Local News Articles

County Commission to Consider Passage of New Budget Soon

August 4, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Commission is expected to adopt the budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year this month.

Total expenditures in the proposed budget come to $33-million 452-thousand 127.

The current property tax rate is $1.70 per $100 of assessed value but the new certified property tax rate, following reappraisal or Current Value Update, is $1.4599, which is expected to generate about the same amount of local tax revenue as the $1.70 rate

County Mayor Mike Foster says the county commission may vote to round off the new tax rate to $1.46. "The assessed value of property, as a result of the CVU, went to $445-million 187-thousand 839. One cent of the property tax rate at $1.46 generates $44,518 or $42,181 after the county figures in a tax delinquency rate of 5.25%."

The new proposed property tax rate would break down as follows:

County General- 55 cents
General Purpose Schools- 49 cents
Debt Service 20 cents
Highway Department- 3 cents
Solid Waste- 19 cents

Foster says no property tax increase is needed this year because of revenues generated by the local option sales tax increase, which was approved by the voters last year. Plus, he says all county departments concluded the 2007-08 fiscal year under budget by from 10 to 20%, which has saved the county some money.

The proposed county general budget includes funds for an employee pay raise of about $600 for the year. Foster says this would help offset a 17% increase in their insurance premiums.

He says more money is also included in the budget for gasoline and diesel fuel.

The county budget committee will meet again on August 11th to make some final revisions before making a formal recommendation for passage of the budget to the county commission.

Gibson Receives Citizen Appreciation Award

August 4, 2008
Dwayne Page

Frank Gibson, Executive Director of Tennessee's Coalition for Open Government, received Smithville first ever "Citizens Appreciation Award" during Monday night's city council meeting.

The award was presented to Gibson by Alderman Tonya Sullivan.

In making the presentation, Alderman Sullivan stated that "Smithville is honored this evening by the presence of Frank Gibson, a distinguished state leader who has devoted his career to opening government action to the inspection of every citizen"

"The executive director of Tennessee's Coalition for Open Government, Mr. Gibson, perhaps more than any other single State leader, has been the driving force behind the formation and implementation of Tennessee's current Sunshine Law."

"Following a forty year career as a reporter and editor of The Tennessean, including a 12 year stint in Washington D.C. as the paper's political editor, our guest chaired the Tennessee Press Association's Freedom of Information Committee, and is it's first and only receipient of the TPA Presidents Award."

"A graduate of the University of Tennessee and an Army vet, Mr. Gibson is a past national president of the Society of Professional Journalists and chaired the group's First Amendment Education campaign. As a humanities Fellow at the University of Michigan, he studied First Amendment law and southern history."

"He retired in 2005 to run TCOG, an influential leadership organization that works to improve and preserve public records and sunshine laws. His most recent appointment was to represent the Tennessee Press Association to the Advisory Committee on Open Government. Thanks to his courageous leadership, the sun shines with increasing brightness on Smithville's municipal government."

‘In recognition of your dynamic leadership and consistently courageous commitment to the rule of law and open government, it is my honor to present you with this plaque commemorating your service and to present you with Smithville's first ever Citizens Appreciation Award.'

"I would like to thank you for the encouragement that you have offered the city of Smithville. You have led by example! Open government is important to every citizen."

TDOT to Repair College Street Bridge

August 4, 2008
Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has announced plans to make repairs to the College Street Bridge (Veteran's Memorial Bridge) in Smithville apparently due primarily to collision damage caused by large trucks that have hit the bridge.

Plans are to replace Beam "C" in Span "3" and to repair damaged beams in Spans "2" & "3".

Construction work could begin as early as mid-October. It should take about a month to complete the project.

TDOT officials say there is an eight inch water main attached to the underside of the bridge along side Beam "C". Since Beam "C" in Span "3" is being replaced, the state is requesting that the water main be relocated. There are also telephone, cable, and electric lines running parallel with the bridge on the right side and also perpendicular to both the abutments. TDOT does not anticipate the utility lines being involved in any way.

Turnout for Early Voting Greater in Macon and Smith Counties than DeKalb

August 4, 2008
Dwayne Page

Democratic and Republican voters in DeKalb, Macon, and Smith will be selecting nominees for State Representative on Thursday.

