Local News Articles

Postal Customers Reminded of Holiday Mailing Deadlines

December 12, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

The United States Postal Service is advising customers to keep track of shipping deadlines to ensure presents arrive in time for the holidays.

David Walton, Postal Service spokesman, told WJLE Wednesday that packages should be mailed earlier rather than later to get them to their destination by Christmas. "This year we urge our customers to mail early because we're expecting record breaking volumes this year, especially with our package services. We're expecting about a 20% increase over last year due to more people doing on-line shopping. So our deadlines for mailing First Class Mail, we'd like you to have that in the mail by December 20. For Priority Mail, its December 21 and for Express Mail its December 22," said Walton. "Our busiest day that we're expecting most people to come to the Post Office is next Monday, December 17. Our busiest delivery date for letters is going to be December 19 and for packages its December 20," he said

As a convenience to postal customers, on-line services are available, according to Walton. "For a lot of people who don't want to stand in line at the post office, it's unbelievable what you can do these days on-line. If you go to www.usps.com you can pretty much print out a mailing label postage and put it on your package and you can schedule your carrier to pick up that package. That saves you the time and gas in going to the post office. You can also order stamps on-line," he said.

Walton also offers some tips for customers planning to ship packages during the holidays. "Just a couple of tips for sending packages, always be sure that you include the same name and address that's on the outside of the package on the inside as well. Put that on the inside because there have been instances where a label has fallen off or maybe weather has gotten to it and caused the label to come off. That way we can make sure that the package is returned either to the sender or the addressee," said Walton. "Of course, if you're sending anything electronic always take the batteries out. Also be sure to use a (shipping) box that's strong and use packing tape. A lot of people forget about that. If you don't know the zip code where the package is going to, don't guess the zip code. The best thing to do is go to www.usps.com and you can easily find a zip code there," said Walton.

Meanwhile, the Smithville Post Office will close Christmas Eve at 10:00 a.m.. and be closed all day on New Year's Eve. That's only for their window lobby service. Mail delivery will continue as usual on those days.

DeKalb 911 Center Completes Upgrades to Meet NENA Standards

December 12, 2012
Brad Mullinax

The DeKalb County 911 center recently underwent some major changes and upgrades in order to meet National Emergency Number Association NG-911 standards, according to Director Brad Mullinax

"In October of this year, I applied for grant money in the amount of $75,646.00 to upgrade our current 911 system to the NENA (National Emergency Number Association) NG-911 standards," said Mullinax. "The State of Tennessee began planning for a statewide NG-911 system in 2005. The planning is finally becoming a reality. DeKalb County 911 is (1 of 2) 911 centers within the 14 county Upper Cumberland region to become completely NG-911 compliant," he said.

NG-911 brings many new features and redundancy to our 911 center, according to Mullinax. "First, NG-911 enables all 911 centers in Tennessee to be interconnected over an advanced IP based network. Once all 911 centers have completed their upgrades, local 911 operators will have the capability to transfer misrouted 911 callers from cell phones to their correct county without sacrificing important caller data," said Mullinax. "In addition, this connectivity will allow for added security, reliability, and redundancy with other 911 centers in case of local natural or man-made disaster. For example, if DeKalb County 911 goes off-line for any reason, your local 911 call will be routed to another 911 center capable of handling the call. Finally, the NG-911 network will eventually provide our callers with the ability to send SMS text and video messages to the 911 operators which will make our 911 center one of the first in the country to offer this service," said Mullinax

"We are excited about these new upgrades, but most importantly we are pleased that these upgrades did not cost the taxpayers of DeKalb County any local money," he said. " The upgrades were 100% funded with TECB grant money with no local match. Additionally, the upgrades have actually decreased our monthly recurring costs associated with 911 making the NG-911 project easier to sustain than traditional 911," added Mullinax.

Crime Stopper Reward Available for Tips Leading to Arrest in Jewel's Market Break-In

December 12, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jewel's Market Break-In

Smithville Police are asking for your help in solving a break-in shortly after midnight last Friday, December 7 at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard across from Dogwood Plaza.

All tips are anonymous and an arrest in the case could mean a reward of up to $1,000 through the Smithville Police Department's Crime Stoppers Program.

As WJLE first reported last Friday, the driver of a stolen Chevy Tahoe backed the SUV into the building, crashing it through the front doors to make entry. The front of the store received significant damage. The driver and passenger then got out of the vehicle and tried to steal the in-store ATM.

Officers arrived on the scene with the burglary still in progress and nearly caught the would be thieves red handed but the two fled on foot into the woods behind the store.

The ATM machine was left outside by the vehicle.

