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Webb Competes in Triathlon

June 12, 2009
Bryan Webb

Bryan Webb, grandson of Carl Lee and Ann Webb and Joe and Oleda Stone of Smithville, recently competed in his first Triathlon.

The Mach Tenn Triathlon was held on Saturday, June 6th at the Woods Reservoir Recreation Area at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma. The athletic competition consisted of a 0.6 mile swim, a 16 mile bike ride and a 4 mile run. He completed the three challenging events in 2 hours and 54 seconds.

Bryan is the 24 year old son of Rick and Joanna Webb and is a Test Engineer with Aerospace Testing Alliance at the Arnold Engineering Development Center. He is currently a student at Tennessee Tech University pursuing his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Thermal Sciences.

School Board Approves Construction of New DCHS Football Field House

June 11, 2009
Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night granted approval for the construction of a new field house for the high school football program.

Plans are to break ground in late fall or early winter on the new field house, which will be built with high school football and Jr. Pro funds.

Concerns arose late last month when Director of Schools Mark Willoughby received a legal opinion from an attorney for the Tennessee School Boards Association warning against possible violations of the federal Title IX law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The major issue was whether building a new field house for the high school football program, even without school system funds, would constitute a violation of Title IX when there is no similar facility for girls soccer, for example.

Willoughby later contacted Cagle again for his legal opinion as to whether the school system would be in compliance with Title IX by allowing the girls soccer, middle school football, and Jr. Pro football programs to share use of the existing football field house during the fall sports seasons. Since neither of the teams play at the same time, each one could use the facility on their particular game day. Willoughby gave Cagle's response during Thursday night's meeting. "I was asked to get back in touch with our attorney and find out about the use of the old facility (field house) and if that could be used as a ladies soccer locker room, should that be necessary. The answer was yes. There would be a problem with it also being used with the middle school football and the girls soccer team, but that's the information you asked me to find out about and I found out about it. One thing I would just advise us to do is to make sure that all local, state, and federal guidelines are followed and to cross all T's and dot all I's with insurance, engineering, stamps of approval from the fire marshal and all that. I felt obligated to bring it to your attention on the Title IX issue and should that come up in a year or two years we'll end up dealing with it."

The board gave approval for the construction with some conditions. Darrell Gill of the Junior Pro Program said all those conditions will be met."One of the issues was moving the scoreboard. We will definitely move the scoreboard to the other end of the field where we feel like is best suited."

A couple of the others are making sure that we're up to codes with the fire alarms and that kind of stuff. Mr. Hart has already been in contact with the State Fire Marshal's Office and we're going to get our permits pulled through them and we'll be working with them on that and again Hall and Hart Construction will take care of that for us."

"The agreed upon start date? There's a lot of red tape. After you talk to the fire marshal, you talk to our local inspector, and he's been great to work with but there's things we've got to do locally. Mr. Hart has been speaking with the State Fire Marshal's Office, the architects, and stuff like that, so the time frame is going to be probably six to eight weeks out before all the red tape is taken care of, all the permits, and everything we need to even start breaking ground."

If it is approved tonight, our agreed upon start date would be a date in December, I hope, which would be our last football game because I plan on winning the state championship this year. No pressure! We need to focus on the football team instead of building this project right in the middle of the season. By the time we got our permits pulled, they'd be starting fall practice by the time we'd be breaking ground. Then we would have a construction site with thousands of people out there on Friday nights. That's not a good situation. So it would seem to be the best of everybody's interest if we postpone the breaking ground date until the end of the season. By October 1st, we should have all the permits pulled, we'll have the architect to sign off (on the project). We hope we could be in the building by spring practice, but we're planning for June 1st, to give us some cushion."

The new fieldhouse, a 50 x 70 foot block exterior structure with a metal roof, would be located near the existing facility between the practice field and playing field. It would be for the Tiger football program complete with a dressing room area, locker room, training room, utility room, showers and bathrooms, an office for the coach, and two dry storage areas, one of which would be for the youth football league.

In other business, Director of Schools Willoughby updated the board on personnel moves since last month.

