Local News Articles

Sales Tax Reduction goes into Effect on January 1

December 20, 2007

As people return to work and school in 2008, their wallets will be a little heavier after a trip to the grocery store. The state sales tax on food and food ingredients will be reduced from 6% to 5.5% on the first day of the New Year.

The measure to reduce the sales tax on food was guided through the Senate by Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet). Beavers, an advocate of completely eliminating the sales tax on food, calls the half-cent reduction a “good first move.”

In addition to lowering the state sales tax on food, the 2007 legislative session bill (now Public Chapter 600) specifies an additional sales tax holiday weekend in 2008 to take place March 21-23. Current law provides one annual sales tax holiday scheduled for the beginning of the school year in August for the purchase of clothing and school supplies.

“There is no question that the state needs to refund the taxpayers of their overpayment of taxes whenever possible,” stated Beavers. “The reduction especially assists the elderly and those families who need help the most, which is a step in the right direction,” commented Beavers.

The sales tax reduction will be on all food and food ingredients except prepared food, alcoholic beverages, candy, dietary supplements, and tobacco.

UCHRA To Provide Enrollment Services for CoverKids

December 20, 2007

CoverKids, Governor Phil Bredesen’s free health insurance program for uninsured children, is partnering with the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency to offer enrollment information and assistance to families in its service area.

“Providing families with easy access to CoverKids is essential to the program’s continued success,” said Dr. Andrea Willis, CoverKids Program Director. “Ensuring the health needs of Tennessee’s uninsured children is a monumental task. By working with Tennessee’s Human Resource Agencies (TAHRA), we hope to effectively reach these children and provide access to affordable, comprehensive healthcare services.”

Part of a statewide partnership with the Tennessee Association of Human Resource Agencies, this effort will enable families to meet with case workers at UCHRA’s offices and learn more about CoverKids and ultimately enroll in the program.

“Our mission is to provide services and resources to families in the Upper Cumberland and CoverKids is yet another opportunity to fulfill our mission,” said Phyllis Bennett, TAHRA President and Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency. “This program addresses a very specific need faced by the families in our service area, and we want to do everything to encourage enrollment and participation.”

CoverKids, a Cover Tennessee Program, allows qualifying children 18 and under to get free, comprehensive health insurance for preventive health care services, such as, vaccinations, doctors’ visits, prescriptions and hospital visits. Maternity coverage is also available for pregnant women who meet eligibility criteria.

A family of four with a $51,625 yearly income will qualify for CoverKids. Qualified, low-income children will have no monthly premiums for coverage, will pay only $15 for doctors’ visits and $5 for generic medications, and will not have any co-pays for routine exams, labs or x-rays. Families with income in excess of 250% FPL, could have coverage available at full premium.

Vision benefits will be added for children in CoverKids beginning Jan. 1, 2008, and dental benefits will be included later in the first quarter next year.

“We are excited to be a part of this process to help provide health insurance for children,” remarked Mike Foster, DeKalb County Executive. Applications are now being accepted at local UCHRA offices. To apply for CoverKids, contact Mitzi Bradford, County Coordinator, at 527 West Main Street, in Smithville, call 615 597-4504 or visit UCHRA’s website at www.uchra.com to access an application.

Cover Tennessee provides health coverage to uninsured individuals in Tennessee through three insurance programs and a pharmacy assistance program. CoverTN is an affordable and portable health insurance initiative for working Tennesseans who are uninsured. Comprehensive insurance for children is provided through CoverKids and chronically ill adults are eligible for AccessTN, a high-risk pool. CoverRx is a statewide pharmacy assistance program designed to assist those who have no pharmacy coverage, but have a critical need for medication. More information on all Cover Tennessee programs is available at www.CoverTN.gov or by calling 1-866-COVERTN.

Bond Reduced In Sosa Case

December 20, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Criminal Court Judge Leon Burns, Jr. Monday granted a defense request to reduce bond from $25,000 to $10,000 for 18 year old Lillian Elizebeth Sosa.

Sosa has been in the DeKalb County Jail since October 29th, when she was charged with second degree murder in the death of her baby, which was found on October 26th in a ladies room trash can at the El Rancho Restaurant on West Broad Street.

The murder charge was later dropped after an autopsy concluded that the infant was stillborn.

Sosa is now charged with the abuse of a corpse.

She is being represented by April Craven, assistant District Public Defender.