A store clerk said nothing else appeared to have been taken from the store.

No arrests have yet been made in the break-in but Smithville Police now know that the Chevy Tahoe used by the two burglars to crash into the store building was stolen. It was apparently taken from the car lot of Glynn's Auto Sales on West Broad Street.

Meanwhile, 26 year old Jo Carol Summers was cited for shoplifting at Dollar General Store on Tuesday, November 27. Ms. Summers was observed by an employee concealing items from the store in her purse. She will be in court on January 3

33 year old Bradley Harold Pugh and 31 year old Rhonda Michelle King were cited for simple possession on Friday, December 7 While assisting the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, a Smithville Police Officer stopped a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle involved in an earlier assault. The officer made contact with the driver, Pugh who gave verbal consent to search his vehicle. The officer found a tin box containing several pills. King was a passenger in the vehicle and a pill, in her possession, was recovered. They will be in court on January 31.

Anyone with information on any criminal activity is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that would help the Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

Woman Charged with Fraudulent Use of Credit Card

December 11, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
April Lynn Anderson
Allen Russell Douglas

In his latest report on crime, Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that 29 year old April Lynn Anderson of Quail Point Drive, Smithville is charged with fraudulent use of a credit card. Her bond is $7,500 and she will be in court December 13.

Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, November 12 Anderson allegedly stole a debit card and used it several times over a six day period totaling $2,022. The card was taken from the victim's vehicle on Quail Point Drive.

57 year old Allen Russell Douglas of Springfield is charged with driving under the influence. He was also issued citations for failure to show proof of registration and for running a red light. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on January 31.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, December 4 Douglas was operating a motor vehicle on Highway 70 and stopped by an officer for running a red light. Douglas' speech was slurred and he had problems staying awake. Douglas told the officer that he had taken prescription medication. He performed poorly on all field sobriety tasks. He also submitted to a blood test. Douglas was arrested and taken to the jail for booking.

County 4-H Public Speaking Winners

December 10, 2012
by: 
April Martin
4th grade 4-H speech contestants  (Photo by April Martin)
5th grade 4-H speech contestants (Photo by April Martin)
6 – 12th grade 4-H speech contestants (Photo by April Martin)

The County 4-H Public Speaking Contest was held recently. This contest gives young people an "upper edge" by providing them with important skills to use throughout their life such as poise, presentation skills, the ability to think on their feet, and confidence in themselves. Congratulations to the following 4-H members:

4th grade: 1st place, Skylar Fuson; 2nd place, Lily Martin, and 3rd place, Will Purcell. Other participants included: Amy Johnson, Monica Carlton, Malichi Hall, and Briana Agee.

5th grade: 1st place, Anna Chew, 2nd place, Braxton Hutchings, and 3rd place, Mya Ruch. Also participating were: Sophia Mahan, Ben Snipes, Stephanie Atnip, Kaitlyn George, Christian Trail, Justin Washer, Julia Curtis, Raiden Martin, Deborah Griffith, Sarette Aranda, Caitlin Milligan, Aubry Downey, Mary Maple, and Clayton Kirby.

6th grade: 1st place, Tom Tippin

8th grade: 1st place, Luke Green and 2nd place Wyatt Martin

9th grade: 1st place, Will Cain and 2nd place Ted Tippin

10th grade: 1st place, Lydia Trail and 2nd place Brooke Reffue

Several of these 4-H members will be advancing to the Sub-regional contest next month.

The 4-H program is a youth component of the University of Tennessee Extension.

Caption for 4th grade picture:

4th grade 4-H speech contestants (left to right): 1st place winner Skylar Fuson, 2nd place winner Lily Martin, and 3rd place winner Will Purcell. Not pictured are: Amy Johnson, Monica Carlton, Malichi Hall, and Briana Agee (photo by April Martin).

Caption for 5th grade picture:

5th grade 4-H speech contestants (first row, left to right): Mya Ruch (3rd place winner), Anna Chew (1st place winner), Braxton Hutchings, Sophia Mahan, Destinee Ritchie

And Kaitlyn George. Second row: Mary Maple, Aubry Downey, Raiden Martin, Justin Washer, and Clayton Kirby. Third row: Christian Trail, Caitlin Milligen, and Julia Curtis. Not pictured are: Stephanie Atnip, Deborah Griffith, Sarette Aranda, and Ben Snipes (Photo by April Martin).

