Local News

MTEMC Changes Rate Structure To Help Members In Wake of TVA Rate Hike

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Thursday
As electric consumers face a hefty rate increase from TVA Middle Tennessee Electric’s Board of Directors has approved a change to help lower the bills of most its members especially helping those who consume less electricity. “When TVA recently announced its largest rate increase in 30 years ” MTEMC President Frank Jennings said “we felt compelled to look at ways to help our members.” Last month TVA announced a rate hike that mean an average 15-percent increase for bill payers. “What we’ve done in response is to ‘flatten’ our residential rate structure ” Jennings said. “For about the past decade we’ve had a declining block rate. For now though we believe a flat rate is the best option for our membership.” The “declining block rate” is characterized by a higher charge for the first 800 kilowatt-hours consumed during a billing period and a lower rate for usage above that. About half of Tennessee’s electric distributors have a flat rate with the other half featuring a declining block rate. MTEMC’s Board of Directors approved the move to the flat rate in a recent special called meeting. It goes into effect at the same time TVA’s rate increase goes into effect – at the start of October. As a result about 60 percent of MTEMC’s residential members will see a slightly smaller increase than had been originally thought. According to Chris Jones MTEMC vice president of marketing and communications the rate increase could be more like an 10-percent increase rather than a 15-percent increase. “On average an MTEMC residential member uses about 1 500 kilowatt-hours a month ” Jones said. “For that average user the rate increase will end up at about 14 percent instead of 15 percent. For the member who uses 1 000 kilowatt-hours a month the rate increase will be closer to 10 percent rather than 15 percent.” For members using more electricity however the rate increase will be steeper. “By flattening the rate structure the break even point will be 1 725 kilowatt-hours per month ” Jones said. “At that amount whether on the old rate or the new rate it would be a 15-percent increase. But as you move beyond that usage level on the flat rate the increase goes beyond 15 percent. For example members who use 2 000 kilowatt-hours a month will see closer to a 17-percent increase.” Jennings said he hopes the rate change will also be a further call for conservation among the members of the electric cooperative. “We have always preached efficiency and conservation ” he said. “The vast majority of our marketing dollars go to promoting those ideas and that’s been the case for years. Now I think this rate structure change is another positive step toward encouraging the wise use of electricity. With every kilowatt-hour priced identically we’ve given our members greater control over managing their costs and greater incentive to manage their usage.”

Not All Cannon Seniors And Veterans Have Filed For Economic Stimulus

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Wednesday
Not all Cannon county residents who receive Social Security Administration and/or Veterans Administration benefits and thus are eligible to receive an economic stimulus have applied for the payment U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon announced. “Many seniors and veterans have no tax liability with the IRS and are not usually required to file an income tax return ” said Gordon. “But they are still eligible to receive economic stimulus payments from the IRS if they file Form 1040A by October 15.” As of September 7th 191 or 13.3 percent of all Cannon residents drawing SSA and/or VA benefits have not filed the necessary paperwork to receive their stimulus payments. Most SSA and VA monthly benefits provide a yearly income that is below the taxable level but the paperwork filled out by sending in a tax return is what allows the IRS to process a stimulus check. Almost all of these beneficiaries are eligible to receive a minimum of $300. Married beneficiaries filing joint tax returns are generally eligible for at least $600. “Anyone who is receiving Social Security or VA benefits should take advantage of this opportunity to ease the burden of rising food and energy costs ” Gordon said. “If you know a senior or veteran in Cannon county who has not filed for economic stimulus please encourage him or her to file a tax return.” For more information on the economic stimulus payments contact the IRS at www.irs.gov or 1-866-234-2942 or contact Gordon’s Murfreesboro district office at 615-896-1986.

Tennessee’s Education Leaders Hone Skills at 7th LEAD Conference

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Wednesday
Education leaders from Cannon County are gathering with others from across the state in Nashville this week for the 7th Annual Education Leadership Conference. “The LEAD conference is an opportunity for Tennessee’s education leaders to learn from each other and respected colleagues from across the country ” Education Commissioner Timothy Webb said. “To practice excellence in education it is important to stay abreast of how best to help students reach their academic potential.” The conference focuses on improving student learning through leadership assessment instruction and support systems. Professional development sessions include increasing parent involvement an overview of Tennessee’s redesign of education leader preparation creating a safe and supportive school environment and developing leadership skills beyond curriculum and data. The LEAD conference is atraining and networking event for district supervisors principals and other instructional leaders from public and private schools. The conference focuses on how to grow as an education leader by cultivating the many roles of being a successful and effective leader.