Ashley Barnes, Guidance at DeKalb Middle School
Benita Byars, School Nurse
Heather Cornelius, Educational Assistant at Northside Elementary School
Pat Barnes, Teacher at DeKalb Middle School (retired)
Dr. Carol Hendrix, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7-12 (retired)

Leave of Absence:
Candice Scarbro, Teacher at DeKalb Middle School, as requested

Employed for 2009-2010:
Suzanne Williams, substitute bus driver

In other business, the board, at the request of Director Willoughby, voted to create a half time teaching position in health occupations at the high school in the proposed tentative budget for 2009-2010. Willoughby says the school system currently has a health occupations teacher but there is a need to expand the program. "In our health occupations (program), there has been an over abundance of requests for classes in the next school year." Willoughby says funds are available in the tentative budget for this positon.

The board, also at Willoughby's request, voted to change the special education secretary from an 11 month to a 12 month position. Willoughby says there are funds available in the federal programs portion of the budget to make this change.

Meanwhile, sealed bids are still being accepted for the sale of a new house, recently constructed by students in the DCHS Carpentry Class.

The original deadline for submitting sealed bids was Thursday, June 11th but no bids were received. The board, Thursday night, voted to extend the deadline to the next meeting date of Thursday, July 9th. A date for an open house will also be scheduled.

The house, located at 140 Evergreen Lane, Smithville, has approximately 1,652 square feet of living area with an attached 528 square foot 2-car garage, master bedroom with master bath and walk-in closet, utility room with half bath, kitchen with eating area, and downstairs den area. The upstairs includes two bedrooms, sitting room, and full bath, 12 x 20 deck, 2 central heat and air gas units, gas hot water heater, 5' x 22' front porch, concrete driveway, hardwood flooring in the living room and den area, tile in the bathrooms and kitchen, and carpet in the bedrooms.

The minimum bid is $140,000. Bids are to be mailed or delivered to the DeKalb County Board of Education,110 South Public Square, Smithville in a sealed envelope clearly marked as a "Bid" and will be received until 4:00 p.m. July 9th. The house can be viewed by appointment. Call the Board of Education to request a viewing at 615-597-4084.

The sealed bids will be opened at the next school board meeting at 7:00 p.m. on July 9th.

Early Voting for City Election Draws Large Turnout

June 11, 2009
Dwayne Page

A total of 593 people voted in the Smithville Municipal Election between May 27th and June 11th, the second highest early voting turnout on record for a Smithville election.

The new record was set last year when 684 people voted early, up from the previous record of 555 in 2007.

One hundred and two people showed up Thursday on the last day of early voting, more by far than any other day during the two week voting period.

The daily voting totals are as follows:
Wednesday, May 27th- 51
Thursday, May 28th-48
Friday, May 29th-50
Saturday, May 30th-38
Monday, June 1st-25
Tuesday, June 2nd-38
Wednesday, June 3rd- 18
Thursday, June 4th-54
Friday, June 5th-29
Saturday, June 6th-21
Monday, June 8th-35
Tuesday, June 9th-37
Wednesday, June 10th-35
Thursday, June 11th-102

Election day is Tuesday, June 16th. Voting will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. WJLE will have LIVE election return coverage and LIVE audio streaming at www.wjle.com.

Three aldermen will be elected, each to serve a two year term beginning July 1st.

The candidates are incumbents Jerry Hutchins, Sr., Tonya Sullivan and Willie Thomas. Challengers are Gary Durham, Shawn Jacobs, Aaron Meeks, W.J. (Dub) White,and Todd Van Dyne.

Smithville Aldermen Working to Hold Down Proposed Water and Sewer Rate Hike

June 11, 2009
Dwayne Page

The proposed 2009-2010 budget for the City of Smithville includes an overall increase in water and sewer rates of 37%.

Some aldermen believe that is too much.

The mayor and aldermen held a workshop Wednesday night to discuss the budget with the city's financial consultant Janice Plemmons Jackson.

Ms. Jackson says the city has not raised it's water and sewer rates in several years and revenues haven't kept up with increasing costs.

And while the city ended the 2007-08 fiscal year in the black by $330,384 in the water and sewer department, this year the city could be at a break even point or in the red. The actual net income or loss for the year apparently won't be known until after June 30th.

Jackson says the proposed 37% rate increase would help the city catch up "In looking at 2008-09 revenues, the revenues are actually going to be a little bit lower this year than they were last year. It looks like usage is down. You have not increased your water rates since 1999. You've not had an increase in any water rates in eleven years. Sewer rates have not changed during that same period except in 2005, they did go up like 30 cents per thousand for the usage above a thousand gallons. In a comparison between 1999 and 2009 in a span of that ten year differential, you see that your income or your revenues in water and sewer have gone up in round numbers by 28%. It went from $1,382,922 to $1,766,315. But then you look at the comparison of costs in that ten year span and you can see that all of the different categories have averaged an almost 77% increase from where they were ten years ago, yet your revenues have gone up 28%. So you see how the shortfall has come to play. Basically to keep you at break even or just pretty close to that, I feel like these increases need to be put in what we have worked into the budget."

