Local News Articles

School Calendar Set for 2013-14 Year

February 7, 2013
Dwayne Page
School Board Met Thursday night at DeKalb West School
School Board Meeting at DeKalb West School

The DeKalb County Board of Education formally adopted the school calendar for the 2013-2014 year Thursday night during the February meeting held at DeKalb West School

Registration for all students will be Thursday, August 1. That will be an abbreviated school day from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Friday, August 2 will be an administrative day for teachers only

The first full day of school for all students will be Monday, August 5

A system wide professional development day will be Monday, July 29 at DCHS from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

All teachers will report to their individual schools on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 30 and July 31 from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Students will not attend on Monday, Labor Day, September 2.

Schools will be closed for the fall break October 14-25

Students will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 27, 28, & 29 and for the winter break December 23 through January 3. Wednesday, December 20 will be the last day students attend before winter break and that will be an abbreviated school day. Students will return after the holidays on Monday, January 6.

Schools will be closed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 20 and for President's Day, Monday, February 17.

Schools will be closed for spring break March 24-28

No school for students on Good Friday, April 18 and Memorial Day, Monday May 26.

The following are designated as Early Release dates: Friday, October 4; Friday, February 14; Friday, March 7, and Friday, March 21

Students will not attend on Tuesday, May 27. That will be an administrative day and all teachers must attend. The last day of school will be Wednesday, May 28. That will be an abbreviated school day and report cards will be sent home.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, October 8 and Tuesday, March 11 at DeKalb County High School from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will also be held from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 10 and Thursday, March 13 at DeKalb Middle School, Northside Elementary, Smithville Elementary, and DeKalb West School.

DCHS report cards will be sent home on Monday, October 7 and at all other schools on Tuesday, October 8. Report cards to be sent home from all schools on Tuesday, January 7. DCHS report cards to be sent home Monday, March 10 and at all other schools Tuesday, March 11.

ACT Test for the 11th grade will be Tuesday, March 4

Writing Assessment for the 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will be February 3-7.

TCAP testing of elementary students will be April 28 through May 9

Meanwhile, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby presented his monthly report on personnel.

The following were employed since last month:
Tabitha Farmer, Maranda Moore, and Judy Redmon as substitute teachers
Rebecca Parker, Education Assistant at Smithville Elementary School replacing Bonnie Rigsby
Holly Espinosa, Special Education Teacher at DeKalb West School
Regina Campbell, Special Education Teacher replacing Rickey Cross at Northside Elementary School

Leave of Absence:
Donna Knowles, Educational Assistant at Northside Elementary School, leave as requested
Shelly Jennings, teacher at Northside Elementary School, leave as requested
Taleen Lambert, teacher at DeKalb Middle School, leave as requested
Amanda Mullinax, teacher at DeKalb West School, leave as requested

Rickey Cross, Special Education Teacher at Northside Elementary School

In other business, the board adopted a resolution of appreciation in honor of principals and assistant principals.

The resolutions is as follows:

"Whereas, principals and assistant principals have a great amount of responsibilities including leading, observing, evaluating, mentoring and much more; and

Whereas, principals and assistant principals are exceptional leaders who provide support and guidance to students, teachers, and other school employees in our district; and

Whereas, our principals keep the focus clearly on established goals for the school and its students; and

Whereas, our principals create strategies for making their schools the very best they can be; and

Whereas, principals seek support from parents and community so their students get the very best education possible; and

Whereas, principals strive to enhance the learning and working environment for everyone in the school;

Now, therefore be it resolved that the DeKalb County Board of Education hereby adopts February 14, 2013 as Principal Appreciation Day in all of our schools; and

Be it further resolved that the Board expresses deep appreciation to principals and assistant principals in our system and encourages the students and staff to join us in expressing appreciation to the leaders of DeKalb County Schools.

The board gave permission for the Beta Club of DCHS to attend the National Beta Club State Convention to be held at Gaylord Opryland Hotel on April 1-3. The purpose of the convention is for the student members to compete with other high schools in the state in various academic and non-academic events.

The school board voted to accept sealed bids to sell declared surplus property including folding mobile cafeteria tables- bench seats, wood construction, with laminated finish and metal base (72 x 30 each section). The property is to be sold as is with no guarantee of usefulness or warranty. Bids will be accepted until March 14 to be opened during the regular monthly school board meeting that night. The board reserves the right to reject all bids should it be more profitable to sell as scrap.