Meanwhile, in other cases Monday, 20 year old Ashley L. Hix, charged with theft over $1,000, was granted judicial diversion probation for a period of two years. Hix must perform 100 hours of community service work. The case will run concurrently with a Clay County sentence and Hix must make restitution. Hix was given credit for four days of jail time served.

35 year old Patsy McCoy pleaded guilty to possession of a legend drug and theft under $500. She was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days to serve 30 days. She will then be on good behavior probation. The case will run concurrently with a General Sessions Court violation of probation case against her. McCoy was given credit for 151 days of jail time served.

32 year old Michael David Mason, Jr., charged with possession of a schedule III controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, was granted judicial diversion probation for a period of two years. He was fined $2,000 and must perform 100 hours of community service work.

47 year old Christopher Neal Barnes pleaded guilty to a second offense of driving under the influence and a second offense of driving on a revoked license. He was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to PSI probation except for 60 days. His license has been suspended for a period of two years. Barnes was fined a total of $660.

41 year old Shannon L. Newby pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia. He received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to good behavior probation. The case is to run concurrently with the TDOC sentence he is now serving.

22 year old Jonathan D. Thomas pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000. He received a four year sentence to serve 45 days and then be on supervised probation. He must also perform 100 hours of community service work and he is liable for restitution of $1,500 jointly and severally with co-defendants in the case. Thomas was given credit for 45 days of jail time served.

26 year old Michael Chad Owens pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft under $500. He received a four year sentence on the burglary charge and 11 months and 29 days on the theft offense. The cases are to run concurrently. Owens was given credit for time served, about 75 days, and he will be on supervised probation. He must perform 100 hours of community service work and make restitution of $129.00.

33 year old Federico Torres pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence and he received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days, all suspended to 48 hours in jail. He was fined $360 and was given credit for one day of jail time served. He will be on probation until March, 2008.

30 year old Amy Lawson pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule II and III controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. She received a total sentence of four years, all suspended to time served. She was fined $2,000 and must perform 100 hours of community service work. Lawson was given credit for 79 days of jail time served.

18 year old Matthew Wilbur, charged with theft of property over $1,000, was granted judicial diversion probation for a period of two years. He must perform 100 hours of community service work and make restitution of $2,067. Wilbur was also given credit for three days of jail time served.

26 year old Charles Wilmoth pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000. He received a sentence of four years, all suspended except for six months to serve. He must perform 100 hours of community service work and make restitution of $3,800. The case is to run concurrent to a Putnam County case against him. Wilmoth was given credit for 91 days of jail time served.

31 year old Alvin Sink pleaded guilty to manufacturing meth and received a four year sentence, all suspended to time served. Other counts against him were dismissed but he must forfeit a weapon. Sink was fined $2,000 and must perform 100 hours of community service work. He was given credit for 122 days of jail time served.

DeKalb Community Hospital Welcomes New Physician

December 19, 2007

DeKalb Community Hospital is pleased to announce the association of a new physician.

Dr. Charles Jackson Wray will be seeing patients at the Medical Specialty Office.

Dr. Wray grew up in Nashville. He completed Medical School and his Internal Medicine Residency at Vanderbilt University. After serving as a Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt, he moved to San Diego where he finished a Fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

Having moved back to Nashville several months ago, he joined the Frist Clinic. Dr. Wray is a member of the American Thoracic Society and the American College of Chest Physicians. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.

Dr. Wray specializes in Pulmonology, the branch of medicine that deals with diseases of the respiratory system. He diagnoses and treats conditions such as asthma and emphysema.
His wife Sarah and he are expecting their first child in February 2008. He enjoys running and watching the Tennessee Titans play on Sundays. He is looking forward to helping serve Smithville’s health care needs for years to come.

State Fire Marshal Gives Tips On Holiday Safety

December 19, 2007

Tennessee State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman wants to remind Tennesseans to keep fire safety on their minds as they decorate their homes for this holiday season.

"Home decorations make a home cheerful and festive, but items such as string lights and Christmas trees introduce fire risks," said Newman. Every year we hear of families that have lost their homes, or worse, suffered an injury or death due to a fire caused by decorations.

These risks can be minimized by following a few fire safety tips:
· Try to keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water daily. Do not purchase a tree that is dry or dropping needles.
· Choose a sturdy tree stand so that the tree will not tip over.
· When purchasing an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
· Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators. Try to position the tree near an outlet to keep electrical cords from running long distances
· Choose decorations made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
· Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials. Never use candles to decorate a Christmas tree.
· Purchase only lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance.
· Carefully inspect new and previously used electrical decorations for cracked sockets, frayed, bare or loose wires prior to use. Replace any damaged items. Do not overload extension cords.
· Do not mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation (i.e., use clips, not nails).
· Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.

