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October 2021
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Julie Wright announces candidacy for Smith County Trustee Election

Julie Wright

To All the Residents of Smith County: My name is Julie Wright and I am running for the office of Smith County Trustee. I have been blessed to live in Smith County my whole life. I am the daughter of Horace Hale and Elaine Wright of Carthage. I have two children, Caleb, who is a junior at MTSU, and Jenna, who is a junior at SCHS. I am a member of the Carthage Church of Christ. I graduated from Smith County High School. I hold an Associate’s Degree and in the Spring I will graduate with Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. I also completed classes though the State of Tennessee and became a Certified County Financial Officer. I am a Deputy Trustee for the Honorable Lee Ann Williams who will be retiring at the end of her term. I have the experience and knowledge that is needed to run this office. I would be humbled and honored by your vote. 

From the Desk of Smith County Mayor Jeff Mason; Convenience sites paving

I am going to clarify some confusion. Commissioners, the landfill, the Highway Dept. and myself have received call from citizen’s asking why we would pave convenience sites and not roads. The simplest answer is Solid Waste is paying for the convenience site paving. Solid Waste/Landfill generates their own money from fee’s charged to other governments and private business to dump trash in the Smith County Landfill. There are no Smith County Tax dollars going into the Solid Waste Fund. We have the money in that fund and would like to create a better experience for you when dumping your trash for free at the convenience sites. I will explain more in depth below if you would like to take the time to read. If not please know this is separate money that cannot be spent on roads or other government functions outside of trash disposal at convenience sites or operation of the landfill.

The Landfill and solid waste department are set up in what is called an enterprise fund. Enterprise Funds are used to account for operations that are financed and operated in a manner like private business enterprises–where the intent of the governing body is that the costs (expenses, including depreciation) of providing goods or services to the public on a continuing basis be financed or recovered primarily through user charges. The convenience sites are fully funded by the tipping fees collected at the Smith County Landfill. NO tax dollars go into solid waste.Smith County residents can use the convenience sites as much as needed at no cost to them. Other counties limit trips or charge a fee to dispose of trash. We do not.

The downside to this is that no moneys collected for tipping fees may be used in the operation of the general government. The landfill funds cannot be used to pave county roads. The solid waste fund pays for the operation of the landfill and convenience sites. It pays for the building of new cells and the closing of old cells. It pays for the equipment to run the landfill and convenience sites.

When I took office in 2018 there had been talk of paving or tarring and chipping convenience sites for years. We looked very hard at how to get that project done. With a new cell being built and our debt service for equipment we did not have the funds to get this done. We finished the new cell this past spring. There had already been borrowed 2.8 million dollars to build a cell in the fund when I came into office. Once all was said and done the cost to build was over 5 million dollars to complete. We were able to finish the cell with cash from the fund and did not borrow another penny. The high cost was due to some engineering problems that we inherited and the building of this cell to support future cells design and lower their cost to build and operate. We also were able to pay off half the debt we were in when we came into office. The ending balance for 20-21 was just shy of 2 million dollars in the bank.

We were able to increase revenues by raising tipping fees and renegotiating contracts with other local county governments and raising our tipping fees at the gate for other haulers. We have also been able to save money by partnering with private business for them to provide services such as brush disposal, tire disposal and the pulling of boxes at convenience sites on the weekends for reduced contracted tipping fees.

I say all of that to say this. We put money aside and bid out the paving of our convenience sites in this year’s budget. Tiff Arnold Paving was the low bidder and has begun paving convenience sites across the county. This I hope will make your experience better when disposing of your trash. Muddy shoes and dirty cars I hope will soon be  not caused by just taking your trash off.

There is probably not one person in this county that truly wants to be in the landfill business. I know I don’t.  We are in the business and have been since 1989 I believe. So, if we can generate revenue to pay for operation, cell building, convenience sites and make it a better experience and at no cost to residents then that is what we will do. I have been approached about selling the landfill by private waste companies. I do not want to do that. We lose control when that happens. If Smith County is going to have a landfill, then Smith County needs to run that landfill.

Believe me if there was a way, I would shift money to the road department to fix our county roads.

I hope this helps explain to those who may not know why we would pave convenience sites and not county roads. Please call me at 615-735-2294 or email me at jmason@smithcountytn.govwith any other questions.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as mayor of the greatest county in the world!

