryor added, “We’re already looking forward to next year.”

Twelve teams participated in the event, including “Great Bowls of Fire” from Bradley Printing, “Chili Fever” from the DeKalb County Board of Education, “Hot Checks Chili” from DeKalb Community Bank, “The Courthouse Gang” from the DeKalb County Courthouse, “Edgar Evins Chili Peppers” from Edgar Evins State Park, “The Janney Bean Counters” from Tom Janney, CPA and Associates, “Three-Star Chili” from the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, “The Risk Takers” from Jackie Smith State Farm Insurance, “Freedom Fire Bowls” from the DeKalb County Republican Women’s Club, “Southern Smokehouse Crew” from Rick Lynch, and “Blessed and Highly ‘Flavored’ Chili” from Allen’s Chapel Methodist Church. The Smithville Review had a “Review to the Rescue” table for post-chili relief.

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County is a locally run affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization. Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates houses in partnership with volunteers and families in need, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The houses then are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged. To contact Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County, please call 215-8181.

(Photos provided by Tecia Puckett-Pryor)

Household Hazardous Waste Mobile Collection Service in DeKalb County November 1st

October 24, 2008

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s mobile household hazardous waste collection service will be in DeKalb County on Nov. 1.

“Our household hazardous waste mobile collection service provides the people of Tennessee with a safe, environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted household chemicals and other potentially hazardous wastes at no cost,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke. “This service travels across the state holding collection events in local communities, and we encourage all Tennesseans to take advantage of the opportunity to utilize it.”

On Saturday, Nov. 1, any Tennessee resident may bring his or her household hazardous waste to the following location.

DeKalb County – DeKalb County Farmer’s Co-op in Smithville from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The local contact for this HHW collection event is Gary Carter at (615) 597-5175.

The average home in Tennessee produces 20 pounds of household hazardous waste each year. Typical items to dispose of include cleaning fluids, pesticides, mercury thermometers and thermostats, swimming pool chemicals, paint thinner and automotive fluids. Also accepted are fluorescent bulbs and electronics, such as televisions, computer monitors, keyboards, computer mouse devices and computer processing units. Console televisions must be dismantled.

Items no longer accepted are alkaline and rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries sold after May 13, 1996, have no mercury added and may be discarded in the regular trash. Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd), nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), lithium ion (Li-Ion) and small sealed lead-acid (Pb) batteries may be recycled through the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation. You may find a drop-off location near you by entering your ZIP code at http://www.rbrc.org/call2recycle/dropoff/index.php. Other items not accepted include microwave ovens, ammunition, explosives, medical waste and any items from a school, commercial business or agri-business.

When transporting materials to the site, place containers in sturdy boxes lined with newspaper to prevent spills and cross-contamination in the trunk of a car or back of a truck. Be sure to keep materials away from children and pets. Materials should be kept in the original container whenever possible. If not, place the waste in a plastic jug with a secure lid and label its contents.

In 2007, almost 1.8 million pounds of household hazardous waste, including 377,493 pounds of electronics, were collected from 23,905 households at collection events across the state. Since the program’s inception in 1993, households have properly disposed of more than 16.7 million pounds of material. HHW material is considered flammable, toxic, reactive and/or corrosive and should not be placed in with regular garbage.

For more information on the household hazardous waste mobile collection service, please call
1-800-287-9013 or visit www.tn.gov/environment/swm/hhw.

DeKalb Jobless Rate up to Seven Percent in September

October 23, 2008

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for September was 7%, up from the revised rate for August of 6.6% and significantly higher than the 4.3% rate recorded in September, 2007

DeKalb County's labor force for September was 10,430. A total of 9,700 were employed and 730 were unemployed.

Meanwhile, Tennessee's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September was 7.2 percent, 0.6 percentage point higher than the August rate of 6.6 percent. The United States unemployment rate for the month of September was 6.1 percent.

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for September show that 84 counties increased. The rate decreased in seven counties and remained the same in four counties.

Williamson County registered the state's lowest county unemployment rate at 5.0 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from the August rate. Perry County had the state's highest at 16.8 percent, up from 16.2 in August, followed by Johnson County at 13.6 percent, up from 8.0 percent in August.
Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate at 5.3 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from the September rate. Davidson County was 5.9 percent, up from 5.6 the previous month. Hamilton County was at 6.1 percent the same as the August rate, and Shelby County was 7.4 percent, up from the August rate of 7.1.

