Local News Articles

City Board Adopts New Budget On First Reading

June 4, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted the new 2006-2007 budget on first reading Monday night.

The new budget totals $5-million 122-thousand 699 dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at 68 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The new budget calls for the water and sewer rates to remain the same. City water customers will continue to pay $3.50 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $3.50 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are 50% higher. The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District is $1.70 per thousand gallons.

City sewer customers, under the new budget, will continue to pay the flat usage rate of $3.62 plus $3.25 per thousand gallons thereafter.

Water tap fees for customers inside the city limits is $400 for a three quarter inch water line and the sewer tap fee is $400 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, the fees are cost plus 10%. For customers outside the city limits, water tap fees are $525 for a three quarter inch line and $525 for a four inch sewer line. Again, if the lines are larger, then the fees are cost plus 10%.

The proposed budget calls for city employees with up to four years of service to get their automatic step pay increases as defined in the wage scale plus a 3.9% cost of living increase. City employees with more than four years of service, who have topped out on the wage scale including salaried employees, will only get the 3.9% cost of living increase.

When the fiscal year started July 1, 2005, the general fund was projected to be $531, 815 in the red by June 30, 2006, but by eliminating unnecessary spending during the year, city officials have revised the deficit projection down to $147,364.

The General Fund would actually show a surplus of $102,636 by the end of the month, however the cost of operating the city's sanitation system comes to $250,000 a year. Since the city has no garbage collection fee for customers, the general fund must absorb the cost, thus creating the $147,364 deficit. Funds from the city's surplus must make up the difference

City officials are projecting that the general fund will show a deficit of $714,655 by June 30, 2007 unless spending can be held in check again during the year. If not, then the city may have to use more of the money from the surplus to balance the budget.

The water and sewer fund, at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, 2005, was expected to finish with a surplus of $273,413 by June 30, 2006. The projection now is for the fund to show a surplus of $570,061. However, the water and sewer fund is expected to finish the new budget year on June 30, 2007 with a deficit of $67,594, unless spending can be controlled.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $550-thousand dollars. Specific projects are as follows: Financial Administration- $7,500 including $5,000 for a computer upgrade and $2,500 unspecified; Parks and Recreation- $15,000 unspecified; Public Works/Buildings and Grounds- $15,000 unspecified; City Hall Building Alteration per ADA- $8,500 including $5,000 for handicapped rehabilitation and $3,500 unspecified; Fire Protection- $375,000 to begin the first phase of a proposed expansion of the fire hall; Street Department- $65,000 including $25,000 for sidewalk improvements, $10,000 for downtown beautification, and $30,000 unspecified; Police Department- $39,000 including $25,000 for a police car and $14,000 unspecified; Swimming Pool- $10,000 for capital repairs; Airport- $10,000 unspecified; Animal Shelter- $5,000 unspecified; Sanitation Fund- $130,000 including $125,00 for a truck&bed and $5,000 unspecified; and Drug Fund- $5,000 unspecified.

Proposed water and sewer fund capital outlay expenditures include $15,000 for a pickup truck for the sewer plant, $20,000 for an update of sewer plant equipment, $25,000 for an update of the water plant and engineering fees, and $20,000 for a sewer rehabilitation camera.

Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.

Second and final reading action on the budget will follow a public hearing at the next meeting on Monday, June 19 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

City Fathers Deny Request From Golf Course Tenant

June 5, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen has denied a request by Jimmy Lewis, operator of the Smithville Golf and Swim Club, to reduce his rent from $2,500 to $1,250 per month in consideration for his making major improvements to the irrigation system at the golf course.

Alderman Jackie Rigsby, during Monday night's regular meeting, made a motion to grant Lewis' request but it died for the lack of a second.

Lewis, with his former partner Darryl Counts, was granted a five year extension of his lease agreement along with a five year renewal option only a few months ago as a consideration for his commitment \" to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in order to dig a second well, to install a sprinkler system for the fairways, and to purchase golf carts\".

Under the previous agreement with the city, Lewis had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under the amended agreement, Lewis was granted an extension of his lease through 2017 at the same rate of $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option. The monthly rate can be renegotiated in 2017.

Lewis says he has already spent more than $84,000 on the golf course and swimming pool and he now needs some help from the city.