Postal Service to Cut Saturday Mail Delivery to Trim Costs

February 7, 2013
Dwayne Page
Smithville Post Office

Unless Congress intervenes, the United States Postal Service plans to stop delivering and collecting letters and other first-class mail on Saturdays beginning August 5, although packages will continue to be delivered.

The Postal Service expects to generate cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually, once the plan is fully implemented.

David Walton, spokesman for the Tennessee District of the United States Postal Service, in a telephone interview with WJLE Thursday, said once implemented, mail delivery to street addresses will occur Monday through Friday. Packages will continue to be delivered six days per week. Mail addressed to PO Boxes will continue to be delivered on Saturdays. Post Offices currently open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays so that customers can drop off mail or packages, buy postage stamps or access their post office boxes. "What this means is, customers who are getting mail now to their homes delivered six days a week Monday through Saturday, that is going to change," said Walton. " They will now get their mail delivered Monday through Friday. What we're doing is taking away the letter mail. We're not going to be delivering letter mail anymore six days a week. Now we are going to keep delivering packages. I know medicines are usually sent by priority mail. They are considered packages. We know that is a big concern to customers. So nothing will change as far as medications. They will still be delivered six days a week. If you've got a P.O Box, there won't be any changes for you. You will still get your mail six days a week. For post offices, there is going to be no changes to those as well. If you've got a post office that you use that is open on Saturdays, it will still be open on Saturdays," said Walton

"The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO in a prepared news release. "We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings."

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages. However, recent strong growth in package delivery (14 percent volume increase since 2010) and projections of continued strong package growth throughout the coming decade led to the revised approach to maintain package delivery six days per week.

"Our customers see strong value in the national delivery platform we provide and maintaining a six-day delivery schedule for packages is an important part of that platform," said Donahoe. "As consumers increasingly use and rely on delivery services — especially due to the rise of e-commerce — we can play an increasingly vital role as a delivery provider of choice, and as a driver of growth opportunities for America's businesses."

Facebook Threat in Warren County Heightens School Safety Awareness in DeKalb County

February 7, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

Although there have been no reports of threats against anyone in the DeKalb County School System, Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said extra precautions have been taken today because of what is being reported in Warren County.

According to Nashville media reports, Warren County Director of Schools Bobby Cox said they were alerted about a Facebook post Wednesday evening regarding someone who said he had access to his father's guns and was planning something at Warren County High in McMinnville. Cox said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is working to identify who posted the message. He said there will be extra patrols at all 11 schools in the district and there will be limited access to the buildings.

Again, no such threats have been made in DeKalb County today, still Director of Schools Mark Willoughby said the incident in neighboring Warren County has heightened awareness here. "We're taking extra precautions today just because of some of the threats we have heard at some neighboring school systems. We haven't received any direct threats in DeKalb County as far as I know but our schools are probably a little bit more secure today. You may see the sheriff's department and city police department on the schools around the property a little more today. But this is just stemming from the threats in a neighboring county. I understand some things in the neighboring county have come over Facebook which has caused them concern. But we have not received any direct threats to any of our schools in DeKalb County but we are taking extra precautions. Safety is our number one priority,"said Willoughby.

Its FREE MOVIE NIGHT at the DeKalb County Complex

February 7, 2013
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Complex is hosting a FREE MOVIE NIGHT tonight (Thursday, February 7).

ParaNorman, a 2012 American 3D stop-motion animated comedy horror film, will be featured starting at 6:00 p.m. at the county complex auditorium. No admission charge for either children or adults. Concessions will be available for purchase.

County Mayor Mike Foster said movies and other special events will be scheduled on a regular basis at the county complex to attract more people. "We've been trying to think of things to involve more kids so the staff there have decided they are going to show a movie called "ParaNorman" which is an animated movie. It lasts about an hour and a half. Its rated PG and was picked as one of the top movies of the year. People who have seen it say it's a cute little film. We're just trying to establish some things on Thursday night. We're probably going to try to do a movie night at least once a month. We hope to have an open mic night, a band, and karaoke. We want to try to have something each Thursday night," said Foster.