IRS Seeks to Return $5 Million in Undeliverable Refunds

October 23, 2008

NASHVILLE — The Internal Revenue Service is looking for Tennessee taxpayers who are missing more than 5,800 economic stimulus checks totaling about $3.3 million and nearly 2,000 regular refund checks totaling about $1.7 million that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing address errors.

Nationwide, more than 279,000 economic stimulus checks totaling about $163 million and more than 104,000 regular refund checks totaling about $103 million were returned to the IRS.

“Just a simple address update will allow the IRS to get this money into the hands of its owners,” said IRS spokesman Dan Boone.

All a taxpayer has to do is update his or her address once. The IRS will then send out all checks due.

Stimulus Checks
It is crucial that taxpayers who may be due a stimulus check update their addresses with the IRS by Nov. 28, 2008. By law, economic stimulus checks must be sent out by Dec. 31 of this year. The undeliverable economic stimulus checks average $583.

The “Where’s My Stimulus Payment?" tool on IRS.gov is the quickest and easiest way for a taxpayer to check the status of a stimulus check and receive instructions on how to update his or her address. Taxpayers without internet access should call 1-866-234-2942.

Regular Refunds
The regular refund checks that were returned to the IRS average $884 in Tennessee. These checks are resent as soon as taxpayers update their address.

Taxpayers can update their addresses with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov. It enables taxpayers to check the status of their refunds. A taxpayer must submit his or her social security number, filing status and amount of refund shown on their 2007 return. The tool will provide the status of their refund and in some cases provide instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.

Taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will be given instructions on how to update their addresses. Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.

Unsure?
Taxpayers not sure of which type of check they may be due should check on a potential economic stimulus check first because of the looming deadline. See instructions above.

For Most People
The vast majority of checks mailed out by the IRS reach their rightful owner every year. Only a very small percent are returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable.

Through September 2008, the government distributed 116 million economic stimulus payments with only about 279,000 checks being undeliverable. Meanwhile, the IRS has distributed more than 105 million regular refunds this year with only about 104,000 being undeliverable. In both cases, well under one percent of refunds or stimulus checks were undeliverable.

Avoiding Future Problems
The IRS encourages taxpayers to choose direct deposit when they file their return because it puts an end to lost, stolen or undeliverable checks. Taxpayers can receive refunds directly into personal checking or savings accounts. Direct deposit is available for filers of both paper and electronic returns.

The IRS also encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically because e-file eliminates the risk of lost paper returns. E-file also reduces errors and speeds up refunds.

State Department of Safety Urges Motorist to Watch Out for Deer

October 22, 2008

NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Department of Safety cautions motorists to watch out for deer, especially during the months of October through December, which is deer mating season. Deer are on the move during this period, meaning an increase in deer-related crashes is more likely.

“Deer pose a danger to drivers throughout the year, but especially in the fall. Recently, a woman was killed in Montgomery County after the motorcycle she was riding on crashed trying to avoid a deer,” stated THP Colonel Mike Walker. “It is important that drivers always pay attention and stay alert.”

In 2007, there were 5,104 deer-related crashes, including 257 that involved injuries and one that was fatal. That was down 13 percent from 5,839 in 2006, but since 2003, deer-related crashes in Tennessee have risen almost 17 percent.

Between 2003 and 2007, only 7.9 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways, so motorists should exercise extra caution when not traveling on a major thoroughfare. November, when deer hunting season starts, is the worst month for deer-related crashes.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has these tips for drivers to help prevent deer-related crashes during peak mating and hunting seasons:

• Whenever you see deer cross the road, expect more to follow. Many times, the second or third deer crossing becomes the one that motorists hit.
• Be attentive, especially at daybreak and dusk, when deer tend to be on the move.
• If you do collide with a deer, never approach the injured animal. They are powerful and can cause bodily harm to a human.
• Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food, as long as you contact the nearest TWRA regional office to report the accident within 48 hours.

Corps of Engineers waives day use fees at Recreation areas on Veteran's Day

October 22, 2008

NASHVILLE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will waive all day use fees for veterans, active, reserve and guard service members and their families at its recreation areas nationwide on November 11.

"It is our intent to honor and support the men and women who have served our nation in the armed services," said Steve Stockton, director of Civil Works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We chose this occasion to encourage our veterans, active duty personnel and their families to come enjoy one of the more than 2,400 Corps-operated recreation sites nationwide. Whether you like to walk, jog, bike, hunt, fish, swim, boat, bird watch or study nature, we invite you to visit a Corps lake near you.”

