Friday, August 22, 2014

Tennessean article

This is the article that made me ask my wife if she could do the presentation. This is the Tennessean newspaper and is about Tennessee towns doing this...just not here in Smyrna.
Councilmen in Portland, where chickens are allowed, discussed the issue in late July after more residents have requested having them. 
“I don’t think the government should say, ‘You can’t have something that provides food for your family,’ ” Bitterling said. “We live on one income, and we just stretch it. We don’t take help from the government. If more people can provide for themselves, they can care for themselves instead of the government taking care for them.” 
That’s how Zach and Mandy Hudson feel, but their city of Goodlettsville does not allow backyard chickens in most of its residential areas.

How to fight the good fight

Is a lost cause worth fighting? I ask that not in a hypothetical manner, but due to my dear wife. She’s taking a speech class this semester for her degree, but it will be in Nashville. I was bummed as I was hoping she could do a presentation for her class for me.

I’m a person that wants backyard chickens. You likely have seen one of my random links to articles on the subject. I figure if a neighbor can have 6 dogs, than why can’t I have the same number, or slightly more, chickens? If treated equally under the law in questions of hygiene, noise, running loose, etc, then the comparison seems legitimate.  I understand, although I don’t agree with their final viewpoint, of what makes a good town.  There are things that would make us look like a redneck villa from hell, but this is not one of them. A simple view of Google news shows the large amount of people that wish this.

I’m one of them.

A last gasp effort might be to address the planning commission. They are quick to ask for changes or regulations. That in itself isn’t bad if not too quick. I remember a company was simply looking at putting an indoor shooting range in town and they were talking about the need for regulation. Just the idea of a company in town without more regulations made them jump. I’ve also seen planning send suggested changes in codes to the council that ‘Stepford’ them right into the codes.

I asked my wife if she could address the council or planning commission and give them a petition. I have one we did in 2009, but it was sidelined by life, but this would be a new one that people could sign online and would be easier to find.

My wife looked at me and stated “you know this is a lost cause?” Sadly I rather do know that, but in life are some lost causes worth pushing for? The council seems rather unified in their views. Just look at the level of debates on the hot topics like replacement council members and such. They also have a certain ‘white bread’ view for Smyrna. A true Stepford Wives situation.

So is it worth getting together a petition, writing out our views, addressing the council or planning commission, and then being told that while other communities larger and smaller do it, that Smyrna just cannot see it happening here…white bread?

In a way it is rather bothersome that such a view exists. I’m a pessimist, but my wife isn’t, and when she says it is a lost cause, what does that say about our town council or how community issues are addressed?


Friday, May 23, 2014

Smyrna Information MGAG





This is an update on the lawsuit that was mentioned previously here. I like outreach attempts like this from the town government.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Temple Open House

This sounds like a fun trip that could be educational and enlightenning. A local Laotian Temple will be having an open house for those interested. I love occasions like this for their educational purposes. Most people do not know that Smyrna has a small Mosque just off of the downtown area. I went to their open house and it was pretty cool, plus they fed us some SPICY food from South East Asia. Did I mention spicy? This sounds like a fun chance to be exposed to something new. have fun.
MURFREESBORO – The Laotian Wat Buddharam Temple will hold an open house beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 
The temple, located at 5214 Old Nashville Highway, will feature programs and performances. No admission is charged and the public is invited.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Watch it tonight

The Smyrna Town Council is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. tonight. You can view it in person or you can watch it on local cable channel 3. there is also a streaming option that is normally buffer free through the towns website. supposedly the group that is against the closing of the towns fitness center will address the council.

What is making me enjoy this is not the fact that people are going to be speaking against this action, but the fact that they are going to be speaking. People talk about the apathy is communities and it is rather nice to see such a quick organization of such an action group to a cause. I wish them luck and hope the individuals stay active in the political realm.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fitness Center Closure

The town government has decided to close down permanently the fitness center at the Town Centre. Consider me shocked. This is a real cut that is based upon the truth that it did serve a purpose at one time, but it now is time for it to be let go. This might be just the first of many such surprises.