Jackson says if the water and sewer fund operates in the red for two years in a row, the state could force the city to raise rates to make the utility self supporting.

Aldermen Tonya Sullivan and Cecil Burger indicated they might support a smaller or gradual increase but Sullivan said she felt a 37% increase was too much, especially since the city doesn't know for certain if the water and sewer fund will actually be in the red this year. "I think we almost feel like it's price gouging at this point even though maybe we should have been going up over a period of time. We know there has to be some increase. I think half of that increase would be easier to stand in increments than it would be to hit all at once. With economic times, jobs could change, people might could withstand a little bit more the following year. I'm a little disappointed that over a period of time we haven't gone up gradually so that we're not hit as hard. So I would be more in favor of a gradual, a slight increase versus a drastic increase. That's just my opinion. "

Alderman Steve White said he is concerned that if the city doesn't address the issue now, it will have to be revisited again next year. "Although it's a hard decision and nobody ever wants a higher bill, when we know we're barely breaking even, I think we need to catch up. There's no need in trying to catch up over the next few years, especially if we know and are being told that all of our expenses are going to keep rising. It's just putting it off for another time."

Since it was only a workshop, the aldermen could not vote Wednesday night, but indicated they wanted Jackson to figure the proposed overall rate increase at about 18% so they could make a cost comparison.

The cost comparison from 1999 to 2009 in the water and sewer department is as follows:

Personnel Service: $349,488 (1999), $548,922 (projected 2009) 57% increase

Chemicals and Supplies: $66,331 (1999), $143,500 (projected 2009) 116 % increase

Utilities: $171,788 (1999), $415,000 (projected 2009) 141% increase

Repairs & Maintenance: $69,815 (1999) $166,000 (projected 2009) 137% increase

Insurance: $43,214 (1999) $117,000 (projected 2009) 170% increase

Other Overhead Expenses: $62,166 (1999) $201,779 (projected 2009) 224% increase

Employees Benefits: $57,379 (1999) $134,058 (projected 2009) 133% increase

Total Operating Expenses: $1,191,102 (1999) $2,106,259 (projected 2009) 76.8% increase.

Meanwhile, Fire Chief Charlie Parker made another appeal for more funding for his department, but was told that the big ticket items he was making a request for would not be funded this year, including a full time or combination department, or a ladder truck.

Parker asked that funds be budgeted to pay the firefighters a minimum wage for their time spent training and the extra work they must do to maintain the current ISO rating; that the firefighters rate of pay per call be increased from fifteen dollars to twenty dollars if it does not affect the department's equipment budgets; that more money be included for repairs and maintenance because both fire engines are in need of some repairs and diagnostic work; that each firefighter have a uniform allowance; that more money be allocated for supplies and vehicle operations; that half the cost of a new ladder truck be set aside in the budget; and that funds be budgeted to purchase a vehicle for the department possibly from state surplus to transport equipment, so that the firefighters don't have to use their personal vehicles.

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said if the aldermen were to approve Parker's request, then a large property tax increase would be needed to fund it. Alderman Sullivan explained to Parker that the full time department and ladder truck were not included in the proposed budget, but that the spending plan for the fire department is being increased from $91,000 last year to $112,500 in the new budget, including an additional $5,000 in payments to firefighters for the year based on their calls.

The proposed 2009-2010 budget for the fire department compared to 2008-09 budget is as follows:

Junior Firefighter Program: $2,500 (2009), $2,000 (2010)
Payments to Volunteers: $35,000 (2009), $40,000 (2010)
Payroll Taxes: $3,500 (2009) $4,000 (2010)
Telephone: $3,000 (2009), $3,500 (2010)
Repairs & Maintenance $2,000 (2009), $3,500 (2010)
Miscellaneous: $1,500 (2009), $2,000 (2010)
Supplies: $12,000 (2009), $15,000 (2010)
Vehicle Operations: $4,000 (2009), $6,000 (2010)
Insurance: $15,000 (2009), $18,500 (2010)
Utilities: $2,500 (2009), $3,000 (2010)
Capital Outlay: $10,000 (2009), $15,000 (2010)

Meanwhile, the aldermen are considering giving city employees a one or two percent increase in the form of a one time bonus this year, since the proposed budget includes no cost of living raise.

