Local News Articles

County Budget Committee Trying to Avoid Tax Increase

June 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Could your county property taxes be going up?

Members of the county budget committee are working hard to avoid that but they may have their work cut out for them.

During Thursday night's meeting, the budget committee, while not taking a vote, looked at cutting over $300,000 from the proposed county general fund budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. But even with those cuts, the proposed budget still shows a deficit of more than $700,000. To make that up, the county would need an additional seventeen cents on the property tax rate, according to the county's financial advisor Steve Bates.

A major new spending program affecting next year's budget is the federally mandated Affordable Health Care Act in which the county and school system must offer health insurance coverage to every full time employee. County Mayor Mike Foster said the cost to the general fund to meet this mandate could run from $360,000 to more than $400,000.

Foster said it's too early to say if any tax increase will be needed. He said more cuts may yet be made in the proposed budget for the general fund.

One place the budget committee is looking to possibly cut back on is the proposal for four additional School Resource Officers. To fund all four, the county would need to come up with $236,969.

A majority of the budget committee members, Wayne Cantrell, Jerry Scott, and Larry Summers suggested cutting that back to two new SRO officers, which would slice the cost in half to $118,485.

Committee members Jack Barton and Marshall Ferrell preferred leaving four new SRO officers in the proposed budget.

"If the right thing happened, I would like to see four (SRO Officers) total, " said Summers.

"I think you could split one (SRO Officer) between Northside and Smithville Elementary School," said Cantrell.

Foster and members of the budget committee stressed that things remain "fluid" when it comes to the proposed budget and nothing has yet been finalized.

The board of education is expected to have a workshop and a special meeting Monday night to revise their proposed budget. The county commission's budget committee will meet again next Wednesday night to review all budgets.

TDOT Announces Projects for DeKalb County

June 7, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has announced road projects this summer which may affect traffic.

TDOT plans to resurface State Route 56 from the bridge over Pine Creek to south of U.S. 70.

Lane shifts will be altered throughout the project to allow shoulder work to be performed. Weather permitting; the contractor could have temporary lane closures. In the event of a temporary lane closure, the contractor will use flaggers to maneuver motorists through the project .Estimated project completion date is July 2013.

TDOT also plans to install a flashing beacon on U.S. 70 at the intersection of State Route 83 near Kilgore's Restaurant.

The contractor may have short lane closures in order to install a flashing beacon at the intersection of SR-83. Estimated project completion date is July 2013.

Smithville Firefighters Called to Star Manufacturing

June 6, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department was called to Star Manufacturing this morning (Thursday) where a laser cutting machine caught fire.

"We had a little fire at Star Manufacturing in one of their laser cutting machines," said Chief Charlie Parker. "They evacuated the building. They had some smoke coming from the laser. Maintenance crews took it (machine) apart where we could pull it outside to get to it. There was some smoke in the building. We set up a fan and pulled some of the smoke out of the building. We cleared the building (of smoke) so they (employees) could go back to work. It was primarily in just one machine. We didn't put any water on the fire. We took the machine apart and pulled the filters to where we could get it outside. It pretty much went out on its own," said Chief Parker.

15th Annual Fiddler 5K Set for July 6th

June 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Fiddler 5K
Tecia Puckett Pryor

The 15th annual Fiddler 5K and One Mile Fun Run, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County will be Saturday, July 6, the weekend of the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree. All proceeds from the race will be used in building another Habitat for Humanity home in DeKalb County.

The race will begin promptly at 7:00 a.m., RAIN OR SHINE. The course begins and ends on Church Street in Downtown Smithville. "We changed the course just a little bit last year," said Race Director Tecia Puckett Pryor. "We will start in front of the Life Enrichment Center on Church Street right beside the First Baptist Church. We're no longer out on Highway 56. That has worked really well. People seem to enjoy it and we have a really great time putting it on. We've had about 400 walkers and runners the last few years and we're expecting a great turnout again this year. We will still be doing chip timing but we're using a new timing company this year, Tennessee Race Timing of Cookeville," said Pryor.