Town of Smyrna - Fitness Center Closure
The administration of the Town of Smyrna is tasked with continually analyzing the different departments of the local government in order to seek out new and innovative means to ensure the most cost effective services. As part of this evaluation, the administration has determined that with the growth of private sector athletic gyms and other non-profit community workout centers, the Fitness Center located in the east wing of the Smyrna Town Centre is no longer advantageous for the Town to operate. 
The decision to close the Town operated Fitness Center has not been without diligent deliberation. When the Fitness Center was opened to the public in 1990, the Town provided a workout center to promote health and fitness to the area residents who did not possess a valid alternative as it relates to a health and fitness facility. The successful economic growth of the Smyrna community since that time has spawned new facilities owned and operated by the private sector, as well as fitness centers operated by popular non-profit organizations. The citizens of our community now have several options for their athletic activities and the need for the current Smyrna Fitness Center has come to an end. 
The Fitness Center will officially close on June 30, 2014 and those patrons who have purchased memberships past the closure date will receive a pro rata refund for the term remaining with their membership. Smyrna will continue to operate the pool located at the Smyrna Town Centre and citizens can expect the hours of its operation to remain similar to the previous years. The Town Manager is forming an advisory committee to explore the best use of the facility space going forward. This committee will research the community need for specific uses that will inspire economic growth or that will provide the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. As with any service or facility closure, this change will affect several of our Town employees. The Town is proud of the manner in which each employee has served the citizens professionally and courteously.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jobs!

I understand that it is in vogue to dislike Yates because they do much of the temp work for Nissan, but a job is a job, and they are a hiring.

 Yates Services is looking for employees to fill long-term, full-time off shift positions at the Nissan Vehicle Manufacturing Plant in Smyrna, the employment management firm announced.
The article lists what the openings are, and what skills might be needed. Also the contact info. If you're looking for a job, this might be for you.

Also, they offer benefits.
Benefits include 14 paid holidays and up to three weeks of paid vacation based on length of service. Educational assistance is available to main line production and maintenance associates after two years of continuous employment.
Full benefits package includes BC/BS health plans, dental, vision, life insurance, AD&D first of month after 60 days and 401(k) Plan after one full year of service.
Cool!

Another Easter


Easter


Thursday, April 3, 2014

For the Holidays

Plan early to get ahead of the problem. The good people at the Smyrna Heart of Giving group are already hard at work to make Christmas fun for the kids of Smyrna.

Smyrna Heart of Giving is planning ahead for our 2nd annual Christmas toy giveaway, to help local families in need. To make that happen, we are asking for donations of items for our fundraiser yard sale we will be holding in May. If you have any items to donate, please contact us!

If you have some items that you feel would help them please drop by their FaceBook page and get the details on how to help them in their endeavors.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

HOW MUCH!!!!!

The agenda item is just one sentence. Two if you count the "First reading" as a sentence. This was on the March 11th Town Council of Smyrna meeting and for a one sentence item, it sure is costly.

e. Consideration of an ordinance to amend Ordinance No. 13-10, adopting the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year Budget relative to mixed drink tax debt and in lieu of tax revenue. First Reading. 

It all goes back when Smyrna started to allow mixed drinks and the mixed drink tax came into play. Money!!! Yes a good chunk of pocket change went to the state coffers, and some was even returned to the local community.

But that is where it stopped flowing, and it shouldn't have.

The tax law that you and I have to follow to the letter, also needs to be followed to the letter by the local community. Smyrna it seems was a bit late in moving the money as it should have been moved. After the state took their 50%, the other 50% was to go to the communities educational system if it had one....if it didn't, than it could keep half of it, and send the rest to the county school system.

The whole part about the "if it didn't" phrase slipped through the cracks...for almost a decade. Why it took this long looks bad, why the school system never asked where their cut was also looks bad, so there is a lot of badness here.

In 2011 this error was noticed and the town government started to pay regularly, but they had to figure out what was owed. Now Smyrna is not the sole town with this problem. 
Cities across Tennessee need to start paying school districts millions of dollars in unpaid mixed-drink taxes, the state attorney general says. 
Chattanooga school officials say the opinion released this week by Attorney General Robert Cooper means local officials must pay the $11 million-plus that is owed to Hamilton County Schools and can’t negotiate a lesser settlement or use land to offset the debt. 
“It’s wonderful news. It’s the best news since Santa Claus,” said school board member David Testerman. “Our school system is in desperate need of funds.”
11 million. OUCH!