The movie ParaNorman is about the little town of Blithe Hollow where a boy named Norman Babcock can speak to the dead, but no one besides his eccentric new friend, Neil, believes his ability is real. One day, Norman's estranged eccentric uncle tells him of an important annual ritual he must take up to protect the town from a curse cast by a witch it condemned centuries ago. Eventually, Norman decides to cooperate, but things don't go according to plan. Now, a magic storm of the witch threatens Blithe Hollow as the accursed dead rise. Together with unexpected new companions, Norman struggles to save his town, only to discover the horrific truth of the curse. With that insight, Norman must resolve the crisis for good as only he can.

Downtown Revitalization Gets Donation from Project Hometown Help

February 6, 2013
Downtown Revitalization Gets Donation from Project Hometown Help

The Smithville Downtown Revitalization Project was a recent recipient of funds from the Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Project Hometown Help program. These funds will be used to assist with the construction of a new open-air stage located at the Anne S. and Joe L. Evins Park across from the Smithville Post Office and used for outdoor concerts, performances, and other community events for the public to enjoy and use.

Project Hometown Help is funded by the customers of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas who allow the utility to round their bill up to the next dollar. The money collected in this fashion is distributed to local organizations and charities. These customers have given more than $1,500,000 to their communities since 2005.

Presenting the check from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas is (center) W. Michael Corley, Vice President - Human Resources and General. Accepting the check for the Tennessee Downtowns Program Steering Committee is from left to right, Mark Ashburn, Wade Smith, Corley, Steve White and Suzanne Williams.

Administrative Law Judge Says City May Participate in DUD Rate Review Hearing

February 6, 2013
Dwayne Page

When the State's Utility Management Review Board comes to Smithville on April 4 for a DeKalb Utility District rate review hearing, the City of Smithville will apparently get to intervene along with DUD ratepayers.

Steve R. Darnell, an Administrative Law Judge, has granted a motion by the city to be a participant in the hearing, along with DUD ratepayers, to address the UMRB on how the proposed plans for a DUD water treatment plant could impact city water ratepayers.

Attorneys for the DeKalb Utility District are opposed to the city's intervention in the hearing.

Darnell's order, which came down Tuesday, stated "This is an action initiated by the petitioners (DUD rate payers) which grants the Board (Utility Management Review Board) the authority to review rates charged and services provided by public utility districts."

"Smithville's motion demonstrates the disposition of this case may, as a practical matter, affect Smithville's interests. The factual issues asserted by Smithville are intertwined with the petitioners (DUD ratepayer's) assertions. Finally, Smithville's participation will not render the hearing unmanageable or interfere with the interests of justice and the orderly and prompt conduct of the proceeding. Accordingly, Smithville's motion to intervene should be granted without restriction," wrote Darnell.

"We had filed a motion to intervene in the hearing with DUD to set out what the position for the City of Smithville would be if we lost the contract with DUD and how that would affect our rate payers as well as their ratepayers," said City Attorney Vester Parsley. "The administrative law judge filed an order this afternoon (Tuesday) allowing the city to intervene in that matter and be there on April 4 when we have a hearing here in Smithville to put on anything that we have to show that the ratepayers of DUD would certainly be materially affected and so would the city rate payers. Its good news for the city because the opposing counsel, Mr.(Dewey) Branstetter had opposed the intervention of the City of Smithville on the grounds that we didn't have any basis to argue about what the rates are for DUD. We (city) filed a motion to intervene. Mr. Branstetter had filed a motion objecting to our intervention and the administrative law judge has made his decision and said we (city) are allowed to intervene and be a part of this hearing and have a right to participate in the hearing without restrictions. Mr. Branstetter was wanting to restrict it some if we were allowed to intervene. But the order clearly sets out that there are no restrictions (on the city)," said Parsley.

The DUD is represented by its own attorney Keith Blair and by Dewey Branstetter, a Nashville attorney recently hired by the DUD to help represent them before the UMRB.

Attorney Jason Holleman of Jones, Hawkins & Farmer, PLC of Nashville represents the City of Smithville in this matter along with City Attorney Vester Parsley.

Meanwhile an issue was raised as to whether Branstetter's firm could represent DUD in this proceeding due to a potential conflict of interest. But the Administrative Law Judge said that issue was not proper for him to consider.