All aldermen were present for the meeting except Jerry Hutchins, Sr. who had to be absent due to his wife's illness.

The mayor and aldermen will meet Monday night, June 15th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall possibly to consider passage of the new budget on first reading. WJLE plans LIVE coverage.

Local Business Receives Roof Damage from High Winds

June 11, 2009
Dwayne Page
High Winds Tear Roof from Doc's Detail

High winds from a severe thunderstorm today (Thursday) tore part of the roof off at Doc's Detail or Custom on East Bryant Street.

Danny Washer, owner and operator of the business, said he was inside working on a car when the storm hit. "I'd been listening to the radio and I knew there was bad weather coming. It started blowing in a little bit of rain and I was fixing to wax a car so to keep it dry I started to pull the (garage) doors down and just as I pulled them down I heard a strange sound, that's when the roof went off. Tiles then started falling. That's about it. In less than thirty seconds it was gone. It was weird because it didn't touch nothing else around here. It just got this building right here."

Although the building received significant roof damage, Washer, who was there alone at the time, was not injured.

Severe Thunderstorms Cause Property Damage

June 11, 2009
Dwayne Page
Barn Destroyed on Robinson Road-
Residence of the late V.L. and Callie Wilson damaged

Severe thunderstorms rumbled across DeKalb County this morning (Thursday) downing trees and causing property damage.

A barn was destroyed at the residence of the late V.L.and Callie Wilson at 1757 Robinson Road. The home also received some damage

Kandy Fish, who was next door with her mother, said she saw the storm as it passed and believes it may have been a tornado. "I was outside cleaning my mom's car and had no idea there was even a storm coming. I just looked up here because the houses are close together and saw a whirling and heard a God awful whistling, like a train maybe, that's the closest thing I can come to it. When it looked up here, the barn was actually coming over the house. It only lasted a few seconds but it was awful. I went back in the house. My mom had just had surgery so I tried to get her in a safe spot. I came back out here but there was nothing else I could do."

No one was injured.

Part of the roof at Doc's Detail or Custom on East Bryant Street was ripped away. Danny Washer, owner and operator of the business, said he was inside working on an automobile when the storm hit.

Central dispatch received the first report of storm damage at 10:26 a.m. The major property damage was at Doc's Detail and at the Wilson residence on Robinson Road. Trees were also reported blown down on Pea Ridge Road, New Home Road, Old Mill Hill Road, Johnson's Chapel Road, and Dale Ridge Road. Members of the DeKalb County Road Department and TDOT were called to help clear the roads.

UCHRA to Purchase Forty-four Transit Vehicles

June 10, 2009
Edward Hale, Phyllis Bennett, Rebecca Harris, Mike Foster

Economic stimulus dollars is making a difference in the Upper Cumberland Area Rural Transit System (UCARTS) operated by the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA). “As a result of the stimulus dollars, the Agency will purchase forty-four (44) new vehicles to add to the UCARTS program to meet the requirements requiring replacement of vehicles with excessive mileage. During the economic hardships that the residents of the area are facing, the program has increased demand for UCARTS services. The system is making a difference in individuals getting to work; going to the doctor, drug store, and grocery store; and being able to get to other business appointments,” stated Phyllis Bennett, Executive Director, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.

UCARTS offers transportation to rural residents of all ages with first priority to elderly, handicapped, and economically disadvantaged with medical needs and provides each community with customized services to address the needs of residents as they are identified. The economic stimulus dollars will allow the agency to replace vehicles in each of the fourteen (14) counties and to provide back-up vehicles to meet additional transportation needs. “The goal of the Agency is to operate a safe, well maintained system to accommodate the transportation needs of the residents of the Upper Cumberland Area,” stated Rebecca Harris, Transportation Services/Director, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.

“As a result of approximately $12,081,232 made available to the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency for the fourteen (14) county area through the Economic Stimulus Package, the Agency is able to expand programs and bring back other programs that have not been available for a number of years such as the Summer Youth Employment Program. This help from the federal government will provide immediate economic assistance as well as make a difference for years to come,” stated Phyllis Bennett, Executive Director, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.