The winners of the primaries will face off in the November General Election.

The turnout for early voting has been significantly higher in both Macon and Smith Counties than in DeKalb County.

Macon County reported early voting totals of 1,813 including 788 in the State Democratic Primary and 838 in the State Republican Primary.

In Smith County, 1,268 voted early including 873 in the State Democratic Primary and 352 in the State Republican Primary.

A total of 795 voted early in DeKalb County including 586 in the Democratic Primary and 151 in the Republican Primary.

Like DeKalb County, Macon and Smith have other races on their ballots that could be contributing to greater voter interest there, in addition to the State Representative races.

Home Owner Spots Man Breaking Into His House

August 4, 2008
Dwayne Page

A 29 year old man, apparently trying to break into a home Saturday, was later arrested after the owner of the residence saw him coming in the house and called authorities.

Sheriff Patrick Ray says Antonio Cruz of West Broad Street Apartments is charged with aggravated burglary and no driver's license.

According to Sheriff Ray, Cruz allegedly went to a residence on Whorton Springs Road, apparently thinking the owner of the house was not at home. Cruz cut a screen out of a door to gain entry and was partially through the door when the owner saw him. Cruz immediately left the residence and the home owner called authorities. Cruz was later spotted by county deputies in a vehicle on Whorton Springs Road and they stopped him. Cruz was identified and he had no driver's license. Bond for Cruz was set at $12,500 and will appear in court on August 21st.

Meanwhile, in other cases 27 year old Brian Randell Pack of West Main Street Smithville was charged Tuesday, July 29th with six counts of forgery. Sheriff Ray says through an investigation, county detectives discovered that Pack allegedly passed six checks at a Smithville business between the dates of June 29th through July 25th 2008 totaling $550.00. Bond for Pack was set at $30,000 and he will appear in court on August 14th.

38 year old Royce Avon Foster of Jacobs Pillar Road Smithville, and 43 year old Ricky Estes and 39 year old Tony Edge, both of Whorton Springs Road Smithville, were charged Thursday, July 31st with burglary and theft of property over $1,000. Sheriff Ray says the three were arrested after they allegedly entered a barn on Jacob's Pillar Road in Smithville and took a 1959 Ford car without the owner's consent on July 25th. County detectives recovered the stolen vehicle in Cannon County at Pelham's Scrap Yard before it was crushed. Bond for each was set at $50,000 and they will appear in court on August 14th.

44 year old Darrell Ray Ramsey of Jack Hudson Road Sparta was stopped Friday, August 1st by county deputies on Highway 70 for a traffic violation. Sheriff Ray says upon speaking with Ramsey, officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his person and he had bloodshot eyes. Deputies administered field sobriety tasks but Ramsey failed them. He was charged with a 2nd offense of driving under the influence. Ramsey has a previous DUI offense in DeKalb County, in October, 1997. Bond for Ramsey was set at $2,000 and he will appear in court on September 4th.

County Seeks Grant Funds For Farmers Market

August 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

A Farmer's Market is held each Saturday around the courthouse in which local farmers bring their home grown produce to sell.

The county commission last week voted to authorize a grant application to USDA Rural Development, which if approved, would help relocate the Farmer's Market to property at College and Bryant Street, where a proper structure could be built.

County Mayor Mike Foster says the Farmer's Market helps bring people downtown on Saturday, which is a good thing, but the farmers who bring their produce to sell need shelter from the weather and the proposed new location could provide that. However, Foster says he would still like to see farmers set up downtown on occasion, even if a new site is developed for them.

Foster read the resolution last Monday night during the county commission meeting. "This is a resolution to authorize the County Mayor to submit an application to USDA Rural Development requesting a Rural Business Enterprise Grant for a Farmer's Market."

" Whereas, the Mayor and County Commissioners of DeKalb County believe that the quality of life for the citizens of DeKalb County is very important and, Whereas, the County Mayor and Commissioners feel it is in the best interest of DeKalb County to look to the future and obtain necessary funds to build a new Farmer's Market and , Whereas, financial assistance is available to DeKalb County from USDA and Rural Development and the Rural Enterprise Grant Program and, Whereas, DeKalb County is eligible for a grant from USDA Rural Development and wishes to submit an application in the amount of $50,000 to Rural Development for a Rural Business Enterprise Grant in order to help finance the project."