Now it has been two years since this issue was noticed, and I'm not sure why it took this long to get around to fixing it, maybe the opinion from the state attorney general was the deciding factor, but Smyrna had a first reading to pay it off in one lump sum.

A humble $548,000 and the issue will be solved. A solid half million. 

OUCH!

This in connection with the tax increase of last year would make anyone unhappy. Luckily the town was getting a large sum for the construction of the Nissan Battery plant, and they are redirecting it to cover the cost of this decade long error.

Here is something to think about. If you and I were a decade or so late on taxes, even if we paid it, I would feel a fine occurring in my future. Thank goodness the town was not paying a tax, but supposedly moving it from one account to another. This means only that what is owed, in a painful lump sum, is the money we received slowly over time. There is no extra payments or fines, so Smyrna breaks even. 

The other item to know is that the school system will be spending that money on renovations to the Smyrna Primary School, so it will stay local. It is good for the town government to be able to say that no extra funds were touched, the money will stay local, and that they will be staying current now that this issue is known about.

One thing to note. In a letter from Mayor Mary Esther Reed, she stated that...

The auditors that service numerous city's throughout Tennessee discovered a provision related to a tax on liquor by the drink that several municipalities were unaware of.
......
The auditors had not discovered this tax provision until last year and in order to remedy any shortage of amounts owed to the school system

If these are the same auditors that checked up on us for the 2002-2011 period, I would ask why this was not noticed before a decade passed. That is a very good question.

$548,000 seems like a lot, and it is, and this could have ended much worse than it did, but it ended on an even note. That we can all be thankful for.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Career Fair TOMORROW!

A career fair will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) for those interested here in Smyrna.
Tennessee and Rutherford County continue to see unemployment rates fall from the heights of the Great Recession. 
Motlow College’s Smyrna Center wants to tap into that growth by holding its inaugural Career Fair from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday at 5002 Motlow College Blvd., in Smyrna. The event is sponsored by the Smyrna Center in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
This looks like it would be a good place to hunt for a job. Make plans on being there.

Should it be making that sound?

A local church is hosting a car maintenance workshop for women ages 16 and up.

This is an event being held at the Lifepoint Stewarts Creek Campus on Saturday March 29th from 9am - 11am.
For all women, ages 16 and up. Think of young drivers, college girls, women of all ages. Childcare provided up to 5th grade.
It is a Car Care Maintenance Workshop. There will be car care technicians teaching women about how to check their oil, tire pressure, change a tire.
Games played. Prizes be won.
Registration at lifepointchurch.org/women

click to enlarge



Monday, March 24, 2014

Sorry

I need to extend an apology to readers Tracy Warrick and Chasity Ridgeway. I ask for our readers to submit events and happenings around town so I can post them. The last two months I have had to put on the sidelines several things I normally did faithfully and in the midst of life updating This is Smyrna ended up lost. I'd remember ever once in a while when I saw an interesting event or something, but checking emails I saved to post at a later date was forgotten. Because of this two good events did not get posted and I am so sorry.

Things are getting better so I will be able to put into the community and the community site the needed time.

BLOOD DRIVE!!

H&R Block on Sam Ridley is helping host a blood drive and we should thank This is Smyrna reader April Sullivan McArdle for bringing this to my attention.

Hi there! Well be hosting an American Red Cross blood drive at 439 Sam Ridley on April 1st between 2-6 pm. Folks can sign up by calling office number is 220-1912

Blood drives like this are real life savers.

Tennessee Healthcare bus

Respectful commentary only please 
The Tennessee Healthcare bus is in town today and Wednesday for those local who wish to get assistance.

The Tennessee Healthcare bus will be making several stops in Rutherford County before the March 31st deadline to sign-up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. 

Here are the times they will be in Smyrna and other nearby locals.