Caption for 6 - 12th grade picture:

6 – 12th grade 4-H speech contestants (first row, left to right): 1st place winner in 6th grade, Tom Tippin; and 1st place in 10th grade, Lydia Trail. Second row: Brook Reffue 8th 2nd place winner in 10th grade; 2nd place winner in 9th grade, Ted Tippin; 1st place winner in 9th grade, Will Cain; 1st place winner in 8th grade, Luke Green, and 2nd place in 8th grade, Wyatt Martin (photo by April Martin).

Illness Affecting Attendance But Not Enough to Close Schools

December 10, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Clay Farler
Mark Willoughby

While some middle Tennessee counties have closed schools in recent days due to illness, DeKalb County School officials continue to monitor attendance rates here, but have not seen absenteeism significant enough to warrant closing local schools.

"It (absenteeism) has been running a little higher than normal," said Clay Farler, Attendance Supervisor. "It started picking up, especially at the elementary school last Friday. Today (Monday) its gotten a little worse at Smithville Elementary and at Northside Elementary. Our Pre-K through 5th grade in this part of the county are having the worst absenteeism. Today (Monday) at Northside the latest number I received including the ones that were sent home after arriving at school this morning, they have approximately sixty one students absent. They have 599 students enrolled there so that's slightly greater than ten percent of the students who are absent. At Smithville Elementary, they're at approximately seventy students absent including the ones they've had to send home so that puts them also at a little more than ten percent absenteeism. Their's is probably closer to twelve percent of students absent. Another problem at Northside and Smithville Elementary is we're having several staff members absent too so that is a factor," said Farler.

"At the high school, the attendance is still running well there and its not down very much at the middle school or at DeKalb West School," said Farler. "I'm hearing that there's flu and there's also pneumonia and I'm sure there's strep throat and other things too but we're trying to find out from doctor's offices what the main thing is and whether this is mainly flu or not. As of right now, that's all we know. I don't think Mr.Willoughby would consider closing school at this point but we're trying to keep a close watch on it," he said.

"Most of the time overall county wide we average around ninety three to ninety four percent (of students) present which would mean six to seven percent absentee," said Farler. "It's a higher number (of absenteeism) mainly at these two schools (SES and NES) but its not a great deal higher than what it normally runs. Individual days are up and down. Some days are higher than others but overall we average about ninety three or ninety four percent of students present," he said.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said he and other school officials will continue to monitor the situation. "This flu season it looks like it may hit us as it has in the past where it starts out in the elementary school and works its way up," said Willoughby. "It would be nice if we could get through this two week Christmas break to let all this (sickness) die down and not be as contagious and hopefully come back the first of the year and not have to worry about it as much. But right now we know it could explode. We have a lot of people who are sick. Right now our attendance rate is probably close to 92% system-wide so overall system-wide we're looking pretty good in the elementary grades. We wish there wasn't as much sickness in those grades but hopefully it will not continue to spread. We'll just have to wait and see how the flu does. We can't control it. But its not serious enough where we would look at closing schools. We are keeping up with it day by day though and monitoring the situation. We seek medical advice and ask for details or get information from the medical field and ask them if they think it would be wise to close or not close schools," said Willoughby.

"

Downtown Smithville Mini-Grants Distributed

December 10, 2012
Downtown Smithville Mini-Grants Distributed

Smithville was one of 12 communities selected to participate in Tennessee Downtowns, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts. Suzanne Williams, Executive Director of the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, made application for the Tennessee Downtowns Program on behalf of the city of Smithville and later for the $15,000 grant available only to communities in the TN Downtowns Program.

The Tennessee Downtowns Program Steering Committee Members - Steve White, chair; Alan Webb, Mark Ashburn, Wade Smith, & Chamber Director Suzanne Williams – have been working for almost 2 years on this state initiative. After months of attending training events, webinars, and late night meetings, the committee decided that dividing the grant money to accommodate 2 large projects would have the potential to make a more significant impact.

Project 1 would promote exterior improvements to downtown buildings. By investing a minimum of $1,000 in exterior improvements, downtown property owners were eligible to receive $500. Fortunately, the 16 applications that were submitted equaled the number of available grants, so no one was turned down. Mini-Grant recipients included 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, Grannie’s Goldmine, Alan Webb, Attorney Gayla C. Hendrix, Richard Williams, Attorney Vester Parsley Jr., Annette Greek, Attorney J. Hilton Conger, and Gail H. Webb.