To obtain a register form or for more information about the race, you may visit www.fiddler5k.com. "It (website) has registration information, a link to on-line registration, and a PDF of the printed registration form which you can fill out and mail in to our post office box," said Pryor. "We're offering pre-registration discounts up through midnight July 3 on-line. Paper registrations must be in by July 1. We're offering some early bird savings. If you register by June 8 either by paper or on-line you will get an additional $5.00 off. So if you know you're going to participate in the race, now would be a good time to get registered. If you pre-register this year we are going to offer early race pickup so you can pick up your bib with your chip, tee shirt and everything on Friday evening, July 5. It's probably going to be from around 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in front of the First Baptist Life Enrichment Center. You will get an email confirming that time so you won't have to arrive quite as early on Saturday morning if you pre-register and pick up your packet early. As usual, you can also register on race day. You have to be there at 6:00 a.m. and bring a completed form with you if you register on race day," she said.

Sponsors are also welcome. "If you would like information on how to be a sponsor of the race, either a t-shirt, mile marker, or turn sign sponsor, or if you would like to provide items for our goodie bags, or be a volunteer in helping us with the race, call 597-7370 or you can email director@fiddler5k.com," said Pryor.

Spectators are urged to come out and cheer on the runners the morning of the race. "If you live near or along the race course which goes by the golf course and Riley Avenue and up West Main Street and through down town, we would encourage you to come out and cheer on the runners. They would love to have that support," said Pryor.

Funds raised through the Fiddler 5K support Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County. "We just finished our fourth house and had a dedication. We are in the process of selecting our fifth partner family in DeKalb County. We'll start construction on that family's house sometime later this year," she said.

Omega Apparel Wins Air Force and Marine Corps Skirt Contract

June 5, 2013
Omega Apparel Wins Air Force and Marine Corps Skirt Contract

Omega Apparel Incorporated received notification from the Department of Defense that they won their bid to produce skirts for the Air Force and Marine Corp. The contract effective date is September 28, 2013 and will continue for 5-years.

“This is a critical win for us” shared Terry Green, Plant Manager at Omega. “Retaining the Air Force and Marine Corps contract enables us to create scale in our skirt production line and continue to provide jobs for 25+ Smithville area residents.”

“I’m very proud of the Skirt Team” added Connie Jolley, Customer Service and Quality Manager at Omega. “We win contracts by delivering the highest levels of quality and never missing an order. The skirt team has been doing this for the last 5-years.”

“The skirt team recently purchased Omega branded t-shirts for their team” continued Cindy Kemper, Skirts Line Supervisor at Omega. This is great indication of their high level of motivation and commitment to excellence.”

Omega Apparel was established in 1994 and is a leading producer of uniforms for the Department of Defense. The company specializes in making dress pants and skirts for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. The production facility is based in Smithville, TN and employs a workforce of 200+ that deliver $10M+ in annual sales. Omega Apparel has a best-in-class track record in the industry for Quality and Customer Service. Omega Apparel was acquired in 2012 by Brentwood, TN, resident Dean Wegner

Mount Juliet Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash

June 5, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mount Juliet Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash
Scene of Fatal Motorcycle Crash on Dale Ridge Road

A Mount Juliet man was killed when his motorcycle crashed into a guardrail on Dale Ridge Road (Highway 96) Tuesday afternoon.

Dead is 29 year old Joshua Jernigan.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Jernigan was traveling north on his Suzuki motorcycle when he went off the right side of the road and struck a guardrail post. The fatal crash occurred near the intersection with Caplinger Hollow Road.

Jernigan was wearing a helmet.

He was taken to DeKalb Community Hospital by DeKalb EMS where he was pronounced dead.
The accident was investigated by Trooper Jeremy Wilhite of the THP.

Cookeville Man Fires Shot During Altercation Near Center Hill Lake

June 4, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kalen Allen Paschal

An initial report of multiple gunshots at the Austin Bottom Boat Ramp near Center Hill Lake Monday night turned out to be a physical altercation between two men, in which one of them pulled a pistol on the other and then fired one shot into the air. No one was hurt.

24 year old Kalen Allen Paschal of Cookeville, a convicted felon, has been charged by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, and possession of a schedule VI drug for resale. His bond is $30,000 and he will be in court June 13.