" Now therefore, be it resolved by the County Mayor and County Commissioners of DeKalb County that the County Mayor be authorized to sign and execute all application documents to USDA Rural Development in order to make application for grant funds and submit the same on behalf of the citizens of DeKalb County and to enter into necessary agreements with Rural Development to receive and administer such loan funds and to execute necessary agreements or administrative service without further action by the board contingent upon approval by the funding agencies."

DeKalb County would be responsible for local matching funds, if the grant were approved, but Foster says some of that could be in-kind. " That is the thing that makes this attractive is that we can furnish the land and do site preparation and some of those things that go a long way toward counting as our match."

(Pictured- Jeff Cantrell displays homegrown produce at Saturday's Farmers Market- click on picture to see larger image)

All Systems Go for Election Day Thursday

August 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

Voters will go to the polls Thursday August 7th to cast ballots in the DeKalb County General Election, Tennessee Democratic and Republican Primaries, and the Dowelltown and Liberty Municipal Elections..

Voting at all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County will be Thursday, August 7th from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

WJLE will have exclusive LIVE election return coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. from the courthouse on AM 1480/ FM 101.7 and on-line at www.wjle.com. Listen to LIVE streaming or check our local news page for regular updates throughout the night. We will also have a special section on our website for results by precinct in several races.

Democratic candidates for the United States Senate are Mark E. Clayton, Gary G. Davis, Kenneth Eaton, Leonard D. Ladner, Wm Mike Padgett, and Robert D. Tuke.

Incumbent Bart Gordon is the only Democratic candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the 6th Congressional District.

Democratic candidates for the Tennessee House of Representatives in the 40th Representative District are Cleveland Derrick Bain, Jeff Barrett, Steven K. Cantrell, Gayla C. Hendrix, Carl (Hix) Jones, Dean Sircy, and Sarah Marie Smith.

Spaces are on the ballot for DeKalb County Democratic Executive Committee member from each district and precinct but there are no candidates.

Incumbent Lamar Alexander is the only GOP candidate for the United States Senate.

Two GOP candidates are listed for the Tennessee House of Representatives in the 40th Representative District including Nicky Rittenberry and Terri Lynn Weaver.

There is no GOP candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the 6th Congressional District.

Candidates for Assessor of Property include Democratic incumbent Timothy (Fud) Banks, Republican John David Foutch, and Independent Sandy C. Brown.

Candidates for school board member in the 5th district are Larry Evans and Incumbent W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, both Independents.

In the 6th district, candidates for the school board are Incumbent Linda Louise Fuston and Bruce Parsley, both Independents.

Constable candidates are Republican Incumbent Reed Edge in the 2nd district, Democratic Incumbent Wayne Vanderpool in the 3rd district, Democrat Paul Cantrell in the 4th district, Democratic Incumbent Mark Milam in the 5th district, Democrat Cantrell Jones in the 6th district, and Democrat Johnny King in the 7th district. All are unopposed. There is no candidate for constable in the 1st district.

In Dowelltown, Incumbent Mayor Gerald W. Bailiff is unopposed and Aldermen candidates are Incumbent Joe L. Bogle and Elizabeth A. Redmon, also unopposed.

In Liberty, three aldermen will be elected. The candidates are Todd Dodd and incumbents Jerry W. Johnson, Dwight Mathis, and Paul M. Neal.

The ballot also asks for a "yes" or "no" vote on the retention of two state supreme court judges, William C. Koch, Jr. and Gary R. Wade; two court of appeals judges (middle division), Andy D. Bennett and Richard H. Dinkins; court of appeals (western division), Steve Stafford; court of criminal appeals (eastern division), D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.; and court of criminal appeals (western division), Camille R. McMullen.

A Total of 795 Vote Early for August Elections

August 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

A total of 795 people voted early for the August 7th elections from Friday, July 18th through Saturday, August 2nd.

According to the Election Commission, 586 people voted in the Tennessee Democratic Primary and 151 voted in the State Republican Primary.