Lewis says the volume of water needed to supply water to all the fairways cannot be supplied by the well that now exists and that two new wells are required. He says the holding pond that the golf course now has does not have the capacity to hold the volume of water needed so it will need to be enlarged or a new pond will have to be dug.

Lewis, three weeks ago, requested a reduction of $1,500 per month in his rent for sixty eight months until the irrigation improvement project is paid off, starting in June, 2006 through January 2013, which would have been a loss of revenue to the city of $102,000.

City aldermen, during the last meeting on May 15th, asked Lewis to obtain more bids on the proposed project and they would consider his request.

Lewis presented eight sealed bids to the city board during it's regular meeting Monday night and the Mayor and Aldermen reviewed them during a recess. Lewis also revised his request from three weeks ago, asking that the rent be reduced by half, to $1,250 per month.

City officials told Lewis that by taking the lowest bids on each project (digging the pond, well, and installing the irrigation system), the cost to him would be between $93,000 and $94,000, well under the $100,000 he had committed to spend himself under the extended lease agreement.

Alderman Rigsby, in making the motion to cut Lewis' rent in half, said he thought the city should help him since he had made so many improvements to the golf course. \" I can see the advantages. The golf course means so much to the industries coming in here. It brings more people into town. They spend money when they come into town. It's (golf course) picking up all the time, membership is picking up.\"

However Alderman Aaron Meeks countered that the city should not help a for profit entity at the expense of the city taxpayers. \" We just passed a budget in which we are going to take almost $715,000 out of the surplus to balance the general fund budget. Plus another $395,000 for sanitation services that are not funded. And now we're talking about giving $100,000 to a for profit operation that will be coming out of the taxpayer's pockets. Whether you take it out at $1,250 a month or $100,000 at a time, it's still coming from the taxpayers.\"

Rigsby responded, \" We're not talking about taking it all out at once, we're talking about taking $15,000 a year.\"

Meeks replied, \" That's okay, it's still coming out of the taxpayer's pockets.\"

Rigsby answered, \"That's absolutely right\".

Drug Investigation Leads To Discovery Of Crack Cocaine

June 6, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department found about two ounces of crack cocaine Friday night after executing three search warrants at three separate locations, and while no arrests have yet been made, Sheriff Lloyd Emmons says the investigation continues and evidence will probably be presented to the August term of the Grand Jury.

The search warrants were drawn up after officers learned that crack cocaine was being sold in DeKalb County. Upon executing the search warrants, Emmons says two ounces of the drug were found at one of the homes along with a small amount of money, but no drugs were found at either of the other two locations.

Sheriff Emmons says the crack cocaine that officers found had an estimated street value of six to ten thousand dollars.

According to Emmons, the drug may be coming out of Wilson County and being transported here. \"The TBI is aware of the investigation and the players in this case may very well be some of the same people the TBI arrested in a major sting a few years ago in another county and were given probation.\"

Emmons says crack cocaine, a highly addictive drug which is as dangerous as methamphetamine, could make a comeback here unless it is dealt with by law enforcement.

McCormick honored at School Board meeting

June 8, 2006
by: 
Tom R. Duggin

Mr. Jim McCormick was honored for his many years of service to the DeKalb County School system at Thursday night?s meeting of the Board of Education. McCormick, who is retiring at the end of the month, has worked with the DeKalb County School system for nearly 40 years. The board presented him with several gifts, including a plaque and a rocking chair. Board chairman Johnny Lattimore made the presentation.

McCormick thanked all of the board members, and all the people he has worked with over the years in the school system.

In other business, the board approved consent items, including the application for Local Consolidation plan, Title I, Parts A, C, & D; Title II, Parts A & D; Title III, Part A; Title IV, Part A; Title V, Part A; and Title VI, Part B for fiscal year 2007 and the federal budget. The board approved a partnership agreement with L,B,J, & C Head Start, and approved all fundraisers and school budgets for the 2006-07 school year. The board also approved the pay calendar for the upcoming year.

Meanwhile, a wage and labor issue, regarding Teresa Miller and Jennifer Nixon was tabled until the board can look further into the issue. The board was to schedule a workshop for later in the month to discuss the issue. Also tabled was a claim by the law office of Sue Puckett-Jernigan, seeking some $17,000 for services rendered prior to McCormick?s tenure as Director of Schools. Board member, Keith Garrett, made a motion to table this issue, so the board can get more specific details on the claim. The issue will also be discussed at the workshop later this month.