Darnell's order states that "It appears the issue of a conflict of interest has been raised concerning the Branstetter firm's representation of Respondent (DUD) in this proceeding, and also, the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts of which Smithville is a member. This issue is not a proper consideration in determining whether to grant Smithville's motion to intervene. No motion to disqualify the Branstetter firm is pending before the undersigned (Darnell). It is noted that if there is a conflict it may exist regardless of whether Smithville is permitted to intervene. The parties are referred to the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility for guidance on this issue. If either party believes this to be a legitimate issue, guidance should be sought immediately to avoid delay of this hearing."

"It is therefore ordered that Smithville's motion is granted and Smithville shall have the right to participate in this hearing without restriction," wrote Darnell.

City Going to New Automated Water Meter Reading System

February 6, 2013
Dwayne Page

The City of Smithville is taking advantage of a USDA Rural Development Grant/Loan for the purchase and installation of a new automated water meter reading project.

Under the program, the city has been approved for a total of $410,000 in funding including a $95,000 grant and a $315,000 loan for the project. The city will have to repay the loan. The aldermen, Monday night, adopted a bond resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds up to $315,000 at an interest rate not to exceed 2.75% per annum. The bonds shall be payable over a term not to exceed twenty years. The bonds shall be revenue and tax deficiency general obligation bonds of the City of Smithville and will be payable from revenues derived from the City's water and sewer system.

The new equipment will be installed on the existing water system but will replace the current manual read meters and include leak detecting encoding and a radio frequency transmitter. The new equipment will send a radio signal that can be read from outside by simply driving along the streets within the service area. The project will allow the city to make meter reading more efficient and billing more accurate.

"The grant/loan will free up our two meter readers that currently spend six to seven days reading meters and allow them to spend more time helping with other public works needs," said City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson. "With the new automated system our entire water meter system can be read within one days time and without getting out of the vehicle which increases safety as well. Although it's a 20 year loan I believe the city should be able to repay the entire sum within three to five years. Plus the city will receive $95,000 towards this project as a grant that does not have to be repaid," said Hendrixson.

During a city council meeting in February 2010, Will Taylor of the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, addressed the mayor and aldermen on this issue. According to Taylor, benefits to the city by having an automated meter reading system are that it would reduce water loss by an estimated seven to fifteen percent and cut costs associated with the current manner of reading meters.

Many utilities are now using Automated Meter Readers as a way of improving customer service while reducing the cost of reading meters. With this process, one driver in a vehicle is able to read more meters in one day. At the end of the day, the meter reader unloads the information to the city's billing system.

City and DUD at Odds Over Water Cost Study

February 5, 2013
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen (older photo)

The City of Smithville and the DeKalb Utility District are at odds again. This issue is over which company should conduct a cost study of the city's water system.

City officials have already contracted with Warren & Associates of Lebanon but the DeKalb Utility District wants the Jackson Thornton firm to perform the study.


During Monday night's council meeting, city officials said they are disappointed because DUD officials had said, in a contract proposal, that DUD would share in the cost of the study with the city.

In a letter to Mayor Jimmy Poss, the aldermen, and City Attorney Vester Parsley, DUD manager Jon Foutch wrote on January 29 that "DeKalb Utility is not agreeable with sharing the expense of a cost study performed by Warren & Associates as you had proposed. We have been provided no information as to the qualifications, experience, or background of this entity especially in the area of a cost study such as this. I am sure both DUD and Smithville want an accurate and qualified cost study especially when Smithville has never had one performed before," wrote Foutch

"In an effort to get this process initiated, I would propose using the Jackson Thornton firm who has a very solid reputation and experience in performing this type of study. DUD would be agreeable in sharing the expense of a study performed by them. I look forward to hearing from you as to whether that is agreeable. We can discuss other possible entities to perform the study if necessary," wrote Foutch.

City secretary-treasurer Hunter Hendrixson, during Monday night's meeting, said the study is already underway. "They (Warren & Associates) are already probably three weeks into it (cost study) and we hope to have the results within the next three to four weeks by the end of February," said Hendrixson.