According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, Paschal and another man got into an argument which led to a physical altercation. During the incident, Paschal pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the victim, and fired once in the air. Paschal then hid the weapon in the woods. The victim meanwhile contacted his family and they came to the scene with a rifle but it was not fired.

Detectives found .45 ounces of marijuana in Paschal's backpack along with a set of scales and $240 in cash, all of which were in twenty dollar bills.

Sheriff Ray said detectives seized Paschal's cash, marijuana, and handgun. The rifle belonging to the victim's family was also seized.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department requested and received mutual aid assistance at the scene from the Putnam County Sheriff's Department. DeKalb and Putnam County EMS were also there.

Man Charged with Assaulting Neighbor

June 4, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Jimmy Corbett Corder
Michael William Frizzell
Calvin Kent Adcock
Torsten Michael Jakob

A property line dispute led to the arrest of one man for allegedly assaulting his neighbor and vandalizing his lawn mower on Memorial Day.

59 year old Jimmy Corbett Corder of Howard Redmon Road, Sparta is charged with simple assault and vandalism under $500. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court June 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 27, an officer of the sheriff's department responded to an assault call on Howard Redmon Road. Upon arrival, the deputy spoke with a man who had been assaulted by his neighbor, Corder. The neighbor said he was mowing a strip of grass on the property line and that Corder arrived and boxed in the mower with his vehicle so that he could not leave. He (Corder) allegedly used a hammer to beat the mower causing less than $500 in damage. The victim said Corder also hit him on the arm with the hammer.

56 year old Calvin Kent Adcock of Maple Ridge Court, McMinnville is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court June 6. He was also issued a citation for simple possession of a schedule II drug (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, May 6 an officer of the sheriff's department was dispatched to a call of a person having fallen on the Old Bildad Road. Upon arrival, the deputy made contact with Adcock who was found to be sitting beside the road. Adcock's speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet. He was transported to the emergency room of the hospital by DeKalb EMS. While enroute to the hospital, a glasses case fell out of Adcock's shirt pocket. Inside the case were a loaded syringe that Adcock said contained methamphetamine and two spoons used for meth.

48 year old Torsten Michael Jakob of Highland Avenue, Smithville is charged with violation of bond conditions. His bond on this charge is $2,500 and he will be in court June 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, May 30 Jakob was at the residence of a woman, who on Saturday May 25, had him charged with assault. A Bond condition was placed on the assault warrant for him not to have contact with this woman. She told the officer that she was unaware that Jakob was inside her home until she came out of the bathroom. When the officer knocked on the door, Jakob instructed the woman not to answer the door. No one answered the door but the officer looked through the window and saw Jakob. He was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

28 year old Michael William Frizzell of Prater Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on June 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, May 31 Frizzell allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. They were pushing each other until they went to the ground. Frizzell allegedly grabbed the victim's neck and forced her outside the residence and would not let her back inside the check on the children. It was determined that Frizzell was the primary aggressor and he was arrested and brought to the jail for booking.

Aldermen Adopt Budget Without Adding New Full Time Firefighters

June 3, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page
Tim Stribling, Jason Murphy, and Jimmy Poss (older photo)
Danny Washer, Gayla Hendrix, and Shawn Jacobs (older photo)

Facing a possible deficit in the general fund of more than $344,000 by the end of 2013-14 fiscal year, the Smithville Aldermen Monday night voted 3 to 2 to adopt a new $7.8 million budget ordinance on first reading without any new paid full time firefighter positions.

Aldermen Tim Stribling, Jason Murphy, and Danny Washer voted for the budget. Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Gayla Hendrix, who wanted to include funding for one new firefighter, voted against the budget. Second and final reading will follow a public hearing at the next meeting on Monday, June 17 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

(CLICK LINK TO PDF BELOW TO VIEW PROPOSED BUDGET AS ADOPTED ON FIRST READING MONDAY NIGHT)
fye 63014 budget.pdf (557.29 KB)

Two versions of the budget were presented to the aldermen for consideration Monday night. One of the proposed budgets included another full time firefighter at $41,000 (salary, payroll taxes, and insurance benefits). The other did not include the position.