Bradley West announces candidacy for Upper Cumberland Board of Directors

I, Bradley West, would like to announce my candidacy for Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation Board of Directors for District 1. 

I, along with my wife, Amber, and our two children, Mattie and Rob, have always called Smith County home. Both of our families are deeply rooted in the Riddleton Community.  

My parents, David (Brad) and Ann Hood West, instilled in me the value of hard work and service to our community. My longtime desire to serve on the UCEMC Board of Directors originated from my father’s successful career at Upper Cumberland Electric. 

A lifetime of working with the public has given me the opportunity to develop relationships with many wonderful people over the UCEMC area. As a teenager I started my work journey as an employee of Smith County Commission Company, the stock yard in Carthage, working for my wife’s grandparents, Billy and Grace Gregory. I graduated from Smith County High School and Tennessee College of Applied Technology. My work careers at Lee Company, Dekalb Telephone Cooperative and Farm Bureau of Tennessee taught me many valuable skills which lead me to start my own business, West Construction. We do residential and small business construction serving Middle Tennessee.       

I have a very personal connection to UCEMC as it provided for my family as a child. My father, David (Brad) West, and my mother-in-law, Melissa Gregory, both worked at and retired from UCEMC. My plan for UCEMC is very simple-to make decisions that I feel are best for the employees, members, and the cooperative.  

I respectfully ask for your vote and support for UCEMC Board of Directors for District 1. Please cast your vote on August 27 & 28 in Carthage, Cookeville, Gainesboro or Livingston. 

UCEMC Members to choose three directors in election set for this weekend – August 27, 28

Carthage, TN. One of the guiding principles of an electric cooperative is that it is a democratic organization controlled by its members who actively participate. Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation is counting on eligible members to get out and vote to fill the seats of three board members whose terms are expiring.

Before UCEMC holds the in-person 83rd Annual Meeting of the Members on September 11, voters must fill these impending vacancies on the Cooperative’s Board of Directors. The Board comprises nine members, and each year, at least three seats are up for election on a rotational basis.

The terms of incumbent directors are expiring in District One, serving DeKalb, Macon, Smith, and Wilson counties, District Two, serving Putnam and White counties, and in District Three serving Clay, Fentress, Overton, and Pickett counties. 

Qualifying candidates had a deadline of June 13 to file their petitions with UCEMC’s General Manager, Jennifer Brogdon, or Board secretary Alan Pippin. UCEMC has a Credentials Committee appointed and acting under the Cooperative’s Bylaws to keep this process separate from the Board of Directors. The Credentials Committee worked independently of the Board and has determined the eligibility of each petitioner to become a qualified candidate.

Candidates Joey Harper and Bradley West are running to represent District 1 on the Board. Mike Bowman is running against the incumbent, Rony Myers in District 2, and James F. Scarlett and Tim Sells seek election to represent District 3.

Members may cast their ballots at any of the cooperative’s district offices listed below, but due to ongoing construction at the Carthage District 1 office, members will vote at the UCEMC Corporate office at 907 Main Street North in Carthage this year.  “We’re doing everything we can to get the word out about the change in Carthage’s voting location this year,” says UCEMC General Manager and CEO Jennifer Brogdon. ”We hope to see you cast your ballot at the Main Street Corporate office.”

  The polls listed below are open Friday, August 27, and Saturday, August 28, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

*Carthage – UCEMC Corporate office – 907 Main Street N., Carthage.

Cookeville – 1794 West Broad Street, Cookeville.

Livingston – 320 Celina Highway, Livingston.

Gainesboro – 1085 North Grundy Quarles Highway, Gainesboro.

UCEMC Directorate Election set for August 27-28

UCEMC’s Directorate Election is set for Friday, August 27, 2021 and Saturday August 28, 2021.

Polls will be open between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. at all polling locations. PLEASE NOTE: Change in District 1 polling location.

DistrictConsisting of these counties:Polling Location
1Smith, DeKalb, Wilson and Macon907 Main St. N., Carthage *NEW*
2Putnam and White1794 West Broad St., Cookeville
3Overton, Clay, Fentress and Pickett320 Celina Hwy., Livingston
4Jackson1085 N. Grundy Quarles Hwy., Gainesboro
DistrictCandidateNumber of Directors to be elected/re-elected:
1Joey Harper
Bradely West
One director will be elected. Vote for one.
2Mike Bowman
Rony Myers
One director will be elected or re-elected. Vote for one.
3James F. Scarlett
Tim Sells
One director will be elected. Vote for one.