Busy Day For General Sessions Court

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Tuesday
The details surrounding the discovery of explosive components on Colonial Street were delivered to General Sessions Judge Susan Melton on Tuesday. Attorney’s for the State of Tennessee and Jeffrey Travis appeared for a preliminary hearing to determine whether the cases should be bound over to the Grand Jury. Travis was arrested this summer and charged with possession of prohibited weapons illegal possession of a firearm and reckless endangerment after agents from the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Unit and members of the Woodbury Police Department searched his home. The only witness for the State was Bomb and Arson Investigator Greg Whitaker. Whitaker told the Court that he received a call to come to Woodbury from his headquarters about the possibility of explosives being at the Colonial Street home. He said that upon arriving he made contact with Travis and was given permission to search his home and vehicle. Upon searching Travis’ vehicle Whitaker found fireworks and some fuses. Whitaker then searched the home where he found a glass container filled with one part mineral oil and one part Thallium. Thallium is a homemade rat poison that is primarily used for agricultural purposes. He also discovered numerous containers filled with unknown chemicals over 1 200 feet of fuses and aluminum sulfate and black powder explosive. Officers also discovered a pistol and Travis could not produce a carry permit. Whitaker said that all the unknown chemicals were loaded into 55 gallon drums and driven to the Vulcan Rock Quarry in Readyville. Agents then blew up the materials due to the fact that their precise compositions could not be determined. On cross-examination Travis’ attorney Gilbert Anglin questioned Whitaker extensively about the chemicals. Anglin focused primarily on the fact that none of the discovered substances had been tested and no one knew what they actually were. Whitaker said that currently Tennessee cannot perform tests on potential explosives due to safety issues and that the ability would soon be available. Anglin then questioned Whitaker about the Thallium. Whitaker said that it has been illegal to possess Thallium since 1975 but Anglin argued it was not. Whitaker also said that upon interviewing Travis initially he told agents that the Thallium could explode if it made contact with the air or heat. At the conclusion of Whitacres testimony Anglin asked Judge Melton to dismiss the charges. He said the absence of any real evidence that Travis actually possessed explosives required that the case be dismissed. He said that no tests were performed and that the Thallium was not illegal to posses and the fact that agents discovered various chemicals that might be combined to make an explosive throughout the home did not mean that Travis intended to posses an explosive as defined in the law. Anglin also said Travis had a handgun permit but just didn’t have it with him. Assistant District Attorney David Puckett argued that all the items combined did equal an explosive and that the cases should be bound over. He said that just like in a methamphetamine lab all the components may be legal but the result of those products combined is highly dangerous and illegal to possess. Judge Melton bound the reckless endangerment and illegal firearm possession counts over to the January Term of the Cannon County Grand Jury but dismissed the prohibited weapons charge for lack of probable cause. In other business before the Court: Ross H. Stiver was bound over to the January term of the Cannon County Grand Jury. He is charged with assault driving under the influence and violation of the implied consent law. Ronald Bedwell pled guilty to the charge of driving under the influence 2nd offense. He was sentenced to 11 months 29 days in the county jail. That sentence was partially suspended upon an equal amount of time on probation serving 60 days in jail paying a $600.00 fine paying the court costs and losing his driver’s license for 2 years. In another case Bedwell pled guilty to the charge of driving on a revoked license 3rd offense. He was sentenced to 11 months 29 days in the county jail. That sentence was partially suspended upon an equal amount of time on probation serving 45 days in jail paying a $50.00 fine and the court costs. He will also lose his license for an additional 2 years. Bedwell also pled guilty to the charge of evading arrest. He was sentenced to 6 months in the county jail. That sentence was suspended upon an equal amount of time on supervised probation and paying the court costs. Patrick D. Smith pled guilty to the charge of simple possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to 11 months 29 days in the county jail. That sentence was suspended upon an equal amount of time on probation paying the court costs and paying a $250.00 fine. Jeffrey Tomlin pled guilty to the charge of driving under the influence 2nd offense. He was sentenced to 11 months 29 days in the county jail. That sentence was partially suspended upon an equal amount of time on probation serving 45 days in jail paying a $600.00 fine and paying the court costs. He will also lose his license for 2 years. In another case Tomlin pled guilty to the charge of driving while license revoked 2nd offense. He was sentenced to 11 months 29 days in the county jail. That sentence was partially suspended upon an equal amount of time on probation serving 45 days in jail paying a $50.00 fine and paying the court costs. He will lose his driver’s license for an additional 2 years. Dustin St. John pled guilty to the charge of violation of probation. His probation was revoked and he was ordered to serve his entire sentence. In another case St. John pled guilty to the charge of driving under the influence. He was sentenced to 11 months 29 days in jail and ordered to serve his entire sentence. He will also lose his driver’s license for 1 year. Cameron Davis pled guilty to the charge of reckless driving. He was sentenced to 6 months in the county jail. That sentence was suspended upon an equal amount of time on probation paying a $50.00 fine and the court costs. Ruth Chascsa pled guilty to the charge of simple possession of marijuana. She was sentenced to 11 months 29 days in the county jail. That sentence was suspended upon an equal amount of time on probation paying the court costs and paying a $250.00 fine.