According to the city's financial advisor, Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the proposal with the firefighter would have put the projected budget deficit by year's end at $385,000. Without the firefighter, Jackson said the anticipated deficit is $344,105. During the budget workshop with the mayor and aldermen last Tuesday night, Jackson had projected a break even budget or a slight deficit by June 30, 2014. But since then, she discovered an error in which she failed to account for expenses related to a mostly grant funded fuel farm project for the airport. " I have found a math error and made a correction so the numbers are worse in the general fund. We're now projecting a $344,000 deficit in current revenues to current expenses but if you do the additional firefighter it's about a $385,000 deficit," said Jackson.

What this means is that unless spending is held in check during the year, the city will have to appropriate $344,105 from the general fund surplus to balance the budget by June 30, 2014. Meanwhile, the proposed water and sewer fund is also showing a projected loss of $62,280 by the end of the fiscal year June 30, 2014. Funds to make up for the anticipated loss would have to be appropriated from the city's water and sewer fund surplus. City officials point out that the projected water and sewer fund deficit could be reduced or erased when it's known what new rates will be charged the DeKalb Utility District beginning January 1 under a new contract between the city and the DUD, which has not yet been negotiated or agreed upon.

The proposed budget includes a 1.5% pay raise for all city employees including salaried personnel. Some employees will also get step increases depending upon where they fall in the wage scale for their departments. The budget increases funding for the chamber of commerce from $5,000 to $10,000 and includes a total allocation of $5,000 to be divided among members of city boards and commissions, such as beer board, planning commission, etc. for attending those meetings.

During Monday night's meeting, Alderman Tim Stribling made a motion to adopt a new budget without another paid firefighter saying the city does not have a revenue source to fund it. "I would like to add a fire fighter, or two, three, four, five or however many. But it's got to have a funding source. It's a recurring expense every year. I just don't see where we're able to take one on at this time so I make a motion that we adopt the budget with no additional fire employee," he said. Alderman Jason Murphy seconded the motion.

Alderman Shawn Jacobs, who is also the city's police and fire commissioner, advocated making further budget cuts where possible to help fund another firefighter. " We are the only town our size anywhere in the area that doesn't have full time firefighters. At least partial full time firefighters. Baxter has several. Six or something like that. Tiny towns smaller than us have part time firefighters that are being paid. I think you can be a penny wise and a pound foolish. There's not all that much difference in the deficits (of the two proposed budgets). I just wish we could find somewhere to cut a little bit more to make them (proposed budgets) closer together," he said.

"Shawn, I'm sure those towns that do have full time fire departments are funded," replied Alderman Stribling. " They've got a way to fund it. We've got to have a way to fund this every year. You're basically going to have to find $40,000 in new taxes. I mean we've got the surplus to cover it but how many years do we have a surplus to cover it?," asked Alderman Stribling.

"I'm just advocating for the fire department because I'm the fire and police commissioner and it's my job to be their advocate and I think we need it," responded Alderman Jacobs.

"I agree with Shawn in this matter," said Alderman Gayla Hendrix. " We've had lengthy discussions in our budget workshops and I know we've gone through and trimmed a lot of the excess. But I think we are all aware there are always items budgeted that are not spent. Even with the way its trimmed there's a lot of places to cut. I think it boils down to the fact of what's more important to you. I hate that we're showing a deficit. It's better than last year. Better than the year before. We're making progress. But we've also made some major improvements to our community. We talk about needing more jobs and bringing in more jobs. These improvements to the airport are going to look favorable to industries. This ladder truck and at least one hired firefighter is going to look favorable to industry. The disaster that happened with Moog cost us jobs and cost us tax revenue. It hurts me to think that could ever happen again. I think the fire chief has explained to us that if we had two staff members that could be ready to respond immediately in the middle of the day or any time of the day to our factories, to our industries as well as people's homes, we could save a lot. It would reduce our ISO rating. I don't like to have to look at a deficit. But in the grand scheme of things I think this budget has a lot of places we could cut. This (another paid firefighter) is something I think is very much needed," said Alderman Hendrix.