Voting Rules and Bylaw Reference

  1. ONE vote regardless of number of individual memberships. Section 3.05 of the Bylaws.
  2. Husband and wife are joint members – only one may vote and if they disagree they cannot split their vote. Section 1.04 (b) of the Bylaws.

3. Unincorporated business owners may not vote if he/she has individual memberships they are voting. Sections 3.05 and 4.08 of the Bylaws. Voting Rules and Bylaw Reference

4. Corporations have one vote only, regardless of number of memberships, and persons voting corporate memberships should have proper identification or credentials showing his/her right to vote the membership. Section 3.05 of the Bylaws.

Referenceand Bylaw Reference
5. Unincorporated associations (such as churches) may have one vote, however, only upon presentation of the person desiring to vote the

membership of proper evidence of his/her right to vote which should be in writing for clarity. The fact that a pastor, board member, or church

member shows up and says they can vote the membership is not sufficient absent other proof. Section 3.05 of the Bylaws.

  1. No member may vote who has been suspended or terminated. Sections 2.01, 2.02, and 2.07 of the Bylaws.
  2. If a member is served by the cooperative at two or more premises in two or more districts, he/she shall be entitled to vote only his/her residential membership at any one of the cooperative’s election precincts. Section 4.08 of the Bylaws.
  3. It is the duty and legal obligation of the election supervisors to make decisions in accordance with Section 4.12 of the Bylaws.
  4. Voting rights are set out in Sections 3.05 and 4.08 of the Bylaws. (Reference Section 4.11).
  5. Proxy voting by Power of Attorney or otherwise by members who are natural persons is not permitted. Section 3.05 of the Bylaws. NOTE: Ref. 6 above: Suspension of membership is defined in Bylaws as failure to pay any amounts due the cooperative within the time limit prescribed for payment or other non-compliance with membership obligations. For the purposes of this election, the memberships of members having unpaid bills due on or before August 17, 2021, will be in suspension on Election Day. OFFICES WILL NOT BE OPEN FOR BILL PAYMENTS ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 28, 2021. Members with questions about the Directorate Election should ask their local UCEMC office prior to Election Day or election supervisors on Election Day. Copies of Bylaws are available at all UCEMC offices or at ucemc.com.

EEO Employer/Vet/Disability

Federal Lawsuits Filed Against Former Private Probation and County for “Extortion Scheme”

Two different lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee claim that Lynn Shrum and Jenna Meness, former Smith County Misdemeanor Probation operators, and Smith County ran an “extortion scheme.”

Smith County Misdemeanor Probation was a private company contracted to oversee all misdemeanor probation for Smith County from 1999 until April of this year. The county ended its contract relationship with them and established its own probation department to directly oversee misdemeanor probation services at the April County Commission meeting and no longer uses a private company for probation services.

Smith County Misdemeanor Probation operated under a user-funded probation model, so their revenue was from the fees and surcharges paid by the probationers they supervised.

Two separate defendants have filed lawsuits with similar allegations. In one case, Lynn Walker alleges that she had to walk ten miles each way to attend her weekly probation meetings after being denied a request for an accommodation to have bi-weekly meetings. She also alleges she was forced to extend her supervised probation “under the threat of imprisonment” for nonpayment of court costs even though only “willful nonpayment can constitute a violation of probation” in the state of Tennessee. Walker was later incarcerated for a total of 94 days during the extended probation. In January 2020, General Sessions Judge Branden Bellar dismissed all charges against her and found that Smith County Misdemeanor Probation’s probation extension was illegal.

In the other lawsuit, Christopher Beale alleges that he could not make payments due to having no money on multiple occasions, was threatened with a violation of probation warrant without legal counsel or appearing before a judge. Under these threats, he signed a probation extension already pre-signed by the General Sessions Judge Michael Collins. Probation officer Jenna Meness is alleged to have then held the extension without filing it to continue to use it to threaten Beale. Beale was also incarcerated for three months during the probation extension.