Project 2 would bring an attractive new structure to downtown - a new open-air stage located at Evins Park located across from the Smithville Post Office to be used for outdoor concerts, performances, and other community events for the public to enjoy and use. Steering Committee Members were excited to partner with the Evins Foundation on this project. Architect Gaius Overton designed the unique, hewn beam structure that will add to the charm and beauty of our downtown area. Local sculptor /wood artist of Beech Hollow Studios, William Kooienga, is also lending his expertise and talents to the project. The city of Smithville prepared and leveled the ground and Smithville Electric dug the foundation for the large wooden beams to be placed. “The stage will be a welcome and beautiful addition to the county,” says TN Downtown Committee chair Steve White. Continued community support will be needed to help complete this huge undertaking. “We will be asking for volunteers in early 2013 to help finish it,” says White. “We think it’s important for this to be a community project where lots of people and organizations have a part in its completion and success.” The Smithville Rotary Club donated $1,000 to help with the costs. The new open-air stage is slated to be finished by Spring, 2013.

Tennessee Downtowns Program Manager Amy New, Kathy LaPlante from The National Main Street Center, and Carla King, Executive Director, Main Street McMinnville attended the mini-grant check presentation to support the work that has been accomplished in downtown Smithville thus far. Amy New commented that out of the 22 TN Downtowns Program communities in which she has worked, the Smithville program has accomplished more than any other with the $15,000 grant. The amazing results have been documented in a video presentation showing the before and after pictures, as well as the new downtown businesses, ribbon cuttings, community improvement awards, 10 new directional signs to downtown, and the new Smithville logo. If anyone would like to view the presentation, stop by the Chamber office in the DeKalb Courthouse, Room 201.

“The National Trust Main Street Center applauds Smithville for embracing the revitalization of its downtown commercial district, and we look forward to hearing many more success stories here and across the state as a result of Tennessee Downtowns,” said Kathy LaPlante.

If you are interested in volunteering to help with the Open-Air Stage project, being on one of the new TN Downtowns Program Committees, or making a donation to the downtown revitalization efforts, call the Chamber of Commerce office at 597-4163.

Caption for Picture
Members of the Tennessee Downtowns Program Steering Committee present 16 Mini-Grant checks to downtown Smithville property owners for revitalization efforts.

Pictured l-r
Front Row:
Carla King, Executive Director, Main Street McMinnville; Amy New, Tennessee Downtowns Program Manager; Suzanne Williams, Chamber Director & TN Downtowns Steering Committee

2nd Row:
Paul Violet, Bessie Jones, Gayla Hendrix, Gail Webb, Chamber President Kathie McGlamery, Annette Greek, TN Downtowns Steering Committee Chair Steve White

3rd Row:
Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, Kathy LaPlante of The National Main Street Center, Hilton Conger, TN Downtowns Steering Committee Member Alan Webb, Vester Parsley, Tom Janney

4th Row:
County Executive Mike Foster, TN Downtowns Steering Committee Member Wade Smith, Phillip “Fluty” Cantrell, Jeremy Trapp, Keith Blair, Frank Buck

City Receives $2.1 Million in Airport Grant Funds

December 10, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
City Receives $2.1 Million in Airport Grant Funds

The City of Smithville has been approved for more than $2.1 million in grants this year to help fund various airport improvement projects.

"Just this year in 2012, we've gotten approximately $2.1 million in grant funding for the airport," said Wesley Nokes, Manager of the Smithville Municipal Airport. "The overall cost to the city is going to average between 5 and 10% (grant match) or right around $200,000 or a little less," said Nokes.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced the latest grant for the Smithville Airport last week. This grant will help fund the design and construction of PAPI infrastructure. "This grant is for our PAPI lights, which are lights at the end of the runway that let the pilots know if they are on the right guide slope and if they are too high or too low coming in for approach for landing," said Nokes. "The wiring that supplies the electricity for these lights is extremely old. It was probably put in during the early 1970s. Its now dilapidated and corroded. This grant will replace all that wiring from the main hangar building out to each end of the runway, "he said.

Another airport project for which the city has been approved for grant funding is the resurfacing of the runway. "The first one (grant) we got this year was for just the engineering portion of the runway," said Nokes. "We're having the runway resurfaced and we are expanding the ramp and our parking area at the airport. We're repairing a spot of existing asphalt that has deteriorated probably due to an underground spring. The design for all that, the engineering portion of it, we got a grant for that and then we got a separate grant for the actual construction, the asphalt for the runway, the asphalt for the apron extension and to repair the older asphalt," said Nokes.

The city also plans to install a new fuel farm and begin offering jet fuel. "We got another grant for a new fuel farm which is for one hundred low lead and jet fuel," said Nokes. "We currently do not sell jet fuel at the airport so this will be a huge increase in traffic and revenue for us as we have not been able to provide that service before. But after this, we will. Even some of our current customers, businesses, and factories in the area that have corporate aircraft, when they come in they have no way of refueling here. They have to go somewhere else for fuel before they come in or after they leave so it will be a huge convenience factor for them and help us on the revenue aspect of it as well," he said. "The fuel farm construction hinges on the construction of the runway and the new part of the apron as the new fuel farm will be moved down to the end of the new apron expansion. There will be two above ground tanks. They will be twelve thousand gallon tanks. They will be operated on a self serve basis twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. They will be accessible by a debit or credit card," said Nokes.