While admitting there could be other places in the budget to cut, Mayor Jimmy Poss said the proposed budget is not bloated and that the city is going to have to keep a close eye on spending this year. "We're going to have to watch what we spend to make this thing work. Hopefully we don't have to buy a lot this year," he said.

Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson said the major problem is that revenues have not kept up with expenses. " Revenues have stalled. We have found some other sources of revenue but we won't know what that will be until a year from now. We may say a year from now we're bringing in more in certain taxes to fund a fireman or that could fund this or that recurring. That's the thing, it's not just funding it for a year or two, it's got to fund it year after year. Of course, we all want to do this without raising property taxes I assume. I think that's where we're at on this budget. Expenditures tend to creep up and revenues are kind of flat lined right now," said Hendrixson.

The budget calls for no increase in the city property tax rate (.6490 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value) and no increases in water or sewer rates.

Water customers will continue to pay $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $5.00 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Outside city rates are $7.50 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $7.50 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage.

The rate for city sewer customers, under the new budget, will continue to be $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of usage plus $5.00 per thousand gallons thereafter. In addition, all sewer customers will continue to pay the $3.62 cent per month flat rate usage fee.

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District for water is $2.05 per thousand gallons but will increase beginning with January 1, 2014 sales. The rate will be determined in a new contract between the city and the DUD, which has not yet been negotiated or agreed upon.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $ 2,070,670. This expense is due to mostly grant funded projects at the airport.

Specific projects are as follows:

Financial Administration:
$5,000 for computer upgrades and equipment

Parks and Recreation:
$5,000 unspecified

Public Works/Buildings and Grounds:
$10,000 unspecified

City Hall Building:
$10,000 unspecified

Fire Protection:
$10,000 unspecified

Street Department:
$20,000 for a chipper truck
$20,000 for a vehicle

Police Department:
$25,000 for a police car
$2,000 unspecified

Golf Course:
$5,000 unspecified

Airport: (Mostly grant funded projects with local city match)
$1,516,670 for the runway and apron overlay
$347,000 for a fuel farm
$95,000 for PAPI Infrastructure

Sanitation Fund:
$5,000 unspecified.

Proposed water and sewer fund Fixed Asset Additions: Automatic meter readers project- $410,000; Capital improvements-paint water tank- $80,000; Sewer plant improvement study & engineering fees- $18,000; Sewer plant updates- $250,000; Sewer rehabilitation camera- $125,000
Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.

The proposed budget breaks down as follows:

REVENUES:
General Fund: $4,703,270
Special Revenue Fund-Sanitation: $263,330
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,424,500
Drug Fund: $10,025
Appropriation of Surplus- General Fund: $344,105
Appropriation of Surplus-Drug Fund: $5,225
Appropriation of Surplus-Water & Sewer Fund: $62,280
Total Revenues: $7,812,735

EXPENDITURES:
General Fund: $5,047,375
Special Revenue Funds Sanitation: $263,235
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,486,780
Drug Fund: $15,250
Surplus in Sanitation Fund:$95
Total Expenditures: $7,812,735

Leadership DeKalb to Feed Hungry Children This Summer

June 3, 2013
by: 
Dwayne Page

Leadership DeKalb 2013 is feeding hungry children this summer.

"Each year, Leadership DeKalb classes have to pick a project and our class has decided to try to feed children that might be hungry this summer while school is out," said Darrell Gill, President of the 2013 Leadership DeKalb Class. It's our plan to get non perishable foods to the families of children that are needing help this summer," he said.

Families in need of help feeding their children this summer or if you know of a child that could benefit call 615-318-2726. You may also call if you would like to donate non-perishable foods or money to support to this effort.

This Thursday night, June 6 around six o'clock were going to have hot dogs, potato chips, and drinks. We're also going to have some flyers that we'd like to pass out and questionnaires for parents or guardians to sign up for this project help that we're trying to do with the food drive for hungry children. We'll be set up in the areas of the Joe L. Evins ballpark and the Short Mountain Village and the Bell Street area. So if you see us out with hotdogs and chips and you'd like something to eat, come over and talk to us and we'll give you a flyer and a questionnaire to fill out, "said Gill.

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