Another allegation, in addition to the threats of imprisonment and forced extension of probation that led to more fees for Smith County Misdemeanor Probation, is that they were provided with stacks of blank, pre-signed violation of probation warrants from the General Sessions Judge. This allowed the probation company to execute arrest warrants and incarcerate probationers without a judge determining whether probable cause existed for the arrest. While the lawsuit does not name the General Sessions Judge, the timeframe for the actions would have fallen under previous General Sessions Judge Michael Collins.

Both lawsuits state the “extortion scheme constitutes a systemic violation of constitutional rights calculated to generate profits for the company and provide the payment of court debts to the County.”

Kemp appointed to fill vacant Road Superintendent Seat

Micheal Kemp – Smith County Road Superintendent

On Monday night, August 9, the Smith County Commission appointed Michael Kemp as the new Smith County Road Superintendent. This appointment comes after the resignation of former Superintendent, Steve Coble in April.

Two individuals were nominated for the position at the July County Commission Meeting, Butch Shores and Michael Kemp. In July, the Commission asked each candidate a series of questions about their qualifications for the job.

Monday night, Michael Kemp received 16 votes from the Commission and Butch Shores received 5 votes.

Kemp will serve as the Road Superintendent until the next election, which is scheduled for August 2022.

Watch the full August County Commission Meeting below:

August 2021 Meeting of the Smith County Commission

The Smith County Commission held its July meeting on the evening of Monday, August 9th, 2021. You may see a copy of the agenda here.

You can watch the full meeting below.

Thanks to Powell & Meadows Insurance Agency for sponsoring the live broadcast of this meeting.

Subscribe to Smith County Insider’s YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on meeting coverage, business spotlights, video features, and more!

The Smith County Board of Commissioners meets on the second Monday of every month except December.

Typically, commission meetings are held in the General Sessions Courtroom of the Smith County Jail and Courts Facility, located at 322 Justice Drive in Carthage. During the July 2020 Meeting of the Smith County Commission, commissioners voted to hold all meetings at the Smith County Ag Center until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

All meetings are open to the public and are streamed live at https://www.facebook.com/smithcountyinsider/.

August 2021 Meeting of the Gordonsville City Council

The Gordonsville City Council held its monthly meeting on Monday August 9th, 2021.

You can watch the full council meeting below.

Subscribe to Smith County Insider’s YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on meeting coverage, business spotlights, video features, and more!

The Gordonsville City Council meets at 6:15 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Gordonsville City Hall, located at 63 Main Street in Gordonsville.

All meetings are open to the public and streamed live at https://www.facebook.com/smithcountyinsider/.

August 2021 Meeting of The Carthage City Council

The Carthage City Council held its monthly meeting on Thursday, August 5th, 2021, at 6:00 pm.

Several items were discussed. Watch the full meeting below.

Thanks to Smith County Animal Clinic for sponsoring Smith County Insider’s live broadcast of this meeting.

Subscribe to Smith County Insider’s YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on meeting coverage, business spotlights, video features, and more!

The Carthage City Council meets at 6:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at Carthage City Hall, located at 314 Spring Street in Carthage, Tennessee – 37030.

All meetings are open to the public and streamed live at https://www.facebook.com/smithcountyinsider/.

Smith County Democratic Party to Elect New Leaders at Reorganization Convention

The Smith County Democratic Party will hold its Biennial Reorganization Convention to elect new leaders on Saturday, August 21, 2021. The meeting will take place at Nobel’s Restaurant in  downtown Carthage.  Doors open for registration at  9:30 a.m. The business session will begin at 10:00 a.m.

A Zoom option will be available for those who cannot attend in person. Masks will be required of all attendees. Social distancing will be practiced.

Local Democrats will elect a Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Executive Committee members from all areas of the county for a two-year term. All Democrats who are registered voters of Smith County are urged to attend to discuss the party’s agenda and events for 2021-2022. Attendees should arrive early to complete credentialing forms and be admitted to the convention prior to 10:00 a.m., when the convention will begin.

For more information or to request Zoom attendance, email smithcodemocrats@gmail.com.

Lee, TDEC Announce $605,000 in Loans for Carthage Water Improvements

Gov. Bill Lee and Commissioner David Salyers of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) today announced two loans totaling $605,000 for the Town of Carthage to improve water infrastructure.