DCHS Principal, Kathy Hendrix, gave the board a report on the Gateway Test results for the school.

Director McCormick gave his monthly personnel report. Those who have been employed for the 2006-07 school year include: Michelle Fontanez, teacher at DeKalb County High School; Larry Steffee, teacher at DeKalb County High School; Christine Rivers, teacher at DeKalb County High School; Kyle Rivers, teacher at Northside Elementary School; and Rolando Navarro, teacher at DeKalb County High School.

The board also approved an overnight trip request for the DeKalb County High School Band to attend a band camp at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, July 23rd through the 28th.

Man Arrested, Charged With Burglary & Theft

June 10, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville police have charged a 27-year old man with nine counts of burglary, six counts of theft, evading arrest, and escape after a chase on foot Thursday led to the subject?s arrest.

Police chief, Gus Clemente, says Chistopher D. Bilbrey, believed to be homeless, but originally from Davidson County, was arrested Thursday, after being found with some stolen property, and is believed to be responsible for several vehicle and building break-ins.

Smithville Police received a call around 8:14 a.m. Thursday morning, about a suspicious male allegedly going through cars at 114 South Bright Hill Road.

Officer Lonnie DeFore responded to the scene, and was met by the victim, James Young, who said he had seen the subject take items from his vehicle and go behind a column across the street. Bilbrey was at the scene upon DeFore?s arrival, and the officer escorted Bilbrey to the column, where the items that were reported stolen were found.

Upon making the discovery, DeFore attempted to place Bilbrey under arrest, but the suspect fled the scene. A pursuit on foot ensued, as Bilbrey fled onto Congress Boulevard toward the Family Medical Center, were he was apprehended.

Around the same time, Smithville Police Lieutenant Richard Jennings was working two burglary reports, one at Model City Auto Sales and one at Tennessee Credit. It was learned Bilbrey was the one allegedly responsible for those break-ins, as well.

Bilbrey is believed to have taken a Shop Vac, a gas grill, a weed eater and a battery at Model City Auto Sales, in addition to breaking into three vehicles. He is also charged with breaking into two vehicles owned by Tennessee Credit.

Bilbrey was able to start one of the vehicles he broke into and was planning
to leave the scene with the items in his possession. However, a flat tire on the truck thwarted Bilbrey?s plan, and he had to resume his getaway on foot.

After he was arrested and taken in for processing, Bilbrey was handcuffed to an eye-bolt on a bench at the Smithville Police Department while authorities continued their investigation and completed the paperwork.

Around 1:30 p.m., while police continued their work, Bilbrey managed to take the eye-bolt out of the bench and escaped from custody out a side door. He again fled onto Congress Boulevard, and was apprehended a short time later, near where he was first confronted by Officer DeFore.

?It was a joint effort and very impressive team work?, Smithville Police Chief Gus Clemente said of Bilbrey?s apprehension on both occasions.

South College Street Home Destroyed by Fire

June 12, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The home of a Smithville woman was destroyed by fire Saturday night on South College Street.

Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker says Royce Odom was at home around 8:00 p.m. and discovered the fire in the attic.

The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene but the blaze was already well underway by the time it was discovered and the home could not be saved. Ms. Odom was not injured.

Members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid support with manpower at the scene.

Neighbors also pitched in and helped to salvage some of Ms. Odom's furniture and other personal belongings.

Chief Parker says the fire may have started from electrical wiring in the attic but the exact cause has not officially been determined.

Four Involved In Two Separate Crashes On Allen Ferry Road

June 13, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated two separate traffic accidents Monday night on Highway 83 (Allen Ferry Road)

In the first accident, Trooper Johnny Farley of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says 25 year old Michael P. Clayborn was driving east in a 1997 Cadillac Deville when he crossed the centerline of the road and struck a westbound 2005 Ford Tauras, driven by 59 year old Mary K. Chapman.

Chapman was transported to DeKalb Hospital by DeKalb EMS while Clayborn was taken to the hospital by a private vehicle.

Trooper Farley says Clayborn was cited for a seat belt violation, driving on an expired license, violation of the financial responsibility law, and violation of the drive right lane except to pass law.