On November 11, day use fees will be waived for veterans, active, reserve and guard service members and their families visiting Corps-managed recreation areas. This waiver includes boat launch ramp and swim beach fees. However, fees for camping and camping related services as well as fees for specialized facilities, such as picnic shelters, will not be waived.

The Corps is the largest federal provider of outdoor and water-based recreation in the nation. The Corps hosts about 372 million visits each year at its lakes, beaches and other areas, and estimates that 70 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a Corps lake.

Local Farm Recognized by Governor as One of State’s Oldest

October 21, 2008
Terry Oliver, Deputy Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, John W. Rose, Cindy Rose Dowell, Steve Dowell and Governor Phil Bredesen.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Governor Phil Bredesen has recognized John Williams Rose of the Temperance Hall community as the owner of one of Tennessee’s oldest farms. Lancaster Farm, located in the Lancaster community near the Dekalb County line was established by Rose’s ancestors in 1790. The farm is one of only 41 farms in Tennessee currently recognized as predating the formation of the state of Tennessee. Bredesen recently recognized Rose, along with his sister and brother in law, Cindy and Steve Dowell of Smith County, who help operate the farm.

Governor Phil Bredesen, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Middle Tennessee State University Center for Historic Preservation honored Tennessee's oldest farms at a luncheon during the Tennessee Farmland Legacy Conference. Pioneer farms are farms founded in or before 1796 that have remained in the same family and in continuous agricultural production.

"These farms are among Tennessee's most significant rural landscapes and each generation, in its own way and time, has contributed to our prosperity and quality of life," said Governor Bredesen. "The state is proud of its agricultural heritage, and these Century Farms give us an enduring link to the past and a rich legacy for our children and grandchildren to enjoy."

Pioneer farms are part of the Tennessee Century Farms Program administered by the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and supported by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. CHP was started in 1975 by the department in honor of the nation's bicentennial celebration. The program identifies, documents and recognizes farms owned by the same family for at least 100 years. To date, there are more than 1200 certified Century Farms in Tennessee.

“It's appropriate that we take time to honor our state's oldest farms and recognize their contributions to the economy, environment and quality of life we enjoy in Tennessee,” said Ken Givens, Commissioner of Agriculture. “Not only are we preserving the past, but we're helping to ensure the future of these farms by keeping them profitable and giving farm owner’s options for keeping their farms.”

The Lancaster Farm is located on Hwy 141 in the community of Lancaster on the east bank of the Smith Fork Creek just south of the Caney Fork River. Sometime before 1790 John Lancaster and his family moved across the mountains to a parcel of land that was originally part of a Revolutionary War land grant of 2,560 acres. The family engaged in farming, owned and operated a mill on the Smith Fork and founded the nearby town of Lancaster.

In 1800, a son, Richard Lancaster, acquired the farm. In 1799, Richard survived an Indian attack and scalping. Family history records that he hunted Indians from that time until 1826, when he was captured and “shot full of arrows and hung from a bluff along the banks of the river.” Richard is buried in the family cemetery, called Prichard Cemetery, which is on the farm.

The third owner of the land was John Lancaster’s nephew, Thomas A. Lancaster, a veteran of the War of 1812. He and his wife Frances Lancaster had six children. Thomas opened a general merchandise store in Lancaster. William, son of Thomas and Frances, and his wife Elizabeth were the next to own the land. Melissa Lancaster, daughter of William and Elizabeth, and her husband, James C. Prichard, were the next owners of the property.

The farm passed through several more family owners and today is owned by John Williams Rose, who served as Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Tennessee in 2002-2003. His father, the late Jerry Lancaster Rose helped established the current farm operation. Rose is the eighth owner and the seventh generation in the Lancaster family line to own and operate the farm.

The first annual Tennessee Farmland Legacy Conference brought together a diverse group of stakeholders for presentations on farm estate planning, property taxes and conservation easements for landowners and planning techniques that protect farmland while not hindering economic growth for community leaders. Presenters explained how communities and farmers can both benefit from working together. The conference was hosted by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Department of Tourism, The Lyndhurst Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Land Trust for Tennessee, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, USDA Rural Development, UT Center for Profitable Agriculture, MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Cumberland Region Tomorrow.

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