Two other grants will help the city fund the purchase of a utility vehicle and a snow plow for the airport. "We got two grounds maintenance equipment grants," said Nokes. "One of those is for a utility vehicle, such as a John Deere Gator. That will be used for various grounds keeping activities at the airport such as spraying, weed eating, air field lighting repair, and that sort of thing," he said.

"The other one (grant) we got was for a snow plow to fit the current tractor that we have out here. We don't get a lot of snow in this area but when we do get some, if the need arises we'll be able to get the runway cleared off pretty quick without having to have the city or the county come out here and do it. That will be a huge help to us as well," said Nokes.

"Then we get a maintenance grant every year. It's a 50/50 matching grant. Its for basic general building repairs and computer system repairs. It covers lots of stuff. We get $29,000 a year for that. If we spend $29,000, the state will reimburse us $14,500," said Nokes.

According the Nokes, repairing the PAPI lights will most likely be the first airport project undertaken by the city. "The first project that will probably be done, depending on when the state gets the contracts out and everything, would be to repair the PAPI lights. A section of the existing ramp will have to be dug up to run those wires out to each end of the runway so that will be top priority to do that one first and then we can lay our new asphalt down over top of that," said Nokes.

The grants are made available through the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division.
The Division administers federal and state funding to assist in the location, design, construction and maintenance of Tennessee's diverse public aviation system.

Except for routine expenditures, grant applications are reviewed by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission (TAC), which is a five member board charged with policy planning and with regulating changes in the state Airport System Plan. The board carefully reviews all applications for grants to ensure that the proper state and local matching funds are in place and that the grants will be used for needed improvements.

The TDOT Aeronautics Division has the responsibility of inspecting and licensing the state's 126 heliports and 75 public/general aviation airports. The Division also provides aircraft and related services for state government and staffing for the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission.

Lake Home Fire Poses Problems for County Firefighters

December 9, 2012
County Fire Chief Donny Green

The DeKalb County Fire Department responded to a structure fire Saturday afternoon at approximately 12:30 p.m. at 500 Bruer Drive off of Holmes Creek Road. A neighbor saw smoke coming from the eaves of the house, owned by Timothy and Tina Dedman, and reported the fire to DeKalb 911.

The Main Station, Short Mountain Highway Station, Cookeville Highway Station, and firefighters from other DCFD stations responded to the scene. Due to the narrow and steep driveway leading to the lake home, firefighters had difficulty getting equipment near the residence and water supply to extinguish the fire and protect a nearby structure. Firefighters were successful in containing and extinguishing the fire without any damage to a nearby house, located approximately 25 feet away.

According to Chief Donny Green, there was no one at home at the time of the incident and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation. The home was a total loss. Green said that after talking with the owners, he learned that the Dedman's primary residence is in Lebanon.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and DeKalb EMS were also on the scene to assist.

Later Saturday evening, DeKalb County Firefighters were called back to the scene to extinguish the fire again.

Chevy Tahoe Used in Break-In at Jewel's Market Stolen from Glynn's Auto Sales

December 8, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Chevy Tahoe used in Break-in at Jewel's Market
Stolen Chevy Tahoe Left at Jewel's Market

No arrests have yet been made in the break-in at Jewel's Market but Smithville Police now know that the Chevy Tahoe used by the two burglars to crash into the store building was stolen. It was apparently taken from the car lot of Glynn's Auto Sales on West Broad Street.

Glynn Merriman, owner of the car lot, told WJLE Friday that someone broke into his office building during the night, removing a room air conditioner and making entry through a window. Three sets of car keys were taken from the office, including one set which went to the Chevy Tahoe. Merriman said the Tahoe was the only vehicle missing from the car lot.

After stealing the Tahoe, the thieves apparently wound up at Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard just after midnight Friday morning where they crashed the SUV through the front doors to make entry, causing significant damage. The driver and passenger then got out of the vehicle and tried to steal the in-store ATM. The crime was captured on store video surveillance. The two men reportedly wore something covering their faces. They reportedly tied a chain to the ATM in an effort to pull it out of the store with the Tahoe. But when officers arrived, the two men abandoned the ATM and SUV and fled on foot, making their escape around back of the building and into the woods.

Nothing else appeared to have been taken from the store.

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