The activities and excitement surrounding the holidays can make people less careful at a time when they should be more cautious, said State Fire Marshal Leslie Newman. "Keeping fire safety in mind and following a few fire safety guidelines will ensure that Tennesseans have a safe and happy holiday season.

Mayor Vetoes Proposed Budget Amendment for Golf Course- Council Fails to Override

December 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville will apparently not be spending funds this budget year for a sprinkler system at the Smithville Municipal Golf Course.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson Monday night vetoed a recent city council vote to amend this year's budget and spend $215,000 to purchase and install such a system.

The aldermen failed to overide the veto on a 3 to 2 vote. Aldermen Willie Thomas, Jerry Hutchins Sr., and Tonya Sullivan voted for the override, but Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger voted to sustain the veto.

It takes four votes to override a mayoral veto

At the last meeting on December 3rd, the board voted 3 to 2 to adopt a budget amendment ordinance on first reading to appropriate the money. Had it been approved on second and final reading, the city would have spent $215,000 taking $88,000 from the golf course checking account and $127,000 from the general fund account to pay for the project.

In citing his reasons for the veto, Mayor Hendrixson Monday night read from prepared remarks stating that "During the past several days and weeks, a large number of Smithville residents have contacted me about the sprinkler system that is proposed for the Smithville Golf Course."

"Only a few have expressed their opinion that it needs to be done. However, many more have expressed that they do not want to see taxpayer's money spent for this purpose."

"The Corps of Engineers is in the process of lowering the water level at Center Hill Lake in an effort to repair Center Hill Dam, which is expected to be a seven year project to complete. At this time, the effects on our pumping station and Water Treatment plant as a result of the water level being lowered, and the cost of the additional pumping station at the water intake is unknown as this time. I feel that it is more important to provide water to the approximately 16,000 residents of Smithville and DeKalb County and upgrade and maintain our Water Plant, than to spend $215,000 from our reserve funds for a sprinkler system at the Golf Course, which could cause an additional tax burden on Smithville taxpayers."

"In view of public opinion and also a number of questions concerning the Golf Course Lease, and the fact that the City is facing the possibility of having to expend a significant amount of money at the Water Treatment Plant and pumping station, I cannot in good faith agree to spend the taxpayers money on a sprinkler system for the Golf Course."

"Therefore, I veto the action taken on December 3rd, 2007 by the Board of Aldermen to amend the budget for the purpose of putting a sprinkler system at the Smithville Golf Course at a cost of approximately $215,000."

Mayor Hendrixson also Monday night vetoed another recent 3 to 2 vote of the city council to hire a certified recorder to help Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson take the minutes of the meetings, at least until he completes his certification.

Again, the council failed to override the veto on a 3 to 2 vote. Alderman Sullivan, Hutchins, and Thomas voted for the override, but Aldermen White and Burger voted to sustain the veto.

At the last meeting on December 3rd, Alderman Hutchins made the motion to hire a certified recorder. "We've been having some problems with the minutes and I would like to make a motion that we get a certified recorder to be present at the board meetings until Mr. Hendrixson gets through his schooling since we have had some confusion with the minutes."

In citing his reasons for the veto, Mayor Hendrixson Monday night reading from prepared remarks stated that " The purchase of a $6,900 sound system for the City Council Chambers and Meeting room,that records all City Council meetings, and the fact that the Aldermen are asked at each meeting before approval of the minutes if they have any corrections or additions to the minutes of the previous meeting and are given the opportunity to correct any mistakes, and that a certified court reporter could cost as much as $16,000 to $17,000 over the next 10 or 11 months, I hereby veto the action taken by the Board of Aldermen on December 3rd, 2007 to employ a court reporter to be present at all City Council meetings."

The ban remains on the sale of fireworks inside the city limits of Smithville.

The mayor and aldermen Monday night voted 3 to 2 to make no changes in the city regulations, which have prohibited the sale of fireworks for twenty five years.

Aldermen Sullivan and Burger voted to keep the city regulations on fireworks as they are, while Aldermen Hutchins and Thomas voted to pursue passage of a new ordinance lifting the ban. Mayor Hendrixson broke the tie by voting with Sullivan and Burger. Alderman White refrained from voting, citing a conflict since he sells fireworks outside the city limits during the Fourth of July each year.