"The two gentlemen who are actually doing this rate study for Warren & Associates are Jerry Warren and David Pine. I have given you a list of their experience and education. They have done rate studies before. They have done one for the Smith Utility District, which has about 2,500 customers roughly about the same as the City of Smithville. They have also done a rate review for the Cordell Hull Utility District. They are civil engineers. They do all kinds of water line extensions and other water and sewer projects. They did a water line extension for the Town of Alexandria and a water rate analysis as well. Mr. Warren, who owns the company, has twenty nine years of engineering experience for site planning and design, water and sewer design, water booster pump, and sewer lift stations. I see no problem with their experience. We have already got them on (the job). The total cost is going to be $7,500 which I assumed DUD would pay half of but they don't approve of who we are using to figure out what it costs to make our water," said Hendrixson.

City officials said an effort was made to contact Jackson Thornton before the decision to go with Warren & Associates. "We tried to contact that company," said Mayor Jimmy Poss. "They never did return our calls," he said

Hendrixson added, "well they (Jackson Thorton) finally did (return our calls) but we had already (chosen Warren & Associates)".

City Attorney Vester Parsley said DUD officials, in saying they would share in a cost study with the city, never put conditions on who was to do the study."They never asked for nor did we provide them the credentials of anyone. They (DUD) had no preference until we chose someone," he said.

"In the writing where they (DUD) agreed to pay half the costs, they didn't stipulate it was depending on who did the cost study," said Alderman Gayla Hendrix.

"They absolutely did not," answered City attorney Parsley."No mention was made of giving prior approval of whoever we chose to hire," he said.

"I think enough publicity was made of this that we certainly had a gentleman's agreement," said Alderman Shawn Jacobs. " It may not have been a contract per se but it was certainly in black and white and this board was under the full faith of believing they (DUD) would do what they said. We had no knowledge to the contrary that there were any other stipulations. I am very disappointed," said Alderman Jacobs.

"In my opinion, this is the city's water plant and the city's water that's being sold so I don't know why we would need a customer telling us who we need to use," said Hendrixson.

"Especially when they didn't specify any prerequisites or any lists of individuals or companies that they wanted us to consider," added City Attorney Parsley.

Alderman Hendrix asked "upon providing DUD with these credentials (of Warren & Associates) do you think they will change (their position)"?

"I haven't responded to (Foutch's) letter because I wanted to meet with you (Aldermen) first. I can respond by saying here are the credentials and we feel like they are sufficient to meet the criteria of doing a rate study," said City Attorney Parsley.

"I am very pleased that we have begun the study and are moving forward to find out what it's going to cost to make our water so we'll know what the rates will be in the future. If you (Parsley) as our attorney could write a letter (to DUD) to see if they would be willing to pay half," said Alderman Tim Stribling. "Send them (DUD) these credentials that you have provided us tonight," he added.

"I'll get a letter out tomorrow," said City Attorney Parsley.

However, a proposed unsigned contract presented to the city by DUD recently indicates that the parties would need to agree on an unbiased entity to perform the study.

The proposed contract states. "The initial rate for water furnished by the seller (city) to the purchaser (DUD) shall be subject to and in accordance with a Cost of Service Study. The parties shall have prepared and jointly fund a Cost of Service Study that shall serve as the basis for seller's allocated revenue requirement on a per thousand gallons of water basis to the purchaser."

The proposed contract further states that "The parties shall agree on an entity to perform the Cost of Service Study so as to be unbiased as reasonably possible," Again, city and DUD officials have not yet approved this or any other water contract between the two parties.

Last month, city officials received a letter from Roger Turney, Chairman of the DUD board of directors addressing the city's request for a face to face meeting on proposed contract discussions for a long term water purchase agreement and he mentioned that DUD would be interested in sharing the cost of a study if an "independent" entity is selected.

Turney wrote "As we have earlier stated, DUD is interested in entering into a long term water purchase agreement with the City of Smithville. We have earlier provided to you a rather standard agreement for your review and consideration and have heard no response as to whether the terms set forth therein are agreeable or not or of any proposed changes to the agreement. As we had earlier set out, DUD is willing to share one-half of the cost of an independent entity to conduct a cost study of the city's water production operation but have received no input as to whether that offer is acceptable and if there is any action currently being taken to accomplish such a study. It would seem that there can be no meaningful discussion until such a study is performed since that would address the rate that would be included in any such contract for the purchase of water by DUD. We understand that cost studies are commonly recognized in this industry to establish an appropriate rate."