The loans are among eight approved by the Tennessee Local Development Authority, with a loan for the City of Waverly for $580,000, a loan for the City of White House for $8 million, two loans totaling $70,000 for the Town of Alexandria, and two loans totaling over $6.4 million for the City of Westmoreland, making the overall total loans announced today $15.7 million.

“We are committed to supporting infrastructure development and improvement across our state, and we’re excited to see how Tennesseans benefit from this investment,” Lee said. “We are proud to partner with local communities to modernize our water infrastructure.”

“Every community in Tennessee deserves a dependable water system,” Salyers said. “The State Revolving Fund Loan Program works in a way to make improvements affordable to communities needing the assistance, with a positive result for our environment.”

A loan for the Town of Carthage for $470,000 comes from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program and will address infiltration and inflow correction within the wastewater collection system. The loan has a five-year term at 0.18 percent interest.  The Town of Carthage received $235,000 in principal forgiveness with the remainder of the loan amount to be paid back as principal. The loan is associated with the State Revolving Fund Loan Program’s Priority Projects to develop a holistic water infiltration and inflow reduction plan based on the collection system investigative study to outline innovative and resilient practices.

TDEC is exploring such priority projects through the State Revolving Fund loan process to promote community leadership and development of shared solutions to significant water infrastructure challenges. Those communities will receive principal forgiveness, in part, from their in-kind work monitoring project outcomes and sharing the information for the benefit of others. The effort will support TDEC’s mission to enhance the quality of life for citizens of Tennessee and to be stewards of the environment.

The Town of Carthage will also receive a $135,000 loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program. It will address improvements to the water distribution system. The loan has a 20-year term at 0.86 percent interest. Carthage received $27,000 in principal forgiveness with the remainder of the loan amount to be paid back as principal.

Through the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, communities, utility districts, and water and wastewater authorities can obtain loans with lower interest rates than through private financing. These low interest rate loans can vary from zero percent to below market rate, based on each community’s economic health.

The eight loans announced today begin the fiscal year with $155,000 awarded in drinking water loans and $15,587,000 in clean water loans. In fiscal year 2021, TDEC awarded $7,171,000 in drinking water loans and $77,568,000 in clean water loans for a total of $84,739,000.

Tennessee’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $2 billion in low-interest loans since its inception in 1987. The state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program has awarded more than $300 million in low-interest loans since its inception in 1996.

July 2021 Meeting of the Smith County Board of Education

The Smith County Board of Education met at 5:00 p.m. on July 21 2021.

You can watch the full meeting below.

Thanks to Judy Smith and Lacey Crockett of Blackwell Realty for sponsoring the live broadcast of this meeting.

Subscribe to Smith County Insider’s YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on meeting coverage, business spotlights, video features, and more!

The Smith County School Board meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 5:00 p.m. at the Smith County Board of Education, located at 126 Smith County Middle School Lane in Carthage, Tennessee.

All meetings are open to the public and streamed live at https://www.facebook.com/smithcountyinsider/.

Press Release: Representative John Rose Appointed to Task Force on Jobs and Economy

by John Rose, U.S. Representative – Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District

U.S. Representative John Rose (R-TN) has been appointed to serve on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) Task Force on Jobs and the Economy. The task force will lead a pro-growth agenda to boost our economy and ensure that all hardworking Americans experience economic prosperity.

“I am on this Task Force with a focus on rolling back federal regulations that put unnecessary burdens on Tennesseans,” said Representative Rose. “As Republicans, we must be vigilant in the fight to propel America forward by developing ready solutions. That’s what this Task Force is about: being prepared to take action.”

Led by Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC), this task force is a coalition of Republican Members of Congress committed to developing clear steps toward rebuilding what many consider to be the greatest economy of all time before the pandemic hit by taking steps to roll back burdensome regulations while prioritizing American workers and encouraging economic freedom in the marketplace.

A full list of Republican Task Forces and membership lists can be accessed here

U.S. Representative John Rose is currently serving his second term representing Tennessee’s Sixth Congressional District and resides in Cookeville with his wife, Chelsea, and their two sons, Guy and Sam. The Sixth District includes Cannon, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, White, and Wilson counties as well as portions of Cheatham and Van Buren counties. Representative Rose is an eighth-generation farmer, small business owner, and attorney, and currently serves on the Financial Services Committee.