Monday, March 24, 2014
439 Sam Ridley Parkway, Smryna (11AM-1PM
Shoppes of Rutherford (2955 S. Rutherford Blvd., Murfreesboro) 4-6PM

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Smyrna Shopping Center (291 N Lowry St., Smyrna) 11AM-1PM
Jackson Heights Plaza (800 NW Broad St., Suite 264, Murfreesboro) 4-6PM

Thursday, March 27, 2014
Stones River Mall (207A Stones River Mall Blvd., Murfreesboro) Noon-2PM

Friday, March 28, 2014
Georgetown Square Shop Center (1772 W Northfield Blvd., Murfreesboro) 11AM-1PM
Innesbrooke Square (2910-D Church St., Murfreesboro) 4-6PM

Friday, March 7, 2014

Other departments

My last post on the issue of the golf course went over like a lead balloon. People commenting on the blog site itself were very vocal, and long winded on their individual views on the subject (take some time and read the comments...they're real good). I had hoped that my column for the week in the Smyrna AM, and its sister column on the ‘This is Smyrna’ pages would give people a different view and some material to think about.

I hope that idea was not a mistake.

The economy sucks. The numbers nation-wide do not look good, and people are sensitive to who (whom?) is taking their money and for what reason. I can understand that. On the issue of the golf course I have heard some rather extreme views about why it is bad, and some reasons why it is good for the community…but mostly bad. I thought, and still do, that the golf course is a minor issue and there might be other issues that need addressing.

In that line of thought I will be doing some irregular posts on different departments of the town of Smyrna. I will compare what was spent several years ago, and what is being spent now. I might even try to compare them to Murfreesboro to give you an idea what a town of 110,000 spends when compared to our town of 40,000 plus. Maybe a more detailed picture is needed for all, and I do include myself here.

I’m not sure what department I will start with, but bear with me people. I hope to learn some stuff in the next few weeks. Maybe the future is not as bleak as it seems.

I might even email some council members to drop by and comment. Our council has not achieved the online presence that the individuals in the LaVergne government has attained. Yes they have FB pages, but engaging on forums is not their strong suit.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

looking at the golf course

My column this week, to be found in the Smyrna AM at the end of your drive, is about the Smyrna golf course. It just so happens that the golf course and the Town Centre is the subject of FOX 17 Waste Watch.

The Waste Watch video is alright, but they do perform a little sleight of hand trick and throw big numbers out by adding up several years of budgeting. It is good to get a whole view of the subject, but it does make an issue more monstrous for the viewer.

The problem is that I’m not sure how much a problem it really is. I understand it loses money. I suspect that the town baseball diamonds, and soccer fields also do not make enough to cover the cost of running them in tip-top condition. Do we look at the town greenways and wonder if we should make them the first ‘toll’ walkways in Tennessee? I see little $.05 automated security bars scattered about that will not rise unless you drop in a nickel.

Right now a lot of people are suffering tunnel vision as the budget season approaches, and due to that nothing looks more horrible than the golf course. It is an easy target.  As the town manager said in the video “The town manager also points out the city gives breaks to civic groups, non profits, and military members at the town centre and doesn't charge school teams and other kid organizations to use the golf course.    He says they'd all be priced out of private facilities.”

I’ll admit that if Smyrna had another golf course my tune would be different. I would view it as unfair competition against a private business…but we don’t. Because of the lower prices we can have at the golf course many activities that would be prohibited due to cost at other sites.

One item that the Waste Watch did not do, that is a GIANT oversight in my opinion. The Waste Watch people did have a balance of views on, but they did not show a balance of prices. It would have been simple to find out the prices of a round of weekend golf at the Hollingshead run golf course for a mid week and a week end and compare the prices side by side.

So I went and checked out the prices and compared them for you.

Weekday rates
18 Holes (walking)
$26 Cedar Crest Golf Course
$25 Smyrna Golf course ($25 Green Fee)
18 Holes plus golf cart
$34 Cedar Crest Golf Course
$37 Smyrna Golf Course ($25 Green Fee/$12 Cart Fee)

During a weekday trip Smyrna has a dollar savings if you walk, but the rental of the golf cart puts Cedar Quest slightly ahead with a 3 dollar savings.