"Please be advised that DUD still intends on proceeding with the construction of a water treatment plant but will no doubt still need to purchase water or have the ability to purchase water from the City of Smithville. Therefore, we await word on the progression of a cost study so that we can then meaningfully sit down and further discuss the completion of an agreement between the DUD and the city," wrote Turney.

The City of Smithville currently sells water to the DeKalb Utility District for $2.05 per thousand gallons and under terms of the contract, the rate increases by five cents per thousand gallons in January of each year. The two parties entered into the contract in 2004 and it expires in 2014.

Meanwhile, the state's Utility Management Review Board has scheduled a meeting for April 4 in Smithville to conduct a DeKalb Utility District rate review.

In other business, Public Works Director Kevin Robinson said the city's rate of water loss has been increasing lately going from 25% per month to 31%. A search began for a water leak and one was found near Juniper Lane. The city's existing leak detector was not sufficient to locate the leak at Juniper Lane so someone had to be brought in with a more modern device to find it. Robinson said the city needs a new updated leak detector.

Glen Nichols, Jr. was named to replace Sandra Wall on the Smithville Planning Commission and the board of zoning appeals. Wall recently resigned.

The alderman also approved the list of officers and members of the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department for the year 2013, as presented by Chief Charlie Parker. The officers for the year are Chief Parker, Deputy Chief Hoyte Hale, Captain Jeff Wright, and Lieutenants Danny Poss, John Poss, Donnie Cantrell, and Anthony Wright. Other members are Cody Jenkins, Kevin Adcock, Cory Killian, Ronald Whitaker, Glen Lattimore, Stephanie Wright, James R. Hunt, Gary Johnson, Wallace Caldwell, Charles Young, William Brown, and Photographer Greg Bess,

Judge Finds Hutchins Not Guilty of DUI; Charge against Thomas Dropped

February 5, 2013
Dwayne Page
Jerry Hutchins, Sr.
Willie Thomas

Two Smithville men, charged with driving under the influence a year ago, were cleared of those offenses in DeKalb County General Sessions Court Thursday.

64 year old Jerry Hutchins, Sr. was found not guilty of DUI following a bench trial by Judge Bratten Cook, II. He was ordered to attend a driver safety school for a violation of failing to maintain his lane of travel.

67 year old Willie Thomas, charged with DUI in a separate case, was also scheduled to stand trial before Judge Cook on Thursday. But the assistant D.A., Greg Strong moved to nolle or drop the case against Thomas after the not guilty verdict was handed down in the Hutchins case. Judge Cook granted Strong's motion.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested both men during separate traffic stops in February, 2012. Hutchins was pulled over on Wednesday, February 1 on Highway 56 south near South College Street for failure to maintain lanes. According to the warrant, Hutchins failed field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest. He was charged with driving under the influence, possession of a schedule III and IV drug, and he was cited for violation of the open container law and failure to maintain lanes. Hutchins allegedly was in possession of three and a half hydrocodone pills and three blue xanax pills in an unmarked pill bottle and did not have his prescription in possession.

One day after Hutchins was arrested, Thomas was pulled over by Trooper England on Thursday February 2, 2012 on Highway 56 near Jewel's Market for no seatbelt. Thomas was charged with driving under the influence and possession of a schedule IV drug. According to the arrest warrant, "Upon contact with the driver, Mr. Thomas admitted that he had taken a 10 milligram diazepam earlier in the day. Mr. Thomas failed all field sobriety tasks and was placed under arrest for DUI.

The arrest warrant on the drug charge stated that "On February 2, Thomas was in possession of one yellow pill identified as a five milligram diazepam. He did not have it in a proper prescription bottle. It was mixed with other pills."

Thomas was represented by attorney Jim Judkins.

According to Hutchins' attorney, Hilton Conger, He (Hutchins) had a prescription for the medications he was found with during his traffic stop. "That was his medication that he did not have in the prescription bottle. But we produced valid prescriptions (in court) so that was dismissed," said Conger in a phone conversation with WJLE Friday.

Trooper England claimed that Hutchins did not perform satisfactory on the field sobriety tests including the nine step walk and turn test and the one leg stand test.