In August, 2004, there were 12,476 registered voters and 798 voted absentee/early and 1,169 voted on election day for a total of 1,967

Four years earlier in August 2000, DeKalb County had 11,207 registered voters and 433 voted absentee/early and 917 voted on election day for a total of 1,350.

In August 1996, there were 10,850 registered voters and 458 voted absentee/early and 2,134 voted on election day for a total of 2,592.

In this year's election, the daily early voting totals since Friday, July 18th were as follows:

Friday, July 18th- 36, including 34 by personal appearance and 2 by mail
Saturday, July 19th- 33 by personal appearance
Monday, July 21st- 53, including 51 by personal appearance and 2 by mail
Tuesday, July 22nd- 41 by personal appearance
Wednesday, July 23rd- 41, including 40 by personal appearance and 1 by mail
Thursday, July 24th- 70, including 69 by personal appearance and 1 by mail
Friday, July 25th- 35 including 34 by personal appearance and 1 by mail
Saturday, July 26th- 36 including 35 by personal appearance and 1 by mail
Monday, July 28th- 32 including 30 by personal appearance and 2 by mail
Tuesday, July 29th- 46 including 44 by personal appearance and 2 by mail
Wednesday, July 30th- 51 including 48 by personal appearance and 3 by mail
Thursday, July 31st- 103 including 97 by personal appearance and 6 by mail
Friday, August 1st- 95 including 92 by personal appearance and 3 by mail
Saturday, August 2nd- 99 including 97 by personal appearance and 2 by mail.

A total of 23 voters cast ballots by mail and by personal appearance prior to July 18th

A few absentee by mail ballots have not yet been returned.

Foster Pleased with County Run Ambulance Service

August 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

Ten months after the county assumed control of the ambulance service, County Mayor Mike Foster says he and others are pleased with the operation.

"Everybody has been pretty well pleased with it. We're really happy with the employees. A lot of them are local and they have a lot of pride in it. We're getting a new ambulance any day. The building (new ambulance service location) has worked out really well. The employees seem to be satisfied with it."

Foster added that the collection rate on billing has also been good. " From the numbers that we have billed, which started in October, we have an 82% collection rate. Before, it was costing the county about $180,000 plus an ambulance every year when (Sumner Regional Medical Center) was running it. I think when we get at the end of a solid year where we can really tell how revenues and expenses have run, I think we'll be near that (previous costs). It'll be at least be a break even. The cost of a new ambulance is about $98,000. We also did a remount on one (ambulance) for about $59,000 where we buy a truck and take our box and put on that truck. The running gear and all that is new but the box is the same."

Last year, Sumner Regional Regional Medical Center, which had been under contract to operate the local EMS service, decided to get out of the ambulance business in DeKalb County. Sumner Regional was providing the service for $163,000 per year, and the county, which owns the ambulances, bought a new one each year. Sumner Regional also rented the ambulance service building for $600 per month.

After considering proposals from other companies to take over the operation of the ambulance service, the county commission decided that it would be better if the county ran it. The county did approve an agreement with EMS Consultants to do the billing for the ambulance service. EMS Consultants receives a fee of 6.5% of accounts collected.

The county also bought and renovated a building for the new home of the ambulance service at Mountain Street and Meadowbrook Drive.

The proposed 2008-09 budget includes an expenditure of $1.2 million to operate the ambulance service which includes funds to pay a staff of paramedics, EMT's, a director, a secretary, and to buy a new ambulance, equipment and to pay for utilities and other costs.

School Board Earns TSBA "Distinction" Honor

August 2, 2008
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education has completed the necessary steps to become a "Board of Distinction"

The award, presented by the Tennessee School Boards Association, is to recognize outstanding performance by school boards as a whole.

Tennessee school boards that seek this designation must meet specified requirements in four key areas: planning, policy, promotion and board development. Board of Distinction status is for two years, after which time the board may reapply for continued status.

In a letter to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, Cindy Smith, TSBA Member Services Coordinator, says "This is a great honor for the DeKalb County Board of Education, and I congratulate each of you on this outstanding achievement."

"At a later date, a TSBA District Director will present your Board of Distinction plaque during a school board meeting.."


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