Weekend rates
18 Holes (walking)
$32 Cedar Crest Golf Course
$28 Smyrna Golf Course ($28 Green Fee)
18 Holes plus golf cart
$40 Cedar Crest Golf Course
$40 Smyrna Golf Course ($28 Green Fee/$12 Cart Fee)

Smyrna seems the place to go if you wish to stretch your legs as you save $4 for 18 holes. The prices are the same for ones that need carts.

I did not take the time to break down the discounts offered by Smyrna to seniors and it “doesn't charge school teams and other kid organizations”. I have to admit that I had a niece on one such kid organization and she enjoyed it greatly, and likely would not have been able to participate if the prices were higher. I actually just remembered that fact as I was writing this column.

So what does the prices between a public funded and a public golf course say. Not sure. No one price blows the other out of the water, so unless you plan on running up prices, you have to make big cuts elsewhere.


The golf course issue is NOT going away, but the answers are not easily to see. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Press release

I'm proud and happy to assist all candidates in their efforts to take part in a free election. Here is the first press release directed towards us this year. I wish good luck to all the candidates.


PRESS RELEASE 
Feb. 8, 2014
Judge Barnes Seeks Re-Election to Lead Smyrna Court
Keta J. Barnes formally announced her bid for re-election as judge for the Town of Smyrna, thanking those who have supported her judicial career thus far.

“I want to thank each of you for your faith and trust in me. I ask for your continued support as I seek to retain the office of Smyrna Town Judge.”

The election will take place Aug. 7. The early voting period is July 18 through Aug. 2. The last day to register is July 8.

Barnes is completing an eight-year term as the presiding judge of the Smyrna Municipal/General Sessions Court.

"I'm proud of the progress that has been made during my first term,” she said. “We've improved the administration of justice and streamlined processes to save taxpayer dollars and save citizens' time."

The Smyrna Court has jurisdiction over a wide range of cases. It conducts preliminary hearings on felony criminal charges, hears misdemeanors, and hears municipal code and traffic violations. Judge Barnes adjudicates an average of 12,000 general sessions’ cases per year. 

Prior to her election, Barnes practiced law with Nashville firms Bass, Berry & Sims, PLC and Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, PLLC. As an attorney she litigated cases involving employment law, personal injury claims, pharmaceutical liability, products liability, contract law, health care law, business torts and criminal law. She is a published author, panelist and seminar presenter on various legal issues. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for excellence in the judiciary and service to the community.

She has served on the Metro Nashville Board of Ethical Conduct and is a graduate and past steering committee member of Leadership Law. She holds memberships in the Tennessee Bar Association, the Rutherford/Cannon County Bar Association, the Napier Looby Bar Association and Lawyers’ Association for Women. She has received judicial training from Tennessee Municipal Judges Conference, the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference, and the prestigious National Judicial College.

She volunteers in her community through the Smyrna Rotary Club and the Rutherford County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Her civic involvement includes service on the StoneCrest Medical Center Board of Directors, Smyrna High School SACS Accreditation Review Committee, Middle Tennessee State University Honors College Board of Visitors, and the Junior League of Murfreesboro Community Advisory Board. She is a member of the North Rutherford County YMCA, the Blue Raider Athletic Association and Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church.


Judge Barnes is married to J. Steven Barnes. They are the proud parents of two daughters. For additional information, visit www.judgeketabarnes.com

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Road conditions

For those that wish to know the road conditions before you leave the house, the State of Tennessee has a resource for you that could save you valuable time and stress.

The TDOT Smartway road system has a very user friendly map that shows you many items and traffic congestion that is much more detailed than I thought possible.

Here is the Sam Ridley / I-24 Interchange. An area notorious for being a pain.


Here is the Lee Victory, Almaville road / I-24 interchange.


Already there are RED areas inside of Smyrna that you might want to skirt.

For those that travel into Nashville there is a very detailed map here.

You have many options including looking at all the traffic cameras, road conditions, road work, and incidents as they occur. Put these links into your Favorites folder and avoid the worst parts of driving to work.

Good luck and drive carefully.