A video tape recording was made of Hutchins taking the field sobriety tests and Judge Cook reviewed the tape during Thursday's bench trial.

Although blood and toxicology tests showed Hutchins' blood alcohol content was only at .01, well below the legal limit of .08, an expert witness for the state testified that Hutchins may have been impaired by the combinations of medicines he was taking for a back condition which may have caused him to perform poorly on those field sobriety tasks. "The state brought in the state toxicologist and her name was Melinda Quinn, a forensic scientist who analyzed the blood. There was a blood alcohol and a toxicology report. The blood alcohol was .01. Any lower and it would not have registered. But she testified that the combination of the different medications which were in his system could have impaired him," said Conger.

Dr. Melvin Blevins, Hutchins' physician, had a different opinion. "We countered (Quinn's testimony) with his (Hutchins') long time physician, Dr. Blevins who testified that his (Hutchins') physical condition was a bad back that needed surgery and that his back was so bad that it could have interfered with his ability to perform field sobriety tasks," said Conger.

According to Dr. Blevins, the levels of medications prescribed for Hutchins would not have been sufficient to render him impaired. "There was some medication which was prescribed for him. But there was no contention that he had abused his medication. It was medication that could cause drowsiness or sedation but he (Dr. Blevins) said with the medications he (Hutchins) was one, he didn't think the levels would have impaired him. And he (Hutchins) had been taking them (medications) for so long, Dr. Belvins said he would have developed a tolerance for them and that he could function perfectly fine on them," said Conger.

Since Judge Cook found Hutchins not guilty on the DUI charge, Conger said the state does not have a right of appeal in this case. "We agreed to try this case in front of Judge Cook on the merits. So it wasn't a preliminary hearing. That concludes it. The state has no right of appeal from a not guilty verdict," said Conger.

The only offense for which Hutchins was found in violation was on a citation for failure to maintain his lane of travel. " The trooper said when he saw him (Hutchins), he was weaving over into the southbound lane from the northbound lane," said Conger. Hutchins must attend driver safety school based on that offense," according to Conger.

New Dollar General Store Opening Soon

February 5, 2013
Dwayne Page
New Dollar General Store Under Construction on Snow Hill

A new Dollar General Store will be opening soon in DeKalb County.

Construction is underway on the building, located on Highway 70 at Snow Hill. With the new store, Dollar General will have three locations in DeKalb County. The other two are in Smithville and Alexandria.

Dollar General has not yet announced a specific date for the opening of the new store here.

Dollar General recently announced plans to add 635 new stores and 550 relocations or remodels throughout the country in 2013 creating 6,000 new jobs. "Throughout 2013, we plan to expand throughout the 40 states we serve based on how we can best meet our customers' needs," said Crystal W. Chassemi, Public Relations Manager for the Dollar General Corporation.

"We look for locations where we can offer customers an easy and convenient shopping choice. We also take demographic trends, competitive factors and traffic patterns into consideration. We know convenience is a major factor in our customers' shopping decisions as we generally serve customers within a 3-5 mile radius, or 10 minute drive. We determine new store and remodel/relocations based on this criteria," said Chassemi.

With the addition of these 6,000 jobs in 2013, Dollar General will have created approximately 30,000 jobs in the last six years.

"Dollar General's continued growth reflects our customers' increasing satisfaction with our everyday low prices and convenience," said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General's chairman and CEO. "Further, 2013 will mark another growth milestone as we plan to open the organization's 11,000th store before the year's end when we will begin our 75th anniversary in 2014."

In order to generate a high caliber candidate pool, Dollar General also participates in proactive hiring initiatives such as Paychecks for Patriots that demonstrate the company's commitment to an employee base including veterans. The Paychecks for Patriots program helps resolve the challenges of unemployment facing veterans by equipping the military community with the resources to better access available job opportunities at committed companies.

"Dollar General is a thriving organization looking to attract new employees that embody our mission of ‘Serving Others,' which complements the company's efforts to promote from within. We are excited to welcome new talent with a passion for the retail business," said Bob Ravener, executive vice president and chief people officer.

Dollar General's commitment to employee development will also continue in 2013 by using training as an instrumental tool in the company's overall success. Recently, Training magazine recognized the company among its Training Top 125 for the second consecutive year.


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