In addition to the forty-four (44) additional vehicles funded through the stimulus package, employment and training will provide dollars to be spent in each of the cities and counties, older adults and other adults with disabilities will receive additional meals, weatherization to homes across the district will reduce energy costs, the head start program will experience an increase to offset rising cost in providing the service, and the Agency will assist additional individuals with an increase in the Community Services Block Grant Program. “Each of the counties and cities in the Upper Cumberland is pleased to have programs that will help the residents in this difficult economic time. The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency has the experience needed to implement the programs in an efficient, effective manner and works tirelessly to make the fourteen (14) county area the best place possible to live, work, and retire,” stated Mike Foster, Chairman, Board of Directors, UCHRA.

CUTLINE: Pictured from left to right: Edward Hale, Mayor of Liberty; Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director; Rebecca Harris, UCHRA Transportation/Services Director; and Mike Foster, DeKalb County Executive & UCHRA Board of Directors Chairman.

Summer Chefs, Be Sure To Follow Grilling Safety Guidelines

June 9, 2009

Nice weather, cookouts and gatherings are the perfect recipe for summer good times. The State Fire Marshal’s Office wants to remind Tennesseans that cooking safety is important, whether indoors or outdoors.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), gas and charcoal grills cause an average of 900 home structure fires and 3,500 home outdoor fires each year. "By all means, enjoy the weather and the cookouts,” says State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman, “but keep fire safety on your mind as you grill.”

Be sure to practice the following safety guidelines:

• Position the grill away from siding, deck railings, overhanging eaves and overhanging branches. Half of all gas and charcoal grill fires begin on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch.
• Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill area: declare a three-foot "safe zone" around the grill.
• Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when handling food.
• Periodically remove grease buildup in trays, to prevent ignition by a hot grill.
• Gas grills have a higher fire risk than charcoal grills. Leaks and breaks in the gas cylinder or hose are the leading cause of gas grill fires. Placing combustibles too close to heat and leaving cooking unattended are two other leading causes.
• Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Applying a light soap-and-water solution to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by bubbling.
• If you determine your grill has a gas leak, turn off the valve on the tank and have the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
• If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
• Use only gas cylinders with an overfill protection device (OPD). OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel. OPDs shut off the flow of gas before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up.
• Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
• Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
• When using charcoal grills, avoid using starter fluid – use a chimney starter instead. This is a cylindrical metal tube that uses paper to start the coals. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid.

“Outdoor grilling is a big part of Tennesseans’ summertime activities,” said Newman. “Make safety your No. 1 priority by using common sense and following these tips.”

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/

WJLE Receives Special Recognition from AmVets Post 101

June 9, 2009
Dwayne Page
Joe Carter, Dwayne Page, and James T. Jay Smith

WJLE was honored to receive special recognition from the AmVets Post #101 Tuesday.

Joe Carter, Commander of the AmVets Post #101 and 2nd District Commander for the State and James T. Jay Smith, Past State Commander of AmVets presented WJLE with a plaque "In appreciation for outstanding service rendered to Carol F. Hanan, AmVets Post 101, Smithville."

Station manager Dwayne Page accepted the plaque on behalf of WJLE.

Smithville Elementary to get ARRA Grant for Lunchroom Equipment

June 9, 2009
Dwayne Page

Governor Phil Bredesen and Commissioner of Education Dr. Timothy Webb have announced school food authority grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These grants will fund the purchase of lunchroom equipment for school district's participating in the National School Lunch Program.

The DeKalb County School System is to receive a $42,000 grant for Smithville Elementary School

The ARRA provides this funding as a one-time appropriation to Tennessee.

"We cannot ignore the importance of healthy, nutritious meals that give students the fuel they need to focus in school and continue good eating habits as adults," Governor Bredesen said. "This Recovery Act money will allow school districts across the state to improve the quality of school nutrition, thus improving the quality of our children's education."

The focus of these competitive grants include purchasing equipment that improves the safety of food served in school meal programs, improving the overall energy efficiency of school nutrition operations, supporting expanding participation in school meal programs and improving the overall quality of school nutrition meals that meet dietary guidelines.

To be selected, a school must have 50 percent or more of its students eligible for free or reduced price meals and must meet other criteria set out under the ARRA.

"We are very fortunate to be able to provide nutritious meals to our students, especially as we meet the challenges of increased standards next year with the Tennessee Diploma Project," Commissioner Webb said. "Our children need every educational tool available and that includes nutritional services."


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