Since 1982, the city has prohibited the sale of fireworks but in recent weeks Jewel Redman, owner and operator of Jewel's Market on South Congress Boulevard, has requested that the ban be lifted to give city businesses and others the same opportunity to sell fireworks as those outside the city limits.

At the last meeting on December 3rd, the board voted to have an ordinance prepared to repeal the ban, paving the way for passage of a new one that authorizes the sale of fireworks with specifics on rules and regulations.

Aldermen Thomas, Hutchins and Sullivan voted for it. Alderman Burger voted no and Alderman White refrained from voting.

But on Monday night (December 17th) Alderman Sullivan said she had some reservations about making changes after receiving some phone calls from concerned citizens. She then made the motion that the city code not be changed regarding the issue of fireworks and that no further action be taken.

Although he refrained from voting, Alderman White agreed with Sullivan saying he believed the ban should be left in place. " There was a reason for the ordinance that we have now and I think it should stand as it is. I don't see any reason why there would need to be fireworks sold inside the city limits. We're not that big of a city. There's plenty of spots outside the city limits that do sell and there's plenty of spots open for anyone that would like to sell them outside the city. I also think that it's a safety issue and it could be a legal issue."

Alderman Hutchins pointed out that sales of fireworks within the city would have generated some additional fees and tax revenue.

The board voted 5 to 0 to open bids on the hay contract at the airport.

Since the early 1990's, Hugh Washer has held the contract to cut hay on the airport property. He pays the city $400 per year.

City Attorney Pryor says the initial deal was a one year contract with two, one year options for renewal, but instead of re-bidding after that time, the city has allowed Washer to keep cutting the hay each year at the rate of $400 per year.

Mayor Hendrixson says contracting this service is a good deal for the city. "We get whatever money we can get to let someone cut the hay off of that (property). If we don't do that, we have to keep it bushhogged ourselves, using city money, equipment, and time. We've been getting $400 per year, so whatever we get is extra and we don't have to do it."

Alderman Sullivan made a motion to open up the bidding. The hay contract will be good only for two years, after which time, the board must re-bid the contract. The successful bidder must meet all specifications including applying 200 pounds per acre of triple 19 fertilizer or equivalent on the property each year.

The city is in search of a new city attorney.

Mayor Hendrixson read John Pryor's letter of resignation to the board Monday night. In the letter, Pryor wrote, " I have decided to pursue other career opportunities which prevent me from continuing in my position as city attorney. I have enjoyed working with each of you and have found this experience very educational. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with you and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors."

Pryor will serve until December 31st.

The city voted to advertise that the position is open and to seek applicants.

The board also voted 4 to 1 to advertise, seeking another certified water plant operator.

Alderman Sullivan, concerned about overworked water plant employees and some who are not certified, made the motion. "The overtime is pretty substantial. We've paid out for the year to date, almost $19,000, which in my mind would be enough to go ahead an advertise for another certified water plant operator to help fill those positions and to help cut down on the amount of overtime. We've stretched some of them (employees) kind of thin."

Alderman White asked Sullivan "What kind of salary are you thinking of?"

Alderman Sullivan responded " This would equate to somewhere around 10 to 11 dollars an hour, if you pay full time, whatever the pay salary is. When we're paying overtime, we're paying time and a half so we need to reduce that, and we need another certified person there on that third shift."

Sullivan continued, "I've had numerous phone calls. I think the citizens were not aware that people there were not certified. I've had a lot of concerns, saying we need to have safe drinking water and a certified water plant operator is obviously needed. If we're going to try to stick to input from our citizens, then that's my motion."

Aldermen Sullivan, Thomas, Hutchins, and Burger voted to advertise the opening of the position. Alderman White voted no.

Three Arrested in Burglary Investigations

December 17, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Burglary investigations last week led to the arrest of three people by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Detectives arrested 32 year old Waylon Ray Farless of R. Arnold Road, Smithville on Wednesday, December 12th for burglary and theft of property over $500.00.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Farless allegedly entered an outbuilding on Patterson Road and took 4 chainsaws, a leaf blower, and a battery jump pack valued over $500. He says Farless has admitted to the crime. Farless is under a $40,000 bond and his court date is December 20th.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, December 13th, 33 year old Joseph John Chadwick of Highway 100 Centerville and 38 year old Syntella Marie Boswell of McClemore Street, Dickson were arrested for attempted burglary after they were caught breaking into a home on Highway 53 in Alexandria.