In the second accident, Trooper Farley says 51 year old Randy Campbell was traveling east on Highway 83 in his tow truck, enroute to the scene of the first wreck, when a 1999 Chevy Suburban, driven by 36 year old Robert R. Atnip Jr. pulled out in front of him from Holmes Creek Road.

According to Trooper Farley, Atnip failed to stop at the stop sign posted at the intersection of Holmes Creek Road and Highway 83 and pulled in front of the tow truck, causing Campbell's truck to crash into the driver side door of Atnip's Suburban.

Trooper Farley says the Suburban, upon impact, overturned and went off the westbound shoulder of the road, coming to rest against some trees.

The tow truck spun around, took out a fence, and came to rest off the west bound shoulder of the road.

Campbell, who was ejected, suffered only minor injuries and refused medical treatment at the scene.

Atnip was extricated from his vehicle by the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department and airlifted from near the scene by a Life Flight helicopter ambulance and flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

In addition to Trooper Farley, DeKalb EMS, and the Smithville Volunteer Fire Department, others rendering assistance were members of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department's Cookeville Station, and officers of the Smithville Police and DeKalb County Sheriff's Departments.

Hendrixson Elected Mayor- White & Burger Win Alderman Seats

June 20, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Taft Hendrixson has been elected Mayor of Smithville.

Hendrixson defeated challenger Jerry Hutchins', Sr. in Tuesday's Municipal Election 365 votes (55%) to 301 votes (45%)

Incumbent Smithville Mayor Cecil Burger, who has served sixteen years as the city's chief executive, decided not to seek re-election this year, opting instead to run for alderman.

Both Burger and Incumbent Alderman Stephen White were elected to the city council.

White led the ticket with 380 votes (34%) while Burger received 350 votes (31%).

Incumbent Alderman Jackie Rigsby, who is serving an unexpired term, lost his bid for election coming in third place with 322 votes (29%) and Alford Webber received 68 votes (6%).

A total of 696 people voted in the city election, including 425 early voters and 271 on election day. There are almost 3,100 registered city voters.

The vote in the mayor's race breaks down as follows:

Taft Hendrixson: Early Voting- 199, Absentees- 16, and Election Day- 150.
Jerry Hutchins. Sr.: Early Voting- 182, Absentees- 10, and Election Day- 109

The vote in the aldermen race breaks down as follows:

Stephen White- Early Voting- 207, Absentees- 13, Election Day- 160
Cecil Burger- Early Voting- 210, Absentees- 17, Election Day- 123
Jackie R. Rigsby- Early Voting- 184, Absentees- 9, Election Day- 129
Alford H. Webber- Early Voting- 34, Absentees-3, Election Day- 31

The new make up of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be as follows:

Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Aldermen Stephen White, Cecil Burger, Aaron Meeks, W.J. (Dub) White, and Paul Young.

Each term is for two years.

The newly elected mayor and aldermen will be sworn into office to begin their new terms during a special meeting on Saturday, July 1st at 8:00 a.m. at city hall

Two Injured In Wednesday Morning Accident

June 14, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

Two people were injured in a two vehicle accident Wednesday morning at the intersection of West Broad and Duncan Street.

Lieutenant Richard Jennings of the Smithville Police Department says 50 year old Rosa Lee Estes of 321 Jackson Street was turning east from Duncan Street onto Broad Street in a 1989 Buick Regal when she struck a 2000 Dodge Dakota, driven by 41 year old George Lynn Sims of Sparta, who was west on Broad Street.

Both Estes and Sims were taken by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Hospital.

White County Man Seriously Injured In Wreck

June 15, 2006
by: 
Dwayne Page

A 70 year old White County man was seriously injured in a one vehicle crash Wednesday afternoon on Highway 70 east.

Trooper Allen England of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says William M. Johnson of Roberts Matthews Highway, Sparta was traveling east on U.S. 70 in a 2002 Chevy Trail Blazer when he exited the roadway on the south side, struck a sign and mailbox, then went airborne, and came to rest some twenty feet below the roadway in a ravine.

Johnson was airlifted from the scene by a Life Force Helicopter Ambulance and flown to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.

The accident occurred around 1:58 p.m. at 2512 Sparta Highway in DeKalb County.

Trooper England says Johnson was not wearing a seat belt.

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