United Way Kickoff Breakfast Thursday Morning!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Tuesday
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Business owners and managers in Cannon County will have an opportunity to learn more about United Way with their breakfast on Thursday September 25th. “Contributions from businesses and their staff members have always been an important part of the United Way effort ” according to Brian Hercules this year’s Campaign Chairman for United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. “Each business is different and the campaigns often times reflect the creativity and energy for that business.” During the kickoff breakfast business owners will have the opportunity to learn more about United Way and how the organization works with its members. Several local groups who are partners of United Way will be on hand to explain how they have been improving their daily services because they are United Way agencies. The breakfast meeting hours are from 6:30am – 8:30am on Thursday September 25th. The location will be at the Cannon County Senior Center on Lehman Street. The goal of the meeting will be to provide breakfast and a primer on United Way. According to Hercules “We only need about 30 minutes of your time. After a quick review of the United Way story most businesses know they want to work with us in some fashion.” The United Way of Rutherford and Cannon County provides assistance to 29 different groups and agencies that provide services to Cannon County residents. Many of the agencies that will be in attendance for the kickoff breakfast will include; Cannon County Senior Center Cannon County REACH Cannon County 4-H UCHRA Nutrition Program Domestic Violence Red Cross and Child Advocacy Center. Business owners or managers needing additional information about United Way can contact Holly at United Way at 893.7303 ext. 103. www.uwcannon.org

Cannon Among Counties On List Requesting Agricultural Disaster Designation

Monday, 22 September 2008

Monday
Governor Phil Bredesen today requested a federal designation of agricultural disaster for 28 counties in Tennessee to help farmers who have suffered crop and livestock losses as a result of persistent drought conditions. A designation from USDA would allow qualifying farmers to receive federal farm disaster assistance that could help them manage losses and plan for next year. Bredesen made the request in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. “Farmers in these areas have suffered two and sometimes three years in a row of difficult growing seasons due to lingering drought conditions ” said Bredesen. “Anytime you have this kind of long term impact to agriculture it makes it doubly hard for farmers to keep farming and make ends meet. We want to ensure that our state’s farmers have access to any assistance that will help them manage through this agricultural disaster.” In Middle Tennessee the counties include: Cannon Coffee Fentress Franklin Grundy Overton Pickett and Warren. Farmers in these counties have reported crop losses as much as 35 to 70 percent due to below normal rainfall low water levels and a cumulative rainfall deficit that has carried over from last year. In some areas of the state the rainfall deficit for the year is 12 inches or more and portions of East Tennessee remain under extreme drought conditions. The lack of rainfall has affected major crops including corn soybeans tobacco and hay as well as some nursery and fruit and vegetable crops. Although early season hay production was much improved from last year agriculture officials are expecting late season hay production to be significantly reduced. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service last week rated nearly three-fourths of the state’s pastures as in very poor to fair condition. According to state Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens other counties are expected to request federal agricultural assistance in the coming days as the full extent of this year’s drought is realized during harvest season. “Although this year’s drought is not as widespread as last year and crop production has been favorable in some areas we know that many farmers are struggling from persistent drought conditions ” said Givens. “We expect that other counties will likely qualify for an agricultural disaster designation and we’re prepared to work with our federal partners to make sure that Tennessee farmers have access to federal assistance.” Once a county is approved eligible farmers can apply for a variety of federal farm disaster programs including supplemental farm revenue payments livestock assistance and low-interest emergency loans through their local USDA Farm Service Agency office. For livestock producers needing to buy or looking to sell hay the Department of Agriculture and Tennessee Farm Bureau cooperatively manage the Tennessee Hay Directory. A listing of local and out-of-state sources of hay can be found online at www.picktnproducts.org.

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