Sheriff Ray says a witness saw both subjects around the residence on Highway 53 and contacted the Alexandria Police Department. Officers then went to the home and found that Chadwick and Boswell had attempted to enter by kicking in the back door. The home is located just outside the Alexandria city limits.

Alexandria officers contacted the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and during the investigation, detectives discovered that Chadwick and Boswell had allegedly stolen other items in Giles County. Sheriff Ray says Giles county detectives will be filing charges against them there.

He says both Chadwick and Boswell have a lengthy criminal history of violent crimes. Bond for them was set at $25,000 each and their court date is December 20th.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, December 15th, deputies responded to a one vehicle accident on Highway 56 South. The officers arrested 32 year old Elmi Desena Ahedo of West Broad Street, Smithville for DUI . Ahedo was also cited for a violation of the implied consent law, no driver's license, and no proof of insurance.

Sheriff Ray says Ahedo was northbound on Highway 56 South in a 2002 Nissan Xterra when he lost control and overturned. The vehicle came to rest right side up and Ahedo and tried to leave the scene. The vehicle also struck a mailbox. Ahedo was found to be under the influence of alcohol and bond was set at $1,500. His court date is January 10th..

In the late hours of Saturday, December 15th, 26 year old Hector Giron of Oriole Drive McMinnville was charged with DUI. DeKalb County deputies received a call of a motor vehicle accident on Highway 56 South. Sheriff Ray says Giron was Southbound in a 1996 GMC Sonoma when he lost control and hit a ditch. Giron was found to be under the influence of alcohol. Giron's bond was set at $1,500 and his court date is January 10th.

Britney Campbell Makes Mid-State…Again!

December 16, 2007
by: 
By DCHS Band Boosters

For the third year in a row, Britney Campbell, a freshman at DeKalb County High School, has been chosen to represent Middle Tennessee in its most prestigious musical ensemble, Tennessee’s Mid-State Band. On Saturday, December 8th, Britney traveled to McGavock High School in Nashville to audition for Mid-State, which selects its musicians from the Middle Tennessee area based on the students’ level of musical ability. At the junior high level, any 7th – 9th grade student in Middle Tennessee can audition. During the audition process, each student is tested in three general areas of musicianship. Students will be asked to perform a prepared piece of music, which is a song that has been rehearsed prior to the audition date. Students will also be required to demonstrate their ability in playing scales, a basic pattern of musical notes. They will also be tested on sight-reading skills, which displays the ability to perform a song without having to rehearse it.

Among the 200 clarinet players in grades seven through nine who auditioned for this event, Britney was ranked sixth. She will play in Mid-State’s elite band, the Gold Band, which represents the top musicians in the entire Middle Tenneessee area. The Silver Band is the second ranking band, followed by the 7th and 8th grade band, which is not open to freshmen.

In January 2008, all the students who made the Mid-State Bands will rehearse in Murfreesboro. Students will only have a couple of days to prepare for a concert, which will be held at Middle Tennessee State University. DeKalb County High School’s Band Director, Kristin Reagh, says, “It is a wonderful experience for all involved students because they get an opportunity to play with the most talented and motivated students from all over the middle Tennessee area.”

In addition to playing clarinet in the high school band, Britney also plays percussion in the DCHS Winter Drum Line. This ensemble is completely extracurricular, and meets twice a week in the band room to prepare for an indoor marching show to be performed in February 2008.

Britney is the daughter of Mike Campbell and Kimberly Cox of Smithville. Britney's dad says, "This is the third year in a row that she's made Mid-State and she's improved her position every year. I'm very proud of her. She works really hard for this every year.”

To learn more about the band, log onto www.DekalbBand.com

Christmas Spirit Alive and Well in Alexandria

December 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Santa Claus made another DeKalb County appearance Saturday afternoon during the Alexandria Christmas Parade.

An enthusiastic crowd gathered downtown, in spite of colder temperatures and the threat of rain, to experience the sights and sounds of this annual event and to have a chance at winning some prizes.

The Alexandria First Baptist Church won first place and $100 in the float competition and the church's Mother's Day Out entry took second place and $75.00. Kevin Bandy, driving a vintage automobile, received third place and $50.

Ballot Set for Tennessee Presidential Preference Primaries

December 15, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County voters will get to choose their preferences in the Tennessee Presidential Primaries on Tuesday, February 5th.

Voters must declare in which primary they will be voting, either Democratic or Republican. You cannot vote in both.

The candidates for President in the Democratic Primary are Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson.

Candidates for President in the Republican Primary are Rudy Giuliana, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, and Fred Thompson.

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